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Weathering Extremes demonstrates how seventeenth-century climate changes mingled with cultural, social, economic, agro-ecological, and geopolitical forces to catalyze three simultaneous, though geographically disparate, indigenous resistance movements between 1636 and 1645. In Brazil, Curaçao, and the Hudson Valley, indigenous peoples deployed violent and non-violent means of resistance to confront the Dutch West India Company. This broadly interdisciplinary project utilizes natural proxy sources such as pollen samples, ice cores, and tree rings in conjunction with ethnohistorical and Dutch archival sources to reconstruct how early seventeenth-century extreme weather events catalyzed these movements. El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events, volcanic eruptions, and reduced sunspot activity led to drought, heavy rain, and abnormally cold temperatures throughout the Americas. Extreme weather compounded the worst consequences of European colonialism on indigenous societies including disease epidemics, livestock destruction, and political instability. Harvest failures exacerbated the Company’s financial ills, decreased cash and subsistence crop production, and led to local abuses of indigenous groups. Indigenous peoples and the Dutch West India Company responded to climate-induced situations based on culturally, politically, and geographically contingent factors. The diversity of responses in each case study illustrates how climate is only deterministic in its ability to provoke human responses: the Wappinger of New Netherland responded to climatological changes and European colonialism through direct militant confrontation; the Tapuyas and Brasilianen of Dutch Brazil reacted via shifting diplomatic allegiances and intermittent violence; and the Caquetio of Curaçao invoked foot-dragging, desertion, and false compliance.

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