Southern District of New-York, ss.
LS. BE IT REMEMBERED, That on the 27th day November A. D. 1824, in the 49th year of the Independence of the United States of America, William Borradaile, of the said District, hath deposited in this office the title of a Book the right whereof he claims as Proprietor, in the words following, to wit:
"Sketches of the History, Manners, and Customs, of the North American Indians, with a plan for their melioration. By James Buchanan, Esq. his Britannic Majesty's Consul for the State of New-York. In two volumes."
In conformity to the Act of Congress of the United States, entitled "An Act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of Maps, Charts, and Books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the time therein mentioned." And also to an Act, entitled "An Act supplementary to an Act, entitled an Act for the encouragement of Learning, by securing the copies of Maps, Charts, and Books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned, and extending the benefits thereof to the arts of designing, engraving, and etching historical and other prints."
JAMES DILL, Clerk of the Southern District of New-York.
LIEUT.-GENERAL THE EARL OF DALHOUSIE, G. C. B.
GOVERNOR-GENERAL AND COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF ALL HIS
MAJESTY'S POSSESIONS IN NORTH AMERICA, &c. &c.
Well aware, my Lord, of the effects produced by splendid talents, great personal worth, and hereditary rank, in promoting any work of benevolence, I solicted and obtained permission to dedicate the following pages to your Excellency.
It is quite unnecessary to speak here of your Lordship's deeds; they are too recent, too illustrious, too intimately connected with the history and the glory of the British Empire.
Wishing your Excellency long to enjoy a reputation thus acquired and merited,
I have the honour to remain,
Most obedient, humble servant,
New-York, 1st May, 1821.
IN attempting to lay before the Public a sketch of the History of the Red Indians of North America, with a view to excite a general sympathy in behalf of an oppressed and suffering people, I am aware of the great importance of my undertaking, and sensibly feel my inability to stand forward as an advocate, in any degree equal to the task I have thus imposed on myself.
With but few exceptions, the American Indians have been abandoned by the Christian world, as a cruel, blood-thirsty, and treacherous race, incapable of civilization, and therefore, unworthy of that attention which the inhabitants of other barbarous climes have received from the zeal and devotion of many learned and pious members of society. — Thousands have raised their voices against the wrongs of our black brethren of Africa. From one end of Europe to the other, the humane have been aroused to a sense of their injuries, and are now actively engaged in the prosecution of every measure calculated to alleviate their sufferings; while but few have been stimulated to similar exertions in behalf of the Red American Indians, from whose native soil the wealth of a great portion of the civilized world has been derived. The African is submissive; his patient endurance of labour renders his servile and debased state important to us; he is therefore, preserved. The North American Indian, on the contrary, prefers banishment, and even death, to slavery; but his lands are serviceable to us, therefore his extinction seems to be desired. The one submits to the yoke, — we oppress and pity him: the other disdains to become the servant of man — and his whole race is devoted to gradual extermination; for such must be the inevitable consequence of all those measures which have been, and still are in operation against him, though their
viiiinfliction is marked by different shades of guilt. In a few ages, perhaps a few years, these sons of Edom will be so far removed from the reach or eye of any but those engaged in the work of destruction, that no trace will be left to posterity of the wrongs which have been perpetrated upon the Aborigines of the great American Continent.
I confess that I had no other idea of an American Indian, than that he was the most ferocious of human beings. Whenever he became named, his scalping-knife, tomahawk, warwhoop, and thirst of blood, were at once associated in my mind; and hence I was led to concur in the almost universal opinion, that he was totally incapable of being rendered subservient to the arts of civilized life. In the course of my travel through the United States and Upper Canada, I met with several Indians, whose external wretchedness induced me to make inquiries as to their present condition; and although many persons to whom I addressed myself appeared to be perfectly indifferent on the subject, and spoke of them in the most degrading terms, I was led to seek for farther information respecting their character, in the pursuit of which I have been engaged for three years.
Little did I imagine, that one of the most interesting subjects that can present itself to the human mind would open upon me; the full developement of which would require the united and extended labours of men of talent and research, the absolute devotion of their time and energies, to place before the world an impartial view of the Indians of North America, whose virtues, independence of mind, and nobleness of character, have procured from their oppressors, as a justification of those measures of severity which have bed practised toward them, the most foul and unjust representations. They have been gradually wasting away from the effects of cruelty and oppression, unheeded and unpitied, until their aggregate numbers, it is conjectured, has been reduced to less than two millions.
It has hitherto been the policy of those by whom the North American Indians have been most oppressed, to represent them as very contemptible in numbers; and although they have become nearly extinct on the borders, and in settled portions of the continent it may be fairly presumed that the more warlike and active tribes have removed into the interior, as they have been found in numerous bodies by parties engaged in all the late expeditions. A sufficient number, however, yet remains to excite our sympathy. The wrongs which have been inflicted upon their whole race, have furnished ample regions for the occupancy of civilized man. And does not our past neglect of their suffering and abandoned state, loudly call upon us to make reparation for the ills they have endured — to return to acts of justice, mercy, and kindness; and, though late, to recommend to the surviving Indians the religion we profess, by all those means which the gospel enjoins? In the earnest hope that many may be led to a serious contemplation of this great and glorious object — that many with the talents, energy, and benevolence of a Wilberforce, both in the United States and in Great Britain, may yet be found to interpose their power and energies in behalf of a race destitute of the use of letters — to vindicate their character, and to set forth some portion of their wrongs, I have been led to prosecute my inquiries respecting the North American Indians.
While engaged in these pursuits, I learnt that the Historical Society of Philadelphia, actuated by a laudable desire to preserve an account of the Aborigines, had requested the Rev. John Heckewelder, a Moravian Missionary, to furnish a detail of the information he had acquired during a residence of the greater portion of his life among the Indians of Pennsylvania and the adjoining states. That gentleman, although seventy-five years of age, readily engaged in the arduous undertaking, and his "Historical Account of the Indian Nations" has been published in the transactions of the Society, who have thus rendered an important service to science and to mankind; while the reverend
xauthor has left on record an unparalleled example of benevolence, sympathy, patience, and self-devotion. From the fulness of his work, I deemed the further prosecution of my labours unnecessary, lest my efforts might appear to many as a mere presumptuous display. I had therefore, abandoned all intention of placing my self before the public; but upon my arrival in London in the summer of 1820, having casually spoken of the interest I had taken in the present state of the North American Indians, it was suggested, that from my observations and researches, which extended to other tribes than those more particularly noticed by Mr. Heckewelder, together with extracts from such parts of his useful and interesting volume
Under this impression, I have consented to place my humble labours before the Public, disclaiming the slightest pretension to merit as an author, and having no view to pecuniary advantage from the publication: yet I can with confidence state, that with diligence and zeal I have availed myself of every opportunity of collecting information from the most authentic sources. Many curious statements have been rejected, though perhaps true; and the reader is earnestly entreated to keep in mind the fable of the Lion and the Panther, as he will thereby be induced to view with jealousy, reports which may be prejudical to the Indian character. Let him also remember, that they have no historians to record their wrongs, or plead their cause against their oppressors; — yet they believe, as I do, that the Great Spirit hears their sighs and regards their sufferings, and that He will appear to the oppressor and the oppressed as a God of Justice.
Many recent acts of barbarity which have been committed upon the Indians, I have deemed it prudent to omit in the present work; but those who read the speeches in Congress on the late war against the Seminole Indians, will find therein much to excite their sympathy. My object is not to awaken national feelings or prejudices, but to unite the efforts of all good men in behalf of these oppressed children of the wilderness; so that societies may be formed, to watch over their rights, and, by the powerful agency of the press, to restrain lawless power from farther acts of cruelty and injustice. — Happily this feeling has of late been extended in the United States; and the humane and just sentiments promulgated by His Excellency De Wilt Clinton, Governor of the State of New York, the unwearied zeal of Mr. Colden, the mayor, and the humane disposition of many persons of the highest respectability in the United States, lead me to avoid even the appearance of wishing to allow any sentiment to mingle in this work, which might attach to it an air of nationality. The kindness and civility which I have experienced in the United States, I have uniformly and shall ever be ready to acknowledge.
With this exposition of my motives, sources of information, and desires, I trust my feeble efforts will be supported by all classes of people; and, entreating a favourable feeling towards the execution and arrangement, I commit the cause of the American Indians to an enlightened and benevolent Public.
New York, 1st May, 1821.
Chapter I. Introductory.
My design in the following pages is rather to collect a series of facts and observations, bearing on the recent and present state and character of the North American Indians, than to furnish an account of their remote history. Whether they are or are not the Aborigines; whether their derivation is to be sought among the Tartars, who, in ages past, according to the sublime hypothesis of Governor De Witt Clinton, over-ran and exterminated nations who then inhabited great part of North America, and who had made considerable progress in the arts of civilized life; whether the theory adopted by Adair and Dr. Boudinot be true, that they are the descendants of the long-lost ten tribes of Israel; whether, in short, America was peopled from any of the countries of the old hemisphere, or those from America, are questions which, however interesting, I leave to be discussed by abler Antiquarians than myself. My anxiety, awakened by the present oppressed and demoralized condition of the red Indians, has indeed glanced backwards a few years to ascertain their character previous to their intercourse with European man; and I think it might be safely asserted that, until that fatal period of their history, they were, in the unsophisticated qualities of mind, one of the noblest people of the earth. It is indeed astonishing how, without the aid of science or letters, they could
14have acquired so much of that moral power, dignity, and courtesy, which in our pride we attribute exclusively to civilized life. Their religious belief is, to say the least of it, purer than that of refined and philosophical Greece and Rome; and they follow its doctrines with perfect sincerity. Neither infidelity, lukewarmness, nor hypocrisy in regard to spiritual matters is ever found among them, excepting, indeed, their prophets, priests, and conjurers. We are told by M. De la Salle, in the account of his last expedition and discoveries in North America, in 1678, "that at the decrease of the moon, the Indians carried a great dish of their greatest dainties to the door of the temple, as an oblatory sacrifice; which the priests offered to the god, and then they carried it home, and feasted themselves with it." Here, at any rate, is a little touch of sacerdotal refinement, worthy of an European Friar.
Their languages are characterized by abundance, strength, comprehensiveness of expression, and admirable method in their grammatical structure; "indeed," says Mr. Duponceau, "from the view offered by Mr. Heckewelder of the Lenni Lenape idiom, it would rather appear to have been formed by philosophers in their closets, than by savages in the wilderness."
15French and English colonies. All their proceedings were conducted with great deliberation, and were distinguished for order, decorum, and solemnity. In eloquence, in dignity, and in all the characteristics of profound policy, they surpassed an assembly of feudal barons, and were perhaps not far inferior to the great Amphyctionic Council of Greece."
16could convey to the reader's mind only a small part of the impression which this speech made on me and on all present when it was delivered."
The assertion of Governor Clinton seems to have resulted from his knowing more of the Five Nations than of any other tribe of Indians. The Shawanese, no less than the Delawares, are among his list of exceptions; and yet we find, in the book lately published by Mr. Hunter, a most splendid example of eloquence in a speech of Te-cum-seh, a Shawanee warrior.
17finish of the original. The occasion and subject were peculiarly adapted to call into action all the powers of genuine patriotism; and such language, such gestures, such feelings, and fulness of soul contending for utterance, were exhibited by this untutored native of the forest in the central wilds of America, as no audience, I am persuaded either in ancient or modern times, ever before witnessed. His discourse made an impression on my mind, which I think, will last as long as I live."
The hospitality of the Indians has been pretty generally allowed; and it is no small proof of the excellent regulation of their minds, that they are not in the lightest degree addicted to the pernicious practice of backbiting. "Even the profligate look with contempt on the slanderer; while he is singled out with the finger of scorn by the more respectable, who shun him as they would the poisonous serpent. None will venture to traduce those who sustain a fair and honourable character; and as for the worthless, they never condescend to talk about them. Slander, therefore, the most pitiful vice of little and malicious minds, is beneath the notice even of the Indian women."
A strong sense of justice is innate among the Indians; they entertain the greatest respect for the aged and tender, and are unwearied in lavishing delicate attentions on them; their friendship is inviolable; and we are told by Carver in his travels, with what moderation, humanity, and delicacy they treat female prisoners, and particularly pregnant women. Their conduct in this latter particular is not confined to females of their own colour, but is extended to white women, the mothers of their inexorable destroyers. Of this I shall have occasion, in the course of my work, to cite a touching instance from the valuable pages of Mr. Heckewelder.
I might, perhaps, be thought their indiscriminate panegyrist, were I to go on and state the simple beauty and wisdom of their system of education; the faith they keep in their treaties; their lofty courage, and the
18magnanimity they display on occasions in private life which are too apt to stir up the resentment and envy, and all the mean passions of civilized man. It will be naturally expected, that having given this summary of Indian virtues, I should say something of Indian vices; and I am happy that the latter will bear no proportion to the former catalogue. Cruelty and an eager appetite for revenge, are the chief, if not the only, deformities of their nature; and these are scarcely ever manifested, except in their open hostilities, the causes of which; precisely similar to those which actuate civilized nations. Then, indeed, their ferocity breaks out with almost demonaical fury; their captives are generally doomed to death; but it is not until they have undergone the most exquisite tortures, the most ingenious, unutterable, and protracted agony, that the final blow is given. These atrocious practices are not, however, peculiar to unlettered Indians. The metal boot and wedge, the thumb-screw, the rack, the gradual burnings of Smithfield, the religious butchery of the bloody Piedmontese, "who rolled mother with infant down the rocks," the dismemberment by horses, "Luke's iron crown, and Damien's bed of steel," sufficiently attest the claims of enlightened man to distinction in the art of torture. "But the Five Nations," says Governor Clinton, in his masterly and eloquent discourse, "notwithstanding the horrible cruelty, are in one respect entitled to singular commendation for the exercise of humanity; those enemies they spared in battle they made free; whereas with all other barbarous nations," and he might have added with most civilized nations, "slavery was the commutation of death. But it becomes not us, if we value the characters of our forefathers; it becomes not the civilized nations of Europe who have had American possessions, to inveigh against the merciless conduct of the savage. His appetite for blood was sharpened and whetted by European instigation, and his cupidity was enlisted on the side of cruelty by every temptation."
Our author in seeking for causes to extenuate the inhumanity of the Indians, might have said something of their natural and just resentment of the aggressions and tyranny of the man of Europe, by whom they have been reduced to the lowest state of wretchedness. In the wars between France and England and their colonies, their Indian allies were entitled to a premium for every scalp of an enemy. In the war preceding 1703, the government of Massachusetts gave twelve pounds for every Indian scalp; in that year the premium was raised to forty pounds, but in 1722, it was augmented to one hundred pounds! a sum sufficient to purchase a considerable extent of American land. An act was passed on the 25th of February 1745, by the American colonial legislature, entitled, "An Act for giving a reward for such scalps, &c. &,c." Not content with this execrable pollution of their minds by the agency of lucre, we have sown party division among the Indians, which in all its discordant shapes rages with uncontrolled sway. "Their nations are split up into fragments; the son is arrayed against the father; brother against brother; families against families; tribes against tribes; and canton against canton. They are divided into factions, religious, political and personal; Christian and Pagan; American and British; the followers of Cornplanter and Sagoua Ha; of Skonadoi and Captain Peter. The minister of destruction is hovering over them, and before the passing away of the present generation, not a single Iroquois will be seen in the state of New-York."
Yet with all this guilt at our doors we call the poor Indians "savages, — barbarians." Yes, they have, indeed, become so since they were debauched and contaminated by the liquor and the example of European man. "Our vices," says Heckewelder, "have destroyed them more than our swords." I do not hesitate to say that, in my opinion, their ignorance of letters has been the only hindrance to their being, politically
20speaking, a most powerful people. With the faculty of circulating and improving their natural information, by means of literature, they would either not have been objects for the crafty arts of civilized man, or they would have been invulnerable to them, and never could have been driven from their territories. Their courage and warlike character, unaided by learning, are things but of inferior force. "Knowledge" says Bacon, "is power." How with such elements of mind as they possess, they could, unlike other originally great people, have continued destitute of written wisdom, must ever remain a mystery. It is this important want which compels them to endure their wrongs in silence. They have no means of making their grievances known to the rest of the world; but must look for intercessors among those who have robbed and enslaved them. "Why then," I may ask with the benign Heckewelder, "should not a white man, a Christian, who has been treated by them at all times with hospitality and kindness, plead their honest cause, and defend them as they would defend themselves, if they had but the means of bringing their facts and their arguments before an impartial public? Let it not be said that among the whole race of white Christian men, not one single individual could be found, who, rising above the cloud of prejudice with which the pride of civilization has surrounded the original inhabitants of this land, would undertake the task of doing justice to their many excellent qualities, and raise a small frail monument to their memory."
Chapter II. Indian Account of the First Arrival of the Dutch at New-York Island.
THE following simple and touching relation of this important event, was taken down many years since from the mouth of an intelligent Delaware Indian, by Mr. Heckewelder, and may be considered as a correct account of the tradition existing among them. It is given as much as possible in their own language.
"A great many years ago, when men with a white skin had never yet been seen in this land, some Indians who were out a fishing at a place where the sea widens, espied at a great distance something remarkably large floating on the water, and such as they had never seen before. These Indians immediately returning to the shore, apprized their countrymen of what they had observed, and pressed them to go out with them and discover what it might be. They hurried out together, and saw with astonishment the phenomenon which now appeared to their sight, but could not agree upon what it was; some believed it to be an uncommonly large fish or animal, while others were of opinion it must be a very big house floating on the sea. At length the spectators concluded that this wonderful object was moving towards the land, and that it must be an animal or something else that had life in it; it would therefore be proper to inform all the Indians on the inhabited islands of what they had seen, and put them on their guard. Accordingly they sent off a number of runners and watermen to carry the news to their scattered chiefs, that they might send off in every direction for the warriors, with a message that they should come on
22immediately. These arriving in numbers, and having themselves viewed the strange appearance, and observing that it was actually moving towards the entrance of the river or bay, concluded it to be a remarkably large house in which the Mannitto (the Great or Supreme Being) himself was present, and that he probably was coming to visit them.
"By this time the chiefs were assembled at York Island and deliberating as to the manner in which they should receive their Mannitto on his arrival. Every measure was taken to be well provided with plenty of meat for a sacrifice. The women were desired to prepare the best victuals. All the idols or images were examined and put in order, and a grand dance was supposed not only to be an agreeable entertainment for the Great Being, but it was believed that it might, with the addition of a sacrifice, contribute to appease him if he was angry with them.
"The conjurers were also set to work, to determine what this phenomenon portended, and what the possible result of it might be. To these and to the chiefs and wise men of the nations, men, women and children were looking up for advice and protection. Distracted between hope and fear, they were at a loss what to do; a dance, however, commenced in great confusion.
"While in this situation, fresh runners arrived declaring it to be a large house of various colours; and crowded with living creatures. It appears now to be certain, that it is the great Mannitto, bringing them some kind of game, such as he had not given them before; but other runners soon after arriving declare that it is positively a house full of human beings, of quite a different colour from that of the Indians, and dressed differently from them; that in particular one of them was dressed entirely in red, who must be the Mannitto himself. They are hailed from the vessel in a language they do not understand; yet they shout or yell in return by way of answer, according to the custom of their country. Many are for running off to the woods, but are pressed by others to stay, in order not to give
23offence to their visiter, who might find them out and destroy them. The house, some say, large canoe, at last stops, and a canoe of a smaller size comes on shore with the red man and some others in it; some stay with his canoe to guard it.
"The chiefs and wise men, assembled in council form themselves into a large circle, towards which the man in red clothes approaches with two others. He salutes them with a friendly countenance, and they return the salute after their manner. They are lost in admiration; the dress, the manners, the whole appearance of the unknown strangers is to them a subject of wonder; but they are particularly struck with him who wore the red coat all glittering with gold lace, which they could in no manner account for. He, surely, must be the great Mannitto, but why should he have a white skin? Meanwhile, a large Hackhack
24it himself, let the consequence be what it might; it was better for one man to die, than that a whole nation should be destroyed. He then took the glass, and bidding the assembly a solemn farewell, at once drank up its whole contents. Every eye was fixed on the resolute chief, to see what effect the unknown liquor would produce. He soon began to stagger, and at last fell prostrate on the ground. His companions now bemoaned his fate, he falls into a sound sleep, and they think he has expired. He wakes again, jumps up and declares, that he has enjoyed the most delicious sensations, and that he never before felt himself so happy as after he had drunk the cup. He asks for more, his wish is granted; the whole assembly then imitate him, and all become intoxicated.
"After this general intoxication had ceased, (for they say that while it lasted the whites had confined themselves to their vessel,) the man with the red clothes returned again, and distributed presents among them consisting of beads, axes, hoes and stockings, such as the white people wear. They soon became familiar with each other, and began to converse by signs. The Dutch made them understand that they would not stay here, that they would return home again, but would pay them another visit the next year, when they would bring them more presents, and stay with them awhile; but as they could not live without eating, they should want a little land of them to sow seeds, in order to raise herbs and vegetables to put into their broth. They went away as they had said, and returned in the following season, when both parties were much rejoiced to see each other; but the whites laughed at the Indians seeing that they knew not the use of the axes and hoes they had given them the year before; for they had these hanging to their breasts as ornaments, and the stockings were made use of as tobacco pouches. The whites now put handles to the former for them, and cut trees down before their eyes, hoed up the ground, and put the stockings on their legs. Here, they say, a general laughter ensued among the Indians, that they
25had remained ignorant of the use of such valuable implements, and had borne the weight of such heavy metal hanging to their necks, for such a length of time. They took every white man they saw for an inferior Mannitto, attendant on the supreme Deity who shone superior in the red and laced clothes. As the whites became daily more familiar with the Indians, they at last proposed to stay with them, and asked only for so much ground for a garden spot as, they said, the hide of a bullock would cover or encompass, which hide was spread before them. The Indians readily granted this apparently reasonable request; but the whites then took a knife and beginning at one end of the hide, cut it up to a long rope, not thicker than a child's finger, so that by the time the whole was cut up, it made a great heap; they then took the rope at one end, and drew it gently along, carefully avoiding its breaking. It was drawn out into a circular form, and being closed at its ends, encompassed a large piece of ground. The Indians were surprised at the superior wit of the whites,
Chapter III. Indian Relations of the Conduct of Europeans Towards Them.
LONG and dismal, says the reverend author
They are, in general, very minute in these recitals and proceed with a great degree of order and regularity. They begin with the Virginians, whom they call the long knives, and who were the first European settlers in this part of the American continent. "It was we," say the Lenape, Mohicans, and their kindred tribes, "who so kindly received them on their first arrival into our country. We took them by the hand, and bid them welcome to sit down by our side, and live with us as brothers; but how did they requite our kindness? They at first asked only for a little land on which to raise bread for themselves and their families and pasture for their cattle, which we freely gave them. They soon wanted more, which we also gave them. They saw the game in the woods, which the Great Spirit had given us for our subsistence, and they wanted that too. They penetrated into the woods, in quest of game, they discovered spots of land which pleased
27them; that land they also wanted, and because we were loth to part with it, as we saw they had already more than they had need of, they took it from us by force and drove us to a great distance from our ancient homes.
"By and by the Dutchemaan
"When the Yengeese
28we saw at once we should lose all, if we did not resist them. The wars that we carried on against each other were long and cruel. We were enraged when we saw the white people put our friends and relatives whom they had taken prisoners on board of their ships, and carry them off to sea, whether to drown or sell them as slaves, in the country from which they came, we knew not, but certain it is that none of them have ever returned or even been heard of. At last they got possession of the whole of the country which the Great Spirit had given us. One of our tribes was forced to wander far beyond Quebec; others dispersed in small bodies, and sought places of refuge where they could; some came to Pennsylvania; others went far to the westward and mingled with other tribes.
"To many of those, Pennsylvania was a last, delightful asylum. But here, again, the Europeans disturbed them, and forced them to emigrate, although they had been most kindly and hospitably received. On which ever side of the Lenapewihittuck
29strove to get all our land from us by fraud or by force, and when we attempted to remind them of what our good brother had said, they became angry, and sent word to our enemies the Mengwe, to meet them at a great council which they were to hold with us at Laehawwake
Thus these good Indians, with a kind of melancholy pleasure, recite the long history of their sufferings. After having gone through these painful details, they seldom fail to indulge in bitter, but too just reflections upon the men of Europe. "We and our kindred tribes," say they, "lived in peace and harmony with each other, before the white people came into this country; our council house
30they began to pull our council house down
I have given here only a brief specimen of the charges
31which they exhibit against the white people. There are men among them who have by heart the whole history of what took place between the whites and the Indians, since the former first came into their country; and relate the whole with ease and with an eloquence not to be imitated. On the tablets of their memories they preserve this record for posterity. I, at one time, in April 1787, was astonished when I heard one of their orators, a great chief of the Delaware nation, go over this ground, recapitulating the most extraordinary events which had before happened, and concluding in these words: "I admit there are good white men, but they bear no proportion to the bad; the bad must be the strongest, for they rule. They do what they please. They enslave those who are not of their colour, although created by the same Great Spirit who created us. They would make slaves of us if they could, but as they cannot do it, they kill us! There is no faith to be placed in their words. They are not like the Indians, who are only enemies while at war, and are friends in peace. They will say to an Indian, ‘My friend! my brother!’ They will take him by the hand, and at the same moment destroy him. And so you" (addressing himself to the Christian lndians) "will also be treated by them before long. Remember! that this day I have warned you to beware of such friends as these. I know the long knives; they are not to be trusted."
Eleven months after this speech was delivered by this prophetic chief, ninety-six of the same Christian Indians, about sixty of them women and children, were murdered at the place where these very words had been spoken, by the same men he had alluded to, and in the same manner that he had described. See Loskiel's History, Part III. ch. 10.
Chapter IV. Evidences of General Capacity and True Conception of Courtesy Among the Present Indians.
IN the summer of 1819, during the yellow fever at New-York, I took a tour, accompanied by two of my daughters, and a gentleman, to the Falls of Niagara, and through a considerable part of Upper Canada. After stopping more than a week under the truly hospitable roof of the Honourable Colonel Clarke, at the Falls, I determined to proceed by land round Lake Ontario, to York; and Mrs. Clarke offered to give my daughters a letter of introduction to a Miss Brandt, advising us to arrange our time so as to sleep and stop a day or two in the house of that lady, as she was certain we should be much pleased with her and her brother. Our friend did not intimate, still less did we suspect, that the introduction was to an Indian Prince and Princess. Had we been in the least aware of this, our previous arrangements would all have given way, as there was nothing I was more anxious to obtain than an opportunity, such as this was so well calculated to afford, of seeing in what degree the Indian character would be modified by a conformity to the habits and comforts of civilized life.
Proceeding on our journey, we stopped at an inn, romantically situated, where I determined to remain all night. Among other things I inquired of the landlord if he knew the distance to Miss Brandt's house, and from him I learned that it was about twenty miles off. He added that young Mr. Brandt had passed that way in the morning, and would, no doubt, be returning in the evening, and that if I wished it, he would be on the look
33out for him. This I desired the landlord to do, as it would enable me to intimate our introduction to his sister, and intention of waiting on her the next morning.
At dusk Mr. Brandt returned, and being introduced into our room, we were unable to distinguish his colour, and conversed with him, believing him to be a young Canadian gentleman. We did not, however, fail to observe a certain degree of hesitation and reserve in the manner of his speech. He certainly expressed a wish that we would do him and his sister the favour of spending a few days with them in order to refresh ourselves and our horses; but we thought his style more laconic than hospitable. Before candles were brought in, our new friend departed, leaving us still in error as to his nation and colour.
By four o'clock in the morning, we resumed our journey. On arriving at the magnificent shores of Lake Ontario, the driver of our carriage pointed out at the distance of five miles, the house of Miss Brandt, which had a very noble and commanding aspect; and we anticipated much pleasure in our visit; as beside the enjoyment of so beautiful a spot, we should be enabled to form a competent idea of Canadian manners and style of living. Young Mr. Brandt, it appeared, unaware that within our carriage we could have reached his house so soon, had not arrived before us; so that our approach was not announced; and we drove up to the door under the full persuasion that the family would be apprised of our coming. The outer door, leading to a spacious hall, was open. We entered, and remained a few minutes, when seeing no person about, we proceeded into the parlour, which, like the hall, had no body in it. We, therefore, had an opportunity of looking about us at our leisure. It was a room well furnished with a carpet, pier and chimney glases, mahogany tables, fashionable chairs, a guitar, a neat hanging book-case, in which, among other volumes, we perceived a church of England prayer-book, translated into the Mohawk tongue, and several small elementary works. Having sent our note of introduction in by the
34coachman, and still no person waiting on us, we began to suspect, (more especially in the hungry state we were all in,) that some delay or difficulty about breakfast stood in the way of the young lady's appearance. Various were our conjectures, and momentarily did our hunger seem to gain rapid strides upon us. I can assure my readers that a keen morning's ride on the shores of an American lake, is a thing of all others calculated to make the appetite clamorous, if not insolent. We had already penetrated into the parlour; and were beginning to meditate a further exploration in search of the pantry, when to our unspeakable astonishment, in walked a charming, noble-looking Indian girl, dressed partly in the native, and partly in the English costume. Her hair was confined on the head in a silk net, but the lower tresses, escaping from thence, flowed down on her shoulders. Under a tunic or morning dress of black silk, was a petticoat of the same material and colour, which reached very little below the knees. Her silk stockings and kid shoes were, like the rest of her dress, black. The grace and dignity of her movement, the style of her dress and manner, so new, so unexpected, filled us all with astonishment. With great ease, yet by no means in that common-place mode so generally prevalent on such occasions, she inquired how we had found the roads, accommodation, &c. No flutter was at all apparent on account of the delay in getting breakfast; no fidgeting and fuss-making, no running in and out, no idle expressions of regret, such as, "O, dear me! had I known of your coming, you would not have been kept in this way;" but with perfect ease she maintained the conversation, until a Squaw,
35comfortable style. The delay, we afterwards discovered arose from the desire of our hostess to supply us with hot rolls, which were actually baked while we waited. I have been thus minute in my description of these comforts, as they were so little to be expected in the house of an Indian.
After breakfast, Miss Brandt, as we must still call her, took my daughters out to walk, and look at the picturesque scenery of the country. She and her brother had previously expressed a hope that we would stay all day; but though I wished of all things to do so, and had determined, in the event of their pressing their invitation, to accept it, yet I declined the proposal at first, and thus forfeited a pleasure which we all of us longed in our hearts to enjoy; for, as I have afterwards learned, it is not the custom of any uncorrupted Indian to repeat a request if once rejected. They believe that those to whom they offer any mark of friendship, and who give a reason for refusing it, do so in perfect sincerity, and that it would be rudeness to require them to alter their determination, or break their word. And as the Indian never makes a show of civility, but when prompted by a genuine feeling, so he thinks others are actuated by similar candour. I really feel ashamed when I consider how severe a rebuke this carries with it to us who boast of civilization, but who are so much carried away by the general insincerity of expression pervading all ranks, that few indeed are to be found who speak just what they wish or know. This duplicity is the effect of what is termed a high state of refinement. We are taught so to conduct our language, that others cannot discover our real views or intentions. The Indians are not only free from this deceitfulness, but surpass us in another instance of true good-breeding and decorum, namely, of never interrupting those who converse with them, until they have done speaking; and then they reply in the hope of not being themselves interrupted. This was perfectly exemplified by Miss Brandt and her brother; and I hope the lesson my
36daughters were so forcibly taught by the natural politeness of their hostess, will never be forgotten by them and that I also may profit by the example.
After stopping a few hours with these interesting young Indians, and giving them an invitation to pay us a visit at New-York, which they expressed great desire to fulfil, and which I therefore confidently anticipate, we took our leave with real regret on all sides. As we passed through the hall, I expected to see some lndian instruments of war or the chase; but perceiving the walls were bare of these customary ornaments, asked Mr. Brandt where all the trophies were that belonged to his family? He told me, and I record it with shame, that the numerous visiters that from time to time called on him, expressed their desire so strongly for these trophies, that one by one he had given all away; and now he was exempt from these sacrifices, by not having any thing of the kind left. He seemed, nevertheless, to cherish with fondness the memory of these relics of his forefathers. How ill did the civilized visiters requite the hospitality they experienced under the roof whose doors stand open to shelter and feed all who enter!
As all about our young hostess is interesting, I will add some farther particulars. Having inquired for her mother, she told me she remained generally with her other sons and daughters, who were living in the Indian settlement on the Grand River that falls into Lake Erie: that her mother preferred being in the Wigwams, and disapproved, in a certain degree, of her and her brother John's conforming so much to the habits and costume of the English. It may be added that this family are the children of the celebrated Mokawk Indian Chief, Captain Brandt, who was introduced to his late Majesty, and who translated the prayer-book, and part of the scriptures into one of the Indian languages; and that the house where we were so hospitably entertained, was built upon a grant of land bestowed by George the Third on that Mohawk Prince.
My thus becoming acquainted with this young lady and her brother, fully establishes in my mind all I was anxious to prove by the education of a young Indian; and many such instances might be adduced which would evince that wisdom, science, and exaltation of character, are not the exclusive property of any colour, tribe, or nation. The bravery, political sagacity, and knowledge of government, manifested by the negroes who now govern in St. Domingo (not to mention other well-known instances,) are calculated to allay the doubts which used to prevail as to the capacity of the African. But between the Indian of North America, and the African, there is a remarkable difference. The former never can be bowed to become the slave of man, to pay tribute, or to submit, by any hope of reward, to live in vassalage. Free, like the son of Ishmael, he will die rather than yield his liberty; and he is, therefore, hunted down by people who boast of civilization and christianity, and who, while they value their own freedom, do not hesitate to extend their lands and property by the merciless destruction of the unoffending original proprietor. But let not those who still claim the British name, nor the citizens of the United States, deceive themselves in the belief that because the poor Indians, whose lands they possess, and whose rivers they navigate, have no powerful voice to blazon their wrongs, and hold them up to the abhorrence of mankind, they will always rest unavenged; or that the civilization which is pompously carried on, but which is in fact a slow consuming system of extinction, will avert the retributive justice which God will assuredly render. The poor Indians confess that for their crimes they are now placed by the Great Spirit under the feet of the white men, and in the midst of their sufferings, they pathetically warn their cruel oppressors that the time may yet come when the Lord will have pity on them, and in turn, punish the Europeans. Truly the ways of the Almighty are wonderful! The apparent prosperity of the wicked are among the most unaccountable features
38of the will of our Creator, and would be utterly without a solution had we not the Bible to guide us into a right understanding of his designs. However the deist may scoff, or the philosopher doubt, yet therein we see that though the wrath of God may be long delayed, the punishment of iniquity will assuredly come to pass. The re-action of crime and punishment is to be seen in the history of all nations. Let the European oppressors of the Indian savage, as he is called, look to it in time; and while the diffusion of the true principles of Christianity throughout the British empire, is followed by clemency and mercy to the African, it is to be hoped the same benevolent spirit will extend itself to the noble-minded Aborigines of North America; and that instead of supplying arms, ammunition, blankets, and rum, we may lead them to the arts and blessings of peace, and to the improvement of their admirable native talent.
With regard to the terms, "barbarians" and "savages," which it is the fashion to lavish so prodigally on our Indians, let us hear what the philosophical French essayist, Montaigne, said of them, in reference to these appellations, between two and three hundred years ago. "I find that there is nothing barbarous and savage in this nation, by any thing I can gather, excepting that every one gives the title of barbarity to every thing that is not in use in his own country: as indeed we have no other level of truth and reason, than the example and idea of the opinions and customs of the place wherein we live. There is always the true religion; there the perfect government, and the most exact and accomplished usance of all things. They are savages at the same rate, that we say fruits are wild, which nature produces of herself, and by her own ordinary progress; whereas, in truth, we ought rather to call those wild, whose natures we have changed by our artifice, and diverted from the common order. * * * * * These nations, then, seem to me to be so far barbarous, as having received but very little form and fashion from art and human invention, and consequently, not much remote from their original
39simplicity. The laws of nature, however, govern them still, not, as yet, much vitiated with any mixture of ours; but in such purity, that I am sometimes troubled we were no sooner acquainted with these people, and that they were not discovered in those better times, when there were men much more able to judge of them, than we are. I am sorry that Lycurgus and Plato had no knowledge of them; for to my apprehension, what we now see in those natives, does not only surpass all the images with which the poets have adorned the golden age, and all their inventions in feigning a happy estate of man; but, moreover, the fancy and even the wish of philosophy itself. So native and so pure a simplicity, as we, by experience, see to be in them, could never enter into the imagination of the ancient philosophers, nor could they ever believe that human society could have been maintained with so little artifice. Should I tell Plato that it is a nation wherein there is no manner of traffic, no knowledge of letters, no science of numbers, no name of magistrate, nor political superiority, no use of service, no riches or poverty, no contracts, no successions, no dividends, no proprieties, no employments but those of leisure, no respect of kindred, but common, no clothing, no agriculture, no metal, no use of corn or wine, and where so much as the very words that signify lying, treachery, dissimulation, avarice, detraction, and pardon, were never heard of, — how much would he find his imaginary republic short of this perfection."
Our author, in the detail of his negations, is a little incorrect, but the passage, on the whole, is a noble and profound vindication of this primitive people.
Chapter V. Feelings and VIews of the Indians at the Present Hour, with Some Specimens of Their Recent Oratory.
SEVERAL chiefs from the Missouri territory, (a part of North America which is inhabited by tribes of Indians, who, from the remoteness of their situation, do not so often as others, come in contact with white men,) were brought by order of the government of the United States, to Washington under the guidance of Major O'Fallon. They were subsequently taken on to New York, where, as at Washington, every thing calculated to impress their minds was exhibited to them. Previous to their departure to their native homes, they were introduced to the President of the United States, when the following speeches were delivered by them. The reader, I think, will not fail to discern in these addresses a grand vein of original eloquence, united with great sagacity; another proof of the error of his Excellency DeWitt Clinton, in confining the rhetorical talent solely to the lroquois or Five Nations. It is with feelings of humility that I allude again to this inaccurate statement. No one can have a higher respect for this gentleman than myself. His discourse delivered to the Historical Society of New-York, is not surpassed by any document I ever read, for profoundness of intellect, philanthropy of sentiment, exquisite beauty of composition, and extent of historical knowledge condensed within a brief space.
Speeches of several of the Chiefs of the Delegation of Indians, under Major O'Fallon, to the President of the United States, in Council, on the 4th of February, 1822.
My Great Father: — I have travelled a great distance to see you — I have seen you and my heart rejoices. I have heard your words — they have entered one ear and shall not escape the other, and I will carry them to my people as pure as they came from your mouth.
My Great Father: — I am going to speak the truth. The Great Spirit looks down upon us, and I call Him to witness all that may pass between us on this occasion. If I am here now and have seen your people, your houses, your vessels on the big lake, and a great many wonderful things far beyond my comprehension, which appear to have been made by the Great Spirit and placed in your hands, I am indebted to my Father here, who invited me from home, under whose wings I have been protected.
He made the whites to cultivate the earth, and feed on domestic animals; but he made us, red skins, to rove through the uncultivated woods and plains; to feed on wild animals; and to dress with their skins. He also intended that we should go to war — to take scalps — steal horses from and triumph over our enemies
42— cultivate peace at home, and promote the happiness of each other. I believe there are no people of any colour on this earth who do not believe in the Great Spirit — in rewards, and in punishments. We worship him, but we worship him not as you do. We differ from you in appearance and manners as well as in customs; and we differ from you in our religion; we have no large houses as you have to worship the Great Spirit in; if we had them to-day, we should want others to-morrow, for we have not, like you, a fixed habitation — we have no settled home except our villages, where we remain but two moons in twelve. We like animals, rove through the country, whilst you whites reside between us and heaven; but still, my Great Father, we love the Great Spirit — we acknowledge his supreme power — our peace, our health, and our happiness depend upon him, and our lives belong to him — he made us and he can destroy us.
My Great Father: — Some of your good chiefs, as they are called (missionaries,) have proposed to send some of their good people among us to change our habits, to make us work and live like the white people. I will not tell a lie — I am going to tell the truth. You love your country — you love your people — you love the manner in which they live, and you think your people brave. — I am like you, my Great Father, I love my country — I love my people — I love the manner in which we live, and think myself and warriors brave. Spare me then, my Father; let me enjoy my country, and pursue the buffalo, and the beaver, and the other wild animals of our country, and I will trade their skins with your people. I have grown up, and lived thus long without work — I am in hopes you will suffer me to die without it. We have plenty of buffalo, beaver, deer and other wild animals — we have also an abundance of horses — we have every thing we want — we have plenty of land, if you will keep your people off of it. My father has a piece on which he lives, (Council Bluffs) and we wish him to enjoy it — we
43have enough without it — but we wish him to live near us to give us good counsel — to keep our and ears open that we may continue to pursue the right road — the road to happiness. He settles all differences between us and the whites, between the red skins themselves — he makes the whites do justice to the red skins, and he makes the red skins do justice to the whites. He saves the effusion of human blood, and restores peace and happiness on the land. You have already sent us a father; it is enough he knows us and we know him — we have confidence in him — we keep our eye constantly upon him, and since we have heard your words, we will listen more attentively to his.
It is too soon, my Great Father, to send those good men among us. We are not starving yet — we wish you to permit us to enjoy the chase until the game of our country is exhausted — until the wild animals become extinct. Let us exhaust our present resources before you make us toil and interrupt our happiness — let me continue to live as I have done, and after I have passed to the Good or Evil Spirit from off the wilderness of my present life, the subsistence of my children may become so precarious as to need and embrace the assistance of those good people.
There was a time when we did not know the whites — our wants were then fewer than they are now. They were always within our controul — we had then seen nothing which we could not get. Before our intercourse with the whites (who have caused such a destruction in our game,) we could lie down to sleep, and when we awoke we would find the buffalo feeding around our camp — but now we are killing them for their skins, and feeding the wolves with their flesh, to make our children cry over their bones.
Here, My Great Father, is a pipe which I present you, as I am accustomed to present pipes to all the
44red skins in peace with us. It is filled with such tobacco as we were accustomed to smoke before we knew the white people. It is pleasant, and the spontaneous growth of the most remote parts of our country. I know that the robes, leggins, mockasins, bear-claws, &c., are of little value to you, but we wish you to have them deposited and preserved in some conspicuous part of your lodge, so that when we are gone and the sod turned over our bones, if our children should visit this place, as we do now, they may see and recognize with pleasure the deposites of their fathers; and reflect on the times that are past.
My Great Father: — Whenever I see a white man amongst us without a protector, I tremble for him. I am aware of the ungovernable disposition of some of our young men, and when I see an inexperienced white man, I am always afraid they will make me cry. I now begin to love your people, and, as I love my own people too, I am unwilling that any blood should be spilt between us. You are unacquainted with our fashions, and we are unacquainted with yours; and when any of your people come among us, I am always afraid that they will be struck on the head like dogs, as we should be here amongst you, but for our father in whose tracks we tread. When your people come among us, they should come as we come among you, with some one to protect them, whom we know and who knows us. Until this chief came amongst us, three winters since, we roved through the plains only thirsting for each others's blood — we were blind — we could not see the right road, and we hunted to destroy each other. We were always feeling for obstacles, and every thing we felt we thought one. Our warriors were always going to and coming from war. I myself
45have killed and scalped in every direction. I have often triumphed over my enemies.
My Great Father: — I am brave, and if I had not been brave I should not have followed my Father here. I have killed my enemies, I have taken their horses, and although I love and respect my Father, and will do any thing he tells me, I will not submit to an insult from any one. If my enemies, of any nation, should strike me, I will rise in the might of my strength, and avenge the spirit of my dead.
My Great Father: — Look at me — look at me, my father, my hands are unstained with blood — my people have never struck the whites, and the whites have never struck them. It is not the case with other red skins. Mine is the only nation that has spared the long knives. I am a chief, but not the only one in my nation; there are other chiefs who raise their crests by my side. I have always been the friend of the long knives, and before this chief
My Great Father: — I have heard some of your chiefs, who propose to send some good people amongst us, to learn us to live as you do; but I do not wish to tell a lie — I am only one man, and will not presume, at this distance from my people, to speak for them, on a subject with which they are entirely unacquainted — I am afraid it is too soon for us to
46attempt to change habits. We have too much game in our country — we feed too plentifully on the buffalo to bruise our hands with the instruments of agriculture.
The Great Spirit made my skin red, and he made us to live as we do now; and I believe that when the Great Spirit placed us upon this earth he consulted our happiness. We love our country — we love our customs and habits. I wish that you would permit us to enjoy them as long as I live. When we become hungry, naked — when the game of our country becomes exhausted, and misery encompasses our families, then, and not till then, do I want those good people among us. Then they may lend us a helping hand — then show us the wealth of the earth — the advantages and sustenance to be derived from its culture.
I am fond of peace, my Great Father, but the Sioux have disturbed my repose. They have struck upon me and killed two of my brothers, and since more of my bravest warriors, whose deaths are still unrevenged. Those Sioux live high up the Missouri, and, although they have seen my father and heard his words, they rove on the land like hungry wolves, and, like serpents creeping through the grass, they disturb the unsuspecting stranger passing through the country. I am almost the only red skin opposed to war — but, my father, what should I do to satisfy the dead, when every wind coming over their bones bring to my ears their cries for revenge? I am constantly disturbed by the recollection of my brothers, and am afraid to neglect their bones, which have been thrown to the winds, and lie uncovered and exposed to the sun. I must not be slow to avenge their death; I am forced to war, my Great Father, and I am in hopes you will assist me; I am in hopes that you will give some arms to my father to place in the hands of my brave, to enable them to defend their wives and children. Since I have known my
47father, I have obeyed his commands, and when I die I will leave my children to him that he may do with them as he pleases.
My Great Father: — My father was a chief, but he grew old, and became dry like grass, and passed away, leaving the roots from which I sprung up, and have grown so large without one mark of distinction. I am still green, but am afraid to die without the fame of my father. I wish you would be so good as to give me a mark to attract the attention of my people, that when I return home I may bring to their recollection the deeds of my father and my claims to distinction. Since I left home I have been much afflicted; death sought me, but I clung to my father and he kept it off. I have now grown fat, and am in hopes to return to my nation. There is my chief, (pointing to the Big Elk,) who has no claims, no inheritance from his father. I am now following behind him, and treading upon his heels, in hopes that you and my father here,
The following minutes of a conference with the Senecas, exhibit what the Indians are subject to even in the state of New York at present.
MESSAGE FROM HIS EXCELLENCY THE GOVERNOR TO THE SENATE AND ASSEMBLY.
Gentlemen — I have the honour to transmit to you the minutes of a conference with the representatives of the Seneca
48Indians. I respectfully recommend to your favorable considerations, the objects suggested by them; and as I understand that there is now a bill before you, relative to the ferry at Black Rock, it may be deemed proper by you to consider one of the requests of the Senecas in connexion with the other provisions contained in that bill.
DE WITT CLINTON.
Albany, 11th February, 1820.
Minutes of a Conference between his Excellency De Witt Clinton, and Pollard and Capt. Strong, the Representatives of the Sachem Chiefs of the Seneca Nation, February 7, 1820.
Brother! — I am happy to find you enjoying good health, at the great council fire, in Albany. Although our number is small now before you, yet we come not without authority. We are authorized and instructed to make these communications. We come in company with an agent of the United States. What we do, was agreed upon in a council of the Seneca Nation, before we left home.
Brother! — Last summer, when you were at Buffalo, you will recollect that we had an interview with you, and stated our grievances. We had heard bad accounts before, concerning our reservations. You then stated to us, that you were not prepared to give us an answer to our request, and that you would prefer receiving a delegation from us, in Albany, at the commencement of the winter. We now come. We intended to have come sooner; but the United States' agent having agreed to come with us, and he having been detained at Canandaigu, in making his report, we have been prevented.
Brother! — Our principal object is, to obtain a full and fair statement of you, concerning our reservation. Reports are in circulation, that we have no rights.
49We want a statement under your hands, what we have, and what we have not. We want to know whether we can go on with our improvements — whether we are safe from the claims of those who have pre-emption rights; or, whether we are to be swept away, and robbed and plundered of our own.
Brother! — You can but recollect the treaty between Governor George Clinton, and the Seneca Nation. The treaty embraced a conveyance from us to the people, of a strip of land, of one mile, on the straights of Niagara. The treaty contained a condition that we should enjoy the free privilege of passing the ferry at Black Rock, without paying toll. This right was confined to the Seneca Nation. The enjoyment of this privilege is interrupted. The man who has the care of the ferry, cannot discriminate and determine what Indians have a right to pass toll free. The Six Nations wish to pass toll-free. They are now prevented, and oftentimes have no money to pay. They want a general right. The lease of the ferry expires soon. In consequence of the late war, the papers concerning the before-mentioned treaty, are lost. We now ask a copy of that treaty on parchment.
Brother! — Upon our domains at Buffalo, there are many depredations. We want a commissioner or an attorney appointed to settle our difficulties with the white people — to stand forth on all occasions, as the protector of our interests, and as a pacificator in all disputes which we may have.
Brother! — We last summer informed you of our wishes to receive instruction, and to hear the preaching of the gospel. We solicit aid, that we may instruct our children, build a small edifice in which we can have religious worship; — we solicit aid too, that will encourage in us a better knowledge of agriculture.
Brother! — We have been defrauded in the sale of our reservation on Genesee river. The land called
50Bayard's reservation, was purchased by Oliver Phelps, and no equivalent has ever been realized by us. Have we any remedy?
Brother! — One thing more: We wish to speak of the Cattaraugus reservation. We have the right of ferriage on one side of the river. A man, by the name of Mack, deprives us of this right. Have we any remedy?
Brother! — We have been brief. We hope to be understood. We ask answers to our solicitations as soon as they can be given. We depart in the spirit of peace, and may the Great Spirit bless you.
TO THE SACHEMS, CHIEFS AND WARRIORS OF THE SENECA INDIANS.
Brethren! — I have received your communication by your representatives, Pollard and Capt. Strong; I am rejoiced to hear of your welfare; may the Great Spirit continue to bless you.
Brethren! — You desire to know the full extent of your rights in your reservations. This request is reasonable. You have an absolute and uncontrolled right to those lands, to all that they contain, and to all that they can produce. To prevent a recurrence of frauds, which have too often been practised by our people on our Red brethren, our laws have ordained, that no sale of Indian land shall be valid, without the sanction of the government. In your case, the right of purchasing the lands of your nation, was granted by the state of New-York to the state of Massachusetts; Massachusetts conveyed the right to Phelps and Gorham; and afterwards to Robert Morris; Robert Morris again sold it to the Holland land company, and the Holland land company have transferred it to David A. Ogden and his associates. All the right that Ogden and his company have, is the right of purchasing your reservations, when you think it expedient to sell them; that is, they can buy your
51lands, but no other persons can. You may retain them as long as you please, and you may sell them to Ogden as soon as you please. You are the owners of these lands in the same way that your brethren, the Oneidas, are of their reservations. They are all that is left of what the Great Spirit gave to your ancestors. No man shall deprive you of them, without your consent. This state will protect you in the full enjoyment of your property. We are strong — we are willing to shield you from oppression. The Great Spirit looks down on the conduct of mankind, and will punish us, if we permit the remnant of the Indian nations, which is with us, to be injured. We feel for you, brethren: we shall watch over your interests; we know that in a future world we shall be called upon to answer for our conduct to our fellow creatures.
I am pleased to hear of your attention to agriculture, education, and religion. Without agriculture, you will suffer for want of food or clothing: without education, you will be in a state of mental darkness: and without religion, you cannot expect happiness in this world nor in the world to come.
Brethren, — Your suggestions about the appointment of an attorney, to guard you against the intrusions and trespasses of the whites; about the free passage of the Indians over the ferry at Black Rock; about the ferriage on your side of Cattaraugus reservation; and about the erection of a house of worship and education, will be transmitted to the great council, who will, I am persuaded, grant these requests.
Brethren, — I recommend to you to refrain from those vices which have nearly exterminated all our red brethren. Cultivate sobriety and justice, and may the Great Spirit look down upon you with eyes of mercy!
DE WITT CLINTON.
Albany, 9th February, 1820.
I know not what effect the succeeding document may have on my readers, but to me it is deeply affecting; and furnishes a triumphant proof of the genius of these extraordinary people for eloquence. It is worthy of remark that the interpreter himself was unable to write, though a better evidence than this of the genuineness of the memorial, as proceeding from the unprompted Indians, may, I think, be found in the character of the language. The style is primitive; the short sentences teem with power; a serene majesty is spread over the entire composition; and the pathos searches and melts the very soul. It bears a considerable resemblance, in my opinion, to the inspired writings, and could not have been supplied to the Indians by any white scribe; nor could its peculiar characteristics have been superinduced by the art of the translator. At least such is my belief.
Father, — We learn from your talk delivered at the great council fire in Albany, your opinion of the condition and prospects of your red children.
Father, — We feel that the hand of our God has long been heavy on his red children. For our sins has he brought us low, and caused us to melt away before our white brothers, as snow before the fire. His ways are perfect; he regardeth not the complexion of man. God is terrible in judgment. All men ought to fear before him. He putteth down and buildeth up, and none can resist him.
Father, — The Lord of the whole earth is strong; this is our confidence. He hath power to build up as well as to pull down. Will he keep his anger for ever? Will he pursue to destruction the workmanship of his own hand, and strike off a race of men
53from the earth, whom his care hath so long preserved through so many perils?
Father, — We thank you that you feel so anxious to do all you can to the perishing ruins of your red children. We hope, Father, you will make a fence strong and high around us, that wicked white men may not devour us at once, but let us live as long as we can. We are persuaded you will do this for us, because our field is laid waste and trodden down by every beast; we are feeble and cannot resist them.
Father, — We are persuaded you will do this for the sake of our white brothers, lest God, who has appeared so strong in building up white men, and pulling down Indians, should turn his hand and visit our white brothers for their sins, and call them to an account for all the wrongs they have done, and all the wrongs they have not prevented that was in their power to prevent, to their poor red brothers who have no helper.
Father, — Would you be the father of your people, and make them good and blessed of God, and happy, let not the cries of your injured red children ascend into his ears against you.
Father, — We desire to let you know that wrong information hath reached your ears. Our western, brothers have given us no land. You will learn all our mind on this subject, by a talk which we sent our Great Father, the President of the United States. We send it to you, that you may see it and learn our mind.
Red Jacket, his X mark,
Young King, his X mark,
Captain Billey, his X mark,
Captain Pollard, his X mark,
Twenty Canoes, his X mark,
James Stephenson, his X mark,
Chief Warrior, his X mark,
John Snow, his X mark,
Stride Town, his X mark,
54Wheel Barrow, his X mark,
Captain Cole, his X mark,
Big Kettle, his X mark.
Done at the great council fire, Seneca Village, near Buffalo, 14th Feb. 1818.
HARRY YORK, Interpreter, his X mark.
P.S. The above Chiefs request your Excellency to publish, or cause to be published, that article of the treaty between the state of New York and the Indians, that relates to their fishing and hunting privileges, which their white brethren seem to have forgotten.
The foregoing address to Governor Clinton arose in consequence of the following passage in his Excellency's Speech to the Legislation at Albany, delivered on the 27th January, 1818.
"The Indians in our territory are experiencing the fate of all barbarous tribes in the vicinity of civilized nations, and are constantly deteriorating in character, and diminishing in number; and before the expiration of half a century, there is a strong probability they will entirely disappear. It is understood that the Western Indians are desirous that ours should emigrate to an extensive territory remote from white population, and which will be granted to them gratuitously. As this will preserve them from rapid destruction; as it is in strict unison with the prescriptions of humanity, and will not interfere with the blessing of religious instruction, there can be no objection to their removal. This, however, ought to be free and voluntary on their part, and whenever it takes place it is our duty to see that they receive an ample compensation for their territory. At the present time they are frequently injured and defrauded by intrusions upon their lands, and some of the most valuable domains of the state are subjected to similar detriment. It is very desirable
55that our laws should provide adequate remedies in these cases, and that they should be vigorously enforced."
Our subject will be further illustrated by the following, which furnishes another instance of the eternal violation of treaty by the white people in their intercourse with the red men of America.
Allegheny River, 2d mo. 2d, 1822.
I feel it my duty to send a speech to the Governor of Pennsylvania at this time, and inform him the place where I was from — which was at Conewaugus, on the Genesee River.
When I was a child, I played with the butterfly, the grasshopper and the frogs; and as I grew up, I began to pay some attention and play with the Indian boys in the neighbourhood, and they took notice of my skin being a different colour from theirs, and spoke about it. I inquired of my mother the cause, and she told me that my father was a residenter in Albany. I still eat my victuals out of a bark dish — I grew up to be a young man, and married me a wife — and I had no kettle or gun. I then knew where my father lived, and went to see him, and found he was a white man, and spoke the English language. He gave me victuals whilst I was at his house, but when I started to return home, he gave me no provision to eat on the way. He gave me neither kettle nor gun; neither did he tell me that the United States were about to rebel against the government of England.
I will now tell you, brothers, who are in session of the legislature of Pennsylvania, that the Great Spirit has made known to me that I have been wicked; and
56the cause thereof was the revolutionary war in America. The cause of Indians having been led into sin, at that time, was that many of them were in the practice of drinking and getting intoxicated. Great Britain requested us to join with them in the conflict against the Americans, and promised the Indians land and liquor. I, myself, was opposed to joining in the conflict, as I had nothing to do with the difficulty that existed between the two parties. I have now informed you how it happened that the Indians took a part in the revolution, and will relate to you some circumstances that occurred after the close of the war. General Putnam, who was then at Philadelphia, told me there was to be a council at Fort Stanwix; and the Indians requested me to attend on behalf of the Six Nations — which I did, and there met with three commissioners, who had been appointed to hold the council. They told me they would inform me of the cause of the revolution, which I requested them to do minutely. They then said that it had originated on account of the heavy taxes that had been imposed upon them by the British government, which had been, for fifty years, increasing upon them; that the Americans had grown weary thereof, and refused to pay, which affronted the king. There had likewise a difficulty taken place about some tea (which they wished me not to use, as it had been one of the causes that many people had lost their lives.) And the British government now being affronted, the war commenced, and the cannons began to roar in our country. General Putnam then told me at the council at Fort Stanwix, that by the late war, the Americans had gained two objects: they had established themselves an independent nation, and had obtained some land to live upon — the division-line of which, from Great Britain, ran through the lakes. I then spoke, and said that I wanted some land for the Indians to live on, and General Putnam said that it should be granted, and I should have land in the
57state of New-York, for the Indians. General Putnam then encouraged me to use my endeavours to pacify the Indians generally; and as he considered it an arduous task to perform, wished to know what I wanted for pay therefor? I replied to him, that I would use my endeavours to do as he had requested, with the Indians, and for pay therefor, I would take land. I told him not to pay me money or dry goods, but land. And for having attended thereto I received the tract of land on which I now live, which was presented to me by Governor Mifflin. I told General Putnam, that I wished the Indians to have the exclusive privilege of the deer and wild game — which he assented to. I also wished the Indians to have the privilege of hunting in the woods, and making fires — which he likewise assented to.
The treaty that was made at the aforementioned council, has been broken by some of the white people, which I now intend acquainting the governor with: — Some white people are not willing that Indians should hunt any more, whilst others are satisfied therewith; and those white people who reside near our reservation, tell us that the woods are theirs, and they have obtained them from the governor. The treaty has been also broken by the white people using their endeavours to destroy all the wolves — which was not spoken about in the council at Fort Stanwix, by General Putnam, but has originated lately.
It has been broken again, which is of recent origin White people wish to get credit from Indians, and do not pay them honestly, according to their agreement. In another respect it has also been broken by white people, who reside near my dwelling; for when I plant melons and vines in my field, they take them as their own. It has been broken again by white people using their endeavours to obtain our pine trees from us. We have very few pine trees on our land, in the state of New York; and white people
58and Indians often get into dispute respecting them. There is also a great quantity of whiskey brought near our reservation by white people, and the Indians obtain it and become drunken. Another circumstance has taken place which is very trying to me, and I wish the interference of the governor.
The white people, who live at Warren, called upon me, some time ago, to pay taxes for my land; which I objected to, as I had never been called upon for that purpose before; and having refused to pay, the white people became irritated, called upon me frequently, and at length brought four guns with them and seized our cattle. I still refused to pay, and was not willing to let the cattle go. After a time of dispute, they returned home, and I understood the militia was ordered out to enforce the collection of the tax. I went to Warren, and, to avert the impending difficulty, was obliged to give my note for the tax, the amount of which was forty-three dollars and seventy-nine cents. It is my desire that the governor will exempt me from paying taxes for my land to white people; and also cause that the money I am now obliged to pay, may be refunded to me, as I am very poor. The governor is the person who attends to the situation of the people, and I wish him to send a person to Alleghany, that I may inform him of the particulars of our situation, and he be authorized to instruct the white people, in what manner to conduct themselves towards Indians.
The government has told us that when any difficulties arose between Indians and white people, they would attend to having them removed. We are now in a trying situation, and I wish the governor to send a person, authorized to attend thereto, the forepart of next summer, about the time that grass has grown high enough for pasture.
The governor formerly requested me to pay attention to the Indians, and take care of them: — we are now arrived at a situation that I believe Indians
59cannot exist, unless the governor should comply with my request, and send a person authorized to treat between us and the white people, the approaching summer. I have now no more to speak.
CORNPLANTER, His X Mark,
JOSEPH ELKINTON, Interpreter and Scrivener.
To Joseph Heister,
Governor of Pennsylvania.
I will conclude this chapter with the oration of the Te-cum-seh, the celebrated Shawanee warrior, as rendered by Mr. Hunter. It appears, from his account, that "some of the white people among the Osages were traders, and others were reputed to be runners from their Great Father beyond the great waters, to invite the Indians to take up the tomahawk against the settlers. They made many long talks, and distributed many valuable presents; but without being able to shake the resolution which the Osages had formed, to preserve peace with their Great Father, the president. Their determinations were, however, to undergo a more severe trial: — Te-cum-seh now made his appearance among them."
He addressed them in long, eloquent, and pathetic strains; and an assembly more numerous than had ever been witnessed on any former occasion, listened to him with an intensely agitated, though profoundly respectful, interest and attention. In fact, so great was the effect produced by Te-cum-seh's eloquence, that the chiefs adjourned the council shortly after he had closed his harangue; nor did they finally come to a decision on the great question in debate for several days afterwards."
"Brothers, — We all belong to one family; we are all children of the Great Spirit; we walk in the same path; slake our thirst at the same spring; and now affairs of the greatest concern leads us to smoke the pipe around the same council fire!
"Brothers, — We are friends; we must assist each other to bear our burthens. The blood of many of our fathers and brothers has run like water on the ground, to satisfy the avarice of the white men. We, ourselves, are threatened with a great evil; nothing will pacify them but the destruction of all the red men.
"Brothers, — When the white men first set foot on our grounds, they were hungry; they had no place on which to spread their blankets, or to kindle their fires. They were feeble; they could do nothing for themselves. Our fathers commiserated their distress, and shared freely with them whatever the Great Spirit had given his red children. They gave them food when hungry, medicine when sick, spread skins for them to sleep on, and gave them grounds, that they might hunt and raise corn. — Brothers, the white people are like poisonous serpents: when chilled, they are feeble and harmless; but invigorate them with warmth, and they sting their benefactors to death.
"The white people came among us feeble; and now we have made them strong, they wish to kill us, or drive us back, as they would wolves and panthers.
"Brothers, — The white men are not friends to the Indians: at first, they only asked for land sufficient for a wigwam; now nothing will satisfy them but whole of our hunting grounds, from the rising to the setting sun.
"Brothers, — The white men want more than our hunting grounds; they wish to kill our warriors; they would even kill our old men, women, and little ones.
"Brothers, — Many winters ago, there was no land; the sun did not rise and set: all was darkness. The Great Spirit made all things. He gave the white people a home beyond the great waters. He supplied these grounds with game, and gave them to his red children; and he gave them strength and courage to defend them.
"Brothers, — My people wish for peace; the red men all wish for peace; but where the white people are, there is no peace for them, except it be on the bosom of our mother.
"Brothers, — The white men despise and cheat the Indians; they abuse and insult them; they do not think the red men sufficiently good to live.
"The red men have borne many and great injuries; they ought to suffer them no longer. My people will not; they are determined on vengeance; they have taken up the tomahawk: they will make it fat with blood; they will drink the blood of the white people.
"Brothers, — My people are brave and numerous; but the white people are too strong for them alone. I wish you to take up the tomahawk with them. If we all unite, we will cause the rivers to stain the great waters with their blood.
"Brothers, — If you do not unite with us, they will first destroy us, and then you will fall an easy prey to them. They have destroyed many nations of red men because they were not united, because they were not friends to each other.
"Brothers, — The white people send runners among us; they wish to make us enemies, that they may sweep over and desolate our hunting grounds, like devastating winds, or rushing waters.
"Brothers, — Our Great Father, over the great waters, is angry with the white people, our enemies. He will send his brave warriors against them; he will send us rifles, and whatever else we want — he is our friend, and we are his children.
"Brothers, — Who are the white people that we should fear them? They cannot run fast, and are good marks to shoot at: they are only men; our fathers have killed many of them: we are not squaws, and we will stain the earth red with their blood.
"Brothers, — The Great Spirit is angry with our enemies; he speaks in thunder, and the earth swallows up villages, and drinks up the Mississippi. The great waters will cover their lowlands; their corn cannot grow; and the Great Spirit will sweep those who escape to the hills from the earth with his terrible breath.
"Brothers, — We must be united; we must smoke the same pipe; we must fight each others battles; and more than all, we must love the Great Spirit; he is for us; he will destroy our enemies, and make all his red children happy."
Chapter VI. Attachment to, and Education of, Their Children.
In consequence of the universal sentiment that the Indians, from defect of Intellect, are incapable of civilization, I fully determined to endeavour to procure a young deserted infant (if such could be found) whom I would have taken and educated with, and as one of my own. My speculations on this plan were, however, frustrated; as all who were intimate with the Indians, concurred in affirming that to obtain one of their children would be impossible. No emolument, or hope of advancement, would induce an Indian to part with his child. What an exalted virtue is here established! People who are esteemed most civilized, most refined, have very different feelings as to their offspring, which in many instances are cast off at their birth to be nursed by a hireling; alienated from their early home, and abandoned to the too often careless guardianship of an academy; consigned to a college, where if they learn something of Virgil and the mathematics, they also get initiated, before their manhood, into every species of dissipation; and finally sent to remote parts of the globe (no matter where) with little, if any, regard to a single consideration other than the acquirement of wealth. How few of the duties obligatory on parents are fulfilled by the majority of Christian fathers and mothers! The tender solicitude of the Indian women, in respect to their children, I have had several opportunities of witnessing; but it was never more
64completely developed than by the following incident which took place before my eyes.
A mother with an infant at her breast, and two other children, one about eleven and the other eight or nine years of age, were in a canoe near a mile from land, during a violent squall. The wind came in sudden gusts, and the waves dashed in rapid succession over the frail vessel. The poor woman, with a small oar in one hand and the other surrounding her babe, directed the two young ones, who each had a paddle, to get the head of the canoe to the wind while the squall lasted; which, with much labour on the part of these tender little mariners, aided by the mother, was at length effected; but during the effort it was very touching to see the strong emotions of maternal love, evidenced to the poor infant at her breast. She would clasp it tightly to her agitated bosom, then cast a momentary look at her other children, and with an anxious and steady gaze, watch the coming wave. In this scene were exhibited such high degrees of fortitude, dexterity, and parental affection, that I could have wished many of our civilized mothers, who look and think with contempt on the poor Indian, had beheld her.
This tenderness in the early nurture of their offspring, is followed by the most exact care in their subsequent education. "It may justly be a subject of wonder," says Mr. Heckewelder, "how a nation, without a written code of laws or system of jurisprudence, without any form or constitution of government, and without even a single elective or hereditary magistrate, can subsist together in peace and harmony, and in the exercise of the moral virtues; how a people can be well and effectually governed, without any external authority, by the mere force of the ascendancy which men of superior minds have over those of a more ordinary stamp; by a tacit, yet universal submission to the aristocracy of experience, talents, and virtue! Such, nevertheless, is the
65spectacle which an Indian nation exhibits to the eye of a stranger. I have been a witness to it for a long series of years, and after much observation and reflection to discover the cause of this phenomenon, I think I have reason to be satisfied that it is in a great degree to be ascribed to the pains which the Indians take to instil at an early age honest and virtuous principles upon the minds of their children, and to the method which they pursue in educating them. This method I will not call a system, for systems are unknown to these sons of nature, who, by following alone her dictates, have at once discovered, and follow without effort, that plain obvious path which the philosophers of Europe have been so long in search of."
The manner of this education is described by our good missionary as follows: —
"The first step that parents take towards the education of their children, is to prepare them for future happiness, by impressing upon their tender minds, that they are indebted for their existence to a great, good, and benevolent Spirit, who not only has given them life, but has ordained them for certain great purposes. That he has given them a fertile extensive country, well stocked with game of every kind for their subsistence; and that by one of his inferior spirits he has also sent down to them from above, corn, pumpkins, squashes, beans and other vegetables for their nourishment; all which blessings their ancestors have enjoyed for a great number of ages. That this great Spirit looks down upon the Indians, to see whether they are grateful to him and make him a due return for the many benefits he has bestowed, and therefore that it is their duty to show their thankfulness by worshipping him, and doing that which is pleasing in his sight.
"This is in substance the first lesson taught, and from time to time repeated to the Indian children, which naturally leads them to reflect and gradually to understand that a Being which hath done such great things for them, and all to make them happy, must be good indeed, and that it is surely their duty to do something that will please him. They are then told that their ancestors, who received all this from the hands of the Great Spirit, and lived in the enjoyment of it, must have been informed of what would be most pleasing to this good Being, and of the manner in which his favour could be most surely obtained, and they are directed to look up for instruction to those who know all this, to learn from them, and revere them for their wisdom and the knowledge which they possess; this creates in children a strong sentiment of respect for their elders, and a desire to follow their advice and example. Their young ambition is then excited by telling them that they were made the superiors of all other cultures, and are to have power over them; great pains are taken to make this feeling take an early root, and it becomes, in fact, their ruling passion through life; for no pains are spared to instil into them, that by following the advice of the most admired and extolled hunter, trapper, or warrior, they will at a future day acquire a degree of fame and reputation, equal to that which he possesses; that by submitting to counsels of the aged, the chiefs, the men superior in wisdom, they may also rise to glory, and be called Wise men, an honourable title, to which no Indian is indifferent. They are finally told that if they respect the aged and infirm, and are kind and obliging to them, they will be treated in the same manner when their turn comes to feel the infirmities of old age.
"When this first and most important lesson is thought to be sufficiently impressed upon children's minds, the parents next proceed to make them sensible of the distinction between good and evil; they
67tell them that there are good and bad actions, both equally open to then to do or commit; that good acts are pleasing to the good Spirit which gave them their existence, and that on the contrary, all that is bad proceeds from the bad spirit who has given them nothing, and who cannot give them any thing that is good, because he has it not, and therefore he envies them that which they have received from the good Spirit, who is far superior to the bad one.
"This introductory lesson, if it may be so called, naturally makes them wish to know what is good and what is bad. This the parent teaches them in his own way; that is to say, in the way in which he was himself taught by his own parents. It is not the lesson of an hour nor of a day, it is rather a long course more of practical than of theoretical instruction; a lesson, which is not repeated at stated seasons or times, but which is shown, pointed out, and demonstrated to the child, not only by those under whose immediate guardianship he is, but by the whole community, who consider themselves alike interested in the direction to be given to the rising generation.
"When this instruction is given in the form of precepts, it must not be supposed that it is done in an authoritative or forbidding tone, but, on the contrary, in the gentlest and most persuasive manner: nor is the parent's authority ever supported by harsh or compulsive means; no whips, no punishments, no threats are ever used to enforce commands or compel obedience. The child's pride is the feeling to which an appeal is made, which proves successful in almost every instance. A father needs only to say in the presence of his children ‘I want such a thing done; I want one of my children to go upon such an errand; let me see who is the good child that will do it!’ This word good operates, as it were, by magic, and the children immediately vie with each other to comply with the wishes of their parent. If a father
68sees an old decrepit man or woman pass by, led along by a child, he will draw the attention of his own children to the object by saying, ‘What a good child that must be, which pays such attention to the aged! That child, indeed, looks forward to the time when it will likewise be old!’ or he will say, ‘May the great Spirit, who looks upon him, grant this good child a long life!’
"In this manner of bringing up children, the parents, as I have already said, are seconded by the whole community. If a child is sent from his father's dwelling to carry a dish of victuals to an aged person, all in the house will join in calling him a good child. They will ask whose child he is, and on being told, will exclaim, what! has the Tortoise, or the Little Bear, (as the father's name may be) got such a good child? If a child is seen passing through the streets leading an old decripit person, the villagers will in his hearing, and to encourage all the other children who may be present to take example from him, call on one another to look on and see what a good child that must be. And so, in most instances, this method is resorted to, for the purpose of instructing children in things that are good, proper, or honourable in themselves; while, on the other hand, when a child has committed a bad act, the parent will say to him, ‘O! how grieved I am that my child has done this bad act! I hope he will never do so again.’ This is generally effectual, particularly if said in the presence of others. The whole of the plan of education tends to elevate rather than depress the mind, and by that means to make determine hunters and fearless warriors.
"Thus, when a lad has killed his first game, such as a deer or a bear, parents who have boys growing up will not fail to say to some person in the presence of their own children, ‘That boy must have listened attentively to the aged hunters, for, though so young, he has already given a proof that he will
69become a good hunter himself.’ If, on the other hand, a young man should fail of giving such a proof, it will be said of him ‘that he did not pay attention to the discourses of the aged.’
"In this indirect manner is instruction on all subjects given to the young people. They are to learn the arts of hunting, trapping, and making war, by listening to the aged when conversing together on those subjects; each in his turn relating how he acted; and opportunities are afforded to them for that purpose. By this mode of instructing youth, their respect for the aged is kept alive, and it is increased by the reflection that the same respect will be paid to them at a future day, when young persons will be attentive to what they shall relate.
"This method of conveying instruction is, I believe, common to most Indian nations; it is so, at least, amongst all those that I have become acquainted with, and lays the foundation for that voluntary submission to their chiefs, for which they are so remarkable. Thus has been maintained for ages, without convulsions and without civil discords, this traditional government, of which the world, perhaps, does not offer another example; a government in which there are no positive laws, but only long established habits and customs; no code of jurisprudence, but the experience of former times; no magistrates, but advisers, to whom the people, nevertheless, pay a willing and implicit obedience, in which age confers rank, wisdom gives power, and moral goodness secures a title to universal respect. All this seems to be effected by the simple means of an excellent mode of education, by which a strong attachment to ancient customs, respect for age, and the love of virtue are indelibly impressed upon the minds of youth, so that these impressions acquire strength as time pursues its course, and as they pass through successive generations."
Chapter VII. Sensibility — Gratitude — Cruel Conduct Exercised Towards the Indians.
IN passing down the St. Lawrence in the summer of 1819, I stopped my batteaux at a tavern where I proposed to remain all night. Two squaws were there with a basket of wild strawberries for sale, and I directed the mistress of the tavern to purchase some that I might have them with cream for my supper. It was soon, however, to be perceived by the conversation in bargaining, that my landlady and the Indian women could not come to terms. There seemed to be much harshness in the manner of the former; but the replies of the latter were so meek, and their demeanour so submissive, that had I been making the bargain under the impression of my feelings, few words would have been necessary. The christian purchaser, however, continued so extortionate in her demands, that the poor disappointed heathens turned away from her. Truly unreasonable indeed must the lady have been, for there was neither village, nor other house near likely to afford a market for the poor Indian hawkers, who it seen had come to this very tavern with the hope of selling their fruit. Under this impression I followed the poor women, put a small sum into the hands of them, and hastily passed on, while they gazed at me with astonishment at so unexpected a largess for so it appeared to them. On my return from a walk along the river, I was surprised to see the two squaws standing at the corner of the house patiently waiting for me; when, with eyes sparkling with emotions which I could not misunderstand, but
71which I am incapable of portraying, they presented me with a bowl top-full of picked strawberries, which I rejected at first, being desirous of convincing them there were some, if not many, white men who felt kindly towards them. But their expression of entreaty was so vehement, their importunity so great, that I felt necessary to their happiness to accept their present, for they had no other way of showing their gratitude. This humble offering furnished my supper, and sweet indeed would my meal have been, had not commiseration for the wrongs of these sorely abused, persecuted, forlorn, and abandoned people, mingled with my enjoyment. I am so fully impressed with their undeserved misery, and with the nobleness of their character, that I should esteem the devotion of my life in their cause the most honourable way in which it could be employed; but alas, years and circumstances prevent my doing more than making this feeble effort to rouse the energies of youthful talent in their behalf; and as benevolence pervades the youthful mind more powerfully than that of the aged, I am not without a hope that thousands will yet start up to advocate the cause of the Red Indians, and prosecute measures for the amelioration of their state.
The above instance of want of charity, nay, of common decency on the part of white people in their intercourse with the Indians, is not by any means of rare occurrence. My reader will already have seen the complaints and pathetic appeals to justice which the poor children of the wilderness are so frequently compelled, by the treachery of their civilized neighbours, to make; and I am sorry to add another specimen to the long list of these atrocious outrages, which, in large and petty aggressions, is daily swelling and becoming more and more enormous. In passing, on the very day I have just adverted to, through the thousand islands, one of the boatmen who were rowing me, hallooed to a canoe in which
72some Indians were fishing, who immediately came towards us, and a barter commenced between them and the boatmen. The boatmen held up a piece of cold pork and a loaf, for which they were to receive fish. The poor young Indians, (for the eldest was not above fourteen, and there were two little girls younger) showed what fish they would give; yet warily kept at a distance, fearing what, in spite of their precaution, actually took place. The boatmen struck suddenly at the canoe with their oars, and in the confusion which this attack caused, grasped the fish; the bread and pork they at first offered were, I need hardly say, withheld. Having achieved this noble enterprise they shouted and assailed the unresisting and defenceless children (who paddled off evidently fearful of further outrage,) with taunts and mockery. These men were Canadians; there were four of them; and I had no other means of punishing them on this occasion than by withholding the usual pecuniary fee. I was in some measure at their mercy; but though compelled to be a calm spectator of so dastardly a theft, I confess I was still more incensed at seeing how heartily some inhabitants of Canada, who were my fellow-passengers, seemed to enjoy the joke. The fact is, the Indians are esteemed lawful prey. Such is the feeling of thousands of men called christians, who boast of civilization, but who derive their subsistence by intercourse with the Indians; and however just many in the United States are, and however careful the British government is to guard the rights of the red men, yet as this guardianship is chiefly committed to those who are partakers in the spoils of the Indians, the care, instead of being wise and benign, is rather to debauch their untutored minds by the introduction of spirits among them. Every cup to them is indeed "unblessed, and the ingredient is a devil!" Gradually, therefore, are they diminishing, and receding from the haunts of what we term civilization! That this charge does not apply
73to all, and rarely to the heads of these departments, rejoice to admit; but still those heads of departments are responsible for all the acts of their subordinate agents, and should exercise a vigilant superintendence, impartially punishing any, the least, infringement of their regulations. No man should be connected with the Indian department who is directly or indirectly interested in trade with the Indians.
I will not declaim on this subject, but let the following facts, derived from Mr. Heckewelder's account, speak for themselves.
"In the summer of the year 1763, some friendly Indians from a distant place, came to Bethlehem to dispose of their peltry for manufactured goods and necessary implements of husbandry. Returning home well satisfied, they put up the first night at a tavern, eight miles distant.
74distance into the woods, where, some of them remaining with what was left them, the others returned to Bethlehem and lodged their complaint with a justice of the peace. The magistrate gave them a letter to the landlord, pressing him without delay to restore to the Indians the goods that had been taken from them. But behold! when they delivered that letter to the people at the inn they were told in answer ‘that if they set any value on their lives, they must make off with themselves immediately.’ They well understood that they had no other alternative, and prudently departed without having received back any of their goods. Arrived at Nescopeck on the Susquehannah, they fell in with some other Delawares, who had been treated much in the same manner, one of them having had his rifle stolen from him. Here the two parties agreed to take revenge in their own way, for those insults and robberies for which they could obtain no redress; and that they determined to do as soon as war should be again declared by their nation against the English.
"Scarcely had these Indians retired, when in another place, about fourteen miles distant from the former, one man, two women and a child, all quiet Indians, were murdered in a most wicked and barbarous manner, by drunken militia officers and their men for the purpose of getting their horse and the goods they had just purchased.
"Here, then, were insults, robberies and murders, all committed within the short space of three months,
75unatoned for and unrevenged. There was no prospect of obtaining redress; the survivors were therefore obliged to seek some other means to obtain revenge. They did so; the Indians, already exasperated against the English in consequence of repeated outrages, and considering the nation as responsible for the injuries which it did neither prevent or punish, and for which it did not even offer to make any kind of reparation, at last declared war, and then the injured parties were at liberty to redress themselves for the wrongs they had suffered. They immediately started against the objects of their hatred, and finding their way unseen and undiscovered, to the inn which had been the scene of the first outrage, they attacked it at day-break, fired into it on the people within who were lying on their beds. Strange to relate! the murderers of the man, two women, and child, were among them. They were mortally wounded, and died of their wounds shortly afterwards. The Indians, after leaving this house, murdered by accident an innocent family, having mistaken the house that they meant to attack, after which they returned to their homes.
"Now a violent hue and cry was raised against the Indians — no language was too bad, no crimes too black to brand them with. No faith was to be placed in those savages; treaties with them were of no effect; they ought to be cut off from the face of the earth! Such was the language at that time in every body's mouth; the newspapers were filled with accounts of the cruelties of the Indians; a variety of false reports were circulated in order to rouse the people against them; while they, the really injured party, having no printing presses among them, could not make known the story of their grievances.
"‘No faith can be placed in what the Indians promise at treaties; for scarcely is a treaty concluded than they are again murdering us.’ Such is our complaint against these unfortunate people; but they
76will tell you that it is the white men in whom no faith is to be placed. They will tell you, that there is not a single instance in which the whites have not violated the engagements that they had made at treaties. They say that when they had ceded lands to the white people, and boundary lines had been established — ‘firmly established!’ beyond which no whites were to settle; scarcely was the treaty signed, when white intruders again were settling and hunting on their lands! It is true that when they preferred their complaints to the government, the government gave them many fair promises and assured them that men would be sent to remove the intruders by force from the usurped lands. The men indeed, came, but with chain and compass in their hands, taking surveys of the tracts of good land, which the intruders from their knowledge of the country, had pointed out to them!
"What was then to be done, when those intruders would not go off from the land, but on the contrary, increased in numbers? ‘Oh!’ said these people, and I have myself frequently heard this language in the Western country,) ‘a new treaty will soon give us all this land; nothing is now wanting but a pretence to pick a quarrel with them!’ Well, but in what manner is this quarrel to be brought about? A David Owen, a Walker, and many others, might, if they were alive, easily answer this question. A precedent however, may be found, on perusing Mr. Jefferson's Appendix to his notes on Virginia. On all occasions, when the object is to murder Indians, strong liquor is the main article required; for when you have them dead drunk, you may do to them as you please, without running the risk of losing your life. And should you find that the laws of your country may reach you where you are, you have only to escape or conceal yourself for a while until the storm has blown over! I well recollect the time when thieves and murderers of Indians fled from
77impending punishment across the Susquehannah where they considered themselves safe; on which account this river had the name given to it of ‘the rogues' river’ I have heard other rivers called by similar names.
"In the year 1742, the Reverend Mr. Whitefield offered the Nazareth Manor (as it was then called) for sale to the United Brethren. He had already begun to build upon it a spacious stone house, intended as a school-house for the education of Indian children. The Indians, in the meanwhile, loudly exclaimed against the white people for settling in this part of the country, which had not yet been legally purchased of them, but, as they said, had been obtained by fraud.
78the settlement on this manor, and removing to places of greater safety.
It is true, that when flagrant cases of this description occurred, the government, before the revolution, issued proclamations offering rewards for apprehending the offenders; and in later times, since the country has become more thickly settled, those who had been guilty of such offences were brought before the tribunals to take their trials. But these formalities have proved of little avail. In the first case, the criminals were seldom, if ever, apprehended; in the second, no jury could be found to convict them; for it was no uncommon saying among many of the men of whom juries in the Frontier countries were commonly composed, that no man should be put to death for killing an Indian; for it was the same thing as killing a wild beast!
"In the course of the revolutionary war, in which (as in all civil commotions) brother was seen fighting against brother, and friend against friend, a party of Indian warriors, with whom one of those white men, who, under colour of attachment to their king, indulged in every sort of crimes, was going out against the settlers on the Ohio, to kill and destroy as they had been ordered. The chief of the expedition had given strict orders not to molest any of the white men who lived with their friends the Christian Indians; yet, as they passed near a settlement of these converts, the white man, unmindful of the orders he had received, attempted to shoot two of the Missionaries who were planting potatoes in their field, and though the captain warned him to desist, he still obstinately persisted in his attempt. The chief, in anger, immediately took his gun from him, and kept him under guard until they had reached a considerable distance from the place. I have received this account from the chief himself, who on his return sent word to the Missionaries that they would do well not to go far from home
79us they were in too great danger from the white people.
"Another white man of the same description, whom I well knew, related with a kind of barbarous exultation, on his return to Detroit from a war excursion with the Indians in which he had been engaged, that the party with which he was, having taken a woman prisoner who had a sucking babe at her breast, he tried to persuade the Indians to kill the child, lest its cries should discover the place where they were; the Indians were unwilling to commit the deed, on which the white man at once jumped up, tore the child from its mother's arms, and taking it by the legs dashed its head against a tree, so that the brains flew out all around. The monster in relating this story said, ‘The little dog all the time was making wee!’ He added, that if he were sure that his old father, who some time before had died in Old Virginia, would, if he had lived longer, have turned rebel, he would go all the way into Virginia, raise the body, and take off his scalp!
"Let us now contrast with this the conduct of the Indians. Carver tells us in his travels with what moderation, humanity and delicacy they treat female prisoners, and particularly pregnant women.
"A party of Delawares, in one of their excursions during the revolutionary war, took a white female prisoner. The Indian chief, after a march of several days, observed that she was ailing, and was soon convinced (for she was far advanced in her pregnancy) that the time of her delivery was near. He
80immediately made a halt on the bank of a stream, where, at a proper distance from the encampment, he built for her a close hut of peeled barks, gathered dry grass and fern to make her a bed, and placed a blanket at the opening of the dwelling as a substitute for a door. He then kindled a fire, placed a pile of wood near it to feed it occasionally, and placed a kettle of water at hand where she might easily use it. He then took her into her little infirmary, gave her Indian medicines, with directions how to use them, and told her to rest easy, and she might be sure that nothing should disturb her. Having done this, he returned to his men, forbade them from making any noise, or disturbing the sick woman in any manner, and told them that he himself should guard her during the night. He did so; and the whole night kept watch before her door, walking backward and forward, to be ready at her call at any moment, in case of extreme necessity. The night passed quietly; but in the morning, as he was walking by on the bank of the stream, seeing him through the crevices, she called to him and presented her babe. The good chief, with tears in eyes, rejoiced at her safe delivery; he told her not to be uneasy, that he should lay by for a few days, and would soon bring her some nourishing food, and some medicines to take. Then going to his encampment, he ordered all his men to go out a hunting, and remained himself to guard the camp."
Forgive me, reader, if, for a moment, I disturb the order of my extract. There is nothing that I know within the whole scope of anecdotal history more affecting than the present narration. How exalted was the humanity of this Indian Chief! how refined his delicacy! how watchful and tender his care! — The pathos, though deep, is sweet; and Mr. Heckewelder has communicated the story in a style of feeling and simplicity worthy of it. He has made us witnesses of the transaction. We see through the
81darkness of the night, the swarthy warrior walking anxiously backward and forward before the hut of bark, — the "little infirmary" of the labouring woman. The morning comes; and in the pale dawn behold! the poor creature pointing, in a state of utter exhaustion, to her babe, delivered in the wilderness — in night and solitude! Yet was she not entirely without support; for, over and above the secret aid which came to her pangs from high, see! she meets with sympathy in a wild man, a stranger, a warrior; who melts into tears at the sight! My heart, too, swells as I read. Bear with me — we will resume our extract.
"Now for the reverse of the picture. Among the men whom this chief had under his command, was one of those white vagabonds whom I have before described. The captain was much afraid of him, knowing him to be a bad man; and as he had expressed a great desire to go a hunting with the rest, he believed him gone, and entertained no fears for the woman's safety. But it was not long before he was undeceived. While he was gone to a small distance to dig roots for his poor patient, he heard her cries, and running with speed to her hut, he was informed by her that the white man had threatened to take her life if she did not immediately throw her child into the river. The captain, enraged at the cruelty of this man, and the liberty he had taken with his prisoner, hailed him as he was running off, and told him ‘That the moment he should miss the child, the tomahawk should be in his head.’ After a few days this humane chief placed the woman carefully on a horse, and they went together to the place of their destination, the mother and child doing well. I have heard him relate this story, to which he added, that whenever he should go out on an excursion, he never would suffer a white man to be of his party.
Yet I must acknowledge that I have known an
82Indian chief who had been guilty of the crime of killing the child of a female prisoner. His name was Glikhican. In the year 1770, he joined the congregation of the Christian Indians; the details of his conversion are related at large by Loskiel in his History of the Missions.
"Glikhican never forgave himself for having committed this crime, although many times, and long before his becoming a Christian, he had begged the woman's pardon with tears in his eyes, and received her free and full forgiveness. In vain she pointed out to him all the circumstances that he could have alledged to excuse the deed; in vain she reminded him of his unwillingness at the time, and his having been in a manner compelled to it by his French associates; nothing that she did say could assuage his sorrow or quiet the perturbation of his mind; he called himself a wretch, a monster, a coward, (the
83proud feelings of an Indian must be well understood to judge of the force of this self-accusation,) and to the moment of his death the remembrance of this fatal act preyed like a canker-worm upon his spirits. I ought to add, that from the time of his conversion he lived the life of a Christian, and died as such.
"The Indians are cruel to their enemies! — In some cases they are, but perhaps not more so than white men have sometimes shown themselves. There have been instances of white men flaying or taking off the skin of Indians who had fallen into their hands, then tanning those skins or cutting them in pieces, making them up into razor-straps, and exposing those for sale as was done at or near Pittsburg sometime during the revolutionary war. Those things are abominations in the eyes of the Indians, who, indeed, when strongly excited, inflict torments on their prisoners and put them to death by cruel tortures, but never are guilty of acts of barbarity in cold blood. Neither do the Delawares and some other Indian nations, ever on any account disturb the ashes of the dead.
"The custom of torturing prisoners is of ancient date, and was first introduced as a trial of courage. I have been told, however, that among some tribes it has never been in use; but it must be added that those tribes gave no quarter. The Delawares accuse the Iroquois of having been the inventers of this piece of cruelty, and charge them further with eating the flesh of their prisoners after the torture was over. Be this as it may, there are now but few instances of prisoners being put to death in this manner.
"Rare as these barbarous executions now are, I have reason to believe that they would be still less frequent, if proper pains were taken to turn the Indians away from this heathenish custom. Instead of this, it is but too true that they have been excited to cruelty by unprincipled white men, who have joined
84in their war-feasts and even added to the barbarity of the scene. Can there be a more brutal act than, after furnishing those savages, as they are called, with implements of war and destruction, to give them an ox to kill and to roast whole, to dance the war dance with them round the slaughtered animal, strike at him, stab him, telling the Indians at the same time, ‘Strike, stab! thus you must do to your enemy!’ Then taking a piece of the meat and tearing it with their teeth, ‘So you must eat his flesh!’ and sucking up the juices, ‘Thus you must drink his blood;’ and at last devour the whole as wolves do a carcass. This is what is known to have been done by some of those Indian agents that I have mentioned.
"Is this possible? the reader will naturally exclaim. Yes, it is possible, and every Indian warrior will tell you that it is true. It has come to me from so many credible sources that I am forced to believe it. How can the Indians now be reproached with acts of cruelty to which they have been excited by those who pretended to be Christians and civilized men, but who were worse savages than those whom, no doubt, they were ready to brand with that name.
"When hostile governments give directions to employ the Indians against their enemies, they surely do not know that such is the manner in which their orders are to be executed; but let me tell them and every government who will descend to employing these auxiliaries, that this is the only way in which their subaltern agents will and can proceed to make their aid effectual. The Indians are not fond of interfering in quarrels not their own, and will not fight with spirit for the mere sake of a livelihood which they can obtain in a more agreeable manner by hunting and their other ordinary occupations. Their passions must be excited, and that is not easily done when they themselves have not received any injury
85from those against whom they are desired to fight. Behold, then, the abominable course which must unavoidably be resorted to — to induce them to do what? — to lay waste the dwelling of the peaceable cultivator of the land, and to murder his innocent wife and his helpless children! I cannot pursue this subject farther, although I am far from having exhausted it. I have said enough to enable the impartial reader to decide which of the two classes of men, the Indians and the whites, are the most justly entitled to the epithets of brutes, barbarians, and savages. It is not for me to anticipate his decision."
Chapter VIII. Vanity as to Dress, and Other Personal Decoration.
THE warriors and chiefs are distinguished by their ornaments. The present dress of the Indians is well known to consist in blankets, plain or ruffled shirts and leggins for the men, and cloth petticoats for the women, generally red, blue, or black. The blankets are sometimes made of feathers. This manufacture requires great patience, being a very tedious kind of work; yet the Indians do it in a most ingenious manner. The feathers (generally those of the turkey and goose) are curiously arranged and interwoven together with a sort of thread or twine, which they prepare from the rind or bark of the wild hemp and nettle. The wealthy adorn themselves with ribands or gartering of various colours, beads, and silver broaches. They wear, moreover, broad rings or bands on their arms, fingers, and round their hats; these ornaments are highly valued if of silver, but if only plated they are despised, and would hardly worn. I have seen in young children, three rings in each ear. These decorations are arranged by the women, who, as well as the men, know how to dress themselves in style. Those of the men consist in the painting of themselves (their head and face principally,) wearing gaudy garments, with silver arm spangles and breast-plates, and a belt or two of wampum hanging to their necks. The women, at the expense of their husbands or lovers, line their petticoat and blanket with choice ribands of various colours, with gartering, on which they fix a number of silver broaches or small round buckles. They adorn their
87leggings in the same manner; their mockasens are neatly embroidered with coloured porcupine quills, and are besides, almost entirely covered with various trinkets; they have also a number of little bells and brass thimbles fixed round their ankles, which, when they walk, make a tinkling noise, which is heard at some distance; this is intended to draw the attention of those who pass by, that they may look at, and admire them.
The women make use of vermilion in painting themselves for dances; but they are very careful and circumspect in applying the paint, so that it does not offend or create suspicion in their husbands; there is a mode of painting which is left entirely to loose women and prostitutes.
The following diverting anecdote is told by my old friend the Moravian missionary: —
"As I was once resting in my travels at the house of a trader who lived at some distance from an Indian town, I went in the morning to visit an Indian acquaintance and friend of mine. I found him engaged in plucking out his beard, preparatory to painting himself for a dance which was to take place the ensuing evening. Having finished his head-dress, about an hour before sunset, he came up, as he said, to see me, but I and my companions judged that he came to be seen. To my utter astonishment, I saw three different paintings or figures on one and the same face. He had, by his great ingenuity and judgment in laying on and shading the different colours, made his nose appear, when we stood directly in front of him, as if it were very long and narrow, with a round nob at the end, much like the upper part of a pair of tongs. On one cheek there was a red round spot, about the size of an apple, and the other was done in the same manner with black. The eye-lids, both the upper and lower ones, were reversed in the colouring. When we viewed him in profile on one side, his nose
88represented the beak of an eagle, with the bill rounded and brought to a point, precisely as those birds have it, though the mouth was somewhat open. The eye was astonishingly well done, and the head, upon the whole, appeared tolerably well, showing a great deal of fierceness. When we turned round to the other side, the same nose now resembled the snout of a pike, with the mouth so open, that the teeth could be seen. He seemed much pleased with the execution; and having his looking glass with him he contemplated his work, seemingly with great pride and exultation. He asked me how I liked it? I answered that if he had done the work on a piece of board, bark, or any thing else, I should like it very well, and often look at it. ‘But,’ asked he, ‘why not so as it is?’ ‘Because,’ said I, ‘I cannot see the face that is hidden under these colours, so as to know who it is.’ ‘Well,’ he replied, ‘I must go now; and as you cannot know me to-day, I will call tomorrow morning before you leave this place.’ He did so, and when he came back, he was washed clean again."
When the men paint their thighs, legs and breast, they generally, after laying on a thin shading coat of a darkish colour, and sometimes of a whitish clay, dip their fingers' ends in black or red paint, and then spreading them out, bring the streaks to a serpentine form.
The notion formerly entertained that the Indians are beardless by nature, and have no hair on their bodies, is now entirely exploded. It is scarcely possible, indeed, for any person to pass a few weeks only among these people, without seeing them plucking their beards with tweezers made expressly for that purpose. They perform the operation in a very quick manner, much like the plucking of a fowl; and the oftener it is done, the finer the hair grows, till at last the roots are so destroyed, that little or no hair appears left. The reasons they give for thus
89deracinating their hair, are that they may have a clean skin to lay the paint on, when they dress for their festivals or dances, and to facilitate the tattooing themselves; a custom formerly much in vogue among them, especially with those who had acquired celebrity by their valour. They say that either painting or tattooing on a hairy face or body would have a disgusting appearance.
Tattooing is now greatly discontinued. The process is quickly done, and does not seem to give much pain. They have poplar-bark in readiness, burnt and reduced to a powder; the figures that are to be tattooed are marked or designed on the skin; the operator, with a small stick, rather larger than a common match (to the end of which some sharp needles are fastened) quickly pricks over the whole so that blood is drawn; then a coat of the above powder is laid and left on to dry.
I was travelling in the United States, near Lake Erie, accompanied by a gentleman who, like myself, was a stranger in the country; and after riding several miles through the woods in great suspense, as scarcely any track was discernible, we at length arrived at an Indian hut. Night was now approaching, and we determined to return; but, observing through the trees a number of Indians coming towards us, we changed our purpose, lest our going off might have been considered an indication of fear, a thing they are very apt to resent. We, therefore, spurred our horses forward, and proceeded towards several well-instructed framed houses, near one of which stood two Indian men. Having alighted, we fastened our horses to the railing that enclosed a small garden, and accosted the men with assumed confidence, though not altogether without fear, for as they were living within the States, it occurred to our minds that they might not be friendly if they perceived we were British. These men were engaged sharpening an ax at a grindstone. When the Indian who turned the
90stone, discovered he was looked at, he immediately changed hands at his work, and with secret pride, but affected carelessness, extended the little finger of the hand now employed, on which we could not avoid seeing a large silver ring. No sweet clergyman, in odour with the ladies, could have better displayed a jewel over the edge of his pulpit, — no spruce physician, conscious of his brilliants, while feeling his patient's pulse; or dandy, taking a pinch of snuff with an eye to the exhibition of his trinkets, could have done the thing with a finer air than our Indian. This high mark of civilization, I must confess, inspired me with courage. We went past them to the house, into which we entered without ceremony, though the door was shut. We there found a young squaw who took little notice of us. The house was a framed one, well boarded outside, and lined and floored with the same material within. It was about twenty feet square, and ten high. In the side there was a loft, which seemed to be used as a kind of store-house for cobbs, or heads of Indian corn, wool, &c. There were two bedsteads with blankets and covers of striped woollen and linen, a small table, and some rude chairs. On each side the fire stood a hollow trunk of a tree, about two feet ten inches high, in the bottom of each of which were a hard stone, and a large wooden pounder or pestle for bruising Indian corn. There were, moreover, some pots, pans, wooden plates and dishes, a churn for milk, and pails for milking, scooped out of the solid tree. Few cabins in Ireland surpassed the one I am describing; and very few indeed, I grieve to say, equal it. Other buildings, still more commodious, appeared at a distance; but as night was gaining upon us, and we had still seven miles through the woods to go, we hurried away from the interesting scene. On our road we met two squaws, each riding a very good horse. Upon seeing us, they imitated the polished airs of the most refined people; holding themselves
91more erect, reining in their steeds, and looking at us with real modesty of manner. As soon as they passed they dashed forward with laughter, being highly amused at the astonishment apparent in us.
My own observations have convinced me that many of the feelings and acquirements which in the most fashionable constitute the surest marks of civilization, are to be found abundantly among the Indians. The men are fond of war and religion, of hunting, fishing, and feasting; averse to labour, and impatient of control. Does this prove them savages? The women affect dress and distinction; are dotingly fond of their children, whose wants, together with the wants of their husbands, they labour to supply. They are also warmly attached to their kindred and tribe. As some of these characteristics are not to be found in civilized life, the women may, for aught I know, bear some mark of savages. But with such inherent qualities, what might not these tribes become, both men and women?
Another trait of the Indian character is that they are kind and merciful masters to their horses; and cattle of every description are well fed, and kept in good condition by them.
Chapter IX. Attempts Recently Made to Lead the Indian Tribes to Admit Teachers of Christianity Among Them; WIth Observations Thereon, and Hints to Missionaries.
SEVERAL scattered tribes, in various parts of the United States, and in Upper and Lower Canada, have nominally embraced Christianity as professed by the Roman Catholics and other sects; and recent efforts have been made by Missionary Societies to forward among all the nations a willingness to admit teachers to instruct them in the Christian profession. A grand council of the Indians of many scattered and distant tribes, was to be held in the autumn or fall of 1819, for the purpose of deliberating and deciding whether these religious teachers were or were not to be allowed a footing among them. I happened at the time to be in the neighbourhood of their assembling, (not far distant from Buffalo;) but finding that the subject would occupy many days, perhaps weeks, and that the discussions would be held among themselves, and in their own languages, I was prevented from attending the council. I availed myself, however, of every opportunity of getting at the turning point of this important subject. On my journey from Buffalo towards Canada, I met an Indian Chief proceeding to the council fire to enter upon the above deliberation. He had an excellent horse, saddle, and bridle; his rifle, pistols, tomahawk, and blanket were slung on his horse; the scalping knife and pipe were attached to his person. The tout-ensemble of his dress was finery itself. He had silver clasps on his arms, long
93peacock-feathers in his cap, and conspicuous above all, was a large silver cross, about eighteen inches long, suspended by a string of wampum round his neck. This indicated that he was a champion of Christianity. He had alighted from his horse, and was leaning against a rail fence, but in so beastly a state of drunkenness, that although he made many efforts to remount, he was unable, while I continued to observe him, to accomplish it. The very stirrup seemed to baffle him, and swing away from his foot: like another ecclesiastical adventurer (Hudibras,)
To reach it with his desperate toe."
I would willingly have offered my aid to the chief, but fearing to give offence, I continued my journey, deeply mortified at what I had witnessed; yet I reflected that many champions of the cross had at all times gone forth like this poor besotted Indian; like him accompanied by arms and external decorations, and if not drunk with rum, intoxicated with the love of earthly distinctions, power, and dominion; and over all, the cross! as if that emblem could sanctify the warlike spirit and abomination that it covered.
In a few days afterwards, I was fortunate enough to meet with an intelligent young Indian chief, from whom I learned many important particulars relative to the grand council meeting. It appeared that for many years the subject had been debated, and I was enabled to acquire from my young informant, a knowledge of the positions which the different parties took upon this important question. The favourers of Christianity alleged that the Great Spirit had ceased to regard them on account of their crimes, and had given them into the hands of the white men; that many years had gone over since the white men obtained a footing among them, and that while they
94(the Indians) were melting away from the face of the earth, the whites were every year increasing. This must evidently proceed from the determination of the Great Spirit, and it was wisdom, therefore, to yield to the religion of the Europeans, as the only means of avoiding the total destruction of their tribes; by doing so they would find more favour and security, not only from their father at Washington, but from their great father beyond the salt lake.
The opposers of the measure urged, in reply, that the Great Spirit was angry with the Indians but for a season, and had only given temporary power to white men to punish them. The Indians had in former times enjoyed many and great blessings, and should do so again. Why, therefore, ought they to depart from the worship of their fore-fathers, and follow the religion called Christian? As under the name of that religion, and from those who professed it, had they experienced all their wrongs and sufferings, and had arrived at their present wasted condition! Surely they should not embrace a faith that would tolerate such wickedness. What treaty had Christians kept with them? What just principles had they not violated? Had they not despoiled them of their lands, of their hunting grounds, of their lakes, and their mountains? Had they not slain their young men and their old warriors? Had they not taught them to act as beasts, yea, worse than the beasts of the forest, by the use of spirituous liquors? Did they not give rum to them to deceive and cheat them; to take from them their fields and their skins? And had they not derived loathsome diseases and other evils from those professing Christianity? Can the God of the Christians approve such acts? — "Away," concluded
95these reasoners, "with the religion and the name of Christian, why should we embrace it?"
I have thus embodied the outline of the controversy; and alas! how painful is it to admit that these objections are but too well founded. Nevertheless, the young Indian chief seemed to think that the majority will consent to receive Christianity. As this young man could read English very well, I endeavoured to point out to him that true Christianity no more countenanced oppression nor unjust conduct than the Great Spirit did, from whom it came; and that what the Lord Jesus Christ taught and practised, was alone to be found in the New Testament, where his own words were recorded, and where the effects produced upon all who believed them, were to be seen. I told him that our Saviour denied those to be his people who acted unjustly to any: that his religion made no distinction between white and black men — between men of any name or nation under Heaven: that he who truly did unto his neighbour as he would be done by, was approved of Christ, while he who did wrong was condemned. All men were sinners; but the Lord Jesus, in his infinite compassion, came into the world to give his life a ransom for their offences. Such, therefore, as believed in his exceeding love and propitiation, and were led, by such belief, to forsake their sins, to love each other, to be at peace with all men, to perform the duties of life uprightly, to obey their parents, masters, and governors, and live piously with the fear of God in their hearts, were true Christians. I strongly endeavoured to impress on the mind of my young friend, that Christianity was not to be known by the professions made in the present day, which generally were nothing more than a system of opinions, arranged so as to acquire respect to a certain order of men, that they the more easily grasp wordly power and wealth; whereas the religion of the Cross, as taught by Jesus and his Apostles,
96and as we have it set forth in the Scriptures, does not countenance a lust after secular honours or dominion, but expressly forbids it to his followers; merely requiring of them that they should yield honour where honour is due, and that their lives should be meek, holy, harmless, and undefiled; not returning evil for evil, but good for evil.
The earnestness with which these observations were attended to by the young Indian, greatly interested me; and how should I rejoice that Christianity should be exhibited to these simple people, by acts of benevolence, charity, and mercy, leaving the speculations and systems to the learned and refined. The Moravian missionaries set a laudable example in this respect, and the consequences have been that their labours have proved more successful than those of all other sects whatever. Preparation is necessary previous to the reception of any principles; and in this way God was graciously pleased to act. The Jewish dispensation was the forerunner of the Gospel; the Prophets, (and the last and greatest of them, John the Baptist,) were all sent to prepare the way for the appearance of the Saviour of men; and when the Lord of life and glory came, he gradually initiated the minds of men to receive the full display of his mercy and his divine character. But now, forsooth, those who assume the name of Missionaries or, in another word, that of Apostles, despise this mode, and at once open upon the poor mind of the heathen, the whole artillery of their college stores of doctrine and wisdom, forgetting that bodily wants and comforts must be established, before the mind can be fitted to receive instruction. The glad tidings of salvation to poor sinners can be taught without books: it was so propagated at first: it is a plain statement of facts, easy to be recollected. We have several accounts of the manner of the original publication of the Gospel; especially in the 2d, 10th and 13th of "Acts." The things therein stated were
97what the early Christians believed; and in the mere belief of which they found joy and salvation; and such things the Indians are fully capable of bearing in their minds. Until we return to the simple teaching of the primitive apostles, and abandon our school-wisdom, success with the Indians cannot, I feel fully persuaded, be looked for with confidence.
That our endeavours hitherto, have indeed been worse than ineffectual, the following most important letter from an Indian chief to the governor of one of the United States, (New York) will abundantly show.
Canandaigua, 18th Jan. 1821.
"I address myself to you, and through you to the governor.
"The chiefs of Onondaga have accompanied you to Albany, to do business with the governor; I also was to have been with you, but I am sorry to say that bad health has put it out of my power. For this you must not think hard of me. I am not to blame for it. It is the will of the Great Spirit that it should be so.
"The object of the Onondagas is to purchase our lands at Tonnewanta. This, and all other business that they may have to do at Albany, must be transacted in the presence of the governor. He will see that the bargain is fairly made, so that all parties may have reason to be satisfied with what shall be done; and when our sanction shall be wanted to the transaction it will be freely given.
"I much regret that at this time the state of my health should have prevented me from accompanying you to Albany, as it was the wish of the nation that I should state to the governor some circumstances which show that the chain of friendship between
98us and the white people is wearing out and wants brightening.
"I proceed now, however, to lay them before you by letter, that you may mention them to the governor, and solicit redress. He is appointed to do justice to all, and the Indians fully confide that he will not suffer them to be wronged with impunity.
"The first subject to which we would call the attention of the governor, is the depredations that are daily committed by the white people upon the most valuable timber on our reservations. This has been a subject of complaint with us for many years; but now, and particularly at this season of the year, it has become an alarming evil, and calls for the immediate interposition of the governor in our behalf.
"Our next subject of complaint is, the frequent thefts of our horses and cattle by the white people, and their habit of taking and using them whenever they please, and without our leave. These are evils which seem to increase upon us with the increase of our white neighbours, and they call loudly for redress.
"Another evil arising from the pressure of the whites upon us, and our unavoidable communication with them, is the frequency with which our chiefs, and warriors, and Indians, are thrown into jail, and that too for the most trifling causes. This is very galling to our feelings, and ought not to be permitted to the extent to which, to gratify their bad passions, our white neighbours now carry this practice.
"In our hunting and fishing too, we are greatly interrupted by the whites. Our venison is stolen from the trees, where we have hung it to be reclaimed after the chase. Our hunting camps have been fired into, and we have been warned that we shall no longer be permitted to pursue the deer in those forests which were so lately all our own. The fish, which in the Buffalo and Tonnewanta Creeks, used to supply us with food, are now, by the dams
99and other obstructions of the white people, prevented from multiplying, and we are almost entirely deprived of that accustomed sustenance.
"Our Great Father, the president, has recommended to our young men to be industrious, to slough and to sow. This we have done, and we are thankful for the advice, and for the means he has afforded us of carrying it into effect. We are happier in consequence of it; but another thing recommended to us, has created great confusion among us, and is making us a quarrelsome and divided people; and that is, the introduction of preachers into our nation. These black-coats contrive to get the consent of some of the Indians to preach among us, and wherever this is the case, confusion and disorder are sure to follow, and the encroachments of the whites upon our lands, are the invariable consequence. The governor must not think hard of me for speaking thus of the preachers; I have observed their profess, and when I look back to see what has taken place of old, I perceive that whenever they came among the Indians, they were the forerunners of their dispersion; that they always excited enmities and quarrels among them; that they introduced the white people on their lands, by whom they were robbed and plundered of their property; and that the Indians were sure to dwindle and decrease, and be driven back in proportion to the number of preachers that came among them.
"Each nation has its own customs and its own religion. The Indians have theirs given to them by the Great Spirit, under which they were happy. It was not intended that they should embrace the religion of the whites, and be destroyed by the attempt to make them think differently on that subject from their fathers.
"It is true preachers have got the consent of some of the chiefs to stay and preach among us; but I and my friends know this to be wrong, and that
100they ought to be removed; besides we have been threatened by Mr. Hyde, who came among us as a school-master and a teacher of our children, but has now become a black-coat, and refused to teach them any more, that unless we listen to his preaching and become christians, we will be turned off our lands. We wish to know from the governor if this is to be so, and if he has no right to say so, we think he ought to be turned off our lands, and not allowed to plague us any more. We shall never be at peace while he is among us.
"We are afraid too that these preachers, by and by, will become poor, and force us to pay them for living among us, and disturbing us.
"Some of our chiefs have got lazy, and instead of cultivating their lands themselves, employ white people to do so. There are now eleven white families living on our reservation at Buffalo; this is wrong and ought not to be permitted. The great source of all our grievances is that the white men are among us. Let them be removed, and we will be happy and contented among ourselves. We now cry to the governor for help, and hope that he will attend to our complaints, and speedily give us redress.
This letter was dictated by Red Jacket, and interpreted by Henry Obeal, in the presence of the following Indians:
Red Jacket's son, Corn Planter,
Peter, Young King's brother,
Tom the Infant,
3he mistakes that have prevailed on the subject of civilization in general ought to have taught us to alter our plans. There is a cry in favour of education, which has produced, and continues to produce, lasting evils. Education is now understood to consist in reading, writing, arithmetic, and knowledge of languages; and by the application of these, we are told that the miseries and crimes which pervade civilized Europe are to be removed; the people to be made happy; society, in short, to be regenerated.
In this belief the mania for education has seized on all ranks; yet poverty, discontent, and crime seem to keep pace with all our endeavours. If the Indians are to be improved, or civilized, "Why education, to be sure, will do it: that is all that is wanted. But the education must be commenced by a missionary, and this missionary must undergo a certain series of scholastic studies to be fitted for his duty." Now let us look a little at this, the usual mode of proceeding. To civilize the Heathen, thousands, with the purest zeal, contribute their schemes; but the little success resulting from them all, has furnished the means of triumph to the infidel and deist, occasioned lukewarmness in many who at first were ardent in the cause, and led to a conclusion either that the subjects of such philanthropy are incapable of receiving its benefits; that the Almighty has decreed that the time is not yet come for their condition to be meliorated; or that such attempts are made merely for interested and similar ends. I appeal to all who have had an opportunity of knowing the general character of missionaries, whether the following brief view is not the mode by which five sixths of them have been selected. Sermons are preached; prayer meetings are held avowedly to promote the conversion of the Heathen; a cry is heard, "Who will devote himself to the service of God?" Hence many of acknowledged weakness
102of intellect, and some whose pecuniary embarrassments lead them to seek for support in this way, offer to undergo perils by land and by water in this, to their heated or interested imaginations, glorious work. These persons are accordingly sent to an academy to learn languages, the capacity for which constitutes a chief ingredient in their qualification. They are then sent forth, at a considerable expense, to evangelize the Heathen; and their great aim is to preach what they call the Gospel to the old, and to civilize the young, by what I denominate, forsake of distinction, "book education."
That so much failure, nay, that almost uniform failure, has arisen from the employment of such instruments, should surely have been expected; for, while I freely admit that of all undertakings this is among the most praise-worthy, if followed with a single eye to the glory of God, and good of man, I feel convinced that none requires more profound knowledge of human nature, and intimate acquaintance, not only with the passions of others, but with our own. When I read the manner in which the Lord Jesus Christ taught his disciples, I find that the doctrines concerning himself and his kingdom were the last things he inculcated, and even then very sparingly. When questions, bearing on the subject, were excited by his conduct and actions, he answered them; but never made the doctrinal the prominent part of his mission. His first public act was in administering to the amusement and festivity of the people by converting water into wine; the next was attention to their sick; on another occasion he provided them with food; and his whole divine life, was spent in going about promoting their bodily comforts, having in ultimate view the good of their souls; so that the great object was kept, as it were, in the back-ground. See how merciful he was to their offences: how he repressed all severity in judging or condemning; and evermore refused to
103be a ruler, assuming only the meek and lowly rank of one that served!
In short, let us carefully examine the means which He, who had the hearts of all men in his hands, and who could turn them as he pleased, adopted for the instruction of mankind, and much light will be afforded in all future attempts to instruct those nations denominated heathen or savage. The Moravians, as before mentioned, have been more successful than all other sects put together, in consequence, I conceive, of their having had more regard to the Christian plan as adverted to.
The following hints I offer with humility, as means which, from my observation of man in his natural and polished state, appear, to me at least, likely to succeed:
The Indians, as already shown, are fond of silver rings, collars, and other trinkets, as ornaments of dress; of music, fishing, and hunting, as sources of amusement; and are by no means insensible to the bodily advantages arising from a store of food and clothing against a time of want.
Upon these, their main desires, I would found my plan.
I would select a blacksmith, provide him with a portable forge, portable scantlings of iron, and all necessary instruments for polishing iron and copper. There should also be a man uniting the carpenter's and cart-maker's trades, well furnished with suitable tools. To these I would add one or two persons who could play on the clarionet, flute, violin, or other musical instrument of simple construction. This establishment should be under the superintendence of a man of discretion, divested of gloomy habits and those false views that connect austerity of manners with the essentials of Christianity. He should make allowance for the prejudices and passions of those under his charge, that he might the better give them a just direction;
104and, especially in the commencement of his authority, he should deal tenderly with offences, redoubling his care with regard to the delinquent.
Under the eye of such a person, the operations should begin in a fertile place, in the neighbourhood of such of the tribes as might desire an establishment of this nature; making the pleasures of music, or the possession of manufactures, the reward for devoting themselves to industry. In this way I would assist them in building houses, so as to induce them to value a fixed habitation; and the house so built should belong to the tribe to bestow as they pleased. By repairing their tools and instruments of agriculture, assisting in raising their houses, instructing such as wished it to handle the ax for their own benefit, and making the hearing and learning of music the reward for industry, I should confidently hope to induce some few to abandon the migratory life they have hitherto led, which, in my opinion, is the most important point to be gained. After this shall be firmly established, a time will gradually come on when the inculcation of book-knowledge will be highly beneficial; but in our early efforts it is worse than useless. If the Indian can be prevailed on to aid in building a house; if he finds there a solace after his fatigues, and the means of allaying his hunger, I am warranted by all that I have seen and heard, in asserting that the best rudiments of civilization will be immovably fixed.
The above establishment should be capable of being transferred from tribe to tribe. Its members should have their wives and families with them; no man should be sent without his wife on any account.
The party should, moreover, consist of persons duly sensible of the blessings and privileges of the Christian religion, and should at stated times assemble for worship, paying great attention to solemnity, decorum and order, in doing so; yet having especial care to avoid all kind of constraint with regard to
105the Indians, or any species of penalty for non-attendance on their part. The Lord's day should nevertheless be truly kept as a Sabbath by all, as far as cessation from worldly labour is concerned. The Indians should be told the reason of resting thereon; that such rest was first instituted by God to perpetuate the remembrance of his having created the world, and all things therein; and latterly to keep in the minds of men the memory that Christ arose from the dead on the first day of the week, having completed the work of redemption. The good news of salvation to sinners of all nations, through the atonement on the cross, should be proclaimed with joy and praise and thanksgiving, and not with those gloomy severities, which are regarded as true piety by many. The Indians would thus be led to inquire concerning God and the Saviour; when portions of the Bible, descriptive of the attributes of the Most High, and the life of the Lord Jesus, should be read; carefully avoiding to pass from one portion until it should be firmly fixed in their recollection, (of which their capacity is great,) nor until they desired to hear more. These means, always accompanied by kindness and sympathy, I confidently hope God would approve and bless.
I by no means desire to be understood as wishing to discourage the efforts of persons who may differ with my views of the subject; neither do I arrogate that those I have set forth are infallible; but I do conceive that the great qualification of humility, of being and acting as a servant to the heathen, has not been sufficiently tried: Few men can resist the temptation of power, when within reach; and I have proofs too abundant, before me, that many who seem to humble before their superiors, are haughty and tyrannical among the Indians. The letter from Red Jacket to Governor Clinton, quoted in this chapter, shows how wide this evil has spread; and I fear the spirit of Mr. Hyde is not so rare as, for the honour
106of human nature, one could wish it to be. No species of vileness can be more injurious, or more opposed to the example of Christ and his Apostles.
I have been lead to recommend music, as I found that of the articles sent here by the British Government, a large quantity of jews' harps, (the parent of all instruments,) were selected by the Indians in preference to knives, and other valuable articles. Is there any sentence more common than the following words of the poet?
To soften rocks, and bend the knotted oak!
Yet when and where has it been tried as an auxiliary in the work of civilization?
Chapter X. Remonstrances of the Indians to the Government of the United States in 1790.
IT is no less curious than lamentable to observe the uniform and withering persecution which the Indians have laboured under from their earliest acquaintance with white men to the present day. Whatever dissimilarity may have existed in the characteristics, political and moral, of the various nations of Europe, they seem to have resembled each other in this one thing, namely, inextinguishable, unsparing oppression of the North American Indians. Dutch, French, English, and even those who, in one sense, may be termed their own countrymen, the citizens of the United States, have all agreed in keeping no faith with the original inhabitants of this vast continent. No: their dominions were too fertile in sources of wealth, for them to expect any thing like fair-dealing from their refined invaders, who first flattered and cajoled them, and then rewarded their hospitality with the sword and the cannon. The United States, especially about the time of their struggle with the mother-country for their own independence, it might be thought would have had so lively a sense of the value and blessing of liberty, as not to attempt any undue control or tyranny over their red brethern; but alas, like other nations, their worship of freedom was not as it existed in the abstract, but only as it affected their own happiness.
This will be illustrated in the following interesting correspondence between the Senecas and General Washington, in 1790.
To the Great Council of the Thirteen Fires.
Father, — The voice of the Seneca Nations speaks to you, the great counsellor, in whose heart wise men of all the Thirteen Fires have placed their wisdom; it may be very small in your ears, and we therefore entreat you to hearken with attention, for we are about to speak of things which are to us very great.
When your army entered the country of the Six Nations, we called you the town-destroyer; and to this day, when your name is heard, our women look behind them and turn pale, and our children cling close to the necks of their mothers. Our counsellors and warriors are men, and cannot be afraid; but their hearts are grieved with the fears of our women and children, and desire that it may be buried so deep as to be heard no more.
When you gave us peace we called you father, because you promised to secure us in the possession of our lauds. Do this, and so long as the land shall remain, that beloved name shall be in the heart of every Seneca.
Father, — We mean to open our hearts before you, and we earnestly desire that you will let us clearly understand what you resolve to do.
When our chiefs returned from the treaty at Fort Stanwix, and laid before our council what had been done there, our nation was surprised to hear how great a country you had compelled them to give up to you, without your paying to us any thing for it. Every one said, that your hearts were yet swelled with resentment against us for what had happened during the war, but that one day you would consider
109with more kindness. We asked each other, what have we done to deserve such severe chastisement?
Father — When you kindled your Thirteen Fires separately,
Father, — When we saw that we had been deceived, and heard the invitation which you gave us to draw near to the fire you had kindled and talk with you concerning peace, we made haste toward it. You then told us you could crush us to nothing, and you demanded from us a great country, as the price of that peace which you had offered to us; as if our want of strength had destroyed our rights. Our chiefs had felt your power and were unable to contend against you, and they therefore gave up that country. What they agreed to has bound our nation; but your anger against us must by this time
110be cooled, and although our strength is not increased, nor your power become less, we ask you to consider calmly: Were the terms dictated to us by your commissioners reasonable and just?
Father, — Your commissioners, when they drew the line which separated the land then given up to you, from that which you agreed should remain to be ours, did most solemnly promise, that we should be secured in the peaceable possession of the land which we inhabited, east and north of that line. — Does this promise bind you?
Hear now, we entreat you, what has since happened concerning that land. On the day we finished the treaty at Fort Stanwix, commissioners from Pennsylvania told our chiefs, that they had come there to purchase from lines of their state; and they told us that all the lands belonging to us within the line, would strike the river Susquehanna below Tioga branch. They then left us to consider of the bargain until next day. The next day we let them know, that we were unwilling to sell all the land within their state, and proposed to let them have a part of it, which we pointed out to them in their map. They told us that they must have the whole, that it was already ceded to them by the great king, at the time of making peace with you, and was then their own; but they said that they would not take advantage of that, and were willing to pay us for it, after the manner of their ancestors. Our chiefs were unable to contend at that time, and therefore they sold the lands up to the line, which was then shown them as the line of that state. What the commissioners had said about the land having been ceded to them at the peace, they considered as intended only to lessen the price, and they passed it by with very little notice; but since that time we have heard so much from others about the right to our lands which the king gave when you made peace with him, that it is our earnest desire that you will tell us what it means.
Our nation empowered J. L. to let out a part of our lands; he told us that he was sent by Congress to do this for us, and we fear he has deceived us in the writing he obtained from us; for since the time of our giving that power, a man named P—, has come and claimed our whole country northward of the line of Pennsylvania, under a purchase from that L. to whom he said he had paid twenty thousand dollars for it; he also said, that he had bought it from the council of the Thirteen Fires, and paid them twenty thousand more for the same; and he also said, that it did not belong to us, for that the great king had ceded the whole of it, when you made peace with him. Thus he claimed the whole country north of Pennsylvania, and west of the lands belonging to the Cayugas. He demanded it; he insisted on his demand, and declared to us that he would have it all. It was impossible for us to grant him this, and we immediately refused it. After some days he proposed to run a line a small distance eastward of our western boundary, which we also refused to agree to. He then threatened us with immediate war if we did not comply.
Upon this threat our chiefs held a council, and they agreed that no event of war could be worse than to be driven, with our wives and children, from the only country which we had any right to; and therefore, weak as our nation was, they determined to take the chance of war rather than submit to such unjust demands, which seemed to have no bounds. Mr. Street, the great trader at Niagara, was then with us, having come at the request of P—; and as he had always professed to be our great friend, we consulted him on this subject. He also told us that our lands had been ceded by the king, and that we must give them up. Astonished at what we heard from every quarter, with hearts aching with compassion for our women and children, we were thus compelled to give up all our country north of the
112line of Pennsylvania, and east of the Chenesee river up to the great forks, and east of a south-line drawn up from that fork to the line of Pennsylvania. For this land P. agreed to pay us ten thousand dollars in hand, and one thousand dollars a year for ever. He paid us two thousand five hundred dollars, and he sent for us to come last spring and receive our money; but instead of paying us the residue (or remainder) of the ten thousand dollars, and the one thousand dollars due for the first year, he offered only five hundred dollars, and insisted that he had agreed with us for that sum to be paid yearly.
We debated with him for six days, during all which time he persisted in refusing to pay us our just demand; and he insisted that we should receive the five hundred dollars; and Street from Niagara also insisted on our receiving the money as it was offered us. The last reason which he assigned for continuing to refuse paying us was — that the king had ceded the land to the Thirteen Fires, and that he had bought them from you and paid you for them.
Father, — We could bear this confusion no longer and determined to press through every difficulty, and lift up our voice so that you might hear us, and to claim that security in the possession of our lands, which your commissioners so solemnly promised us; and we now entreat you to inquire into our complaints, and to redress our wrongs.
Father, — Our writings were lodged in the hands of S. of Niagara, as we supposed him to be our friend; but when we saw P. consulting S. on every occasion, we doubted of his honesty towards us; and we have since heard that he was to receive for his endeavours to deceive us, a piece of land ten miles in width west of the Chenesee river; and near forty miles in length extending to lake Ontario; and the lines of this tract have been run accordingly, although no part of it is within the bounds which limit this purchase.
Father, — You have said that we were in your hand, and that by closing it you could crush us to nothing. Are you then determined to crush us? If you are, tell us so, that those of our nation who have become your children, and have determined to die so, may know what to do. In this case one chief has said, he would ask you to put him out of his pain. Another, who will not think of dying by the hand of his father, or of his brother, has said he will retire to the Chataughque, eat of the fatal root, and sleep with his fathers in peace.
Before you determine a measure so unjust, look up to God, who made us as well as you; we hope he will not permit you to destroy the whole of our nation.
Father, — Hear our case: Many nations inhabited this country, but they had no wisdom, therefore they warred together; the Six Nations were powerful and compelled them to peace. The land for a great extent was given up to them, but the nations which were not destroyed all continued on those lands: and claimed the protection of the Six Nations, as brothers of their fathers. They were men, and when at peace had a right to live upon the earth.
The French came among us, and built Niagara; they became our fathers, and took care of us. Sir William Johnson came, and took that fort from the French; he became our father, and promised to take care of us, and he did so until you were too strong for his king. To him we gave four miles round Niagara, as a place of trade. We have already said how we came to join against you; we saw that we were wrong, we wished for peace, you demanded a great country to be given up to you, it was surrendered to you as the price of peace, and we ought to have peace and possession of the little land which you then left us.
Father — When that great country was given up to you there were but few chiefs present, and they
114were compelled to give it up. And it is not the Six Nations only that reproach those chiefs with having given up that country. The Chipaways, and all the nations who lived on these lands westward, call to us, and ask us, "Brothers of our fathers, where is the place which you have reserved for us to lie down upon?"
Father, — You have compelled us to do that which makes us ashamed. We have nothing to answer to the children of the brothers of our fathers. When last spring they called upon us to go to war to secure them a bed to lie down upon, the Senecas entreated them to be quiet until we had spoken to you; but on our way down, we heard that your army had gone towards the country which those nations inhabited; and if they meet together, the best blood on both sides will stain the ground.
Father, — We will not conceal from you that the great God, and not men, has preserved the Corn Plant from the hands of his own nation. For they ask continually, "Where is the land on which our children, and their children after them, are to lie down upon? You told us," say they, "that the line drawn from Pennsylvania to Lake Ontario, would mark it forever on the east, and the line running from Beaver Creek to Pennsylvania, would mark it on the west, and we see that it is not so; for first one, and then another, come and take it away by order of that people which you tell us promised to secure it to us." He is silent, for he has nothing to answer. When the sun goes down he opens his heart before God; and earlier than the sun appears again upon the hills he gives thanks for his protection during the night; for he feels that among men, become desperate by the injuries they sustain, it is God only that can preserve him. He loves peace, and all he had in store he has given to those who have been robbed by your people, lest they should plunder the innocent to repay themselves. The whole season, which
115others have employed in providing for their families, he has spent in endeavours to preserve peace; and this moment his wife and children are lying on the ground, and in want of food: his heart is in pain for them, but he perceives that the Great Spirit will try his firmness in doing what is right.
Father, — The game which the Great Spirit sent into our country for us to eat, is going from among us. We thought he intended we should till the ground with the plough as the white people do, and we talked to one another about it. But before we speak to you concerning this, we must know from you whether you mean to leave us and our children any land to till. Speak plainly to us concerning this great business.
All the land we have been speaking of belonged to the Six Nations: no part of it ever belonged to the King of England, and he could not give it up to you. The land we live on our fathers received from God, and they transmitted it to us for our children, and we cannot part with it.
Father, — We told you that we would open our hearts to you: hear us once more. At Fort Stanwix we agreed to deliver up those of our people who should do you any wrong, and that you might try them and punish them according to your law. We delivered up two men accordingly; but instead of trying them according to your law, the lowest of your people took them from your magistrate, and put them immediately to death. It is just to punish the murderer with death, but the Senecas will not deliver up their people to men who disregard the treaties of their own nation.
Father, — Innocent men of our nation are killed, one after another, and of our best families; but none of your people who have committed those murders have been punished. We recollect that you did promise to punish those who killed our people; and we ask, was it intended that your people should kill
116the Senecas, and not only remain unpunished, but be protected from the next of kin?
Father, — These are to us very great things; we know that you are very strong, and we have heard that you are wise, and we shall wait to hear your answer that we may know that you are just.
Signed at Philadelphia, December, 1790.
By the CORN + PLANT,
HALF + TOWN,
BIG + TREE,
In the presence of
JOSEPH NICHOLSON, Interpreter, and sundry others.
The Reply of the President of the United States, to the Speech of the Corn Plant, Half Town, and Big Tree, Chiefs and Counsellors of the Seneca Nation of Indians.
I, the President of the United States, by my own mouth, and by a written speech, signed by my own hand, and sealed with the seal of the United States, speak to the Seneca Nations, and desire their attention, that they would keep this speech in remembrance of the friendship of the United States. I have received your Speech with satisfaction, as a proof of your confidence in the justice of the United States; and I have attentively examined the several objects which you have laid before me, whether delivered by your chiefs at Tioga Point in the month to Colonel Pickering, or laid before me in the
117present month by Corn Plant and other Seneca Chiefs now in Philadelphia.
In the first place, I observe to you, and I request it may sink deep in your minds, that it is my desire, and the desire of the United States, that all the miseries of the late war should be forgotten, and buried for ever. That, in future, the United States and the Six Nations should be truly brothers, promoting each other's prosperity by acts of mutual friendship and justice.
I am not uninformed that the Six Nations have been led into some difficulties with respect to the sale of their lands since the peace. But I must inform you that these evils arose before the general government of the United States was established, when the separate states, and individuals under their authority, undertook to treat with the Indian tribes respecting the sale of their lands.
But the case is now entirely altered. The general government only has the power to treat with the Indian Nation, and any treaty formed and held without its authority will not be binding.
Here then is the security for the remainder of your lands. No state or person can purchase your lands, unless at some public treaty held under the authority of the United States. The general government will never consent to your being defrauded, but it will protect you in all your rights. Hear well, and let it be heard by every person in your nation, that the President of the United States declares that the general government considers itself bound to protect you in all the lands secured you by the treaty at Fort Stanwix, the 22d day of October, 1784, except such parts as you may since have fairly sold to persons properly authorized to purchase of you.
You complain that J— L— and O— P— have obtained your lands, assisted by Mr. S— of Niagara, and that they have not complied with their agreement.
It appears, upon inquiry of the governor of New York, that J— L— was not legally authorised to treat with you, and that every thing he did with you has been declared null and void, so that you may rest easy on that account.
But it does not appear from any proofs, yet in the possession of government, that O— P— has defrauded you. If however you should have any just cause of complaint against him, and can make satisfactory proof thereof, the Federal Courts will be open to you for redress, as to all other persons.
But your great object seems to be, the security of your remaining lands, and I have therefore upon this point meant to be sufficiently strong and clear.
That in future you cannot be defrauded of your lands. That you possess the right to sell, and the right of refusing to sell your lands; that therefore the sale of your lands, in future, will depend entirely on yourselves.
But that when you may find it for your interest to sell any part of your lands, the United States must be present by their agent, and will be your security that you shall not be defrauded in the bargain you may make.
It will however be important, that, before you make any further sale of your land, you should determine among yourselves, who are the persons among you that shall give such conveyances thereof, as shall be binding upon your nation, and for ever preclude all disputes relative to the validity of the sale.
That, besides the before-mentioned security for your land, you will perceive, by the laws of Congress, for regulating trade and intercourse with Indian tribes, the fatherly care the United States intend to take of the Indians. For the particular
119meaning of this law, I refer you to the explanations given thereof by Col. Pickering at Tioga, which, with the laws, are herewith delivered to you.
You have said in your speech, that the game is going away from among you, and that you thought it the design of the Great Spirit that you till ground; but before you speak upon this subject you want to know, whether the United States meant to leave you any land to till.
You now know that all the lands secured to you by the treaty of Fort Stanwix, excepting such parts as you may once have fairly sold, are yours, and that only your own acts can convey them away. Speak therefore your wishes on the subject of tilling the ground: the United States will be happy to afford you every assistance in the only business which will add to your numbers and happiness.
The murders which have been committed upon some of your people by the bad white men, I sincerely lament and reprobate, and I earnestly hope that the real murderers will be secured and punished as they deserve.
The Senecas may be assured, that the rewards offered for apprehending the murderers, will be continued until they are secured for trial, and that when they shall be apprehended, they will be tried and punished, as if they had killed white men.
Having answered the most material parts of your speech, I shall inform you that some bad Indians, and the outcast of several tribes, who reside at the Miami village, have long continued their murders and depredations upon the frontiers lying along the Ohio. That they have not only refused to listen to my voice, inviting them to peace, but that, upon
120receiving it, they renewed their incursions and murders with greater violence than ever. I have therefore been obliged to strike those bad people, in order to make them sensible of their madness. I sincerely hope they will hearken to reason, and not require to be farther chastised. The United States desire to be friends of the Indians upon terms of justice and humanity; but they will not suffer the depredations of the bad Indians to go unpunished.
My desire is, that you would caution all the Senecas, and Six Nations, to prevent their rash young men from joining the Miami Indians; for the United States cannot distinguish the tribes to which bad Indians belong, and every tribe must take care of their own people.
The merits of the Corn Plant, and his friendship for the United States, are well known to me, and shall not be forgotten; and as a mark of the esteem of the United States, I have directed the secretary of war to make him a present of two hundred and fifty dollars, either in money or goods, as the Corn Plant shall like best, and he may depend on the future care and kindness of the United States. And I have also directed the secretary of war to make suitable presents to the other chiefs present in Philadelphia, and also that some farther tokens of friendship be forwarded to the other chiefs now in their nation.
Remember my words, Senecas: continue to be strong in your friendship for the United States, as the only rational ground of your future happiness, and you may rely upon their kindness and protection.
An agent shall soon be appointed to reside in some place convenient to the Senecas and Six-Nations; he will represent the United States. Apply to him on all occasions.
If any man brings you evil reports of the intentions of the United States, mark that man as your enemy, for he will mean to deceive you, and lead
121you into trouble. The United States, will be true and faithful to their engagements.
Given under my hand and seal of the United States, at Philadelphia, this twenty-ninth day of December, in the year of our Lord 1790, and in the fifteenth year of the Sovereignty and Independence of the United States.
By the President,
Enrolled in the Rolls-Office, for the State of Pennsylvania, in Commission Book No. 1, page 255, &c.
To the President of the United States of America. The Speech of Corn Plant, Half Town, and Big Tree, Chiefs of the Seneca Nation.
Father, — Your speech written on the great paper, is to us like the first light of the morning to a sick man, whose pulse beats strongly in his temples, and prevents him from sleeping; he sees it and rejoices, but is not cured. You say you have spoken plainly on the great point; that you will protect us in our lands, secured to us at Fort Stanwix; and that we have the right to sell, or refuse to sell it. This is very good.
But our nation complain that you compelled us, at that treaty to give up too much of our lands. We confess, that our nation was bound by what was done there, and acknowledge your power. We have now appealed to yourselves against that treaty, as made while you were too angry at us, and therefore
122unreasonable and unjust. To this you have given us no answer.
Father, — That treaty was not with a single state, it was with the Thirteen States; we should never have given all that land to one state. We know that it was before you had the great authority; and as you have more wisdom than the commissioners, who forced us into that treaty, we expect you have more regard to justice, and will now at our request reconsider the treaty, and restore to us part of that land.
Father, — The land which lies between the line running south from the Lake Erie, to the boundary of Pennsylvania, as mentioned in the treaty at Fort Stanwix; and the eastern boundary of that land which you sold, and the Senecas confirmed to Pennsylvania, is the land on which Half Town and all his people live, with other chiefs, who always have been, and still are dissatisfied with the treaty at Fort Stanwix. They grew out of this land, and their fathers' fathers grew out of it, and they cannot be persuaded to part with it; we therefore entreat you to restore to us this little piece.
Father, — Look at the land we gave to you at the treaty, and then cast your eyes upon what we now ask you to restore to us; and you will see that what we ask is a very little piece. By giving it back again you will satisfy the whole of our nation. The chiefs who signed that treaty will be in safety; and peace between your children and our children will continue so long as your lands continue to join ours. Every man of our nation will turn his eyes away from all the other lands, which we then gave up to you, and forget that our fathers even said that they belonged to them.
Father, — We see that you ought to have the path at the carrying place from Lake Erie to Niagara, as it was marked down at Fort Stanwix; and we are willing it should remain to be yours. And if you
123desire to reserve a passage, through the Connewaugo, and through the Chataughque Lake, and land for a path from that Lake to Lake Erie, take it where you like best. Our nation will rejoice to see it an open path for you and your children, while the land and water remain; but let us pass along the same way, and continue to take the fish in these waters in common with you.
Father, — You say you will appoint an agent to take care of us. Let him come and take care of our trade: but we desire he may not have any thing to do with our lands; for the agents which have come among us, and pretended to take care of us, have always deceived us whenever we sold lands; both when the king and when the separate states have bargained with us. They have by this means occasioned many wars, and we are unwilling to trust them again.
Father, — When we return home, we will call a great council, and consider well how land may be hereafter sold by our nation: and when we have agreed upon it, we will send you notice thereof; but we desire you will not depend on your agent for information concerning land.
Father, — We will not hear lies concerning you; and we desire that you will not hear lies concerning us; and then we shall certainly live in peace with you.
Father, — There are men who go from town to town, and beget children, and leave them to perish, or to grow up without instruction, unless better men take care of them. Our nation has long looked round for a father, but they found none that would own them for their children, until you now tell us that your courts are open to us, as to your own people. The joy we feel on this great news so mixes with the sorrows that are past, that we cannot express our gladness, nor conceal the remembrance of our affliction: we will speak of it another time.
124Father, — We are ashamed that we have listened to L—'s lies, or been influenced with threats of war from P—, and would hide that whole transaction from the world, and from ourselves, by quietly receiving from P— what he promised to give us for the lands they cheated us of. But as P— will not pay us even according to that fraudulent bargain, we must lay the whole proceedings before your courts. When the evidence which we can produce is heard, we think it will appear that the whole bargain was founded in lies, which he placed one upon another; that the goods which he charged us as part payment, were plundered from us; and that if P— was not directly concerned in the theft, he knew of it at the time, and concealed it from us; and that the persons we confided in were bribed by him to deceive us in the bargain; and if these facts appear, that your courts will not say that such bargains are just, but set the whole aside.
Father, — We expect that our evidence might be called for, as P— was here and knew what we had said concerning him; and as Ebenezer Allen knew something of the matter, we desired him to continue here. Nicholson, the interpreter, is very sick, and we desire that Allen may remain a few days longer, as he speaks our language.
Father, — The blood that was spilt near Pine Creek is covered, and we shall never look where it lies. We know Pennsylvania will satisfy us for that which we speak of to them, before we speak to you. The chain of friendship will now, we hope, be made strong, as you desire it to be. We will hold it fast, and our end of it shall never rust in our hands.
Father, — We told you what advice we gave to the people you are now at war with; and we now tell you they have promised to come again next spring to our towns. We shall not wait for their coming, but set out very early in the season, and show them what you have done for us, which must convince
125them that you will do for them every thing that they ought to ask. We think they will hear us, and follow our advice.
Father, — You gave us leave to speak our minds concerning tilling of the ground. We ask you to teach us to plough and grind corn, and supply us with broad-axes, saws, augers, and other tools, to assist us in building saw-mills, so that we may make our houses more comfortable and durable; that you will send smiths among us; and above all that you will teach our children to read and write, and our women to spin and weave. The manner of doing these things for us, we leave to you who understand them; but we assure you we will follow your advice as far as we are able.
The President of the United States, his second Reply to the Speech of Corn Plant, Half Town, and Big Tree, Chiefs of the Seneca Nation of Indians.
Brothers, — I have maturely considered your second written speech. You say your nation complain, that at the treaty of Fort Stanwix, you were compelled to give up too much of your lands; that you confess your nation is bound by what was then done, and acknowledging the power of the United States; that you have now appealed to ourselves against that treaty, as made while we were angry against you; and that the said treaty was therefore unreasonable and unjust. But while you complain of the treaty of Fort Stanwix in 1784, you seem entirely to forget and Big Tree, with others of your nation, confirmed by the treaty at Fort Harmar upon the Muskingum, so late as the 9th of January, 1789, the boundaries marked at the treaty at Fort Stanwix, and that in
126consequence thereof, you then received goods to a considerable amount.
Although it is my sincere desire, in looking forward, to endeavour to promote your happiness by all just and humane arrangements, yet I cannot disannul treaties formed by the United States before my administration; especially as the boundaries mentioned therein have been twice confirmed by yourselves. The lines fixed at Fort Stanwix and Fort Harmar must therefore remain established. But Half Town and others, who reside upon the lands you desire may be relinquished, have not been disturbed in their possession; and I should hope, while he and they continue to demean themselves peaceably, and to manifest their friendly dispositions to the people of the United States, that they will be suffered to remain where they are. And the agent who will be appointed by the United States will be your friend and protector: he will not be suffered to defraud you or to assist in defrauding you of your lands, or of any other thing; and all his proceedings must be reported in writing, so as to be submitted to the President of the United States.
You mention your design of going to the Miami Indians, to endeavour to persuade them to peace. By this humane measure you will render those mistaken people a great service, and probably prevent their being swept from the face of the earth. The United States require only that those people should demean themselves peaceably; but they may be assured that the United States are able, and will most certainly punish them severely for all their robberies and murders.
You may, when you return from this city to your own country, mention to your nation, my desire to promote their prosperity, by teaching them the use of domestic animals, and the manner that the white people plough and raise so much corn; and if, upon consideration, it would be agreeable to the nation at
127large to learn those valuable arts, I shall find some means of teaching them, at such places within their country as shall be agreed on.
I have nothing more to add, but to refer you to my former speech, and to repeat my wishes for the happiness of the Seneca Nation.
Given under my hand, and the seal of the United States, at Philadelphia, this 19th day of January, 1791.
By the president,
Enrolled in Commission Book, No. 1, page 259, &c., for the State of Pennsylvania.
To the Great Counsellor of the Thirteen Fires. The Speech of Corn Plant, Half Town, and Big Tree, Seneca Chiefs.
Father, — No Seneca ever goes from the fire of his friend until he has said to him, "I am going." We therefore tell you that we are now setting out for our own country.
Father, — We thank you from our hearts that we now know that there is a country that we may call our own, and on which we may lie down in peace. We see that there will be peace between our children and your children, and our hearts are very glad. We will persuade the Wyandots, and other western nations to open their eyes, and look towards the bed which you have made for us, and to ask of you a bed for themselves and their children that will not slide from under them. We thank you for your presents to us, and rely on your promise to instruct us in raising corn as the white people do. The sooner you do this the better for us; and we thank you for the care
128which you have taken to prevent bad people coming to trade among us. If any come without your license, we will turn them back; and we hope our nation will determine to spill all the rum that shall hereafter be brought to our towns.
Father, — We are glad to hear that you are determined to appoint an agent that will do us justice, in taking care that bad men do not come to trade among us; but we earnestly entreat you, that you will let us have an interpreter, in whom we can confide, to reside at Pittsburgh. To that place our people and other nations will long resort: there we must send what news we hear when we go among the western nations, which we are determined shall be next spring. We know Joseph Nicholson — he speaks our language so that we clearly understand what you say to us, and depend on what he says. If we were able to pay him for his services, we would do it; but when we give him land for pay, it has not been confirmed to him, and he will not serve any longer unless you will pay him. Let him stand between us and you, we entreat you.
Father, — You have not asked of us any surety for peace on our part; but we have agreed to send nine Seneca boys to be under your care for education; tell us at what time you will receive them, and they shall be sent at that time. This will assure you that we are indeed at peace with you, and determined to continue so. If you can teach them to be wise and good men, we will take care that our nation shall be willing to be instructed by them.
Signed in the presence of
JOSEPH NICHOLSON, Interpreter.
Philadelphia, February 7, 1791.
The subscriber, the Secretary of War, has submitted your speech of yesterday to the President of the United States, who has commanded him to assure you of his good wishes for your happiness, and that you may have a pleasant journey to your own country.
The Governor of the Western Territory will appoint you an interpreter, whenever one shall be necessary. The President of the United States does not chose to interfere on this point.
The President of the United States thinks it will be the best mode of teaching you how to raise corn, by sending one or two sober men to reside in your nation, with proper implements of husbandry. It will therefore be proper that you should, upon consultation, appoint a proper place for such persons to till the ground: they are not to claim the lands on which they shall plough.
The President of the United States also thinks it will be the best mode of teaching your children to read and write, to send a schoolmaster among you, and not for you to send your children among us; he will therefore look out for a proper person for this business.
As soon as you shall learn any thing of the intentions of the Western Indians, you will inform the Governor of the Western Territory thereof, or the officer commanding at Fort Washington, in order to be communicated to the President of the United States.
Given at the War Office of the United States, the 8th of February, 1791.
(Copy.) KNOX, Secretary of War.
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 this conference, the parties have agreed on the following articles which, 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 I. Peace and friendship are hereby firmly established, and shall be perpetual, between the United States and the Six Nations.
ARTICLE II. 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 III. The land of the Seneca Nation is bounded as follows: Beginning on Lake Ontario, at the north-west 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
131fork; then straight to the main fork of Stedman's Creek, which empties into the river Niagara above Fort Schlosser; and then onward, from that fork, continuing the same straight course, to that 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 north-east corner of a triangular piece of land which the United States conveyed to the state of Pennsylvania, as by the President's patent, dated the third day of March, 1792; then due south to the northern boundary of that state; then due east to the south-west corner of the land sold by the Seneca Nation to Oliver Phelps; and then north and northerly, along Phelphs' line to the place of beginning on Lake Ontario. Now, the United States acknowledge all the land within the afore-mentioned boundaries to be the property of the Seneca Nation, and the United States will never claim the same, nor disturb the Seneca Nation, nor any of the Six Nations, or of 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 IV. 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 to disturb them, or any of the Six Nations, or their Indian friends residing thereon and united with them, in the free use and enjoyment thereof: Now, the Six Nations will never claim any other lands within the boundaries
132of the United States; nor ever disturb the people of the United States in the free use and enjoyment thereof.
ARTICLE V. The Seneca Nation, all others of the Six Nations concurring, cede to the United States the right of making a wagon road from Fort Schlosser to Lake Erie, as far south as Buffalo Creek; and the people of the United States shall have the free and undisturbed use of this road for the purposes of travelling and transportation. And the Six Nations and each of them will forever allow to the people of the United States a free passage through their lands, and the free use of the harbours and rivers adjoining and within their respective tracts of land, for the passing and securing of vessels and boats, and liberty to land their cargoes where necessary for their safety.
ARTICLE VI. In consideration of the peace and friendship hereby established, and of the engagements entered into by the Six Nations; and because the United States desire, with humanity and kindness, to contribute to their comfortable support; and to render the peace and friendship hereby established strong and perpetual; the United States now deliver to the Six Nations and the Indians of the other nations residing among, and united with them, a quantity of goods of the value often thousand dollars. And for the same considerations, and with a view to promote the future welfare of the Six Nations and of their Indian friends aforesaid, the United States will add the sum of three thousand dollars to the one thousand five hundred dollars heretofore allowed them by an article ratified by the President on the twenty-third day of April, 1792; making in the whole four thousand five hundred dollars; which shall be expended yearly for ever, in purchasing clothing, domestic animals, implements of husbandry, and other utensils suited to their circumstances, and in compensating useful artificers who shall reside
133with or near them, and be employed for their benefit. The immediate application of the whole annual allowance now stipulated, to be made by the Superintendent appointed by the President for the affairs of the Six Nations and their Indian friends aforesaid.
ARTICLE VII. Lest the firm peace and friendship now established should be interrupted by the misconduct of individuals, the United States and Six Nations agree, that for injuries done by individuals, on either side, no private revenge or retaliation shall take place; but instead thereof, complaint shall be made by the party injured to the other: by the Six Nations or any of them to the President of the United States, or the Superintendent by him appointed: and by the Superintendent, or other person appointed by the President, to the principal chiefs of the Six Nations, or of the nation to which the offender belongs: and such prudent measures shall then be pursued as shall be necessary to preserve our peace and friendship unbroken; until the legislature (or great council) of the United States shall make other equitable provision for the purpose.
NOTE. It is clearly understood by the parties to this treaty, that the annuity stipulated in the sixth article is to be applied to the benefit of such of the Six Nations and of their Indian friends united with them as aforesaid, as do or shall reside within the boundaries of the United States: For the United States do not interfere with nations, tribes, or families of Indians elsewhere resident.
In witness whereof, the said Timothy Pickering, and the Sachems, and War-chiefs of the said Six Nations, have hereto set their hands and seals. — Done at Konon-daigua, in the state of New-York, the eleventh day of November,
134in the year one thousand seven hundred and ninety-four.
(L. S.) TIMOTHY PICKERING.
Signed by Fifty-Nine Chiefs of the Six Nations.
I grant there is some fairness, and an appearance of more, in the replies of the American government but it cannot be denied that in one or two instances the complaints of the Indians are evaded, and in others wholly overlooked. The consideration, such as it is, did not come spontaneously, but was brought about by a strong appeal which it was not possible to neglect. The redress altogether is inadequate. The United States, perhaps, went as far as their expediences would allow; but justice is another thing.
Chapter XI. Sale of Lands by the Indians.
THE following is a statement of land purchased by the United States from the Indians up to the year 1820:
Total quantity, 191,778,536 acres.
In payment for which, sums to the amount of 2,542,916 dollars have been appropriated.
Of these lands 18,601,930 acres, have been vended by the States's Government, and there remain in their possession 173,176,606 acres.
The sum of 22,229,180 dollars has actually been paid into the treasury of the United States, in part of the purchases of the above land; leaving still due, (for which the land is a security) 22,000,657 dollars.
The account, then, will stand thus:
|Dr.||INDIANS WITH THE UNITED STATES||Cr.|
|Amount and value of Annuities to Indians||2,542,916||By cash received on Sale of Lands||22,229,180|
|Expense of Surveys and Agency||1,700,716||Ditto still due on ditto ……||22,000,657|
|Balance to Credit …||39,986,205|
|Balance brought down ……||39,986,205|
|Lands unsold, viz., 173,176,606 acres at the lowest estimate, one dollar per acre
|Balance of gain on the part of the United States in dealing with the Indians||213,162,811|
How irresistibly, to say nothing of natural rights, do these transactions establish the claim of the Indians to protection and kindness from the United States!
The purchases of land from the Indians by the British Government do not exceed ten millions of acres; for 7,491,190 of which the Indians receive goods annually amounting in value to Å4155 Halifax currency, or 16,620 dollars. The British Government has not sold its lands, but, with the exception of a few hundred acres lately disposed of near York in Upper Canada, has made gratuitous grants of them.
Besides which, about 20,000 Indians annually receive from the British government, blankets, and presents of various kinds — so that while the Americans have gained so largely by their intercourse with the natives within their territories, the British are annually losers. But both are awfully deficient in using means to improve the condition of the Indians.
Chapter XII. Names of the DIfferent Indian Nations Hither to Discovered in North America, the Situation of Their Countries, with the Number of Their Fighting Men.
|THE Choctaws or Flatheads, on the Molect||4,500|
|The Chukesws, Mississippi||750|
|The Cherokees, South Carolina||2,500|
|The Chatabas, between North and S. Carolina||150|
|The Peantias, a wandering tribe, both sides of the Mississippi||800|
|The Kasgresquios or Illinois||600|
|The Piankishaws||on the Wabash||250|
|The Shawanese or Sciota||500|
|The Delawares, on the west of Ohio||300|
|The Upper Creeks back of Georgia||4,000|
|The Middle Creeks, North Florida|
|The Lower Creeks, East Florida|
|The Caocutas, on the East of the River Alibamous||700|
|The Alibamous, West of the Alibamous||600|
|The Anjoues, North of the Missouri||1,000|
|The Padilonians, West of the Mississippi||500|
|The White Panis, South of the Mississippi||2,000|
|The Freckled or Prickled Panis||2,000|
|The Cansas||South of the Mississippi||1,600|
|The Grand Eaux||1,000|
|The Missouri, upon the River Missouri||3,000|
|The Sioux of the Woods, towards the heads||1,800|
|The Sioux of the Meadows of the Missouri||2,500|
|The Blanks Barbus, or White Indians with Beards||1,500|
|The Assiniboils, farther North near the Lakes||1,500|
|The Orusconsins, on the river of the same name, falling into the Mississippi||500|
|The Mascordins||South of Pecan's Bay||500|
|Folle Avoini, or Wild Oat Indians||350|
|The Potawatamis, near Detroit||350|
|The Missisagues, or River Indians, being wandering tribes on lakes Huron and Superior||2,000|
|The Ottapoas, Lake Superior||900|
|The Weandots, Lake Erie||300|
|The Six Nations or Iroquois||1,500|
|The Round-headed Indian, near Ottawas||2,500|
|The Algonkins, near the above||300|
|The Nepessins, near ditto||400|
|The Chatas, St. Lawrence||130|
|The Amelestes, or the Bark||550|
|The Mukmacks, Bark of Nova Scotia||700|
|The Abenaques, ditto||350|
|The Conaway Crunas, near the Falls of St. Lewis||200|
58,730 warriors, one-third old men, makes 78,306. Multiplying by six gives 469,866 souls, men, women, and children.
The foregoing list I received from old Mr. Heckewelder, the Missionary, to whom I paid a visit a short time ago at Bethlehem, where he resides. His active and constant exertions, in the cause of benevolence, seem to have been rewarded with health and long life. He is now in his eighty-eighth year, and his faculties are vigorous and alert. From him I learnt that it is not in the power of man to come at anything demonstrative as to the numbers of the Indians. The list now before the reader, refers to what was known between the years 1770 and 1780, and I have no reason whatever to doubt its accuracy. I find in the records of 1794, that a treaty was arranged at Philadelphia with the President of the United States, which comprehended upwards of fifty-seven thousand Indian warriors.
This statement, therefore, could not have included the inhabitants of the immense regions from the Mississippi to the Pacific Ocean, and North to Hudson's Bay. But travellers have in all places found numbers, so that having reference to extent of territory, I do not overrate the population of the Indian nations at two millions; taking in from the Isthmus of Panama, and consequently including Mexico. It should be borne in mind that the great body of any Indian tribe never appear to strangers: only the scouts are seen.
Chapter XIII. Indian Anecdotes.
THE Indians have a strong innate sense of justice, which will lead them sometimes to acts which some men will call heroic, others romantic, and not a few, perhaps, will designate by the epithet barbarous; a vague indefinite word, which if it means any thing, might, perhaps, be best explained by something not like ourselves. However that may be, this feeling certainly exists among the Indians, and as I cannot describe it better than by its effects, I shall content myself with relating on this subject a characteristic anecdote which happened in the year 1793, at an Indian village called La Chine, situated nine miles above Montreal, and was told me in the same year by Mr. La Ramee, a French Canadian inhabitant of that place, whom I believe to be a person of strict veracity. I was then on my return from Detroit, in company with General Lincoln and several other gentlemen, who were present at the relation, and gave it their full belief. I thought it then so interesting, that I inserted it in my journal, from which I now extract it.
There were in the said village of La Chine, two remarkable Indians, the one for his stature, being six feet four inches in height, and the other for his strength and activity. These two meeting together one day in the street (a third being present,) the former in a high tone made use of some insulting language to the other, which he could not well put up with: he called him a coward, said he was his inferior
142in every respect, and so provoked his anger, that unable any longer to contain himself, the latter instantly replied: "You have grossly insulted me; but I will prevent you from doing the like again!" and at the same moment stabbed him through the body with his knife, so that he dropped down dead by his side. The alarm being immediately spread through the village, a crowd of Indians assembled, and the murderer having seated himself on the ground by the side of the dead body, cooly awaited his fate, which he could not expect to be any other than immediate death, particularly as the cry of the people was "Kill him! Kill him!" But although he placed his body and his head in a proper posture to receive the stroke of the tomahawk, no one attempted to lay hands on him; but after removing the dead body from where it lay, they left him alone. Not meeting here with his expected fate, he rose from this place for a more public part of the village, and there lay down on the ground, in the hope of being the sooner despatched; but the spectators, after viewing him, all retired again. Sensible that his life was justly forfeited, and anxious to be relieved from a state of suspense, he took the resolution to go to the mother of the deceased, an aged widow, whom he addressed in these words: "Woman, I have killed thy son; he had insulted me, it is true: but still he was thine, and his life was valuable to thee. I, therefore, now surrender myself up to thy will. Direct as thou wilt have it, and relieve me speedily from misery." To which the woman answered: "Thou hast indeed, killed my son, who was dear to me, and the only supporter I had in my old age. One life is already lost, and to take thine on that account, cannot be of any service to me, nor better my situation. Thou hast, however, a son, whom if thou wilt give me in the place of my son whom thou hast slain, all shall be wiped away." The murderer then replied: "Mother, my son is yet but a child, ten years old, and can be of
143no service to thee, but rather a trouble and charge; but here am I, truly capable of supporting and maintaining thee: if thou wilt receive me as thy son, nothing shall be wanting on my part to make thee comfortable while thou livest." The woman, approving of the proposal, forthwith adopted him as her son, and took the whole family to her house. —
They judge with calmness on all occasions, and decide with precision, or endeavour to do so, between an accident and a wilful act; — the first (they say) they are all liable to commit, and therefore it ought not to be noticed, or punished; — the second being a wilful or premeditated act committed with a bad design, ought on the contrary to receive due punishment.
To illustrate this subject, I shall relate a few of the cases of this description which have come within my knowledge. One morning early, an Indian came into the house of another who was yet a-bed, asking for the loan of his gun for a morning hunt, his ownbeing out of repair. The owner readily consented, and said: "As my gun is not loaded, you will have "to take a few balls out of your pouch!" In taking the gun down, it, however, by some accident went off, and lodged the contents in the owner's head, who was still lying on the bed, and now expired. The gun, it appeared, was loaded, though unknown to him, and the lock left in such condition that by a touch it went off. A cry was heard from all sides in the house: "O! the accident!" for such it was always considered to have been, and was treated as such.
A hunter went out to kill a bear, some of those animals having been seen in the neighborhood. In
144an obscure part of a wood, he saw at a distance something black moving, which be took for a bear, the whole of the animal not being visible to him; he fired, and found he had shot a black horse. Having discovered the mistake, he informed the owner of what had happened, expressing at the same time his regret that he was not possessed of a single horse, with which he could replace the one he had shot. What! replied the Indian whose horse had been killed, do you think I would accept a horse from you, though you had one to give, after you have satisfied me that you killed mine by accident? No, indeed! for the same misfortune might also happen to me.
An aged Indian who had gone out to shoot; a turkey, mistook a black hog in the bushes for one of those birds, and shot him; finding out by inquiry to whom the hog belonged, he informed the owner of the mistake he had made, offering to pay for the hog; which the other, however, not only would not accept of, but having brought the meat in, gave him a leg of the animal, because he thought that the unfortunate man, as well on account of his disappointment, in not feasting on turkey as he expected soon to do when he shot the hog, as for his honesty in informing of what he had done, was entitled to a share of what he had killed.
Two Indians with a large canoe, going down the Muskingum river to a certain distance, were accosted by others going by land to the same place, who requested them to take their heavy articles, as kettles, axes, hoes, &c., into their canoe, which they freely did, but unfortunately were shipwrecked at the rocks of White Eyes's falls (as the place is called,) where the whole cargo was lost, and the men saved themselves by swimming to the shore. The question being put and fully discussed, whether those men with the canoe, who had taken charge of the property of the others, and by this neglect lost the whole
145were not liable to pay for the loss? It was decided in the negative, on the following grounds: —
1. That the canoe men had taken the articles on board, with the pleasing hope that they thereby would oblige their fellow men, and did not expect any recompense for that service.
2. That although they might have avoided the danger and the loss, by unloading the canoe at the head of the fall, and carrying the cargo by land below it, (which was but a short distance,) as was customary, when the river was not in a proper state to run through, yet that, had those who travelled by land been in the place of those in the canoe, they might, like them, have attempted to have run through, as is sometimes done with success, and been equally unfortunate.
3. That the canoe men having had all their own property on board, which was all lost at the same time, and was equally valuable to them, it was clear that they had expected to run safely through, and could not have intentionally or designedly brought on themselves and others the misfortune which had happened, and therefore the circumstance must be ascribed entirely to accident. — HECKEWELDER.
Had the following anecdote been in existence in the time of our great poet Milton, would he not have translated it into his high style, and given it a place in his treatise on the "Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce?" One can easily conceive how he would have chuckled over such a thing in the midst of the bitterness (caused by his wife's misconduct,) with which he sat down to compose his "Tetrachordon," and other tracts on the subject. B.
An aged Indian, who for many years had spent much of his time among the white people both in Pennsylvania and New-Jersey, one day about the year 1770 observed, that the Indians had not only
146a much easier way of getting a wife than the whites, but were also more certain of getting a good one; "For," (said he in his broken English,) "White man court, — court, — may be one whole year! — may be two years before he marry! — well! — may be then got very good wife — but may be not! — may be very cross; — Well now, suppose cross! scold so soon as get awake in the morning! scold all day! scold until sleep! — all one; he must keep him
This passion of the Indians, which I have called pride, but which might, perhaps, be better denominated high-mindedness, is generally combined with a great sense of honour, and not seldom produces actions of the most heroic kind. I am now going to relate an instance of his honourable pride, which I have also witnessed. An Indian of the Lenape nation, who was considered as a very dangerous person, and was much dreaded on that account, had publicly declared that as soon as another Indian who was then gone to Sandusky, should return from thence, he would certainly kill him. This dangerous
147Indian called in one day at my house on the Muskingum to ask me for some tobacco. While this unwelcome guest was smoking his pipe by my fire, behold! the other Indian whom he had threatened to kill, and who at that moment had just arrived, also entered the house. I was much frightened, as I feared the bad Indian would take that opportunity to carry his threat into execution, and that my house would be made the scene of a horrid murder. I walked to the door, in order not to witness a crime that I could not prevent, when to my great astonishment I heard the Indian whom I thought in danger, address the other in these words: "Uncle, you have threatened to kill me — you have declared that you would do it the first time we should meet. Now I am here, and we are together. Am I to take it for granted that you are in earnest, and that you are really determined to take my life as you have declared? Am I now to consider you as my avowed enemy, and in order to secure my own life against your murderous designs, to be the first to strike you and imbrue my hands in your blood? — I will not, I cannot do it. Your heart is bad, it is true, but still you appear to be a generous foe, for you gave me notice of what you intended to do; you have put me on my guard, and did not attempt to assassinate me by surprise; I, therefore, will spare you until you lift up your arm to strike, and then, uncle, it will be seen which of us shall fall!" The murderer was thunderstruck, and without replying a word, slunk off and left the house.
The next anecdote will display an act of heroism produced by this elevation of mind which I have called pride, which perhaps, may have been equalled, but, I dare say, was hardly ever surpassed. In the spring of the year 1782, the war chief of the Wyandots of Lower Sandusky sent a white prisoner (a young man whom he had taken at Fort M'lntosh) as a present to another chief, who was called the
148Half-king of Upper Sandusky, for the purpose of being adopted into his family, in the place of one of his sons, who had been killed the preceding year, while at war with the people on the Ohio. The prisoner arrived, and was presented to the Half-king's wife, but she refused to receive him, which, according to the Indian rule, was, in fact, a sentence of death. The young man was, therefore, taken away, for the purpose of being tortured and burnt on the pile. While the dreadful preparations were making near the village, the unhappy victim being already tied to the stake, and the Indians arriving from all quarters to join in the cruel act or to witness it, two English traders, Messrs. Arundel and Robbins, (I delight in making this honorable mention of their names,) shocked at the idea of the cruelties which were about to be perpetrated, and moved by feelings of pity and humanity, resolved to unite their exertions to endeavour to save the prisoner's life by offering a ransom to the war chief, which he, however refused, because, said he, it was an established rule among them, that when a prisoner who had been given as a present, was refused adoption, he was irrevocably doomed to the stake, and it was not in the power of any one to save his life. Besides, added he, the numerous war captains who were on the spot, had it in charge to see the sentence carried into execution. The two generous Englishmen, however, were not discouraged, and determined to try a last effort. They well knew what effects the high-minded pride of an Indian was capable of producing, and to this strong and noble passion they directed their attacks: "But," said they, in reply to the answer which the chief had made them, "among all those chiefs whom you have mentioned, there is none who equals you in greatness; you are considered not only as the greatest and bravest, but as the best man in the nation." "Do you really believe what you say?" said at once the Indian, looking them fall
149in the face. "Indeed we do." Then, without saying another word, he blackened himself, and taking his knife and tomahawk in his hand, made his way through the crowd to the unhappy victim, crying out with a loud voice: "What have you to do with my prisoner?" and at once cutting the cords with which he was tied, took him to his house which was near Mr. Arundel's, whence he was forthwith secured and carried off by safe hands to Detroit, where the commandant, being informed of the transaction, sent him by water to Niagara, where he was soon afterwards liberated. The Indians who witnessed this act, said that it was truly heroic; they were so confounded by the unexpected conduct of this chief, and by his manly and resolute appearance, that they had not time to reflect upon what they should do, and before their astonishment was well over, the prisoner was out of their reach. — HECKEWELDER.
It is certain that the Indians, by the prints of the feet and by other marks and signs perceivable only to themselves, can readily discover, not only that men have passed through a particular path or line of march, but they can discriminate to what particular nation those men belong, and whether they are their friends or their enemies. They also sometimes make discoveries by examining obscure places, and by that means get informed of an enemy's design. Nay, there are those among them who pretend to be able to discriminate among various marks of human footsteps the different nations of those to whom they respectively belong. I shall not undertake to assert thus far, but I shall relate an anecdote, the truth of which I firmly believe, in proof of their extraordinary sagacity in this respect.
In the beginning of the summer of the year 1755, a most atrocious and shocking murder was
150unexpectedly committed by a party of Indians, on fourteen white settlers within five miles of Shamokin. The surviving whites, in their rage, determined to take their revenge by murdering a Delaware Indian who happened to be in those parts and was far from thinking himself in any danger. He was a great friend to the whites, was loved and esteemed by them, and in testimony of their regard, had received from them the name of Duke Holland, by which he was generally known. This Indian, satisfied that his nation was incapable of committing such a foul murder in a time of profound peace, told the enraged settlers, that he was sure that the Delawares were not in any manner concerned in it, and that it was the act of some wicked Mingoes or Iroquois, whose custom it was to involve other nations in wars with each other by clandestinely committing murders, so that they might be laid to the charge of others than themselves. But all his representations were vain; he could not convince exasperated men whose minds were bent upon revenge. At last, he offered that if they would give him a party to accompany him, he would go with them in quest of the murderers, and was sure he could discover them by the prints of their feet and other marks well known to him, by which he would convince them that the real perpetrators of the crime belonged to the Six Nations. His proposal was accepted; he marched at the head of a party of whites and led them into the tracks. They soon found themselves in the most rocky parts of a mountain, where not one of those who accompanied him was able to discover a single track, nor would they believe that man had ever trodden upon this ground, as they had to jump over a number of crevices between the rocks, and in some instances to crawl over them. Now they began to believe that the Indian had led them across those ragged mountains in order to give the enemy time to escape, and threatened him with instant death the moment they should
151be full convinced of the fraud. The Indian, true to his promise, would take pains to make them perceive that an enemy had passed along the places through which he was leading them; here he would show them that the moss on the rock had been trodden down by the weight of a human foot, there that it had been torn and dragged forward from its place; farther he would point out to them that pebbles or small stones on the rocks had been removed from their beds by the foot hitting against them, that dry sticks by being trodden upon were broken, and even that in a particular place, an Indian's blanket had been dragged over the rocks, and removed or loosened the leaves lying there, so that they lay no more flat as in other places; all which the Indian could perceive as he walked along, without even stopping. At last arriving at the foot of the mountain on soft ground, where the tracks were deep, he found out that the enemy were eight in number, and from the freshness of the foot prints, he concluded that they must be encamped at no great distance. This proved to be the exact truth, for after gaining the eminence on the other side of the valley, the Indians were seen encamped, some having already laid down to sleep, while others were drawing off their leggings
152which he did, and when they arrived at home late at night, they reported the number of the Iroquois to have been so great, that they durst not venture to attack them.
This account is faithfully given as I received it from Duke Holland himself, and took it down in writing at the time. I had been acquainted with this Indian for upwards of twenty years, and knew him to be honest, intelligent, and a lover of truth. Therefore I gave full credit to what he told me, and as yet have had no reason to disbelieve or even to doubt it. I once employed him to save the life of a respectable gentleman, now residing at Pittsburg, who was in imminent danger of being killed by a war party. Duke Holland conducted him safely through the woods, from the Muskingum to the Ohio settlement. He once found a watch of mine, which had been sent to me from Pittsburg by a man who had got drunk, and lost it in the woods about fifty miles from the place where I lived. Duke Holland went in search of it, and having discovered the tracks of the man to whom it had been intrusted, he pursued them until he found the lost article, which he delivered to me — HECKEWELDER.
Much has been said on the subject of the preliminary cruelties inflicted on prisoners, when they enter an Indian village with the conquering warriors. It is certain that this treatment is very severe when a particular revenge is to be exercised; but otherwise, I can say with truth, that in many instances, it is rather a scene of amusement, than a punishment. Much depends on the courage and presence of mind of the prisoner. On entering the village, he is shown a painted post at the distance of from twenty to forty yards, and told to run to it and catch hold of it as quickly as he can. On each side of him stand men, women and children, with axes, sticks, and other
153offensive weapons, ready to strike him as he runs, in the same manner as is done in the European armies when soldiers, as it is called, run the gauntlet. If he should be so unlucky as to fall in the way, he will probably be immediately despatched by some person, longing to avenge the death of some relation or friend slain in battle; but the moment he reaches the goal, he is safe and protected from further insult until his fate is determined.
If a prisoner in such a situation shows a determined courage, and when bid to run for the painted post, starts at once with all his might, and exerts all his strength and agility until he reaches it, he will most commonly escape without much harm, and sometimes without any injury whatever, and on reaching the desired point, he will have the satisfaction to hear his courage and bravery applauded. But wo to the coward who hesitates, or shows any symptoms of fear! He is treated without much mercy, and is happy, at last, if he escapes with his life.
In the month of April 1782, when I was myself a prisoner at Lower Sandusky, waiting for an opportunity to proceed with a trader to Detroit, I witnessed a scene of this description which fully exemplified what I have above stated. Three American prisoners were one day brought in by fourteen warriors from the garrison of Fort M'lntosh. As soon as they had crossed the Sandusky river to which the village lay adjacent, they were told by the Captain of the party to run as hard as they could to a painted post which was shown to them. The youngest of the three, without a moment's hesitation, immediately started for it, and reached it fortunately without receiving a single blow; the second hesitated for a moment, but recollecting himself, he also ran as fast as he could and likewise reached the post unhurt; but the third, frightened at seeing so many men, women and children with weapons in their hands, ready
154to strike him, kept begging the Captain to spare his life, saying he was a mason, and he would build him a fine large stone house, or do any work for him that he should please. "Run for your life," cried the chief to him, "and don't talk now of building houses!" But the poor fellow still insisted, begging and praying to the Captain, who at last finding his exhortations vain, and fearing the consequences, turned his back upon him, and would not hear him any longer. Our mason now began to run, but received many a hard blow, one of which nearly brought him to the ground, which, if he had fallen, would at once have decided his fate. He, however, reached the goal, not without being sadly bruised, and he was besides, bitterly reproached and scoffed at all round as a vile coward, while the others were hailed as brave men, and received tokens of universal approbation. — HECKEWELDER.
The following are curious documents concerning the above fact. They are now first printed from the originals in my possession. There is something very simple and touching in the memorial of the Chiefs; but the letter of the offender himself is rather too canting. Education seems in his instance, to have obliterated every atom of real and native eloquence. It is to be hoped that he was sincere in his contrition; but real shame and sorrow seldom seek for fine phrases; and poor Josiah, it must be acknowledged, expresses himself too much like a Milliner's apprentice who had been studying the "Complete Letter Writer." The penmanship is in a plain, strong hand. I have had the letter printed without any alteration whatever, in either spelling or punctuation.
155To his Excellency De Witt Clinton, Governor of the State of New-York.
The memorial and petition of the undersigned Chiefs Peace makers and warriors of the Muhhiconnuk or Stockbridge Tribe of Indians humbly representeth:
That whereas a certain young man of our Tribe by the name of Josiah W. Andrew had committed a forgery about one year ago last March, and was sentenced to the State's Prison at Auburn for the term, of five years. And we have thought it was our duty to write few lines to your Excellency on his behalf. Be it known to your Excellency that it is well known to all our Tribe, that previous to the crime for which said Josiah was committed, he had always maintained a good character, and was considered by the nation to be a good meaning, innocent, and inoffensive young man, and was never known to be guilty of any heinous crime, only that he was subject to intemperate habits, which finally brought him to the place where he is now in confinement. The said Josiah, has an aged and poor father who is very infirm, and wishes to see his son in order to have his help and to comfort him in his declining years, as he has no other son or daughter in this country to render him any assistance.
We therefore hope and pray your Excellency will condescend to have the goodness to pardon the said poor Josiah, as we have reason to believe that he will reform if he will be restored to society once more. And we believe he has already reformed by the information we have received from him.
This is the desire of the whole of our nation, and hope that your Excellency will hear us and grant us our request.
Done in a general Council, at New Stockbridge, this 16th day of January, 1821.
|Hendrick Aupaumut,||Isaac Littleman,|
|Jacob Kunkopot,||Elisha Konkapot,|
|Solomon Q. Henduik,||John Littleman,|
|Abner W. Hendrick,||John Baldwin,|
|Abram Man-maun-teth-e-con,||Cornelius Aaron,|
|John W. Quinney,||Thomas Palmer,|
|Abram Pie,||Harry Aaron,|
|Solomon U. Hendrick, Clk.||Jacob Cheekthauron,|
|Thomas J. Hendrick,||Francis P. Aaron,|
In behalf of the Tribe.
Auburn, December 24th, 1820.
MR. SARGENT SIR,
I imbrace this oppertunity of conversing with you by way of writing to inform you of my health which is as good as I can expect, confined as I am within the walls of this drery and cold prison whilst I hope you and yours injoy the blessing and at your liberties which is the greatist blessing that mortals can injoy in this vain and delusive world but alas that bounty I have violated that fatal deed which my heart bleeds when I reflect but I am ditermined if ever I can again be restored to my former injoyments that I will put a double restrain on my conduct and never again violate the laws of my country. Mr. Sargent I hope you will be so good as to see my friends and will indeaver with them to assist me this ounce to my liberty for which favour I shall ever conceder myself under the greatist obligations — consider me sir as a mortal liable to the frowns of fortune for we are none of us exempt I hope you will not leave me to linger out my few remaining years in this wreatched abode I once more intreat you to have compassion on me as you expect mercy of your creator for each of us as mortals have kneed of mercy from that divine being — I wish sir you would see my father
157and see what has been the cause of my never receving any word from him as I never have receved any word from him since I was first arested ask him sir if he considers me dead because I have once done wrong tell him his erring son is yet alive and earnistly solisits your pardon and a pardon from the government against which he has offended I hope he with your assistence will soon restore me to my liberty and my futer good conduct shall apologise for the past do not neglect me sir for I am heartyly sorry for my fault.
Mr. Sargent I hope you will send me an answer as soon as you receve this give my love to my cousin Jacob Chicks and his family with all inquiring friends.
This from your unhappy but sincere friend
JOSIAH W. ANDREW.
To the Rev. John Sargent,
Vernon, County Oneida,
N. York, (with speed.)
A distinguished Oneida Chief named Skenandou, having yielded to the teaching of his minister, (the Rev. Mr. Kirkland,) and lived a reformed man for fifty years, said, in his 120th year, just before he died, "I am an aged hemlock. The winds of one hundred years have whistled through my branches. I am dead at the top." (He was blind.) "Why I yet live, the great good Spirit only knows. Pray to my Jesus that I may wait with patience my appointed time to die; and when I die, lay me by the side of my minister and father, that I may go up with him with great resurrection."
The Indian writing consists of figures or hieroglyphics; and the following anecdote will show that sometimes it is very much to the purpose: A white man in the Indian country, met a Shawanos riding a horse which he affected to recognise for his own, and claimed it from him as his property. The Indian calmly answered, "Friend! after a little while, I will call on you at your house, when we shall talk of this matter." A few days afterwards, the Indian came to the white man's house, who insisting on having his horse restored, the other then told him: "Friend! the horse which you claim belonged to my uncle who lately died; according to the Indian custom, I have become heir to all his property." The white man not being satisfied, and renewing his demand, the Indian immediately took a coal from the fire-place, and made two striking figures on the door of the house, the one representing the white man taking the horse, and the other, himself, in the act of scalping him; then he coolly asked the trembling claimant "whether he could read this Indian writing?" The matter thus was settled at once, and the Indian rode off. — HECKEWELDER.
In passing thro' Lake Pepin our interpreter pointed out to us a high precipice, on the east shore of the lake, from which an Indian girl, of the Sioux nation, had, many years ago, precipitated herself in a fit of disappointed love. She had given her heart, it appears, to a young chief of her own tribe, who was very much attached to her, but the alliance was opposed by her parents, who wished her to marry an old chief, renowned for his wisdom and influence in the nation. As the union was insisted upon, and no other way appearing to avoid it, she determined
159to sacrifice her life in preference to a violation of her former vow; and while the preparations for the marriage feast were going forward, left her father's cabin, without exciting suspicion, and before she could be overtaken threw herself from an awful precipice, and was instantly dashed to a thousand pieces. Such an instance of sentiment is rarely to be met with among barbarians, and should redeem the name of this noble-minded girl from oblivion. It was Oo-la-i-ta. — Schoolcraft's Journal.
I have often reflected on the curious connexion which appears to subsist in the mind of an Indian between man and the brute creation; and found much matter in it for curious observation. Although they consider themselves superior to all other animals and are very proud of that superiority; although they believe that the beasts of the forest, the birds of the air, and the fishes of the waters, were created by the Almighty Being for the use of man; yet it seems as if they ascribe the difference between themselves and the brute kind, and the dominion which they have over them, more to their superior bodily strength and dexterity than to their immortal souls. All beings endowed by the Creator with the power of volition and self-motion, they view in a manner as a great society of which they are the head, whom they are appointed, indeed, to govern, but between whom and themselves intimate ties of connexion and relationship may exist, or at least, did exist in the beginning of time. They are, in fact, according to their opinions, only the first among equals, the legitimate hereditary sovereigns of the whole animated race, of which they are themselves a constituent part. Hence, in their languages, those inflections of their nouns which we call genders, are not, as with us, descriptive of the masculine and femenine species, but
160but of the animate and inanimate kinds. Indeed, they go so far as to include trees and plants within the first of these descriptions. All animated nature, in whatever degree, is in their eyes a great whole, from which they have not yet ventured to separate themselves. They do not exclude other animals from their world of spirits, the place to which they expect to go after death.
I find it difficult to express myself clearly on this abstruse subject, which, perhaps, the Indians themselves do not very well understand, as they have no metaphysicians among them to analyze their vague notions, and perhaps confuse them still more. But I can illustrate what I have said by some characteristic anecdotes.
The Indian includes all savage beasts within the number of his enemies. This is by no means a metaphorical or figurative expression, but is used in a literal sense, as will appear from what I am going to relate.
A Delaware hunter once shot a huge bear and broke its back bone. The animal fell and set up a most plaintive cry, something like that of the panther when he is hungry. The hunter, instead of giving him another shot, stood up close to him, and addressed him in these words: "Hark ye! bear; you are a coward, and no warrior as you pretend to be. Were you a warrior, you would show it by your firmness, and not cry and whimper like an old woman. You know, bear, that our tribes are war with each other, and that yours was the aggressor.
161hog's flesh in your belly. Had you conquered me, I would have borne it with courage and died like a brave warrior; but you, bear, sit here and cry, and disgrace your tribe by your cowardly conduct." I was present at the delivery of this curious invective; when the hunter had despatched the bear, I asked him how he thought the poor animal could understand what he said to it? "Oh!" said he in answer, "the bear understood me very well; did you not observe how ashamed he looked while I was upbraiding him?"
Another time I witnessed a similar scene between the falls of the Ohio and the river Wabash. A young white man, named William Wells,
Suicide is not considered by the Indians either as an act of herosim or of cowardice, nor is it with them a subject of praise or blame. They view this desperate act as the consequence of mental derangement, and the person who destroys himself is to them an object of pity. Such cases do not frequently occur. Between the years 1771 and 1780, four Indians of my acquaintance took the root of the may-apple, which is commonly used on such occasions, in order to poison themselves, in which they all succeeded, except one. Two of them were young men, who had been disappointed in love, the girls on whom they had fixed their choice, and to whom they were engaged, having changed their minds and married other lovers. They both put an end to their existence. The two others were married men. Their stories, as pictures of Indian manners, will not, perhaps, be thought uninteresting.
One of these unfortunate men was a person of an excellent character, respected and esteemed by all who knew him. He had a wife whom he was very fond of and two children, and they lived very happily together at the distance of about a half a mile from the place where I resided. He often came to visit me, and as he was of a most amiable disposition, I was pleased with his visits, and always gave him a hearty welcome. When I thought he was too long without coming, I went myself to the delightful spot which he had judiciously selected for his dwelling. Here I always found the family cheerful, sociable and happy, until some time before the fatal catastrophe happened when I observed that my friend's countenance bore the marks of deep melancholy, of which I afterwards learned the cause. His wife had received the visits of another man; he foresaw that he would soon be obliged to separate from her, and be shuddered when he thought that he must also part from his two lovely
163children; for it is the custom of the Indians, that when a divorce takes place between husband and wife, the children remain with their mother, until they are of a proper age to choose for themselves. One hope, however, still remained. The sugar-making season was at hand, and they were shortly to remove to their sugar camp, where he flattered himself Ins wife would not be followed by the disturber of his peace, whose residence was about ten miles from thence. But this hope was of short duration. They had hardly been a fortnight in their new habitation, when, as he returned one day from a morning's hunt, he found the unwelcome visiter at his home, in close conversation with his faithless wife. This last stroke was more than be could bear; without saying a single word, he took off a large cake of his sugar, and with it came to my house, which was at the distance of eight miles from his temporary residence. It was on a Sunday, at about ten o'clock in the forenoon, that he entered my door, with sorrow strongly depicted on his manly countenance. As he came in he presented me with his cake of sugar, saying, "My friend! you have many a time served me with a good pipe of tobacco, and I have not yet done any thing to please you. Take this as a reward for your goodness, and as an acknowledgement from me as your friend" He said no more, but giving me with both his hands, a warm farewell squeeze, he departed and returned to the camp. At about two o'clock in the afternoon a runner from thence passing through the town to notify his death at the village two miles farther, informed us of the shocking event. He had immediately on his return, remained a short lime in his house, indulging in the last caresses to his dear innocent children; then retiring to some distance, had eaten the fatal root, and before relief could be administered by some persons who had observed him staggering from the other
164side of the river, he was on the point of expiring, and all succours were vain.
The last whom I have to mention, was also a married man, bat had no children. He had lived happy with his wife, until one day that she fell into a passion and made use to him of such abusive language as he could not endure. Too high-minded to quarrel with a woman, he resolved to punish her by putting an end to his existence. Fortunately he was seen in the first stage of his fits, and was brought into a house, where a strong emetic diluted in lukewarm water, was forcibly poured down his throat. He recovered after some time, but never was again the strong healthy man he had been before; his wife however, took warning from this desperate act, and behaved better ever after. — HECKEWELDER.
An Indian who had been born and brought up at Minisink, near the Delaware Water Gap, and to whom the German inhabitants of that neighbourhood had given the name of Cornelius Rosenbaum, told me near fifty years ago, that he had once, when under the influence of strong liquor, killed the best Indian friend he had, fancying him to be his worst avowed enemy. He said that the deception was complete, and that while intoxicated, the face of his friend presented to his eyes all the features of the man with whom he was in a state of hostility. It is impossible to express the horror with which he was struck when he awoke from that delusion; he was so shocked, that he from that moment resolved never more to taste of the maddening poison, of which he was convinced that the devil was the inventor; for it could only be the evil spirit who made him see his enemy when his friend was before him, and produced so strong a delusion on his bewildered senses, that he actually killed him. From that time
165until his death, which happened thirty years afterwards, he never drank a drop of ardent spirits, which he always called "the Devil's blood," and was firmly persuaded that the Devil, or some of his inferior spirits, had a hand in preparing it.
Once in my travels, I fell in with an Indian and his son; the former, though not addicted to drinking, had this time drunk some liquor with one of his acquaintances, of which he now felt the effects. As he was walking before me, along the path, he at once flew back and aside, calling out "O! what a monstrous snake!" On my asking him where the snake lay, he pointed to something and said, "Why, there, across the path!" "A snake!" said I, "it is nothing but a black-burnt sapling, which has fallen on the ground," He, however, would not be persuaded; he insisted that it was a snake, and could be nothing else; therefore, to avoid it, he went round the path, and entered it again at some distance farther. After we had travelled together for about two hours, during which time he spoke but little, we encamped for the night. Awaking about midnight, I saw him sitting up smoking his pipe, and appearing to be in deep thought. I asked him why he did not lay down and sleep? To which he replied, "O my friend! many things have crowded on my mind; I am quite lost in thought!"
Heckew. — "And what are you thinking about?"
Indian, — "Did you say it was not a snake of which I was afraid, and which lay across the path?"
Heckew. — "I did say so; and, indeed, it was nothing else but a sapling burnt black by the firing of the woods."
Indian, — "Are you sure it was that?"
Heckew. — "Yes; and I called to you at the time to look, how I was standing on it; and if you have yet a doubt, ask your son, and the two Indians with me, and they will tell you the same."
Indian, — "O strange! and I took it for an
166uncommonly large snake, moving as if it intended to bite me! — I cannot get over my surprise, that the liquor I drank, and, indeed, that was not much, should have so deceived me! but I think I have now discovered how it happens that Indians so often kill one another when drunk, almost without knowing what they are doing; and when afterwards they are told what they have done, they ascribe it to the liquor which was in them at the time, and say the liquor did it. I have thought that as I saw this time a living snake in a dead piece of wood, so I might, at another time, take a human being, perhaps one of my own family, for a bear or some other ferocious beast and kill him. Can you, my friend, tell me what is in the beson
I answered all these questions, and several others that he put to me, in the best manner that I could, to which he replied, and our conversation continued as follows:
Indian, — "Well, if, as you say, the bad spirit cannot be the inventor of this liquor; if, in some cases it is moderately used among you as a medicine, and if your doctors can prepare from it, or with the help of a little of it, some salutary besons, still, I must believe that when it operates as you have seen, the bad spirit must have some hand in it, either by putting some bad thing into it, unknown to those who prepare it, or you have conjurers who understand how to bewitch it. — Perhaps they only do so to that which is
167for the Indians; for the devil is not the Indians' friend, because they will not worship him, as they do the good Spirit, and therefore I believe he puts something into the beson, for the purpose of destroying them."
Heckew. — "What the devil may do with the liquor I cannot tell; but I believe that he has a hand in every thing that is bad. When the Indians kill one another, bite off each other's noses, or commit such wicked acts, he is undoubtedly well satisfied; for, as God himself has said, he is a destroyer and a murderer."
Indian, — "Well, now, we think alike, and henceforth he shall never again deceive me, or entice me to drink his beson."
In the year 1769, an Indian from Susquehannah having come to Bethlehem with his sons to dispose of his peltry, was accosted by a trader from a neighbouring town, who addressed him thus: "Well! Thomas, I really believe you have turned Moravian." "Moravian!" answered the Indian, "what makes you think so?" — "Because," replied the other, "you used to come to us to sell your skins and peltry, and now you trade them away to the Moravians." "So!" rejoined the Indian, "now I understand you well, and I know what you mean to say. Now hear me. — See, my friend! when I come to this place with my skins and peltry to trade, the people are kind, they give me plenty of good victuals to eat, and pay me in money or whatever I want, and no one says a word to me about drinking rum — neither do I ask for it! When I come to your place with my peltry, all call to me: ‘Come, Thomas! here's rum, drink heartily, drink! it will not hurt you.’ All this is done for the purpose of cheating me. When you have obtained from me all you want, you call me a drunken dog, and kick me out of the room. — See! this is the manner in which you cheat the Indians when they come to trade with you. So now you know when you see me coming to your town again, you may say to
168one another: ‘Ah! there is Thomas coming again! he is no longer a Moravian, for he is corning to us to be made drunk — to be cheated — to be kicked out of the house, and be called a drunken dog!’" — HECKEWELDER.
In the year 1779, the noted Girty with his murdering party of Mingoes, nine in number, fell in with the Missionary Zeisberger, on the path leading from Goschacking to Ghadenhutten; their design was to take that worthy man prisoner, and if the could not seize him alive, to murder him and take his scalp to Detroit. They were on the point of laying hold of him, when two young spirited Delawares providentially entered the path at that critical moment, and in an instant presented themselves to defend the good Missionary at the risk of their lives. Their determined conduct had the desired success, and his life was saved. His deliverers afterwards declared that they had no other motive for thus exposing themselves for his sake, than that he was a friend to thier nation and was considered by them as a good man.
In the year 1777, while the revolutionary war was raging, and several Indian tribes had enlisted on the British side, and were spreading murder and devastation along our unprotected frontier, I rather rashly determined to take a journey into the country on a visit to my friends. Captain White Eyes, an Indian chief, resided at that time at the distance of seventeen miles from the place where I lived. Hearing of my determination, he immediately hurried up to me, with his friend Captain Wingenund, (whom I shall presently have occasion farther to mention) and some of his young men, for the purpose of escorting me to Pittsburg, saying, "that he would not suffer me to go, while the Sandusky warriors were out on war excursions, without a proper escort and himself at my
169side." He insisted on accompanying me, and we set out together. One day, as we were proceeding along, our spies discovered a suspicious track. White Eyes, who was riding before me, inquired whether I felt afraid? I answered that while he was with me, I entertained no fear. On this he immediately replied, "You are right; for until I am laid prostrate at your feet, no one shall hurt you." "And even not then," added Wingenund, who was riding behind me; "before this happens, I must be also overcome, and lay by the side of our friend Koguethagechton."
In the year 1782, a settlement of Christian Indians on the Sandusky river, were cruelly murdered by a gang of banditti, under the command of one Williamson. Not satisfied with this horrid outrage, the same band, not long afterwards, marched to Sandusky, where it seems they had been informed that the remainder of that unfortunate congregation had fled, in order to perpetrate upon them the same
170indiscriminate murder. But Providence had so ordered it that they had before left that place, where they had found that they could not remain in safety, their ministers having been taken from them and carried to Detroit by order of the British government, so that they had been left entirely unprotected. The murderers, on their arrival, were much disappointed in finding nothing but empty huts. They then shaped their course towards the hostile Indian villages, where being, contrary to their expectations, furiously attacked, Williamson and his band took the advantage of a dark night and ran off, and the whole party escaped, except one Colonel Crawford another, who being taken by the Indians, were carried in triumph to their village, where the former was condemned to death by torture, and the punishment was inflicted with all the cruelty that rage could invent. The latter was demanded by the Shawanese and sent to them for punishment.
While preparations were making for the execution of this dreadful sentence, the unfortunate Crawford recollected that the Delaware chief Wingenund,
This great and good man was not only one of the bravest and most celebrated warriors, but one of the most amiable men of the Delaware nation. To a
171firm undaunted mind, he joined humanity, kindness and universal benevolence; the excellent qualities of his heart had obtained for him the name of Wingenund which in the Lenape language signifies the well beloved. He had kept away from the tragical scene about to be acted, to mourn in silence and solitude over the fate of his guilty friend, which he well knew it was not in his power to prevent. He was now called upon to act a painful as well as difficult part: the eyes of his enraged countrymen were fixed upon him; he was an Indian and a Delaware; he was a leader of that nation, whose defenceless members had been so cruelly murdered without distinction of age or sex, and whose innocent blood called aloud for the most signal revenge. Could he take the part of a chief of the base murderers? Could he forget altogether the feelings of ancient fellowship and give way exclusively to those of the Indian and the patriot? Fully sensible that in the situation in which he was placed the latter must, in appearance, at least, predominate, he summoned to his aid the firmness and dignity of an indian warrior, approached Colonel Crawford and waited in silence for the communications he had to make. The following dialogue now took place between them:
Crawf. — Do you recollect me, Wingenund?
Wingen. — I believe I do; are you not Colonel Crawford?
Crawf. — l am. How do you do? I am glad to see you, Captain.
Wingen. — (embarrassed) So! yes, indeed.
Crawf. — Do you recollect the friendship that always existed between us, and that we were always glad to see each other?
Wingen. — I recollect all this. I remember that we have drunk many a bowl of punch together. I remember also other acts of kindness that you have done me.
Crawf. — Then I hope the same friendship still subsists between us.
Wingen. — It would, of course, be the same, you in your proper place and not here.
Crawf. — And why not here, Captain? I hope you would not desert a friend in time of need. Now is the time for you to exert yourself in my behalf, as I should do for you were you in my place.
Wingen. — Colonel Crawford! you have placed yourself in a situation which puts it out of my power and that of others of your friends to do any thing for you.
Crawf. — How so, Captain Wingenund?
Wingen. — By joining yourself to that execrable man, Williamson and his party; the man, who, but the other day murdered such a number of the Moravian Indians, knowing them to be friends; knowing that he ran no risk in murdering a people who would not fight, and whose only business was praying.
Crawf. — Wingenund, I assure you, that had I been with him at the time, this would not have happened; not I alone, but all your friends and all good men, wherever they are, reprobate acts of this kind.
Wingen. — That may be; yet these friends, these good men did not prevent him from going out again, to kill the remainder of those inoffensive, yet foolish Moravian Indians! I say foolish, because they believed the whites in preference to us. We had often told them that they would be one day so treated by those people who called themselves their friends! We told them that there was no faith to be placed in what the white men said; that their fair promises were only intended to allure us, that they might the more easily kill us, as they have done many Indians before they killed these Moravians.
Crawf. — I am sorry to hear you speak thus; as to Williamson's going out again, when it was known that he was determined on it, I went out with him to prevent him from committing fresh murders.
Wingen. — This, Colonel, the Indians would not believe, were even I to tell them so.
Crawf. — And why would they not believe it?
Wingen. — Because it would have been out of your power to prevent his doing what he pleased.
Crawf. — Out of my power! Have any Moravian Indians been killed or hurt since we came out?
Wingen. — None; but you went first to their town, and finding it empty and deserted you turned on the path towards us. If you had been in search of warriors only, you would not have gone thither. Our spies watched you closely. They saw you while you were embodying yourselves on the other side of the Ohio; they saw you cross that river; they saw where you encamped at night; they saw you turn off from the path to the deserted Moravian town; they knew you were going out of your way; your steps were constantly watched, and you were suffered quietly to proceed until you reached the spot where you were attacked.
Crawf. — What do they intend to do with me? Can you tell me?
Wingen. — I tell you with grief, Colonel. As Williamson and his whole cowardly host ran off in the night, at the whistling of our warriors balls, being satisfied that now he had no Moravians to deal with, but men who could fight, and with such he did not wish to have any thing to do; I say, as he escaped, and they have taken you, they will take revenge on you in his stead.
Crawf. — And is there no possibility of preventing this? Can you devise no way to get me off? You shall, my friend, be well rewarded if you are instrumental in saving my life.
Wingen. — Had Williamson been taken with you, I and some friends, by making use of what you have told me, might perhaps, have succeeded to save you,
174but as the matter now stands, no man would dare to interfere in your behalf. The king of England himself, were he to come to this spot, with all his wealth and treasures could not effect this purpose. The blood of the innocent Moravians, more than half of them women and children, cruelly and wantonly murdered calls aloud for revenge. The relatives of the slain, who are among us, cry out and stand ready for revenge. The nation to which they belonged will have revenge. The Shawanese, our grand-children, have asked for your fellow prisoner; on him they will take revenge. All the nations connected with us cry out Revenge! revenge! The Moravians whom you went to destroy having fled, instead of avenging their brethren, the offence is become national, and the nation itself is bound to take REVENGE!
Crawf. — Then it seems my fate is decided, and I must prepare to meet death in its worst form?
Wingen. — Yes, Colonel! — I am sorry for it; but cannot do any thing for you. Had you attended to the Indian principle, that as good and evil cannot dwell together in the same heart, so a good man ought not to go into evil company; you would not be in this lamentable situation. You see, now, when it is too late, after Williamson has deserted you, what a bad man he must be! Nothing now remains for you but to meet your fate like a brave man. Farewell, Colonel Crawford! they are coming;
I have been assured by respectable Indians that at the close of this conversation, which was related to me by Wingenund himself as well as by others, both he and Crawford burst into a flood of tears;
175they then took an affectionate leave of each other, and the chief immediately hid himself in the bushes, as the Indians express it, or in his own language, retired to a solitary spot. He never, afterwards, spoke of the fate of his unfortunate friend without strong emotions of grief, which I have several times witnessed. Once, it was the first time that he came into Detroit after Crawford's sufferings, I heard him censured in his own presence by some gentlemen who were standing together for not having saved the life of so valuable a man, who was also his particular friend, as he had often told them. He listened calmly to their censure, and first turning to me, said in his own language: "These men talk like fools," then turning to them, he replied in English: "If king George himself, if your king had been on the spot with all the ships laden with goods and treasures, he could not have ransomed my friend, nor saved his life from the rage of a justly exasperated multitude." — HECKEWELDER.
An Indian, who spoke good English, came one day to a house where I was on business, and desired me to ask a man who was there and who owed him some money, to give an order in writing for him to get a little salt at the store, which he would take in part payment of his debt. The man, after reproving the Indian for speaking through an interpreter when he could speak such good English, told him that he must call again in an hour's time, for he was then too much engaged. The Indian went out and returned at the appointed time, when he was put off again for another hour, and when he came the third time, the other told him he was still engaged and he must come again in half an hour. My Indian friend's
176patience was not exhausted, he turned to me and addressed me thus in his own language: "Tell this man," said he, "that while I have been waiting for his convenience to give me an order for a little salt, have had time to think a great deal. I thought that when we Indians want any thing of one another, we serve each other on the spot, or if we cannot, we say so at once, but we never say to any one ‘call again! call again! call again! three times call again!’ Therefore when this man put me off in this manner, I thought that, to be sure, the white people were very ingenious, and probably he was able to do what no body else could. I thought that as it was afternoon when I first came, and he knew I had seven miles to walk to reach my camp, he had it in his power to stop the sun in its course, until it suited him to give me the that I wanted for a little salt. So thought I, I shall still have day light enough, I shall reach my camp before night, and shall not be obliged to walk in the dark at the risk of falling and hurting my myself by the way. But when l saw that the sun did not wait for him, and I had at least to walk seven miles in an obscure night, I thought then, that it would be better if the white people were to learn something of the Indians."
I once asked an old Indian acquaintance of mine, who had come with his wife to pay me a visit, where he had been, that I had not seen him for a great while? "Don't you know," he answered, "that the white people some time ago summoned us to a treaty, to buy land of them?" — "That is true," replied I, "I had indeed forgotten it; I thought you was just returned from your fall hunt." — "No,no," replied the Indian, "my fall hunt has been lost to me this season; I had to go and get my share of the purchase money for the land we sold." — "Well then," said I, "I suppose you got enough to satisfy you?"
177Indian, — "I can show you all that I got. I have received such and such articles," (naming them and the quantity of each,) "do you think that is enough?"
Heckew. — "That I cannot know, unless you tell me how much of the land which was sold came to your share."
Indian, — (after considering a little) "Well, you, my friend! know who I am, you know I am a kind of chief. I am, indeed, one, though none of the greatest. Neither am I one of the lowest grade, but I stand about in the middle rank. Now, as such, I think I was entitled to as much land in the tract we sold as would lie within a day's walk from this spot to a point due north, then a days's walk from that point to another due west, from thence another day's walk due south, then a day's walk to where we now are. Now you can tell me if what I have shown you is enough for all the land lying between these four marks?"
Heckew. — "If you have made your bargain so with the white people, it is all right, and you probably have received your share."
Indian, — "Ah! but the white people made the bargain by themselves, without consulting us. They told us that they would give us so much, and no more."
Heckew. — "Well, and you consented thereto?"
Indian, — "What could we do, when they told us that they must have the land, and for such a price? Was it not better to take something than nothing? for they would have the land, and so we took what they gave us."
Heckew — "Perhaps the goods they gave you came high in price. The goods which come over the great salt-water lake sometimes vary in their prices."
Indian, — The traders sell their goods for just the
178same prices that they did before, so that I rather think it is the land that has fallen in value. We Indians, do not understand selling lands to the white people; for, when we sell, the price of land is always low; land is then cheap, but when the white people sell it out among themselves, it is always dear, and they are sure to get a high price for it. I had done much better if I had staid at home and minded my fall hunt. You know I am a pretty good hunter and might have killed a great many deer, sixty, eighty, perhaps a hundred, and besides caught many racoons, beavers, otters, wild cats, and other animals, while I was at this treaty. I have often killed five, six, and seven deer in one day. Now I have lost nine of the best hunting weeks in the season by going to get what you see! We were told the precise time when we must meet. We came at the very day, but the great white men did not do so, and without them nothing could be done. When after some weeks they at last came, we traded, we sold our lands and received goods in payment, and when that was over, I went to my hunting grounds, but the best time, the rutting time, being over, I killed but a few. Now, help me to count up what I have lost by going to the treaty. Put down eighty deer; say twenty of them were bucks, each buck-skin one dollar; then sixty does and young bucks at two skins for a dollar; thirty dollars, and twenty for the old bucks, make fifty dollars lost to me in deer skins, Add, then, twenty dollars more to this for racoon, beaver, wild cat, black fox, and otter skins, and what does the whole amount to?"
Heckew. — "Seventy dollars."
Indian. — "Well, let it be only seventy dollars, bout how much might I have bought of the traders for this money! How well we might have lived, I and my family in the woods during that time! How much
179meat would my wife have dried! how much tallow saved and sold or exchanged for salt, flour, tea and chocolate! All this is now lost to us; and had I not such a good wife (stroking her under the chin) who planted so much corn, and so many beans, pumpkins, squashes, and potatoes last summer my family would now live most wretchedly. I have learned to be wise by going to treaties, I shall never go there again to sell my land and lose my time." — HECKEWELDER.
The Indians will not admit that the whites are superior beings. They say that the hair of their heads, their features, the various colours of their eyes, evince that they are not like themselves Lenni Lenape, an ORIGINAL PEOPLE, a race of men that has existed unchanged from the beginning of time; but they are a mixed race, and therefore a troublesome one; wherever they may be, the Great Spirit, knowing the wickedness of their disposition, found it necessary to give them a great Book,
It is true, they confess, that when they first saw the whites, they took them for beings of a superior kind. They did not know but that they had been sent to them from the abode of the Great Spirit for
180some great and important purpose. They therefore, welcomed them, hoping to be made happier by their company. It was not long, however, before they discovered their mistake, having found them an ungrateful insatiable people, who, though the Indians had given them as much land as was necessary to raise provisions for themselves and their families, and passing for their cattle, wanted still to have more, and at last would not be contented with less than the whole country. "And yet," say those injured people, "these white men would always be telling us of their great Book which God had given to them; they would persuade us that every man was good who believed in what the Book said, and every man was bad who did not believe in it. They told us a great many things, which they said were written in the good Book, and wanted us to believe it all. We would probably have done so, if we had seen them practise what they pretended to believe, and act according to the good words which they told us. But no! while they held their big Book in one hand, in the other they had murderous weapons, guns and swords, wherewith to kill us, poor Indians! Ah! and they did so too, they killed those who believed in their Book, as well as those who did not. They made no distinction!" — HECKEWELDER.
The Indians in early times would never even permit any warlike weapons to remain within the limits of their council fire, when assembled together about the ordinary business of government. It might, they said, have a bad effect, and defeat the object for which they had met. It might be a check on some of the persons assembled, and perhaps, prevent those who had a just complaint or representation to make,
181from speaking their minds freely. William Penn, said they, when he treated with them, adopted this ancient mode of their ancestors, and convened them under a grove of shady trees, where the little birds on their boughs were warbling their sweet notes. In commemoration of these conferences (which are always to Indians a subject of pleasing remembrance) they frequently assembled together in the woods, in some shady spot as nearly as possible similar to those where they used to meet their brother Miquon, and there lay all his "words" or speeches, with those of his descendants, on a blanket or clean piece of bark, and with great satisfaction go successively over the whole. This practice (which I have repeatedly witnessed) continued until the year 1780, when the disturbances which then took place put an end to it, probably for ever.
These pleasing remembrances, these sacred usages are no more. "When we treat with the white people," do the Indians now say, "we have not the choice of the spot where the messengers are to meet. When we are called upon to conclude a peace, (and what a peace?) the meeting no longer takes place in the shady grove, where the innocent little birds with their cheerful songs, seem as if they wished to soothe and enliven our minds, tune them to amity and concord and take a part in the good work for which we are met. Neither is it at the sacred council house, that we are invited to assemble. No! — It is at some of those horrid places, surrounded with mounds and ditches, where the most destructive of all weapons, where great guns, are gaping at us with their wide mouths, as if ready to devour us; and thus we are prevented from speaking our minds freely, as brothers ought to do!"
How then, say they, can there be any sincerity in such councils? how can a treaty of this kind be
182binding on men thus forced to agree to what is dictated to them in a strong prison and at the cannon's mouth; where all the stipulations are on one side, where all is concession on the one part and no friendship appears on the other! From these considerations, which they urge and constantly dwell upon, the treaties which they make with the white men have lost all their force, and they think themselves no longer bound by them than they are compelled by superior power. Are they right in this or are they wrong? The impartial reader must decide. — HECKEWELDER.
In a narrative of this lamentable event, supposed to have been written by the late Dr. Franklin, it is said: "On the first arrival of the English in Pennsylvania, messengers from this tribe came to welcome them with presents of venison, corn and skins, and the whole tribe entered into a treaty of friendship with the first proprietor, William Penn, which was to last as long as the sun should shine, or the waters run in the rivers."