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Meeting of the Commissioners and Oneida Chiefs



The Committee accordingly immediately repaired to Cartwright' s, when the Commissioners informed them that the Indians said they came down here in consequence of an invitation from this Committee, and that they chose to speak with the Committee before they talked with the Commissioners. The Committee told the Commissioners that this was a surprise to them, as they had not received the least intimation of such their design, before that juncture, either from the Indians or any other person or persons whatsoever; however, not to retard the publick business, and after consultation with the Commissioners, (who desired the Committee to gratify the Indians and the representatives of Queder,) this Committee resolved imrnediately to hear what the Indians had to say; and that it might be the more publick, the Committee gave them notice that they would be ready instantly, and would meet them in Youker' s Street, back of the Dutch Church; appointed a Committee to inform the Commissioners of this, requesting their presence at the meeting, and sent the bell-man round the city, inviting the inhabitants that thought proper to attend; and also a Committee, viz: Walter Livingston, Jeremiah Van Rensselaer, and Samuel Stringer, to inquire of the Commissioners whether, in case the Indians' talk with the Committee was of such a nature as to require an answer, they would supply them with proper presents for the Indians, The Committee repoted that the Commissioners answered, that they must first see how the Indians behaved in their conference and speeches. And then the following speech or answer to the invitation was delivered by the lndians, in the presence of the Commissioners and many of the inhabitants of the City.

Speech of Senghnagenrat, an Oneida Chief

Senghnagenrat, one of the Oneida chiefs, in behalf of the Six Nations, speaker:

"Brothers of ALBANY: We beg you will acquaint us when your body is complete.

"Brothers of ALBANY: The day is now come that we have arrived in consequence of your invitation. When you saw four of the Oneida Nation, you said you was glad to see them at your council chamber. We are now here in consequence thereof. You told us you would be glad to see us again, that you rejoiced to see them, and that you would open the ashes and rekindle the old council fire at Albany. We are glad to see that some sparks of that old council fire yet remain. We rejoice even to excess to find it so.

"Brothers, attend: I have one addition to make to what passed between four of the Oneida Nation and you, when last at your council chamber. When you found, from our conference with your brothers at the German Flats, that our sentiments of publick affairs so much coincided with


yours, you further told us that all the Governments of America, on the sea-coasts, were anxious to know whether we were disposed to peace; and that you, the Twelve United Colonies, were resolved to support your civil constitution and liberties, and you rejoiced to find that we all so firmly resolved to maintain peace.

"Brothers of ALBANY: You further observed, in the intercourse you had with four of the Oneida Nation, that you greatly rejoiced at the conference you had at the German Flats. You further said that you were surprised about a letter Guy Johnson had received from the chief warriour, General Gage, about removing the ministers from among us; that you rejoiced that the Indians were instructed in the Christian religion, and that the ministers that were among us might continue.

"Brothers of ALBANY, attend: We have something further yet to relate of your speech. You desired, at the intercourse you had with the four messengers, that we should acquaint the Six Nations with your speech, and that thereafter three or four of each nation should come down. You further said that you would have been glad to have attended at the council fire at Guy Johnson' s, to hear what he should say to the Indians, and see if his sentiments and yours should coincide; but you then soon heard that he had removed from there to Fort Stanwix, from there to Oswego, that you despaired of hearing any thing from him, and therefore desired us that we would let you know what was done at that fire.

"Brothers, attend: You made another proposal at the intercourse you had with four of our nation, which was this: that you had heard that there was to be a council of the whole of our nation at the German Flats. You desired our people that they would let you know what passed between us and them. Our Delegates, in our names, then told you that it would be more agreeable that two or more of your members should attend, and hear themselves what passed there. This, brethren, is the substance of what passed between you and the four of the Oneida Nation.

"Brothers of ALBANY, attend: We are now, upon this day, going through with what passed between some of your members and us, when the conference ended at the Germam Flats. You said, brothers, let us both endeavour to keep peace, that we may continue to enjoy its blessings. We desire not that you should trouble yourselves in the least with these disputes between us and those over the great waters; only exert yourselves in maintaining the covenant that was made between your and our forefathers at this place of our council fire. Your Delegates told us at the German Flats, that although you should be drove back from the sea-coasts by your enemies, yet you would not ask our aid.

"Brothers of ALBANY, further attend: Two things more you delivered at the German Flats; the first was this: that we, the Oneida Nation, should give a kind ear to your speech. You there produced two ancient belts of wampum, one of twenty rows, which was the old covenant between the whole, Oneida Nation and Queder Gorah; another that was given by the Six Nations, by the the Indian called Kayinguaraghtoh, of the Seneca Nation, You also said that these belts should again be produced, for the inspection of the whole Six Nations, at the intended council fire to be rekindled at Albany.

"Brothers of ALBANY: We have now finished the principal subjects that passed between you and us; the Oneida Nation, and we, all of us, the Six Nations, are here now present to hear what has passed, and to prevent any false reports that may be propagated by news-carriers.

"Brothers of ALBANY, now attend: You, also, the Commissioners, who are here present, lend your ears, and hear our voices:

"You, our brothers of Albany, have desired the sentiments of the Six Nations. We, the Six Nations, and our allies, which extend to Detroit, Ohio, and Caughnawaga, upon our first hearing the bad news that circulated along the eastern shore of this island, assembled and resolved upon a union amongst us Indians, and to maintain peace; and we rejoice that nothing more has been asked of us. There is nothing different in our minds than what we have now told. We shan' t take notice of any hostile propositions that may be made to us, for we bear an equal proportion of love to you, and the others over the great waters, in the


present dispute; and we shall remain at peace and smoke our pipes, and the Six Nations will always keep the path open; and we call God to witness to the truth of what we now say, and it proceeds from our hearts. — (A belt of eight rows.)

"Brothers of ALBANY now attend, and incline your ears to what we have now to say:

"We, the Six Nations, have heard the voice of a bird called Tskleleli, a news-carrier, that came among us. It has told us that the path at the western communication, by Fort Stanwix, would be shut up either by the one party or the other. Brothers, let it not be, and let the communication be open, for passing and repassing, and let not our country be stained with blood; and be always compassionate to the old women, and let the young ones grow up and enjoy the blessings of peace. Brothers, let not that passage be shut up by you, but confine yourselves to the dispute to the eastward, for this western communication lies near our council fire, and the consequences might be fatal. Indeed, brothers, your language and Colonel Guy Johnson' s coincides, in some things, with one another, and the party that applies to us to shut up that passage we will look upon as deceivers and transgressors; and we despise a double dealer from our hearts, and whom we look upon God Almighty will hereafter punish as such. And we hope that when you give your answer, you will speak from the integrity of your hearts, as we now have done. — (A belt of fifteen rows.)

"Brothers of ALBANY, attend: The Five Nations just now said they would open their minds in full to you; they would tell you every thing they brought with them. This belt respects the letter Guy Johnson received from Gen˙ Gage, concerning the removal of the ministers from among us. Our father, the minister who stands here, we love; we love him exceedingly. Perhaps, in a little time, he may be wrested from us, carried off like a prisoner. Our hearts tremble for him; we tremble greatly. He has been threatened, and should he be taken, it might overthrow the whole Five Nations. Our brothers, the white people, would perhaps say that the Oneida Nation had delivered up their minister, and that the Six Nations did not regard their missionaries. But truly we regard our father the minister, and missionaries; therefore we propose to your consideration whether it be not wise that the missionaries retire for a little while, particularly our father the minister, Mr˙ Kirkland, should reside a short space with his family, as we hope this quarrel cannot subsist long, because you are brothers, both of one nation and blood, and we hope it will soon be settled; and when a reconciliation takes place, let our missionaries immediately return to us. This, however, we refer to your consideration, and leave at your pleasure. Now, brethren, we have unburdened our minds and opened our bosoms, and delivered what we had to say."

Response of the Commissioners and Albany Committee

To which, at the request and by the approbation of the Commissioners, we made the following reply:

"Brothers of the SIX NATIONS: We thank you for your speech. The Commissioners appointed by the Twelve United Colonies, and with our consent, will first transact business with you; after they have done, we will answer your speech."

Senghnagenrat' s Speech

At a treaty begun and held with the Indians of the Six United Nations at the City of Albany, on Friday, the 25th day of August, 1775, present: General Philip Schuyler, Colonel Oliver Wolcott, Col˙ Turbutt Francis, Volkert P˙ Douw, Esq˙, Commissioners; the Chairman and Committee, and principal inhabitants of the City of Albany.

Senghnagenrat, an Oneida Sachem, opened the treaty with the following speech:

"Brothers: We waited upon you yesterday evening, and acquainted you that we should first speak to our brothers the Committee of Albany; we have done so, and have opened our whole minds to them.

"Brothers: When we met two of your body at the German Flats, they presented these strings to us, and invited us to come down to Albany and kindle up a great council fire of peace, under the auspices of the Twelve United Colonies. Now, us these strings have never been changed, we return them to you again, and desire that the great council fire of peace may be kindled up.


Brothers: By this belt you desired us to shut our ears and fortify our minds against any evil reports that we might hear on our way down, and to pay no regard to what any liars and ill-disposed persons might say to us, as they would only mean to sow dissension between us and our brothers of the Twelve United Colonies. Brothers, our minds are proof against the attempts of such malicious and wicked persons.

"Now, brothers, let us give you advice on our parts. There are liars and mischief-makers among the Indians, as well as amongst the white people; therefore pay no regard to this or that, that any single Indian may say, but attend to what you hear from the mouth of the Great Council, for that will be the truth and the sense of all the Six United Nations."

Commissioners' Address

The Commissioners then addressed them in the following manner:

"Brothers, Sachems, and Warriours, of the SIX NATIONS:

"We return thanks to the great God, that he has permitted us to meet together this day in love, peace, and friendship; in token of which we will now sit down and smoke the pipe of peace together."

Here the great pipe was lighted up, and went round; after which, the Commissioners proceeded:

"Brothers, &c˙: We, the Deputies appointed by and in the name of the Twelve United Colonies, assisted by the descendants of your ancient friend Queder, and your Albany brethren, embrace this opportunity to rekindle the ancient council fire, which formerly burnt as bright as the sun, in this place, and to heap on it so much fuel that it may never be extinguished; and also to renew the ancient covenant chain with you, which you know has always been kept bright and clean, without any stain or rust, and which, by this belt, we now strengthen, that forever hereafter you and we may have but one heart, one head, one eye, and one hand. — (A belt.)

"Brethren: Our business with you here, besides rekindling the ancient council fire, and renewing the covenant and brightening up every link of the chain, is in the first place to inform you of the advice that was given about thirty years, ago by your wise fore fathers, in a great Council which they held at Lancaster, in Pennsylvania, when Cannassateego spoke to us, the white people, in these very words: ‘Brethren,: We, the Six Nations, heartily recommend union and a good agreement between you, our brethren; never disagree, but preserve a strict friendship for one another, and thereby you, as well as we, will become the stronger. Our wise forefathers established union and amity between the Five Nations; this has made us formidable; this has given us great weight and authority with our neighbouring Nations. We are a powerful confederacy; and if you observe the same methods our wise forefathers have taken, you will, acquire fresh strength and power. Therefore, whatever befalls you, never fallout with one another.’ These were the words of Cannassateego.

"Brothers: Our forefathers rejoiced to hear Cannassateego speak these words. They sunk deep into their hearts. The advice was good; it was kind. They said to one another, The Six Nations are a wise people; let us hearken to their counsel, and teach our children to follow it. Our old men have done so. They have frequently taken a single arrow, and said, Children, see how easy it is broken. Then they have tied twelve together with strong cords, and our strongest men could not break them. ‘See,’ said they, ‘this is what the Six Nations mean. Divided, a single man may destroy you; united, you are a match for the whole world.’

"We thank the great God that we are all united; that we have a strong confederacy, composed of twelve Provinces — New-Hampshire, &c.

"These Provinces have lighted a great council fire at Philadelphia, and have sent sixty-five Counsellors to speak and act in the name of the whole, and to consult for the common good of the people, and of you, our brethren of the Six Nations, and your allies; and the talk of this great council we shall deliver to you to-morrow." — (A belt.)