Joseph Brant, or Thayendanegea, Mohawk war chief, Loyalist, statesman (born circa March 1742/43 in Cayahoga (near Akron, Ohio); died 24 November 1807 at Burlington Bay, Upper Canada); brother of Mary (Molly) Brant.
Ally of the British
Joseph Brant saw limited action during the Seven Years' War and was with Sir William Johnson in the expedition against Fort Niagara in 1759. In 1761 Johnson sent him to Moor's Indian and Charity School at Lebanon, Connecticut, where he stayed for two years. In 1765, Brant married an Oneida woman (who died in 1771) and settled at Canajoharie in the Mohawk Valley.
For nearly a decade, he acted as an interpreter for Johnson and his successor in the British Indian Department, Guy Johnson; he also aided missionaries in teaching Christianity to the Indigenous people, and helped translate religious materials into Mohawk.
With the outbreak of the American Revolution, Joseph Brant immediately rallied to the royal cause and visited England in 1775–76 with Guy Johnson.
Brant fought throughout the war with an Indigenous-Loyalist band. He was greatly admired as a soldier and was commissioned a captain by the British in 1780, but fought as a war chief. Beginning in 1783 and through the mid-1790s Brant worked to form a united confederation of Haudenosaunee and western Indigenous peoples in order to block American expansion westward. His dream ultimately was undermined by factionalist jealousies among the First Nations, by American opposition, and finally by British betrayal.
In about 1779 Brant married Catharine, a Mohawk woman from a prominent family.
Grand River Settlement
In May 1784, following the American Revolution, Joseph Brant led the Mohawk Loyalists and some other Indigenous peoples to a large tract of land on the Grand River granted them in compensation for their losses in the war. (See also Haldimand Proclamation.)
Convinced that Indigenous people would have to learn white agriculture to survive and thinking that the tract was too small for hunting, Brant wanted to lease or sell land to white people, which would provide an income as well. A complicated controversy with the government over the nature of Indigenous land tenure then arose; at the same time there was discontent among some of the Grand River Indigenous people over disposition of the money.
In his later years, Brant lived quietly in his magnificent house at Burlington Bay and translated parts of the Bible into Mohawk.