LEGENDS, TRADITIONS, AND LAWS OF THE
IROQUOIS, OR SIX NATIONS
HISTORY OF THE TUSCARORA INDIANS
A NATIVE TUSCARORA CHIEF.
"A book about Indians!"—who cares anything about them?
This will probably be the exclamation of many who glance on my little
page. To those who know nothing concerning them, a whole book about
Indians will seem a very prosy affair, to whom I can answer nothing, for
they will not proceed as far as my Preface to see what reasons I can
render for the seeming folly.
But to those who are willing to listen, I can say that the Indians are a
very interesting people, whether I have made an interesting book about
them or not.
The Antiquarian, the Historian, and the Scholar, have been a long time
studying Indian character, and have given plenty of information
concerning the Indian, but it is all in ponderous volumes for State and
College libraries, and quite inaccessible to the multitude—those who
only take up such book as may be held in the hand, sitting by the
fire,—still remain very ignorant of the Children of Nature who inhabited
the forests before the Saxon set his foot upon our shores.
There is also a great deal of prejudice, the consequence of this
ignorance, and the consequence of the representations of your forefathers
who were brought into contact with the Indians, under circumstances that
made it impossible to judge impartially and correctly.
The Histories which are in the schools, and from which the first
impressions are obtained, are still very deficient in what they relate of
Indian History, and most of them are still filling the minds of children
and youth, with imperfect ideas. I have read many of the Histories, and
have longed to see refuted the slanders, and blot out the dark pictures
which the historians have wont to spread abroad concerning us. May I live
to see the day when it may be done, for most deeply have I learned to
blush for my people.
I thought, at first, of only giving a series of Indian Biographies, but
without some knowledge of the government and religion of the Iroquois,
the character of the Indians could not be understood or appreciated.
I enter upon the task with much distrust. It is a difficult task at all
times to speak and to write in foreign language, and I fear I shall not
succeed to the satisfaction of myself, or to my readers.
My title will not be so attractive to the American ears, as if it related
to any other unknown people. A tour in Arabia, or Spain, or in India, or
some other foreign country, with far less important and interesting
material, would secure a greater number of readers, as we are always more
curious about things afar off.
I might have covered many pages with "Indian Atrocities," but these have
been detailed in other histories, till they are familiar to every ear,
and I had neither room nor inclination for even a glance at war and its
To animate a kinder feeling between the white people and the Indians,
established by a truer knowledge of our civil and domestic life, and of
our capabilities for future elevation, is the motive for which this work
The present Tuscarora Indians, the once powerful and gifted nation, after
their expulsion from the South, came North, and were initiated in the
confederacy of the Iroquois, and who formerly held under their
jurisdiction the largest portion of the Eastern States, now dwell within
your bounds, as dependent nations, subject to the guardianship and
supervision of a people who displaced their forefathers. Our numbers, the
circumstances of our past history and present condition, and more
especially the relation in which we stand to the people of the State,
suggest many important questions concerning our future destiny.
Being born to an inauspicious fate, which makes us the inheritors of
many wrongs, we have been unable, of ourselves, to escape from the
complicated difficulties which accelerate our decline. To make worse
these adverse influences, the public estimation of the Indian, resting,
as it does, upon the imperfect knowledge of their character, and infused,
as it ever has been, with the prejudice, is universally unjust.
The time has come in which it is no more than right to cast away all
ancient antipathies, all inherited opinions, and to take a nearer view of
our social life, condition and wants, and to learn anew your duty
concerning the Indians. Nevertheless, the embarrassments that have
obstructed our progress, in the obscurity which we have lived, and the
prevailing indifference to our welfare, we have gradually overcame many
of the evils inherent in our social system, and raised ourselves to a
degree of prosperity. Our present condition, if considered in connection
with the ordeal through which we have passed, shows that there is the
presence of an element in our character which must eventually lead to
As I do not profess that this work is based upon authorities, a question
might arise in the breast of some reader, where these materials were
derived, or what reliance is to be placed upon its contents. The
credibility of a witness is known to depend chiefly upon his means of
knowledge. For this reason, I deem it important to state, that I was born
and brought up by Tuscarora Indian parents on their Reservation in the
Town of Lewiston, N.Y. From my childhood up was naturally inquisitive and
delighted in thrilling stories, which led me to frequent the old people
of my childhood's days, and solicited them to relate the old Legends and
their Traditions, which they always delighted to do. I have sat by their
fireside and heard them, and thus they were instilled upon my young mind.
I also owe much of my information to our Chief, JOHN MT. PLEASANT. I have
also read much of Indian history, and compared them with our LEGENDS and
NATIONAL TRAITS OF CHARACTER.
In all the early histories of the American Colonies, in the stories of
Indian life and the delineations of Indian character, these children of
nature are represented as savages and barbarians, and in the mind of a
large portion of the community the sentiment still prevails that they
were blood-thirsty, revengeful, and merciless, justly a terror to both
friends and foes. Children are impressed with the idea that an Indian is
scarcely human, and as much to be feared as the most ferocious animal of
Novelists have now and then clothed a few with a garb which excites your
imagination, but seldom has one been invested with qualities which you
would love, unless it were also said that through some captive taken in
distant war, he inherited a whiter skin and a paler blood.
But I am inclined to think that Indians are not alone in being
savage—not alone barbarous, heartless, and merciless.
It is said they were exterminating each other by aggressive and
devastating wars, before the white people came among them. But wars,
aggressive and exterminating wars, certainly, are not proofs of
barbarity. The bravest warrior was the most honored, and this has been
ever true of Christian nations, and those who call themselves christians
have not yet ceased to look upon him who could plan most successfully the
wholesale slaughter of human beings, as the most deserving his king's or
his country's laurels. How long since the pean died away in praise of the
Duke of Wellington? What have been the wars in which all Europe, or of
America, has been engaged, That there has been no records of her history?
For what are civilized and christian nations drenching their fields with
It is said the Indian was cruel to the captives, and inflicted
unspeakable torture upon his enemy taken in battle. But from what we know
of them, it is not to be inferred that Indian Chiefs were ever guilty of
filling dungeons with innocent victims, or slaughtering hundreds and
thousands of their own people, whose only sin was a quiet dissent from
some religious dogma. Towards their enemies they were often relentless,
and they had good reason to look upon the white man as their enemy. They
slew them in battle, plotted against them secretly, and in a few
instances comparatively, subjected individuals to torture, burned them at
the stake, and, perhaps, flayed them alive. But who knows anything of the
precepts and practices of the Roman Catholic Christendom, and quote these
things as proofs of unmitigated barbarity.
At the very time that the Indians were using the tomahawk and scalping-
knife to avenge their wrongs, peaceful citizens in every country of
Europe, where the Pope was the man of authority, were incarcerated for no
crime whatever, and such refinement of torture invented and practiced, as
never entered in the heart of the fiercest Indian warrior that roamed the
wilderness to inflict upon man or beast.
We know very little of the secrets of the inquisition, and this little
chills our blood with horror. Yet these things were done in the name of
Christ, the Savior of the World, the Prince of Peace, and not savage, but
civilized. Christian men looked on, not coldly, but rejoicingly, while
women and children writhed in flames and weltered in blood. Were the
atrocities committed in the vale of Wyoming and Cherry Valley
unprecedented among the Waldensian fastnesses and the mountains of
Aurvergne? Who has read Fox's book of Martyrs, and found anything to
parallel it in all the records of Indian warfare? The slaughter of St.
Bartholomew's days, the destruction of the Jews in Spain, and the Scotch
Covenanters, were in obedience to the mandates of Christian princes,—
aye, and some of them devised by Christian women who professed to be
serving God, and to make the Bible the man of their counsel.
It is said also that the Indians were treacherous, and more, no
compliance with the conditions of any treaty, was ever to be trusted. But
the Puritan fathers cannot be wholly exonerated from the charge of
faithlessness; and who does not blush to talk of Indian traitors when he
remembers the Spanish invasion and the fall of the princely and
Indians believed in witches, and burned them, too. And did not the
sainted Baxter, with the Bible in his hand, pronounce it right, and was
not the Indian permitted to be present, when the quiet unoffending woman
was cast into the fire, by the decree of a Puritan council?
To come down to the more decidedly Christian times, it is not so very
long since, in Protestant England, hanging was the punishment of a petty
thief, long and hopeless imprisonment of a slight misdemeanor, when men
were set up to be stoned and spit upon by those who claimed the exclusive
right to be called humane and merciful.
Again, it is said, the Indian mode of warfare is, without exception, the
most inhuman and revolting. But I do not know that those who die by the
barbed and poisoned arrow linger in any more unendurable torment than
those who are mangled with powder and lead balls, and the custom of
scalping among Christian murderers would save thousands from groaning
days, and perhaps weeks, among heaps that cover victorious fields and
fill hospitals with the wounded and dying. But scalping is not an
invention exclusively Indian. "It claims," says Prescott, "high
authority, or, at least, antiquity." And, further history, Herodotus,
gives an account of it among the Scythians, showing that they performed
the operation, and wore the scalp of their enemies taken in battle, as
trophies, in the same manner as the North American Indian. Traces of the
custom are also found in the laws of the Visigaths, among the Franks, and
even the Anglo Saxons. The Northern Indians did not scalp, but they had a
system of slavery, of which there are no traces to be found among the
customs, laws, or legends of the Iroquois.
Again, it is said, "They carried away women and children captive, and in
their long journey through the wilderness, they were subjected to
The wars of Christian men throw hundreds and thousands of women and
children helpless upon the cold world, to toil, to beg, and to starve.
This is not so bright a picture as is usually given of people who have
written laws and have stores of learning, but people cannot see in any
place that the coloring is too dark! There is no danger of painting
Indians so they will become attractive to the civilized people.
There is a bright and pleasing side to the Indian character, and thinking
that there has been enough written of their wars and cruelties, of the
hunter's and fisherman's life, I have sat down at their fireside,
listened to their legends, and am acquainted with their domestic habits,
understand their finer feelings and the truly noble traits of their
It is so long now since they were the lords of this country, and
formidable as your enemies, and they are so utterly wasted away and
melted like snow under the meridian sun, and helpless, that you can sit
down and afford to listen to the truth, and to believe that even your
enemies had their virtues. Man was created in the image of God, and it
cannot be that anything human is utterly vile and contemptible.
Those who have thought of Indians as roaming about in the forests hunting
and fishing, or at war, will laugh, perhaps, at the idea of Indian homes,
and domestic happiness. Yet there are no people of which we have any
knowledge, among whom, in their primitive state, family ties and
relationship were more distinctly defined, or more religiously respected
than the Iroquois.
The treatment which they received from the white people, whom they always
considered as intruders, aroused, and kept in exercise all their
ferocious passions, so that none except those who associated with them as
missionaries, or as captives, saw them in their true character, as they
were to each other.
Almost any portrait that we see of an Indian, he is represented with
tomahawk and scalping knife in hand, as if they possessed no other but a
barbarous nature. Christian nations might with equal justice be always
represented with cannon and balls, swords and pistols, as the emblems of
their employment and their prevailing tastes.
The details of war are from far to great a portion of every History of
civilized and barbarous nations, to conquer and to slay has been to long
the glory of the christian people; he who has been most successful in
subjugating and oppressing, in mowing down human beings, has too long
wore the laural crown, been too long an object for the admiration of men
and the love of women.
It seems you might be weary of the pomp and circumstance of war, of
princely banquets, and gay cavalcades. The time and space you bestow upon
King and courts, and the homage you pay to empty titles, are unworthy
your professed republican spirit and preferences, let us turn aside from
the war path, and sit down by the hearth-stone of peace.
In the picture which I have given, I have confined myself principally to
the Iroquois, or Six Nations, a people who no more deserve the term
savage, than the whites do that of heathen, because they have still
lingering among them heathen superstitions, and many opinions and
practices which deserves no better name.
The cannibals of some of the west Indies Islands, and the Islands of the
Pacific, may with justice be termed savage, but a people like the
Iroquois who had a goverment, established offices, a system of religion
eminently pure and Spiritual, a code of honor and laws of hospitality,
excelling those of all other nations, should be considered something
better than savage, or utterly barbarous.
The terrible torture they inflicted upon their enemies, have made their
name a terror, and yet there were not so many burnt, hung, and starved by
them, as perished among Christian nations by these means. The miseries
they inflicted were light, in comparison, with those they suffered. If
individuals should have come among you to expose the barbarities of
savage white men, the deeds they relate would quite equal anything known
of Indian cruelty. The picture an Indian gives of civilized barbarism
leaves the revolting custom of the wilderness quite in the back-ground.
You experienced their revenge when you had put their souls and bodies at
a stake, with your fire-water that maddened their brains. There was a
pure and beautiful spirituality in their faith, and their conduct was
much more influenced by it, as are any people, Christian or Pagan.
Is there anything more barbaric in the annals of Indian warfare, than the
narrative of the Pequod Indians? In one place we read of the surprise of
an Indian fort by night, when the inmates were slumbering, unconscious of
any danger. When they awoke they were wrapped in flames, and when they
Attempted to flee, were shot down like beasts. From village to village,
from wigwam to wigwam, the murderers proceeded, "being resolved," as your
historian piously remarks, "by God's assistance, to make a final
destruction of them," until finally a small but gallant band took refuge
in a swamp. Burning with indignation, and made sullen by dispair, with
hearts bursting with grief at the destruction of their nation, and
spirits galled and sore at the fancied ignominy of their defeat, they
refused to ask life at the hands of an insulting foe, and preferred death
to submission. As the night drew on, they were surrounded in their dismal
retreat, volleys of musketry poured into their midst, until nearly all
were killed or buried in the mire. In the darkness of a thick fog which
preceded the dawn of day, a few broke through the ranks of the beseigers
and escaped to the woods.
Again, the same historian tells us that the few that remained, "stood
like sullen dogs to be killed rather than to implore mercy, and the
soldiers on entering the swamp, found many sitting together in groups,
when they approached, and resting their guns on the boughs of trees,
within a few yards of them, literally filled their bodies with bullets."
But they were Indians, and it was pronounnced a pious work. But when the
Gauls invaded Italy, and the Roman Senators, in their purple robes and
chairs of State, sat unmoved in the presence of barbarian conquerors,
disdaining to flee, and equally disdaining to supplicate for mercy, it
is applauded as noble, as dying like statesmen and philosophers. But the
Indians with far more to lose and infinitely greater provocation, sits
upon his mother earth upon the green mound, beneath the canopy of Heaven,
and refuses to ask mercy of civilized fiends, he is stigmatized as dogs,
spiritless, and sullen. What a different name has greatness, clothed in
the garb of christian princes and sitting beneath spacious domes, gorgeous
with men's device, and the greatness, in the simple garb of nature,
destitute and alone in the wilderness.
There is nothing in the character of Alexander of Macedon who "conquered
the world, and wept that he had no more to conquer," to compare with the
noble qualities of king Philip of Mt. Hope, and among his warriors are a
long list of brave men unrivalled in deeds of heroism, by any of ancient
or modern story. But in what country, and by whom were they hunted,
tortured, and slain, and who was it that met together to rejoice and give
thanks at every species of cruelty inflicted upon those who were fighting
for their wives, their children, their homes, their altars and their God.
When it is recorded that "men, women and children, indiscriminately, were
hewn down and lay in heaps upon the snow," it is spoken of as doing God's
service, because they were nominally heathen. "Before the fight was
finished, the wigwams were set on fire, and into those, hundreds of
innocent women and children had crowded themselves, and perished in the
general conflagration." And for those thanksgivings were sent up to
heaven, the head of Philip is strung upon a pole, and exposed to the
public. But this was not done by savage warriors, and the crowd that
huzzaed at the revolting spectacle, assembled on the Sabbath day, in a
Puritan church, to listen to the Gospel that proclaims peace and love to
all men. His body was literally cut in slices to be distributed among the
conquerors, and a christian city rings with acclamation.
In speaking of this bloody contest, one who is most eminent among the
fathers, says: "Nor could they cease praying unto the Lord against
Philip, until they had prayed the bullet through his heart." "Two and
twenty Indian captives were slain, and brought down to hell in one day."
"A bullet took him in the head, and sent his cursed soul in a moment
amongst the devils and blasphemers in hell forever."
Masasoit, the father of Philip, was the true friend to the English, and
when he was about to die, took his two sons, Alexander and Philip, and
fondly commended them to the kindness of the new settlers, praying them
the same peace and good will might be between them, that had existed
between him and his white friends. Upon mere suspicion only a short time
afterwards, the elder, who succeeded his father as ruler, among his
people, was hunted in his forest home, and dragged before the court, the
nature and object of which he could not understand. But the indignity
which was offered him, and the treachery of those who insulted him, so
chafed his proud spirit that a fever was the consequence, of which he
died. And that is not all. The son and wife of Philip were sold into
slavery, (as were also about eight hundred persons of the Tuscaroras, and
also many others of the Indians that were taken captive during the
Colonial wars.) "Yes," says a distinguished orator, (Everett,) "they were
sold into slavery, West Indian slavery. An Indian princess and her child,
sold from the cold breezes of Mount Hope, from a wild freedom of New
England forest, to drop under the lash, beneath the blazing sun of the
Bitter as death, aye, bitter as hell! Is there anything—I do not think
in the range of humanity—is there any animal that would not struggle
against this? Nor is this indeed all. A kinswoman of theirs, a Princess
in her own right, Wetamore Pocasset, was pursued and harrassed till she
fell exhausted in the wilderness, and died of cold and starvation. There
she was found by men professing to be shocked at Indian barbarity, her
head severed from her body, and carried bleeding upon a pole to be
exposed in the public highways of the country, ruled by men who have been
honored as saints and martyrs.
"Let me die among my kindred," "Bury me with my fathers," is the prayer
of every Indian's heart; and the most delicate and reverential kindness
in the treatment of the bodies of the dead, was considered a religious
duty. There was nothing in all their customs that indicated a barbarism
so gross and revolting as these acts, which are recorded by New England
historians without a censure, while the Indian's protests in his grief at
seeing his kindred dishonored and his religion reviled, are stigmatized
as savage and fiendish.
If all, or even a few who ministered among them in holy things, had been
like Eliot, who is called "the Apostle to the Indians," and deserved to
be ranked with the Apostle of old, or Kirkland, who is endeared to the
memory of every Iroquois who heard his name, it could not have become a
proverb or a truth that civilization and christianity wasted them away.
They were, not by one, but many, unscrupulously called "dogs, wolves,
bloodhounds, demons, devils incarnate, hellhounds, fiends, monsters,
beasts," always considering them inferior beings, and scarcely allowing
them to be human, yet one, who was at that time a captive among them,
represents them as "kind and loving and generous;" and concerning this
same monster—Philip—records nothing that should have condemned him in
the eyes of those who believed in wars aggressive and defensive, and
awarded honors to heroes and martyrs and conquerors.
By the Governor of Jamestown a hand was severed from the arm of a
peaceful, unoffending Indian, that he might be sent back a terror to his
people; and through the magnanimity of a daughter and king of that same
people, that colony was saved from destruction. It was through their love
and trust alone that Powhatan and Pocahontas lost their forest dominions.
Hospitality was one of the Indians' distinguishing virtues, and there was
no such thing among them as individual starvation or want. As long as
there was a cup of soup, it was divided. If a friend or a stranger made a
call he was welcome to all their wigwams would furnish, and to offer him
food was not merely a custom, for it was a breach of politeness for him
to refuse to eat however full he might be.
Because their system not being like the white people's, it does not
follow that it was not a system. You might have looked into the wigwam or
lodge and thought everything in confusion, while to the occupants, there
was a place for everything, and everything in its place: each had a couch
which answered for bed by night and seat by day. The ceremonies at their
festivals were as regular as in the churches, their rules of war as well
defined as those of christian nations, and in their games and athletic
sports there was a code of honor which it was disgraceful to violate:
their marriage vows were as well understood, and courtesy as formally
practiced at their dances.
The nature of the Indian is in all respects like the nature of any other
nation; placed in the same circumstances, he exhibits the same passions
and vices. But in his forest home there was not the same temptation to
great crimes, or what is termed the lesser ones, that of slander,
scandal, and gossip, as exists among civilized nations.
They knew nothing of the desire of gain, and therefore were not made
selfish by the love of hoarding; and there was no temptation to steal,
where they had everything in common, and their reverence for truth and
fidelity to promises, may well put all the nations of christendom to
I have written in somewhat of the spirit which will characterize a
History, by an Indian, yet it does not deserve to be called Indian
partiality, but only justice and the spirit of humanity; or, if I may be
allowed to say it, the spirit with which any christian should be able to
consider the character and deeds of his foe. I would not detract from the
virtues of your forefathers. They were at that time unrivalled, but
bigotry and superstition of the dark ages still lingered among them, and
their own perils blinded them to the wickedness and cruelty of the means
they took for defence.
Four, and perhaps two centuries hence, I doubt not, some of your dogmas
will seem unchristian, as the Indians seem to you, and I truly hope, ere
then, all wars will seem as barbarous, and the fantastic dress of the
soldiers as ridiculous, as you have been in the habit of representing the
wars and the wild drapery of the Indians of the forest.
How long were the Saxon and Celt in becoming a civilized and Christian
people? How long since the helmet, the coat of mail, and the battle axe,
were laid aside?
To make himself more terrific, the Briton of the days of Henry II drew
the skin of a wild beast over his armor with the head and ears standing
upright, and mounted his war-horse to go forth crying, "To arms! Death to
the invader!" The paint and the Eagle plume of the Indian warrior were
scarcely a more barbarous invention, nor his war-cry more terrible.
It is not just to compare the Indian of the fifteenth, with the christian
of the fifteenth century. But compare them with the barbarian of Britain,
of Russia, of Lapland, and Tartary, and represent them as truly as these
nations have been represented, and they will not suffer by the
* * * * *
CAPTIVE'S LIFE AMONG INDIANS.
ILLUSTRATED BY THE LIFE OF THE "WHITE WOMAN."
* * * * *
To be taken captive by the Indians, was, among the early colonists,
considered the most terrible of all calamities, and it was indeed a
fearful thing to become the victim of their revenge. But those who were
enduring the actual sufferings of captivity, or suffering still more from
terror of uncertain evils, thought little of the provocation given by the
white people. The innocent suffered for the guilty, and however
persevering—I suppose the efforts of the government to be just—in its
infancy, in a wild unknown country it was impossible to control
unprincipled marauders. Some atrocious act was first committed by white
men, which drove the Indian to retaliation, and thinking pale faces were
all alike, he did not wait till the real offender fell into his hands.
When the white men first came, the Indian looked upon them as superior
beings. They were ready to worship Columbus and his little party, and all
others along the coast, until their simple trust was outraged beyond
endurance, they welcomed the strangers, gave them food when they were
hungry, and sheltered them when they were cold. It was not till their
encroachments became alarming, that the Indians asserted their rights,
and if in all cases they had been as justly and kindly dealt with as by
the Quakers of Pennsylvania, there would not have been so dark a record
of sins, wrongs and tortures. If none but men of principle had made
treaties with them, and all whose duty it was to observe them, had kept
their faith, revenge had not come out so prominently in Indian character.
But it was not in obedience to national policy that those who were taken
in battle, were put to the torture, burned, and flayed. The Six Nations
had never found it necessary to build prisons, and dig dungeons for their
own people. If any man committed murder, they sometimes decided that he
should die, and sometimes bade him flee far away where none who knew him
could look upon his face. But crimes were so rare that they had no
criminal code, and when they overcame their enemies, they either adopted
them and treated them as brethren, or put them immediately to death.
White people have often put Indians to death, and oftener put them in
dungeons to waste and starve, but it was not part of their practice to
adopt them and call them brethren. Had they sometimes done this, or sent
them freely back to their friends unharmed, they might have conciliated
where they were only made more desperate.
When families are bereaved, they sought to be revenged on those who had
bereaved them, and when warriors returned from battle, the prisoners were
given up to the friends of the afflicted. With them alone it remained to
decide the fate of those who fell into their hands. If they chose, they
adopt them in place of the husbands, or brothers, who were slain; and if
they so decided they were put to death, and in any way they decreed. If
the manner in which their friend had been killed was aggravating and
greatly enraged them, they were very likely to decide upon torture, and
inflicted it in a manner to produce the greatest suffering. But in such
cases, they sometimes showed great magnanimity, and "returned good for
Children were often adopted, and by a solemn ceremony received into a
particular tribe, and evermore treated as one of their own people. You
have been in the habit of listening to heart-rending stories of cruelties
to captives, but captives who were adopted were never cruelly treated.
Those who were immediately put to death experienced great suffering for a
few hours, and those who were preserved were subjected to hardships which
seemed to them unspeakable, but they were such as are necessarily
incident to Indian life. They left no written chronicles to tell to all
future generations the wrongs and tortures to which they were subjected,
but one who sits with them by their firesides, may have his blood frozen
with horror at the recitals of civilized barbarity.
And there was one species of wrong of which no captive woman of any
nation had to complain when she was thrown upon the tender mercies of
Indian warriors. Not among all the dark and terrible records which their
enemies have delighted to magnify, is there a single instance of the
outrage of that delicacy which a pure minded woman cherishes at the
expense of life, and sacrifices not to any species of mere animal
suffering. Of what other nation can it thus be written, that their
soldiers were not more terrible at the firesides of their enemies than on
the battle-field, with all the fierce engines of war at their command. To
whatever motive it is to be ascribed, let this at least stand out on the
pages of Indian history as an ever enduring monument to their honor.
A little book which professes to have been written for the sole purpose
of recording and perpetuating Indian atrocities, and dwells upon them
with infinite delight, alludes to this redeeming trait in Indian
character, but attempts to ascribe it to the influence of superstition,
as it were necessary to find some evil or deteriorating motive for
everything noble, or pleasing in Indian character. Their treatment of
captives from among Indian nations were the same. And I know not that
there has been any satisfactory solution of a characteristic which has
been found among only one other civilized christian or barbarous nation.
A wanderer among the Indian tribes once asked an Indian why they thus
honored their women, and he said "The Great Spirit taught, and would
punish us if we did not." Among the Germans I believed there existed the
same respect for woman, till they became civilized. They may have been
some superstitious fears mingled with a strong governing and controlling
principle, but it is not on this account the less marvelous that whole
nations, consisting of millions, should have been so trained, religiously
or domestically, that degree of beauty or fascination placed under their
care, though hundreds of miles in the solitudes of the wilderness, should
have tempted them from the strictest honor and the most delicate
kindness. MARY JANISON was eighty years a resident among the Senecas, and
in the early part of the time the forests had few clearings, and the
comforts and the vices of white men prevailed but little among them. She
was born on the ocean, with the billowy sea for her cradle, and the
tempest for her lullaby. Her parents emigrated from England to this
country in 1742, and settled in the unfortunate vale of Wyoming, where
date her first remembrances, which were all the woes that fell upon her
family, the wail of the sorrow-stricken and breaking of heart-strings.
The last meal they took together was a breakfast, after which the father
and eldest three sons went into the field, and Mary with the other
little children was playing not far from the house. They were suddenly
startled by a shriek, and knew it must be from their mother. On running
in they saw her in the hands of two Indians, who were holding her fast. A
little boy ran to call his father, and found him also bound by another of
the party, and his eldest brother lying dead upon the earth; the other
two fled to Virginia, where they had an uncle, as Mary afterward learned,
and those who remained were made captives and hurried into the woods. All
day they were obliged to march in single file over the rough, cold soil.
Night found them in the heart of the wilderness, surrounded by their
strange captors, and all the horrors of Indian life or Indian death
staring them in the face. They had no hope of mercy, whether permitted to
live or condemned to die. The mother said to Mary, "My daughter, you, I
think will be permitted to live, but they will deprive you of your father
and mother, and perhaps of your brothers and sisters, so that you will be
alone. But endeavor in all things to please the Indians, and they will be
more kind to you. Do not forget your own language, and never fail to
repeat your catechism and the Lord's prayer every morning and evening
while you live." This she promised to do, and having kissed her child,
the mother was removed from her sight.
Mary must at this time have been ten years of age. She was afterwards
told, when she could understand the Indian language, that they would not
have killed her parents if the captors had not been pursued, and that a
little boy, who was the son of a neighbor, and was also taken, was given
to the French, two of whom were of the party.
In the marches of the Indians it was the custom for one to linger behind,
and poke up the grass with a stick after a party had passed along, to
conceal all traces of their footsteps, so a pursuit was seldom
successful. In deviating from a direct course in order not to get lost,
they noticed the moss upon the trees, which always grows thickest upon
the north side, as the south side being most exposed to the sun, became
soonest dry. They also had some knowledge of the stars, and knew from the
position of certain clusters that were to be seen at certain seasons,
which was east and which west.
Mary was adopted in place of two brothers who had fallen in battle, and
for whom the lamentations had not died away. The ceremony of adoption is
very solemn, requiring the deliberations of a council and the formal
bestowing of a name, as a sort of baptism, from which time the captive is
not allowed to speak any other language but the Indian, and must in all
things conform to Indian habits and tastes.
It is customary among them to give children a name which corresponds with
the sports and dependence of childhood, and when they arrive at maturity
to change it for one that corresponds with the duties and employments of
manhood and womanhood. The first name is given by the relatives and
afterwards publicly announced in council. The second is bestowed in the
same way; and by this they are ever afterward called, except on becoming
a Sachem, and, sometimes, on becoming a Chief or warrior another name is
taken, and each denotes definitely the new position. Each clan, too, had
its peculiar names, so that when a person's name was mentioned it was
immediately known to what clan he belonged.
A curious feature in the Indian code of etiquette is that it is
exceedingly impolite to ask a person's name, or to speak it in his
presence. In the social circle and all private conversation the person
spoken of is described if it is necessary to allude to him, as the person
who sits there, or who lives in that house, or wears such a dress. If I
ask a woman, whose husband is present if that is Mr. B— she blushes, and
stammers, and replies, "He is my child's father," in order to avoid
speaking his name in his presence, which would offend him. On asking a
man his name he remained silent, not understanding the reason the
question was repeated, when he indignantly replied, "Do you think that I
am an owl to go about hooting my name everywhere?" The name of the owl in
Indian corresponding exactly to the note he utters.
When Mary Jemmison had been formally named De-he-wa-mis, they called her
daughter and sister, and treated her in all respects as if she had been
born among them and the same blood flowed in her veins, or rather, they
were accustomed to be more kind to captives than to their own children,
because they had not been inured to the same hardships. There was no
difference in the cares bestowed, no allusion was ever made to the child
as if it belonged to a hated race, and it never felt the want of
Mary said her tasks were always light, and everything was done to win her
love and make her happy. She now and then longed for the comforts of her
cottage home, and wept at the thought of her mother's cruel death, but
gradually learned to love the freedom of the forest, and to gambol freely
and gaily with her Indian play-mates. When she was named they threw her
dress away, and clothed her in deer skins and moccasins, and painted her
face in true Indian style. She never spoke English in their presence, as
they did not allow it, but when alone, did not forget her mother's
injunction, and repeated her prayers and all the words she could
remember, thus retaining enough of the language to enable her easily to
recall it when she should again return to civilized society, as she
constantly indulged the hope of doing, by an exchange of captives.
But when she was fourteen years of age, her mother selected for her a
husband, to whom she was married according to Indian custom. His name was
Sheningee, and though she was not acquainted with him previously, and of
course had no affection for him, but proved not only an amiable and
excellent man but a congenial companion, whom she loved devotedly. He had
all the noble qualities of an Indian, being handsome and brave, and
generous, and kind, and to her very gentle and affectionate.
Now she became thoroughly reconciled to Indian life, her greatest sorrow
being the necessary absence of her husband on the war-path and hunting
excursions. She followed the occupation of a woman, tilled the fields,
dressed the meats and skins, and gathered the fuel for the winter's fire,
and although this seems to the whites as unfeminine labor, it was
performed at their leisure, and occupied very little of their time.
When the hunters returned they were weary and passive, and seldom were
guilty of fault-finding, and so well did an Indian woman know her duty,
that her husband was not obliged to make his wants known. Obedience was
required in all respects, and where there was harmony and affection,
cheerfully yielded, and knowing as they did that separation would be the
consequence of neglect of duty and unkindness, there was really more
self-control, and about little things, than those who are bound for
life. They did not agree to live together through good and through evil
reports, but only while they loved and confided in each other, and they
were therefore careful not to throw lightly away this love and affection.
The labor of the field was performed in so systematic a manner, and by so
thorough and wisely divisioned labor, that there were none of the
jealousies and enjoyings which exist among those who wish to hoard, and
ambitious to excel in style and equipage. And before the fire-water came
among them, dissentions of any kind were almost unknown. This has been
the fruitful source of all their woes. It was not till Mary became a
mother that she gave up all longing for civilized society, and
relinquished all hope of again returning to the abodes of the white man.
Now she had a tie to bind her which could not be broken. If she should
find her white friends they would not recognize her Indian husband, or
consider her lawfully married: they would not care to be connected by
ties of blood to a people whom they despised: her child would not be
happy among those who looked upon her as inferior, and she herself had no
education to fit her for the companionship of the white people. She
looked upon her little daughter and thought, it is Sheningee's—it is
dearer to me than all things else—I could not endure to see her treated
with aversion or neglect.
But only a little while was she permitted this happiness, her daughter
died while yet an infant, and when Sheningee was away. Again the feeling
of desolation came over her young spirit, but all around her ministered
in every way to her comfort, and became more than ever endeared to her
heart. After a long absence. Sheningee returned. She afterwards had a
son, and named him after her father, to which no objection was made by
her Indian friends, and her love for her husband became idolatry. In her
eyes he seemed everything noble and good: she mourned his departure and
longed for his return, for his affection prompted him to treat her with
gentle and winning kindness which is the spirit of true love alone.
But again the separation, and she must pass another winter alone. For
hunting was the Indian's toil, and though they delighted in it, the pangs
of parting from his wife and little one, made it a sacrifice, and spread
a dark cloud over a long period of his life. And now it became dark
indeed to Mary, for she waited long and Sheningee came not. She put
everything in order in his little dwelling. She dressed new skins for his
couch, and smoked venison to please his taste. She made the fire bright
to welcome him, hoping every evening when she lay down with her baby upon
her bosom, that ere the morning sun the husband and father would gladden
them by his smiles, but in vain; winter had passed away, and the spring,
and then came the sad tidings that he was dead, she became a widow and
her child fatherless.
Very long did she mourn Sheningee, for it seemed to her there was none
like him. But again the sympathies of his people created a new link to
bind her to them, and she said she could not have loved a mother or
sisters more dearly than she did those who stood in this relationship to
her, and soothed her with their loving words.
Not for four years was she again urged to marry, and during this time
there was an exchange of prisoners and she had an opportunity to return
to her kindred; she was left to do as she chose. They told her she might
go, but if she preferred to remain she should still be their daughter and
sister, and they would give her land for her own where she might always
dwell. Again she thought of the prejudice she would everywhere meet, and
that she could never patiently listen to reproaches concerning her
husband's people. It would not be believed that he was noble, because he
was an Indian; and she would have no near relatives and those she had
might reject her if she should seek them, so she came to the final
conclusion and never more sighed for the advantages or pleasures of
civilized life. She came with the brothers of Sheningee to the banks of
the Genesee, where she resided the remaining seventy-two years of her
Her second husband—Hiokatoo—she never learned to love. He was a Chief
and a warrior brave and fearless; but though he was always kind to her,
he was a man of blood. He delighted in deeds of cruelty and delighted to
relate them. And now the fire water had become common, and the good were
bad and the bad worse, so that dissensions arose in families and in
neighborhoods, and the happiness which had been almost without alloy was
no longer known among these simple people.
She adds her testimony to that of all travelers and historians concerning
the purity of their lives, having never herself received the slightest
insult from an Indian and scarcely knowing an instance of infidelity or
immorality. But when once they had tasted of the maddening draught the
thirst was insatiable, and all they had would be given for a glass of
something to destroy their reason. Now they were indeed converted into
fiends and furies and sold themselves to swift destruction.
Hiokatoo hesitated at no crime and took pleasure in everything dark and
terrible, but this was a small trial compared to those which Mrs.
Jemmison was called upon to endure from the intoxication and recklessness
of her son. Her eldest, the son of Sheningee, was murdered by John, the
son of Hiokatoo, who afterward murdered his own brother Jesse, and came
to the same violent death himself at the hands of others. When they came
to be in the midst of temptation there was no restraining principle, and,
even after they grew up her house was the scene of quarrels and confusion
in consequence of their intemperance, and she knew no rest from fear of
some calamity from the indulgence of their unbridled passions. The Chief
of the Seneca nation, to which her second husband belonged, gave her a
large tract of land, and when it became necessary that it should be
secured to her by treaty, she plead her own case. The commissioners
without inquiring particularly concerning the dimensions of her lots,
allowed her to make her own boundaries, and when the document was signed
and she was in firm possession it was found that she was the owner of
nearly four thousand acres, of which only a deed in her own hand-writing
could deprive her. But though she was rich she toiled not the less
dilligently and forsook not the sphere of woman in attending to the ways
of her household, and also, true to her Indian education, she planted and
hoed and harvested, retaining her Indian dress and habits till the day of
her death. During the revolutionary war her house was made the rendevous
and headquarters of British officers and Indian Chiefs, as her sympathies
were entirely with her red brethren, and the cause they espoused was the
one she preferred to aid. It was in her power to sympathize with many a
lone captive, she always remembered her own anguish at the prospect of
spending her life in the wilderness. The companion of Indians, and though
she had learned to love instead of fearing them, and knew they were, as a
people, deserving of respect and the highest honor, she understood the
feelings of those who knew them not.
Her supplication procured the release of many from torture, and her
generous kindness clothed the naked and fed the starving.
Lot after lot, acre after acre the Indians sold their lands, and at
length the beautiful valley of the Genesee fell into the hands of the
white people, except the dominion of "the white woman," as she was always
called, which couldn't be given up without her consent. She refused, at
the time of the sale, to part with her portion, but after the Indians
removed to Buffalo reservation and she was left alone, though a lady in
the manor and surrounded by white people, she preferred to take her abode
with those whom she now called her own people. Most emphatically did she
adopt the language of Ruth in the days of old, "Entreat me not to leave
thee, or return from following after thee, for whither thou goest I will
go, and where thou lodgest I will lodge, thy people will be my people,
and thy God my God, where thou diest will I die, and there will I be
She as as thoroughly pagan as the veriest Indian who had never heard of
God, and she exclaimed with him that their religion was good enough and
she desired no change.
She was ninety years of age—eighty years she had been an exile from the
land of her birth. She had forgotten the prayer her mother taught her,
and knew nothing of the worship of her father, when one morning she sent
a messenger to tell the missionaries she wished to see them. She had ever
before refused to listen to them if they came to her dwelling, but they
hastened to obey the summons, glad to feel that they should be welcomed,
though quite uncertain concerning the nature of the interview she
proposed. She was literally withered away, her face was scarcely larger
than an infant's and completely checkered with fine wrinkles, her teeth
were entirely gone and her mouth so sunken that her nose and chin almost
met, her hair not silvery, but snowy white, except a little lock by each
ear which still retained the sandy hue of childhood, her form which was
always slender, was bent, and her limbs could not longer support her. She
had revived the knowledge of her language since she had dwelled among the
white people but, "Oh," said she, as the ladies entered, "I have
forgotten how to pray; my mother taught me and told me never to forget
this, though I remembered nothing else," and then she exclaimed, "Oh,
God! have mercy upon me." This expression she had heard in her old age,
and now uttered it in the fullness of her heart. There had come a gleam
of light through all the darkness and superstitions of Paganism, and this
spark was kindled at the fireside of that little cottage home, and fell
upon her heart from a mother's lips, and now revived at the remembrance
of a mother's love and her dying blessing. It was eighty years since she
had seen that mother's face, as she breathed out her soul in anguish,
bending over her in the silent depths of the wilderness, eighty years
since she listened to "Our Father who art in Heaven," from Christian
lips, and now the still small voice which had so long been silent, spoke
aloud, and startled her as if an angel called. She tried to stifle it,
and for many days after it awoke in her bosom, she heeded it not, but it
gave her no rest. No earthly voice had since reminded her that her heart
was sinful, and needed to be "washed in the blood of the lamb, that
taketh away the sins of the world," in order to be clean. The seed which
had been sown in it when she was a little child, had just sprung up; the
snows of eighty winters had not chilled it, the mildew of nearly a
century had not blighted it, and the heavy hand of hundreds of calamities
had left it unharmed. She had not been in the midst of corruptions,
therefore it had not been destroyed. The little germ was still alive, and
proving that it had not been in vain.
The aged woman sat pillowed up in bed with her children, and children's
children of three generations around her, and lifting her withered hands
and sunken eyes to Heaven, once more repeated, "Our Father, who art in
Heaven," while a new light, like a halo, overspread her face, the tears
flowed in floods down her cheeks, and in the dark eyes of every listener
there glistened tears of sympathy in her new found happiness.
When she was asked if she regretted that she had not consented to be
exchanged, she still said, "No. I love the Indians; I love them better
than the white people. Because they had been kind to me, and provided
generously for my youth and old age, and my children would inherit an
abundance from the avails of the lands, and herds, and flocks."
A few days after the new light dawned upon her spirit, in the year 1833,
Mary was numbered with the dead. She had embraced the faith which makes
no difference between those who come at the first or the eleventh hour,
and those who were present at the dissolution of her soul and body,
doubted not that Jesus had whispered to her the same consolation that
fell upon the heart of the thief upon the Cross, "This day shall thou be
with me in Paradise"
* * * * *
CUSTOMS AND INDIVIDUAL TRAITS OF CHARACTER.
The more you read, and the better you understand Indian history, the more
you will be impressed with the injustice which has been done the
Iroquois, not only in dispossessing them of their inheritance, but in the
estimation which has been made of their character. They have been
represented, as seen in the transition state, the most unfavorable
possible for judging correctly. In the chapter of National Traits of
Character, I have in two or three instances quoted Washington Irving and
might again allow his opinions to relieve my own from the charge of
partiality. He says, in speaking of this same subject, that "the current
opinion of Indian character is too apt to be formed from the miserable
hordes which infest the frontiers, and hang on the shirts of settlements.
These are too commonly composed of degenerate beings, corrupted and
enfeebled by the voice of society, without being benefited by its
"The proud independence which formed the main pillar of motive virtue has
been spoken down, and the whole moral fabric lies in ruins. The spirits
are humiliated and debased by a sense of inferiority, and their native
courage cowed and daunted by the superior knowledge and power of their
enlightened neighbors. Society has advanced upon them like one of a those
withering airs that will sometimes breed desolation over a whole region
of fertility. It has enervated their strength, multiplied their diseases,
and superinduced upon their original barbarity the law-vices of
artificial life. It has given them a thousand superfluous wants, while it
has diminished their means of mere existence. It has driven before it the
animals of the chase, who fly from the sound of the axe and the smoke of
the settlement and seek refuge in the depths of remote forests, and yet
untrodden wilds. Thus do we often find the Indians in the frontiers to be
mere wrecks and remnants of once powerful tribes, who have lingered in
the vicinity of settlements, and sunk into precarious and vagabond
existence. Poverty, repining and hopeless poverty—a canker on the mind
before unknown to them—corrodes their spirits and blights every free and
noble qualities of their nature. They loiter like vagrants about the
settlements among spacious dwellings, replete with elaborate comforts,
which only renders them more sensible of the comparative wretchedness of
their own condition. Luxury spreads its ample board before their eyes,
but they are excluded from the banquet; plenty revels over the fields,
but they are starving in the midst of abundance. The whole wilderness
blossomed into a garden, but they feel as reptiles that infest them. How
different was their state while undisputed lords of the soil? Their wants
were few, and the means of gratification within their reach, they saw
every one among them sharing the same lot, enduring the same hardships,
feeding on the same aliments, arrayed in the same rude garment. No roof
then rose under whose sheltering wings, that was not ever open to the
homeless stranger, no smoke curled among the trees, but he was welcome to
sit down by its fire and join the hunter in his repast."
In discussing Indian character, writers have been too prone to indulge in
vulgar prejudice and passionate exaggeration, instead of the candid
temper of the true philosopher. They have not sufficiently considered the
peculiar circumstance in which the Indians have been placed, and the
peculiar principles under which they having been educated. No being acts
more rigidly from rule than the Indians, his whole conduct is regulated
according to some general maxims early implanted in his mind. The moral
laws which govern him are few, but he conforms to them all. The white man
abounds in laws and religion, morals, and manners, but how many of them
does he violate. In their intercourse with the Indians the white people
were continually trampling upon their religion and their sacred rights.
They were expected to look merely on while the graves of their fathers
were robbed of their treasures, and the bones of their fathers were left
to bleach upon the fields. And when exasperated by the brutality of their
conquerors, and driven to deeds of vengence, there was very little
appreciation of the motives which influenced them, and no attempt was
made to palliate their cruelties.
It was their custom to bury the dead with their best clothing, and the
various implements they had been in the habit of using whilst living. If
it was a warrior that they were preparing for burial, they placed his
tomahawk by his side and his knife in his shield; with the hunter, his
bow and arrows and implements for cooking his food; with the woman, their
kettles and cooking apparatus and also food for all. Tobacco was
deposited in every grave; for to smoke was an Indian's idea of felicity
in the body and out of it, and in this there was not so much difference
as one might wish, between them and gentlemen of a paler hue.
Among the Iroquois, and many other Indian nations, it was the custom to
place the dead upon scaffolds, built for the purpose, from tree to tree,
or within a temporary inclosure, and underneath a fire was kept burning
for several days.
They had known instances of persons reviving after they were supposed to
be dead, and this led to the conclusion that the spirit sometimes
returned to animate the body after it had once fled. If there was no
signs of life for ten days, the fire was extinguished and the body left
unmolested until decomposition had begun to take place, when the remains
were buried, or, as was often the case, kept in the lodge for many years.
If they were obliged to desert the settlement where they had long
resided, these skeletons were collected from all the families and buried
in one common grave, with the same ceremonies as when a single individual
They did not suppose the spirit was instantaneously transferred from
earth to Heaven, but that it wandered in aerial region for many moons. In
later days they only allowed ten days for its flight. Their period for
mourning continued only whilst the spirit is wandering, as soon as they
believe it has entered Heaven they commenced rejoicing, saying, there is
no longer cause for sorrow, because it is now where happiness dwells
forever. Sometimes a piteous wailing was kept up every night for a long
time, but it was only their bereavement that they bewailed, as they did
not fear about the fate of those who died. Not until they had heard of
Purgatory from the Jesuits, or endless woe from Protestants, did they
look upon death with terror, or life as anything but a blessing.
They were sometimes in the habit of addressing the dead, as if they could
hear. The following are the words of a mother as she bends over her only
son to look for the last time upon his beloved face: "My son, listen once
more to the words of thy mother. Thou wast brought into life with her
pains, thou wast nourished with her life. She has attempted to be
faithful in raising you up. When you were young she loved you as her
life. Thy presence has been a source of great joy to her. Upon thee she
depended for support and comfort in her declining days. But thou hast
outstripped her and gone before. Our wise and great Creator has ordered
it thus. By his will, I am left yet, to taste more of the miseries of
this world. Thy relations and friends have gathered about thy body to
look upon thee for the last time. They mourn, as with one mind, thy
departure from among us. We, too, have but a few days more and our
journey will be ended. We part now, and you are conveyed out of our
sight. But we shall soon meet again, and shall look upon each other, then
we shall part no more. Our Maker has called thee home, and thither will
After the adoption of the league of the Iroquois, and they dwelled in
villages, this was one of the duties enjoined by their religious teacher
at their festivals: "It is the will of the Great Spirit that you
reverence the aged, even though they be helpless as infants." And also,
"Kindness to the orphan, and hospitality to all." "If you tie up the
clothes of an orphan child, the Great Spirit will notice it, and reward
you for it." "To adopt an orphan, and bring them up in virtuous ways, is
pleasing to the Great Spirit." "If strangers wander about your abode,
welcome him to your home, be hospitable towards him, speak to him with
kind words, and forget not, always to make mention of the Great Spirit."
The Indians lamentations, on being driven far away from the graves of
their fathers, have been the theme of all historians and travelers. It
can be easily imagined how those who so loved their homes and revered
their fathers' graves, would become fierce with indignation and rage, on
seeing themselves treated as without human feeling, and the sacred relics
of the dead ploughed up and scattered as indifferently as the stones, or
the bones of the moose and the deer of the forest. It was this feeling
that often prompted them to acts of hostility, which those who
experienced them, ascribed to wanton cruelty and barbarity.
In many of the villages there was a strangers home, a house, for
strangers where they were placed, while the old men went about collecting
skins for them to sleep upon, and food for them to eat, expecting no
They called it very rude for them to stare at them as they passed in the
streets, and said that they had as much curiosity as the white people,
but they did not gratify it by intruding upon them, by examining them.
They would sometimes hide behind trees in order to look at strangers, but
never stood openly and gaze at them.
Their respective attention to missionaries was often the result of their
rules of politeness, as it is a part of the Indian's code. Their councils
are eminent for decorum, and no person is interrupted during a speech.
Some Indians, after respectfully listening to a missionary, thought they
would relate to him some of their legends, but the good man could not
restrain his indignation, but pronounced them foolish fables, while what
he told them was sacred truth. The Indian was, in his turn, offended, and
said, we listened to your stories, why do you not listen to ours? you are
not instructed in the common rules of civility.
A hunter, in his wandering for game, fell among the back settlements of
Virginia, and on account of the inclemency of the weather, sought refuge
at the house of a planter, whom he met at the door. He was refused
admission. Being both hungry and thirsty, he asked for a bit of bread and
a cup of cold water. But the answer to every appeal was, "You, shall
have nothing here, get you gone you Indian dog!"
Some months afterwards this same planter lost himself in the woods, and
after a weary day of wandering, came to an Indian cabin, into which he
was welcomed. On inquiring the way and distance to the settlement, and
finding it was too far to think of going that night, he asked if he could
remain. Very cordially the inmates replied, that he was at liberty to
stay, and all they had was at his service. They gave him food, they made
a bright fire to cheer and warm him, and supplied him with clean deer-
skin for his couch, and promised to conduct him the next day on his
journey. In the morning the Indian hunter and the planter set out
together through the forest, when they came in sight of the white man's
dwelling, the hunter, about to leave, turned to his companion, and said,
"Do you not know me?" The white man was struck with horror, that he had
been so long in the power of one whom he had so inhumanly treated, and
expected now to experience his revenge. But on beginning to make excuses,
the Indian interrupted him saying, "when you see a poor Indian fainting
for a cup of cold water, don't say again, 'get you gone, you Indian
dog.'" and turned back to his hunting grounds. Which best deserved the
appellation of a christian, and to which will it most likely be said,
"Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these, ye have done it
ORIGIN OF THE CONTINENT, THE ANIMAL, AND OF THE INDIAN.
INTRODUCTION OF THE TWO PRINCIPLES OF GOOD AND EVIL INTO THE GOVERNMENT
OF THE WORLD.
The Tuscarora tradition opens with the notion that there were originally
two worlds, or regions of space, that is an upper and lower world. The
upper world was inhabited by beings resembling the human race. And the
lower world by monsters, moving on the surface and in the waters, which
is in darkness. When the human species were transferred below, and the
lower sphere was about to be rendered fit for their residence; the act of
their transferrance is by these ideas, that a female who began to descend
into the lower world, which is a region of darkness, waters, and
monsters, she was received on the back of a tortoise, where she gave
birth to male twins, and there she expired. The shell of this tortoise
expanded into a continent, which, in the English language, is called
"island," and is named by the Tuscaroras, Yowahnook. One of the children
was called Got-ti-gah-rah-quast, or good mind, the other, Got-ti-gah-
rak-senh, or bad mind. These two antagonistical principles were at
perpetual variance, it being the law of one to counteract whatever the
other did. They were not, however, men, but gods, or existences, through
whom the Great Spirit, or "Holder of the Heavens," carried out his
The first work of Got-ti-gah-rah-quast was to create the sun out of the
head of his dead mother, and the moon and stars out of the other parts of
her body. The light these gave drove the monsters into the deep waters to
hide themselves. He then prepared the surface of the continent and fitted
it for human habitation, by making it into creeks, rivers, lakes and
plains, and by filling them with the various kinds of animals and
vegetable kingdom. He then formed a man and a woman out of the earth,
gave them life, and called them Ongwahonwd, that is to say, a real
people. Meanwhile the bad mind created mountains, water-falls, and
steeps, caves, reptiles, serpents, apes, and other objects supposed to be
injurious to, or in mockery to mankind. He made an attempt also to
conceal the land animals in the ground, so as to deprive men of the means
of subsistance. This continued opposition, to the wishes of the Good
Mind, who was perpetually at work, in restoring the effects and
displacements, of the wicked devices of the other, at length led to a
personal combat, of which the time and instrument of battle were agreed
on. They fought two days; the Good Mind using the deer's horn, and the
other, using wild flag leafs, as arms. Got-ti-gah-rah-quast, or Good
Mind, who had chosen the horn, finally prevailed. His antagonist sunk
down into a region of darkness, and became the Evil Spirit of the world
of despair. Got-ti-gah-rah-quast, having obtained his triumph, retired
from the earth.
The earliest tradition that we have of the Iroquois is as follows: That a
company of Ongwahonwa being encamped on the banks of the St. Lawrence
River, where they were invaded by a nation—few in number, but were great
giants, called "Ronongwaca." War after war was brought on by personal
encounters and incidents, and carried on with perfidity and cruelty. They
were delivered at length by the skill and courage of Yatontea, who, after
retreating before them, raised a large body of men and defeated them,
after which they were supposed to be extinct. And the next they suffered
was from the malice, perfidity and lust of an extraordinary appearing
person, who they called That-tea-ro-skeh, who was finally driven across
the St. Lawrence, and come to a town south of the shores of Lake Ontario,
where, however, he only disguised his intentions, to repeat his cruel and
perfidious deeds. He assassinated many persons, and violated six virgins.
They pointed to him as a fiend in human shape.
In this age of monsters, the country was again invaded by another
monster, which they called Oyahguaharh, supposed to be some great
mammoth, who was furious against men, and destroyed the lives of many
Indian hunters, but he was at length killed, after a long and severe
A great horned serpent also next appeared on Lake Ontario who, by means
of his poisonous breath, caused disease, and caused the death of many. At
length the old women congregated, with one accord, and prayed to the
Great Spirit that he would send their grand-father, the Thunder, who
would get to their relief in this, their sore time of trouble, and at the
same time burning tobacco as burned offerings. So finally the monster was
compelled to retire in the deeps of the lake by thunder bolts. Before
this calamity was forgotten another happened. A blazing star fell into
their fort, situated on the banks of the St. Lawrence, and destroyed the
people. Such a phenomenon caused a great panic and consternation and
dread, which they regarded as ominious of their entire destruction. Not
long after this prediction of the blazing star it was verified. These
tribes, who were held together by feeble ties, fell into dispute and wars
among themselves, which were pursued through a long period, until they
had utterly destroyed each other, and so reduced their numbers that the
lands were again over-run with wild beasts.
At this period there were six families took refuge in a large cave in a
mountain, where they dwelled for a long time. The men would come out
occasionally to hunt for food. This mammoth cave was situated at or near
the falls of the Oswego River. Taryenya-wa-gon (Holder of the Heavens)
extricated these six families from this subterraneous bowels and confines
of the mountain. They always looked to this divine messenger, who had
power to assume various shapes, as emergency dictated, as the friend and
patron of their nation.
As soon as they were released he gave them instructions respecting the
mode of hunting, matrimony, worship and many other things. He warned them
against the evil spirit, and gave them corn, beans, squash, potatoes,
tobacco, and dogs to hunt their game. He bid them go toward the rising of
the sun, and he personally guided them, until they came to a river, which
they named Yehnonanatche (that is going around a mountain,) now Mohawk,
they went down the bank of the river and came to where it discharges into
a great river, running towards the midway sun, they named it Skaw-nay-
taw-ty (that is beyond the pineries) now Hudson, and went down the banks
of the river and touched the bank of the great water. The company made an
encampment at this place and remained for a while. The people was then of
one language. Some of them went on the banks of the great waters, towards
the midway sun, and never returned. But the company that remained at the
camp returned as they came—along the bank of the river, under the
direction of Taryenyawagon (Holder of the Heavens).
This company were a particular body, which called themselves of one
household. Of these there were six families, and they entered into an
agreement to preserve the chain of alliance which should not be
extinguished under any circumstance.
The company advanced some distance up the river of Skawnatawty (Hudson).
The Holder of the Heavens directed the first family to make their
residence near the bank of the river, and the family was named Tehawrogeh
(that is, a speech divided) now Mohawk. Their language soon changed. The
company then turned and went towards the sun-setting, and traveled about
two days and a half, then came to a creek, which was named Kawnatawteruh
(that is pineries). The second family was directed to make their
residence near the creek; and the family was named Nehawretahgo (that is
big tree) now Oneida. Their language was changed likewise. The company
continued to proceed toward the sun-setting under the direction of the
Holder of the Heavens. The third family was directed to make their
residence on a mountain, named Onondaga (now Onondaga), and the family
was named Seuhnowhahtah (that is, carrying the name.) Their language also
changed. The rest of the company continued their journey towards the sun-
setting. The fourth family was directed to make their residence near a
large lake, named Goyogoh (that is a mountain rising from water) now
Cayuga, and the family was named Sho-nea-na-we-to-wah (that is a great
pipe). Their language was altered. The rest of the company kept their
course towards the sun-setting. The fifth family was directed to make
their residence near a high mountain, situated south of Canandaigua Lake,
which was named Tehow-nea-nyo-hent (that is possessing a door) now
Seneca. Their language was also changed. The sixth, and last family, went
on their journey toward the sun-setting, until they touched the bank of
the great lake, which was named Kan-ha-gwa-rah-ka (that is a Cape) now
Erie, and then went toward, between the midway and sun-setting, and
traveled a great distance, when they came to a large river, which was
named O-nah-we-yo-ka (that is a principal stream) now Mississippi. The
people discovered a grapevine lying across the river, by which a part of
the people went over, but while they were crossing the vine broke. They
were divided, and became enemies, to those that were over the river in
consequence of which, they were obliged to abandon the journey. Those
that went over the river were finally lost and forgotten from the memory
of those that remained on the eastern banks.
Ta-ren-ya-wa-go (the Holder of the Heavens), who was the patron of the
five home bands, did not fail, in this crisis, to direct them their way
also. He instructed those on the eastern bank the art of the bow and
arrows, to use for game and in time of danger. After giving them suitable
instructions, he guided their footsteps in their journeys, south and
east, until they had crossed the Alleghany Mountains, and with some
wanderings they finally reached the shores of the sea, on the coast which
is now called the Carolinas. By this time their language was changed.
They were directed to fix their residence on the banks of the Gow-ta-no
(that is, pine in the water) now Neuse River, in North Carolina. Here Ta-
ren-ya-wa-gon left them to hunt, increase and prosper, whilst he returned
to direct the other five nations to form their confederacy.
Tarenyawagon united in one person the power of a God and a man, and gave
him the expressive name of the Holder of the Heavens, and was capable of
assuming any form or shape that he chosed, but appeared to them only in
the form of a man, and taught them hunting, gardening, and the knowledge
of the arts of war. He imparted to them the knowledge of the laws and
government of the Great Spirit, and gave them directions and
encouragement how to fulfill their duties and obligations. He gave them
corn, beans, and fruits of various kinds, with the knowledge of planting
those fruits. He taught them how to kill and to cook the game. He made
the forest free to all the tribes to hunt, and removed obstructions from
the streams. He took his position, sometimes, on the top of high cliffs,
springing, if needs be, over frightful chasms; and he flew, as it were,
over great lakes in a wonderful canoe of immaculate whiteness and of
Having finished his commission with the Tuscaroras at Cautanoh, in North
Carolina, and the other five families, which were left at the north, he
came down to closer terms and intimacy with the Onondagas. He resolved to
lay aside his divine character and live among them, that he might
exemplify the maxims which he had taught. And for this purpose he
selected a handsome spot of ground on the southern banks of Cross Lake,
New York. Here he built his cabin, and from the shores of this lake he
went into the forest, like the rest of his companions, in quest of game
and fish. He took a wife of the Onondagas, by whom he had an only
daughter, whom he tenderly loved, and most kindly and carefully treated
and instructed, so that she was known far and near as his favorite child,
and was regarded almost as a goddess. The excellence of his character,
and his great sagacity and good counsels, led the people to regard him
with veneration, and they gave him, in his sublunary character, the name
of Hi-a-wat-ha (a wise man). People came to him from all quarters, and
his abode was thronged by all ages and conditions who came for advice.
He became the first chief of all the land, and whomsoever he made his
companions and friends were likewise clothed with the authority of chiefs
in the tribe. In this manner all power came naturally into his hands, and
the tribe rejoiced that they had so wise and good a man as their ruler.
For in those days each tribe was independent of all others; they had not
yet formed a league, but fought and made war with each other.
Nothing that belonged to Hiawatha, in his character of Tarenyawagon, was
more remarkable than his light and magic canoe, which shone with a
supernatural lustre, and in which he had performed so many of his
extraordinary feats. This canoe was laid aside when he came to fix his
residenee at Cross Lake, and never used it but for great and
extraordinary purposes. When great councils were called, and he assembled
the wise men to deliberate together, the sacred canoe was carefully
lifted from the grand lodge; and after these occasions were ended, it was
carefully returned to the same receptacle, on the shoulders of men, who
felt honored in being the bearers of such a precious burden.
Thus passed away many years, and every year saw the people increasing in
numbers, skill, arts and bravery. It was among the Onondagas that
Tarenyawagon had located himself, although he regarded the other tribes
as friends and brothers; he had become indentified as an adopted member
of this particular tribe. Under his teaching and influence they became
the first among all the original tribes, and rose to the highest
distinction in every art which was known to or prized by the Akonoshuni
(Iroquois). They were the wisest counsellors, the best orators, the most
expert hunters, and the bravest warriors. They also afforded the highest
examples of obedience to the laws of the Great Spirit. If offences took
place, Hiawatha redressed them, and his wisdom and moderation preserved
the tribe from feuds. Hence, the Onondagas were early noted among all the
tribes for their pre-eminence. He appeared to devote his chief attention
to them, that he might afterwards make them examples to the others, in
arts and wisdom. They were foremost in the overthrow of the Stonish
Giants and the killing of the great Serpent. To be an Onondaga was the
While Hiawatha was thus living in domestic life quietly among the people
of the hills, and administering their simple government with wisdom, they
became alarmed by the sudden news of the approach of a furious and
powerful enemy from north of the great lakes. As the enemy advanced, they
made an indiscriminate slaughter of men, women and children. The people
fled from their villages a short time before them, and there was no heart
in the people to make a stand against such powerful and ruthless
invaders. In this emergency, they fled to Hiawatha for his advice. He
counseled them to call a general council of all the tribes from the east
and west. "For," said he, "our strength is not in the war club and arrows
alone, but in wise counsels." He appointed a place on the banks of
Onondaga Lake for the meeting. It was a clear eminence from which there
was a wide prospect. Runners were dispatched in every direction, and the
chiefs, warriors and headmen forthwith assembled in great numbers,
bringing with them, in the general alarm, their women and children.
Fleets of canoes were seen on the bosom of the lake, and every inteterior
warpath was kept open by the foot-prints of the different tribes,
hurrying to obey the summons of Hiawatha. All but the wise man himself
had been there for three days, anxiously awaiting the arrival of
Hiawatha, when a messenger was dispatched after him. They found him
gloomy and depressed. Some great burden appeared to hang on his mind. He
told them that evil lay on his path, and that he had fearful forebodings
of ill-fortune. He felt that he was called to make some great sacrifice,
but he did not know what it was, it seemed to be hid from him. Least of
all did he think it was to be his daughter: ever careful of her, he bade
her kindly to accompany him. Nothing happened to hinder, or at all
interrupt their voyage. The Talismanic canoe, which held them, gllded
silently down the waters of the Seneca; not a paddle was necessary to
give it impetus, while it pursued the downward course of the stream till
they reached the point of the lake outlet. At this point Hiawatha took
his paddle and gave it impetus against the current, until they entered on
the bright and calm surface of the Onondaga, cradled, as this blue sheet
of water is, among the lofty and far-swelling hills. When the white canoe
of the venerable chief appeared, a shout of welcome rang among those
hills. The day was calm and serene. No wind ruffled the lake, and
scarcely a cloud floated in the sky above. But while the wise man was
measuring his steps towards the place designated for the council, and
while ascending from the water's edge, a rumbling and low sound was
heard, as if it were caused by the approach of a violent, rushing wind.
Instantly all the eyes were turned upwards, where a small and compact
mass of cloudy darkness appeared. It gathered in size and velocity as it
approached, and appeared to be directed inevitably to fall in the midst
of the assembly. Every one fled in consternation but Hiawatha and his
daughter. He stood erect, with ornaments waving in his frontlet, and
besought his daughter calmly to await the issue, "for it is impossible,"
said he, "to escape the power of the Great Spirit. If he has determined
our destruction we cannot, by running, fly from him." She modestly
assented and they stood together, while horror was depicted in the faces
of the others. But the force of the descending body was that of a sudden
storm. They had hardly taken the resolution to halt when an immense bird,
with long, extended wings, came down with swoop. This gigantic agent of
the sky came with such force that the assembly felt the shock. The girl
being in a nature, and embodied in the combination of the Terrestial and
Celestial nature, was beautiful and fascinating in her looks and form,
was borne away by this Celestial Bird to be seen no more upon the earth.
But Hiawatha was inconsolable for his loss. He grieved sorely, day and
night, and wore a desponding and dejected countenance. But these were
only faint indications of the feelings of his heart. He threw himself
upon the ground, and refused to be comforted. He seemed dumb with
melancholy, and the people were concerned of his life. He spoke nothing;
he made no answers to questions put to him, and laid still as if dead.
After several days the council appointed a certain merry-hearted Chief to
make him a visit, and to whisper a word of consolation in his ears to
arouse him from his stupor. The result was successful. He approached with
ceremonies and induced him to arise, and named the time when the council
would convene. Yet haggard with grief, he called for refreshments and
ate. He then adjusted his wardrobe and head-dress and went to the
council. He drew his robe of wolf-skin gracefully around him, and walked
to his seat at the head of the assembled chiefs with a majestic step.
Stiliness and the most profound attention reigned in the council while he
presided, and the discussion opened and proceeded. The subject of the
invasion was handled by several of the ablest counselors and the bravest
warriors. Various plans were proposed to defeat the enemy. Hiawatha
listened with silence until all had finished speaking. His opinion was
then asked. After a brief allusion of the calamity which had befallen him
through the descent of the great bird by the Great Spirit, he spoke to
the following effect:
"I have listened to the words of the wise men and brave chiefs, but it is
not fitting that we should do a thing of so much importance in haste; it
is a subject demanding calm reflection and mature deliberation. Let us
postpone the decision for one day. During this time we will weigh well
the words of the speakers who have already spoken. If they are good, I
will then approve of them. If they are not, I will then open to you my
plan. It is one which I have reflected on, and feel confident that it
will insure safety."
When another day had expired, the council again met. Hiawatha entered the
assembly with even more than ordinary attention, and every eye was fixed
upon him, when he began to address the council in the following words:
"Friends and Brothers:—You being members of many tribes, you have come
from a great distance; the voice of war has aroused you up; you are
afraid of your homes, your wives and your children; you tremble for your
safety. Believe me, I am with you. My heart beats with your hearts. We
are one. We have one common object. We come to promote our common
interest, and to determine how this can be best done.
"To oppose those hordes of northern tribes, singly and alone, would prove
certain destruction. We can make no progress in that way. We must unite
ourselves into one common band of brothers. We must have but one voice.
Many voices makes confusion. We must have one fire, one pipe and one war
club. This will give us strength. If our warriors are united they can
defeat the enemy and drive them from our land; if we do this, we are
"Onondaga, you are the people sitting under the shadow of the Great
Tree, whose branches spread far and wide, and whose roots sink deep
into the earth. You shall be the first nation, because you are warlike
"Oneida, and you, the people who recline your bodies against the
Everlasting Stone, that cannot be moved, shall be the second
nation, because you always give good counsel.
"Seneca, and you, the people who have your habitation at the foot of the
Great Mountain, and are overshadowed by its crags, shall be the
third nation, because you are all greatly gifted in speech.
"Cayuga, you, whose dwelling is in the Dark Forest, and whose home
is everywhere, shall be the fourth nation, because of your superior
cunning in hunting.
"Mohawk, and you, the people who live in the open country, and possess
much wisdom, shall be the fifth nation, because you understand better the
art of raising corn and beans and making cabins.
"You five great and powerful nations, with your tribes, must unite and
have one common interest, and no foes shall disturb or subdue you.
"And you of the different nations of the south, and you of the west, may
place yourselves under our protection, and we will protect you. We
earnestly desire the alliance and friendship of you all.
"And from you, Squaw-ki-haws (being a remote branch of the Seneca
Nation), being the people who are as the Feeble Bushes, shall be
chosen, a Virgin, who shall be the peacemaker for all the nations of the
earth, and more particularly the favored Ako-no-shu-ne, which name this
confederacy shall ever sustain. If we unite in one band the Great Spirit
will smile upon us, and we shall be free, prosperous and happy; but if we
shall remain as we are we shall incur his displeasure. We shall be
enslaved, and perhaps annihilated forever.
"Brothers, these are the words of Hiawatha. Let them sink deep into your
hearts. I have done."
A deep and impressive silence followed the delivery of this speech. On
the following day the council again assembled to act on it. High wisdom
recommended this deliberation.
The union of the tribes into one confederacy was discussed and
unanimously adopted. To denote the character and intimacy of the union
they employed the figure of a single council-house, or lodge, whose
boundaries be co-extensive with their territories. Hence the name of Ako-
no-shu-ne, who were called the Iroquois.
The great bird which visited them from heaven brought a precious gift to
the warriors in the white plumes which she shed at the visit. Every
warrior, as he approached the spot where they fell, picked up a feather
of snowy white to adorn his crown; and the celestial visitant thus became
the means of furnishing the aspirants of military fame with an emblem
which was held in the highest estimation. Succeeding generations imbibed
the custom from this incident to supply themselves with a plumage
approaching it as nearly as possible; they selected the plume of the
At the formation of the confederacy Ato-ta-rho, being considered next in
wisdom and all other traits of character which constitutes the necessary
qualifications of an honored Sachem, was ordained as the head Sachem of
the confederacy, which office has been transmitted down to succeeding
generations of the Onondaga Nation to the present time.
Hiawatha, the guardian and founder of the league, having now accomplished
the will of the Great Spirit, and the withdrawal of his daughter having
been regarded by him as a sign that his mission was ended, he immediately
prepared to make his final departure. Before the great council, which had
adopted his advice just before dispersing, he arose, with a dignified
air, and addressed them in the following manner:
"Friends and Brothers:—I have now fulfilled my mission here below; I
have furnished you seeds and grains for your gardens; I have removed
obstructions from your waters, and made the forest habitable by teaching
you how to expel its monsters; I have given you fishing places and
hunting grounds; I have instructed you in the making and using of war
implements; I have taught you how to cultivate corn, and many other arts
and gifts. I have been allowed by the Great Spirit to communicate to you.
Last of all, I have aided you to form a league of friendship and union.
If you preserve this, and admit no foreign element of power by the
admission of other nations, you will always be free, numerous and happy.
If other tribes and nations are admitted to your councils, they will sow
the seed of jealousy and discord, and you will become few, feeble and
"Friends and brothers, these are the last words you will hear from the
lips of Hiawatha. The Great Creator of our bodies calls me to go; I have
patiently awaited his summons; I am ready to go. Farewell."
As the voice of the wise man ceased, sweet strains of music from the air
burst on the ears of the multitude. The whole sky appeared to be filled
with melody; and while all eyes were directed to catch glimpses of the
sights, and enjoy strains of the celestial music that filled the sky,
Hiawatha was seen, seated in his snow-white canoe, amid the air,
rising, rising with every choral chant that burst out. As he rose
the sound of the music became more soft and faint, until he vanished amid
the summer clouds, and the melody ceased. Thus terminated the labors and
cares of the long-cherished memory of Ta-ren-ya-wa-gon.
I will now resume the history of the sixth and last family, the Tuscarora
On-gwe-hon-wa, that were left at the Neuse river, or Gan-ta-no. Here they
increased in numbers, valor and skill, and in all knowledge of the arts
necessary in forest life. The country was wide and covered with dense
wilderness, large rivers and lakes, which gave shelter to many fierce
animals and monsters which beset their pathways and kept them in dread.
Now the Evil Spirit also plagued them with monstrous visitations. They
were often induced to change their locations; sometimes from fear of
enemies and sometimes from epidemics, or some strange visitations.
I will now relate a few of the monsters that plagued them: The first
enemy that appeared to question their power or disturb their peace was
the fearful phenomenon of Ko-nea-rah-yah-neh, or the flying heads. The
heads were enveloped in beard and hair, flaming like fire; they were of
monstrous size, and shot through the air with the speed of meteors. Human
power was not adequate to cope with them. The priests pronounced them a
flowing power of some mysterious influence, and it remained with the
priests alone to expel them by their magic power.
[Illustration: Flying head and woman sitting by the fire]
Drum and rattle and enchantments were deemed more effective than arrows
or clubs. One evening, after they had been plagued a long time with
fearful visitations, the flying head came to the door of a lodge occupied
by a single female and her dog. She was sitting composedly before the
fire roasting acorns, which, as they became cooked, she deliberately took
from the fire and ate. Amazement seized the flying head, who put out two
huge black paws from under his streaming beard. Supposing the woman to be
eating live coals he withdrew, and from that time he came no more among
And they were also invaded by a still more fearful enemy, the Ot-nea-yar-
heh, or Stonish Giants. They were a powerful tribe from the wilderness,
tall, fierce and hostile, and resistance to them was vain. They defeated
and overwhelmed an army which was sent out against them, and put the
whole country in fear. These giants were not only of great strength, but
they were cannibals, devouring men, women and children in their inroads.
[Illustration: Stonish giant chasing indians.]
It is said by the Shawnees that these giants were descended from a
certain family which was journeying on the east side of the Mississippi.
After some of them had crossed the river on a vine it broke, which left
the main body on the east bank of the river. Those who were on the west
side of the river went toward the northwest. Being abandoned in their
wanderings, and being vagrants, without any knowledge of the arts of
life, they forgot the rules of humanity. They at first began to eat their
game in the raw flesh, which led them finally to become cannibals, and
they practiced to roll themselves in the sand, which caused their bodies
to be covered with a hard skin, so that the arrows of the Tuscaroras only
rattled against their rough bodies and fell at their feet. And the
consequence was, that they were obliged to bide in caves and glens, and
were brought into subjection by those fierce invaders for many winters.
At length the Holder of the Heavens visited his people, and finding that
they were in great distress, he determined to relieve them of these
barbarous invaders. To accomplish this he changed himself as into one of
those giants. As you will remember, it is said that he was able to change
himself into any shape that he wished. He then joined himself with the
invaders, and brandishing his heavy war club, led them on under the
pretence of finding the other five nations, which they were also in the
habit of visiting. When they came near to the strong fort at Onondaga,
they being weary of the long journey, and the night being dark, their
leader bade them lie down at the foot of a mountain until the customary
time to make the attack, which was at the break of day. But during the
night the Indian benefactor ascended the height and overwhelmed the
slumberers below with a vast mass of rocks. At this catastrophe only one
escaped to carry the news of their dreadful fate, and he fled toward the
The Tuscaroras and the other five nations were so much troubled with
giants and other monsters that they were obliged to build forts to
protect themselves. The way they built them was always by selecting an
eminence, or rocky cliff, and on the back part was dug a trench according
to the plan of the fort. Then timbers were set in the trench upright,
projecting above the ground several feet, and being adjusted together as
close as possible, and the trench being filled in again. They had two
gates, one way to get their water, the other for a sally port.
They were also molested by a terrific animal which they called Ro-qua-ho
—a variegated lizzard—a swift runner and strikes very violent blows with
its tail, which destroyed many hunters while lying in lurk for them. One
day while a party of hunters were on their journey to camp-out for the
purpose of hunting, the party consisting of four, they came to a very
large hollow tree where they noticed quite a number of great marks of
claws on the bark of the tree. Supposing it to be the lodge of bears,
they laid their bundles down and made ready for their game. One of them
bounded on the tree and climbed it, and he struck the trunk of the tree
several times. When the supposed bear appeared, to their consternation it
was found to be the enemy they so much dreaded, the Ro-qua-ho. The person
on the tree only stepped behind it and the other three ran away for their
lives. The Ro-qua-ho came down and pursued them, and while yet in sight
one was caught, killed and brought back, and he carried the body into the
tree. Then he went after the second which was brought in a short time,
after which, he went for the third; then the one on the tree came down
and ran away also. While on his way he heard a voice calling him; he
stopped, and behold, a man of stately form, with long flowing hair stood
and said, "Why run? I have seen the distress of my people, I have come to
deliver them out of trouble; now confide in me and we will prevail. I am
your benefactor, Tarenyawagon. Get behind me, the enemy is approaching."
In the twinkling of an eye this Celestial being was changed, and assumed
himself into a great white bear. When the Roquaho came a great struggle
ensued, but with the help of the man the enemy was killed.
They were again molested by an extraordinary and ferocious animal in
various places—a mammoth bear. One morning while a party of hunters were
in their camp, they were alarmed by a great tumult breaking out from the
forest. Upon going to ascertain the cause of this extraordinary noise,
they saw the great monster on the bank pawing and rolling stones and logs
in every direction, exhibiting the utmost rage. Another great animal of
the cat kind appeared, and seized the bear and a dreadful fight ensued.
In the end the bear got the worst of it and retired horribly mangled, and
never was heard of afterwards.
After a while a pestiferous and annoying creature of the insect kind
appeared in the guise of the Ro-tay-yo (a huge mosquito). It first
appeared among the Tuscaroras along the Neuse river. It flew about with
vast wings, making a loud noise, with a long stinger; and on whomsoever
it lighted it sucked out all the blood and killed them. Many warriors
were destroyed in this way, and all attempts made to subdue it were vain;
but at length it retired of itself. Next they heard that it appeared
about the fort at Onondaga, where it also destroyed many lives, until
Tarenyawagon made a visit to the ruler of the Onondagas. The great
mosquito happened to come flying about the fort as usual at that time.
Tarenyawago immediately made his attack, but such was the rapidity of its
flight, that he could scarcely keep in sight of it. He chased it around
the borders of the great lakes, towards the sun-setting, and around the
great country at large, east and west. At last he overtook it, and took
his strong bow and sent an arrow which struck him through the heart and
killed him, near Gen-an-do-a (the salt lake of Onondaga). From the blood
flowing out on this occasion were the present species of small mosquito
I have now related a few of the tragedies of the dark recesses of the
forest, from the many that our tradition relates.
There was also a little old man of singular appearance that frequented
among them at their ball plays, and did not seem to be inclined to make
acquaintance with any one, but kept by himself and appeared to be mild
and humble. At length this man became very sick with putrefying sores
from head to foot and was very loathesome. Nobody knew who he was or
where he came from: he had no home; he gave his name as Qua-ra, or
Rabbit: he went from house to house of all the different clans or tribes
in the nation, as for instance, the Eel, Snipe, Beaver, Turtle, Wolf,
Deer. When he would approach the house, seemingly to go in, they would
loathe him to enter, and when he came to the doorstep he would seem to
hear their thoughts and then return; thus he was repulsed from all the
houses of the above clans, he finally came to the house of the Bear clan.
When the mistress of the house observed him coming, she had pity on him,
and presently prepared a bed for him with the best deerskins she had;
when he came to the door he knew her hospitable heart and went in. She
immediately assured him of his welcome in her meanly hut, and that she
was ready to do everything in her power to relieve his distress, and
appointed his lodge where he had laid himself nearly exhausted. He then
told her to go and get the root of a certain kind of plant, which she
immediately did and prepared according to his direction, which he took
and readily recovered. He then went through a series of diseases,
directing her as before to get the different kind of medicines for the
different diseases. Lastly, he became sick with that fatal disease,
consumption. This he said was incurable, and he must die. He then told
her he was a messenger from Tarenyawagon, to show them the diseases that
they should be subjected to, and also the medicine to cure them. And also
to tell them the predictions of their fate and doom. Said he could not
withhold the water from his eyes, or keep from quaking when he thought of
their irrevocable doom to which they were destined, and said: "There is a
habitation beyond these great waters towards the sun-rising, which are
inhabited by beings of very pale faces, and are looking only to
themselves, have pity for nobody, and make their delight in doing
mischief. They have killed Rah-wah-ne-yo (God); they mocked him and done
all manner of bad things to him, and finally, they fastened him to a tree
until he died. But death and the grave had not power to hold him. He
arose and lives again, and he has gone to the world above, in those happy
hunting grounds where all good O-qua-ho-wa (Indians), will go when they
die, and will see him as he is.
"Now this class of pale-faces will come across the great waters and make
their abode on this island, and will bring poison to give you to drink,
which will poison the spirit and kill the body. They will kill your
husbands, brothers and sons, and drive you away to the sun-setting, and
will deprive the children that are coming behind, off their domain. They
will drive you until you are in the great salt water up to your waist.
Oh, hostess, this is the final doom of your great nation.
"And now as for you, Oh, mother, I have no words that I can utter, to
express the sincere gratitude of my inmost soul. I have nothing to give
to compensate you for all the tenderness you have given me. But my
blessings I will leave with you. I place in the midst of your clan, the
Bear, a majestic pine tree, which is ever green, and as the top reaches
above all other trees, so will your clan be. Wherever the nation will be
driven to, your clan will multiply above all others, and be the ruler of
the nation. This is all I have to deliver unto you. I now commend myself
to that Great Spirit that has made us all, who ruleth above."
Thus ended the last messenger of Tarenyawagon, who is now basking in the
pleasures of that hunting ground in the world above.
Before the discovery, by Columbus, the Tuscaroras consisted of six towns,
and they were a powerful nation, numbering over twelve hundred warriors,
which, at a ratio according to the rule of estimating, would bring them
at about five or six thousand souls.
The Tuscaroras had many years of enjoyment and peaceful possession of
their domain, consisting of six towns on the Roanoke, Neuse, Taw and
Pemlico rivers, in the State of North Carolina. And they were also
confederated to six other nations, which were the Corees, Mattamuskeets,
Notaways and the Bear River Indians; the names of the other two nations I
have been unable to obtain. My readers will readily see why some writers
have it that they consisted in twelve towns, and other writers would have
it that they consisted in six towns. The real Tuscaroras consisted in six
towns; but with the confederate nations, altogether, were known to be in
twelve towns, and all these different nations which composed the
confederacy went under the name of Tuscarora, the Tuscaroras being the
most powerful of the several nations.
The tradition of the Tuscaroras admits of having captured Lawson and his
party, and executed some of them to death on account of their
encroachments upon their domain; but concerning the massacre of Oct. 2d,
1711, the Tuscaroras emphatically deny having taken any part in the
affair whatever, officially. The project was presented to them and in the
council of the sachems, chiefs and warriors, they emphatically declined
taking any part in such a movement, but said if the colonists made
encroachments and trespass on their domain, it is no more than right and
just that we defend our rights, and even cautioned their young men that
they should not take any part whatever in the action; but, nevertheless,
there were a few of the rash and reckless warriors that took part in the
The Corees, Mattamuskeets, and Bear River Indians seemed to be the
instigators of the project: but there were several other nations that
took part in the massacre. These three nations being considered
Tuscaroras, on account of the confederacy, and the capture of Lawson and
his party a little previous to this time by the Tuscaroras, led the
colonists to conclude that it was the Tuscaroras who caused the disaster,
and to them was directed the feud of the colonists.
A little previous to these disorders, it seems that there were some white
men, as our tradition states, with long coats and wide brimmed hats,
visited several nations of the Indians in that neighborhood, and appeared
to be very friendly toward them, wished them success in everything, and
told them that those settlers who were on the borders of their lands and
constantly encroaching and committing depredations upon the Indians, were
not of the government, but were merely squatters, who settled there of
their own accord, and if they were cut off, there would be none to avenge
them, and were advised to do so.
It has always been a question in my mind who those white men were, to
give such rash advice. Were they Quakers? But what motive had they in
advising, from which so great a disaster was the result? Or, were they
men in disguise, from the county of Bath, in which the massacre was
committed, to make the Indians believe that they were Quakers, as the two
counties were in arms against each other at that time.
To coroborate the tradition above, I would call your attention to part of
a letter from President Pollock to Lord Craven, in the year 1712, who
attributes the calamity thus:
"Our divisions," says he, "chiefly occasioned by the Quakers and some
other ill-disposed persons, have been the cause of all the troubles, for
the Indians were informed by some of the traders that the people who
lived here are only a few vagabonds, who had run away from other
governments and settled here of their own accord, without any authority,
so that if they were cut off, there would be none to revenge them. This
with their seeing our differences rise to such a heighth, that consisting
of two counties only, were in arms one against the other, encouraged them
to fall upon the county of Bath, expecting it would have no assistance
from this nor any other of the English plantations. This is the chief
cause that moved the Indians to rise against us, as far as I understand."
The Tuscaroras never had the inclination of cutting off the inhabitance
of the pale faces. Nevertheless, they did not always remain idle or
unconcerned spectators of the feuds and dissensions that so long
prevailed among the white people, toward the red men. The successive and
regular encroachments, on their hunting grounds and plantations, which
the increase of the European population occasioned, had not always been
submitted to without murmur.
Although they were pleased with the neighbors, from whom they had trade
for their furs, and could procure spirituous liquors and other articles,
which tended to the gratification of their real or imaginary wants. And
they were required to surrender larger and larger portions of their
domain, and at last, the removal of families from the neighborhood of
their long cherished memories of the graves of their ancestors, to the
more distant and less valuable tracts of land. Other causes of animosity
and ill-will were not wanting. Their hunters were shot down like so many
beasts, at the edge of the settlement, killed in their wigwams, their
young females' chastity violated, and many other things might be related,
which their tradition shows. But I have neither heart nor inclination to
bring to a resurrection the long gone-by memories of our forefathers. I
would that all were cast into oblivion, where might not be found neither
trace nor track; but rather that the chain of friendship which has
existed for more than a century between the Tuscaroras and the United
States Government may be made brighter and brighter as time rolls on.
I have said that the Tuscaroras never had the inclination of cutting off
the first colonies, and if that were their desire, how readily would they
have excepted the advice of President Thomas Carey, through one of his
counsel—Edward Porter—in the year 1710, of which you will find in
Martin's History of North Carolina a difficulty between Gov. Hyde and the
above, to-wit: "Before any relief could be sent he attempted the landing
of some of his men under fire of his brig, but they were repulsed by the
militia of the neighborhood, which Gov. Hyde had time to collect. They
returned on board, and their Chief sought a safe retreat in the swamps of
the Tar river, where he raised his standard and endeavored to bring the
Tuscarora Indians into an alliance. For this purpose he dispatched to
them Edward Porter, one of his counsel, who endeavored by promises of
great rewards to induce them to cut off all the inhabitants of that part
of the province who adhered to Gov. Hyde. This was acceded to by some of
his young warriors, but when the matter was debated in council the old
men dissuaded them from listening to Porter."
Now, did not some of Carey's men go afterwards to some of the neighboring
Indian nations and induced them, in the year 1710, to commit the
I suppose to the critical reader, and to the people generally, my writing
will appear to them fictitious, because of their first impression, which
has been taught them by many historians. Historians generally have given
only one side of the story, and have avoided, as much as possible, to
give the history of the wrongs done to the Tuscaroras, but they are very
scrupulous to preserve the history of the capture of Lawson, his
execution and of the massacre, which they allege to have been committed
by the Tuscaroras, and are styled by many as being inimical, haughty,
jealous, warlike bloodhounds, bloodthirsty and scarcely to be human.
These are the first impressions made by the historians upon the mind of
the world. I suppose, for the purpose of getting a general verdict, that
it was right; that they were crushed as a nation, their domain snatched
from them, driven into the cold world, and not a word has been written by
historians, or the Tuscaroras themselves, to vindicate their cause.
But with all the great tide of prejudiced feelings towards the
Tuscaroras, I have ventured to write their history as I have received it,
and think it to be true.
After the massacre, and the Tuscaroras heard it reported that they were
charged with being the author of the disaster, they immediately sent
messengers and denied the charge of having officially taken any part in
the disorder, but acknowledged that a few of the reckless and lawless
warriors did take part against their admonitions, but they were willing
to make all the restoration that was in their power to do, and would
fight for them if necessary. At different times they petitioned,
remonstrated and supplicated for peace, which was slighted and
disregarded, and only produced more violence and insult.
Notice what Governor Spotswood, of Virginia, said concerning the
Tuscaroras, to wit:
"On the first of the disaster I sent a detachment of the militia to the
tributary Indians of this province to prevent them from joining in the
war, and understanding that the Indians in some of the Tuscarora towns
had refused to march against the whites, sent a messenger to invite them,
with the rest of the friendly tribes, to a conference at the Nottoway
line, on the southern border of Virginia, where he met them on the 7th of
"The Governor, after entering into some conversation with the Chiefs, had
the pleasure of finding the report which his messengers had made, from
their observations while in the Tuscarora towns, that they were very
desirous of continuing in peace, and were greatly concerned that any of
their nation should have joined in the massacre."
The Chiefs, after accounting for the delay that occurred, expressed the
desire of the Indians of their towns to continue in strict friendship
with the whites, and assist them in chastising the authors of the late
"But now an unfortunate difference arose between the Governor and the
burgesses, the latter insisting on the passage of a bill for raising an
army in Virginia, without trusting to the sincerity of the profession of
the Tuscarora Chiefs. The Governor refusing to accede to this
proposition, and declining to co-operate in their plans, the dispute
ended by a dissolution of the assembly."
There was at one time a treaty of peace concluded between the Sachems and
Chiefs of the Tuscaroras and Governor Spotswood, of Virginia, and one of
the conditions of the treaty was to help in chastising the authors of the
late massacre. In conformity with this pledge the Tuscaroras made an
attack on the Mattamuskeets, where they obtained thirty scalps and
presented them to the authorities of the whites, of which they pretended
to be pleased. I don't doubt but that they were really pleased, but not
with any good feelings towards the Tuscaroras. I suppose the object was
to get all the other Indian nations alienated from them, so that in due
time they might be easily conquered, because they were the nation that
the whites seemed bent on destroying. The Tuscaroras had faith in the
treaty, but only to disappoint them in the thought of having the dark
cloud which hung so glowingly over them taken away. It is said by
historians that the Tuscaroras disregarded the treaty and began
hostilities. But I will relate a tradition, handed down from generation
to generation, which is as follows, to wit:
Some little time after the treaty concluded, several white men went into
one of their towns and said that they were sent by the government to
distribute among them an annuity of goods in token of friendship; and
also said, "In token of your sincerity to the treaty of peace, you will
all repair to a place where there is a cord stretched out in a straight
line, you must all take hold of the line with your right hand, and all
those that refuse to take hold will be considered as hostile and will be
omitted in the distribution of the goods." They all went to the place
designated and found the cord strung out for nearly a mile; at one end of
it was a bundle covered with cloth, which, as they supposed, contained
the goods; so the unsuspecting Indians, women and children, with eager
hearts, laid hold on the rope. When it was thought that they were in a
proper position, the white men all at once uncovered the supposed goods,
which was a large cannon, and being prepared to shoot in a line with the
cord it was at once fired and roared like thunder. In a moment the ground
along the cord was strewn with the meats of the Tuscaroras. This is one
of the effects of the treaty at that time.
I will copy a report of Governor Spotswood to the Lords Commissioners of
Trade, in the year 1711, to-wit:
"Had they," said he, "really intended to carry on the war against the
Indians, they could not have done it in a more frugal way than by the
treaty I concluded with the Tuscarora chiefs.
"Indeed, some of that house, since the dissolution, own more freely than
they would do while sitting, that most of the irregularities of their
proceedings are owing to some rash votes, passed without foresight, which
they could not afterwards get over without breaking the rules of their
house; and so they chose, rather, to let the country suffer than to own
themselves in an error.
"Some of the Tuscarora chiefs have lately been with Governor Spotswood,
of Virginia, and pretend a great inclination to peace.
"They are again to be with him on the 26th of this month; we are to send
two agents to meet them there—Mr. Tobias Knight and Mayor Christophe
Gale—not with any expectation that the Governor will make any treaty for
us, for that would be dishonorable to your lordship and make us appear
contemptible in the eyes of the Indians, but with a view to hear what
they have to propose."
I might quote many more passages similar to those above, but let these
few suffice to show how the Tuscaroras were treated. Now, finally, with a
combination of causes, they were in 1713, crushed and broken down as a
nation, to satisfy the inclinations of the white people, persecutions
being kept up by neighboring whites and southern Indians until June
following. The Oneida Indians, having heard of the disaster to the
Tuscarora Nation, invited them to come and make their dwelling among
them: so, accordingly, they left Carolina and took their journey north to
rejoin their sister nations.
Methink I can see them leaving their once cherished homes—the aged, the
helpless, the women and children, and the warriors faint and few—the
ashes are cold on their native hearth; the smoke no more curls round
their lowly cabin: they move on with slow, unsteady steps; they turn to
take a last look upon their doomed village and cast a last glance upon
the long cherished memories of their fathers' graves. They shed no tears;
they utter no cries: they heave no groans, they linger but a moment. They
know and feel that there is for them still one more remove further, not
distant nor unseen.
One bright, sunny June morning, in the year 1813, was one of the darkest
days that the Tuscaroras ever witnessed, when most of the nation took
their pace to the north until they came within the bounds of the Oneida
domain, about two miles west of Tamaqua, in the state of Pennsylvania,
where they located and set out apple trees which can be seen to this day:
some of the trees, will measure about two feet in diameter. Here they
dwelled for about two years.
In about the year 1815, the Iroquois, being the Mohawk, Onondaga, Seneca,
Oneida and Cayuga nations, which were then called the five nations, had a
general council where the Tuscarora made an application through their
brothers the Oneida, to be admitted into the Iroquois and become the
sixth nation, on the grounds of a common generic origin, which was
granted them unanimously. Then the Seneca adopted the Tuscarora as their
children. Ever since that time to the present, if a Seneca addresses the
Tuscaroras, he will invariably salute them as "my sons," in social or in
council; and also the Tuscaroras in return will say "my fathers." The
relation has always been kept up to the present.
The Tuscaroras were then initiated without enlarging the frame-work of
the confederacy and formation of the League, by allowing them their own
Sachems and Chiefs, which they had as hereditary from their nation in the
south, except on which they gave, as the Holder of the Tree, to sit and
enjoy a nominal equality in the councils of the League, by the courtesy
of the other five nations. They were not dependent, but were admitted to
as full an equality as could be granted them without enlarging the frame-
work of the confederacy. In the councils of the League they had no
national designation. They were then assigned a portion of the Oneidas'
territory, which is lying upon the Unadilla river on the east, the
Chenango on the west, and the Susquehanna on the south, where they
dwelled and enjoyed their peace again for about seventy years. In 1736
they numbered 200 warriors of fighting men.
We again hear of the Tuscarora by history, concerning a massacre of the
German Flats, N. Y., in November, 1757.
A narrative communicated to the author of the Documentary History of New
York, vol. 2, page 520, viz: A few days after this massacre and
desolation had been perpetrated, Sir William Johnson dispatched Geo.
Croghan, Esq., Deputy Agent, with Mr. Montour, the Indian interpreter, to
the German Flats, where he understood several of the Oneida and Tuscarora
Indians were assembled, in order to call upon them to explain why they
had not given more timely notice to the Germans of the designs and
approach of the enemy, it having been reported that no intelligence had
been given by the Indians until the same morning the attack was made, and
as these Indians might naturally be supposed, from their situation and
other circumstances, to have had an earlier knowledge of the enemy's
design and march.
Before Mr. Croghan could get up to the German Flats the aforesaid Indians
were on their road homewards, but he was informed that the Chief Sachem
of the Upper Oneida town, with a Tuscarora Sachem (which is supposed to
be Solomon Longboard) and another Oneida Indian, were still about four
miles from Fort Harkeman, upon which he sent a messenger to acquaint them
that he was at the said fort.
The aforesaid Indians returned, and on the 3oth of November, at Fort
Harkeman, Conaghquieson, the Oneida Sachem, made the following speech to
Mr. Croghan, having first called in one Rudolph Shumaker, Hanjost Harkman
and several other Germans who understood the Indian language, and desired
them to sit down and hear what he had to say. Conaghquieson then
proceeded and said:
"Brothers:—I can't help telling you that we were very much surprised to
hear that our English brethren suspect and charge us with not giving them
timely notice of the designs of the French, as it is well known we have
not neglected to give them every piece of intelligence that came to our
"Brothers, about fifteen days before the affair happened we sent the
Germans word that some Swegatchi Indians told us that the French were
determined to destroy the German Flats, and desired them to be on their
guard. About six days after that we had a further account from the
Swegatchi Indians that the French were preparing to march.
"I then came to the German Flats, and in a meeting with the Germans told
them what we had heard, and desired to collect themselves together in a
body at their fort, [Footnote: A stockaded work round the church, and a
block-house, with a ditch, and a parapet thrown up by Sir William
Johnson, a year ago, upon an alarm then given.] and secure their women,
children and effects, and to make the best defence they could. At the
same time I told them to write what I had said to our brother,
Warraghryagey (meaning Sir William Johnson [Footnote: They never sent
this intelligence to Sir William Johnson.]), but they paid not the least
regard to what I told them, and laughed at me, slapping their hands on
their buttocks, saying they did not value the enemy, upon which I
returned home and sent one of our people to the lake (meaning Oneida
Lake) to find out whether the enemy were coming or not. After he had
staid there two days the enemy arrived at the carrying-place, and sent
word to the castle at the lake that they were there, and told them what
they were going to do, but charged them not to let us at the upper castle
know anything of their design. As soon as the man I sent there heard this
he came on to us with the account that night; and as soon as we received
it we sent a belt of wampum, to confirm the truth thereof, to the Flats,
which came here the day before the enemy made their attack: but the
people would not give credit to the account even then, or they might have
saved their lives. [Footnote: The Indians who brought the belt of wampum,
finding the Germans still incredulous, the next morning, just before the
attack began, laid hold on the German Minister, and in a manner forced
him over to the other side of the river, by which means he and some who
followed him escaped the fate of their brethren.] This is the truth, and
those Germans here present know it to be so. The aforesaid Germans did
acknowledge it to be so, and that they had such intelligence.
The Oneida being the original owner of the tract of land assigned to the
Tuscarora as aforesaid, were made party with the Tuscarora to the treaty
made at Fort Herkimer in the year 1785, by which it was ceded to the
State, and the Oneida took all the avails of the treaty. The Tuscaroras
were then again left without a home and were partially scattered among
the other nations, although they continued to preserve their nationality.
They had some settlements, at a later period, in Oneida Castle, called by
them Gaunea-wahro-hare (signifying head on the pole), and one in the
valley of the Genesee below Avon, called by them Ju-na-stre-yo
(signifying the beautiful valley); another settlement at Con-na-so-ra-ga,
on the line between Onondaga and Oneida; another in the fork of
Chattenango Creek, which they called Ju-ta-nea-ga (signifying where the
sun shines); and another on the Jordan Creek, which they called Kan-ha-to
(signifying limb in water). These several places were settled at
different periods, which I am not able to give.
In the revolutionary war between the United States and Great Britain, the
Tuscaroras then had their settlement at the place alotted them by the
league in 1715, between the Unadilla river and the Chenango. They took an
active part with the United States. Many a soldier and scout of the
United States, in their fatigue and hunger, found a rest and a morsel in
the rude homes of the Tuscaroras, which were ever hospitably open to
When the other Indians which took part with the British knew that the
Tuscaroras took part with the United States, they invaded their
settlement, destroyed their property and burned down their houses to
ashes, which scattered them for a while. There was a party that settled
at Oyouwayea, or Johnson's landing place, on lake Ontario, about four
miles east of the mouth of Niagara River, which is at the mouth of the
four-mile creek, for the purpose of getting out of the centre of the
other Indians which were for the British.
About the close of the war there were two families of the Tuscaroras
hunting and fishing along the shores of lake Ontario, and then up the
east shore of Niagara River as far as Lewiston, and there left their
canoe; then traveled east and up the mountain as far as a place which
they now call the Old Saw Mill (now on the Tuscarora Reservation), above
the Ayers' farm, where they saw great quantities of butternuts and
walnuts and and a nice stream of water flowing down the mountain; there
they took their rest, and after remaining several days they concluded to
make their winter quarters at that place, which they did. After they were
missing for a time from the settlement at Johnson's landing, they were
hunted by their people and finally found at this place. A few years after
this the Oneidas and Tuscaroras ceded the tract of land that was
apportioned to the Tuscaroras; then families after families came and
located with those two families mentioned above. This is the beginning of
the settlement of the present Tuscarora Reservation.
The Tuscaroras, ever since the revolutionary war, have had their
residence within the territory of the Seneca nation, they being
considered the father of the Tuscarora by being adopted as such, at the
time of their initiation into the confederacy, in the year 1715.
I will here give the boundary of the Seneca Nation domain, according to
the treaty entitled "A Treaty between the United States of America and
the Tribes of Indians called the Six Nations":
"The President of the United States having determined to hold a
conference with the Six Nations of Indians, for the purpose of removing
from their minds all causes of complaint, and establishing a firm and
permanent friendship with them, and Timothy Pickering being appointed
sole agent for that purpose, and the agent having met and conferred with
the sachems, chiefs and warriors of the Six Nations, in a general
council, now, in order to accomplish the good design of the conference,
the parties have agreed on the following articles, when ratified by the
President, with the advice and consent of the Senate of the United
States, shall be binding on them and the Six Nations.
"Article 1. Peace and friendship are hereby firmly established, and shall
be perpetual between the United States and the Six Nations.
"Article 2. The United States acknowledge the lands reserved to the
Oneida, Onondaga, and Cayuga Nations, in their respective treaties with
the State of New York, and called their reservations, to be their
property; and the United States will never claim the same, nor disturb
them or either of the Six Nations, nor their Indian friends residing
thereon and united with them, in the free use and enjoyment thereof; but
the said reservations shall remain theirs until they choose to sell the
same to the people of the United States, who have the right to purchase.
"Article 3. The land of the Seneca Nation is bounded as follows:
Beginning on Lake Ontario at the northwest corner of the land they sold
to Oliver Phelps, the line runs westerly along the lake as far as O-yong-
wong-yeh creek, at Johnson's landing place, about four miles eastward
from the fort of Niagara; then southerly up that creek to its main fork;
then straight to the main fork of Stedman's creek, which empties into the
Niagara river above fort Schlosser; and then onward from that fort,
continuing the same straight course, to the river (this line from the
mouth of O-yong-wong-yeh creek to the river Niagara above Fort Schlosser,
being the eastern boundary of a strip of land extending from the same
line to Niagara river, which the Seneca Nation ceded to the king of Great
Britain at a treaty held about thirty years ago, with Sir William
Johnson); then the line runs along the river Niagara to Lake Erie; then
along Lake Erie to the eastern corner of a triangle piece of land which
the United States ceded to the state of Pennsylvania, as by the
President's patent, dated the third day of March 1792; then due south to
the boundary of that state; then due east to the southwest corner of the
land sold by the Seneca Nation to Oliver Phelps; and then northerly along
Phelps' line to the place of beginning, on Lake Ontario. Now, the United
States acknowledge all the land within the aforementioned boundary to be
the property of the Seneca Nation; and the United States will never claim
the same, nor disturb the Seneca Nation, nor their Indian friends
residing thereon and united with them, in the free use and enjoyment
thereof; but it shall remain theirs until they choose to sell the same to
the people of the United States, who have the right to purchase.
"Article 4. The United States having thus described and acknowledged what
lands belong to the Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas and Senecas, and engaged
never to claim the same, nor disturb them or any of the Six Nations, nor
their Indian friends residing thereon and united with them, in the free
use and enjoyment thereof, etc. Proclaimed January 21, 1785."
You will observe in the treaty above that the name of the Tuscarora
Nation is not mentioned at all, and yet speaks of the Six Nations, which
includes the Tuscarora Nation. The reason is this: In Article 2 you will
observe that all the nations that have their lands on the east side of
what is known as the Phelps line were named, and west of that line was
the land of the Seneca Nation on which the Tuscaroras resided, and were
considered as being merged into the Seneca Nation, and have the benefit
of the laws enacted for them.
There was also a contract entered into between the Seneca Nation of
Indians of the first part, and Robert Morris. Esq., of the city of
Philadelphia, of the second part. At a treaty held under the authority of
the United States, at Genesee, in the county of Ontario, State of New
York, on the fifteenth day of September, 1797, and on sundry days
immediately prior thereto, by the Honorable Jeremiah Wadsworth. Esq., a
commissioner appointed by the President of the United States to hold the
same, when the Senecas ceded the country that included the now Tuscarora
Reservation. The Tuscaroras then and there made their complaint by their
chiefs, for the first since they were initiated into the confederacy of
the Iroquois; in the presence of the commissioner and the others that are
parties to the treaty; that the Iroquois had from time to time allotted
them lands and had been ceded each time by the Iroquois, without giving
them a farthing to remunerate them for their portion of the lands so
ceded, or for the improvements that they had made, and asked if they were
to be driven in this manner from place to place all the days of their
existence, and if that is the way a father should use their children or
brothers should use their brothers, and to keep them living in
disappointment; they also alluded to a treaty concluded at Fort Stanwix
three years before this, where the commissioners of the United States
reserved to them land, which read as follows:
"Article 2. The Oneida and Tuscarora Nations shall be secured in the
possession of the lands on which they are settled."
The commissioner then inquired into the merits of the complaint of the
Tuscaroras, which the Iroquois affirmed; the commissioner then said to
them, that it is not right to make a contract, or to grant anything
without faith; it is only honorable when you adhere to your stipulation.
When Robert Morris knew that the Tuscaroras were destitute of land, he
reserved and donated to them two square miles being 1280 acres; the
Senecas also granted to them one square mile being 640 acres, which grant
was made at the convention dated above. On the 13th day of March, 1808,
the sachems, chiefs and head men of the Seneca Nation of Indians executed
a written indenture of the grant or deed to the Tuscarora Nation, of the
one square mile of land above mentioned, and was duly signed by the
sachems, chiefs and head men of the aforesaid Indians. On the 22d day of
September, 1810, it was entered and put on file in the Niagara County
Clerk's office, on page 56; and was again put on file in the Niagara
County Clerk's Office, Lockport, in book of deeds 151, page 168, March
About the year 1800, Solomon Longbard and his brother held private
council between themselves, consulting how they might obtain more land to
make a permanent home for the Tuscaroras and their generation after them,
they concluded to repair to North Carolina and see if they could procure
any means from that source, whereby they might obtain more land. In
pursuance, the Tuscarora Chiefs in council appointed as delegates Solomon
Longboard and Sacarrissa, being sachems of the nation in the year 1801,
and in 1802 they effected a lease by the aid of the Legislature of North
Carolina, from which accrued $13,722; and in the year 1804, General
Dearborn, then Secretary of War, was authorized by Congress to buy land
for the Tuscaroras with the said money, by which he bought 4,329 acres of
the Holland Land Company, which is now on the south and east side of the
three square miles mentioned above, which now constitutes the Tuscarora
The Tuscarora Nation was once more at peace and in possession of lands
which they could call their own.
Tuscaroras at North Carolina.
In tracing the history of the Tuscaroras that migrated to the north and
joined themselves with the Iroquois, we would not forget those few who
remained with King James Blunt, a Tuscarora Chief, in North Carolina, who
had a tract of land allotted to them on Pamplico river. The smallness of
their number disabling them from resisting the attacks of the southern
Indians, Governor Charles Eden, of North Carolina, and the council, on
the 5th day of June, 1718, entered into a treaty, by which the land on
Pamplico river was abandoned by the Tuscaroras and another tract granted
to them, on Roanoke river, in the present county of Birtie, in
consideration of which they relinquished all claims of any other land in
the province, butted and bounded as follows, viz.: Beginning at the mouth
of Quitsnoy swamp, running up the said swamp four hundred and 35 poles,
to a scrubby oak near the head of the swamp, by a great spring; then
north ten degrees east, eight hundred and fifty poles, to a persimmon
tree on Raquis swamp; then along the swamp and Pacosin main course north
fifty-seven degrees west, two thousand six hundred and forty poles, to a
hickory tree on the east side of the Falling Run, or Deep creek, and down
the various courses of the said run to Morattock; then down the river to
the first station.
In the administration of the Governor, Gabriel Johnson, Esq., at a
General Assembly held at New Bern on the 15th day of October, 1748, by
virtue of an act, this same limit of land above was confirmed and assured
to James Blunt, Chief of the Tuscarora Nation, and the people under his
charge, their heirs and successors forever, any law, usage, custom or
grant to the contrary notwithstanding.
At the time the Tuscaroras migrated to the north, King James Blunt was
the Sachem of those that remained, and his successor in office, as we see
in an act of the General Assembly of North Carolina, in the year 1778,
was Whitmell Tuffdick. The last Sachem, or Chief, of that part of the
Tuscaroras—Samuel Smith—expired in the year 1802, at which time
Sacarrissa and Solomon Longboard, both being Sachems of the northern
Tuscaroras, migrated the residue of the Tuscaroras from North Carolina to
their Reservation in Niagara county, State of New York, where they were
again blended together in one nation.
Concerning the land allotted to the Tuscaroras in Birtie—they have
leased it several times; and I have selected a few of the laws of North
Carolina that are now in force, concerning the Tuscaroras in that state,
"A. D. 1748. Vol. I. Chapter 43, page 174; by Potter, Taylor and Yancy,
Esqs. Anno Regni Georgii II, Vicessinio second.
"Gabriel Johnson, Esq., Governor.
"At a general assembly held at New Bern, the fifteenth day of October, in
the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and forty-eight."
"An Act for ascertaining the bounds of a certain tract of land formerly
laid out by treaty to the use of the Tuscarora Indians, so long as they,
or any of them, shall occupy and live upon the same, and to prevent any
person or persons taking up lands, or settling within the said bounds, by
pretense of any purchase or purchases made, or that shall be made, from
the said Indians.
"1. Whereas, complaints are made by the Tuscarora Indians, of divers
encroachments made by the English on their lands, and it being but just
that the ancient inhabitants of this Province shall have and enjoy a
quiet and convenient dwelling place in this their native country,
"Bounds of the Indians' lands confirmed.—2. We pray that it may
be enacted, and be it enacted by His Excellency Gabriel Johnson, Esquire,
Governor, by and with the advice and consent of his majesty's council,
and general assembly of this province, and it is hereby enacted by the
authority of the same that the lands formerly allotted the Tuscarora
Indians by solemn treaty, lying on Morattock river, in Birtie county,
being the same whereon they now dwell. Butted and bounded as follows,
viz: Beginning at the mouth of Quitsnoy Swamp, running up the said swamp
four hundred and thirty-five poles, to a scrubby oak, near the head of
the swamp, by a great spring; thence north ten degrees east, eight
hundred and fifty poles, to a persimmon tree, on Raquis swamp; thence
along the swamp, and Pacosin main course, north fifty-seven degrees west,
two thousand six hundred and forty poles to a hickory on the east side of
the falling run or deep creek, and down the various courses of the said
run to Morattock river, then down the river to the first station; shall
be confirmed and assured; and by virtue of this act, is confirmed and
assured, to James Blunt, chief of the Tuscarora Nation, and the people
under his charge, their heirs and successors, forever, any law, usage,
custom, or grant, to the contrary, notwithstanding.
"Persons having grants to enter on desertion of the Indians.—3.
Provided, always, That it shall and may be lawful for any person or
persons that have formerly obtained any grant or grants, under the Lord's
proprietors, for any tract or parcels of lands within the aforesaid
boundaries, upon the said Indians deserting or leaving the said lands, to
enter, occupy and enjoy the same according to the tenor of their several
"Indians not to pay quitrents.—4. And be it further enacted by
the authority aforesaid, That it shall not nor may be lawful for the Lord
Granville's receiver to ask, have or demand any quitrents for any of the
said tracts or parcels of land taken up within the said Indian
boundaries, as aforesaid, until such time when the Indians have deserted
the same and the patentee be in possession thereof, and only for such
rents as shall from thence arise and become due, any law, usage or custom
to the contrary notwithstanding.
"Penalty on persons purchasing lands of the Indians.—5. And be it
further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That no person, for any
consideration whatsoever, shall purchase or buy any tract or parcel of
land claimed or in possession of any Indian or Indians, but all such
bargains and sales shall be, and are hereby declared to be null and void,
and of no effect; and the person so purchasing or buying any land of any
Indian or Indians shall further forfeit the sum of ten pounds,
proclamation money, for every hundred acres by him purchased and bought,
one-half to the use of the public, the other half to him or them that
shall sue for the same, to be recovered by action of debt, bill, plaint
or information, in any court of record within this Government, wherein no
possession, protection, injunction or wager of law shall be allowed or
"Persons settled on the Indian lands to remove, and no others to
settle there under a penalty.—6. And be it further enacted by the
authority aforesaid, That all and every person and persons, other than
the said Indians who are now dwelling on any of the lands within the
bounds above mentioned to have been allotted, laid out and prescribed to
the said Tuscarora Indians, shall, on or before the twenty-fifth day of
March next ensuing the ratification of this act, remove him or herself
and family off the said lands, under the penalty of twenty pounds,
proclamation money; and if any shall neglect or refuse to move him or
herself and family off the said lands, on or before the said twenty-fifth
day of March next, and if any person or persons, other than the said
Indians, shall hereafter presume to settle, inhabit or occupy any of the
said lands hereby allotted and assigned for the said Tuscarora Indians,
such person or persons shall forfeit the further penalty of twenty
shillings, proclamation money, for each and every day he, she or they
shall inhabit or occupy any lands within the said Indian bounds after the
said twenty-fifth day of March next, the said penalties to be recovered
and applied in the same manner as the penalty in this act above
"Surveyor's fee for laying out the Indians' lands.—7. And
whereas, The said lands belonging to the said Tuscarora Indians have been
lately laid out and newly marked by George Goulde, Esq., Surveyor
General, at the request of the said Indians; therefore, be it enacted,
that the said George Goulde, Esq., have and receive for the trouble and
expense he hath been at in laying out and marking the Indians' lands
aforesaid, the sum of twenty-five pounds, proclamation money, to be paid
by the public, out of moneys in the public treasury.
"Penalty of persons ranging stock on the Indians' lands.—8. And
whereas, the Indians complain of injuries received from people driving
stock, horses, cattle and hogs, to range on their lands, for remedy
thereof, Be it enacted, That persons driving stock to range, or stock
actually ranging on the Indians' lands, shall, and are hereby declared,
to be liable and subject to the like penalties and forfeitures, and may
be proceeded against in the same manner, and subject to the same
recoveries, as by the law of this province stock driven or ranging upon
any white people's land are liable and subject to; and the said Indians
shall and may enjoy the benefit of the laws in that case made and
provided, in the same manner as the white people do or can, any law,
usage, or custom, to the contrary notwithstanding."
LAWS OF NORTH CAROLINA. A. D. 1878, CHAPTER 136, PAGE 359, VOL. I. BY
POTTER, TAYLOR & YANCEY.
"An Act for quieting and securing the Tuscarora Indians, and others
claiming under the Tuscaroras, in the possession of their lands.
"Indian lands secured to the Indians.—1. Be it enacted, &c., That
Whitmell Tuffdeck, Chief or head man of the Tuscarora nation, and the
Tuscarora Indians now living in the county of Birtie, shall have, hold,
occupy, possess and enjoy, all the lands lying in the county of Birtie
aforesaid, whereof they are now seized and possessed, being part of the
lands heretofore alotted to the Indians aforesaid by solemn treaty, and
confirmed to them and their successors by act of assembly, in the year
one thousand seven hundred and forty-eight, without let, molestation or
hindrance, clear of all quit-rents, or any public demands by way of tax
whatever, to them the said Tuscarora Indians, and their heirs and
successors: and that they, the said Tuscaroras, and their heirs and
successors, shall forever be clear and exempt from every kind of poll
"No purchases to be made of the Indians, nor their lands
cultivated.—2. And whereas, the said Tuscarora Indians, by nature
ignorant, and strongly addicted to drinking, may be easily imposed on by
designing persons, and unwarily deprived of their said lands: Be it
enacted. That no person, for any consideration whatever, shall hereafter
purchase, buy or lease, any tract or parcel of land now claimed by, or in
possession of the said Tuscarora Indians, or any of theirs; nor shall any
person settle on or cultivate the said lands, or any part thereof, in his
own right, or under pretence as acting as overseer for the Indians: and
if any person shall hereafter purchase, buy or lease lands of the said
Indians, or settle on or cultivate any part thereof in his own right or
as overseer for the Indians, all such purchases, sales, leases or
agreements shall be and they are hereby declared null and void; and the
person so purchasing buying or leasing, settling on or cultivating such
lands, or any part thereof, shall forfeit and pay the sum of three
hundred pounds current money for every hundred acres by him so purchased,
bought or leased, settled on or cultivated as aforesaid, one-half to the
use of the Tuscarora Indians, the other to the use of him or her who
shall sue for the same: to be recovered by action of debt, bill, plaint
or information in any court having cognizance thereof. Provided that the
said Tuscarora Indians may sell or dispose of their lands or any part
thereof, with the consent of the general assembly first had and obtained.
"Former purchases from the Indians under the sanction of the Assembly,
secured.—3. And whereas, the chieftains and head men of the
Tuscarora Indians living in the county, did, on the twelfth day of July,
in the year one thousand seven hundred and sixty-six, for the
consideration of fifteen hundred pounds to them paid by Robert Jones,
Jun., William Williams and Thomas Pugh, by indenture under their hands
and seals, demise, grant and to farm let, unto the said Robert Jones,
William Williams and Thomas Pugh, a certain tract of land lying in the
county aforesaid, containing about eight thousand acres, more or less,
bounded as follows, to wit: Beginning at the mouth of Deep creek,
otherwise called Falling Run; thence running up the said creek to the
Indian head line: thence by the said line south seventeen degrees east,
twelve hundred and eighty poles: thence on a course parallel with the
general current of the said creek to the Roanoke river and then up the
river to the beginning, together with the appurtenances thereto
belonging, to be held and enjoyed by the said Robert Jones, William
Williams and Thomas Pugh their executors, administrators and assigns in
serveralty for and during the term of one hundred and fifty years as may
more fully appear by the said indenture, registered in the count of
Birtie aforesaid and ratified by act of Assembly, passed at Newbern, in
the year one thousand seven hundred and sixty-six: Be it enacted, That
each and every of the persons entitled to claims under the demise
aforementioned, or by grants from the persons claiming under the same, or
either of them, and their heirs and assigns, shall and may have, hold,
occupy, possess and enjoy the several shares, dividends or parcels of the
said land to them belonging, in as full, free and absolute manner, and
with the same legal privileges and advantages in every respect, and
subject to the same taxes as if the said land had been originally granted
to the said Robert Jones, William Williams and Thomas Pugh by Lord
Granville or by this State.
"Regulations in regard to former demises.—4. And whereas, the
said Tuscarora Indians, for good and sufficient reasons, and for valuable
consideration, have, since the twelfth day of July, one thousand seven
hundred and sixty-six, and previous to the first day of December last,
demised, granted and to farm let sundry tracts or parcels of land lying
in said county of Birtie to sundry persons, as by indentures duly
executed may more fully appear: Be it enacted. That all the land
contained in the last mentioned demises, if the said demises were fairly,
bona fide and without fraud, made by and obtained from the said
Tuscarora Indians since the year one thousand seven hundred and sixty-
six, and previous to the first day of December last past, shall not be
deemed vacant lands, or be liable to be entered as such in the Land
Office, unless the General Assembly shall hereafter so direct, but
nevertheless shall be subject to the same taxes as other lands in this
State are liable to.
"Method of trial for demises alleged to have been unfairly
obtained.—5. And whereas, it is suggested by the Tuscarora Indians,
that unfair dealings have been used in obtaining one or more of the
demises aforementioned, and that they, the said Indians have at present
no mode of obtaining redress in such cases. Be it therefore enacted, that
the commissioners herein mentioned or a majority of them, shall and may,
upon complaint of the said Tuscarora Indians, in court or meeting
assembled, that a person or persons has or have unfairly or fraudulently
obtained any grant or demise for lands to them belonging since the year
one thousand seven hundred and sixty-six, and previous to the first day
of December last, summon the person or persons so complained against, or
cause him or them to be summoned to appear before them on a certain day
on the land in dispute (giving at best ten days' notice previous to the
day in such summons appointed), then and there to answer the complaint of
the Indians for having fraudulently or unfairly obtained a grant or
demise of the land in question; and shall also summon, or cause to be
summoned, a jury of twelve men, being freeholders in the county of Birtie
and not resident on or owners of any lands purchased of the said
Tuscarora Indians; and the said commissioners, or a majority of them,
shall attend at the time and place appointed, with the jury aforesaid,
and having first sworn the jury to try and determine fairly between the
said Indians and the person or persons complained against, shall and may
cause witnesses to be examined on both sides, receive the verdict of the
jury and return the same, with the panel, to the next County Court of the
said county of Birtie, to be entered upon the record; and such verdict
shall be as good and effectual as if obtained in any court of record; and
if the same be general the said commissioners, or a majority of them,
shall and may appoint one or more persons to carry the same into
execution; but if special, then the court shall decide thereon, and cause
the Sheriff of the county to carry such decision into execution.
"Commissioners for Indian affairs.—6. And whereas the said
Indians are often injured by horses, cattle and hogs, driven on their
lands by white people, the said horses, cattle and hogs breaking into the
enclosure and distroying their corn and other effects, and are also
frequently deprived of their property, and abuses by ill disposed
persons; for remedy whereof, and also for recovery of suits or demands
now due, or which may hereafter become due and owing to the said
Tuscarora Indians; Be it enacted, that William Williams, Thomas Pugh,
Willie Jones, Simon Turner and Zedekiah Stone, be, and they are hereby
appointed commissioners for the said Indians, and they, or any three of
them, shall and may inquire into the complaints made by the said Indians,
summon the persons complained against, before them, and award such
restitution and redress as to them shall seem just and necessary; and may
appoint an Officer or Officers to serve subpoena as, and to execute such
awards and determinations as they shall or may make in regard of the
premises; and the court of said county of Birtie, is hereby authorized
and required to fill up, from time to time, by new appointments any
vacancies which may happen among the commissioners by death or
resignations; and upon complaint of the chiefs or head men of the nation,
and the rest of the Indians, in court or meeting properly assembled,
against any of the commissioners for misbehavior, may inquire into the
conduct of the person or persons complained against, remove him or them
if necessary, and appoint another or others in his or their stead.
"Reversion of Indian lands.—7. And be it further enacted, that
the lands leased by the said Tuscarora Indians to Robert Jones, Jr.,
William Williams and Thomas Pugh, and to other persons, shall revert and
become the property of the State, at the expiration of the terms of the
several leases mentioned, if the said nation be extinct; and the lands
now belonging to, and possessed by the said Tuscaroras, shall revert to
and become the property of the State, whenever the said nation shall
become extinct, or shall entirely abandon or remove themselves off the
said lands, and every part thereof. Provided, that no person shall have
any preference of entry to any of the said lands by virtue of any lease
or occupancy whatever, since December, one thousand seven hundred and
seventy-six, whenever the general assembly shall declare the said lands
to be vacant."
Read three times and ratified in general assembly, the 2d day of May, A.
WHITMILL HILL, S. S.
THOMAS BENBURY, S. C.
LAWS OF NORTH CAROLINA, A. D. 1780, CHAPTER 167. PAGE 406, VOL. I, BY
POTTER, TAYLOR & YANCEY.
"An Act to amend an act, entitled an act for quieting and securing the
Tuscarora Indians, and others claiming under the Tuscaroras, in the
possession of their lands.
"1. Whereas, By the said act there is no penalty imposed on the jurors or
witnesses duly summoned, and failing to attend.
"Attendance of Jurors.—2. Be it enacted, &c., That the
commissioners by the said act appointed, or any three of them, assembled
for the purpose of holding a court, shall, and may inflict fines on
jurors or witnesses so failing to attend, not exceeding one hundred
pounds, at their discretion; and unless sufficient excuse be to them
afterwards shown, cause the same to be levied and applied towards
defraying the county expenses of Birtie; and witnesses and jurors who
shall attend on the trial of any dispute between the said Tuscaroras and
others, shall have and receive ten dollars per day for their attendance,
to be paid by the party cost with all other cost: and such trials may
hereafter be had on the part of the lands belonging to said Tuscaroras,
Birtie County, which commissioners shall direct."
Read three times and ratified in general assembly, the 10th day of May,
A. D. 1780.
ALEX. MARTIN, S. S.
THOMAS BENBURY. S. C.
* * * * *
LAWS OF NORTH CAROLINA, A. D. 1801, CHAPTER 608, PAGE 965, VOL. 2, BY
POTTER, TAYLOR & YANCEY.
"James Turner, Esq., Governor.
"At the general assembly begun and held at Raleigh, on the fifteenth day
November, in the year of our lord one thousand eight hundred and two, and
in the thirty-seventh year of the independence of said State.
"An Act for the relief of the Tuscarora Nation of Indians.
"Whereas, the Indians composing the Tuscarora nation, have, by their
chief Sacarrissa, and others, regularly deputed and authorized, requested
the concurrence of the general assembly of this State, to enable them to
lease or demise, for a number of years, the residue of their lands
situated in the county of Birtie, in such a manner that the whole of the
said leases shall terminate at the same period.
"Chiefs authorized to lease their lands.—1. Be it enacted, &c.,
That the said chiefs Sacarrissa, Longboard and Samuel Smith, or a
majority of them, be and they are hereby authorized to lease and to farm
let the undemised residue of the lands allotted to the Tuscarora Nation
in Birtie County, for a term of years that shall expire and end when the
lease made by the Tuscarora Nation to Robert Jones and others, in the
year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and sixty-six, shall end and
expire; and also extend the term or terms of the leases already made or
granted for a shorter term, to a term or terms which shall expire at the
same time with the said lease made in the year one thousand seven hundred
and sixty-six, in such parcels and on such rents and conditions as may be
approved by the commissioners appointed in pursuance of this act and
which may best promote the interest and convenience of the said Indian
"And, whereas, some difficulties have arisen respecting the receipt and
payment on the rents of some of the present leases.
"To make alterations with respect to rents.—2. Be it further
enacted, That the said chiefs, or a majority of them, be, and they arc
hereby authorised to make such alterations, by covenant and agreement,
respecting the payment and receipt of any rents due, or that may become
due on any of the existing leases, as the commissioners appointed in
pursuance of this act, or a majority of them shall approve.
"Whereas, the said Indian chiefs are ignorant of the usual forms of
business, and may want advice and assistance in transacting the business
respecting their lands, for remedy whereof and to prevent their being
"Governor to appoint three commissioners to carry this act into
effect.—3. Be it further enacted, That the Governor shall appoint
three commissioners for the purpose of carrying the provisions of this
act into effect; and no lease, grant, demise, covenant or agreement made
by the said Indian chiefs as aforesaid, respecting said lands, or the
rents thereof, shall be good or valid in law, unless the same shall be
approved by the said commissioners, or a majority of them, and such
approbation shall be expressed in writing and annexed or endorsed on such
lease, covenant or agreement, and registered in the Register's Office in
the county of Birtie, together with said lease or agreement; and the said
commissioners shall receive the sum of twenty shillings per day for their
compensation and expenses, to be paid out of the monies received by the
said chiefs on leasing said lands.
"Possessions of the tenants to be deemed the possessions of the
Tuscarora Indians.—4. And be it further enacted. That the occupancy
and possession of the tenants under the said lease, heretofore confirmed
by act or acts of the general assembly, and such leases as may be made
under this act, shall be held and deemed in all cases whatsoever, the
occupancy and possession of the said Tuscarora Nation, to all intents and
purposes, as if said nation, or the Indians thereof, or any of them,
actually resided on said lands.
"Whereas, The said chiefs, Sacarrissa, Longboard, and Samuel Smith, being
duly and freely authorized and empowered by the said Tuscarora Nation,
have consented that the Indians' claim to the use, possession, and
occupancy of said lands shall cease and be extinguished, when the said
lease made in the year one thousand seven hundred seventy-six, to Robert
Jones and others, shall expire.
"The land to revert to the state.—5. Be it enacted, That from and
after the twelfth day of July, which shall be in the year One Thousand
nine and sixteen, the whole of the lands alloted to the said Tuscarora
Indians, by act of General Assembly passed at Newbern, on the fifteenth
day of October, in the year of our Lord One Thousand seven hundred and
forty eight, shall revert to, and become the property of the state, and
the claim thereto, from that time, be held, and deemed forever
"If any of the lands be vacant it is not to be entered but by an
express act.—6. And be further enacted, After the said lands shall
revert to the State, if the same or any part thereto, shall be vacant,
the same shall not be liable to the entry or entries of any person or
persons, without an express act of the legislation to that effect;
Provided always, That it shall not be lawful for any person or persons to
make any entry or entries on the said lands, after the passing of this
act. Provided always, That nothing in this act contained shall be
construed so as to effect the title of any individual; Provided
nevertheless, That no lot or parcel of lands laid off under the direction
of said commissioners, shall exceed two hundred acres; And Provided
further, That no lease shall be made but by public auction, of which due
notice shall be given in the Halifax and Edenton newspapers."
* * * * *
ACTS OF ASSEMBLY FROM 1821 TO 1825, PAGE 13, CHAPTER 13, STATE LIBRARY.
"An act concerning the lands held under leases from the Tuscarora tribe
"Whereas it is represented to this General Assembly, in behalf of persons
holding lands under leases, for a long term of years from the Tuscarora
tribe of Indians, that they are subject to great inconveniences from
their estates being mere cattle interest: For remedy whereof,
"Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina,
and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same.
"That the estates in lands now held by certain individuals, under leases
for a term of years from the Tuscarora tribe of Indians, made in
pursuance of certain acts of the General Assembly of this State, shall be
hereafter considered real estate; shall decend to, and be devided among
the heirs of any intestate, subject to dower and tenancy by courtesy, and
other incidents to real estate, and its liabilitiy to execution, and its
conveyance and devise, shall be governed by the same rules as are now
prescribed in the case of real estate held in fee simple; Provided that
nothing herein contained, shall be so construed as to give to the
individuals holding the said term of years, a right to enjoy the same for
a longer period than is designated in the leases executed by the
Tuscarora Indians, in pursurance of acts of the General Assembly of this
state, nor as to give to said individuals any right which by the
constitution of this state, is exclusively confirmed to the freeholders."
* * * * *
LAWS OF NORTH CAROLINA FROM 1827 TO 1831, PAGE II, VOL. I, CHAPTER XIX,
IN STATE LIBRARY. ACT OF NOV. 17TH, 1828.
"An act concerning the lands formerly occupied by the Tuscarora tribe of
Indians lying in Bertie County, on the north side of Roanoke river.
"Whereas the Tuscarora Indians have for more than a century been the firm
and undividing friends of the white people of this country, insomuch that
the people of North Carolina not only render to them full and complete
Justice, but also to exercise towards them that spirit of generosity
which their conduct has merrited: Therefore,
"I. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina,
and is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, that William R. Smith
of Halifax, Simon J. Barker, of Martin and William Brittin of Bertie, be,
and they are hereby appointed commissioners for the purpose of
advertising and selling in manner hereinafter directed, the above named
tract of land bounded as follows, to wit: beginning at the mouth of
Quitsnoy swamp; running up the swamp 430 poles to a scrubby oak, near the
head of said swamp by a great spring; thence north 10 degrees east 850
poles, to a persimmon tree, on Raquis Swamp; thence along the swamp and
Pocasin main course north 57 degrees west 2,640 poles, to a hickory on
the east side of Falling Run on Deep Creek, and down the various courses
of said Run to Roanoke River; then down the river to the first station.
"II. And be it further enacted, That the title so to be sold by said
commissioners shall be understood to extend only to the reversion of the
State in said lands after the expiration of the lease from the Indians,
under which they are now held, and after the ratification of this act,
and notice thereof to the commissioners, it shall be their duty to
proceed forthwith to advertise in the newspapers most convenient to the
premises, and also in five of the most public places in the counties of
Bertie, Halifax and Martin, including the court houses in said counties,
that a sale of said lands, according to the provisions of this act, will
take place on Tuesday of the ensuing March term of the Superior Court of
Birtie county, that is, on the 17th day of March next; and it shall be
the duty of the said commissioners to attend to the aforesaid time and
place, and offer in the court house yard, at public sale to the highest
bidder, the said lands, according to advertisement, subject however to
the lease aforesaid, and the commissioners shall have power to continue
or postpone the sale from day to day until the end of the week, and
should they, by unavoidable accident or otherwise be prevented from
selling all or any part of the lands during the same week, it shall be
their duty to advertise in like manner, for two months next preceding the
following September term of the Bertie court, and to sell at said term,
as is heretofore directed, at the March term, and said commissioners
shall be empowered to put up said lands in such parcels as they may deem
most advantageous for selling, and that they shall give the purchasers a
credit of twelve months on one-half the purchase money, and a credit of
twelve months on the other half; Provided always, that the purchaser
shall deliver to the commissioners bonds with good and sufficient
security for the same, payable to the Governor of the State.
"III. And be it further enacted, That should the commissioners upon
offering said lands as aforesaid perceive that they were likely to be
sacrificed, or to sell for an amount greatly below their value, it shall
be their duty forthwith to discontinue the sale, and it shall be the duty
of the commissioners after making sale, or if no sale be made,
immediately after September next to make report to the public Treasurer
of the State of all such proceedings that they may have had under this
act and also to hand over to him all such bonds as they may have taken
from purchasers; and it shall be the duty of the Secretary of State, upon
a certificate from the Treasurer of payment of the purchase money and a
certificate from the commissioners of the boundaries of the land so
purchased, to grant a title of release from the State of North Carolina
to such persons as may be reported purchasers by said commissioners under
the act of Assembly.
"IV. And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of the public
Treasurer to collect the money on said lands when they shall become due
and hold the same subject to the order of the Tuscarora tribe of Indians;
and whenever such order shall be presented, properly and duly
authenticated, by said tribe or nation of Indians, it shall be his duty
to pay the same over accordingly; Provided always that upon paying such
monies, the Public Treasurer shall take from said Indians or agents, a
full and complete release of all such claim, pretence of title, as they
now make or ever may have to the aforesaid tract of lands.
"V. And be it further enacted, That the commissioners shall be allowed
each the sum of three dollars for every day that they shall necessarily
be employed in examining said lands, or in attending the sale of same, to
be paid out of the funds arising from the sale.
"VI. Be it further enacted, That if it should appear at any time
thereafter that the said Indians have parted with their claims, or
contracted for the same, so that in fact the benefit of the sale shall,
agreeable to the provisions of this act, revert to the State."
Governor John Owen, Esq., appointed as commissioners, William R. Smith,
of Halifax; Simon J. Baker, of Martin; and William Brittain, of Birtie;
to sell the Tuscarora lands in pursuance to the lease effected by the
help of the General Assembly, Nov. 17, 1823, of which they reported to
William Roberts, Public Treasurer—in bonds the sum of $2977.87, payable
in installments of one and two years from the 17th day of March, 1829,
which are on file in the Public Treasurer's Office. And on Nov. 21, 1831,
William S. Mahon, the Public Treasarer, re-reported cash in bonds for
sale of Tuscarora lands—
Another report of the same man January, 1832, that all has been
collected, and remains in the treasury, subject to the order of the
Paid on May 3ist, 1831, and found on file.
"For this amount paid Bates Cooke, being their agent to receive the same
under the Act of Assembly of 1828, $3,220.71-1/4."
In about the year 1818, the New York Indians, (which includes the
Tuscaroras), were engaged in a stipulation, to buy a tract of land from
the Menomonees and Winnebagoes, which was questioned in Congress about
the validity of a contract on purchases of lands between Indian nations.
But Congress did concur in the stipulation made between the New York
Indians of the first part, and the Menomonees and Winnebagoes of the
second part, for lands lying in Green Bay, Wisconsin, bought and paid for
by the former according to the stipulation concluded in the year 1822.
For the payment of the said land above, I can only speak for the
Tuscaroras. The precise amount paid I am unable to state. But a tax was
made on the nation; children paid twenty-five cents each, adults paid
more according to their ability; the amount obtained in this way I am
unable to state. They also gave their annuities of two years, which they
drew from the government, and also two hundred dollars in money which
they loaned from the Oneida Indians (which they afterwards refunded).
All those goods and moneys were paid to the Menomonees and Winnebagoes,
as their part of the Green Bay lands. These facts I obtained of the widow
of Jonathan Printup, an honorable chief of the Tuscarara nation, by whom
was entrusted with the goods and money for the payment of said lands,
which he faithfully performed, and was accompanied as delegates by Dr.
John Patterson and James Cusick, who were appointed to the honorable
office of purchasing a tract of land for a future home of their people. I
am indebted to the widow of Dr. John Patterson, and also his brother
Harry, for information which corroborates with that of the widow above
mentioned, and also of other old people.
In a short time afterwards, the Menomonees denied the contract in various
ways, they denied the efficiency of the Chiefs who signed the treaty, and
also denied of having received any payment, and also denied the boundary
of the land ceded. This naturally created difficulty and discord between
them, and kept growing worse from year to year. But the Winebagoes never
denied any of the denials of the Menomonees.
In a treaty of the United States and the Menomonees and Winebagoes, of
Feb. 6th, 1826, in Article 8th, it was acknowledged that there existed
some uncertainty in consequence of the cession made by the tribes upon
Fox River and Green Bay, to the New York Indians. Finally the Menomonees
made their complaint before the President, concerning the New York
Indians, which has reference to the case, in the treaty by the United
States, with the several tribes of Green Bay on Feb. 23rd, 1829, in
Article 2nd, which read as follows, viz:
"Much difficulty having arising from the negotiations between the
Menomonees and Winebago tribes and the various tribes and portions of
tribes of Indian of the State of New York, and the claims of the
respective parties being much contested, as well with relation to the
tenure and boundaries of the two tracts claimed by the New York Indians,
west of Lake Michigan, as to the authority of the persons who signed the
agreement on the part of the Monomonees, and the whole subject having
been fully examined at the council this day concluded, and the
allegations, proofs, and statements of the respective parties having been
entered upon the Journal of the commissioners, so that the same can be
decided by the President of the United States, it is agreed by the
Monomonees and Winebagoes, that so far as respects their interests in the
premises, the whole matter shall be referred to the President of the
United States, whose decision shall be final. And the President is
authorized, on the parts, to establish such boundaries between them and
the New York Indians as he may consider equitable and just."
And also in the treaty of Feb. 8th, 1838, we find, in enumerating the
several reasons for effecting a treaty at the above date, the following,
commencing at line 20,928, in the Revision of Indian Treaties, viz: "as
well as for the purpose of settling the long existing dispute between
themselves, and the several tribes of the New York Indians, who claim to
have purchased a portion of their lands, the undersigned, Chiefs and head
men of the Menomenees tribe, stipulate and agree with the United States
"First. The Menomonee tribe of Indians declare themselves the friend and
allies of the United States, under whos parental care and protection they
desire to continue; and although always protesting that they are under no
obligation to recognize any claim of the New York Indians to any portions
of their country; that they neither sold nor received any value for the
land claimed by these tribes, yet at the solicitation of their Great
Father, the President of the United States, and as an evidence of their
great love and veneration for him, they agree that such a part of the
land described, being within the following boundaries, as he may direct,
may be set apart as homes for the several tribes of the New York Indians,
who may remove to and settle upon the same within three years from the
date of this agreement, &c." Commencing at line 20,970, the President of
the United States is hereby empowered to apportion the lands among the
actual occupants at that time, so as not to assign to any tribe a greater
number of acres than may be equal to one hundred for each soul actually
settled upon the lands, and if, at any time of such apportionment any
lands shall remain unoccupied by any tribes of the New York Indians, such
portion as would have belonged to said Indians, had it been occupied,
shall revert to the United States. That portion, if any, so reverting to
be laid off by the President of the United States. It is destinctly
understood that the lands hereby ceded to the United States for the New
York Indians are to be held by those tribes, under such tenure as the
Menomonee Indians now hold their lands, subject to such regulations and
alternation of tenure as Congress and the President of the United States
shall from time to time think proper to adopt.
"Second. For the above cession the United States for the benefit of the
New York Indians, the United States consent to pay the Menomonee Indians
twenty Thousand Dollars, &c.
"Also commencing at line 21,118, Article 6th, the Menomonee Chiefs request
that such part of it as relates to the New York Indians be immediately
submmitted to the representatives of their tribes, and if they refuse to
accept the provision made for their benefit and to remove upon the lands
set apart for them, on the west side of Fox River, that they will direct
their immediate removal from the Menomonee county, but if they agree to
accept the liberal offer made to them by parties of this compact, then
the Menomonee tribe, as dutiful children of the Great Father, the
President, will take them by the hand as brothers, and settle down with
them in peace and friendship."
First. It is agreed between the undersigned, commissioners on behalf of
the United States and the chiefs and warriors representing the Menomonee
tribe of Indians, that for the reasons above expressed, such part of the
first Article of the agreement entered into between the parties hereto,
on the 8th instant, as limits the removal and settlement of the New York
Indians upon the lands therein provided for their future homes, three
years, shall be altered and amended so as to read as follows: That the
President of the United States shall prescribe the time for the removal
and settlement of the New York Indians upon the lands thus provided for
them; and at the expiration of such reasonable time, he shall apportion
the lands among the actual settlers in such manner as he shall deem
equitable and just. And if, within such reasonable time as the President
of the United States shall prescribe for that purpose, the New York
Indians shall refuse to accept the provisions made for their benefit, or,
having agreed, shall neglect or refuse to remove from New York, and
settle on the said lands, within the time prescribed for that purpose,
that then, and in either of these events, the lands aforesaid shall be
and remain in the property of the United States, according to the said
first article, excepting so much thereof as the President shall deem
justly due to such of the New York Indians as shall actually have removed
to and settled on the said lands.
"Second, It is further agreed that the part of the Sixth Article of the
agreement aforesaid, which requires the removal of those of the New York
Indians who may not be settled on the lands at the end of three years,
shall be so amended as to leave such removal discretionary with the
President of the United States; the Menomonee Indians having full
confidence that in making his decision he will take into consideration
the welfare and prosperity of their nation: Provided, That for the
purpose of establishing the rights of the New York Indians upon a
permanent and just footing, the said treaty shall be ratified with the
express understanding that two townships of land," &c. which goes on and
locates the different portion of lands to the several tribes or bands of
the New York Indians which was proclaimed, July 9, 1832.
"Whereas articles of agreement between the United States of America, and
the Menononee Indians, were made and concluded at the city of Washington,
on the 8th day of February A. D. 1831, by John H. Eaton, and Samuel C.
Stambaugh, commissioners on the part of the United States, and certain
Chiefs and headmen of the Menomonee nation, on the part of the said
nation; to which articles an addition or supplemental article was
afterwards made, on the 17th day of February, in the same year, by which
the said Menomonee nation agree to cede to the United States certain
parts of their lands: and that a tract of country therein defined, shall
be set apart for the New York Indians; all which, with the many other
stipulations therein contained, will more fully appear by reference to
the same. When said agreement thus forming a treaty, were laid before the
Senate of the United States, during their then session, but were not at
said session acted on by that body. Whereupon a further agreement was on
the fifteenth day of March, in the same year, entered into for the
purpose of preserving the provisions of the treaty made as aforesaid; by
which it is stipulated that the said articles of agreement concluded as
aforesaid, should be laid before the next Senate of the United States at
their ensuing session, and if sanctioned and confirmed by them, that each
and every article threof should be as binding and obligatory upon the
parties respectively as if they had been sanctioned at the previous
session; and whereas, The Senate of the United States, by their
resolution of the twenty fifth day of June, 1832, did advise and consent
to accept, ratify, and confirm the same, and every clause and article
thereof, upon the conditions expressed in the proviso contained in their
said resolution, which proviso is as follows: Provided, That for the
purpose of establishing the right of the New York Indians on a permanent
and just footing, the said treaty shall be ratified, with the express
understanding that two townships of land, &c.," as in article second
"Whereas, Before the treaty aforesaid, conditionally ratified, according
to the proviso to the said resolution of the Senate, above recited, could
be obligatory upon the said Menomomee nation, their assent to the same
must be had and obtained." Which was done after some modifications
respecting the location of the portion of land for the New York Indians.
And as the modifications so made and desired, was acceded to also by the
New York Indians, which was as follows:
"To all to whom these presents shall come, the undersigned chiefs and
head men of the sundry tribes of the New York Indians (as set forth in
the specifications annexed to their signatures), send greeting:
"Whereas, a tedious, perplexing and harassing dispute and controversy
have long existed between the Menomonee Nation of Indians and the New
York Indians, more particularly those known as the Stockbridge, Munsee
and Brothertown tribes, the Six Nations and the St. Regis tribe. The
treaty made between the said Menomonee Nation and the United States, and
the conditional ratification thereof by the Senate of the United States
being stated and set forth in the within agreement, entered into between
the chiefs and head men of the said Menomonee, and George B. Porter,
Governor of Michigan, commissioners specially appointed, with
instructions referred to in the said agreement.
"And whereas, the undersigned are satisfied and believe that the best
efforts of the said commissioners were directed and used to procure, if
practicable, the unconditional assent of the said Menomonees to the
change proposed by the Senate of the United States in the ratification of
the said treaty, but without success.
"And whereas, the undersigned, further believe that the terms stated in
the within agreement are the best practicable terms short of those
proposed by the Senate of the United States, which could be obtained from
the said Menomonees; and being asked to signify our acceptance of the
modifications proposed, as aforesaid, by the Menomonees, we are compelled
by a sense of duty and propriety to say that we do hereby accept of the
same. So far as the tribes to which we belong are concerned, we are
perfectly satisfied that the treaty should be ratified on the terms
proposed by the Menomonees. We further believe that the tract of land
which the Menomonees in the within agreement are willing to cede, in
exchange for an equal quantity on the northeast side of the tract of five
hundred thousand acres, contains a sufficient quantity of good land,
favorably and advantageously situated, to answer all the wants of the New
York Indians and St. Regis tribe. For the purpose, then, of putting an
end to strife, and that we may sit down in peace and harmony, we thus
signify by our acceptance of the modifications proposed by the
Menomonees; and we most respectfully request that the treaty as now
modified by the agreement this day entered into with the Menomonees, may
be ratified and approved by the President and Senate of the United
"Proclaimed March 13th, 1835."
TREATIES OF NEW YORK INDIANS.
Treaty with the New York Indians as amended by the Senate, and assented
by the several Tribes 1838.
Articles of a treaty made and concluded at Buffalo Creek, in the State of
New York, the fifteenth day of January, in the year of our Lord one
thousand eight hundred and thirty-eight, by Ransom H. Gillett, a
commissioner on the part of the United States, and the chiefs, head men
and warriors of the several tribes of the New York Indians, assembled in
"Whereas, The Six Nations of New York Indians, not long after the close
of the war of the Revolution, became convinced, from the rapid increase
of the white settlers around, that the time was not far distant when
their true interest must lead them to seek a new home among their
brethren in the West: and,
"Whereas, This subject was agitated in a general council of the Six
Nations as early as 1810, and resulted in sending a memorial to the
President of the United States, inquiring whether the Government would
consent to their tearing their habitations, and removing into the
neighborhood of their western brethren, and if they could procure a home
there, by gift or purchase, whether the Government would acknowledge
their title to the lands so obtained in the same manner it had
acknowledged it in those from whom they might receive it; and further,
whether the existing treaties would in such a case remain in full force,
and their annuities be paid as heretofore: and,
"Whereas, With the approbation of the President of the United States,
purchases were made by the New York Indians from the Menomonees and
Winnebago Indians of certain lands at Green Bay, in the Territory of
Wisconsin, which, after much difficulty and contention with those Indians
concerning the extent of the purchase, the whole subject was finally
settled by a treaty between the United States and the Menomonee Indians,
concluded in February, 1831, to which the New York Indians gave their
assent on the seventeenth day of October, 1832: and
"Whereas, By a provision of that treaty, five hundred thousand acres of
land are secured to the New York Indians of the Six Nations and the St.
Regis tribe, as a future home, on the condition that they all remove to
the same within three years, or such reasonable time as the President
shall prescribe, and
"Whereas, The President is satisfied that various considerations have
prevented those still residing in New York from removing to Green Bay,
and among other reasons, that many who were in favor of emigration
preferred to remove at once to the Indian Territory; which they were
fully persuaded was the only permanent and peaceable home for all the
Indians. And they therefore applied to take their Green Bay lands and
provide them a new home among their brethren in the Indian Territory: and
"Whereas, The President, being anxious to promote the peace, prosperity
and happiness of his red children, and determined to carry out the humane
policy of the Government in removing the Indians from the east to the
west of the Mississippi, within the Indian Territory, by bringing them to
see and feel, by his justice and liberality, that it is their true policy
and for their interest to do so without delay,
"Therefore. Taking into consideration the foregoing premises, the
following articles of a treaty are entered into, between the United
States of America and the several tribes of the New York Indians, the
names of whose chiefs, head men and warriors are hereto subscribed, and
those who may hereafter give their assent to this treaty in writing
within such time as the President shall appoint."
"Article 1. The several tribes of the New York Indians, the names of
whose chiefs, head men, warriors and representatives are hereunto
annexed, in consideration of the premises above recited, and the
covenants hereinafter contained, to be performed on the part of the
United States, hereby cede and relinquish to the United States all their
right, title and interest, in the lands secured to them at Green Bay by
the Menomonee treaty of 1831, except the following tract on which a part
of the New York Indians now reside: Beginning at the southwesterly corner
of the French grants at Green Bay, and running thence southwardly to a
point and line to be run from the little Cocalin, parallel to a line of
the French grants, and six miles from Fox river; from thence, on said
parallel line, northwardly six miles; from thence eastwardly to a point
on the northeast line of the Indian lands, and being a right angle to the
"Article 2. In consideration of the above cession and relinquishment on
the part of the tribes of the New York Indians, and in order to manifest
the deep interest of the United States in the future peace and prosperity
of the New York Indians, the United States agree to set apart the
following tract of country, situated directly west of the State of
Missouri, as a permanent home for the New York Indians now residing in
the State of New York, or in Wisconsin, or elsewhere in the United
States, who have no permanent homes; which said country is described as
follows: Beginning on the west line of the State of Missouri, at the
northeast corner of the Cherokee tract, and running thence north along
the west line of the State of Missouri twenty-seven miles to the
southerly line of the Missouri lands: thence west so far as shall be
necessary, by running a line at right angles and parallel to the west
line aforesaid, to Osage lands; and thence easterly along the Osage and
Cherokee lands to the place of beginning; to include one million eight
hundred and twenty-four thousand acres of land, being three hundred and
twenty acres for each soul of said Indians, as their numbers are at
present computed. To have and hold the same, in fee simple, to the said
tribes or nations of Indians, by patent from the President of the United
States, issued in conformity with the third section of the act entitled,
'An act to provide for an exchange of lands with the Indians residing in
any of the States or Territories, and for their removal west of the
Mississippi,' approved on the 28th day of May, 1830, with full power and
authority in the said Indians to divide said lands among the different
tribes, nations or bands in severalty, with the right to sell and convey
to and from each other, under such laws and regulations as may be adopted
by the respective tribes, acting by themselves or by a general council of
the said New York Indians, acting for all the tribes collectively. It is
understood and agreed that the above described country is intended as a
future home for the following tribes, to-wit: The Senecas, Onondagas,
Cayugas, Tuscaroras, Oneidas, St. Regis, Stockbridges, Munsees and
Brothertowns, residing in the State of New York, and the same is to be
divided equally among them according to their respective numbers, as
mentioned in a schedule hereunto annexed.
"Article 3. It is further agreed that such of the tribes of the New York
Indians as do not accept and agree to remove to the country set apart for
their new homes, within five years, or such other time as the President
may from time to time appoint, shall forfeit all interest in the lands so
set apart, to the United States.
"Article 4. Perpetual peace and friendship shall exist between the United
States and the New York Indians; and the United States hereby guarantee
to protect and defend them in the peaceable possession and enjoyment of
their new home, and hereby secure to them, in said country, the right to
establish their own form of government, appoint their own officers, and
administer their own laws; subject, however, to the legislation of the
United States, regulating trade and intercourse with the Indians. The
lands secured to them by patent under this treaty shall never be included
in any state or territory of this Union. The said Indians shall also be
entitled in all respects to the same political and civil rights and
privileges that are granted and secured by the United States to any of
the several tribes of emigrant Indians settled in the Indian Territory.
"Article 5. The Oneidas are to have their lands in the Indian Territory,
in the tract set apart for the New York Indians, adjoining the Osage
tract, and that hereinafter set apart for the Senecas; and the same shall
be so laid off as to secure them a sufficient quantity of timber for
"Those tribes whose lands are not specially designated in this treaty are
to have such as shall be set apart by the President.
"Article 6. It is further agreed that the United States will pay to those
who remove west, at their new homes, all such annuities as shall properly
belong to them. The schedule hereunto annexed shall be deemed and taken
as a part of this treaty.
"Article 7. It is expressly understood and agreed that the treaty must be
approved by the President and ratified and confirmed by the Senate of the
United States, before it shall be binding upon the parties to it.
"It is further expressly understood and agreed that the rejection, by the
President and Senate, of the provisions thereof, applicable to one tribe
or distant branch of a tribe shall not be construed to invalidate as to
others; but as to them, it shall be binding and remain in full force and
"Article 8. It is stipulated and agreed that the accounts of the
commissioner and expenses incurred by him in holding a council with the
New York Indians, and concluding treaties at Green Bay and Duck Creek in
Wisconsin, and in the State of New York in 1836, and those for the
exploring party of the present treaty, shall be allowed and settled
according to former precedents."
SPECIAL PROVISIONS FOR THE ST. REGIS.
"Article 9. It is agreed with the American party of the St. Regis
Indians, that the United States will pay to the said tribe, on their
removal west, or at such time as the President shall appoint, the sum of
five thousand dollars, as a remuneration for moneys laid out by the said
tribe and services rendered by their chiefs and agents in securing the
title to the Green Bay lands, and in removal to the same, to be
apportioned out to the several claimants by the chiefs of the said party,
and a United States commissioner, as may be deemed by them equitable and
just. If is further agreed that the following reservation of land shall
be made to the Rev. Eleazar Williams of said tribe, which he claims in
his own right and that of his wife, which he is to hold in fee simple by
patent from the President, with full power and authority to sell and
dispose of the same, to-wit. Beginning at a point in the west bank of the
Fox River, thirteen chains above the old mill-dam at the rapids of the
little Kockalin, thence north fifty-two degrees and thirty minutes west,
two hundred and forty chains, thence north thirty-seven degrees and
thirty minutes east, two hundred chains, thence south fifty-two degrees
and thirty minutes east, two hundred and forty chains to the bank of the
Fox river, thence up along the bank of the Fox river to the place of
SPECIAL PROVISION FOR THE SENECAS.
"Article 10. It is agreed with the Senecas that they shall have for
themselves and their friends the Cayugas and Onondagas residing among
them, the easterly part of the tract set apart for the New York Indians,
and to extend so far west as to include one-half section (three hundred
and twenty acres) of land for each soul of the Senecas, Cayugas and
Onondagas residing among them; and if on removing west they find there is
not sufficient timber on this tract for their use, then the President
shall add thereto timber land sufficient for their accommodation and they
agree to remove from the State of New York to their new homes within five
years, and to continue to reside there. And Whereas, At the making of
this treaty, Thomas L. Ogden and Joseph Fellows, the assignees of the
State of Massachusetts have purchased of the Seneca Nation of Indians, in
the presence and with the approbation of the United States Commissioner,
appointed by the United States to hold said treaty or convention, all the
rights, title, interest and claim of the said Seneca Nation to certain
lands by a deed of conveyance, a duplicate of which is hereunto annexed,
and whereas, the consideration money mentioned in said deed, amounting to
two hundred and two thousand dollars, belonging to the Seneca Nation, and
the said nation agrees to receive the same, to be disposed of as follows,
The sum of one hundred thousand dollars to be invested by the President
of the United States in safe stock, for their use, the income of which is
to be paid to them at their new homes annually, and the balance, being
one hundred and two thousand dollars, is to be paid to the owners of the
improvements on lands so deeded according to an appraisement of said
improvements, and a distribution and award of said sum of money among the
owners of said improvement, to be made by appraisers hereafter to be
appointed by the Seneca nation, in the presence of the United States'
Commissioner hereafter to be appointed, to be paid by the United States
to the individuals who are entitled to the same, according to said
appraisal and award, and their severally relinquishing their respective
possessions to the said Ogden and Fellows."
SPECIAL PROVISIONS FOR THE CAYUGAS.
"Article 11 The United States will not set apart for Cayugas, on their
removing to their new homes at the west, two thousand dollars, and will
invest the same in some safe stocks, the income of which shall be paid
them annually at their new homes. The United States further agree to the
said nation on their removal west, two thousand five hundred dollars, to
be disposed of as the chiefs shall deem just and equitable."
SPECIAL PROVISION FOR THE ONONDAGAS ON THE SENECA RESERVATIONS.
"Article 12. The United States agreed to set apart for the Onondagas
residing on the Seneca Reservation, two thousand five hundred dollars, on
their removing west, and to invest the same in safe stock, the income of
which shall be paid to them annually, at their new homes. And the United
States further agree to pay to the said Onondagas, on their removal to
their new homes in the west, two thousand dollars, to be disposed of as
the chiefs shall deem equitable and just."
SPECIAL PROVISIONS FOR THE ONEIDAS RESIDING IN THE STATE OF NEW YORK.
"Article 13. The United States will pay the sum of four thousand dollars,
to be paid to Babtist Powlis, and the chiefs of the first Christian party
residing at Oneida, and the sum of two thousand dollars shall be paid to
William Day, and the chiefs of the Orchard party residing there, for
expenses incurred and services rendered in securing the Green Bay
country, and the settlement of a portion thereof; and they hereby agree
to remove to their new homes in the Indian Territory as soon as they can
make satisfactory arrangements with the Governor of the State of New York
for the purchase of their lands at Oneida."
SPECIAL PROVISION FOR THE TUSCARORAS.
"Article 14 The Tuscarora Nation agree to accept the country set apart
for them in the Indian Territory, and to remove there within five years,
and continue to reside there. It is further agreed that the Tuscaroras
shall have their lands in the Indian country, at the forks or the Neasha
River, which shall be so laid off as to secure a sufficient quantity of
timber for the accommodation of the nation. But if on examination, they
are not satisfied with this location, they are to have their lands at
such a place as the President of the United States shall designate. The
United States will pay to the Tuscarora Nation, on their settling at the
west, three thousand dollars, to be disposed of as the chiefs shall deem
most equitable and just.
"Whereas, The said nation owns, in fee simple, five thousand acres of
land lying in Niagara county, in the State of New York, which was
conveyed to the said nation by Henry Dearborn, and they wish to sell and
convey the same before they remove west.
"Now, therefore, in order to have the same done in a legal and proper
way, they hereby convey the same to the United States, and to be held in
trust for them; and they authorize the President to sell and convey the
same, and the money which shall be received for the said lands, exclusive
of the improvement, the President shall invest in safe stock for their
benefit, the income from which shall be paid to the nation at their new
homes annually; and the money which shall be received for improvements on
saidlands shall be paid to the owners of the improvements, when the lands
are sold. The President shall cause the lands to be surveyed, and the
improvements shall be appraised by such persons as the nation shall
appoint; and said lands shall also be appraised, and shall not be sold at
a less price than the appraisal, without the consent of James Cusick,
William Mount Pleasant and William Chew, or the survivor or survivors of
them. And the expenses incurred by the United States in relation to this
trust are to be deducted from the moneys received before investment. And
whereas, at the making of this treaty, Thomas L. Ogden and Joseph
Fellows, the assignees of the State of Massachusetts, have purchased of
the Tuscarora Nation of Indians, in the presence and with the approbation
of the commissioner appointed on the part of the United States, to hold a
treaty or convention, all the right, title, interest, and claim of the
Tuscarora Nation to certain lands, by a deed of conveyance, a duplicate
of which is hereunto annexed; and whereas, the consideration money for
said lands has been secured to the said nation to their satisfaction, by
Thomas L. Ogden and Joseph Fellows. Therefore the United States hereby
assent to the said sale and conveyance, and sanction the same.
"Article 15. The United States hereby agree that they will appropriate
the sum of four hundred thousand dollars, to be applied from time to
time, under the direction of the President of the United States, in such
proportions as may be best for the interests of the said Indians, parties
to the treaty, for the following purposes to wit: To aid them in removing
to their new homes, and supporting themselves the first year after their
removal; to encourage and assist them in education, and in being taught
to cultivate their lands, in erecting mills and other necessary houses;
in purchasing domestic animals and farming utensils, and acquiring a
knowledge of the mechanical arts."
CENSUS OF THE NEW YORK INDIANS AS TAKEN IN 1837.
Number residing on the Seneca Reservations:
Onondagas at Onondaga………………… 300
Oneidas in New York………………….. 620
Oneidas at Green Bay…………………. 600
St. Regis in New York………………… 350
The above was made before the execution of the treaty.
R. H. GILLET, Commissioner.
The following is the disposition agreed to be made of the sum of three
thousand dollars provided in the treaty for the Tuscaroras by the chiefs,
and assented to by the Commissioner, and is to form a part of the treaty:
To Jonathan Printess, ninety-three dollars.
To William Chew, one hundred and fifteen dollars.
To John Patterson, forty-six dollars.
To Wm. Mt. Pleasant, one hundred and seventy-one dollars.
To James Cusick, one hundred and twenty-five dollars.
To David Peter, fifty dollars.
The rest and residue thereof is to be paid to the Nation.
The above was agreed to before the execution of the treaty.
R. H. GILLET, Commissioner.
SCHEDULE APPLICABLE TO THE ONONDAGAS AND CAYUGAS RESIDING ON THE SENECA
It is agreed that the following disposition shall be made of the amount
set apart to be divided by the chiefs of those nations in the preceding
part of this treaty, anything to the contrary notwithstanding:
To William King, one thousand five hundred dollars.
To Joseph Isaac, seven hundred dollars.
To Jack Wheelbarrow, three hundred dollars.
To William Jacket, five hundred dollars.
To Buton George, five hundred dollars.
The above was agreed to before the treaty was fully executed.
R. H. GILLET, Commissioner.
At a treaty held under the authority of the United States of America at
Buffalo Creek, in the county of Erie and the State of New York, between
the chiefs and head men of the Seneca Nation of Indians, duly assembled
in council, and representing and acting for the said Nation, on the one
part, and Thomas Ludlow Ogden, of the city of New York, and Joseph
Fellows, of Geneva, in the county of Ontario, on the other part,
concerning the purchase of the right and claims of the said Indians in
and to the lands within the State of New York, remaining in their
occupation. Ransom H. Gillet, Esq., a commissioner appointed by the
President of the United States to attend and hold the said treaty, and
also Josiah Trowbridge, Esq., the superintendent on behalf of the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts, being severally present at the said
treaty, the said chiefs and head men, on behalf of the Seneca Nation, did
agree to sell and release to the said Thomas Ludlow Ogden and Joseph
Fellows, and they, the said Thomas Ludlow Ogden and Joseph Fellows, did
agree to purchase all the right, title and claim of the said Seneca
Nation of, in and to the several tracts, pieces or parcels of land
mentioned and described in the instrument of writing next hereinafter set
forth, and at the price or sum therein specified, as the consideration or
purchase money for such sale and release; which instrument, being read
and explained to the said parties and mutually agreed to, was signed and
sealed by the said contracting parties, and is in the words following:
This indenture, made this fifteenth day of January, in the year of our
Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty-eight, between the chiefs and
head men of the Seneca Nation of Indians, duly assembled in council, and
acting for and on behalf of the said Seneca Nation, of the first part,
and Thomas Ludlow Ogden, of the city of New York, and Joseph Fellows, of
Geneva, in the county of Ontario, of the second part, witnesseth:
That the said chiefs and head men of the Seneca Nation of Indians, in
consideration of the sum of two hundred and two thousand dollars to them
in hand paid by the said Thomas Ludlow Ogden and Joseph Fellows, the
receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged, have granted, bargained, sold,
released and confirmed, and by these presents do grant, bargain, sell,
release and confirm unto the said Thomas Ludlow Ogden and Joseph Fellows,
and to their heirs and assigns, all that certain tract or parcel of land
situate, lying and being in the county of Erie and State of New York,
commonly called and known by the name of Buffalo Creek Reservation,
containing by estimation forty-nine thousand nine hundred and twenty
acres, be the contents thereof more or less. Also all that certain other
tract or parcel of land, situate, lying and being in the counties of
Erie, Chautauqua and Cattaraugus, in said State, commonly called and
known by the name of Cattaraugus Reservation, containing by estimation
twenty-one thousand six hundred and eighty acres, be the contents thereof
more or less. Also all that certain other tract or parcel of land,
situate, lying and being in the said county of Cattaraugus, in said
State, commonly called and known by the name of the Alleghany
Reservation, containing by estimation thirty thousand four hundred and
sixty-nine acres, be the contents more or less. And also all that certain
other tract or parcel of land, situate, lying and being partly in said
county of Erie and partly in the county of Genesee in said State,
commonly called and known by the name of the Tonawanda Reservation, and
containing by estimation twelve thousand eight hundred acres, be the same
more or less: As the said several tracts of land have been heretofore
reserved and are held and occupied by the Seneca Nation of Indians, or by
individuals thereof, together with all and singular the rights,
privileges, hereditaments and appurtenances to each and every of the said
tracts or parcels of land belonging or appertaining; and all the estate,
right, title, interest, claim and demand of the said party of the first
part, and of the said Seneca Nation of Indians, of, in and to the same,
and to each and every parcel thereof; to have and to hold all and
singular the above described and released premises unto the said Thomas
Ludlow Ogden and Joseph Fellows, their heirs and assigns, to their proper
use and behalf forever, as joint tenants, and not as tenants in common.
At the before-mentioned treaty, held in my presence, as superintendent on
the part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and this day concluded,
the foregoing instrument of writing was agreed to by the contracting
parties therein named, and was in my presence executed by them, and being
approved by me, I do hereby certify and declare such my approbation
Witness my hand and seal, at Buffalo Creek, this 15th day of, January, in
the year 1838.
I have attended a treaty of the Seneca Nation of Indians, held at Buffalo
Creek, in the county of Erie, in the State of New York, on the fifteenth
day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and
thirty-eight, when the within instrument was duly executed in my
presence, by the chiefs of the Seneca Nation, being fairly and properly
understood by them. I do therefore certify and approve the same.
R. H. GILLET, Commissioner.
At a treaty held under and by authority of the United States of America,
at Buffalo Creek, in the county of Erie, and State of New York, between
the sachems, chiefs and warriors of the Tuscarora Nation of Indians, duly
assembled in council, and representing and voting for the said Nation, on
the one part, and Thomas Ludlow Ogden, of the city of New York, and
Joseph Fellows, of Geneva, in the county of Ontario, on the other part,
concerning the purchase of the rights and claim of the said Indians in
and to the lands within the State of New York remaining in their
occupation. Ransom H. Gillett, Esq., a commissioner appointed by the
President of the United States to attend and hold the said treaty, and
also Josiah Trowbridge, Esq., the superintendent on behalf of the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts, being severally present at the said
treaty, the said sachems, chiefs and warriors, on behalf of the said
Tuscarora Nation, did agree to sell and release to the said Thomas Ludlow
Ogden and Joseph Fellows, and they, the said Thomas Ludlow Ogden and
Joseph Fellows, did agree to purchase all the right, title and claim of
the Tuscarora Nation of, in and to the tract, piece or parcel of land
mentioned and described in the instrument of writing next hereafter set
forth, and at the price or sum therein specified as the consideration or
purchase money for such sale and release; which instrument being read and
explained to the said parties, and mutually agreed to, was signed and
sealed by the contracting parties, and is in the words following:
This indenture, made this fifteenth day of January, in the year of our
Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty-eight, between the sachems,
chiefs and warriors of the Tuscarora Nation of Indians, duly assembled in
council, and acting for and on behalf of the said Tuscarora Nation, of
the first part, and Thomas Ludlow Ogden, of the city of New York, and
Joseph Fellows, of Geneva, in the county of Ontario, of the second part,
That the said sachems, chiefs and warriors of the Tuscarora Nation, in
consideration of the sum of nine thousand six hundred dollars to them in
hand paid by the said Thomas Ludlow Ogden and Joseph Fellows, the receipt
whereof is hereby acknowledged, have granted, bargained, sold, released
and confirmed, and by these presents do grant, bargain, sell, release and
confirm to the said Thomas Ludlow Ogden and Joseph Fellows, and to their
heirs and assigns, all that tract or parcel of land situated, lying and
being in the county of Niagara, and State of New York, commonly called
and known by the name of the Tuscarora Reservation, or Seneca grant,
containing nineteen hundred and twenty acres, be the same more or less,
being thelands in their occupancy, and not included in the land conveyed
to them by Henry Dearborn, together with all and singular the rights,
privileges, hereditaments and appurtenances to the said tract or parcel
of land belonging or appertaining, and all the estate, right, title,
interest, claim and demand of the said party of the first part, and of
the said Tuscarora Nation of Indians of, in and to the same, and to every
part and parcel thereof; to have and to hold all and singular the above
described and released premises unto the said Thomas Ludlow Ogden and
Joseph Fellows, and their heirs and assigns, to their proper use and
behalf forever, as joint tenants and not as tenants in common.
At the above-mentioned treaty, held in my presence as superintendent on
the part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and this day concluded, the
foregoing instrument was agreed to by the contracting parties therein
named, and was in my presence executed by them; and being approved by me,
I do hereby certify and declare such my approbation thereof.
Witness my hand and seal at Buffalo Creek, this 15th day of January, in
the year 1838,
J. TROWBRIDGE, Superintendent.
I have attended a treaty of the Tuscarora Nation of Indians, held at
Buffalo Creek, in the county of Erie, in the State of New York, on the
fifteenth day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight
hundred and thirty-eight, when the within instrument was duly executed in
my presence by the sachems, chiefs and warriors of the said nation, being
fairly and properly understood and transacted by all the parties of
Indians concerned, and declared to be done to their full satisfaction. I
do therefore certify and approve the same.
R. H. GILLET, Commissioner.
SUPPLEMENTAL ARTICLE TO THE TREATY CONCLUDED AT BUFFALO CREEK, IN THE
STATE OF NEW YORK, ON THE 15TH DAY OF JANUARY, 1838, CONCLUDED BETWEEN
RANSOM H. GILLET, COMMISSIONER, ON THE PART OF THE UNITED STATES, AND
CHIEFS AND HEAD MEN OF THE ST. REGIS INDIANS, CONCLUDED ON THE 13TH OF
The undersigned, chiefs and head men of the St. Regis Indians, residing
in the State of New York, having heard a copy of said treaty read by
Ransom H. Gillet, the commissioner who concluded that treaty on the part
of the United States, and be having fully and publicly explained the
same, and believing the conditions of the said treaty to be very liberal
on the part of the United States, and calculated to be highly beneficial
to the New York Indians, including the St. Regis, who are embraced in its
provision, do hereby assent to every part of the said treaty, and approve
the same. And it is further agreed that any of the St. Regis Indians who
wish to do so shall be at liberty to remove to the said country at any
time hereafter within the time specified in this treaty, but under it the
Government shall not compel them to remove.
The United States will, within one year after the ratification of this
treaty, pay over to the American party of said Indians one thousand
dollars, part of the sum of five thousand dollars mentioned in the
special provisions for the St. Regis Indians, anything in the article
contained to the contrary, notwithstanding.
Proclaimed April 4, 1840.
* * * * *
In the year 1846, on the 16th day of May, about forty of the Tuscaroras
emigrated from the reservation to their new homes in the Indian
Territory, and in one year about one-third of them died on account of the
sufferings they endured. They were destitute of everything, and the
Government was to have sustained them for one year, and to build houses
for them, and provide all the necessaries of life, but they failed in
fulfilling their promises on account of the misconduct of Dr. A.
Hogeboom, the moving agent of the emigration party.
By reference to official documents in the Indian department it appears
that a petition from a small party of discontented emigrationists at the
Tuscarora village, dated March 4th, 1845, was sent to the President of
the United States, expressing a desire to remove to the West. It also
further appears that a letter had been received by the department from a
certain D. G. Garnsey, dated May 8th, 1845, stating that a portion of the
Senecas, and others of the Six Nations in western New York, were now
ready to remove. The Government, justly fearing that there might be
persons so anxious to possess themselves of the moneys appropriated by
law for the removal and support of emigrating Indians, as to resort to
fraudulent means for the purpose, by letters warned the Indian agent at
Buffalo to be on his guard against such imposition. Afterwards, several
petitioners from small fragments of the Senecas and other tribes, were
prevailed on to sign memorials to the President, asking to be removed,
and begging appropriations for that purpose. To those well acquainted
with these movements, there was sufficient evidence that persons
interested in their removal were at the bottom of all this business.
Of the Six Nations, once the owners and lords of the soil within the
boundaries of the great Commonwealth of New York, there were many small
remnants scattered over the western part of this State in a condition of
wretched vagrancy; reduced by idleness and intemperance to poverty, and
ready, for a trifling compensation, to have their names attached to any
memorial, without regard to its objects, for a small sum of money they
would lend themselves to the service of any artful intriguer whose
designs were to defraud the Government.
By an act of Congress passed on the 3rd day of April, 1843, the sum of
twenty thousand four hundred and seventy-seven dollars and fifty cents
was appropriated for the removal of two hundred and fifty Indians to the
countries west and south of the Missouri river.
This appropriation was granted in consequence of repeated assurances made
to the Indian department that this number were anxious to emigrate. The
glittering prize thus hung up in the face of the noon-day sun was so
bright and alluring that a goodly number of hungry candidates were soon
seen entering the lists and struggling for the prize. But, alas! for the
conditions; unless two hundred and fifty Indians could be procured to
enrol themselves on the emigration engagement, and actually embark for
the West, the stakes could not be legally won. Here was the great
difficulty. And yet one would suppose that out of four thousand eight
hundred and eighty-five Indians, belonging to the following tribes, to
wit: the Senecas, Onondagas, Cayugas, Tuscaroras, Oneidas, St. Regises,
Stockbridges, Munsees and Brothertowns, by taking up all the poor,
degraded individuals, and gathering together all the sincere
emigrationists, such a small proportion of the whole might easily be
procured; especially if these candidates for an agency had told the truth
when they asserted that large bodies of the Indians were anxious to
remove. By these movements the Government had been induced to believe
that there really was an emigration party sufficiently large to meet the
objects of the late appropriation, and to warrant the appointment of an
emigration agent. Under this impression, the Secretary of War, by a
letter dated Sept. 12, 1845, addressed to Dr. Abraham Hogeboom, appointed
him to that office, instructing him, however, that no movement was to be
made unless the full complement of emigrants should desire, in good
faith, to remove to the West, and Hogeboom was also explicitly informed
that "the Government would not undertake the emigration of these Indians
unless two hundred and fifty of them, then residing in the State
of New York, exclusive of the Canada Indians, should muster themselves
and actually go with the agent."
As if to leave no door open for misunderstanding, the Commissioner of
Indian Affairs at Washington addressed a letter to Hogeboom, dated Oct.
2nd, 1845, in which it was expressly declared that "two hundred and fifty
Indians is the smallest number that will be emigrated."
On the 27th of that month, Hogeboom wrote to the department giving it
information that two hundred and nine Indians had enrolled themselves,
and some of their chiefs had assured him that at Buffalo, Cattaraugus and
Alleghany there would be twenty more. Thus the utmost number that the
Doctor could dare to hope for was two hundred and twenty-nine. If that
letter was written in order to feel after the temper of the departmcnt,
and to ascertain how far it was disposed to relax its determination to
send no less away than two hundred and fifty, he was not long in
suspense, for by a letter dated Nov. 4th the Secretary of War again
reminded him that he, was "selected to act as emigrating agent only in
the event that two hundred and fifty would go." But on the 7th of that
month Hogeboom again writes to him, dating his letter from Buffalo,
saying he had ascertained that two hundred and sixty, Indians had
enrolled themselves, and had fixed on the 20th of that month as the time
for starting. This sudden and unexpected movement was not agreeable to
the Secretary on account of the advanced state of the season; but, hoping
they might get out before the lakes and rivers should be impassable on
account of the ice, he immediately ordered provisions for their
sustenance at their intended homes, to be procured and be in readiness at
the time of their arrival.
Notwithstanding all these assurances on the part of Hogeboom, when the
time for telling the truth came the whole scheme failed; a sufficient
number of Indians could not be persuaded to go. The emigration was
therefore indefinitely postponed.
It will be seen by the foregoing statement that on the 27th day of
October Hogeboom wrote to the department that only two hundred and nine
had enrolled themselves, and he then admitted that only twenty more could
be hoped for in addition; of course there was no prospect of emigrating
that season. Indeed the Doctor says in that letter, speaking of the
Indians, "they do not think they will be able to obtain the number of two
hundred and fifty to emigrate this fall." Up to this time nothing had
been done to induce the war department to advance any money to the agent.
So, not only had the emigration scheme failed, but, so far as the Doctor
had been moved by pecuniary motives, he had also failed. This was no
doubt a trying circumstance, but the trial did not long continue, for
only ten days after he had written to the war department that the Indians
did not think they could emigrate this fall, he wrote again to the
Secretary of War, under date of Nov. 7th, 1845, saying "I have
ascertained that two hundred and sixty Indians have enrolled themselves
for emigration, and have fixed the time for starting on the 20th inst."
The following is an extract from a letter from the department to
Hogeboom, dated Nov. 14th, in answer to his of the 7th. It was no doubt a
letter such as the Doctor much desired:
SIR;—I have received your letter of the 7th inst., informing the
department of the enrollment of two hundred and sixty New York Indians
for emigration to their western homes, and proceed, now that there
appears to be no doubt of the movement taking place, to give you some
instructions, &c. * * * A requisition for $10,000 has this day been
issued in your favor, with which you will be charged and held accountable
for, under the head of "removal, &c., of New York Indians," per act March
W. MEDILL, Commissioner.
Thus the Doctor was put in possession of the sum of ten thousand
Dollars, and we hear no more about the two hundred and sixty Indians,
nor of any more trouble about Indian emigration during the remainder of
The proceedings of Dr. Hogeboom; and other persons interested in removing
the Senecas, necessarily produced great agitation, and a very unsettled
state among those who had no idea of emigrating. The chiefs on the
reservations of Alleghany and Cattaraugus, harassed and perplexed by this
vexatious state of things, at length determined to address the President
on the occasion. This application procured the appointment of the council
which was held at Cattaraugus on June 2d, 1846.
In the spring of 1846 Dr. Hogeboom, hearing that the Government had
called a council of the Senecas, for the express purpose of inquiring
officially whether there was an emigration party among them, and, if
there was one, what its number, made great exertions to push off his
emigrants. Regardless of the positive instructions of the Government, and
without its knowledge, he hastily collected as many of the Indians as he
could bring under his influence, and with them embarked in a steamboat at
Silver Creck, on Lake Eric, near Cattaraugus Reservation.
The circumstances and manner of the embarkation throws much light on the
motives and conduct of this emigrating agent. The subject is graphically
related in a speech of Israel Jemison, as made in a council of 1846, and
addressed to the Commissioners of the United States, as follows, to wit:
"Brothers! The question relative to emigration being disposed of, I will
explain the manner in which this removal of the Indians to the West has
been effected. I believe it was irregularly conducted. Indeed, I may say,
of this I am convinced. The agent who came to execute it was duly
notified, that the Government had called the present council for the
consideration and investigation of this matter. As soon as it was known
that this had been determined on, great efforts were made to hurry off
the emigrants and induce them to leave before the council would meet.
I am satisfied that many were decoyed away by various contrivances and
gross misrepresentations on the part of the emigrating agent and his
emissaries. I myself remonstrated against these proceedings, and asked if
it could beproper to inveigle and deceive the Indians in this manner. In
reply I was desired to be silent, to which I rejoined that many of them
whom they had decoyed on board were then drunk, and in a state of
unconsciousness! These remonstrances availed nothing, and the whole were
hurried away. If anyshowed an unwillingness to go they were told they
might return if theychose, should they not like the place when they got
The painful, and indeed the awful result of this inhuman conduct of Dr.
Hogeboom will be seen by reference to the memorial of the Seneca chiefs
the President of the United States, invoking the aid of the Government to
bring back the wretched surviving remnant of the poor duped people. It is
To His Excellency, James K. Polk, President of the United States:
The memorial of the undersigned chiefs and warriors of the Seneca Nation
of Indians, residing in the State of New York, respectfully showeth,
That a party of the Seneca Nation, consisting, as your memorialists have
been informed, of sixty-two persons, together with a portion of the
Cayugas, Onondagas and Oneidas, residing with us, and a party of the
Tuscaroras, residing near Lewiston, in Niagara county, left the State of
New York last spring to settle in the country west of Missouri. That your
memorialists have been credibly informed by letters received from
individuals among them, and by the statements of such as have returned,
that great distress has, from their first arrival there, existed among
them, and does exist without mitigation, in consequence of the
insalubrity of the climate; that twenty persons of the sixty-two Senecas
were already dead some six weeks since, and about the same proportion of
our friends of the other tribes; that many others were sick; that three
of the leading Seneca chiefs, one of the Onondagas, one of the Oneidas,
and a leading man of the Tuscaroras, were dead; that the remnant of the
people, with very few exceptions, were very anxious to return, but were
destitute of the means of doing so; that many of them have sent earnest
requests to us for assistance to enable them to do so; but that only a
few families among us are able to furnish efficient relief to their
suffering friends. In view of all these facts, we would respectfully
request the Vice President to furnish the necessary assistance to bring
back the remnant of the party to their former homes, and to arrange for
the payment of the annuities belonging to them, so that in future they
may receive them here. Although they went out from us against our earnest
remonstrance and entreaty, and some of them mocking our expressions of
concern for them as we stood around the boat when they were going on
board, still we shall rejoice to have them home again amongst us, for
they are our brethren and their sufferings grieve us to the heart.
Thirteen of the Senecas have already returned, and three others, we have
heard, are on the way. This makes the condition of those unable to return
the more lonely and wretched. We hope the President will not say it was
their own fault that they went there, for even if they were to be blamed
for doing so, they had already suffered a fearful punishment. But we
think that if the President were acquainted with the circumstances he
would pity rather than blame them for going. Notice had been repeatedly
given from the War Department that unless a company of two hundred and
fifty emigrants could be organized, none would be removed. Such a company
having failed to be organized in the fall of 1845, we were told that the
Department had required the removing agent to refund the money he had
received for the purpose of removing them. In the spring of the present
year certain men were running from house to house among our people saying
that the agent still held the money in his hands, and would remove all
who wished to go, upon the opening of navigation. Directly after, notice
was received from the Government that commissionerswere appointed, and
that a Council would be held on a specified day to ascertain if the
requisite number wished to emigrate. When this became known it was
immediately reported that the removing agent (Dr. Hogeboom) had already
contracted for their passage—that the steamboat would take them in at
Cattarangus Creek on a certain day, and it was not necessary for them to
wait for the action of the Government. The agent soon after appeared,
accompanied by two individuals from Buffalo, who, as we were afterward
credibly informed, instigated him to practice this fraud upon the
Government, and endeavored, by representing the country west as a
paradise, to induce a large company to go on board their boat. Some of
our friends, who had not disposed of their effects, were told not to mind
their stuff, for the country to which they were going was so rich, and
they would prosper there so rapidly that they would never feel the loss
of it, and one family were hurried away from their table, leaving
everything upon it just as it was when they arose from their dinner. We
have reason to believe that the whole company, except a few leaders, most
of whom are now dead, were deluded by these flattering but fate
representations of those white men, and inasmuch as the removing Agent
appeared on the ground, with the money in his hand, these simple people
were made to discredit the orders received from the department, relative
to the council of the 2d of June. Justice would indeed seem to require
that these white men should repair the injury they have done to us, and
not to us alone, but also to the government.
But we have no power to compel them. Our only resource is to appeal to
the government in behalf of our afflicted and desponding brethren, who
are perishing under the accumulated pressure of disappointed expectations
—grief for the dead and the heavy hand of disease upon their own persons.
We trust our appeal will not be disregarded. We think it is the dictate
of humanity, and we confidently believe that the voice of the whole
country would approve the course of the President if he would grant the
needed relief. We would beg leave further to request the President to
make known to us through our friend Philip E. Thomas, of Baltimore, who
will present our memorial, the decision he may make in regard to it.
And your memorialists, as in duty bound, will ever pray, &c.
Cattaraugus Reservation, Dec. 16, 1846.
James X Shongo, Moses Stephenson, N. T. Strong, William X Jones, Robert X
Gordon, Zachariah X L. Jimison, Daniel Two Guns, Samuel X Wilson, William
X Johnson, John X Bolden, Benjamin Williams, George Lindsay, John
Kennedy, Jr., George Greenblanket, David X Snow, John Huson, Solomon W.
Lane, Jim X Junius, Henry Two Guns, Little X John, John Talor, John X
Luke, Governor X Blacksnake, Israel X Jimison, William X Patterson, John
X Greenblanket, S. M. Patterson, Moses X Pierce, James X Stephenson,
Abraham X John, Jabez X Stephenson, Peter X White, Charles Graybeard.
In reply to this memorial, the following answer was received from the
Indian Bureau at Washington:
WAR DEPARTMENT, OFFICE OF INDIAN AFFAIRS, Feb. 23rd, 1847.
SIR:—The application for the removal of the Seneca Indians back to New
York who emigrated West from there last summer has been duly considered.
With every disposition to gratify the wishes of the Society of Friends,
and of the New York Indians, so far as it could properly be done, I have
to inform you that the Executive Department of the Government has neither
the authority nor the means to justify a compliance with their desire. In
this particular Congress only could authorize the measure and provide the
requisite means for the expense it would invalue.
Respectfully your ob't servant, W. MEDILL.
To PHILIP E. THOMAS, Esq., Baltimore, Md.
When the chiefs were made acquainted with the result of this application,
they addressed the following communication to the joint committee of
CATTARAUGUS RESERVATION, March 22nd, 1847.
RESPECTED FRIEND, PHILIP E. THOMAS:—Permit us to address you a few
lines, and, through you, the committee of the four-yearly meetings of the
Society of Friends, in reference to the condition of our suffering
friends and brethren still remaining in the country west of the
Mississippi. We suppose the committee are already thoroughly acquainted
with the means used to decoy those Indians off, in contravention of the
instructions of the Government to the removing agent. They were flattered
with prospects of almost unbounded prosperity. The country was described
as a paradise; and they were told that there friends here, who might now
refuse to accompany them, would soon be compelled to follow, and that it
would be better to go now and get well started in their improvements,
&c., as soon as possible. But, when they reached that country, instead of
being a paradise, they found it rather a land of desolation, disease and
death, and a large proportion of them are now lying beneath the turf. The
survivors are discouraged and broken-hearted, in addition to the
sufferings from the disease which has swept off their companions, and
they are anxious to return. Application has been made to the Government
in their behalf, without obtaining relief, and, from a recent letter from
Dr. Wilson, we learn that a similar application to the Legislature of
this State is likely to fail. We cannot make any appropriation from our
national funds until the meeting of our national council, as a law has
been passed which would forbid it, but if we delay till that meeting it
will expose our friends to the horrors of the sickly season once more,
and doubtless many more of them will perish in consequence. Under these
circumstances we see no other resource but to look again to those kind-
hearted friends who have done somuch already to relieve us in our
distresses. Our obligations are already very great, and we cherish deep
feelings of gratitude for past favors. We would not willingly burden your
kindness now were it not for the peculiarly difficult and perplexing
condition of things just at the present time. But we feel that humanity
towards our own people demands of us to make this application in their
behalf, as well as of ourselves, for we will always cherish a lively
remembrance of your kindness.
Wishing you the reward of the benevolent in the great day, we subscribe
ourselves your obliged and sincere friends,
In presence of Asher Wright,
HENRY TWO GUNS,
GEORGE X BUTTON,
JOHN X GREENBLANKET,
ABRAHAM X JOHN,
DANIEL TWO GUNS.
Notwithstanding the fact that these Indians were carried away without the
knowledge or sanction of the Government, and consequently without the
requisite preparation for their comfort and subsistence in the western
country, yet the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, as soon as he was
apprised of the movements of Dr. Hogeboom, anxious to afford them all the
relief in his power, promptly ordered arrangements for their reception at
the place of their destination, as will be seen by the following
documents in the War Department, to wit:
WAR DEPARTMENT, OFFICE OF INDIAN AFFAIRS, June 10th, 1846.
SIR:—Information has been receently received at this office that A.
Hogeboom had started for St. Louis with a party of New York Indians, in
number about two hundred. This act of starting with a less number than
two hundred and fifty, in connection with the recent action of this
office, looking to a suspension of the emigration for a time, was wholly
unauthorized, and of course unexpected, but as the party are without the
reach of the Department, measures must be taken to subsist them. I have
therefore to request that you will give directions to the Osage sub-agent
to invite proposals as contemplated in my instructions to you of the 14th
November, 1845, to which you are referred.
To T. W. HARVEY, Esq., Supt. Indian Affairs, St. Louis, Mo.
Notwithstanding this humane effort on the part of the Commissioner to
make provision for the reception and accommodation of these emigrants, it
appears that from the hardships and exposures to which they were
subjected, and from the unwholesome nature of the climate one-third of
them perished within six months after their arrival at their intended
residence. When their distressed situation was made known to the
Department, the Commissioner immediately addressed a letter to the Indian
Agent at St. Louis, calling his attention to their case, from which the
following is extracted:
WAR DEPARTMENT, OFFICE INDIAN AFFAIRS. October, 29, 1846.
SIR:—I transmit herewith a copy of a letter just received from James
Cusick, one of the party of the New York Indians removed west last summer
by Dr. Hogeboom, from which it appears that there has been much sickness
and mortality among those Indians, and that they are in a distressed
situation. Mr. Cusick's letter, supported by Capt. Burbanks, is
calculated to excite much anxiety on account of these Indians. They were
removed contrary to the instructions and expectations of the Department
at the time, and their having gone west was not known until they were
some distance on the route. There was, consequently, no opportunity for
making the requisite preliminary arrangement for their comfort and
welfare on their arrival west. After giving you the instructions of June
10th for their subsistance, such had to be left to the judgment and views
of duty, under these circumstances, of yourself and the Osage Sub. Agent,
under whose immediate supervision they came, in regard to what further
required to be done for them. In my letter of the 30th ultimo your
attention was especially called to their situation, and no doubt is
entertained, that your answers to that communication will show you have
done, or caused to be done, all that could be done, under the
circumstances, for their relief. Should the amount now remitted not be
sufficient to cover the expenses of what you have already done, or what
it may be, in your judgment, further requisite to do for them in addition
to their subsistance, for which there is a special appropriation, you
will please report promptly accordingly, and the necessary funds will be
furnished. Funds will also be remitted on account of their subsistance
when this office is informed that they are needed.
THOMAS H. HARVEY, Esq., St. Louis, Mo.
A RECORD OF THE CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH IN THE TUSCARORA RESERVATION
OBTAINED BY INQUIRY.
The church in the Tuscarora Reservation was organized in the year 1805,
embracing six members only, under the care of the New York Missionary
Rev. Elkanah Holmes, first missionary, from 1805 to 1808.
Members of the Church—Sacarissa, a Sachem, and his wife; Nicholas
Cusick, an interpreter, and his wife; Apollas Jacobs and Mary Pempleton.
Rev. Mr. Gray, second missionary, from 1808 to 1813. At first the Indians
converted their Council House into one for public worship, and also for
school operations, and in time they built a convenient chapel, which was
painted red, and was destined to share the same fate as their dwelling
houses at the hands of the British Indians in the war of 1812.
It was on December 20th, 1813, when they were burned to the ground, in
consequence of which the operations of the mission were suspended from
1813 to 1817, when Rev. James C. Crane took charge of the mission until
the end of the year 1826.
In the year 1821 this mission was transferred from the New York
Missionary Society to the United Foreign Mission Society.
Rev. Joseph B. Lane, the fourth missionary, took charge of the mission
from January 3, 1827, to June 8, 1827.
Rev. John Elliot, the fifth missionary, also labored among these Indians
from June 22, 1827, to May 7, 1833, when he left the mission by his own
request, being dismissed from the service of the American Board of
Commissioners for Foreign Missions, to which this mission was transferred
from the United Foreign Mission Society in the year 1826. Rev. Joel Wood
also labored in this mission from October 15, 1833, to October, 1834.
Rev. William Williams also labored among them from October 26, 1834, to
August 29, 1837.
Mr. Gilbert Rockwood, arrived and took charge of the station as teacher
and overseer of the affairs of the church, and was afterwards ordained to
Before he was ordained he would summon to his aid in the discipline and
ordinances of the Church, at different times, Brother Asher Wright, and
Mr. Bliss, of Cattaraugus Reservation, and Rev. J. Elliott, of Youngstown.
Ordained at Tuscarora Mission, July 3rd, 1839, Rev. Gilbert Rockwood as a
missionary of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions,
to labor among the Tuscarora Indians. Invocation and reading of the
Scriptures were performed by Rev. Lemuel Clark, of Lewiston; first prayer
by Rev. John Elliott, of Youngstown, and former missionary at Tuscarora;
sermon by Rev. E. Parmely, of Jamestown, consecrating prayer by the Rev.
Asher Wright, of the Seneca mission; charge by Rev. Asher Bliss, of
Cattaraugus mission; right hand of fellowship by Rev. A. Wright; address
to the Church and people by Rev. John Elliott; concluding prayer by Rev.
Elisha B. Sherrod, of Wilson; benediction by Rev. Gilbert Rockwood.
The exercises were listened to by an attentive audience of Indians, who
probably never witnessed anything of the kind before. The ceremonies were
solemn and interesting to the people to the very close, although
considerably protracted by passing through an interpreter.
What added to the Interest of the occasion was the ordination of three
native members as Deacons of the Church, at the close of the
ordination. The Church has received a refreshing from on high during the
last winter, which has added a number of members, and is still in a
peaceful and prosperous condition.
Rev. G. Rockwood was a faithful missionary; he went in and out among the
Indians, visited in their homes, and talked with them in their inroads,
and was a great advocate in the cause of Temperance. He was a powerful
preacher, and at times had great revivals: for instance, in the year
1852, when I was first awakened to concern for my soul's welfare. It was
then my soul was first filled with rejoicing in my newly found Saviour;
it was then I first poured out my soul in fervent prayer.
On the 7th day of March, 1852, was held a communion season, and on that
memorable day forty converts were admitted to the full communion of the
Church. Old men of seventy winters and youths of fourteen bowed down
together to receive the ordinance of baptism, of whom I was one of the
number, at the age of fifteen. It was a scene that angels might rejoice
to behold. The whole number admitted to the Church that winter were fifty
Rev. G. Rockwood finished his work among the Tuscarora Indians on the
first day of January, 1861. Thus it is claimed that Rev. G. Rockwood
spent the longest term of ministerial service at one installation in
Niagara county but one, which was Rev. W. C. Wisner of the First
Presbyterian church, Lockport, N.Y.
The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, when they
withdrew Rev. Rockwood from this mission, also withdrew their supplies,
when the Tuscaroras were thrown upon their own resources. In October
following the church appointed as delegates Mr. John Mt. Pleasant, a
Sachem; Dea. Samuel Jacobs and Elias Johnson, interpreter, to attend a
meeting of the Niagara Presbytery at Yates, to make an application that
this mission might come under the care of that body, which was granted
them on October 29, 1861. The Presbytery appointed as Committee on
Supplies, Rev. Joshua Cook, of Lewiston, and H. E. Niles. In January,
1862, Rev. Charles A. Keeler was sent to take charge of the mission, who
labored among them until 1863, after which the preaching was supplied by
some of the members of the church, and more particularly by Dea. S.
Rev. George Ford supplied the Church with preaching every fourth Sabbath,
and was succeeded by Rev. Wm. Hall, and he by Rev. W. P. Barker, who
began his labors among us in Oct., 1877, and was formerly a missionary in
A letter by James Cusick, concerning the Baptist mission at Tuscarora, to
"In 1836, a portion of the Tuscarora Nation thought it expedient to
become Baptists, according to the dictates of their own conscience and
free enjoyment of their religion in this Republican government.
Consequently a Baptist church was built and organized among the
Tuscaroras, and they were called in council with several Baptist churches
in this county. In 1838 they were admitted into the Niagara Baptist
Association at Shalby.
"In a ministerial council June 14th, 1838, Mr. James Cusick was examined
touching his Christian experience, and called to preach the Gospel by
Providence and the council. They decided on that question, and gave him
ordination as a native preacher, deciding that he was well qualified by a
knowledge of theology; and now he has labored among several tribes of the
The first Baptist Church at Tuscarora was broken up in the spring of
1846, on account of an emigration to the Indian Territory, under the
influence of Rev. James Cusick, the party being composed mostly of the
members of that Church, which caused its overthrow. The next year, after
about one-third of the emigration party had died in the Indian Territory,
the remainder came home among the Tuscaroras, but Rev. Mr. Cusick removed
into Canada and labored among the Six Nations at Grand river.
In the year 1860 Rev. James Cusick began his labors again among the
Tuscaroras, in the town of Lewiston, having been invited here by James
Johnson, with the view of reorganizing the former Baptist Church.
On the fifteenth day of February, 1860, there was held a deliberative
meeting at the house of James Johnson, Rev. James Cusick acting as
moderator. There were present, William Green, of Grand River; James
Johnson, Isaac N. Jack, Isaac Patterson, Joseph Williams, Adam Williams,
The church was organized on March 21, 1860, at the house of James
Johnson, Rev. James Cusick, Moderator, and Isaac N. Jack, Clerk.
A council of delegates from Wilson and Ransomville was invited by the
reorganized Baptist church to meet on the 26th day of April, 1860, for
recognition, which duly met, Rev. William Sawyer, Chairman: James
Bullock, Clerk. Introductory prayer by Rev. L. C. Pattengill: hand of
fellowship by Rev. Wm. Sawyer; address by Rev. L. C. Pattengill,
including prayer and benediction by Rev. Wm. Sawyer. The following
delegates were present, to-wit:
From Wilson—Rev. L. C. Pattengill, Dea. R. Robinson, Dea. A. Chapin.
From Ransomville—Rev. Wm. Sawyer, Dea. G. Hopkins, Dea. J. Bullock.
They were received into fellowship of the Niagara Baptist Association
June 14, 1860, held at Akron, Erie county, N. Y. James Johnson, the first
deacon, was chosen April 13, 1860.
They finished an edifice of 30 x 40 feet, a convenient chapel, which was
dedicated February 5, 1862. A sermon by Rev. L. C. Pattengill, prayer of
dedication by Rev. Wm. Sawyer, report of building by J. C. Hopkins.
Rev. James Cusick was to have been their first installed pastor, but in
the year 1861 death took him to his long rest. He was a powerful
preacher, and we had great revivals under his ministrations.
Rev. Thomas Green, a native, was baptized Jan. 9th, 1861, and on the
third day of Oct., 1863, was licensed to preach the Gospel of Christ, a
helper for Rev. Nicholas Smith, and on Sept. 25th, 1867, was ordained to
the ministry, and succeeded Rev. N. Smith as pastor of that Church, which
office he faithfully filled, went in and out among them, with meek and
humble spirit, ever faithful to his trust. He had the gift of natural
oratory, and we had some powerful revivals under his preaching. It would
seem to us that he was called away too soon, but the Omniscient Being
knows best. God called him from his labors and trials in this vale of
tears to weal in the pleasures of his presence and of his only Son,
Jesus, of whom he had preached, and fought, as did Paul, the good fight
of faith, and finished his course on Jan. 12, 1877, and has seen the
crown of life which was lad up for him in Heaven.
Rev. Franklin P Mt. Pleasant, a native, began to preach the Gospel in the
spring of 1877, by the invitation of Rev. T. Green, and was licensed on
the 23d day of October, 1879, and has been their constant preacher.
For the earlier part of the history of school operations among the
Tuscarora Indians, I can do no better than to give the report of Rev.
John Elliot to the Secretary of War, in the year 1832, viz.:
"To the Secretary of War:
"This will show the operations of the schools from their organization in
1805, to September 30, 1832.
"The first school among the Tuscaroras was taught by Rev. Mr. Homes, the
first missionary. This, according to the best information, was in 1805.
What amount has been expended, either from the fund of the society or by
the Government, to sustain its operation, I am wholly unable to state.
The Indians converted their Council House into one for public worship,
and also one for school operations, until 1828, when, with a little
assistance from abroad, they completed a convenient chapel, 28 x 38 feet,
for publicworship. In 1831 they raised and finished a frame school house
24 x 20 feet, at an expense probably of $200. This sum, with the exception
of $8, the Indians obtained by contributions among themselves.
"We have but one teacher, whose whole time is engrossed in the concerns
of the school (Mrs. Elliot and myself are occasionally employed). Her
name is Elizabeth Stone, and the compensation she receives is only the
means of support, the same that we receive. Ninety scholars have, to our
certain knowledge, entered the school since its commencement. One of the
number is the principal Chief and stated interpreter, who can communicate
in three languages. Eighty of this number have attended the school within
the last six years. Sixty have left with the prospect, in most cases, of
exerting a happy influence. This influence is the result of a belief in,
and adherence to, the doctrines of the Gospel. Since they have embraced
the principals of Christianity in full their progress in industry and
temperance has been strikingly visible and rapid. But few of the number
now sip ardent spirits—not more than one in twenty.
"The young men are enterprising; some have large, convenient barns and
comfortable dwellings, fine fields of wheat, corn, oats, &c.; others are
beginning to plant orchards; they now depend on the cultivation of their
lands for a livelihood."
The second teacher who taught the school among the Tuscaroras was the son
of Rev. Mr. Gray, the second missionary, in the years from 1808 to 1813,
and was then followed by a young man by the name of Mr. Youngs. These
were the first three teachers who broke in and shed the light of
education upon the dark minds of our forefathers. The schools were
supported by the missionary societies in the same order as in the
different transfers that were made concerning the support of the
missionaries. In the year 1858 was the last transfer made from the
American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Mission to the State of New
York, by whom they are now sustained. There were many changes made in the
teachers, all of whose names, with dates, in the order in which they
came, I am not able to record; but I will record such names as I have
been able to obtain which came under the appointment of missionary
teachers, to wit:
Miss Elizabeth Stone, from 1831 to 1837.
Miss Lucia G. Smith, 1836.
Miss Hannah T. Whitcomb, from Oct. 5, 1839, to Aug. 25, 1849.
Miss Mary J. T. Thayer, from 1849 to 1854.
Miss Cinderella Britto, from 1853 to 1854.
Miss Abigail Peck, from 1853 to 1858.
Assistant teachers not having regular appointment.
Miss Emily Parker, 1831.
Miss Burt, 1837.
Miss Nancy Wood, 1856.
Miss Maria Colton, 1857.
Miss Eleanor B. Lyon, 1857.
Under the New York State supervision:
Miss Abigail Peck, from 1853 to 1858.
Miss Mary A. Smith, native.
Miss Emily Chew, native.
Miss Margaret Eddy.
Miss Helen Gansvort, native.
Mr. William Sage, seven winters.
Mr. Philip T. Johnson, native.
In the year of 1850 there was another school house built by the natives
under the proposition of Miss Mary J. F. Thayer. I have here a brief
history of her labors among the Tuscaroras, from her own writings, which
is very interesting, to wit:
MISS M. J. F. THAYER'S LABORS AS A MISSIONARY TEACHER.
At the invitation of Rev. G. Rockwood (then the ordained missionary at
Tuscarora) Miss M. J. F. Thayer commenced her labors among the Tuscaroras
as teacher on April 30, 1849, in the old school-house opposite Mr.
Rockwood's house, receiving from the American Board one dollar and fifty
cents per week, besides her board. There were but few scholars, and these
were very irregular in their attendance. Miss T. visited the parents and
tried to get them interested. She finally came to the conclusion that
time and money were thrown away on that little day school, and
drew up a paper, which was read to the Tuscaroras at their New Year's
feast, January 1, 1850, in which she detailed her plans and wishes,
asking their aid in executing them. Their response was cordial and
hearty. They resolved to build a new school-house; the site was selected
on a corner near Isaac Miller's, and the people, as one man, went to work
with great alacrity, under the leadership of one of their chiefs, Wm. Mt.
Pleasant, and had, before the next New Year's, a snug house, 18 x 24
feet, well finished, furnished with two stoves, and a large pile of wood
prepared. Miss Thayer commenced teaching at the new station (which she
was pleased to call Mt. Hope) Jan. 14, 1851, having forty scholars the
first day. On Saturday, Jan. 12, before school began, a church meeting
was held at the new station. There were thirty persons present, and they
voted to hold prayer meetings there every Wednesday evening.
Feb. 20 Miss T. wrote—"Fifty is the average attendance at school.
Scholars happy and bright and very eager to learn Nearly every one has
bought a new spelling book. The prayer meetings are well attended;
Sabbath evenings there are fifty present, Wednesdays, thirty. They
conduct these meetings without their pastor, usually. Christians are
being revived; there is an increasing spirit of prayer: the women have
begun to pray; we had a precious meeting last Sabbath evening."
In March there was a great deal of sickness (typhoid fever), of which
several died. The school was interrupted for a few days.
May 2, she wrote—"My school flourishes. It is difficult to say which
seem the happier, the children or their teacher. I have five little girls
boarding with me. As the 'boarding school fund' is exhausted, I am
obliged to meet all the expenses from my own allowance" It might be
stated that Miss Thayer never received a "formal appointment" from the
American Board, because her health was so poor, but she was
employed and paid by them. After she went to the new
schoolhouse they paid her one hundred and fifty dollars a year, and she
found everything. By "boarding school fund" is meant money received by
Miss Thayer from friends of hers who were interested in her work and sent
her, from time to time, small sums of money and sometimes articles of
food and clothing for the children, deficiencies she met from her
Thus the work went on. Several children were anxious to become inmates of
the teacher's family. Celia Green, Elizabeth Cusick, Ann and Mary Henry,
Susan Patterson and Sarah Mt. Pleasant were the favored ones.
Sept. 10, 1851, Miss T. wrote—"My school is small now, owing to the
prevalence of the measles. The little girls living with me being
attacked, their mothers have taken them home." Under the same date adds—
"Two weeks ago I passed a sleepless night, contemplating the deplorable
condition of the young people here, agonizing and with tears wrestling in
prayer for them. Last week I learned that three young women had decided
to forsake there evil ways, repenting of their sins, and looking to Jesus
for salvation. Two of them came forward at the church meeting last
Saturday, and offered themselves as candidates for admission to the
church. One of the young women stayed with me last Sabbath night (this
was Louisa Henry). She gave evidence of a change of heart. May many more
be led to a saving knowledge of the truth."
Writing again to her father, (these extracts are all from letters to her
father), Dec. 8, 1851—"It would do your heart good to look in upon my
little family—my little ones so confiding affectionate and happy. My
heart has again been made glad by the conversion of one of my older
pupils, an interesting youth of seventeen. He and the two young women
mentioned in a former letter united with the Church at our last
communion. I wept for joy at these tokens of the presence of a prayer-
Jan. 1, 1852—"Attended the New Years' feast to-day. Told the people of
my plans for building an addition to the schoolhouse, so that I might
take more children into my family. They adjourned to the Council-house,
and will talk over my propositions there this evening."
Jan. 3—"The church meeting to-day was very interesting. Five young women
offered themselves to the church, were examined and accepted. Most of
them state that they found the Saviour last summer. As near as I can
learn from their statements it was at the very time when I was so
exercised in their behalf. For some time I agonized in prayer; then I
became calm, and felt assured that my prayer was heard and would be
Jan. 4, Sabbath—"An interesting day. Never saw so many of the Tuscaroras
present at a religious meeting. Some one who counted them stated that
there were nearly one hundred and forty, and all seemed serious and
attentive. Bro. B.'s discourse in the forenoon was full of instruction to
the young converts. In the afternoon the young women examined yesterday
were received into the Church. Eight children were baptized, and the
sacrament administered. In the evening I repaired to the council house,
where the sacrament was again administered, on account of an aged sister,
nearly one hundred years old, too infirm to go to the meeting-house."
Jan. 5—"Commenced school to-day with twenty-five scholars; have seven
girls boarding with me; my little house is too small, but I hope soon to
enlarge it, as the Tuscaroras give encouragement that they will take hold
and help about building. They hold another council to-day to make
Jan. 6—"A committee of chiefs called on me this morning, and advised me
to accept the thirty dollars offered by Mr. E. S. Ely, of Checktowga; it
would be needed to purchase the fine lumber, which they can buy cheaper
in Canada than in the States. To-morrow they will turn out with their
teams and draw logs to mill for the coarse lumber, and next week they
will go to Canada for the fine lumber, which Mr. Mt. Pleasant will
prepare. When all things are ready they will frame the building, enclose
and shingle it."
Jan. 12, 1852—"Louisa Henry, who seems to be in the last stages of
consumption, has been with me since New Year's; is failing fast; told me
when she came that she expected to die soon, and wished to spend her last
days with me; does not fear death; takes great delight in prayer and
reading the Bible; the 23d Psalm is her favorite portion."
Jan. 14—"At an inquiry meeting this evening, as Bro. R was absent, I
conversed with those who came; explained the parable of 'The Prodigal
Son' making personal application; three young persons requested prayers;
one was only 'almost persuaded;' the other two expressed their
determination to begin a new life at once; invited Elias Johnson and his
brother James to stop after school for a season of prayer: they were both
rejoicing in their newly-found Savior, and poured out their souls in
fervent prayer; my soul is filled with joy."
Jan. 19—"Feel quite worn out; thought Louisa dying; watched with her all
night; sent for her aunt, who will watch with her to-night."
Jan. 21—"Bro. R. called; decided to send the little ones home; close
school for a few days, and take Louisa to the mission house."
Jan. 25—"Louisa's aunt took her home at the instance of the Chiefs, who
did not like to have the school interrupted."
Jan. 26—"Louisa died to-day; her sufferings are over; her happy spirit
is doubtless with the ransomed above."
Jan. 27—"Attended L's funeral."
Jan. 28—"Returned to the school-house, where we had an inquiry meeting
in the evening; about fifty present, of whom one-half seem seriously
inquiring the way to be saved; I conversed with the females; found five
indulging a hope; others greatly distressed on account of their sins.
Within a few months there have been twenty hopeful conversions."
Jan. 31—"Met the sisters according to appointment; there was some
earnest wrestling with God; had conversation with one who, for many
years, has been a backslider, but thinks she has now returned to God."
Feb. 4—"At the inquiry meeting many were present; several indulging a
hope; deep feeling, but no excitement."
Feb. 7—"At the church meeting thirty-two candidates were examined for
admission to the church."
Feb. 8—"Sabbath; ninety Tuscaroras in attendance upon divine services; a
most solemn assembly."
Feb. 12—"An interesting young converts' prayer-meeting."
Feb. 13—"My children all have the whooping cough."
Feb. 14—"Detained from church meeting by the sick children."
Feb. 15—"Sabbath; detained from church; though I am much confined by
home duties, the work of the Lord prospers; Bro. R. is very faithful, and
the Lord crowns his labors with great success. He now numbers fifty new
converts; has united several couple in lawful marriage; many drunkards
seem to be reclaimed; twelve of my Bible-class have found the Savior; so
have three of the little girls that have boarded with me and ten of my
Feb. 17—"I was afraid that I should have to stop teaching and devote
myself to the care of my sick children, but their friends took them home
last Saturday; it seemed lonesome without them, but little Elizabeth, who
seems to love me with all her little heart, cried so much to come back
that they could not keep her at home; she is with me now and seems quite
happy. Have written to Secretary Treat, urging that Bro. Rockwaod be
permitted to remain here; none could be more active and efficient than he
Feb. 24—"So many children have the whooping-cough that but few attend
school. I, also, have a most troublesome cough, and find it difficult to
teach; should have to give up if my school was very large, as I have fits
of coughing just like the whooping-cough."
March 4—"My brother in Buffalo sent the sash and doors for my boarding-
house; the building is going forward. Miss Howe writes that she will come
to my assistance if I need her."
March 7—"Communion season—forty additions to the church. The old man of
seventy and the youth of fourteen bowed together to receive the ordinance
of baptism. A scene that angels might rejoice to behold."
March 8—"Have written to Miss Howe to come on, my health being very
poor. Have obtained leave of absence for a few weeks, or months, if I
should find it expedient to go on to New York to Dr. Nichols' Medical
March 11—"Several calls from my Tuscarora friends. They are very loth to
have me leave, even for a short time, and it is a sore trial for me."
March 13—"Arrived at my father's in Lancaster, N. Y."
March 18—"Wrote in my journal, 'still at my father's,' but thinking
continually of my dear Tuscarora children. May I soon be restored to
them, invigorated both in body and mind."
March 23—"Quite unwell; cannot tell how long I shall have to stay away
from my school."
April 26—"Left Lancaster for Tuscarora."
Mt. Hope, Tuscarora, April 28, 1852—"Once more in my own sweet home,
greeted by the sparkling eyes and smiling faces of my dear children.
Found Miss Howe nearly worn out and glad to be relieved.
"There have been several deaths during my absence—some among my scholars.
Several calls this evening from my adopted people, who seem so glad to
April 29—"Resumed my duties in the school-room."
May 1—Sabbath—"Rising early went on foot with my little girls, though
the road was muddy, reached the meeting house before 9 A. M., in time for
Sunday-school, sacrament in the afternoon. Five received into the church
—three of them my scholars. So thankful to be once more with my beloved
May 18—"Have had to relinquish my school again to Miss Howe, I am too
feeble for school duties."
June 22—"A week ago yesterday almost the whole nation turned out to help
at the "raising." The excitement of the day was so great that I could
sleep but little that night; so happy! The Lord be praised. How mountains
of difficulties have vanished. The Tuscaroras are doing nobly; but,
besides their work, to finish and furnish all will require about four
hundred dollars; this will take all my funds, but when I need more, I
know that the Lord will provide. Have already expended nearly one hundred
dollars, yet, I trust there will be no lack. Donations are coming in from
July 23—"How different my labors this summer from those of last winter.
Unable to teach, have given my school to another; nor, am I able to visit
much among the people. Occupy my time chiefly in taking care of my little
girls, teaching them to sew, and preparing bedding for my contemplated
boarding school; thankful that I may do a little, though I long to do
Sept. 3—"Being unable to teach, and thinking that I might do more good
here, if ever, to study medicine, having consulted my friends and Mr.
Treat, I shall go to Philadelphia to attend medical lectures. Have bade
adieu to my humble home, not to return before next February."
Miss Thayer returned from Philadelphia in February, 1853. Miss Mary
Walker had taught the school during her absence. Shortly after her return
to Mt. Hope, Miss Abigail Peck and Miss Cinderella Britto arrived, the
former to teach school, the latter to assist in housework, Miss Thayer to
have general supervision as matron of the boarding school. The American
Board doubled their appropriation, so that each one of the ladies were to
receive one hundred dollars a year, and find their own board. Miss Thayer
taking it upon herself to meet the other expenses of the school. Timely
donations in money were received from Philadelphia, Brooklyn and New
York, and various small sums; also boxes of clothing and some provision
from friends in neighboring towns.
March 23—Miss Thayer writes: "Have received one hundred dollars from the
Sunday school in Mr. Barnes' church, for my building; have hired two
carpenters to do the inside work, it having been framed, shingled,
enclosed, and most of the lathing done, by the Tuscaroras. My health is
failing again and my mind much racked with planning, as my associates
each want a separate room for their own private use, I have been obliged
to vary from my original plan so as to secure pleasant rooms for them
with chimneys for stoves."
May 7—"The building goes forward rather slowly, and my associates are
becoming somewhat impatient on account of the delay; yet we shall have a
better finished and more commodious house than I had at first planned.
Though very much worn both in body and mind, I do not regret having
undertaken the work. Am more and more convinced that the only hope for
the moral and physical well-being of the Tuscaroras is to train up the
children in the way they should go. The work is begun, and the Lord is
able to carry it forward, either with or without me."
Miss Thayer's health continued poor and she took a vacation of four
weeks, in the summer, leaving her associates in charge. Then wrote to Mr.
Treat that she should be obliged to give up the management of financial
affairs, and asking them to assume the responsibility.
To confer with him on the subject, Mr. Treat requested Mr. Rockwood, Miss
Thayer and her associates to meet him in Buffalo, where he would stop on
his way to the meeting of the American Board at Cincinnati. The result of
the conference: The boarding school was transferred to the immediate care
of the Board, with Mr. Rockwood as Superintendent; the ladies to retain
their respective positions—teacher, house-keeper and matron. From this
time Miss Thayer felt greatly fettered, and the impression grew upon her
that her presence was not desired at Mt. Hope; that her usefulness there
was at an end. Long and prayerfully did she weigh the matter, and at
last, though it nearly broke her heart, she asked to be dismissed from
the field. Her request was granted, and Miss Thayer closed her labors at
Mt. Hope, December 31, 1853, and longed to die. It was the saddest
day of her life, the bitterest trial she ever experienced, this giving up
all her hopes of usefulness among her beloved Tuscaroras. She knew not
whither to go; could not tell the people what she had done.
Samuel Jacobs was going to Cattaraugus, and Miss Thayer went with him,
hoping the Lord would give her work to do there. Engaged temporarily in
teaching, was there until the latter part of July, 1854; in August
applied to the Presbyterian Board for an appointment as missionary
teacher for one of their schools among the Southwestern Indians, which
was granted, and she was sent to the Chickasaws, in the Indian Territory;
arrived there in November, 1854; labored among the Chickasaws, Creeks and
Choctaws until September, 1865, when again broken down in health, she
reluctantly gave up the work of a missionary teacher, and returned to her
father's house in Bristol, Wis., accompanied by her husband, (Theodore
Jones), and her three young children (two sons and a daughter). She has
since resided in Bristol, Wis., on the farm given to her by her father
and brothers, a quiet, pleasant home. Her children are growing up in the
fear of the Lord, having all of them, five years ago, (in April, 1873),
united with the Congregational church in Bristol. Although she has not
the means to give them a liberal education, she hopes that they will be
useful workers in the Lord's vineyard.
Mrs. Jones often thinks of her beloved Tuscaroras, and would gladly visit
them if it were not for the expense of such a journey.
Mrs. Jones has culled the material for the foregoing pages from numerous
letters written to her father, from Tuscarora, and also made extracts
from her private journal, kept whilst at Tuscarora, and she gives Elias
Johnson leave to embody such portions of it in his history of the
Tuscaroras as shall best suit his purpose. She sends herewith Mr. Treat's
reply to her request to be released from the work at Mt. Hope; also a
letter written by the Tuscarora chiefs, representing her departure from
"MRS. MARY J. E, JONES,
"February 22, 1878.
To ELIAS JOHNSON, Tuscarora.
* * * * *
About the year 1800, a new religion was introduced among the Six Nations,
who alleged to have received a revelation from the Great Spirit, with a
commission to preach to them the new doctrine in which he was instructed.
This revelation was received in circumstances so remarkable and the
precepts which he sought to inculcate, contained in themselves such
evidences of wisdom and beneficence, that he was universally received
among them, not only as a wise and good man, but as one commissioned by
the Great Spirit to become their religious teacher, by the name of Ga-
ne-o-di-yo, or "Handsomelake." This new religion, as it has ever since
been called, with all the ancient and new doctrines, was also taught,
strenuously, the doctrine of Temperance, which seemed to be the main and
ultimate object of his mission, and upon which he chiefly used his
influence and eloquence through the remainder of his life. He went from
village to village, among the several nations of the Iroquois, and
continuing his visits from year to year, preaching the new doctrine with
remarkable effect; many abandoned their dissolute habits and became sober
and moral men.
The wholesome doctrine of sobriety was not preached in vain, even among
the Tuscaroras; nevertheless, they did not embrace the ancient and the
new faith, nor its ceremonies, but the preaching of this singular person.
The influence of his eloquence, with which he enforced the doctrine of
temperance, had the effect of forming a temperance society, which was
kept up a number of years, by holding meetings and by lectures given by
the leading men of the nation, until the year 1830, when a regular
temperance society was organized, which was based on a written
constitution; and in the year 1832 there was a general temperance society
formed at the Cattaraugus Reservation, embracing all the, then, different
Seneca Reservations; and in the year 1833 the Tuscaroras reorganized so
as to be connected with the Seneca temperance society, organized at
Cattaraugus. I found the following articles in the records of the
Tuscarora temperance society, to-wit:
"Temperance Society, formed among the Tuscaroras, February 19th, 1830,
re-organized January 27th, 1833.
"Whereas, Present and past occurrences clearly prove that intemperance is
a great and destructive evil; therefore,Resolved, That we, the
chiefs and warriors of the Tuscarora Nation, will do all in our power to
arrest its progress, both in this village and elsewhere."
Experience has taught us that efforts to advance this good cause are not
in vain, encouraged by what we have already effected, we have conceded to
re-organize our society, which shall be named and governed as follows:—
"Article 1. This society shall be denominated the Temperance Society
auxiliary to the general Temperance Society formed at Cattaraugus, March
1st, 1832, by our red brothers from five different Reservations.
"Article 2. It shall embrace individuals of both sexes of men, women and
"Article 3. We who sign our names to this constitution, solemnly pledge
ourselves to abstain entirely from the use of intoxicating liquors, and
persuade others in an affectionate, faithful manner to do the same, not
suffering it to be used in our families, nor purchasing it for those in
"Article 4. It shall be the duty of those who were appointed a committee
by the general Temperance Society to visit the members of this Society
individually, and enquire whether they adhere to or strictly obey the
articles of the constitution, and converse with others on the subject of
temperance, so far as practicable, and make a report of their doings to
"Article 5. The officers of this Society shall be a President, Vice-
President, Secretary and Treasurer. The duty of the President shall be as
follows, viz: To open the meetings by calling the assembly to orders to
appoint the time for meeting; to settle questions in any discussions made
in the Society; to appoint the speakers. The duty of the Secretary shall
be to minute the proceedings of every meeting, and read the report at the
close of every meeting, and to keep in record the names of the members of
the Society. The Treasurer shall keep in charge the revenues of the
contributions, and attend to the lights."
Names of the first officers of this Society:
Vice-President—William Mt. Pleasant.
Secretary and Treasurer—James N. Cusick.
Names of Chiefs at that time:
William Chew, William Printup,
Jonathan Printup, Mathew Jack,
John Mt. Pleasant, John Johnson,
John Fox, George Printup,
This united Temperance Society held a yearly convention on the different
Reservations, alternately, for a number of years, but the interest in the
convention gradually declined, until the convention was entirely given
up. Afterwards they somewhat remodeled the constitution to suit their
circumstances, and added the following article, viz:
"In the temperance assemblies the following subjects are to be lectured
on: Temperance, Industry, Education and Moral Reform."
We have also a cornet band, which is connected with the temperance
society, which enliven and cheer the meetings by the sweet strains of
their music, and adds very much to the interest of each meeting. This
band goes by the name of the "Tuscarora Temperance Cornet Band." It was
organized in the year 1842, and has existed continually to the present
time, in 1880.
On the 11th day of November, 1844, there was a delegation sent here by
the Tuscaroras, from Grand River, then Canada West, now Ontario, to
connect themselves with our temperance society, which was granted them,
and the following delegates were admitted, viz: William Green, a Sachem;
David Hill, Jacob Hill, Rev. Nicholas Smith and Thomas Thomas.
This society was afterwards invited to hold a temperance meeting on the
Tuscarora Reservation at Grand River, Ontario, with the view of
organizing a temperance society in conjunction to ours. The meeting was
held according to the time designated. The meetings were opened and
conducted with much interest, but dissolved without the formation of a
society. There was a disagreement concerning the constitution of the
society, respecting the subjects of discussion in the meetings of the
society. The Canada Indians wished to have the three other subjects, from
that of temperance, to bestricken out, but the Tuscaroras of the States
adhered to the forms of the constitution of their society, which includes
Industry, Education and Moral Reform, as the subject of lecture of each
meeting, which was adopted at anearly period.
In the autumn of 1862, the cornet band and a number of the members of the
society made a visit to Grand River, Ontario, among their Indian
brethren, and when they arrived there the Sons of Temperance had a social
party, to which we were very cordially invited to participate of the
sumptous feast, which was already prepared, and were two days devoted to
temperance meetings. The time was taken up by lectures on temperance and
music by the two cornet bands, which played their music alternately, and
added very much to the interest of the meetings. The speeches were
interspersed with the rehearsals of the different traditions of the
causes of the declension of the Indian nations, and regretting the
slowness of the progress of their civilization, and attribute to
temperance, to be the great cause of the retard of their advancement in
industry and civilization.
They were invited several limits by these, our Canada red brothers, to
their Sons of Temperance conventions at Grand River, of which they
faithfully attended, and they were also invited at one of their
conventions held at Monseetown, near London, Ontario, on the reservation
of the Oneidas: our cornet band and quite a number of the members of our
society complied to the invitation. The meetings were very interesting.
There were many speeches made on the subject of temperance, and on
various topics for the advancement of the respective Indian nations. A
speech was also made by the author of this book, which began as follows,
"My dear friends and relatives. I have been interested in the great and
good cause of temperance for a number of years, and have attended many
meetings and assemblies in the temperance cause, but this, our present
gathering, is to me, unusually interesting; it brings my mind back for
more than a century, when the Tuscaroras were broken down, as a nation,
by the pale faces, and expelled from their long-cherished homes, and
driven from the graves of our noble ancestors, into the wild and cold-
hearted world: and when they were without a friend and without a home,
and no one to pity them, in this, their time of trouble. You, the
Oneidas, gave us the hand of friendship and brotherly love, and gave us
peaceful homes within your wide extended domain, and whispered in our
ears the words of consolation; when, and how shall we ever forget or
repay you for the unbounded kindness that your fathers exercised towards
ours? We have ever given you a place nearest our hearts, with all its
affections, here we give you our hands and our hearts in the great and
good cause of temperance, and we wish you prosperity in every sense of
the word both temporally and morally."
This convention was denominated the Six Nations Sons of Temperance
Convention, although we, from the States were not members of that order.
It seems that they deemed it not derogatory to their dignity that we
should be present at their conventions, although ours is a common, open
and free, temperance society.
We, also, invited them to hold their convention on our reservation, which
was acceded to and held in the fall of 1865, and there were delegates of
several Oneidas, from Monseetown, Ontario, and of the Tuscaroras, from
Grand River, Ontario, and also a cornet band of the Onondagas, from
Onondaga Castle, N. Y., which favored us with the sweet strains of their
music, alternately, with our cornet band.
Every morning the assembly would meet at the school-house, Mt. Hope, at
10 o'clock, A. M., and there form in procession and march to the council-
house, about one mile, to the place of meeting: the two cornet bands
played their music while the procession was moving, and our temperance
banners were floating in the air, as if to say, rally round the
Our temperance banner was made in the year 1844, by our people, assisted
by, then, our Missionery, Rev. G. Rockwood. It is illustrated by several
animals illustrative of the several clans that are in the nation; and
also, six stars that are grouped in the upper corner of the banner, next
to the pole, indicative, as in the animals, of the several clans, that
they, aught, also, group together and combine as in one, to work against
the great monster, intemperance, which is also illustrated by a seven-
headed serpent. As this monster is formidable, so aught we abstain from
all intoxicating liquors. There is also, a great eagle soaring in the
air, in the act of grasping the great seven-headed serpent. This
illustrates that in our endeavers in the capacity of a society, to defeat
the great monster—intemperance—we have a helper, which is the
Legislature of the State of New York and the United States, in enacting
laws to the effect of staying the great tide of intemperance among the
Indians, in which weshould take courage.
There was another convention held here in 1873, when there was quite a
large delegation of the Oneidas, from Monseetown, Ontario, and also from
Grand River, Ontario, among them was the Tuscarora cornet band of Grand
River. The meetings were occupied by lectures on temperance and on other
topics, which were thought to be the most needed for the advancement of
the social and moral conditions of our red brethren.
The Grand River cornet band, and ours, played, alternately, their angelic
melodies, to cheer us in the great temperance cause. It was then the
convention of the Sons of Temperance urged upon us to adopt their Order,
but our people thought it not advisable to change the order of our
society, as it has existed since the year 1830; the form may be
different, but the object is the same. We said we preferred to adhere to
the old form of our society, open to all, and free to partake of the
benefits of it, we prayed them God's speed in their turning the great
wheel of temperance, and we should lay hold on the same wheel and turn
the same way. That same night the convention closed. There was a great
bonfire made in the street; and then there was a general farewell, hand-
shaking, and it closed with music from the bands in the dead of the
The next convention was held at Grand River, Ontario, in October, 1874,
in the Six Nation council-house. There was quite a large representation
of the Six Nations. Speeches were made on the subject of temperance by
all the different nations, to-wit:
Mr. Josiah Hill, Sachem, of Grand River, Tuscarora.
Mr. David Hill, Sachem, of Grand River, Seneca.
Mr. Levi Jonathan, Sachem, of Grand River, Onondaga.
Mr. Clinch, Sachem, of Grand River, Mohawk.
Mr. James Jemison, of Grand River, Cayuga.
Mr. Eligah, of Monseetown, Oneida.
Mr. William Patterson, Sachem, of Lewiston, Tuscarora.
Dea. Samuel Jacobs, of Lewiston, Tuscarora.
Mr. William Chew, of Lewiston, Tuscarora.
Mr. Elias Johnson, of Lewiston, Tuscarora.
The winter after the meetings above, a communication was received by the
Secretary of our society, Dea. Samuel Jacobs, from the Tuscaroras of
Grand River, Ontario, wishing him to forward to them a copy of the
constitution of our temperance society, and stating that they wish to
form a society based upon the same, which was deferred by Dea. Jacobs
until the June following, when Dea. Jacobs, Wm. Patterson, Rev. Thomas
Green and Wm. Chew went to Grand River with the constitution. After it
was read in their meeting, the Canadian brothers adopted it and formed a
society based on the same. It was then proposed and adopted that a
convention should be held in the Six Nations council-house, at Grand
River, Ontario, in October, 1875. Accordingly the convention duly met and
continued three days. Our cornet band was present, with quite a number of
the members of our society. The meetings were very pleasant and
interesting. The officers were as follows, to-wit:
President—Wm. Chew, of Lewiston
Vice-President—John Hill, of Grand River
Secretary—Josiah Hill, of Grand River
Before the convention closed it was decided that the next convention
should be at the Tuscorora Reservation, Lewiston, N. Y., on the 17th day
of October, 1876, and the officers appointed were as follows, to-wit:
President—Josiah Hill, of Grand River.
Vice-President—Dea. Samuel Jacobs, of Lewiston, N. Y.
Secretary—Elias Johnson, of Lewiston, N. Y.
Just before the appointed time for the convention to meet, there was a
communication received by Mr. John Mt. Pleasant, our head chief, from A.
Sim Logan, of Cattaraugas Reservation, N. Y., being leader of the Seneca
national cornet band, asking the privilege of attending the contemplated
convention with his band. The letter was read at one of the temperance
meetings and was not only acceded to, but they were cordially invited to
attend, and on the 17th day of October, 1876, the day appointed for the
convention, they were on hand. A. Sims Logan, with his national cornet
band, of Cattaraugus, and Levi Jonathan, with his Tuscasora cornet band,
of Grand River, and Solomon Cusick, with his temperance cornet band, of
Lewiston, N. Y, were present, which comprise the three leading bands of
music of any nations of Indians.
The programme was substantially as follows:
The meeting was called to order by the president, Josiah Hill, of Grand
A hymn was sung by the assembly, in the Indian language, words, "Oh, for
a thousand tongues to sing my Redeemer's praise;" tune, Dundee.
Prayer by Dea. Samuel Jacobs, of Lewiston, N. Y.
The following were chosen as committees of arrangements to-wit:
Mr. Wm. Chew, of Lewiston, N. Y.
Mr. Win. Printup, of Lewiston, N.Y.
Mr. Joseph Henry, of Grand River, Ont.
Mr. George Beaver, of Grand River, Ont.
Mr. Wm. Nephew, of Cattaraugus, N. Y.
Mr. Wm. Printup made the congratulatory speech of the meeting through an
intrepreter, Joseph Henry.
The speakers of the first session were as follows, to-wit:
Mr. Levi Jonathan, of Grand River, Ont., on Temperance.
Dea. Samuel Jacobs, of Lewiston, N.Y., on Moral Reform.
Mr. Joseph Henry, of Grand River, Ont., on Industry.
Mr. A. Sim Logan, of Cattaraugus, N. Y., on Education
The Tuscarora cornet band favored this session with music between the
Adjourned at 2 o'clock P. M. and convened again at 5 o'clock P.M.
The assembly was called to order by the president.
The following were the speakers, to-wit.
Mr. Simon Carrier, of Grand River, Ont.
Mr. Josiah Hill, of Grand River, Ont.
Mr. William Anderson, of Grand River, Ont.
Mr. Wm. Chew, of Lewiston, N. Y.
Mr. John Mt. Pleasant, of Lewiston, N. Y.
Mr. Elias Johnson, of Lewiston, N. Y.
Mr. Wm. Nephew, of Cattaraugus, N. Y.
Music was favored the second session by the Seneca national band, of
Cattaraugus. N. Y.
Adjourned at 8:30 o'clock P. M. to 10 o'clock A. M. to-morrow, after
singing the tune Greenville, words, "Savior, Visit Thy Plantation."
Benediction by Rev Thomas Green.
Oct. 18.—The assembly was called to order by the Vice-President. Dea.
Samuel Jacobs, of Lewiston, at 10 o'clock A.M. Opened by singing an
Indian hymn Prayer by Rev. Thomas Green, of Lewiston, N. Y.
The following were the speakers, to-wit:
Mr. Thomas Williams, of Grand River.
Mr. George Beaver, of Grand River.
Mr. John C. Lay, of Cattaraugus.
Adjourned at 1:30 o'clock P. M. to 4 P. M.
The assembly was called to order at 4 o'clock P. M. by the President.
The following were the speakers, to-wit:
Mr. John John, of Grand River.
Mr. Levi Jonathan, of Grand River.
Dr. Bombry, of Grand River.
President Josiah Hill, of Grand River.
Mr. Albert Cusick, of Onondaga Castle.
Mr. Abram Hill, of Onondaga Castle.
Rev. Thomas Green, of Lewiston, N. Y.
Mr. John Mt. Pleasant, of Lewiston, N. Y.
Mr. William Patterson, of Lewiston, N. Y.
Mr. Marvin Crows, of Cattaraugus, N. Y.
This forenoon we were favored with music by our temperance cornet band
between the speeches.
In the afternoon session we were favored with music by C. C. Lay's
orchestra band, of Cattaraugus, N. Y.
President Hill in the chair, business was resumed.
Mr. John C. Lay moved that the next convention be held on the Cattaraugus
Reservation, N. Y. This was followed by a motion of Levi Jonathan, that
the next convention be held at Grand River, Ontario, who claimed that
they had adopted the constitution, while the Senecas had not. After some
discussion, A. Sim Logan said, "If you will give us a copy of your
constitution, we will accept of it and form a society based on the same."
It was then put to vote and carried that the next convention should be
held at Cattaraugus, N. Y., on the 25th day of September, 1877.
The following officers were appointed, viz:
Mr. Elias Johnson. Tuscarora, of Lewiston, N. Y., President.
Mr. Josiah Hill, Tuscarora, of Grand River, Vice-President.
Dr. Bombry, Cayuga, of Grand River, Secretary.
On the evening of October 25th, as aforesaid, the convention duly met,
and was called to order by the President, E. Johnson; opened by singing
and prayer. Business was then resumed. The Secretary not being present,
Prof. Chancy C. Jemison, of Cattaraugus, was appointed to fill the
The committee of arrangements was as follows, viz:
Mr. John Canada, Seneca, of Cattaraugus.
Mr. A. Sim Logan, Seneca, of Cattaraugus.
Mr. Job King, Seneca, of Cattaraugus.
Mr. Levi Jonathan, Onondaga, of Grand River.
Mr. James Jemison, Cayuga, of Grand River.
Mr. Josiah Hill, Tuscarora, of Grand River.
Mr. John Mt. Pleasant, Tuscarora, of Lewiston.
Mr. Wm. Chew, Tuscarora, of Lewiston.
Mr. Daniel La Fort, Onondaga, of Syracuse, N. Y.
Mr. Abram Hill, Oneida, of Syracuse, N. Y.
The convention continued three days. Many speeches were made by the
leading men of the several nations that were represented. The meetings
were unusually interesting. Every speaker seemed to be moved to the
utmost of their enthusiasm. The congregations were large, and every face
seemed to glow with the interest that was awakened in the great cause of
temperance. The order and decorum that prevailed throughout all the
meetings was becoming to any Community.
There were also four cornet bands which favored the assemblies with
music, in their proper times, which added very much to the interest of
the convocation. The bands were as follows, to-wit:
Mr. A. Sim Logan's national cornet band, of Cattaraugus, N. Y.
Mr. Chester C. Lay's silver cornet band, of the same place.
Mr. Levi Jonathan's Tuscarora cornet band, of Grand River, Ontario.
Mr. Enos Johnson's temperance cornet band, of Tuscarora, N. Y.
On the morning of the last day of the convention before the services
began, the four cornet bands consolidated in one, which made over fifty
members, and played several tunes together outside of the Presbyterian
church, in which the convention was held, and made a rousing band of music.
The first article of the constitution, which reads thus: "This society
shall be denominated the Temperance Society," was amended so as to read
thus: "This society shall be denominated the Six Nations Temperance
Society of the United States and Canada."
The assembly was then called to sign the temperance pledge of this
society. There were upwards of two hundred that signed, most of whom
resided on the reservation in which the convention was held; but there
were some from the Tonawanda, Alleghany and Onondaga reservations, and
also one Oneida, from Green Bay, Wis.
The Onondagas and Tonawandas made application for a copy of the
constitution to be sent to them, that they might form temperance
societies on their respective reservations, which was granted them, and
Mr. Josiah Hill was appointed to write the copy and send the same to
The convention adjourned on the evening of the third day to meet again
the next year at Grand River, Ontario.
Mr. John Canada, Seneca, of Cattarauguh, President.
Mr. Wm. Patterson, Tuscarora, of Lewiston, N. Y., Vice-President.
Mr. Josiah Hill, Tuscarora, of Grand River, Secretary.
Mr. John Mt. Pleasant, Tuscarora, of Lewiston, N. Y., Treasurer.
It will be seen by the above that the Tuscaroras have not been altogether
idle on the subject of temperance. The temptations of intemperance
surrounding our reservation are great. We hope that the legislature will
aid us in enacting more rigid laws, for the temptation is working even in
cider, which seems to be more intoxicating now than in former times.
* * * * *
Friendship of the Tuscaroras to the United States.
The Tuscarora Indians have for more than a century been a firm friend to
the United States. In the Revolutionary war they took an active part for
the declaration of independence; many took part, but few were enrolled,
consequently, but few that drew pension from the United States. For
instance, Nicholas Cusick, a Tuscarora Indian; where shall you look for
another instance of friendship, greater than his, towards the
distinguished Marquis de Lafayette, or for christian principle more firm
and true than he evinced concerning his pension.
In the war of the Revolution he was under command of Lafayette. Many
years after peace was concluded, as he was passing through Washington, he
accidentally heard the name of his old commander spoken of in the office
in which he stopped on business. The moment his ear caught the sound, his
eyes brightened, and full of earnestness he asked, "Is he yet alive?"
"Yes," was the reply, "he is alive and looking well and hearty." With
decided emphasis, he said, "I am glad to hear it." "Then you knew
Lafayette, Mr. Cusick?" "Oh, yes;" he answered. "I knew him well, and
many a time in battle threw myself between him and the bullets, for I
On asking him if he had a commission, he said, "Yes; General Washington
gave me one, and he was Lieutenant." This suggested to his friends that
he was entitled to a pension, and on looking over the records, the truth
of what he said was confirmed, and he received one for several years.
Afterwards, congress passed a law making it necessary that each recipient
should swear that he could not live without the pension. When the old
warrior was called upon to do this, he said, "Now, here is my little log
cabin, and it is my own; here is my patch of ground, where I raise my
corn and beans, and there is lake Oneida, where I can catch fish; with
these I can make out to live without the pension, and to say that I could
not, would be to lie to the Great Spirit."
This is the honor of the Tuscarora hero. How many among those of the
white people who receive a pension would have done likewise, for
conscience sake. Cusick could speak the English language very well, but
when he made an audible prayer, or said grace at the table, he used his
native Tuscarora language, "because," said he, "when I speak in English,
I am often at a loss for a word; when, therefore, I speak to the Great
Spirit, I do not like to be perplexed, or have my mind distracted to look
after a word, when I use my own language, it is like my breath, I am
composed." In this is exemplified that he fully understood the reverence
which was due to the great Architect of the universe.
Solomon Longboard, also a Tuscarora Sachem, took an active part in the
Revolutionary war, with many others of his nation. In one of their
scouting parties, he, with others, was taken captive by the British
Indians and brought to fort Niagara, where they were kept for some time,
and urged to take up arms and fight against the revolutionists. Finally,
this celebrated sachem, Longboard, held a secret council among the
captives, and instructed them all to take arms and advance with the
British Indians, and use their influence to lead them to a place where
they might be captured, and they with the rest, which they successfully
effected, and were re-captured by the Americans. Instead of gaining honor
and laurels to his crown, he was to be sentenced to be shot as a traitor,
but through the entreaties of the Tuscarora chiefs, and the influence of
the feasibility of their story that was made on the executives, he was
released, but never drew pension as did Mr. Cusick.
The Tuscaroras again evinced their friendship for the United States in
the war of 1812, when they were asked to guard the Niagara river at
Lewiston and down the river, against the British crossing it.
Here again we hear of the Tuscarora sachem, Solomon Longboard, with about
thirty-five Tuscarora volunteers, stationed at Lewiston on guard. I have
recorded some of the names of these volunteers, which I was able to
obtain from some of the old people that were yet living in the year 1878,
which are as follows, to-wit: The two sons of Solomon Longboard, Jacob
Taylor, Joseph Cusick, John Cusick, David Cusick, John Black Nose and his
brother, Samuel Thompson, John Obediah, Aaron Pempleton, James Pempleton,
John Mt. Pleasant, Harry Patterson, John Green, Isaac Allen, Capt.
Williams, Gau-ya-re-na-twa, Wm. Printup, better known as little Billy,
Black Chief, John Printup, Isaac Green, Surgin Green, George Printup.
There were but few of these that drew pension, as it was alleged that
they were not enrolled upon the army roll.
On the night of December 19th, 1813, the British army and British Indians
crossed the Niagara River near Calvin Hotchkis' place, about two miles
below Lewiston. They noticed at first there were lights going across the
river during the night, and at the dawn of day were despatched, Jacob
Taylor (better known as Colonel Jacobs), and another Indian to accompany
him—both being Tuscaroras. On their return they reported that the
British Indians had crossed the river in great numbers. The news was
circulated in the village of Lewiston and the neighboring country, that
they might evacuate their places and go east, which they did, taking the
Ridge road. The Tuscarora volunteers took the rear of the train as they
moved eastward, commanded by their Sachem, Solomon Longboard.
The British Indians went on the pursuit. After they had gone about two
miles from the village of Lewiston, where the Tuscarora Indians branched
off on a road leading to their reservation, known as the Indian hill, or
Mountain road. As they had advanced part way up the mountain they
observed a Canada Indian on horseback, who headed off some of the train,
and among the rest was also Bates Cooke, of Lewiston. One of his legs
had, a little previous to that time, been amputated, and the main Canada
force were about half a mile in the rear on pursuit. The commander of the
Tuscarora force ordered that the Indian heading off the train be shot,
which was done by John Obediah. The Indian tumbled off the horse and fell
to the ground, and then got up and ran down the little hill into the
wood, where it is said he died from the wound he received.
When the report of the gun was heard by the Canadian force and they saw
the effect it had on their comrade, they halted. Their commander, Mr.
Longboard, of the Tuscaroras which numbered at that time twenty-six, from
them selected three men and instructed them to get upon and to go along
the top of the mountain and to blow a horn occasionally, which they had
in their possession, and to keep nearly opposite the Canada Indians. The
object was to serve as a scare-crow, to make them believe that there was
a force also on the mountain in the act of flanking them. But the
remaining force of Mr. Longboard rushed down the mountain with their war
whoops as if legion were coming down, and pursued the Canada Indians,
while the train of white people had gone on in their flight. The Canada
Indians retreated about one mile and a half, near to where the main force
were. Then one of their men halted and aimed his gun at one of our men,
John Obediah, and the latter also aimed to his opponent, while Samuel
Thompson got behind a large elm tree. In the meantime, John Obediah spoke
to the stranger in all the different six languages of the Iroquois, but
did not get an answer. These were the only two men in pursuit at this
time, as the rest of them had halted some ways back. Finally the British
Indian retreated backwards, keeping aim as he went, and all at once gave
a spring and ran off. The three men that were on the mountain kept
occasionally blowing the horn as they went, as the road is parallel with
By this time the train of white people had gone quite a good ways in
their flight: it is evident that the timely intervention of the Tuscarora
Indians, saved great slaughter of men, women and children among the white
The Tuscaroras then went back and kept in the rear of the white people in
their flight. The British Indians perceiving that it was the Tuscarora
Indians that killed one of their number and repulsed them, made their way
to their reservation, (the nation had already deserted their homes), and
began to burn their houses indiscriminately, and also a meeting-house
which was built by them, except eight dollars, a convenient chapel where
the early christian Tuscaroras such as Sacaresa and Solomon Longboard,
both sachems, with many others, delighted to worship the Almighty in the
simplicity of their faith. And after they had finished their destruction
they went down in pursuit of the fleeing train of white people on the
ridge road: by this time the Tuscaroras had stationed themselves at a log
house, eight or ten miles from Lewiston, near Nathan Peterson's, which
was used as an armory; when the Tuscaroras first came, there were a few
white men there breaking open the powder kegs in this log house, making
it ready to set on fire but the chief, Mr. Longboard, remonstrated in
having it burned, and was interpreted to them by Colonel Jacobs, so they
consented not to destroy the powder.
When the British Indians came in sight, Mr. Longboard instructed his men
to keep moving back and forth from the log house or armory, to a thicket
in the rear of the house, for the purpose of making the enemy believe
that there was a large force stationed there; the enemy halted and
finally went back, and thus the armory was saved. The manouvre of the
Tuscarora Indians in these two cases above, was done with but very little
sacrifice on their part, but the beneficence was great; but then, who
cares anything about that, it was nothing but an Indian affair anyhow;
this will probably be the thought of those who peruse my little pages.
When the Tuscaroras evacuated their reservation they went to Oneida
Castle and remained there during the war. In about the last part of June,
1814, there was a company of volunteers composed of about thirty
Tuscaroras and a number of Oneida Indians, that started from Oneida
Castle to Sackett's Harbor, to join themselves to an army that was
commanded by General Brown; on their way there, when they arrived at
Tonawanda. an officer came to them and asked where they were going; they
answered, "to Sackett's Harbor, to join General Brown's army." The
officer said, "that is right;" he then asked them if they lacked
anything, and they said, "nothing more than being short of victuals, but
we can get along with what game we can procure on the way." The officer
then gave them one dollar each and told them to go and buy some bread.
They then went on, and on the 3rd or 4th of July they crossed the river
from Sackett's Harbor, and on the 4th, they, with General Brown and his
army approached an intrenchment of General Riall's, which was in a strong
position. Brown told the Tuscaroras that he with his army would attack
the enemy direct, "but," said he, "you must go around and attack the
enemy on their flank."
It is acceded by all American nations, that the characteristic of the
Indians in their war battles, is to fight in scouting and to attack by
surprise: consequently, it seems that General Riall instructed the
British Indians, which numbered several hundred, that when he was
attacked, they the Indians, should move and attack their enemy also
on the flank; it seems that they moved in the shape of a V with the two
points foremost. On the 5th occurred the battle of Chippewa; the contest
was obstinate and bloody; the Tuscarora Indians in moving on the flank of
Brown's army, they entered in the enemy's moving V of British Indians,
and when they arrived at the fork, and not until then, did the Tuscaroras
know where they were; but, nevertheless, they all made the war-whoop,
fired and made a desperate charge at one point and broke through the
ranks of the enemy. Strange as it may seem, there was but one wounded and
that slightly on the cheek, and not one killed; it was a very close
contest, we getting away with the loss of but a few guns and coats, for
when the enemy took hold of their coats they would only pull off and run.
It was then that the enemy's V closed in on the rear of the Tuscaroras
and the bloody scene began; the enemy fired against themselves, and not
until they had completely destroyed themselves did they discover in what
frenzy they were; but at length the Americans were victorious. These same
Tuscaroras were present at the memorable battle at Bridgewater near
Niagara Falls, where a desperate engagement, it is said, ensued,
commencing about sunset and lasting until midnight, where Generals Brown
and Scott were wounded.
In every instance when the United States were in trouble, the Tuscaroras
were ever ready to sacrifice their blood upon the American altar, which
they again fully evinced in the war of the rebellion, when twenty-three
of the Tuscarora Indian warriors enlisted as volunteers in the United
States army, some of whom died in the service of the country; but some
were spared by the good Providence, and were permitted yet to share the
sweets of home; some inherited diseases which they will probably carry
down to their graves.
In the year 1862 Cornelius C. Cusick, a grandson of Nicholas Cusick,
the revolutionist, was commissioned to the office of Second Lieutenant.
There were four other Tuscaroras mustered in with him in the 3d N. Y.
Volunteers, 132d Reg't, Co. D, to-wit: Jeremiah Peters, John Peters,
Hulett Jacobs, George Garlow, and there are others who enlisted
afterwards at different times during the war, to wit:
Twelfth N. Y. Vol's, Cav., Co. M.—Ozias Chew, John Pempleton, Charles
Pempleton, Nichodemus Thompssn.
Bat. K, 1st N. Y. Light Art.—Samuel Bearfoot (Ely Patterson), Wm. Joseph
(Lewis Patterson), Alexander John (Davis Miller), Zhacariah Johnson
(Elijah Johnson), Wm. Anderson (Samuel Jack).
Clinton Mt. Pleasant, 3Oth, transferred to 31st N. J. Vol's. Inv. colored
Wilson Jacobs, 1st N. Y., Vet. Cav., Co. M.
Edward Spencer (Edward Anderson), Inv. sway. Co. A. 17th Corps.
Alvis D. Hewett, 151st N. Y. Vol's.
Thomas Cornelius, Co. K, 2d N. Y. Mounted Rifles.
Charles Green, 120th N. Y. Vol's, Co. K.
John Longboard, Samuel Mt. Pleasant.
During the war, Cornelius C. Cusick was promoted to First Lieutenant, and
at the close of the war he was promoted to Captain. He was some time
afterwards commissioned into the regular army of the United States as
Antique Rock Citadel of Kienuka;
There has been much said by different writers of aboriginal forts, and
fort builders of western New York, in availing themselves of steeps,
gulfs, defiles, and other marked localities, in establishing works for
security or defense. This trait is, however, in no case more strikingly
exemplified than in the curious antique work of Kienuka. The term
"Kienuka," means the stronghold or fort; but the original name of this
fort is Gau-strau-yea, which means bark laid down; this has a
metaphorical meaning, in the similitude of a freshly peeled slippery elm
bark, the size of the fort and laid at the bottom as a flooring, so that
if any person or persons go in they must be circumspect, and act
according to the laws of the fort, or else they will slip and fall down
to their own destruction.
The citadel of Kienuka is situated about four miles eastward of the inlet
of Niagara gorge at Lewiston, on a natural escarpment of the ridge on the
Tuscarora reservation, known at present by the name of the Old Saw Mill.
There is quite an interesting tradition connected with the antique fort
Gau-strau-yea. At the formation of the confederacy of the Iroquois, there
was a virgin selected from a nation which was called Squawkihaws (a
remote branch of the Seneca nation), and was ordained a Queen or
Peacemaker, who was stationed at this fort to execute her office of
peace, her official name was Ge-keah-saw-sa.
The fort was built by the Senecas aided by the Squawkihaws, on an
eminence on the north side of a steep of perpendicular rocks, which was
about eight or ten feet down; and on the east, south and west sides they
dug a trench four or five feet deep, and in this trench were placed
timbers which were put up perpendicularly and jointed as close as
possible, they projected above the ground ten or twelve feet, inclosing a
place of about twenty by fifty rods. The house for the Queen was in the
center of this inclosure or fort, and adjacent houses were built in two
rows, with a trail or path between them directing towards the Queen's
house; on each end and inside of the fort, which ran lengthwise east and
west, was an entrance corresponding with the trail prepared leading to
the house of the Queen.
Then a suitable number of warriors were selected from the Squawkihaws'
nation, the ablest bodied, the swiftest runners and the most expert in
the arts of war, which were stationed at this fort (and made their
dwelling in the adjacent houses), to keep it in order and execute its
regulations and laws; they were to be supported with subsistance and all
other necessaries of life, and furnished with suitable implements of war
by the Iroquois.
In order more fully to understand the laws and regulations of the fort or
place of peace, it must be observed that at this period there were
contentions, strife and wars between all the different known nations of
the continent; nation against nation, like fishes of the waters, the
larger ones eating the smaller. The warrior who can report in his
rehearsal in the war-dance of having obtained the greatest number of
scalps from the enemy, was the most honored and had the most laurels in
his crown; consequently, they were constantly forming companies for an
expedition to some nation in quest of honor and the applause of their
nation. At this time the confederacy of the Iroquois was formed, and this
place of peace was ordained for the purpose, it may be, to alleviate the
distress and commotion of the nations of the forest.
The laws were that there shall be no nation or nations of the Iroquois
make war against any nation or nations of the same league, under any
circumstances; and the Iroquois must not make war with any alien nation
without the consent of the Queen. This fort must ever be held sacred, as
it is a place of peace, by never allowing the shedding of blood within
the inclosure. All executions decreed by the Queen should be made outside
of the fort. And any person or persons, aside from the keepers of the
fort, should, on entering, never go any faster than a walk. And the Queen
must always have meals ready at every hour of the day and night—
allegorically speaking, it is called a kettle of hominy hanging, for all
fugitives and pursuers from any nation on the continent to partake. All
fugitives, irrespective of their nationalities, fleeing for life, from
their enemy, when once their feet touch the threshold of the fort, their
life is safe; then the Queen conducts him or them into one end of her
house, which is lengthwise east and west, with a door at each end and a
partition in the center of the room by a curtain made of deer skin, and
when the pursuer comes, she also conducts him or them to the other end of
the room. She then gives to each of these parties, which are enemies to
each other, sustenance to eat; when, this being done, she rolls away the
curtain, so that each party can see the other; when they have done eating
they pass out and go home to their respective nations in peace. It is
contrary to law after a fugitive arrives at this fort and has gone out,
for the enemy to execute their death scheme without the consent of the
Queen; and if this be violated, then the Iroquois demand the trespasser
from the nation to which he or they belong. If this is acceded to, 'tis
well; then the trespassers are executed, of which the penalty is death.
But should the nation harbor the trespasser, then the nation must suffer
the devastations of war at the hands of the Iroquois.
I would here say a few words in relation to the question often asked,
"Who were the Squawkihows, Kah-Kwahs, and the Eries?" There has been much
controversy on the question. These three named tribes were of one
language and of one nation—a remote branch of the Seneca nation—and
spoke the same language as the Senecas, varying but very little in a few
words. These three tribes originally were called Squawkihows. In time
they became very numerous and powerful. They had their settlement from
the chores of Lake Ontario and along the Niagara River, and up Lake Erie
as far as a place now called Erie, and as far east as to the Genesee
river. This was their domain, within these limits.
A settlement of this nation in the neighborhood of, now, North Evans,
south of Buffalo, a place called by them Kah-kwah-ka, and the Squawkihows
living in this vicinity were called Kah-kwahs; and the Squawkihows living
further on along the shores of Lake Erie were called cats or Eries, a
name that originated from the name of the lake. By this explanation you
will better understand my story.
There was a time when the Kah-kwahs' branch of that nation made a
challenge to the Seneca nation, another very powerful nation having their
settlement on the east side of the Genesee river, to play a game of ball,
which the Senecas readily accepted and a day was appointed; accordingly,
the combat ensued, and was a hotly contested game; but the Senecas
finally came out victorious. The Kah-kwahs immediately made another
challenge, that of having a foot race, which the Senecas also accepted.
Each nation chose their swiftest runners, then the flyers went which and
tucker for a ways, but the Senecas finally came out glorious. The Kah-
kwahs being mortified by the defeat of the two contests made the third
challenge, that of wrestling, with the understanding that an umpire must
be chosen from each nation and both to have a war club in hand, and the
one that is defeated should suffer death by having his head struck with
the war club while down, by the umpire opponent to the one defeated and
should be best two in three.
Even in this the Senecas accepted the challenge, and in this remarkable
contest they were also victorious. With this the assemblage dispersed.
The defeats of the Kah-kwahs considerably alieniated the Squawkihows from
the Senecas; the report, of course, reached the ears of the Queen, which
also alienated her feelings from the Senecas, she being by birth a
Squawkihow, but the office to which she was ordained was by the Iroquois.
After this in one of the scouting tours of the Senecas across the Niagara
river, among the Masassauka Indians, on their return at night to the
"place of peace" or Gau-strau-yea, they were pursued by a number of the
Masassaukas; when both parties had arrived and had their repast, they all
lodged there to rest in peace for the night, as they were wont to do. But
in the slumber and stillness of the midnight hour, was tested the
treachery of the Queen, by the Masassaukas, in asking her consent to
massacre the Senecas in their unsuspecting slumber; her feelings having
been previously somewhat alienated from the Senecas, she was induced to
give her consent, whereupon they were massacred; their number I have not
been able to obtain. They were buried southwest from the Queen's house,
the mound of which was perceptible until a few years ago, when it was
This breach of the law of that fort by the Queen giving consent in the
shedding of blood in that sacred place, grated the conscience of the
Squawkikows, and being alienated by the defeat they experienced a short
time previous by the matches they had with the Senecas.
This affair was kept secret for a while. At the same time the Squawkihows
urged the consent of the Queen for them to exterminate the Seneca nation
and to take them on surprise, for, they said when they hear of the
massacre, they will at once wage war against us. They finally prevailed
on her, so she condemned the Seneca nation to be exterminated.
At this time there was one warrior of the Senecas who had married into
the Squawkihows' nation and lived among them. When he heard that the
Queen had given up the Seneca nation into the hands of the Squawkihows,
to be exterminated, he resolved to go to a place called Tah-nyh-yea,
among the Senecas—east side of Genesee river, on the Seneca river—where
dwelled the head Sachem of the Seneca nation, by the name of Onea-gah-re-
tah-wa, and make his report to that venerable Sachem, the decision of the
Queen, which was final. To accomplish this, without exciting the
suspicion of his family and neighbors, he went under the pretense of
going away to hunt on the lake shore of Ontario, and would not be
expected home in two or three days. Early one fine morning this warrior
started on his high mission from his house, which was located near the
fort (Gau-strau-yea). He went northerly and touched Lake Ontario, where
he had a canoe for the purpose of hunting and fishing, in which he
embarked and rowed eastward to the mouth of the Oswego river, and up the
river as far as the Seneca river: then up that river to the settlement of
the Senecas. He there left his canoe and made for Tah-nyh-yea, and went
directly to the Sachem, (Onea-gah-re-tah-wa's) wigwam in the dead of
night, and called him out doors. He there related to the Sachem the
decree of the Queen, concerning the Seneca nation and the massacre, and
requested him to keep secret the way he had received the message. The
warrior immediately returned home in the same way that he came.
In the morning the venerable Sachem went out early and gave the war cry,
which denoted that they were massacred, that war was inevitable, and for
the warriors to rally and prepare for war. The nation soon gathered. He
then related the message he had received during the night, and said he
had heard that some of their warriors were massacred at the fort (Gau-
strau-yea), and that the Queen had decreed their extermination at the
hand of the Squawkihows. He then appointed four warriors of the best
runners to go and spy the fort and the settlement if there was any
indication of preparation for war, with instructions that with the very
first indication of a preparation for war that they should at once
dispatch one of their number home to make his report, and the others to
go on and to observe the progress of the preparation and make their
The four gallant warriors now made their way to the settlement at Gau-
strau-yea. When they arrived, they saw only the eldest people, from about
upwards of sixty-five years of age, and the younger children, from about
fourteen years of age and under. While they were traveling they saw two
boys picking up sticks for firewood. One of them asked the smaller boy
where his father was. The bright little fellow spoke promptly and said,
"Gone to war." Before the older boy could divert his attention by
touching him, the little fellow finished his answer. This they took to be
news, and immediately dispatched one of their number home to make the
report. When this one made his report to Onea-gah-re-tah-wa, he at once
dispatched runners to the other nations of the league to inform them of
what had happened to their father, the Seneca nation, and the desecration
of their fort. The three that were left after the one was dispatched
home, went onto a settlement of the same nation at Gill Creek, above
Niagara Falls, where they found the people the same as at Gau-straw-yea.
The elders and the youngers only were at home. They also asked a boy
there where his father was. He aswered: "At Kah-kwah-ka," which is south
of Buffalo. These three spies took pains to get at Kah-kwah-ka in the
night. When they got there they fouud a great multitude gathered, and
engaged in the war dance. The spies went right among the multitude
without being suspected, because their language was the same as the
Squawkihows, and took part in the dances. They saw the warriors in their
dance have a head of a bear, tossing it about and striking it with the
war club, and at the same time exclaiming: "We will have the head of
Onea-gah-re-tah-wa, (the Seneca Sachem) and strike it thus" at the same
time hitting it with their club. And the war chief said that they
would start in the morning and on the third day they would have the head
of Onea-gah-re-tah-wa strung up on a pole. With that the spies dispatched
home the second one to make his report of what they saw and heard, and
this one retired from the crowd privately some little time before
daybreak. The two still remained with the crowd, talking and chatting
with them as if they were one of their nation.
In the morning the grand march took their place in the war path towards
their intended destruction. The ablest warriors took the front rank; then
came the older ones; after them the boys upwards of fourteen years of of
age; lastly came the able bodied females. Thus they marched until the
next night, when they prepared ground for a dance, and went through the
same performance as the night before. Now the third spy withdrew from the
crowd just before daybreak to make his report and keep the Senecas posted
in the advance of the enemy. On the second day the march was renewed, and
proceeded in the same order as on the first day. The next night was also
spent as that of the last in flattering themselves of the wonderful
things that they were to accomplish. About two hours before daybreak the
last spy also withdrew from the crowd and made for home, to inform them
how far off they were from the Seneca settlement. After the last one had
made his report, Onea-gah-re-tah-wa arose from his seat, with that
majestic movement which only would become him as the head Sachem of the
Seneca nation, and said: "To you, first, my most beloved comrades, the
Chiefs and Sachems of our noble nation, I would bring to your minds the
past in a few words, and it may be for the last time. How often have we
sat together around the council fire of our nation. I congratulate you
all in the good feeling that has always prevailed in our deliberations of
various subjects in relation to the welfare and happiness of our nation,
and more particularly our sisters and their offspring, and we have not
been unmindful even of those that are not yet born, for in them have we
hoped of the existence of our nation. Have not the nations of the
Iroquois respected and even honored your counsels around the great
council fire of the league, and now is destruction awaiting your dawn?
But if that is the will of the Great Spirit, by running we cannot flee
from it. And to you, our sisters, have we not ever been mindful of you in
our deliberations and ever wished you success: and have we not, as it
were, embraced you and your children in our arms to protect you? We now
commend you to the Great Spirit, who is our helper. And now to you, most
noble warriors, in whom the council looks for the enforcement of their
decrees. In bringing difficulties and contentions among yourselves, have
we not brought back to you peace, by meting out to you justice; and in
your troubles have we not whispered in your ears words of consolation?
And we have ever placed you close to our hearts. In you is the power of
the nation, and in you we look for safety. You have understood
it that our nation has been given into the hands of our enemy by the
Queen and we are now in jeopardy. As I have said, we cannot, by running,
flee from the decree of the Great Spirit, but if He is for us we shall
prevail. He will give strength to our bow, direct our arrows, give might
to our arms and direct our blows, and put to flight our enemy, and we
shall conquer. He is able to give us peace in this our time of trouble,
if we all but trust in Him. It is he that made us and He is able to
preserve us from our enemies. Now my dear relatives in the different ties
of blood, it is not meet that we should have our blood spilt within our
domain, nor to have the dead bodies of our enemies strewed within our
settlement. We must now march and meet our foe. We must not turn our heel
to them; but if we are to be exterminated, let the last drop of Seneca
blood be spilt upon the bosom of our mother earth, and let the sun in the
heavens be the witness that we die in the defence of our wives, children
and homes, which is pleasing in the sight of the Great Spirit."
They now made their march, and after they had advanced a number of miles
they met the enemy. It was now sometime in the afternoon. A desperate
battle ensued. The storm of the arrows headed with flint, and also the
creased poisoned arrows was kept up until evening, when a peculiar war
cry was given, which indicated rest, at which in an instant the storm of
arrows ceased, when the Sachems of the two parties came near together and
deliberated on the conditions of rest during the night, that each party
should retreat a ways and rest without either molesting the other during
the night, but in the morning they should come together and resume the
In the morning the battle was renewed, even with more vigor than the day
before, until nearly noon, when the war cry of rest was again given. The
fight was again suspended for the purpose of taking refreshments.
At this time Onea-gah-re-tah-wa said to the Chiefs of the Squawkihows,
"While we are resting let us have a recreation by having a wrestling
between the two parties, and each one should have a war club in his belt,
and the one that is defeated should die at the hands of his victor with
the war club." The Squawkihows accepted the challenge. Then the wrestling
was continued to several contests, in which the Senecas were victorious.
There were several of the very ablest warriors of the Squawkihows killed
in this simple contest of wrestling.
They again resumed the battle. At this time the Senecas reserved quite a
number of their smartest warriors, with each of them a bunch of bark
prepared for the purpose of tying prisoners. They were in the rear and
laid low. The battle was still more deepcrate. They finally came in hand-
in-hand. Then they made use of their war clubs. At this time the
Squawkihows summoned to their aid their reserved company, which they kept
in the rear. The young women came on the flank of the Senecas' ranks, and
beat them with clubs, which made the Senecas falter for a while. Finally
they called on their reserved warriors, who made a desperate charge on
the enemy and made them retreat. The Senecas began taking prisoners. They
tied their hands behind them to trees. In this way they took a great many
prisoners, particularly the females. The warriors rallied and fought as
they retreated. After a while a company suddenly broke off from their
ranks and ran away. In a moment they had disappeared in the forest. Those
that remained rallied again and fought as they were retreating until
evening, when all at once the whole company wheeled right around, gave a
spring, and off they went. The Senecas made their pursuit, every now and
then taking a prisoner until dark, when they rested and camped for the
The next morning they selected the best runners, the ablest bodied and
the most skilled in the arts of war, who were sent out to exterminate the
nation, to begin at the settlement of fort Gau-strau-yea, and so on south
to the other settlements of the nation.
When the Seneca invaders came at the fort (Gau-strau-yea), they found it
was evacuated and all the settlement had fled. The trail they left behind
pointed southward plainly. The invaders followed to the next settlement
at Gill Creek, above Niagara Falls, which they found vacated. They still
followed on, bent on retaliation. They then came to the settlement of
Kah-kwas, which they also found evacuated. They kept on the pursuit until
they came to the settlement of the Eries, and also found it evacuated as
the others. Still they kept on their pursuit, and when they came to the
Alleghany river they saw pieces floating, which indicated the making of
canoes. They immediately ascended the river. After they had gone some
ways they found where the enemies had been encamped, and saw indications
where they had built several canoes. The fires indicated that they must
have just embarked that morning and rowed down the river. They they went
down the river some distance, and finally gave up the chase. The invaders
returned to their settlement—the Seneca nation. A glorious victory
crowned their severe trial and labor.
A grand council was called of the Seneca nation for the just returned
warriors to make their report of the glory they had won, and the complete
overthrow of the enemy. After they had finished making their report a
great feast was made, and after that they were again permitted to smoke
the calumet of peace, and once more settle down as heretofore, as one of
the bright stars of heaven, among the several nations of the Iroquois. At
night they had a general dance, both young and old, irrespective of sex,
to celebrate the great victory they had won.
The Squawkihows have never been heard of since, as a nation, to the
present time. It is supposed that they must have gone in the far west and
changed their name: but this is merely a supposition. Those that the
Senecas took captives are still among the different settlements of the
Seneca nation, more particularly among the Cattaraugus reservation.
That is the way the Senecas came in possession of so large a dominion.
They held their domain east of the Genesee river, and also took
possession of the dominion of the Squawkihows, which run from Lake
Ontario and along Niagara river and Lake Erie to the Pennsylvania line.
The office of the Queen Ge-keah-sau-sa, of fort Gau-strau-yea, for
several hundred years (it is said by the Senecas about six hundred years
ago she evacuated the fort), the Iroquois did not reordain, for the
reason, as it is alleged by them, that the female is the weaker sex of
humanity. Physically, it must follow that they are weaker also mentally,
as it is evinced by the treachery of the Queen in her easily being
decoyed in making her rash decision concerning the massacre in the fort,
and also in the giving up of the Seneca nation in the hands of their
enemy. They considered it not prudent to vest so much authority in the
weaker sex. And as no one has been considered capable or worthy of the
high honor that Ge-keah-sau-wa once reigned, until about twenty-five
years ago, from the year 1878, there was a Virgin selected from among the
Tonawanda band of the Seneca nation by the name of Caroline Parker,
sister to Eli Parker, once in General Grant's staff, and Commissioner of
Indian Affairs, who was ordained to the high office of Queen, or Ge-keah-
sau-sa. She is now the wife of a noted Sachem of the Tuscarora nation,
Mr. John Mount Pleasant, of no common wealth. She is located about two
miles southwest of the antique fort Gah-strau-yea, or Kienuka, on the
Tuscarora reservation, where she ever held open her hospitable house, not
only to the Iroquois, but of every nation, including the pale faces.
Allegorical speaking, she has ever had a kettle of hominy hanging over
her fire-place, ready to appease the hunger of those who trod her
* * * * *
THE NEW RELIGION.
About the year 1800 a new religion was introduced among the Six Nations,
the exponent of which alleged to have received a revelation from the
Great Spirit, with a commission to preach to them the new doctrine in
which he was instructed. This revelation was received in circumstances so
remarkable, and the precepts he sought to inculcate contained in
themselves such evidences of wisdom and beneficence that he was
universally received among them, not only as a wise and good man, but as
one commissioned by the Great Spirit to become their religious teacher.
The new religion, as it has ever since been called, embodied all the
precepts of the ancient faith, recognized the ancient mode of worship
giving it a new sanction of the Great Spirit, and also comprehend such
new doctrines as came in aptly, to lengthen out and enlarge the original
system without impairing it. Charges of imposture and deception were at
first preferred against him, but disbelief of his divine mission
gradually subsided, until at the time of his death the whole
unchristianized portion of the Six Nations had become firm believers in
the new religion, which to the present day has continued to some extent
as a prevailing faith.
This singular person who was destined to obtain such a spiritual sway
over the descendants of the ancient Iroquois was Ga-ne-o-di-yo, or
"Handsomelake." a Seneca sachem of the highest class, he was born at the
Indian village of Ga-no-wau-ges, near Avon, about the year 1735, and died
at Onondaga in 1815, where he happened to be on one of his pastoral
visits. By birth he was a Seneca of the Turtle clan, and a half brother
to the celebrated Corn Planter by a common father. The most part of his
life was spent in idleness and dissipation during which time, although a
sachem and ruler among the Senecas for many years, and through the most
perilous time of their history, he acquired no particular reputation.
Reforming late in life, in his future career he showed himself to be
possessed of superior talents and to be animated by a sincere and ardent
desire for the welfare of his race.
At this period and for about a century preceeding, the prevailing habit
of intemperance among the Iroquois was the fruitful source of their
domestic trouble, this in connection with their political disasters
seemed to threaten the speedy extinction of their race. A temperance
reformation, universal and radical, was the main and ultimate object of
the mission which he assumed, and upon which he chiefly used his
influence and eloquence through the remainder of his life. To secure a
more speedy reception of his admonitions, he clothed them with divine
sanction, to strengthen their moral principles, he enforced anew the
precepts of the ancient faith; and to insure obedience to his teachings,
he held over the wicked the terrors of eternal punishment. Going from
village to village among the several nations of the league, with the
exception of the christainized Oneidas and Tuscaroras, continuing his
visits from year to year, preaching the new doctrine with remarkable
effect. Many abandoned their dissolute habits and became sober and moral
men; discord and contentions gave place to harmony and order, and
vagrancy and sloth to ambition and industry. The origin of this project
has at times been ascribed to Cornplanter as a means to increase his own
influence, but this is not only improbable but is expressly denied. The
motives by which Handsomelake claimed to be actuated were entirely of a
religious and benevolent character, and in pursuance of the injunctions
of his spiritual guides.
At the time of his supernatural visitation, about the year 1800,
Handsomelake resided at the village of Cornplanter, on the Alleghany
river in the State of Pennsylvania. As he explained the case to his
brethren, having lain ill for a long time he had given up all hope of
recovery and resigned himself to die. When in the hourly expectation of
death, three spiritual beings in the form of men, sent by the Great
Spirit, appeared before him, each carried in his hand a shrub bearing
different kinds of berries, which, having been given him to eat, he was
by their miraculous virtue immediately restored to health. They afterward
revealed to him the will of the Great Spirit upon a variety of subjects,
and particularly in relation to the prevailing intemperance,
commissioning him to promulgate these doctrines among the league, causing
him to see realities of the evil-minded, and to behold with his mortal
eyes the punishment inflicted upon the wicked, that he might with more
propriety warn his people of their impending destiny. He was also
permitted to behold the realm and felicities of the Heavenly residence of
the virtuous. With his mind thus prepared, and stored with divine
precepts, and with his zeal enkindled by the dignity of his mission,
Handsomelake at once commenced his labors.
After his death, Sase-ha-wa, (Johnson) of Tonawanda, was appointed his
successor. The first and only person ever "raised up" by the Iroquois,
and invested with the office of a supreme religious instructor—a sincere
believer in the verity of Handsomelake's mission, and an eminently pure
and virtuous man—Sase-ha-wa (Johnson) has devoted himself with zeal and
fidelity to the duties of his office, as a spiritual guide and teacher of
the Iroquois. He was a grand-son of Handsomlake, a nephew of Red Jacket,
and was born at the Indian village of Ga-no-wan-ges, near Avon, about the
At the condolence and religious councils of the Iroquois, which are still
held at intervals of a few years, among the scattered descendants of the
long house, it has long been customary to set apart portions of two or
three days to listen to a discourse from Johnson upon the new religion.
On these occasions he explains minutely the circumstance attending the
supernatural visitation of Handsomelake, and delivers the instructions,
word for word, which he had been accustomed to give during his own
ministration. Handsomelake professed to repeat the messages which were
given to him from time to time by the celestial visitants, with whom he
alleged to be in frequent communication, and whom he addressed as his
spiritual guardian, thus enforcing his precepts as the direct command of
the Great Spirit.
At their councils and religious, festivals, it was customary for the
chiefs and keepers of the faith to express their confidence in the new
religion, and to exhort others to strengthen their beliefs. The late
Abraham La Fort, an educated Onondaga Sachem, thus expressed himself upon
this subject at a condolence council of the league, held at Tonawanda as
late as October, 1847.
"Let us observe the operations of nature. The year is divided into
seasons, and every season has its fruits. The birds of the air, though
clothed in the same dress of feathers, are divided into many classes, and
one class is never seen to associate or intermingle with any but its own
kind. So with the beasts of the field and woods. Each and every class and
specie have their own separate rules by which they seem to be governed,
and by which their actions are regulated. These distinctions, classes and
colors the Great Spirit has seen fit to make. But the rule does not stop
here. It is universal. It embraces man also. The human race was created
and divided into different classes, which were placed separate from each
other—having different customs, manners, laws and religions. To the
Indians it seems that no more religion had originally been than was to be
found in the operations of nature, which taught him that there was a
Supreme Being, all powerful and all wise; and on this account, as well as
on account of his great goodness, they learned to love and reverence Him.
But these later times, when the restless and ambitious spirit of the
whiteskinned race had crossed the boundary line and made inroads upon the
manners, customs and primitive religion of the Indian, the Great Spirit
determined to and through His servant, Handsomelake, did reveal his will
to the Indians. The substance of that will was no more than to confirm
their ancient belief that they were entitled to a different religion—a
religion adapted to their customs, manners and ways of thinking."
As the discourses delivered by Johnson from time to time contains a very
full exposition of their ancient beliefs and mode of worship, together
with the recent views introduced by Handsomelake, mingled up in one
collection, presenting probably a better idea of their ethical and
religious system than could be conveyed in any other manner, it is given
entire, and will explain itself as delivered, thus:
"The Mohawks, the Onondagas, the Senecas, and our children, the Oneidas,
Cayugas and Tuscaroras, have assembled here to-day to listen to the
repetition of the will of the Great Spirit, as communicated to us from
heaven through His servant, Handsomelake.
"Chiefs, warriors, women and children, we give you a cordial welcome. The
sun has advanced far in its path, and I am warned that my time to
instruct you is limited to the meridian sun. I must hasten to perform my
duty. Turn you minds to the Great Spirit, and listen with strict
attention. Think seriously upon what I am about to speak. Reflect upon it
well, that it may benefit you and your children. I thank the Great Spirit
that He has spared the lives of so many of you to be present on this
occasion. I return thanks to Him that my life is yet spared. The Great
Spirit looked down from Heaven upon the suffering and the wanderings of
the red children. He saw that they had greatly decreased and degenerated.
He saw the ravages of the firewater among them. He therefore raised up
for them a sacred inspiration, who, having lived and traveled among them
for sixteen years, was called from his labors to enjoy eternal felicity
with the Great Spirit In Heaven. Be patient while I speak. I cannot at
all times arrange and prepare my thoughts with precision. But I will
relate what my memory bears.
"It was in the month of June when Handsomelake was yet sick. He had been
ill for years. He was accustomed to tell us that he had resigned himself
to the will of the Great Spirit. 'I nightly returned my thanks to the
Great Spirit,' said he, 'as my eyes were gladdened at evening by the
sight of the stars of heaven. I viewed the ornamental heaven at evening
through the opening in the roof of my lodge, with grateful feelings to my
Creator. I had no assurance that I should at the next evening contemplate
His works. For this reason my acknowledgment to Him was more fervent and
sincere. When night was gone, and the sun again shed its light upon the
earth, I saw and acknowledged in the return of day His continued goodness
to me and to all mankind. At length, I began to have an inward conviction
that my end was near. I resolved once more to exchange friendly words
with my people, and I sent my daughter to summon my brothers Cornplanter
and Blacksnake. She hastened to do his bidding, but before she returned
he had fallen into insensibility and apparent death. Blacksnake, upon
returning to the lodge, hastened to his brother's couch and discovered
that portions of his body were yet warm. This happened at early day
before the morning dew had dried. When the sun had advanced half way to
the meridian his heart began to beat, and he opened his eyes. Blacksnake
asked him if he was in his right mind, but he answered not. At meridian
he again opened his eyes, and the same question was repeated. He then
answered and said, 'A man spoke from without and some one might come
forth. I looked and saw some men standing without. I rose, and as I
attempted to step over the threshold of my door I stumbled, and should
have fallen had they not caught me. They were three holy men who looked
alike and were dressed alike. The paint they wore seemed but a day old.
Each held in his hand a shrub bearing different kinds of fruits. One
of them addressing me said, 'We have come to comfort and relieve you;
take of these berries and eat; they will restore you to health: we have
been witnesses of your lengthy illness; we have seen with what
resignation you have given yourself up to the Great Spirit: we have heard
your daily return of thanks; He has heard them all; His ear has ever been
open to hear; you was thankful for the return of night, when you could
contemplate the beauties of heaven; you was accustomed to look upon the
moon as it coursed in its mighty paths; when there were no hopes to you
that you would again behold these things, you willingly resigned
yourself, to the mind of the Great Spirit; this is right; since, the
Great Spirit made the earth and put man upon it, we have been His
constant servants to guard and protect His works; there are four of us;
some other time you will be permitted to see the other; the Great Spirit
is pleased to know your patient resignation to His will; as a reward for
yonr devotion He has cured your sickness; tell your people to assemble
to-morrow, and at morn go in and speak to them.' After they had
further revealed their intentions concerning him they departed.
"At the time appointed Handsomelake appeared at the council and thus
addressed the people upon the revelations which had been made to him:
"'I have a message to deliver to you. The servant of the Great Spirit has
told me that I should yet live upon the earth to become an instructor to
my people. Since the creation of man the Great Spirit has often raised up
men to teach his children what they should do to please him; but they
have been unfaithful to their trust. I hope I shall profit by their
example. Your Creator has seen that you have transgressed greatly against
His laws. He made men pure and good. He did not intend that he should
sin. You create a great sin in taking the firewater. The Great Spirit
says you must abandon this enticing habit. Your ancestors have brought
great misery upon you. They first took the firewater of the white man,
and entailed upon you its consequences. None of them have gone to heaven.
The firewater does not belong to you. It was made by the white man beyond
the great waters. For the white man it is a medicine; but they, too, have
violated the will of their Maker. The Great Spirit says drunkenness is a
great crime, and He forbids you to indulge in this evil habit. His
command is to the old and young. The abandonment of its use will relieve
much of your sufferings, and greatly increase the comforts and happiness
of your children. The Great Spirit is grieved that so much crime and
wickedness should defile the earth. There are many evils which He never
intended should exist among His red children. The Great Spirit has for
many wise reasons withheld from man the number of his days, but He has
not left him without a guide, for He has pointed out to him the path in
which he may safely tread the journey of life.
"'When the Great Spirit made man He also made woman. He instituted
marriage, and enjoined upon them to love each other and be faithful. It
is pleasing to Him to see men and women obey His will. Your Creator
abhors a deceiver and a hypocrite. By obeying His commands you will die
an easy and happy death. When the Great Spirit instituted marriage He
ordained to bless those who were faithful with children. Some women are
unfaithful and others become so by misfortune. Such have great
opportunities to do much good. There are many orphans and poor children
whom they can adopt as their own. If you tie up the clothes of an orphan
child the Great Spirit will notice it and reward you for it. Should an
orphan ever cross your path be kind to him and treat him with tenderness,
for this is right. Parents must constantly teach their children morality
and reverence for their Creator. Parents must also guard their children
against improper marriages. They, having much experience, should select a
suitable match for their child. When the parents of both parties have
agreed, then bring the young pair together and let them know what good
their parents have designed for them. If in time they so far disagree
that they cannot possibly live contented and happy with each other they
may separate in mutual good feeling, and in this it is no wrong.
"'When a child is born to a husband and wife they must give great thanks
to the Great Spirit, for it is His gift and an evidence of His kindness.
Let parents instruct their children in their duty to the Great Spirit, to
their parents and to their fellowmen. Children should obey their parents
and guardians, and submit to them in all things. Disobedient children
occasion great pain and misery. They wound their parents' feelings and
often drive them to desperation, cause them great distress and final
admission into the place of evil spirit. The marriage obligations should
generate good to all who have assumed them. Let the married be faithful
to each other, that when they die it may be in peace. Children should
never permit their parents to suffer in their old age. Be kind to them,
and support them. The Great Spirit requires all children to love, revere
and obey their parents. To do this is highly pleasing to Him. The
happiness of parents is greatly increased by the affection and the
attention of their children. To abandon a wife or children is a great
wrong, and produces many evils. It is wrong for a father or mother-in-law
to vex a son or daughter-in-law, but they should use them as if they were
their own children. It often happens that parents hold angry disputes
over their infant child. This is also a great sin. The infant hears and
comprehends the angry words of its parents. It feels bad and lonely. It
can see for itself no happiness in prospect. It concludes to return to
its Maker. It wants a happy home, and dies. The parents then weep
because their child has left them. You must put this evil practice from
among you if you would live happy.
"'The Great Spirit when He made the earth never intended that it should be
made merchandise, but His will is that all His creatures should enjoy it
equally. Your chiefs have violated and betrayed their trust by selling
lands. Nothing is now left of our once large pobsessions save a few small
reservations. Chiefs and aged men, you, as men, have no lands to sell.
You occupy and possess tract in trust for your children. You should hold
that trust sacred, lest your children are driven from their homes by your
unsafe conduct. Whoever sells land offends the Great Spirit, and must
expect a great punishment after death.'"
Johnson here suspended the naration of the discourse of Handsomelake's,
and thus addressed the council:
"Chiefs, keepers of the faith, warriors, women and children—You all know
that our religion teaches that the early day is dedicated to the Great
Spirit, and that the late day is granted to the spirits of the dead. It
is now meridian, and I must close. Preserve in your minds that which has
been said. Accept my thanks for your kind and patient attention. It is
meet that I should also return my thanks to the Great Spirit that he has
assisted me thus far in my feeble frame to instruct you. We ask you all
to come up again to-morrow at early day, to hear what further may be
said. I have done."
The next morning, after the council had been opened in the usual manner,
Johnson thus continued.
"Relatives, uncover now your heads and listen. The day has thus far
advanced, and again gathered around the council-fire I see around me the
several nations of the long house. This gives me great joy. I see also
seated around me my counselors (keepers of the faith), who have been
regularly appointed, as is the custom of our religion. Greetings have
been exchanged with each other. Thanks have been returned to
Handsomelake. Thanks also have been returned to our Creator by the
council now assembled. At this moment the Great Spirit is looking upon
this assembly. He hears our words, knows our thoughts, and is always
pleased to see us gathered together of good. The sun is now high, and
soon it will reach the middle heavens. I must therefore make haste.
Listen attentively, and consider well what you shall hear. I return
thanks to our Creator, that He has spared your lives through the dangers
of the darkness. I salute and return my thanks to the four Celestial
Beings who have communicated what I am about to say to you. I return
thanks to my grandfather (Handsomelake), from whom you first heard what I
am about to speak. We all feel his loss. We miss him at our councils. I
now occupy his place before you, but I am conscious that I have not the
power which he possessed.
"Counselors, warriors, mother sand children—Listen to good instruction.
Consider it well. Lay it up in your hearts, and forget it not. Our
Creator when He made us designed that we should live by hunting. It
sometimes happens that a man goes out for to hunt, leaving his wife with
his friends. After a long absence he returns and finds that his wife has
taken another husband. The Great Spirit says this is a great sin, and
must be put from among us.
"The four messengers further said that it was wrong for a mother to
punish a child with a rod. It is not right to punish much, and our
Creator never intended that children should be punished with a whip or be
used with much violence. In punishing a refractory child water only is
necessary, and it is sufficient. Plunge them under. This is not wrong.
Whenever a child promises to do better the punishment must cease. It is
wrong to continue it after promises of amendment are made. Thus they
"It is right and proper always to look upon the dead. Let your face be
brought near to theirs, and address them. Let the dead know that their
absence is regretted by their friends, and that they grieve for their
death. Let the dead know, too, how their surviving friends intend to
live. Let them know whether they will so conduct themselves that they
will meet them again in the future world. The dead will hear and
remember. Thus they said.
"Continue to listen while I proceed to relate what further they said. Our
Creator made the earth. Upon it He placed man, and gave him certain rules
of conduct. It pleased Him also to give them many kinds of amusement. He
also ordered that the earth should produce all that is good for man. So
long as he remains, it will not cease to yield. Upon the surface of the
ground berries of various kinds are produced. It is the will of the Great
Spirit that when they ripen we should return our thanks to Him, and have
a public rejoicing for the continuance of these blessings. He made
everything which we live upon, and requires us to be thankful at all
times for the continuance of His favors. When our life (corn, &c,), has
again appeared, it is the will of the Great Spirit that we assemble for a
general thanksgiving. It is His will also that His children be brought
and to participate in the feather dance. Your feast must consist of the
new production. It is proper at these times, should any present not have
their names published, or any changes have been made, to announce them
"The festival must last four days. Thus they said. Upon the first day must
be performed the feather dance. This ceremony must take place in the
early day, and cease at the middle day. In the same manner, upon the
second day, is to be performed the Thanksgiving dance. On the third, the
Thanksgiving concert. Ah-do-weh is to be introduced. The fourth day is
set apart for the peach-stone game. All these ceremonies instituted by
our Creator must be commenced at early day, and cease at the middle day.
At all these times we are required to return thanks to our Grandfather
Heno (Thunder) and his assistants. To them is assigned the duty of
watching over the earth and all its produces for our good. The great
Feather and Thanksgiving dances are the appropriate ceremonies of
Thanksgiving to the Ruler and Maker of all things. The Thanksgiving
concert belongs appropriately to our grandfathers. In it we return thanks
to them. During the performance of this ceremony we are required also to
give them the smoke of tobacco. Again we must at this time return thanks
to our mother—the earth—for she is our relative. We must also return
thanks to our life and its sister. All these things are required to be
done by the light of the sun. It must not be protracted until the sun has
hid its face and darkness surrounds all things.
"Continue to listen. We have a change of season. We have a season of
cold. This is the hunting season. It is also one in which the people can
amuse themselves. Upon the fifth day of the new moon Nis-go-wuk-na (about
February 1st), we are required to commence the annual jubilee of
thanksgiving to our Creator. At this festival all can give evidence of
their devotion to the will of the Great Spirit, by participating in all
of its ceremonies.
"Continue to listen. The four Messengers of the Great Spirit have always
watched over us, and have ever seen what was transpiring among men. At
some times Handsomelake was transported by them to the regions above. He
looked down upon the earth and saw an assembly. Out of it came a man. His
garments were torn, tattered, and filthy. His whole appearance indicated
great misery and poverty. They asked him how this spectacle appeared to
him. He replied that it was hard to look upon. They then told him that
the man he saw was a drunkard; that he had taken the firewater and it had
reduced him to poverty. Again he looked and saw a woman, seated on the
ground. She was constantly engaged in gathering up and secreting about
her person her worldly effects. They said the woman you see is
inhospitable. She is selfish to spare anything, and will never leave her
worldly goods. She can never pass from earth to heaven. Tell this to your
people. Again he looked, and saw a man carrying in each hand large pieces
of meat. He went about the assembly to give each a piece. This man they
said is blessed, for he is hospitable and kind. He looked again, and saw
streams of blood. They said thus will the earth be if the firewater is
not put from among you. Brother will kill brother, and friend kill
friend. Again they told him to look towards the east. He obeyed as far as
his vision reached. He saw the increasing smoke of numberless
distilleries arising and shutting out the light of the sun. It was a
horrible spectacle to witness. They told him that here was the place that
manufactured the firewater. Again he looked, and saw a costly house, made
and furnished by the pale faces. It was a house of confinement where were
fetters, ropes and whips. They said those who persisted in the use of
firewater would fall into this. Our Creator commands us to put this
destructive vice far from us. Again he looked and saw various
assemblages. Some of them were unwilling to listen to instruction. They
were rioters and took great pride in drinking the strong waters. He
observed another group who were half inclined to hear, but the
temptations of vice that surrounded them allured them back, and they also
revelled in the fumes of the firewater. He saw another assemblage who had
met to hear instruction. This they said was pleasing to the Great Spirit.
He loves those who will listen and obey. It has grieved Him that His
children are now divided by separate interests, and are pursuing so many
paths. It pleases Him to see His people live together in harmony and
quiet. The firewater creates many dissensions and divisions among us.
They said the use of it would cause many to die unnatural deaths.
Many will be exposed to cold and freeze. Many will be burned, and others
will be drowned while under the influence of the firewater.
"Friends and relations, all these things have often happened. How many of
our people have frozen to death, how many have burned to death: how many
have been drowned, while under the influence of the strong water. The
punishment of those who use the firewater commences while they are yet on
the earth. Many are now thrown into houses of confinement by the pale
faces. I repeat to you the Ruler of us all requires us to unite and put
this evil from among us. Some say the use of the firewater is not wrong,
and that it is food. Let those who do not believe it is wrong make this
experiment: Let all who use the firewater assemble and organize into a
council, and those who do not into another council near them. A great
difference will then be discovered. The council of drunkards will end in
a riot and tumult, while the other will have harmony and quiet. It is
hard to think of the great prevalence of this evil among us. Reform, and
put it from among you. Many resolve to use the firewater until near
death, when they will repent. If they do this nothing can save them from
destruction, for medicine can then have no power. Thus they said.
"All men were made equal by the Great Spirit, but He has given them a
variety of gifts. To some a pretty face, to others an ugly one: to some a
comely form, to others a deformed figure; some are fortunate in
collecting around them worldly goods; but you are all entitled to the
same privileges, and therefore must put pride from among you. You are not
your own maker, nor the builders of your own fortunes; all things are the
gifts of the Great Spirit, and to Him must be returned thanks for their
bestowal; He alone must be acknowledged as the giver. It has pleased Him
to make differences among men, but it is wrong for one man to exalt
himself above another. Love each other, for you are all brothers and
sisters of the same great family. The Great Spirit enjoins upon all to
observe hospitality and kindness, especially to the needy and helpless,
for this is pleasing to Him. If a stranger wanders about your abode,
speak to him with kind words; be hospitable toward him; welcome him to
your home, and forget not always to mention the Great Spirit. In the
morning give thanks to the Great Spirit for the return of day and the
light of the sun. At night renew your thanks to Him that His ruling power
has preserved you from harm during the day and that night has again come
in which you may rest your wearied bodies.
"The four messengers said further to Handsomelake, 'Tell your people, and
particularly the keeper of the faith, to be strong-minded and adhere to
the true faith. We fear the evil-minded will go among them with
tempations. He may introduce the fiddle; he may bring cards and leave
them among you; the use of these is a great sin. Let the people be on
their guard and the keepers of the faith be watchful and vigilant that
none of these evils may find their way among the people. Let the keepers
of the faith preserve the law of moral conduct in all its purity. When
meetings are to be held for instruction and the people are preparing to
go, the evil-minded is then busy. He goes from one to another whispering
many temptations, by which to keep them away. He will even follow persons
into the door of the council and induce some at that time to bend their
steps away; many resist until they have entered, and then leave. This
habit once indulged in, obtains fast hold and the evil propensity
increases with age. This is a great sin, and should be at once abandoned.
Thus they said.'
"Speak evil of no one; if you can say no good of a person, then be
silent; let all be mindful of this, for these are the words of our
Creator. Let all strive to cultivate friendship with those who surround
them. This is pleasing to the Great Spirit.
"Counselors, warriors, women and children—I shall now rest. I thank you
all for you kind and patient attention. I thank the Great Spirit that He
has spared the lives of so many of us to witness this day. I request you
all to come up again to-morrow at early day. Let us all hope that until
we meet again the Creator and Ruler of us all may be kind to us and
preserve our lives, na-ho."
The council on the following day was opened with a few short speeches by
some of the chiefs or keepers of the faith, returning thanks for the
privileges of the occasion, as usual at councils; after which Johnson,
resuming his discourse, spoke as follows:
"Friends and relatives, uncover now you heads. Continue to listen to my
rehearsal of the saying communicated to Handsomelake by the four
messengers of the Great Spirit. We have met again around the council
fire. We have followed the ancient custom and greeted each other. This is
right and highly pleasing to our Maker. He now looks down upon this
assemblage; He sees us all; He is informed of the cause of our gathering,
and it is pleasing to Him. Life is uncertain; while we live let us love
each other; let us sympathize always with the suffering and needy; let us
also always rejoice with those who are glad. This is now the third day,
and my time for speaking to you is drawing to a close. It will be a long
time before we meet again; many moons and seasons will have passed before
the sacred council-brand be again uncovered; be watchful, therefore, and
remember faithfully what you may now hear.
"In discoursing yesterday upon the duties of the keepers of the faith, I
omitted some important things. The Great Spirit created this office; He
designed that its duties should never end. There are some who are
selected and set apart by our Maker to perform the duties of this office;
it is therefore their duty to be faithful, and to be always watching.
These duties they must ever perform during their lives. The faithful when
they leave this earth will have a pleasant path to travel. The same
office exists in heaven, the home of our Creator. They will take the same
place when they arrive there. There are dreadful penalties awiting those
keepers of the faith who resign their office without a cause. Thus they
"It was the original intention of our Maker that all our feasts of
thanksgiving should be seasoned with the flesh of wild animals, but we
are surrounded by the pale faces, and in a short time the woods will all
be removed: then there will be no game for the Indians to use in their
feasts. The four messengers said in consequence of this that we might use
the flesh of domestic animals. This will not be wrong. The pale faces are
pressing upon every side. You must therefore live as they do. How far you
can do so without sin I will now tell you. You may grow cattle and for
yourselves a comfortable dwelling house. This is not sin, and it is all
you can safely adopt of the customs of the pale faces. You cannot live as
they do. Thus they said.
"Continue to listen. It has pleased our Creator to set apart as our life
the three Sisters. For this special favor let us ever be thankful. When
we have gathered in our harvest let the people assemble and hold a
general thanksgiving for so great a good. In this way you will show your
obedience to the will and pleasure of your Creator. Thus they said.
"Many of you are ignorant of the spirit of medicine. It watches over us
constantly, and assists the needy whenever necessity requires. The Great
Spirit designed that some man should possess the gift and skill in
medicine, but He is pained to see a medicine man making exorbitant
charges for attending the sick. Our Creator made for us tobacco. This
plant must always be used in administering medicine. When a sick person
recovers his health he must return his thanks to the Great Spirit by
means of tobacco, for it is by His goodness that he is made well.
He blesses the medicine, and the medicine man must receive as a reward
whatever the gratitude of the restored may tender. This is right and
proper. There are many that are unfortunate and cannot pay for
attendance. It is sufficient for such to return thanks to the medicine
man upon recovery. The remembrance that he has saved the life of a
relative will be a sufficient reward.
"Listen further to what the Great Spirit has been pleased to communicate
to us. He has made us, as a race, separate and distinct from the pale
faces. It is a great sin to intermarry and intermingle the blood of the
two races. Let none be guilty of this transgression.
"At one time the four messengers said to Handsomelake, 'Lest the people
should disbelieve you and not repent and forsake their evil ways, we will
now disclose to you the house of torment, the dwelling place of the
evil-minded.' Handsomelake was particular in describing to us all that he
witnessed, and the course which departed spirits were accustomed to take
on leaving the earth. There was a road which led upward; at a certain
point it branched; one branch led straight forward to the house of the
Great Spirit, and the other turned aside to the house of torment; at the
place where the roads separated were stationed two keepers, one
representing the good and the other the evil spirit; when a person
reached the fork, if wicked, by a motion of the evil keeper, he turned
instinctively upon the road which led to the abode of the evil-minded;
but if virtuous and good, the other keeper directed him upon the straight
road; the latter was not much traveled, while the former was so
frequently trodden that no grass could grow in the pathway. It sometimes
happens that the keepers have great difficulty in deciding which path the
person should take, when the good and bad actions of the individual were
nearly balanced. Those sent to the house of torment sometimes remain one
day, (which is one year with us); some for a longer period. After they
have atoned for their sins they pass to heaven; but when they have
committed either of the great sins, (witchcraft, murder, or infantcide),
they never pass to heaven, but are tormented forever. Having conducted
Handsomelake to this place, he saw a large dark-colored mansion,
covered with soot, and beside it stood a lesser one. One of the four then
held out his rod, and the top of the house moved up until they could look
down upon all that was within. He saw many rooms. The first object which
met his eyes was a haggard-looking man, his sunken eyes cast upon the
ground, and his form half consumed by the torments he had undergone. This
man was a drunkard. The evil-minded then appeared and called him by name.
As the man obeyed his call, he dipped from a caldron a quantity of red-
hot liquid and commanded him to drink it, as it was an article he loved.
The man did as he was commanded, and immediately from his mouth issued a
stream of blaze. He cried in vain for help. The tormentor then requested
him to sing and make himself merry as he had done while on earth, after
drinking the firewater. Let drunkards take warning from this. Others were
then summoned. There came before him two persons who appeared to be
husband and wife. He told them to exercise the privilege they were so
fond of while on earth. They immediately commenced a quarrel of words.
They raged at each other with such violence that their tongues and eyes
ran out so far they could neither see nor speak. This, said they, is the
punishment of quarrelsome and disputing husbands and wives. Let such also
take warning, and lie together in peace and harmony. Next he called up a
woman who had been a witch. First he plunged her into a caldron of
boiling liquid. In her cries of distress she begged the evil-minded to
give her some cooler place. He then immersed her into one containing
liquid at the point of freezing. Her cries were then that she was too
cold. This woman, said the four messengers, shall always be tormented in
this manner. He proceeded to mention the punishment which awaits all
those who cruelly ill-treat their wives. The evil-minded next called up a
man who had been accustomed to beat his wife. Having led him up to a red-
hot statue of a woman, he directed him to do that which he was fond of
while upon earth. He obeyed, and struck the figure. The sparks flew in
every direction, and by the contact his arm was consumed. Such is the
punishment, they said, awaiting those who ill-treat their wives. From
this take seasonable warning. He looked again and saw a woman, whose arms
and hands were nothing but bones. She had sold firewater to the Indians,
and the flesh was eaten from her hands and arms. This, they said, would
be the fate of rum-sellers. Again he looked, and in one apartment saw and
recognized Ho-ne-ya-wus (farmer's brother), his former friend. He was
engaged in removing a heap of sand, grain by grain, and although he
labored continually, yet the heap was not diminished. This, they said,
was the punishment of those who sold land. Adjacent to the house of
torment was a field of corn filled with weeds. He saw a woman in the
act of cutting them down, but as fast as this was done they grew up
again. This, they said, was the punishment of lazy women. It would be
proper and right, had we time, to tell more of this place of punishment,
but my time is limited and must pass to other things.
"The Creator made men dependent upon each other. He made them sociable
beings: therefore, when your neighbors visit you set food before them. If
it be your next door neighbor, you must give him to eat. He will partake
and thank you."
"Again they said, 'You must not steal.' Should you want for anything
necessary, you have only to tell your wants and they will be supplied.
This is right. Let none ever steal anything. Children are often tempted
to take things home which do not belong to them. Let parents instruct
their children in this rule.
"Many of our people live to a very old age. Your Creator says that your
deportment toward them must be that of reverence and affection. They
have seen and felt much of the miseries and pains of earth. Be always
kind to them when old and helpless. Wash their hands and face and nurse
them with care. This is the will of the Great Spirit.
"It has been the custom among us to mourn for the dead one year. This
custom is wrong. As it causes the death of many children, it must be
abandoned. Ten days mourn for the dead, and not longer. When one dies, it
is right and proper to make an address over the body, telling how much
you loved the deceased. Great respect for the dead must be observed among
"At another time the four messengers said to Handsomelake that they would
show him the destroyer of Villages (Washington), of whom you have so
often heard. Upon the road leading to heaven he could see a light, far
away in the distance, moving to and fro. Its brightness far exceeded the
brilliancy of the noonday sun. They told him the journey was as follows:
First they came to a cold spring, which was a resting place; from this
point they proceeded into pleasant fairy grounds, which spread away in
every direction: soon they reached heaven; the light was dazzling:
berries of every description grew in vast abundance: the size and quality
were such that a single berry was more than sufficient to appease the
appetite: a sweet fragrance perfumed the air; fruits of every kind met
the eye. The inmates of this celestial abode spent their time in
amusement and repose. No evil could enter there. None in heaven ever
transgress again: families are reunited and dwell together in harmony:
they possessed a bodily form, the senses and the remembrance of earthly
life; but no white man ever enters heaven. Thus they said. He looked and
saw an inclosure upon a plain, just without the entrance of heaven.
Within it was a fort. Here he saw the 'destroyer of villages,' walking to
and fro within the inclosure. His countenance indicated a great and good
man. They said to Handsomelake, 'The man you see is the only pale face
that ever left the earth; he was kind to you when on the settlement of
the great difficulty between the Americans and the Great Crown (Great
Britain), you were abandoned to the mercy of your enemies. The Crown told
the great American that as for his allies, the Indians, he might kill
them if he liked. The great American judged that this would be cruel and
unjust; he believed they were made by the Great Spirit, and were entitled
to the enjoyments of life; he was kind to you and extended over you his
protection: for this reason he has been allowed to leave the earth. But
he is never permitted to go into the presence of the Great Spirit.
Although alone, he is perfectly happy. All faithful Indians pass by him
as they go to heaven. They see him and recognize him, but pass on in
silence. No words ever pass his lips.
"Frieads and relatives, it was by the influence of this great man that
we were spared as a people, and yet live. Had he not granted as his
protection, where would we have been? Perished—all perished.
"The four messengers further said to Handsomelake that they were fearful
that unless the people repent and obey his consmands, the forbearance and
patience of the Creator would be exhausted; that He would grow angry
with them and cause their increase to cease.
"Our Creator, made light and darkness; He made the sun to heat and
shine over the world; He made the moon, also, to shine by night and to
cool the world, if the sun make it too hot by day. The keeper of the
clouds, by direction of the Great Spirit, will then cease to act. The
keeper of the springs and running brooks will cease to rule them for the
good of man. The sun will cease to fulfil its office. Total darkness will
then cover the earth. A great smoke will rise and spread over the face of
the earth. Then will come out of it all monsters and poisonous animals
created by the evil-minded, and they, with the wicked upon the earth,
will perish together.
"But before this dreadful time shall come, the Great Spirit will take
home to Himself all the good and faithful. They will lay themselves down
to sleep, and from this sleep of death they will arise and go home to
their Creator. Thus they said.
"I have done. I close thus, that you may remember and understand the fate
which awaits the earth, the unfaithful and the unbelieving. Our Creator
looks down upon us. The four Beings from above see us. They witness with
pleasure this assemblage, and rejoice at the object for which it is
gathered. It is now forty-eight years since we first began to listen to
the renewed will of our Creator. I have been unable, during the time
alloted to me, to rehearse all the savings of Ga-ne-o-di-yo
(Handsomelake); I regret very much that you cannot hear them all.
"Counselors, warriors, women and children, I have done. I thank you all
for your attendance, and for your kind and patient attention. May the
Great Spirit, who rules all things, watch over and protect you from every
harm and danger while you travel the journey of life. May the Great
Spirit bless all, and bestow upon you life health, peace and prosperity:
and may you in turn appreciate His great goodness. This is all."
Sketches of an Iroquois Council, or Condolence.
In giving the description of the condolence, I have chosen the following
writings of Mr. G. S. Riley, of Rochester, to-wit:
A grand council of the confederate Iroquois was held Octobcr 1, 1845, at
the Indian councilhouse, on the Tonawanda reservation, in the county of
Genesee. Its proceedings occupied three days. It embraced representatives
from all the six nations—the Mohawk, the Onondaga, the Seneca, the
Oneida, the Cayuga, and the Tuscarora. It is the only one of the kind
which has been held for a number of years, and is probably the last which
will ever be assembled with a full representation of the confederate
The Indians from abroad arrived at the council-grounds, or the immediate
vicinity, two days previous, and one of the most interesting spectacles
of the occasion was the entry of the different nations upon the domain
and hospitality of the Senecas, on whose grounds the council was to be
held. The representation of the Mohawks, coming as they did from Canada,
was necessarily small. The Onondagas, with acting Todotahhoh, of the
confederacy, and his two counselors, made an exceedingly creditable
appearance. Nor was the array of the Tuscaroras, in point of numbers, at
least, deficient in attractive and improving features.
We called upon and were presented to Black Smith, the most influential
and authoritative of the Seneca sachems. He is about sixty years old, is
somewhat portly, is easy enough in his manners, and is well disposed, and
even kindly towards all who convinced him that they have no sinister
designs in coming among his people.
Jemmy Johnson is the great high priest of the confederacy. Though now
sixty-nine years old, he is yet an erect, fine-looking and energetic
Indian, and is hospitable and intelligent. He is in possession of the
medal presented by Washington to Red Jacket in 1792, which, among other
things of interest, he showed us.
It would be imcompatible with the present purpose to describe all the
interesting men who were assembled, among whom were Captain Frost,
Messrs. Le Fort, Hill, John Jacket, Dr. Wilson and others. We spent much
of the time during the week in conversation with the chiefs and most
intelligent Indians of the different nations, and gleaned from them much
information of the highest interest, in relation to the organization,
government, laws, religion and customs of the people and characteristics
of the great men of the old and once powerful confederacy. It is a
singular fact, that the peculiar government and national characteristics
of the Iroquois is a most interesting field of research and inquiry,
which has never been very thoroughly, if at all, investigated, although
the historic events which marked the proud career of the confederacy have
been perseveringly sought and treasured up in the writings of Stone,
Schoolcraft, Hosmer, Yates and others.
Many of the Indians speak English readily, but with the aid and
interpretations of Mr. Ely S. Parker, a young Seneca of no ordinary
degree of attainment in both scholarship and general inteligence, and
who, with Le Fort, the Onondaga, is well versed in old Iroquois matters,
we had no difficulty in conversing with any and all we chose to.
About midday on Wednesday, October 1, the council commenced. The
ceremonies with which it was opened and conducted were certainly unique—
almost indescribable; and as its proceedings were in the Seneca tongue,
they were in a great measure unintelligible, and in fact, profoundly
mysterious to the pale faces. One of the chief objects for which the
council had been convoked, was to fill two vacancies in the Sachems of
the Senecas, which had been made by the death of the former incumbents;
and preceding the installation of the candidates for the succession there
was a general and dolorous lament for the deceased Sachems, the utterance
of which, together with the repetition of the laws of the confederacy,
the installation of the new Sachems, the impeachment and disposition of
three unfaithful Sachems, the elevation of others in their stead, and the
performance of the various ceremonies attendant upon these proceedings,
consumed the principal part of the afternoon.
At the setting of the sun a bountiful repast, consisting of an
innumerable number of rather formidable looking chunks of boiled fresh
beef, and abundance of bread and succotash, was brought into the council
house. The manner of saying grace on this occasion was indeed peculiar. A
kettle being brought, hot and smoking from the fire, and placed in the
center of the council house, there proceeded from a single person, in a
high shrill key, a prolonged and monotonous sound, resembling that of the
syllable wah or yah. This was immediately followed by a
responsive but protracted tone, the syllable whe or swe,
and this concluded grace. It was impossible not to be somewhat mirthfully
affected at the first hearing of grace said in this novel manner. It is,
however, pleasurable to reflect that the Indians recognize the duty of
rendering thanks to the Divine Being in some formal way for the bounties
and enjoyments which He bestows; and, were an Indian to attend a public
feast among his pace faced brethren, he would be affected perhaps to a
greater degree of marvel at witnessing a total neglect of this ceremony
than we were at his singular way of performing it.
After supper commenced the dances. All day Tuesday and on Wednesday, up
to the time that the places of the deceased Sachems had been filled,
everything like undue joyfulness had been restrained. This was required
by the respect customarily due to the distinguished dead. But now the
bereaved Sachems being again filled, all were to give utterance of
gladness and joy. A short speech by Capt. Frost, introductory to the
enjoyments of the evening, was received with acclamatory approbation, and
soon eighty or ninety of these sons and daughters of the forest—the old
men and the young, the maidens and the matrons—were engaged in the
dance. It was indeed a rare sight.
Only two varieties of dancing were introduced the first evening, the
trotting dance and the fish dance. The figures of either are exceedingly
simple, and but slightly different from each other. In the first named,
the dancers all move round a circle in a single file, keeping time in a
sort of trotting step to an Indian song of yo-ho-ha, or yo-ho-ha-ha-ho,
as sung by the leader, or occasionally by all conjoined. In the other,
there is the same movement in single file round a circle, but every two
persons, a man and a woman, or two men, face each other, the one moving
forward, the other backward, and all keeping step to the music of the
singers, who are now, however, aided by a a couple of tortoise or turtle
shell rattlers, or an aboriginal drum. At regular intervals there is a
sort of cadence in the music, during which a change of position by all
the couples takes place, the one who had been moving backward taking the
place of the one moving forward, when all again move onward, one-half of
the whole, of course, being obliged to follow on by dancing backwards.
One peculiarity in Indian dancing would probably strongly commend itself
to that class among pale faced beau and belles denominated bashful;
though, perhaps, it would not suit others as well. The men, or a number
of them, usually begin the dance alone, and the women, or each of them,
selecting the one with whom she would like to dance, presents herself at
his side as he approaches and is immediately received into the circle.
Consequently, the young Indian beau knows nothing of the tact required to
handsomely invite and gallantly lead a lady to the dance; and the young
Indian maiden, unannoyed by obnoxious offers, at her own convenience,
gracefully presents her personage to the one she designs to favor, and
thus quietly engages herself in the dance. And moreover, while an Indian
beau is not necessarily obliged to exhibit any gallantry as towards a
belle till she has herself manifested her own good pleasure in the
matter; so, therefore, the belle cannot indulge herself in vascilant
flirtations with any considerable number of beaux without being at once
On Thursday the religious ceremonies commenced, and the council from the
time it assembled, which was about 11 o'clock A. M., till 3 or 4 o'clock
P. M., gave the most serious attention to the preaching of Jimmy Johnson,
the great high priest, and the second in the succession under the new
revelation. Though there are some evangelical believers among the
Indians, the greater portion of them cherish the religion of their
fathers. This, as they say, has been somewhat changed by the new
revelation, which the Great Spirit made to one of their prophets about
forty-seven years ago, and which, as they also believe, was approved by
The profound regard and eneration which the Indians have ever retained
towards the name and memory of Washington is most interesting evidence of
his universally appreciated worth, and the fact that the red men regard
him not merely as one of the best, but as the very best man that ever has
existed, or that will ever exist, is beautifully illustrated in a
singular credence which they maintain even to this day, namely, that
Washington, is the only white man who has ever entered heaven and is the
only one who will enter there till the end of the world.
Among the Senecas public religious exercises takes place but once a year.
At these times Jimmy Johnson preaches hour after hour for three days, and
then rests from any public charge of ecclesiastical offices the remaining
three hundred and sixty-two days of the year. On this, an unusual
occasion, he restricted himself to a few hours in each of the last two
days of the council. We were told by young Parker, who took notes of his
preaching, that his subject matter on Thursday abounded in good
teachings, enforced by appropriate and happy illustrations and striking
imagery. After he had finished the council took a short respite. Soon,
however, a company of warriors, ready and eager to engage in the
celebrated corn dance, made their appearance. They were differently
attired. While some were completely enveloped in a closely-fitting and
gaudy-colored garb, others, though perhaps without intending it, had made
wonderfully close approaches to an imitation of the costume said to have
been so fashionable in many parts of the State of Georgia during the last
hot summer, and which is also said to have consisted simply of a shirt
collar and a pair of spurs. But, in truth, these warriors, with shoulders
and limbs in a state of nudity, with faces bestreaked with paints, with
jingling trinkets dangling to their knees, and with feathered war caps
waving above them, presented a truly picturesque and romantic appearance.
When the center of the council house had been cleared and the musicians
with the shell rattlers had taken their places, the dance commenced, and
for an hour and a half—perhaps two hours—it proceeded with surprising
spirit and energy. Almost every posture of which the human frame is
susceptible, without absolutely making the feet uppermost and the head
for once to assume the place of the feet, was exhibited. Some of the
attitudes of the dancers were really imposing, and the dance as a whole,
could be got up and conducted only by Indians. The women, in the
performance of the corn dance are quite by themselves, keeping time to
the beat of the shells and gliding along sideways, without scarcely
lifting their feet from the floor.
It would probably be well if the Indian everywhere could be inclined to
refrain at least from the more grotesque and boisterous peculiarities of
the dance. The influence of these cannot be productive of any good, and
it is questionable whether it will be possible, so long as they are
retained, to assimilate them to any greater degree of civilization, or to
more refined methods of living and enjoyment than they now possess. The
same may be said of certain characteristics of the still more Vandalic
war dance. This, however, was not introduced at the council.
A part of the proceedings of Friday, the last day of the council, bore
resemblance to those of the preceding day. Jimmy Johnson resumed his
preaching, at the close of which the corn dance was again performed,
though with far more spirit and enthusiasm than at the first. Double the
numbers that then appeared, all hardy and sinewy men, attired in original
and fantastic style, among whom was one of the chiefs of the confederacy,
together with forty or fifty women of the different nations, now engaged,
and for more than two hours persevered in the performance of the various
complicated and fatigueing movement of this dance. The appearance of the
dusty throng, with its increased numbers, and of course proportionably
increased resources for the production of shrill whoops and noisy
stamping, and for the exhibition of striking attitudes and rampant
motions, was altogether strange, wonderful and seemingly superhuman.
After the dance had ceased, another kind of sport—a well contested foot
race—claimed attention. In the evening, after another supper in the
council house, the more social dances—the troting, the fish, and one in
which the women alone participated—were resumed. The fish dance seemed
to be the favorite, and being invited to join in by one of the chiefs, we
at once accepted the invitation, and followed in mirthful chase of
pleasure with a hundred forest children. Occasionally the dances are
characterized with ebulitions of merriment and flashes of real fun, but
generally a singular sobriety and decorum are observed. Frequently, when
gazing at a throng of sixty or perhaps one hundred dancers, we have been
scarcely able to decide which was the most remarkable, the staid and
imperturable gravity of the old men and women, or the complete absence of
levity and frolicsomeness in the young.
The social dances of the evening, with occasional speeches from the
sachems and chiefs, were the final and concluding ceremonies of this
singular but interesting affair. Saturday morning witnessed the
separation of the various nations and the departure of each to their
The writer would liked to have said a word or two or relation to the
present condition and prospects of the Indians, but the original design
in regard to both the topics and brevity of this writing having been
already greatly transcended, it must be deferred. The once powerful
confederacy of the Six Nations, occupying in its palmy days the greater
portion of New York State, now number only a little over 3,000. Even this
remnant will soon be gone. In view of this, as well as of the known fact
that the Indian race is everywhere gradually diminishing in numbers, the
writer cannot close without invoking for this unfortunate people renewed
kindliness, sympathy and benevolent attention. It is true, that with some
few exceptions, they possess habits and characteristics which render them
difficult to approach; but still, they are only what the creator of us
all has made them. And let it be remembered, it must be a large measure
of kindliness and benevolence that will repay the injustice and wrongs
that have been inflicted upon them.
Atotarho, who by tradition was an Onondaga, is the great embodiment of
the Iroquois courage, wisdom and heroism, and he is invested with
allegoric traits which exalt him to a kind of superhuman character.
Unequalled in war and arts his fame spread abroad, and exalted the
Onondaga nation in the highest scale. He was placed at the head of the
confederacy, and his name was used after his death as an examplar of
glory and honor. While like that of Caesar, it became perpetuated as the
official title of the presiding Sachem of the confederacy. He was a man
of energy and renown. And such was the estimation in which he was held in
his life time, and the popular veneration for his character after death,
that, as above denoted, his name became the distinctive title for the
office, and is not yet extinct, although the tribes have no longer war to
prosecute or foreign embassadors to reply to.
* * * * *
IROQUOIS LAWS OF DESCENT.
At the establishment of the confederacy, fifty sachems were founded and
a name assigned to each, by which they are still known, and these names
are kept as hereditary from the beginning to the present time. There were
also fifty sub-sachems, or war chiefs—that is, to every sachem was given
a war chief, to stand behind him to do his biddings. These sachemships
were, and are still confined to the five nations; the Tuscaroras were
admitted into the confederacy without enlarging the framework of the
league, by allowing them their own sachems and sub-sachems, or war
chiefs, as they inherited from their original nation of North Carolina.
But how, it may be asked, is a government so purely popular and so simple
and essentially advisory in its character, to be reconciled with the laws
of hereditary descent, fixed by the establishment of heraldic devices and
bringing its proportion of weak and incompetent minds into office, and
with the actual power it exercised and the fame it acquired. To answer
this question, and to show how the aristocratic and democratic principles
were made to harmonize in the Iroquois government, it will be necessary
to go back and examine the laws of descent among the tribes, together
with the curious and intricate principles of the clans or tribal bond.
Nothing is more fully under the cognizance of observers of the manners
and customs of the Indians, than the fact of the entire nation or tribe
being separated into distinct clans, each of them distinguished by the
name and device of some quadruped, bird, or other object in the animal
kingdom. This device is called by the Tuscaroras Or-reak-sa (clan). The
Iroquois have turned it to account by assuming it as the very basis of
their political and tribal bond.
A government wholly verbal must be conceded to have required this
proximity and nearness of access. The original five nations of the
Iroquois were, theoretically, separated into eight clans or original
families of kindreds, who are distinguished respectively by the clans of
the wolf, bear, turtle, deer, beaver, falcon, crane and the plover. I
find that there is a little difference in the clans of the Tuscaroras,
which are the bear, wolf, turtle, beaver, deer, eel and snipe. It is
contrary to the usage of the Indians that near kindred should intermarry,
and the ancient rule interdicts all intermarriage between persons of the
same clan. They must marry into a clan which is different from their own.
A Bear or Wolf male cannot marry a Bear or Wolf female. By this custom
the purity of blood is preserved, while the ties of relationship between
the clans themselves is strengthened or enlarged.
The line of descent is limited exclusively in the female's children.
Owing to this arrangement, a chieftain's son cannot succeed him in
office, but in case of his death, the right of descent being in his
mother, he would be succeeded, not by one of his male children, but by
his brother; or failing in this then by the son of his sister, or by some
direct, however remote, descendent of a maternal line.
It will be noticed that the children are not of the same clan as their
father, but are the same as their mother. Thus, he might be succeeded by
his own grandson, by the son marrying in his father's clan, and not by
his daughter. It is in this way that the chieftainship is continually
kept in a family dynasties in the female line.
While the law of descent is fully recognized, the free will of the female
to choose a husband from any of the clans, excluding only her own, is
made to govern and determine the distribution of political power, and to
fix the political character of the tribe. Another peculiarity may be here
stated. In choosing a candidate to fill a vacancy of the chieftainship,
made either by death or misconduct, the power is lodged in the older
women of the clan to choose the candidate, and then to be submitted for
the recognition of the chiefs and sachems in council, for the whole
nation. If approved, a day is appointed for the recognition also of the
Six Nations, and he is formally installed into office. Incapacity is
always, however, without exception, recognized as a valid objection to
the approval of the council.
On long winter evening the Indian hunters gatherd around their fireside,
to listen to the historical traditions, legends of war and hunting, and
fairy tales which had been handed down through their fathers and father's
fathers, with scarcely any variation for centuries, kindling the
enthusiasm of the warrior and inspiring the little child some day to
realize similar dreams, and hand his name down to posterity as the author
of similar exploits.
They have superstitious fears of relating fables in summer: not until
after snow comes will they relate of snakes, lest they should creep into
their beds, or of evil genii, lest they in some way be revenged.
It is very difficult for a stranger to rightly understand the morals of
their stories, though it is said by those who know them best, that to
them the story was always an illustration of some moral or principle.
To strangers they offer all the rites of hospitality, but do not open
their hearts. If you ask them they will tell you a story, but it will not
be such a story as they tell when alone. They will fear your ridicule and
suppress their humor and pathos: so thoroughly have they learned to
distrust pale faces, that when they know that he who is present is a
friend, they will still shrink from admitting him within the secret
portals of their heart.
And when you have learned all that language can convey, there are still a
thousand images, suggestions and associations recurring to the Indian,
which can strike no chord in your heart. The myriad voices of nature are
dumb to you, but to them they are full of life and power.
NO. 1.—THE HUNTER AND MEDICINE LEGEND.
There once lived a man who was a great hunter. His generosity was the
theme of praise in all the country, for he not only supplied his own
family with food, but distributed game among his friends and neighbors,
and even called the birds and animals of the forest to partake of his
abundance. For this reason he received the appellation of "Protector of
Birds and Animals."
He lived a hunter's life till war broke out between his own and some
distant nation, and then he took the war path. He was as brave a warrior
as he was a skillful hunter, and slew a great multitude of the enemy,
till all were lying dead around him, except one, who was a mighty man
of valor, and in an unguarded moment the hunter received a blow from
his tomahawk on the head, which felled him to the earth; his enemy then
took his scalp and fled.
Some of his own party saw what befell him, and supposing him dead left
him on the field of battle; but a fox who had wandered this way
immediately recognized his benefactor. Sorrowful indeed, was he to find
him thus slain, and began to revolve in his mind some means of restoring
him to life. "Perhaps," said he, "some of my friends may know of a
medicine by which his wounds may be healed, and he may live again." So
saying, he ran into the forest and uttered the "death lament," which was
the signal for all the animals to congregate. From far and near they
came, till hundreds and thousands of every kind had assembled around the
body of the hunter, eagerly inquiring what had happened. The fox
explained he had accidentally came that way and found their friend
stretched lifeless upon the earth. The animals drew near and examined him
more closely, to be sure that life was extinct; they rolled him over and
over on the ground and were satisfied that he was dead, there was not a
single sign of life.
Then they held a grand council of which the bear was the speaker. When
all were ready to listen, he asked if any one present was acquainted with
any medicine which would restore the dead man to life. With great
alacrity each one examined his medicine box, but finds nothing adapted to
this purpose. Being defeated in their noble object of restoring their
friend, all join in a mournful howl—a requiem for the dead. This
attracted a singing bird, the oriole, who came quietly to learn the cause
of the assembling of the great concourse and their profound lamentation.
The bear made known the calamity which had befallen them, and as the
birds would feel themselves equally afflicted, he requested the oriole to
fly away and invite all the feathered tribes to come to the council and
see if their united wisdom cannot devise a remedy that will restore their
friend to life.
Soon were assembled all the birds of the air, even the great eagle of the
Iroquois, which was seldom induced to appear upon the earth, hastens to
pay her respects to the remains of the renowned and benevolent hunter.
All being satisfied that he was really dead, the united council of birds
and animals, which remained convened, decided that his scalp must be
recovered, saying that any bird or animal who pleased might volunteer to
go on this mission. The fox was the first to offer his services and
departed full of hope that his zeal would be crowned with success. But
after many days he returned, saying he could find no trace of man's
footsteps, not a chick or child belonged to any settlement The great love
which they bore their friend prompted several others to go upon the same
mission, and to the animals belonged the first right as they had first
found him; but at length the birds were anxious to show their devotion
and the pigeon hawk begged leave to make the first flight, as he was more
swift of wing than any other and could visit the whole world in the
shortest space of time. They had scarcely missed him when he returned: he
said he had been over the entire earth and found it not. They did not
consider his voyage satisfactory, as he had flown so swiftly that it was
impossible for him to see anything distinctly by the way.
Next the white heron proposed that he be sent, because of being so slow
of wing he could see every object as he passed. On his aerial voyage he
discovered a plain covered with the vines of the wild bean, laden with
the delicious fruit; it was too great a temptation for him to resist, and
he descended to enjoy a feast. So gluttonously did he partake that he
could not rise again from the earth, and the council after many days of
anxious waiting, called for a substitute. Here the crow came forward and
acknowledged his fitness for such, an office, as he was also slow of wing
and was accustomed to hover settlements and discern them afar off, he
would not be suspected of any particular design should he linger near the
one that contained the scalp.
The warrior who possessed the coveted treasure knew the birds and animals
were holding council on the field of battle to devise means to recover
it, but when the crow drew near he was not alarmed. The smoke of the
wigwams indicated a settlement and as the crow sailed lazily through the
air at a great height above the roofs of the cabins, he espied the scalp
which he knew must be the one he sought, stretched out to dry.
After various unsuccessful strategems, he was able to seize it, and flew
away to exhibit his trophy to the council.
Now, they attempted to fit it to his head, but, being dry, it was
impossible; so search was made to find something with which to moisten
it, but in vain. Then slowly moved forward the great eagle, and bids them
listen to his words.
"My wings are never furled; night and day, for years and hundreds of
years, the dews of heaven have been collected upon my back, as I sat in
my nest above the clouds. Perhaps these waters may have a virtue no
earthly fountain can possess, we will see."
Then she plucked a feather from her wing and dipped it in the dewey
elixir, which was then applied to the shriveled scalp, and lo! it became
pliable and fresh as if just removed. Now it would fit, but there must be
a healing power to cause the flesh to unite, and again to awaken life.
All were anxious to do something in the great work, therefore all went
forth to bring rare leaves, flowers, barks, the flesh of animals and the
brain of birds, to form a healing mixture. When they returned it was
prepared, and having been moisted with the dew, was applied to the scalp,
and instantly adhered to it and became firm. This caused the hunter to
sit up; he looked around in astonishment upon his numerous friends,
unable to divine the meaning of so strange an assemblage.
Then they bade him stand upon his feet and told him how he was found dead
upon the plain and how great was the lamentation of all those who had so
long experienced his kindness, and the efforts they had made to restore
him to life. They then gave him the compound which had been the means of
restoring him to life, saying, "it was the gift of the Great Spirit to
man. He alone had directed them in the affairs of the council, had
brought the eagle to furnish the heavenly moisture, and gave them wisdom
in making the preparation, that they might furnish to man a medicine
which should be effectual for every wound."
When they had finished the animals departed to their forest haunts, the
eagle soared again to his eyrie, and the birds of the air flew away to
their nests in the tall trees, all happy and rejoicing that they had
accomplished this great good.
The hunter returned to his home and spread abroad the news of the miracle
and the knowledge of the wonderful medicine, which is used to this day
among the Iroquois by those who are the favorites of the Great Spirit.
An Indian hunter went forth to hunt, and as he wandered through the
forest he heard a strain of beautiful music far off among the trees. He
listened, but could not tell whence it came; he knew it could not be by
any human voice, or from any instrument he had ever heard. As it came
near it ceased. The next evening he went forth again, but he heard no
music, and again, but in van.
Then came the Great Spirit to him in a dream and told him to fast, wash
himself till he was purified, then he might go forth and would hear again
the music. So he purified himself and went again among the dark trees of
the forest, and soon his ear caught the sweet strains, as he drew near
they became more beautiful; he listened till he learned them and could
make the same sweet sound, then he knew that it was a plant with a tall
green stem and long tapering leaves. He took his knife and cut the stalk,
but ere he had scarcely finished, it healed and was the same as before;
he cut it again, and again it healed. Then he knew it would heal
diseases, he took it home, dried it by the fire, pulverized it, and
applied a few particles of it to a dangerous wound; no sooner had it
touched the wound than it was healed. Thus the Great Spirit taught the
Indian the nature of medicinal plants, and directed him where they were
to be found, when and how used.
The two above are the legends concerning the principal medicines used
among the Iroquois. The ancient manner of administering them, was to take
a small wooden goblet and go to a running stream, dipping toward the way
which the stream ran, fill the goblet and return, place it near the fire
with some tobacco near it; a prayer is offered while tobacco is thrown
upon the fire, that the words may ascend upon the smoke.
The medicine is placed on a piece of skin near the goblet, being very
finely pulverized, is taken up with a wooden spoon and dusted upon the
water in three spots, in the form of a triangle, thus—
The medicine man then looks at it critically, if it spreads over the
surface of the water and whirls about, it is a sign that the invalid will
be healed; if it sinks directly in the places where it was put, there is
no hope, the sick person must die and the whole is thrown away.
Once in six months there is a great feast made, at the hunting season in
fall and spring. On the night of the feast as soon as it is dark, all who
are present assemble in one room, where no light or fire is allowed to
burn, and placing the medicine near the covered embers, the tobacco by
its side, they commence singing, which proclaims that the crows are
coming to their feast, and also many other birds and various animals,
the brains of whose species form part of their medicine. At the end of
the song some one imitates the caw of a crow, the songs of the birds, the
howls of the wolf, etc., as if the animals were present.
Three times in the course of the night they offer a prayer, while
throwing tobacco on the smothered flames, asking that the people may be
protected from all harm, and if they receive wounds that the medicine may
be effectual in healing them.
At the commencement of the ceremonies the doors are locked, and no one
is allowed to enter or leave the house while they continue; neither is
any one allowed to sleep, as that would spoil the medicine. The feast
begins just before the dawn of day. The master of ceremonies first takes
a deer's head, bites off a piece, imitates the cry of a crow and passes
the head of the animal to another, who does the same, till all have
tasted and imitated the peculiar note of some bird or animal.
As soon as it begins to be light the presiding officer takes a duck's
bill, and dipping it full of the medicine, gives it to each one present,
who puts it in a bit of skin and wraps it in several coverings, keeps it
carefully until the next semi-annual feast. The skin of a panther is
preferred for the first envelope if it can be obtained.
Those who take part in the ceremonies are medicine men. Chiefs are
allowed to be present; also, any who have been cured of any disease by
Without the building the young people gather for merriment, and the
fragments of the feast are given to them when it is finished.
When the medicine described in the second legend is used, the tune is
sung which was heard at its discovery, both at the ceremonies of the
feast and the time of administering it.
They seem to think the ceremonies effectual in making the medicinal
qualities of the compound imperishable. Each medicine man has a large
quantity which he keeps in a bag, and in order not to exhaust the whole,
now and then, adds pulverized corn roots, squash vines, etc., and
whenever it is administered several persons assemble and sing. Both kinds
are considered especially useful in healing wounds received in war.
In reading the first legend there will be seen very humorous allusions to
the habits of the pigeon, heron and crow, and there is a curious
invention inspiring faith in the means used in healing. I have seen many
who affirmed that they had tested the wonderful powers of each.
* * * * *
Whatever may be the theories on the subject of Indian civilization, I
think it must be evident that the present position of the Tuscarora
nation on their reservation, is extremely favorable for the attainment of
that object. They can no longer live by the chase. It is not now with
them as it was with the Indians on the Delaware, when William Penn said,
"their pleasures feed them—hunting, fishing and fowling." Surrounded by
the white settlements, placed in the vicinity of cities and towns, they
are obliged to apply to agriculture and other modes of labor, for the
means of subsistence. They are now building good houses, planting
orchards of various kinds of fruit, raising stock, etc.; they have horses
and carriages. Artificial wants—the very pillars of civilization—are
increasing upon them. These require exertion, call into action their
mental faculties, force them to provide for coming exigencies, gradually
tames down their wild nature, and prepares them for that subdued, but
improved state, in which alone is to be found the highest point of
cultivation, as well as the highest enjoyment intended for man in this
If this experiment fails, we may, with melancholy, certainly look forward
to a period when this futile branch of the human family shall be swept
into oblivion, when the fine sounding names of the lofty mountains, the
noble rivers, the splendid cataracts, the great inland seas and the
silvery lakes will be the sole memorials of a race, that, only two or
three centuries ago, covered the face of this vast continent.
On the other hand, if this experiment should succeed, it will open a door
of hope for the preservation, or if we may use the term, physical
salvation of this apparently doomed race. It may encourage the
philanthrophist to stretch forth his hand for the protection of the yet
remaining tribes beyond the Mississippi; and the child may already be
born, who will live to behold that vast wilderness thickly dotted over
with Indian communities, with towns, villages, farms and manufacturing
hamlets. They may live to see the hoe and the spade take the place of the
bow and the tomahawk; the lion and the lamb feeding together; the sword
beaten into a plowshare, and the spear into a pruning hook.
In the first place, to women, in every well regulated society, should be
committed the management of the families and the business connected with
the household concerns, and they should be qualified to exercise a
salutary influence within their appropriate sphere.
Secondly, as mothers they are responsible for the nursing and rearing of
their children and for the proper sustenance of them in early life. They
are also responsible for the habits of their children, including
cleanliness and general propriety of behavior.
A sensible, judicious mother can greatly control her children in these
matters; she can make them modest or impertinent, ingenuous or deceitful,
fearful or intrepid. The germ of all these traits of character exist in
childhood, and a mother can repress or strengthen them.
Thirdly, a mother is responsible for the principles her children may
entertain in early life, and it is for her to say whether they shall be
imbued with sentiments of honesty, industry and morality, or with those
of a contrary character—fraud, idleness and dishonesty.
She is, to a very considerable extent responsible for the temper and
disposition of her children. Constitutionally he may be irritable or
revengeful, but she may correct or repress these passions and in their
places instil better feelings.
Lastly, and above all, she is responsible for the religious education of
her children. The beginning of wisdom is a reverence for our creator, and
obedience to his requirings; and this is within the power of every good
mother to inculcate and cherish in the hearts of her children; at the
same time it is the most important duty she owes them, and their
usefulness and character throughout life may depend upon her correct and
faithful discharge of it.
If these be the appropriate duties and obligations of a mother, will it
not be vain to expect that the Indian warrior will be qualified for that
station, or that they will be in a condition to give a proper education
to their children, or train them up in habits or principles that will
render them intelligent and good citizens, whilst they themselves are
left in ignorance, and while, instead of devoting their time and
attention to his discharge of these high moral duties, they are held in a
state of servile degradation and compelled to perform all the menial
drudgeries of life?
Women are created by Providence equal to men in everything except mere
physical strength. Generally, they have much more discretion, and
certainly are far more virtuous. They were designed to exercise a
conservative influence in society and should be placed in a position
which would enable them to fulfill this-most important office; for
history confirms the deeply interesting fact, that no people ever yet
were elevated to the rank of civilization, while their females were held
in a servile condition, and we are also admonished by experience, that no
community can be virtuous and happy, which is not chastened by the
controlling example of female delicacy and refinement.
These views are submitted to the consideration of the Tuscaroras, in the
hope that they will receive their serious attention, and lead to the
adoption of an improved and proper division of the employments, both of
the men and women of the nation; especially to the extension of more care
towards the suitable education of their females, and the consequent
elevation of the Tuscarora women to their appropriate station and
dignity, as the wives and rational companions of intelligent and educated
In my communications, I have not felt it my duty to call your attention
to any particular forms or observances in relation to your religious
obligations. I believe that God is a spirit, and true worship to Him can
only be performed in spirit and in truth. I also believe that however
diversified the human family may be in regard to the circumstances in
which they may be placed, all stand equally before their creator, as
objects of His care and personal regard; in His great mercy He visits us
with remorse and sadness, when we have wilfully done what we know to be
wrong, and which, if persisted in, might lead us to destruction; and it
is He who fills our hearts with peace and consolation when we do that
which we believe to be right. His goodness is not limited to any people
or place nor, is that adoration which is due to Him confined within
temples built with human hands, or restricted to any particular form; He
is everywhere present and in every place; the incense of a pious, devoted
heart, may acceptably be offered to Him in the rude homes of the red man.
The plants of the earth are not more directly under the influences of the
natural light and warmth by which they are nourished, than is the
immortal soul or spirit of man under the immediate care and sustaining
support of the divine presence, which is always near and round about us;
for it is in Him we live, and move, and have our existence.
Deeply impressed with the certainty of these truths, and fully believing
He will never fail to lead in the paths of safety and peace, those who
sincerely look to Him for instruction and faithfully follow His counsel,
I recommend you, with myself, carefully to attend to His manifestations
of light and truth upon our minds, which will never deceive nor mslead,
but, if obeyed, wisely conduct us through the dangers of this life, and
finally will prepare us for a happy admission into the realms of eternal
"In the town of Cambria, six miles west of Lockport, a Mr. Hammon, who
was employed with his boy in hoeing corn, in 1824, observed some bones of
a child, exhumed. No farther thought was bestowed upon the subject for a
time, for the plain of the Ridge was supposed to have been the site of an
Indian village, and this was supposed to be the remains of some child who
had been recently buried there. Eli Bruce, hearing of the circumstance,
proposed to Mr. H. that they should repair to the spot, with suitable
instruments, and endeavor to find some relics. The soil was a light loam,
which would be dry and preserve bones for centuries without decay. A
search enabled them to come to a pit but a slight distance from the
surface. The top of the pit was covered with small slabs of the Medina
sandstone, and was twenty-four feet square, four and a half feet deep,
planes agreeing with the four cardinal points. It was filled with human
bones of both sexes and ages. They dug down at one extremity and found
the same layers to extend to the bottom, which was the dry loam, and from
their calculations, they deduced that at least four thousand souls had
perished in one great massacre. In one skull two flint arrow-heads were
found, and many had the appearance of having been fractured and cleft
open by a sudden blow. They were piled in regular layers, but with no
regard to size or sex. Pieces of pottery were picked up in the pit, and
had also been plowed up in the field adjacent. Traces of a log council
house were plainly discernable. For, in an oblong square, the soil was
poor, as if it had been cultivated, till the whites broke it up, and
where the logs of the house had decayed, was a strip of rich mould. A
maple tree, over the pit, being cut down, two hundred and fifty
concentric circles were counted, making the mound to be A. D. 1574.
It has been supposed by the villagers that the bones were deposited there
before the discovery of America, but the finding of some metal tools with
a French stamp, placed the date within our period. One hundred and fifty
persons a day visited this spot the first season, and carried off
portions of the bones. They are now nearly all gone and the pit plowed
over. Will any antiquarian inform us, if possible, why these bones were
placed here? To what tribe do they belong? When did such a massacre
The above is taken from the writings of Mr. Schoolscraft. On account of
the questions above, I propose to give a tradition, (which the Tuscaroras
have preserved,) to give the antiquarians and critics a question to
solve. Was the great massacre above made in the circumstance of the
tradition below, to wit: There was a settlement or Indian nation where
appeared several white men under the cloak of missionaries, (the reason I
use the term cloak is by the way it terminated), and preached to them the
gospel of Jesus Christ, and the great love evinced by the Father in
sending his only son to suffer and die on the cross to redeem the red
children of nature, as well as the pale faces, from their degradation,
shame and woe, to that of endless felicity beyond the shores of time. And
that they wished to erect a house of worship in their midst, in which
they might do their oblation to the Great Spirit, and that if they
embraced the gospel they would have annuities from the government, to all
of which the simple people of the forest made their assent. They
immediately went to work, dug for the cellar, and erected the building on
abutments of wood, and alleged that they would finish the cellar
afterwards. When the chapel was finished the Indians began to worship in
it. Now the time of the annuity arrived. The Indians were told to all
congregate and into the church, men, women and children, and all those
who refused to enter, should be omitted in the distribution of the
annuity. Consequently the building was entered by them and filled jammed
full. But there were two suspecting Indians who kept a proper distance
away, ambushed, to see the result. After it was thought all had entered,
there was a company of soldiers with guns and burning faggots, surrounded
the building and set it on fire on all sides, after they had fastened the
door. In this condition they all perished within the flames. I will not
make any attempt to give a sketch or in any way write in words the
horrors and heart-rendings cries and moans of the dying children of
nature in the flames, through a disguise of sheep's clothing, but will
leave it to the conjecture of the reader.
After the flames had subsided, these two Indians repaired to the doomed
spot, and found a heap of bones hob-nob, and they observed that some of
the skulls and bones of the different parts of the body were fractured
and broke open, supposed to have been done by, the falling timbers of the
burning house. It is said, "in one skull, two flint arrow-heads were
found." How easy for the artifice of the white men that accomplished the
massacre in the manner they did, to have sunk these two flint arrows into
one of those skulls, to leave the conjecture in after times to have been
done by an Indian war.
Mr. C. P. Turner, with an honorable age of 72 years, in 1878. told me
that he visited the deposit of these bones, the next day after they were
uncovered, saw the skull with the two flint arrows in it, and saw the
great deposit of bones in this mound, and also said the pile was in hap-
hazard, and not "in regular layers," as stated above. He also saw bones
which indicated being those of a child about 20 inches in height.
The Tuscaroras who preserve this tradition are located in the vicinity in
which this mound of bones were found. All historians are very cautious to
leave out or omit from the pages of their history, any circumstance in
the nature of the above tradition.