Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy



First Adviser

Soderlund, Jean

Other advisers/committee members

LeMaster, Michelle; Savage, John; Paxton, Jamie


This dissertation explores how Albany’s Commissioners for Indian Affairs and the neighboring Iroquois Nations created and preserved authorities in the New York/Iroquoia borderlands from the 1690s through the early 1750s, and analyzes how the effects of this local relationship rippled outwards to influence the indigenous and colonial world of northeastern North America. Albany’s Commissioners, provincial agents at the forefront of much of the British Empire’s Indian diplomacy for this time period, maintained a roster of mostly Dutch colonists despite its existence as a colonial office in a British colony. This tight web of intermarried Dutch settlers and traders sustained a continuous conversation with the Iroquois Nations for half a century, relying upon a shared borderlands diplomatic culture to maintain decorum despite regular friction over issues such as imperial expansion and trade. These self-created borderlands authorities established and maintained the New York/Iroquoia borderlands as a primary nexus for Indian diplomacy in northeastern North America and placed Dutch commissioners and Iroquoian leaders in important roles in issues affecting other British colonies, other Indian polities, and even broad imperial processes such as the continuous eighteenth century contest with New France.Largely ignored or glossed over by historians, Albany’s Indian Commissioners and their substantial records provide unique insight into understanding the European-Indian power relationships in northeastern North America during the first half of the eighteenth century. This dissertation provides the first sustained study of the Albany Commissioners as an institution of Indian diplomacy and unlocks new ways of understanding how the powerful Iroquois Nations interacted with broth provincial and imperial officials in the era between Dutch New Netherland and Indian Superintendent William Johnson in the mid-1750s, and fills out a significant, half-century gap in the colonial history of British North America.

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