Portrait of an Iroquois Leader

Historical content: 
Slavery and Westward Expansion
Historical skills: 
Contextualization, Sourcing, Use of evidence



Use the portrait and source information to answer the question that follows.


In 1710, the British brought three Mohawks and one Mahican to England to meet Queen Anne, introducing them as “kings” of the Iroquois confederacy. During their visit, English artist John Verelst painted their portraits. This is his portrait of the Mohawk Tee Yee Neen Ho Ga Row, also known as Hendrick.

Additional facts related to the Iroquois:
1.    Those who brought Hendrick to England said that he was the “Emperor” of the Iroquois Confederacy, even though they knew he was only a minor chief.
2.    In the 1640s, the Iroquois fought a bitter series of wars with the Huron to their north. 
3.    The Iroquois were traditional allies with the English in conflicts against the French in North America.
4.    In the French and Indian War of 1754-1763, the British, with help from colonists and the Iroquois, finally defeated France and took control of Canada. 

Question: Which 2 of the 4 facts above might cause you to question the reliability of this portrait of Hendrick?   Explain your reasoning.

About the Assessment

Like the Unions in Paterson, New Jersey assessment, this question gauges whether students can source and contextualize a document.  Students must first examine a painting of an Iroquois man by a British artist, then determine which facts can help them evaluate the painting's historical reliability.  Strong students will be able to explain how the false impression that Hendrick was an emperor (Fact 1) and the alliance between the British and the Iroquois against the French (Fact 3) may have fostered the regal and flattering nature of the painting.