Some March This Way, Some March That Way: The Resettling of Soldiers of Color Who Served at the Redding Encampment
Andy King and Cheyenne Tracy
This map* (click for a closer view) shows where soldiers of color from the Redding encampment lived or grew up before enlisting in the American Revolution and where they moved to.
Indigenous groups in Connecticut from which soldiers were descended or to which they belonged include the Mashantucket Pequot, Eastern Pequot, Mohegan, Quinnipiac, Tunxis, Schaghticoke, Niantic, Wangunk, and Golden Hill Paugussett.
Native peoples, as tribes, families, and individuals, lost land as a direct result of European colonization and moved away from their communities after serving in the American Revolution. But, where did they go, and why does that matter?
Upon colonization, Europeans created a myth that North America was untouched, unconquered land – wilderness that needed to be tamed. New England colonization involved driving out indigenous people to “tame” the land they lived on, but in reality, the settlers drove out the groups that knew how to cultivate that climate’s agriculture, hunt and farm natural resources, and the medicinal herbs, as well as abandon crops and deforest woodlands. European colonizers obliterated centuries worth of work that had gone into maintaining the land and the people that knew how to do it. Rather than conquer, they destroyed a civilization. Native culture was and is deeply tied to geographical features of where tribes and communities are from. The removal or displacement of Native peoples plays a role in disconnecting them from their communities and culture.
The meaning of land was different in Indigenous and European culture. The extant tribal land or territory was expected to be continuously used by the person’s family or tribal members. European settlers who stole land from Native peoples typically settled or sold that land. When colonists removed Native people from this land and sold it to others, the land became property and the sacred history, knowledge, and spiritual practices were taken away from it. Some Native land, especially in the Ohio territory, specifically that of the Iroquois, Cherokee Lenape, Miami, Ottawa, Potowatomi, and Shawnee, was stolen from those groups and given to soldiers as a reward for enlisting in the revolution, including Native peoples who lost access to their own land and regions. Native peoples were not just moving. They were being forced to relocate as a result of colonization. They were separated from their families and tribes, held great debts, and were trying to survive colonization.
For more information on why Native people enlisted during the American Revolution, read “The Urge To Enlist” under Narratives.
**Colors and symbols on the map were intended to aid those with acromatopsia or achromatosis.
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