Politics and Society
This introductory chapter discusses the politics and society of the Hudson Valley Indians. Indians in the Hudson Valley were part of multiple independent, and in some cases sizable, political groups, and they had effective leadership structures capable of providing a high degree of stability, even in the face of foreign invasion and war and massive depopulation. The surviving evidence points to the presence of political leaders capable of speaking for several hundred followers, even after foreign epidemics had decimated local populations. Together these leaders and their peoples created a sphere of sustained diplomatic, political, and social interaction that was surprisingly stable for almost two centuries following first contact with Europeans. The chapter details group and population numbers, formal political structures, land and authority, hierarchy and localism, effects of contact and early colonization, political stability after the beginning of colonization, and diversity and unity.
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