In the winter of 1722, on the eve of a major conference between the Five Nations of the Haudenosaunee (also known as the Iroquois) and Anglo-American colonists, a pair of colonial fur traders brutally assaulted a Seneca hunter near Conestoga, Pennsylvania. Though virtually forgotten today, the crime ignited a contest between Native American forms of justice – rooted in community, forgiveness, and reparations – and the colonial ideology of harsh reprisal that called for the accused killers to be executed if found guilty. In her Pulitzer Prize-winning book Covered with Night, historian Nicole Eustace reconstructs the attack and its aftermath, introducing a group of unforgettable individuals – from the slain man’s resilient widow to an Indigenous diplomat known as “Captain Civility” to the scheming governor of Pennsylvania – as she narrates a remarkable series of criminal investigations and cross-cultural negotiations. Taking its title from a Haudenosaunee metaphor for mourning, Covered with Night ultimately urges us to consider Indigenous approaches to grief and condolence, rupture and repair, as we seek new avenues of justice in our own era. Eustace will be joined in conversation by Karin Wulf, the Beatrice and Julio Mario Santo Domingo Director and Librarian at the John Carter Brown Library.
This program is presented as part of the Expansive Histories of the Early Americas program series, in partnership with the John Carter Brown Library.
--Nicole Eustace is professor of history at New York University. She is the author 1812: War and the Passions of Patriotism and Passion Is the Gale: Emotion, Power, and the Coming of the American Revolution. She lives in Mamaroneck, New York.