He was named Thayendanegea, which in the Mohawk language can mean "two wagers sticks bound together for strength", or possibly "he who places two bets". As the Mohawk were a matrilineal culture, he was born into his mother's Wolf Clan. The Haudenosaunee League, of which the Mohawks were one of the Six Nations, was divided into clans headed by clan mothers. One of Brant's friends in later life, John Norton, wrote that Brant's parents were not born Iroquois, but were rather Hurons taken captive by the Iroquois as young people; the Canadian historian James Paxton wrote this claim was "plausible" but "impossible to verify", going on to write that this issue is really meaningless as the Iroquois considered anybody raised as an Iroquois to be Iroquois, drawing no line between those born Iroquois and those adopted by the Iroquois.
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His historical researches, however, did not lie so much among books as among men; for the former are lamentably scanty on his favorite topics; whereas he found the old burghers, and still more their wives, rich in that legendary lore, so invaluable to true history. Whenever, therefore, he happened upon a genuine Dutch family, snugly shut up in its low-roofed farmhouse, under a spreading sycamore, he looked upon it as a little clasped volume of black-letter, and studied it with the zeal of a book-worm. The result of all these researches was a history of the province during the reign of the Dutch governors, which he published some years since. There have been various opinions as to the literary character of his work, and, to tell the truth, it is not a whit better than it should be.
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He served as a private in Captain Christopher P. He took part in the taking of Saint Johns and was in the Battle of Chamblee in He also took part in the capture of a British Supply Depot in