Conference Overview

Quakers, First Nations, and American Indians from the 1650s to the 21st century is an interdisciplinary conference examining relations between American Indians, First Nations and the Society of Friends. The 17th-century founding of the colony of Pennsylvania was made possible by a unique accommodation among Lenape Indians and the Quaker settler colonials. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the Quaker reputation for maintaining good relations with American Indians gave them influence in federal policy on Indian Reservations, at boarding schools, and in adoption programs. Quakers also reached out to Canadian officials and the First Nations of Canada. Over time, the pattern of interaction between Quakers, First Nations, and American Indians has taken many turns, sometimes giving rise to currents of distrust and disappointment, darkening the celebration of Pennsylvania’s mythical, original peace.



The conference is sponsored by Bryn Mawr College, the Center for Native American and Indigenous Research at the American Philosophical Society, Haverford College, and the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, with additional funding from the Friends Historical Association, the Friends Historical Library at Swarthmore College, and the Native American and Indigenous Studies Initiative at Penn. Our keynote speakers are John Echohawk, Pawnee, executive director of the Native American Rights Fund, and Jean Soderlund, author of Lenape Country: Delaware Valley Society before William Penn.


Planning Committee

John Anderies, University of Pennsylvania

Margaret Bruchac, University of Pennsylvania

Chris Densmore, Swarthmore College

Kaye Edwards, Haverford College

Ruth Flower, Friends Committee on National Legislation

Ignacio Gallup-Diaz, Bryn Mawr College

Geoffrey Plank, University of East Anglia

Brett Shelton, Native American Rights Fund