America's Early Whalemen
240 pages, 6 x 9
27 b&w illustrations, 5 maps, 4 tables
Release Date:14 Aug 2020
CA$37.95 Back Order
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America's Early Whalemen

Indian Shore Whalers on Long Island, 1650–1750

The University of Arizona Press
The Indians of coastal Long Island were closely attuned to their maritime environment. They hunted sea mammals, fished in coastal waters, and harvested shellfish. To celebrate the deep-water spirits, they sacrificed the tail and fins of the most powerful and awesome denizen of their maritime world—the whale. These Native Americans were whalemen, integral to the origin and development of the first American whaling enterprise in the years 1650 to 1750.

America’s Early Whalemen examines this early chapter of an iconic American historical experience. John A. Strong’s research draws on exhaustive sources, domestic and international, including little-known documents such as the whaling contracts of 340 Native American whalers, personal accounting books of whaling company owners, London customs records, estate inventories, and court records. Strong addresses labor relations, the role of alcohol and debt, the patterns of cultural accommodations by Native Americans, and the emergence of corporate capitalism in colonial America.

When Strong began teaching at Long Island University in 1964, he found little mention of the local Indigenous people in history books. The Shinnecocks and the neighboring tribes of Unkechaugs and Montauketts were treated as background figures for the celebratory narrative of the “heroic” English settlers. America’s Early Whalemen highlights the important contributions of Native peoples to colonial America.
A deeply researched, highly readable account from the leading authority on Long Island Native history. America’s Early Whalemen illuminates the essential contributions that Shinnecock, Montaukett, and Unkechaug whalemen made to the American whaling industry in its first hundred years.’—Nancy Shoemaker, author of Native American Whalemen and the World: Indigenous Encounters and the Contingency of Race

‘The most thorough investigation to date of shore whaling on Long Island. Strong helps to illuminate the lives of the Native peoples who figured largely in the industry, providing a valuable resource for scholars and an excellent read for a general audience.’—Kathleen J. Bragdon, author of Native People of Southern New England, 1650–1775
John A. Strong is a professor emeritus of history and American studies at Long Island University. He is the author of numerous books, including The Montaukett Indians of Eastern Long Island and The Unkechaug Indians of Eastern Long Island.
List of Illustrations

1. The Whale in Aboriginal Long Island Culture
2. Drift Whales: A Contentious Asset
3. Sachems, Entrepreneurs, and Conflicting Sovereignties
4. Origins of “Ye Whaling Design” on Long Island
5. New Needs, Old Traditions: The Cultural Impact of “Ye Whale Design”
6. Debt Peonage and Indentured Servitude
7. Papasaquin’s World: Politics, Economics, and Family in Seventeenth-Century Long Island
8. Leaving the Shore: The End of an Era

Appendix 1. Examples of Whaling Contracts
Appendix 2. Whaling Contracts by Season
Appendix 3. St. George Manor
Appendix 4. Estimates of Shore Whale Catches, 1697–1734
Appendix 5. Names of Indian Whalers and English Investors on the Whaling Contracts, 1670–1685

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