Red Jacket

Red Jacket, c.1758–1830, chief of the Seneca, b. probably Seneca co., N.Y. His Native American name was Otetiani, changed to Sagoyewatha when he became a chief. His English name came from the British redcoat he wore as an ally of the English in the American Revolution. He had an excellent memory and was articulate and skillful in dealing with the whites, but he was accused of cowardice by other Native American leaders in active warfare. At a Native American conference (1786) at the mouth of the Detroit River, Red Jacket urged the continuance of hostilities against the whites, but in later years he attempted to make peace with the U.S. government. He was one of the Native American chiefs who visited President George Washington in 1792. In the War of 1812 he influenced his people to support the United States. An ardent advocate of the Native American mode of life, he resisted the introduction of white customs, especially Christianity and the work of the missionaries. Late in his life the growth of Christianity among Native Americans and opposition to his policies resulted in his being deposed as chief, but he appealed to the government, defended himself before a tribal council, and was restored.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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