Red Jacket (Segoyewatha) (CA. 1750–1830)
Like most of the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy, the Seneca nation sided with the British during the American Revolution, a choice that had disastrous consequences for that western New York nation. Red Jacket served primarily as a messenger for the British forces, and had a reputation as a warrior that was, at best, mixed. He was not considered a significant leader until after the war, when his talent as an orator became apparent. Red Jacket’s oratory at a series of treaty councils between the Americans and the Seneca nation, held from the 1780s to the 1820s, became legendary, however, his eloquence did little to stop the cession of the Seneca nation’s traditional territory to federal, state, and private interests. Red Jacket did support the United States in the War of 1812, and distinguished himself in battle. For the remainder of his life, he continued to resist white inroads on Indian culture and beliefs and the spread of Christianity among his people, although his influence was apparently diminished by his own problems with alcohol. He died in January 1830 at the Buffalo Creek Reservation in New York.
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