Brant, Joseph

Variant last names: Thayendanegea; Thayendanegen; Thayeadanegea
Birth: c. March 1742 in Cayahoga, OH
Death: November 24, 1807 in Grand River Reserve, Ontario
Affiliation:

Mohawk; Moor's Indian Charity School; Colonial Militia (Seven Years War); British Army (Revolutionary War); British Indian Department

Education:

Moor's Indian Charity School (1761-1763), private education with Cornelius Bennet in the Mohawk Valley.

Faith:

Anglican

Nationality:

Mohawk

Occupation:

Mohawk War Chief and Leader

Marital status:

Brant was married three times and had a total of nine children. His first wife was Margaret (Neggen Aoghyatonghsera, various spellings), with whom he had two children. It is very likely that she was Isaac Dakayenensere's daughter. After her death, Brant married Susanna, Margaret's half-sister, and then Catharine, another Mohawk.

Biography:

Joseph Brant studied briefly with Wheelock and went on to be a very influential Mohawk leader. He was born into a prominent Mohawk family, and his connections only improved when his sister, Molly, began a long-lasting relationship with Sir William Johnson. Brant came to study with Wheelock in 1761. He played the part of a model pupil, as he was already partially assimilated and took to his studies quickly. Wheelock had high hopes for him, but in 1763, Brant visited Mohawk country with CJ Smith and never returned. This was likely a result of Johnson's increasing desire to promote only Anglican missionary efforts, as Brant seems to have harbored no ill-will towards Wheelock: Calloway hypothesizes that Brant's influence protected Dartmouth during the Revolution, and in 1800 Brant sent two of his sons to Moor's Indian Charity School. After leaving Wheelock, Brant went on to accumulate influence both as a British civil servant and Mohawk leader (historians debate how much genuine power and influence he had among the Mohawks and Six Nations more generally). The British government employed him as an interpreter, and in 1775, he visited England to argue for Mohawk interests. During the Revolution, he remained loyal to the British and encouraged other tribes to do the same. After the Revolution, when the British abandoned Indian land interests, he battled militarily and politically for Native land rights. Culturally, Brant was very much a pro-assimilation Anglican. He translated the Gospel of Mark, as well as other religious documents, into Mohawk, and lived a generally anglicized lifestyle, although he criticized what he saw as severe moral failings in white society.

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Sources:

Calloway, Colin, The Indian History of an American Institution. Dartmouth College Press 2010. Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online, Volume V, “THAYENDANEGEA (Joseph Brant),” http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?&id_nbr=2686. McCallum, James. The Letters of Eleazar Wheelock’s Indians. Dartmouth College Press 1932. Palmer, William E. Memoir of the distinguished Mohawk Indian chief, sachem and warrior, Joseph Brant. Brantford 1872.