The Tawagonshi Tale: Can Linguistic Analysis Prove the Tawagonshi Treaty to be a Forgery?

in Journal of Early American History
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In 1968 the American physician Lawrence G. van Loon published the text of the so-called Tawagonshi Treaty. This treaty, allegedly drawn up in 1613 between Dutch traders and Iroquois tribal leaders, is by some considered to be the first treaty made between Europeans and Native Americans. Others, however, believe it to be a fake. In this article we try to establish at what date the text was written, using linguistic analysis. Our conclusion is that the anachronisms and anglicisms in the Tawagonshi Treaty demonstrate without doubt that the text was forged in the twentieth century. Although it is plausible that Van Loon was the forger, we have only circumstantial evidence for this but no direct proof.

The Tawagonshi Tale: Can Linguistic Analysis Prove the Tawagonshi Treaty to be a Forgery?

in Journal of Early American History

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4

In de Volkskrant of 3 January 2013former diplomat Serv Wiemers called upon the Dutch government to honor the 1613 treaty. We responded with a letter to the editor published in de Volkskrant of 5 January 2013 as well as in the Internet magazine Neder-L (http://nederl.blogspot.nl/2013/01/tawagonshi-verdrag-is-vervalst.html).

5

Simon HartThe Prehistory of the New Netherland Company: Amsterdam Notarial Records of the First Dutch Voyages to the Hudson (Amsterdam: City of Amsterdam Press1959) pp. 52-5.

6

Van der SijsCookies Coleslaw and Stoops p. 18 pp. 42-4.

17

Van Cleaf BachmanPeltries or Plantations: The Economic Policies of the Dutch West India Company in New Netherland 1623-1639 (Baltimore, Md. and London: The Johns Hopkins Press1969) p. viii.

24

 See Gehring Starna and Fenton“The Tawagonshi Treaty of 1613” pp. 380-3.

27

Dick de SoetenAls de schildpad sterft. Het epos van een indiaans bondgenootschap (Amsterdam: Gopher BV2008) pp. 95-6.

29

Ton Regtien“Nederlanders sloten verdrag met Indianen”. De Waarheid1 December 1980 (posteditie). Several years later Regtien returned to the subject in an article “Soo langh ‘t gras groen is”. De Waarheid 5 July 1984 (posteditie).

32

De SoetenAls de schildpad sterft pp. 96-7.

35

Gehring Starna and Fenton“The Tawagonshi Treaty of 1613” p. 386.

36

 Cf. Van Loon“Tawagonshi Beginning of the Treaty Era” p. 24.

40

The text was reprinted in HenryThe American Indian Reader pp. 38-44. In this edition the transcript of the treaty is lacking: only an English translation is given; the brief bibliography is also not included.

41

De SoetenAls de schildpad sterft pp. 69-98.

44

Nicoline van der SijsChronologisch woordenboek: de ouderdom en herkomst van onze woorden en betekenissen (Amsterdam: Veen2001) pp. 273-6.

46

Van der SijsCookies Coleslaw and Stoops pp. 43-4. Cf. Gehring Starna and Fenton “The Tawagonshi Treaty of 1613” p. 392: “He knew Dutch modern and seventeenth-century forms very well if not perfectly”.

47

L.G. van Loon“Letter from Jeronimus de la Croix to the Commissary at Fort Orange and a Hitherto Unknown Map Relating to Surgeon Van den Bogaert’s Journey into the Mohawk Country”The Dutch Settlers Society of Albany Yearbook 15 (1939-40) pp. 1-9. Cf. Gehring and Starna “A Case of Fraud”.

54

Gehring Starna and Fenton“The Tawagonshi Treaty of 1613” p. 380.

55

Gehring Starna and Fenton“The Tawagonshi Treaty of 1613” p. 385; Benjamin “Tawagonshi Agreement” p. 12 contests this which was refuted in Gehring and Starna “Revisiting the Fake Tawagonshi Treaty of 1613” pp. 100-1.

57

Gehring and Starna“Revisiting the Fake Tawagonshi Treaty of 1613” p. 97 furthermore point out the anachronistic metaphor “silver ketting” – a symbolic iron chain was not known to the Mohawk until around 1645 a silver chain not until the 1670s. See the contribution of Jon Parmenter in this issue.

59

Gehring and Starna“Revisiting the Fake Tawagonshi Treaty of 1613” p. 97.

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