Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

José António Brandão

Second Advisor

James Palmitessa

Third Advisor

Dr. John Saillant

Fourth Advisor

Dr. John Saillant


New Netherland, Indian-Dutch relations, Protestantism, native Americans, colonial New York, reformed missions


This work evaluates the evolution of the cross-cultural encounters that took place between the Eastern Woodland Indians and the Europeans living in and around the Dutch colony of New Netherland during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It challenges a common view that the Dutch generally lacked curiosity about Indians, made no serious attempt to convert them, maintained a social distance from them, and were only interested in establishing commercial relationships with them. Using the extensive pamphlet and sermon literature and the records of the West India Company, Classis of Amsterdam, and patroonships available in the Netherlands as well as the records of the government of New Netherland available in the New York State Archives, the dissertation shows that Reformed leaders in the Dutch Republic viewed Indians as Gentiles worthy of evangelistic outreach. This characterization influenced the expectations of the Reformed clergy who were sent to convert the Indians living in and around New Netherland, and prefigured, to a certain extent, the relationships that developed between Indians and New Netherlanders. These sources also reveal that the Dutch were certainly curious about Indians.

The main body of the dissertation is divided into six chapters. They survey the historiography of Indian–Dutch relations in New Netherland, highlighting scholarly work that has touched on the role and influence of the (Dutch) Reformed Church, examine the conceptualizations of Indians that the leaders of the Reformed Church presented in the Dutch Republic during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries as well as the source of those images, the directions given to Reformed clergy sent overseas with regards to mission work and whether the clergy followed those directions, the impressions that Indians and colonists developed of one another, and the evolving nature of Indian–Dutch relations, and assess the efforts of the Reformed clergy in converting Indians. What emerges from the original sources are a series of complex, interdependent, and familiar relationships that developed between Indians and New Netherlanders during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

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Dissertation-Campus Only

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