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Iroquois Land Deed

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This land deed documents the purchase of land by the Susquehanna Land Company from the Iroquois Indians in the Wyoming Valley of northeastern Pennsylvania. It is dated July 11, 1754, and contains a narrative of the agreement, the names of the land purchasers, and the marks of the Iroquois involved with the agreement. Although written by an Englishman and favoring the English settlers, the deed reflects the perspective of the Native Americans. The name Susquehanna Land Company is not specifically mentioned in the deed, but research discerns that this was the colonial party responsible for the purchase of the Wyoming Valley.

In the deed, the Iroquois acknowledge that although they are the native owners of Wyoming Valley, the land also falls within a charter from King Charles II granting ownership to the colony of Connecticut. The Iroquois recognize that many settlers from Connecticut have applied for purchasing the land in order to maintain friendly relationships and trade with the English, and to solidify Iroquois protection from the French and their Indian allies.

About the Susquehanna Land Company

In the mid eighteenth century, the ever-growing colonies were beginning to expand westward from the coastal cities. Colonists from Connecticut took an interest in settling the Wyoming Valley, the northern branch of the Susquehanna River in northeastern Pennsylvania. In the 1750s, Connecticut land speculators formed the Susquehanna Land Company to examine ways in which they could colonize the area. They claimed ownership of the Wyoming Valley by virtue of a royal charter from King Charles II in the 1660s, despite the fact that Pennsylvania also claimed the land from a King Charles II charter to William Penn in 1681. In June of 1754, an intercolonial Indian conference in Albany, NY began the negotiations for the purchase of the Wyoming Valley from the Native Americans.

The Susquehanna Land Company faced two major challenges in obtaining the land. First, the Penn family was also contemplating the purchase of the Wyoming Valley. Second, the main inhabitants of the valley were Delaware Indians that had been displaced by the Walking Purchase of 1737. The Delaware, however, were not a part of the June 1754 conference. It was actually the easternmost Iroquois Nation, known as the Mohawks, who were the primary negotiators at the Albany Conference. The Mohawks favored the opportunity to sell land that they did not legitimately possess. This led the Susquehanna Land Company to meet with the Mohawks secretly, and under the influence of alcohol and brides, forced them to sign the Wyoming Valley over to the English. The controversy resulted in skirmishes between the Delaware Indians and Connecticut settlers, and the Pennamite-Yankee wars between Pennsylvanians and Connecticut settlers in 1769 and 1799.

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