Occupation and displacement in the Old Northwest: The role of three technologies

Gustavo A. Gutierrez
Dept. of History, Iowa State University
July, 2005


Occupation of the Old Northwest by whites and the displacement of the aboriginal people of that region is the subject matter studied in this dissertation. The Old Northwest was the region bordered by the Allegheny Mountains, Great Lakes, and the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. The aboriginal people that lived there included the Iroquois, Delawares, Shawnees, Miamis, Wyandots, Ottawas, Menominees, Illinois, Sacs, Foxes, and Chippeways. The period covered extends from 1760 to the 1840s.
This investigation shows that the occupation and displacement was realized progressively and through intense interaction between whites and reds. Within that interaction, three areas are studied here: trade and military, and relations concerned with lands. This study also demonstrates that, throughout those areas of relations, technology was a constant element. I chose to focus on the technologies of rum, military forts and the surveying of land.
This discussion on the process of occupation and displacement and the role that the above three technologies played in that process fulfills a twofold purpose. First, it presents, for the first time, a systematic approach to the subject matter of occupation-displacement. This is done by making it the subject of this investigation, and looking at the role that each of those technologies played. Certainly, by itself the study of occupation-displacement is not new for it frequently appears mixed with other subjects in studies on white-red relations. It is not usually treated, however, as an independent subject of study.
Secondly, this investigation expands the scope of the history of American technology in the sense that it shows occupation-displacement as a rich field of investigation. Regrettably, prior to this study no attention has been given to the technologies involved in the long process of occupation-displacement. For instance, in its nearly fifty years of existence, the journal Technology & Culture, has not published a single article on that phenomenon.