America's Early Whalemen

Indian Shore Whalers on Long Island, 1650–1750

John A Strong (Author)
Paperback ($30.00), Ebook ($45.00) Buy
The Indians of coastal Long Island were closely attuned to their maritime environment. They hunted sea mammals, fished in coastal waters, and harvested shellfish. To celebrate the deep-water spirits, they sacrificed the tail and fins of the most powerful and awesome denizen of their maritime world—the whale. These Native Americans were whalemen, integral to the origin and development of the first American whaling enterprise in the years 1650 to 1750.

America’s Early Whalemen examines this early chapter of an iconic American historical experience. John A. Strong’s research draws on exhaustive sources, domestic and international, including little-known documents such as the whaling contracts of 340 Native American whalers, personal accounting books of whaling company owners, London customs records, estate inventories, and court records. Strong addresses labor relations, the role of alcohol and debt, the patterns of cultural accommodations by Native Americans, and the emergence of corporate capitalism in colonial America.

When Strong began teaching at Long Island University in 1964, he found little mention of the local Indigenous people in history books. The Shinnecocks and the neighboring tribes of Unkechaugs and Montauketts were treated as background figures for the celebratory narrative of the “heroic” English settlers. America’s Early Whalemen highlights the important contributions of Native peoples to colonial America.
“A deeply researched, highly readable account from the leading authority on Long Island Native history. America’s Early Whalemen illuminates the essential contributions that Shinnecock, Montaukett, and Unkechaug whalemen made to the American whaling industry in its first hundred years.”—Nancy Shoemaker, author of Native American Whalemen and the World: Indigenous Encounters and the Contingency of Race

“The most thorough investigation to date of shore whaling on Long Island. Strong helps to illuminate the lives of the Native peoples who figured largely in the industry, providing a valuable resource for scholars and an excellent read for a general audience.”—Kathleen J. Bragdon, author of Native People of Southern New England, 1650–1775
America's Early Whalemen
240 Pages 6 x 9
Published: August 2020Paperback ISBN: 9780816541515
Published: October 2018Ebook ISBN: 9780816538812

For Authors

The University of Arizona Press publishes the work of leading scholars from around the globe. Learn more about submitting a proposal, preparing your final manuscript, and publication.



The University of Arizona Press is proud to share our books with readers, booksellers, media, librarians, scholars, and instructors. Join our email Newsletter. Request reprint licenses, information on subsidiary rights and translations, accessibility files, review copies, and desk and exam copies.


Support the Press

Support a premier publisher of academic, regional, and literary works. We are committed to sharing past, present, and future works that reflect the special strengths of the University of Arizona and support its land-grant mission.