Jon W. Parmenter

Associate Professor


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 Academia.eduwebpage. 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.

Research Focus

  • Native American (esp. Iroquois) 
  • Early American History
  • Historical Geography
  • Race and Ethnicity
  • Social



The Edge of the Woods: Iroquoia, 1534-1701.  Michigan State University Press, 2010; paperback edition, University of Manitoba Press, 2014.

Recognition and Honors

Honorable Mention, 2010 PROSE Award for Professional and Scholarly Excellence, Association of American Publishers.



"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.


"Treason in the London District during the War of 1812."  London and Middlesex Historian [Ontario] 20 (Autumn 1993): 5-26.




"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.




"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.


"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.


"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.


"Conrad Weiser Letters Shed Important New Light on Eighteenth Century Indian Diplomacy."  The Quarto: William L. Clements Library Associates Bulletin 1.6

(September 1996): 8-9.

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