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Reply of the Indians


Albany, Thursday, August 31, 1775.

At a treaty continued with the Indians of the Six Nations, present: Colonel Francis, Colonel Wolcott, Mr˙ Douw, Commissioners; Mr˙ Duane, of New-York.


The Indians being informed that the Commissioners were ready to hear them, Abraham, a Mohawk Sachem, spoke as follows:

"Brothers, great men deputed by the Twelve United Colonies, attend:

" We are this day called to meet you in council, in order to reply to what you have said to us. We hope we need not recapitulate the whole of your discourse; we shall only touch upon each head.

"At our last conference in this house, we promised to return you our answer the day but one following. We did not do it, and we mean to make you an apology; we hope you have taken no offence. We were not prepared by that time, and that was the reason.

"Brothers: You informed us that there was a great council of sixty-five members convened at Philadelphia, and that you were appointed by them to deliver a talk to the Six Nations. It seems you, our brothers, having a desire to rekindle a council fire, took to your assistance the descendants of Queder, and have kindled up a council fire that shall never be extinguished. To which the Six Nations reply: This you have done by order of the Great Council at Philadelphia. We are glad to hear the news. It rejoices our hearts, and it gives exceeding joy through all the Six Nations.

"Brothers: As you desired your belts might not be returned, but be deposited at our central council house, we shall only make use of them to refresh our memories, and speak upon them as we go on with our answer.

"Brothers: We shall not recite every particular, as we before mentioned. You observed that when these commotions first began, a council of sixty-five members convened together at Philadelphia; and you put us in mind of what Cannassateego formerly said at Lancaster, respecting the necessity of a union among you. An old sachem, a brother of Cannassateego' s, is here present, and remembers the words of his brother. You illustrated the necessity and use of an union by one and twelve arrows. You said your grandfathers had inculcated this doctrine into their children. You said, that as the tree of peace was formerly planted at this place, you desired that the Six Nations might come down, and sit under it, and water its roots, till the branches should flourish and reach to heaven. This the Six Nations say shall be done.

"Brothers: We need only remind you of a few of the things you said to us, as you have them all written down. You informed us, that by an ancient covenant with the King of England, you were to enjoy the same privileges with the people on the other side of the great water. That for a long time you did enjoy these privileges, by which means you and your brethren over the water both became a great people. That lately, by advice of evil counsellors, you were much oppressed, and had heavier packs put upon you than you could bear. That you had frequently applied to be eased of your burden, but could obtain no redress. That finding this the case, you had thrown off your packs. The Six Nations thank you for acquainting them with your grievances and methods taken to obtain redress. You likewise informed them of what resolutions you had formed in consequence of these matters.

"Brothers: After stating your grievances, and telling us you had not been able to obtain redress, you desired us to take no part, but to bury the hatchet; you told us it was a family quarrel; therefore, said you, Indians, sit still, mind nothing but peace. Our great man, Colonel Johnson, did the same thing at Oswego; he desired us to sit still likewise; you likewise desired, that if application should be made to us by any of the King' s officers, we would not join them.

"Now, therefore, attend, and apply your ears closely. We have fully considered this matter. The resolutions of the Six Nations are not to be broken or altered; when they resolve, the matter is fixed. This, then, is the determination of the Six Nations: Not to take any part, but, as it is a family affair, to sit still and see you fight it out; we beg you will receive this as infallible, it being our full resolution; for we bear as much affection for the King of England' s subjects, upon the other side of the water, as we do for you, born upon this island. One thing more we request; which is, that you represent this in a true light to the Delegates from all the Colonies, and not vary; and that you observe the same regard for truth when you write to the King about


these matters. For we have ears and shall hear if you represent any thing in a wrong point of light; we likewise desire you would inform our brothers at Boston of our determinations.

"Brothers: It is a long time since we came to this resolution; it is the result of mature deliberation. It was our declaration to Colonel Johnson. We told him we should take no part in the quarrel, and hoped neither side would desire it. Whoever applies first we shall, think in the wrong. The resolutions of the Six Nations are not to be shaken; of the truth of this you have a late instance. You know what the Shawanese have lately been engaged in; they applied to us for assistance, but we refused them. Our love for you has induced us not to meddle; if we loved you less, we should have been less resolute.

"Brothers: You likewise informed us, that when you perceived this island began to tremble, and a black cloud to arise from beyond the great water, you kindled up a large fire at Philadelphia — a fire which shone bright and clear to your remotest settlements. That you sat around that fire, deliberating what measures to pursue for the common good. That while sitting around it, you recollected an ancient covenant made between your fathers and ours, when they first crossed the great water and settled here; which covenant they at first likened to a chain of iron, but when they considered that iron would rust, they made a silver chain, which they were always to rub and keep bright and clear of spots. This they made so strong that an evil spirit could not break it.

"This friendship chain you have now renewed, this covenant is to continue to future generations. We are glad you have thought proper to renew this covenant, and the whole Six Nations now thank you.

"This covenant belt you desire us to hang up at our central council house, that future generations may call to mind the covenant now made between us. And you may depend we shall send and inform all our neighbouring council fires of the matters now transacted.

"We close, with the whole Six Nations repeating their thanks that you have renewed the covenant made between their forefathers and yours.

"Brothers, attend: As you had renewed the ancient covenant, you thought proper to open the path, and have a free communication with this place. As the fire had been for some time put out, the path had got stopped up. You removed all obstructions out of the great roads and paths, all stone and briers, so that if any of us choose to travel the road, we should neither meet; with any obstructions nor hurt ourselves. Brothers, we thank you for opening the roads.

"You likewise informed us that you were determined to drive away, destroy, and kill all who appeared in arms against the peace of the Twelve United Colonies.

"Brothers, attend: We beg of you to take care what you do. You have just now made a good path; do not so soon defile it with blood. There are many around us at Caughnawaga, who are friends to the King; our path of peace reaches quite there. We beg all that distance may not be defiled with blood. As for your quarrels to the eastward, along the sea-coast, do as you please; but it would hurt us to see those brought up in our bosoms ill used. In particular, we would mention the son of Sir William Johnson. He was bom among us, and is of Dutch extraction by his mother; he minds his own affairs, and does not intermeddle in publick disputes.

"We would likewise mention our father the Minister who resides among the Mohawks, and was sent them by the King. He does not meddle in civil affairs, but instructs them in the way to heaven. He absolutely refuses to attend to any political matters, and says they do not belong to him. They beg he may continue in peace among them. The Mohawks are frequently alarmed with reports that their Minister is to be torn away from them. It would occasion great disturbance, was he to be taken away. The King sent him to them, and they would Took upon it as taking away one of their own body. Therefore, they again request that he may continue to live in peace among them.

"Brothers: After having informed us of the situation of affairs, and having finished your business, you advise us to shut our ears against false reports, and that we should not attend to flying stories, but to what wise and good men


should say. For which reason, you had kindled up a council fire at this place, that we might always converse together, and know the truth of things.

"Brothers: The Six Nations say, let it be so; it shall be as you desire. They thank you for this advice, and desire you would use the same precautions; that you would shut your ears to flying reports, but keep your eye upon the chief council, such as you see now convened. The Six Nations desire you would always inform them fully of what respects them. We have for this purpose opened our ears, and purified our minds, that we may always hear and receive what you have to say with good and clear minds. And whenever we receive any important intelligence, we shall always bring it to this council fire.

"Brothers: You delivered us this pipe. On one side the tree of peace, on the other a council fire; we Indians sitting on one side of the fire, and the representatives of the Twelve United Colonies upon the other. You have desired that this pipe may be left at our central council house, and that the tree of peace may be planted, and that the branches may be so high as to be visible to our allies.

"Brothers: We thank you, and shall take care to deposite this where you desire; and when we meet to deliberate upon business, shall always use this our council pipe.

"Brothers, attend: In the course of your speech you observed that we of the Six Nations were a wise people, and saw a great way before us; and you asked us, if you upon this island were conquered, what would become of the Indians. You say you are uncertain of holding your present possessions, and that you do not know who may enjoy the product of your labour. Now, therefore, brothers, attend; you, particularly, our brothers of Albany; we address ourselves particularly to you. You, our brothers of Albany, have taken two pieces of land from us, without any reward, not so much as a single pipe. We therefore desire you will restore them, and put us into peaceable possession again. If you refuse to do this, we shall look upon the prospect to be bad; for if you conquer you will take us by the arm and pull us all off.

"Now, therefore, as the Twelve United Colonies have renewed their covenant of peace, we beg that there may be no obstruction upon your parts, but that you would restore our land to us, for which, as we said before, you never paid us even a single pipe.

"Brothers: You have now finished your business, and we have made short replies. You have kindled up a council fire of peace, and have planted a tree of peace according to ancient custom. We find that you have omitted one thing, which is this: According to our ancient custom, whenever a council fire was kindled up, and a tree of peace was planted, there was some person appointed to watch it. Now, as there is no person appointed to watch this tree, we of the Six Nations take upon us to appoint one. Let it be the descendant of our ancient friend Queder. He has to consider whether he will take the charge of it. He that watches this council fire is to be provided with a wing, that he may brush off all insects that come near it, and keep it clean. That is the custom at our central council house; we have one appointed for that purpose.

"Brothers: As you have this day renewed the ancient covenant of friendship, and have again brightened the ancient chain, renew likewise another ancient custom respecting the regulation of trade. Let us have a trade at this place, and likewise at Schenectady, as it was in former times, when we had hold of the old covenant. For then, brothers, if our people came down with only a few musquash skins, they went home with glad hearts.

"Brothers: Let it be so again; let the Twelve United Colonies take this into consideration." — (A belt of ten rows of wampum.)

Tiahogwando, an Onondaga Sachem, then spake:

"Brothers: This is all the Six Nations have to say at present; they would just mention one thing more before they break up. The Six Nations look upon this as a very good time to speak their minds, as here are the representatives of the Twelve Colonies.

"The dispute between the people of New-England and Penn seems to us likely to become a serious affair, and therefore the Six Nations take upon themselves to speak their minds freely, as they address the inhabitants of the whole Continent. Many years ago, at a council held in Pennsylvania,


when Annassateego, that has been before mentioned, was present, Penn desired the Six Nations would sell him that piece of land known by the name of Scanandanani or Susquehannah. The Indians of the Six Nations refused to sell it, saying, the great God would not permit them. Therefore they made him a present of that land known by the name of Scanandanani. Penn received it, and made them valuable presents. After this, Colonel Lydius, a gentleman employed by the people of Boston, treated with some of the Indians, to get that land from them, but he never kindled up a council fire upon the occasion. He spoke to them whenever he met them, never with more than ten. From those he pretended to make a purchase of that tract. Governour Penn also, at the great treaty at Fort Stanwix, in the year 1768, desired that this land might be his, and distributed among the Six Nations, Shawanese, and Caughnawagas, ten thousand dollars, for which they gave him a writing. This is an affair with which all the Six Nations are acquainted, and any one would lie who said they knew nothing about it.

"We have taken an opportunity to speak of this matter now, as the minds of the whole Continent are now here."