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Albany Committee met the Indians

Albany Committee Resolution


Sec' y to Commissioners for Northern Dep' t.

Albany Committee Chamber, September 2, 1775.

"Resolved, That an invitation be immediately sent to the Commissioners of Indian Affairs, desiring their attendance at the Presbyterian Meeting-House this morning, at eleven o' clock, as this Board will then answer the Speech of the Indians."

Albany Committee' s Answer to the Speech of the Indians

The Committee, at the time appointed, repaired to the Meeting-House, and there delivered, in the presence and with the consent and approbation of the Commissioners, the following Answer:

"Brothers of the SIX NATIONS: We beg you will acquaint us when you are complete.

"Brothers: We suppose it will not be insisted upon to repeat the whole of your speech, as we conceive it unnecessary, and therefore shall only take notice of the material parts.

"Brothers: You said that you were glad to see us at this place on the 25th August, in consequence of our invitation, and that you were glad to see some sparks of the old council fire yet remained, and that you rejoiced even to excess to find it so.

"Brothers: We thank you for your kind congratulations and salutations at meeting us here, and rejoice in the opportunity you have given us at this time of meeting one another in friendship and peace, to talk of old times and renew our ancient treaty.

"Brothers: We are happy to find that you so readily accepted our request to come and see us, and that you have had so much patience and behaved so orderly during your short stay among us.

"Brothers: At the conference of our Deputies with you at the German Flats, they showed you some old belts of wampum which you expressed a desire to see. Here are those belts, and we hope even time will not wear them out. This is the belt given by the Oneida Nation, and is the old covenant between the whole Oneida Nation and Gorah Queder. This is the belt that was given by the Indian called Kayiuguaraghtoh, in behalf of the Six Nations.

"Brothers, attend: In your speech you further observed that you had long since taken a resolution to take no active part in the present contest for liberty. We do not offer to censure you for your conduct, but admire your wisdom, praise your pacifick disposition, and hope you will have fortitude to maintain and persevere in it. — (A belt.)

"Brothers: You further said that the road to the westward you heard by the bird was to be stopped up. This matter is beyond our limits. The Commissioners of the Twelve United Colonies having spoken to you at large about the roads, that they shall be left open; we entirely agree with them in this, and therefore shall add nothing on this point, and return the belt.

"Brothers: You said, further, and delivered us this belt, that you were anxious about and concerned for your Minister, Mr˙ Kirkland, and asked our advice about his remaining among you, who we do not see that you should be deprived of without your consent, any more than the Mohawk Tribe should be deprived of their Missionary. We highly approve of your concern for the Ministers of the gospel, and your attachment for the pure precepts and doctrine of Christianity. But if your Minister is removed, we should fear the consequence, it would certainly give occasion of jealousy to your brethren, the white people, that


you Indians were not well disposed. Therefore it is our ardent wish that they may all remain among you, as your teachers and instructors in virtue, piety, and true religion; and we hope you may benefit and profit by their instruction. — (A belt.)

"Brothers: Before any Commissioners were appointed by the Twelve United Colonies, from the disagreeable condition of our country and the ancient friendship and alliance subsisting between us, commenced in the days of your ancestors and our forefathers, we took upon us, as the representatives of the people of the City and County of Albany, to give you an invitation to pay us a friendly visit, that we might have an opportunity of seeing you here, at the place where the first fire was kindled, that we might rake up the old ashes, and not suffer it to extinguish, but renew the old covenant chain, and make it shine with brighter lustre.

"Brothers: We are happy to find from your speech that you still retain that affection for us which a well-founded friendship will naturally produce, and which we hope, from our conduct towards you, is not unmerited; and we rejoice to find that you feel for our distresses, and lament the unnatural quarrel of brethren, which you express so warmly by a desire of an amicable settlement.

"Brothers: Time will not permit us at present to mention to you how and on what occasion the first covenant was made between your and our forefathers. They have never deserted you, but kept their covenants and agreements with you; nor do we mean to act otherwise on our part.

"Brothers: This covenant, afterwards improved upon, was confirmed between you and us in the year 1665, one year after this Country went over to the Crown of England. Since this you have, from time to time, admitted into your chain the Tuscaroras, and most, if not all, the Twelve United Colonies.

"Brothers: There are five gentlemen, Commissioners, appointed by the Twelve United Colonies, at the Grand Council at Philadelphia; the management of the publick business in the Indian Department now belongs to them. These gentlemen have informed you of the nature of the dispute between Great Britain and this Country, and testified their desire of keeping up the council fire between us.

"Brothers: We know it is customary, at the renewal of any covenants between us, that a present should follow. We now make it known to you that the goods you will receive of the Commissioners of the Twelve United Colonies are partly ours. We pay our proportionable part towards them; so that what you receive from them is from us also. We are the same; there is no distinction.

"Brothers: If our memory does not fail, we think that when we invited two or three of each of our brethren, the Six Nations, to come down here, we also desired that you would acquaint us what had passed in the Congress held at Oswego, which as yet we know nothing of. You say, indeed, that you are glad we are peaceably inclined, as well as Colonel Johnson; but you have told us nothing else that was transacted there, which we had expected, and do wish that our brothers conceal nothing from us, especially as you called God to witness for the truth of what you said.

"Brothers of the SIX NATIONS, and you the MOHAWKS in particular; We apprehend the bird Tskleleli has been busy again; he seems to be a mischievous bird, and ought not to be nourished or entertained. In your answers to the Commissioners you addressed yourselves to the inhabitants of Albany, complaining that they had taken from you two pieces of land, without giving the value of a pipe of tobacco for them, and that you desired they would restore you to the peaceable possession of them; and that the Commissioners would look into this matter, and afford you relief. The land you speak of we suppose to be Ticonderoga.

"Brothers: This is a matter foreign to the business we met upon, and we are not authorized or qualified to enter upon the subject; it is a business that belongs to the Corporation of Albany; yet, as we may be considered the representatives of the people at large, our entire silence may be construed into guilt of the heavy charge fixed upon us. For your satisfaction, as well as of the audience, we will


endeavour to show that the accusation is groundless, by a few remarks. The lands alluded to are granted by the Charter of Albany; we never heard that any of your nation have been dispossessed or driven off those lands, but you hitherto have and still enjoy those lands, without the least interruption.

"Brothers: As we observed before, the matter cannot properly come before us, but belongs to another body, and therefore the application to us is improper. However, give us leave to say, that instead of complaining, we think the Mohawks, if they considered their own interest and that of their posterity, and would be candid, must acknowledge the truth of the fact, and rejoice at this day that they have had such faithful guardians and trustees; for if it had not been so, who would have enjoyed these lands now? There have been complaints concerning this matter before, and inquiries into it before proper tribunals; and for your information, and that of the curious, we refer to the proceedings of the House of Assembly of this Colony, and also to the minutes taken on a conference between the Corporation of this City and yourselves, at which Sir William Johnson was present; and therefore return you the belt."

Answer of the Indians

To which they returned the following Answer, by Abraham, Chief of the Mohawks, speaker:

"Brothers of ALBANY: We return you thanks for your speech, and that you have informed us that the Twelve United Colonies, by their Commissioners, have opened all the roads; and we now take for granted that the communication at Fort Stanwix is not to be shut up, and that the New-England people never will do it. This, brethren, has been the occasion of some anxiety in the minds of the Six Nations.

"Brothers of the SIX NATIONS, attend; you, also, the People of ALBANY; and you, the Twelve United Colonies, by your Commissioners:

"Last spring Colonel Johnson informed us that the New-England people were near him, to take him prisoner; upon which, we, like people intoxicated, took up our guns and ran to assist him, as he was our Superintendent. But, brethren, as it happened in the manner beforementioned, we hope you will look upon it in that light. We, the Six Nations, have now made and renewed our ancient covenants. The proceedings just now mentioned have brought me down. I have made a proper acknowledgment to the Six Nations, and now do the same to you; and I hope you will raise me up again. The news I was just speaking of came not from a bird, but from your own people.

"Brothers of ALBANY, further attend: I shall only make a short reply to your speech relating to the lands; many agreeable things are therein. You further say, that you never heard that any of us were drove off those lands. There is one thing which was not so agreeable; it is the Tskleleli. You, brothers, know how that matter is; and in case I was to answer that part of your speech, it might, perhaps, draw us into an argument; and as you are not, as you say, the proper body to which we ought to have applied, and as you have referred us to former proceedings, we shall close.

"Brothers of ALBANY: We, the Six Nations, now tell you that it is at your pleasure to call on us, and we will inform you of what passed in the Congress at Oswego."

Reply of the Committee

Abraham Yates, Jun˙, Chairman of the Committee, replied:

"Brothers of the SIX NATIONS: We are now ready to hear it, and should be glad you would inform us."

Continuation of the Indians

Abraham, the Mohawk Chief, then proceeded:

"Brothers of ALBANY: You sent for us to inform you of what passed at Oswego, but you have not, since we have been down, desired it; we have always been ready; and as you have not asked us, we will now tell you, and think it our duty, as we look upon it that God will punish us, if we conceal any thing from you.

"Brothers: The transactions of that treaty were very publick; the Shawanese were there, and some from Detroit. Mr˙ Johnson told us that the fire kindled there was a fire of peace; that all the white people were the King' s subjects; and that it seemed they were intoxicated. Mr˙


Johnson also told us, that the white people were all got drunk, and that God' s judgment hung over them; but did not know on which side it would fall. Mr˙ Johnson further told us that the council fire was kindled, on account of the present dispute, and desired us not to interfere, as we were brothers, and begged of us to sit still and maintain peace; this is what Colonel Johnson told us at that council fire. He also said he had his eye on Mr˙ Kirkland; that he was gone to Philadelphia, and along the sea-coast; that he was become a great soldier and a leader. Is this a Minister? says he; do you think your Minister minds your soul? No. By the time he comes to Philadelphia he will be a great warriour, and when he returns he will be the Chief of all the Five Nations.

"Brothers: There were present five people of Detroit, five from Caughnawaga, and two of the Shawanese. Colonel Johnson told them that by the time he returned from Canada they should have all their men there, and he would then kindle a council fire; and desired them also not to take any part in this dispute, as it was a quarrel between brothers. Mr˙ Johnson also told them that this council fire was kindled upon peace; and that it seemed, by reason of the white people' s intoxication, that God' s judgment hung over them. He also told us that he was going to the Governour of Canada, who was of a different opinion from him, but would talk with him; and further said that he would tell the Caughnawaga Indians the same he told us; and for that purpose desired that two of each nation might go along and hear it. He likewise desired us to consider which way we would have our trade — whether up this river, or from Canada. He at the same time assured us that we should not suffer for want of goods, as we were not concerned nor had any band in the present dispute. He also mentioned something about the council fires — he said there are two fires which you will keep your eyes upon; and if they call you down to Albany, don' t you go; for they will deceive you, and tell you a great many fine stories. We are very glad that your language and Colonel Johnson' s so well agree."