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Speech of Indians of Onenhoghkwage



Onenhoghkwage, October 22, 1776.

BROTHERS, THE CAPTAIN AND OTHER OFFICERS OF THE COMPANY OF RANGERS AT OTSEGO: We have been several times astonished, hearing your intentions. We understand your business is to range the woods in pursuit of Indians that are painted, or have feathers in their caps, and intend to fire on them wherever you find them. Our people are just going out to hunt, as usual, in the woods where you pass along. Hunting is their sole intention, and they go out with no other design than in the pursuit of the necessaries of life. We have no bad design; neither are there any hereabouts that are ill-disposed that we know of: therefore we hope you will quiet your minds, and suffer no fears about us to trouble you, nor trouble yourselves about our customs of painting or wearing feathers on our heads, for that is no sign of bad intentions; and our young men have always practised it, thinking it no harm or breach of friendship with our brothers.

We should not have written, if we had heard it only as flying report; but we have been told four or five times by William Johnston and Glasford, that you determine to fire on any you find in the woods painted. Every time any of us go to Tyonadello, they repeat the story, and charge us not to paint. Therefore what must we think? Must we not conclude that it is dangerous for us to improve our old hunting-grounds? We had such news concerning the inhabitants of Cherry Valley last summer, and our head men sent to them to know the reason of it. They assured us the report was false. We hope it will appear to be so now. We hope you will inform us speedily if you have no design against us, and endeavour to prevent such reports being spread amongst us, which you may be sure will make trouble. We know no reason why we should stay from our hunting, or leave off painting according to our custom.

From the


I shall speak a word now, brothers. I have observed their conduct, and don' t discover any bad design in them; wherefore I was troubled in my mind when the speech of one of your company was interpreted to me by William Johnston at Tyonadello. I could not receive it as a falsehood from him, and I can' t expect they will leave off painting for your threats; for I have, for many years past, entreated them, from time to time, on the Sabbath, to break off from that custom, but they are so in love with it, that they will not hearken. Therefore, I entreat that you would not trouble yourselves about the customs of our people, but take care of those among yourselves which you know to be dangerous. I hope you will find out means whereby to preserve peace and unity between us and you, and also among yourselves.

These from your brother, ISAAC.

Interpreted by AARON CROSBY, Miss' ry.

To the Officers of the Rangers, Otsego.