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The Hatchet and The Plow: The Life and Times of Chief Cornplanter.

The Hatchet and The Plow: The Life and Times of Chief Cornplanter by William W. Betts, Jr. i-Universe--Bloomington. 362 pages ISBN # 978-1-4502-6713-7

This biography/autobiography/memoir covers the entire life of the mixed blood Chief of the Senecas of the Six Nations of the Iroquois. Spanning some seventy plus years and events like the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and various campaigns it is compelling history. The author draws extensively on journals, logs, and letters to bring to life the actual words of Cornplanter, Red Jacket, Handsome Lake, Anthony Wayne and George Washington to name a few.

Since so much time and so many events are covered from varying view points, I found it difficult at times to keep things in proper chronology. However considering the amount of material presented, I cannot think of any better method of presentation.

Cornplanter's dedication to his people and their welfare was his most driving force. Beginning as a warrior, he rose to war chief, then to head chief, representing not only the Senecas but the entire Six Nations at most of the treaty sessions. He realized that the United States' people would eventually overrun his people, so he bargained for peace and the adoption of the ways of the white man (namely education and agriculture). Because of the nature of the times, he was often "gifted" for his services, and some Senecas felt that he sold them out on many occasions. The part he and the Senecas played in the American Revolution (on the British side) contrasts strongly with their support of the foundling nation and their split with Joseph Brant and the Mohawks during the War of 1812. His role in establishing peace with the "Western" tribes showed his concern for all Indians, Not just the Seneca and the Six Nations.

This book has prolific foot notes and a cited reference section, as well as an afterword, which brings the reader to the present day world of the Seneca Indians of Western New York.

Reviewed by Don Wudarski

Henderson, NV

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Author:Wudarski, Don
Publication:Whispering Wind
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jul 1, 2011
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