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Jon Parmenter

Associate Professor

Office: 324 McGraw Hall
Fax: (607) 255-0469

Office Hours: See department listing, 450 McGraw Hall

I am a historian of colonial North America, specializing in the history of indigenous peoples in the Northeast, particularly that of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois). I took advantage of my status as a dual citizen of the Canada and the United States to train at what is now Western University in my hometown of London, Ontario, Canada, and completed my doctorate at University of Michigan. My first book, The Edge of the Woods: Iroquoia, 1534-1701 (2010, reissued in paperback in Canada and the USA in 2014) was published with the support of a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship. I argue that the extensive spatial mobility engaged in by Haudenosaunee people after their first contact with Europeans represented a geographical expression of Haudenosaunee social, political, and economic priorities. I drew on archival and published documents in several languages, archaeological data, published Haudenosaunee oral traditions, and GIS technology to reconstruct the Haudenosaunee settlement landscape and the paths of human mobility that built and sustained it. Many of my article-length publications in journals such as Journal of Early American History, Diplomatic History, William and Mary Quarterly, and Recherches Amerindiennes au Quebec are available for consultation at my webpage. My current research interests include the historical experience of allied Indian nations in the Seven Years' War and American Revolution, the impact of the U.S./Canada border on Native American nations, and contemporary Haudenosaunee nation-building initiatives.

At Cornell I am fortunate to reside in close proximity to the people and places I research and write about, and I have also had the privilege to serve as a legal and historical consultant to several Haudenosaunee communities, including most recently the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne and the Oneida Indian Nation. In December 2014 I was honored to be qualified as a recognized Historical Expert in the History and Ethnography of the Iroquois, in Ontario Superior Court.

My teaching at Cornell includes courses on America at War to 1898, Everything You Know About Indians is Wrong: An Introduction to Native American History, New World Encounters, the American Revolution (coming Fall 2016) and seminars on Iroquois History, the Seven Years' War, and Treaties and Aboriginal Rights in North American History. In 2011-12 I was a recipient of the Stephen and Margery Russell Award for Distinguished Teaching in the College of Arts and Sciences at Cornell. In addition to my work on campus I am frequently on the road speaking to secondary educators, town historians, and the general public in venues such as Fort Ticonderoga's National Endowment for the Humanities "Landmarks in American History and Culture Workshops," Johnson Hall State Historic Site, the Ontario County Historical Society, and the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown. Full current CV.


For more information and links to current courses, go to: History's Courses Page

Courses Taught:

History 1530: Introduction to American History I
History 1581: America at War to 1898
History 2360: Native Peoples of the Northeast: Pre-Contact to the Present
History 2390: Seminar in Iroquois History
History 2660: Everything You Know About Indians is Wrong: Unlearning Native American History
History 3170: British-French North America, 1497-1823
History 4661: Contested Continents: The Great War for Empire in North America and Beyond, 1754-1763
History 4662: The Rabinor Semionar: Treaties and Aboriginal Rights in North American History
History 4900: New World Encounters, 1500-1800


Ph.D University of Michigan, 1999
M.A. University of Western Ontario, 1993
B.A. University of Western Ontario, 1992

Recent Publications and Awards


The Edge of the Woods: Iroquoia, 1534-1701 (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, October 2010).


"The Meaning of Kaswentha and the Two Row Wampum Belt in Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) History: Can Indigenous Oral Tradition be Reconciled with the Documentary Record?" Journal of Early American History 3 (2013): 82-109.

"The Perils and Possibilities of Wartime Neutrality on the Edges of Empires: Iroquois and Acadians between the British and French in North America, 1744-60."  (coauthored with Mark P. Robison) Diplomatic History 31 (2007): 167-206.

"After the Mourning Wars: The Iroquois as Allies in Colonial North American Campaigns, 1676-1760." William and Mary Quarterly 64 (2007): 39-82.

"'L'Arbre de Paix': Eighteenth Century Franco-Iroquois Relations." French Colonial History 4 (2003): 63-80.

"Rethinking Penn's Treaty With the Indians: Benjamin West and the Legacy of Native-Settler Relations in Colonial Pennsylvania," Proteus: A Journal of Ideas 19 (Spring 2002): 38-44.

"Neutralité active des Iroquois durant la guerre de la Succession d'Austriche, 1744-1748 [The Active Neutrality of the Iroquois during the War of the Austrian Succession, 1744-1748]," trans. Michel Lavoie, Recherches Amérindiennes au Québec 32 (2002): 29-37.

"La politique du deuil: le factionalisme des Onontagués et la mort de Canasatego [The Politics of Mourning: Onondaga Factionalism and the Death of Canasatego]," trans. Françoise Neillon and Jean-Paul Salaün, Recherches Amérindiennes au Québec 29 (1999): 23-35.

"Pontiac's War: Forging New Links in the Anglo-Iroquois Covenant Chain, 1758-1766."  Ethnohistory 44 (1997): 617-54.


"Separate Vessels: Hudson, the Dutch, and the Iroquois." In Jaap Jacobs and Louis Roper, eds., The Worlds of the Seventeenth Century Hudson Valley (Albany: SUNY Press, 2014), 103-33.

"In the Wake of Cartier: The Indigenous Context of Champlain's Activities in the St. Lawrence Valley and Upper Great Lakes, 1550-1635."  In Nancy Nahra, ed., When the French Were Here…And They're Still Here: Proceedings of the 2009 Champlain Quadricentennial Conference (Burlington, VT: Champlain College, 2010), 87-115.

'Onenwahatirighsi Sa Gentho Skaghnughtudigh': Reassessing Iroquois Relations with the Albany Commissioners of Indian Affairs, 1723-1755."  In Nancy Rhoden, ed., English Atlantics Revisited: Essays Honouring Professor Ian K. Steele (Montréal, QC, and Kingston, ON: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2007), 235-83.

"The Significance of the 'Illegal Fur Trade' to the Eighteenth Century Iroquois."  In Louise Johnston, ed., Aboriginal People and the Fur Trade: Proceedings of the 8th North America Fur Trade Conference, Akwesasne (Ottawa, ON, 2001), 40-47.

"The Iroquois and the Native American Struggle for the Ohio Valley, 1754-1794." In David C. Skaggs and Larry L. Nelson, eds. The Sixty Years' War for the Great Lakes, 1754-1814 (East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press, 2001), 105-24.

"Dragging Canoe (Tsi'yu-gûnsi'ni): Chickamauga Cherokee Patriot."  In Ian K. Steele and Nancy Rhoden, eds.  The Human Tradition in Revolutionary America (Wilmington, DE:  Scholarly Resources Press, 2000), 117-37.

"Madame Montour: Cultural Broker on the Eighteenth-Century Frontiers of New York and Pennsylvania."  In Ian K. Steele and Nancy Rhoden, eds.  The Human Tradition in Colonial America (Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources Press, 1999), 141-59.


"Native Americans," in Mark G. Spencer, ed., Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of the American Enlightenment (2 vols., New York: Bloomsbury, 2015), 2: 740-43.

"The Beaver Wars," in Antonio Thomson and Christos Frentzos, eds., The Routledge Handbook of U.S. Diplomatic and Military History: Colonial Period to 1877 (New York: Routledge, 2014), 33-41.

"Agriculture." In John Demos, ed.,American Centuries: The Ideas, Issues, and Trends that Made U.S. History, Volume 2, The Seventeenth Century (New York: MTM Publishing, 2011), 17-23.

"American Indians: British Policies," in Paul Finkelman, ed., Encyclopedia of the New American Nation: The Emergence of the United States, 1754-1829 (3 vols., Detroit: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2006), 1: 118-21.

"Native American Warfare," "Pontiac," "Little Turtle," "Black Hawk," "Indian Removal Policy." Entries in Richard Sisson, Christian Zacher, and Andrew Cayton, eds. The Midwest: An Interpretive Encyclopedia (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006), 1735-41, 1749, 1761-64.

"The Fur Trade."  Entry in Peter Eisenstadt et al, eds., The Encyclopedia of New York State (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2005), 614-15.

Contribution to "A Discussion of Scholarly Responsibilities to Indigenous Communities," ed. Joyce Ann Kievit, American Indian Quarterly 27 (2003): 41-45.

"Pontiac, Chief," "Quebec Act."  Entries in Peter Knight, ed., Conspiracy Theories in American History
(2 vols., Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO Press, 2003), 2: 587-89, 605-6.

"Warfare, Indian," "Wars with Indian Nations, Colonial Era to 1783."  Entries in Dictionary of American History (NY: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2002), vol. 8: 390-94, 395-99.

Stephen and Margery Russell Distinguished Teaching Award, Cornell University College of Arts and Sciences, 2012.
National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, 2007.
Gilder Lehrman Fellowship, New-York Historical Society, 2005-2006.
Robert L. Middlekauff Fellowship, Huntington Library, San Marino, CA, 2005.
Philips Fund Grant for Native American Research, American Philosophical Society,
Philadelphia, PA, 2004-2005.
Larry J. Hackman Research Residency Fellowship, New York State Archives
Partnership Trust, 2004-2005.

Other Links

American Historical Association
American Society for Ethnohistory
French Colonial Historical Society
New York State Archaeological Association
Newberry Consortium in American Indian Studies
Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture
Organization of American Historians
Prof. Parmenter recently participated in an innovative digital historical documentary project entitled "Dead Reckoning: Champlain in America." View streaming video of excerpts from his interview at: