The saltwater frontier: Indians, Dutch, and English on seventeenth-century Long Island Sound

Andrew Charles Lipman
Dept. of History, University of Pennsylvania
July, 2010


This dissertation examines the changing cultural geography of the American shoreline near Long Island Sound from 1600 to 1664. The region was one of the most dramatic and dynamic regions in all of early America, largely because of the extraordinary proximity of the "New Netherland" and "New England" colonists. Though colonial claims frequently overlapped, at no other place in North America did two rival European nations place their villages so close together. The Sound's waves of intercultural violence and suspicion were part of a larger, related process of cultural exchange. Just as all the wars of the region were, in various ways, entangled with each other, so too were the respective material cultures of the Sound's three major peoples: Algonquians, Dutch, and English. This project's narrative and analysis are built on a wide base of English and Dutch letters, diaries, laws, administrative minutes, travel accounts, war narratives, and court records, along with the archeological site reports, historic images, maps, ship plans, and blueprints for forts. The many points of political and material exchange between peoples meant that all the region's borders were porous and all its conflicts could spill into each other. The Sound in the seventeenth century should be seen as a saltwater frontier: a place where relations between Indians, Dutch, and English were fluid, shifting, and stormy.