By John Sugden
Blue Jacket (ca. 1743–ca. 1808), or Waweyapiersenwaw, used to be the galvanizing strength in the back of an intertribal confederacy of unprecedented scope that fought a protracted and bloody warfare opposed to white encroachments into the Shawnees’ place of birth within the Ohio River Valley. Blue Jacket was once an astute strategist and diplomat who, even though courted by means of American and British leaders, remained a staunch defender of the Shawnees’ independence and territory. during this arresting and arguable account, John Sugden depicts the main influential local American chief of his time.
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Additional info for Blue Jacket: Warrior of the Shawnees
On three occasions one or other of these noted men specifically referred to the other as his “brother,” in ways that implied a blood connection. The word “brother” served the Shawnees in several ways. It could be applied to parallel cousins, for example, but in this instance it seems to have meant that Blue Jacket and Red Pole were half-brothers, sharing the same mother. There are two reasons for making this assumption. In 1795 Red Pole mentioned that his “aged father” was still alive, whereas there are no suggestions that either parent of Blue Jacket survived so long.
To the north and northwest were the French and their Indian supporters, such as the Ottawas. Sandwiched between such powerful forces, the Ohio Indians felt underpowered. The Shawnees and Delawares began to strengthen their tribal organizations, and about 1747 they joined the Mingoes in a loose confederacy of their own, with its focus, or “council fire,” at Logstown. Intertribal unity was not a normal state among the Indians, but the Ohio Confederacy was by no means unique. True, the aboriginal world was generally a world of small villages with narrow horizons and concerns and of local rivalries between tribes, bands, towns, clans, or individuals.
It could be applied to parallel cousins, for example, but in this instance it seems to have meant that Blue Jacket and Red Pole were half-brothers, sharing the same mother. There are two reasons for making this assumption. In 1795 Red Pole mentioned that his “aged father” was still alive, whereas there are no suggestions that either parent of Blue Jacket survived so long. Much more significantly, Blue Jacket probably belonged to the Pekowi division of the tribe, and Red Pole did not. He was a Mekoche and duly laid claim to the privileges of the Mekoches.