Akwesasne and other native communities were intially asked to remain neutral. President Thomas Jefferson urged an Akwesasne chief, Atiatonharonkwen, to stay out of the troubles as early as 1808:
Should war take place, do you my children, remain at home and in peace, taking care of your wives and children….The red nations who shall remain in peace with the United States, shall forever find them true friends and fathers. Those who commence against them an unprovoked war, must expect their lasting enmity.
The carnage of the French and Indian War and the American Revolution was still fresh in our minds, so we were only happy to oblige, but many of our people ended up in the fight, some of them paying the ultimate price for doing so.
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