Delivered at the annual meeting of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, Saskatoon, Sask, June 2013
Abstract: Between 1770 and 1820, thirty three Aboriginal youth from the St. Lawrence Valley attended Moors Indian Charity School or Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. They were recruited by the schools’ founder, Eleazar Wheelock, after his initial failure to engage Mohegan and Haudenosaunee communities in his education schemes. Wheelock had many motivations for casting his evangelical net northward, not the least of which was that he thought these people might be more receptive to his message. Many of the Aboriginal people living along the St. Lawrence Valley lived in Catholic missions and had English descendants who had been captured during seventeenth- and early-eighteenth-century conflicts. This paper examines how Eleazar, his son John (his successor), and the employees of the Charity School and Dartmouth College wrote about these students in their public and private correspondence. The paper not only looks at their general impressions of Laurentian Aboriginal peoples, but also at how these men – and they were all men – wrote about specific individuals and communities. In taking this approach, this paper helps us better understand how conceptions of race, class, culture and religion evolved during this period. It also explores how these Aboriginal students and their communities engaged with these perceptions and were affected by them.