On the Religion of the Indian Tribes in North America.
IN surveying these portions of American history, from which I might select a subject for the present occasion, it appeared to me that the religion of the Indian tribes of North America, had not been viewed with the largeness of observation, which is the characteristic of enlightened philosophy. Various causes may be mentioned, which have hitherto conspired to prevent, or to impede, such an examination. In the first place, the horror proceeding from the cruelties of their warfare, forbade the calmness of investigation. As long as they were formidable, curiosity was overpowered by terror; and there was neither leisure, nor inclination, to contemplate their character as a portion of the human family, while the glare of conflagration reddened the midnight sky, and the yells of the savage, mingling with the shrieks of butchered victims, rode, as portentous messengers, upon every gale. But that state of things has long ceased to exist. The white men of America have become too numerous, to fear any longer the effects of savage barbarity; and the tales, which once carried terror to the stoutest heart, are now scarcely heard beyond the precincts of the nursery. In the room of fear, should now arise a
6sentiment of pity. "The red men are melting," to borrow the expressive metaphor of one of their most celebrated warriors
But when fear ceases, contempt is a natural consequence. The Indian, whose character was once so lofty and independent, is now seen begging at our doors for the price of his perdition; and, as our foot spurns the suppliant, we are apt to think, that nothing, connected with one so vile, can be worthy of our attention. But is it fair to judge from so vitiated a specimen? When a race of men are mingled with others, who consider them as inferiors, they inevitably become so. Submission to contempt, is an acknowledgment of its justice. If, therefore, the Indian would avoid degradation, he must retire from the habitations of white men; and if we wish to see him in his original character, we must follow him to his native forests. — There, surely, he is worthy of our attention. The lovers of the physical sciences explore the woods of America, to cull her plants, and to investigate the habits of her animals. Shall not the lovers of the moral sciences, be equally ardent and industrious? Shall man, who stands at the summit of earthly creation, be forgotten amid the general scrutiny.
The sources of prejudice which I have mentioned, influence the examination of every subject, connected with the Indian character: there are peculiar difficulties, with regard to that on which I have chosen to address you.
The Indians themselves are not communicative in relation to their religion; and it requires a good deal of familiar, attentive, and I may add, unsuspected
7observation, to obtain any knowledge respecting it. — Hence, many who have been transiently resident among them, have very confidently pronounced, that they have no religion; an assertion, which subsequent and more accurate travellers, have shown to be entirely unfounded.
Those, also, on whom we rely for information, have either been too little informed to know what to observe, or they have been influenced by peculiar modes of thinking, which have given a tinge to all they have said on the subject.
The various speculations, for example, on the question, whence America was peopled, led to many misrepresentations of the religious rites of its inhabitants; and affinities were discovered which existed no where but in the fancy of the inventor. Gomara, Lerius, and Lescarbot, inferred from some resemblances of this kind, that America was peopled by the Canaanites when they were expelled by Joshua; and the celebrated Grotius, adopting the sentiment of Martyr, imagined that Yucatan was first peopled by Ethiopians, and that those Ethiopians were Christians!
The human mind derives pleasure from paradox, for the same reason that it delights in wit. Both produce new and surprising combinations of thought; and the judgment, being overpowered by the fervour of imagination, becomes for a time insensible to their extravagance.
It is well known, that among the philosophers of Europe, the opinion has very generally prevailed, that the natives of America were, both as to physical and mental powers, a feeble race; and, impressed with this belief, they hardly considered the religion of the Indians as worthy of minute attention. The celebrated historian of America, has unconsciously fallen into this error, at the very moment in which he was censuring others, for suffering their relation of facts to be prevented, by an attachment to preconceived theories.
8Volney, in opposition to the sentiments of Roussean has endeavoured to sink the character of the savage, in the same proportion as that eccentric author sought to raise it. On the subject of the Indian religion especially, no one should be read with greater caution. He who could imagine that Christianity was only an astronomical allegory, and that the birth of our Saviour meant no more than that the sun had entered the constellation Virgo, can hardly be considered as perfectly sane, even when he treats on the religion of heathens.
On the other hand, an hypothesis has somewhat extensively prevailed, which exalts the religion of the Indians as much above its proper level, as Volney has debased it below; I mean that, which supposes them to be the descendants of the ten tribes of Israel. This theory so possessed the mind of Adair, that although he had the greatest opportunities of obtaining
9knowledge, his book is, comparatively, of little use. We are constantly led to suspect the fidelity of his statements, because his judgment had lost its equipoise, and he saw every thing through a discoloured medium. I feel myself bound to notice this hypothesis the more, because it has lately been revived and brought before the public, by a venerable member of this society, whose exalted character renders every opinion he may defend a subject of respectful attention.
To the mind of every religious man, the history of the Hebrews is a subject of peculiar interest; and it is impossible to read of the extermination of the kingdom of Israel, without a feeling of compassion for the captives, who were thus torn from the land of their prerogative. The impenetrable darkness which hangs over their subsequent history, combines with this sentiment of pity, the powerful excitement of curiosity. It is not, then, to be wondered at, that when the disquisitions arose respecting the peopling of America, the idea of tracing to these western shores the long-lost tribes of Israel, should also have arisen before the eye of imagination with captivating splendour; that the thought should have been seized with avidity by men who were pious, and ardent, and contemplative; and that, in the establishment of a theory which every one could wish to be true, facts should be strained from their natural bent, and resemblances imagined, which have no existence in reality.
The most unequivocal method of tracing the origin of the aborigines of America, as Charlevoix has sensibly remarked, is to ascertain the character of their languages, and to compare them with the primitive languages of the eastern hemisphere.
But this test will, I conceive, be found very fatal to the theory in question. The best informed writers agree, that there are, exclusive of the Karalit or Esquimaux, three radical languages spoken by the Indians of North America. Mr. Heckewelder denominates them the Iroquois, the Lenape, and the Floridian. The Iroquois is spoken by the six nations, the Wyandots or Hurons, the Naudowessies, the Assiniboils, and other tribes beyond the St. Lawrence. The Lenape, which is the most widely extended language on this side of the Mississippi, was spoken by the tribes, now extinct, who formerly inhabited Nova-Scotia and the present state of Maine, the Abenakis, Micmacs, Canibas, Openangos, Soccokis, Etchemins, and Sourquois; dialects of it are now spoken by the Miamis, the Potawotamies, Missisaugoes, and Kickapoos; the Conestogos, Nanticokes, Shawanese, and Mohicans; the Algonquins, Knisteneaux, and Chippeways. The Floridian includes the languages of the Creeks or Muskohgees, Chickesaws, Choctaws, Pascagoulas, Cherokees, Seminolese, and several others in the southern states and Florida.
Besides, there is one striking peculiarity in the construction of American languages, which has no counterpart in the Hebrew. Instead of the ordinary division of genders, they divide into the animate and
11inanimate. It is impossible to conceive that any nation, in whatever circumstances they might be placed, could depart, in so remarkable a manner, from the idioms of their native language.
But supposing that there were some affinity in any one of the languages of North America to the Hebrew, still it would not prove that the persons who speak it are of Hebrew descent. The Arabic and the Amharic have very strong affinities with the Hebrew: but does it thence follow that the Arabs and Abyssinians are Hebrews? Admitting, therefore, the fact of this affinity, in its fullest extent, the only legitimate inference would be, that the languages of America are of oriental derivation, and, consequently, that America was peopled from Asia.
To pursue this subject further, would occupy too much time upon a point which is merely subsidiary. But I cannot forbear remarking, that, while the nation of Israel has been wonderfully preserved, the Indians are nearly exterminated. The nation of Israel will hereafter be restored to the land of their forefathers; but this event must speedily arrive, or the unhappy tribes of America can have no part in it. A few years more and they will be beyond the capability of migration!
The question, then, with regard to the immediate origin of the American Indians, must remain in the uncertainity which hangs over it. Nothing but a more extensive knowledge of the languages of this continent, of those of Northern Asia, and of the Islands in the Southern Pacific, can throw any additional light upon a problem, which has so long exercised, and so completely exhausted, the ingenuity of conjecture. Their religion furnishes no assistance in the solution, for it cannot be identified with that of any particular nation, in any other portion of the globe; and though resemblances, those are very strong and striking, can be traced, yet they are such as are common to the great family of man, and prove nothing but that all have one common origin.
It will be readily seen, however, that this proof is of vast importance. If the religion of the Indians exhibits traces of that primeval religion which was of divine appointment; if the debasement of it was owing, as among all other nations, to the concurrent operation of human ignorance, weakness, and corruption; and if its rites, and even its superstitious observances, bear that analogy to those of the old world, which must exist where all have flowed from one source; then all that is really useful in the question respecting the origin of the inhabitants of this continent will be fully obtained. There will be no anomaly in the history of human nature; and the assertion of Voltaire will be found to be as false as it is flippant, that the Americans are a race entirely different from other men, and that they have sprung into existence like plants and insects.
Previous to the dispersion of the descendants of Noah, the knowledge of the true God, of the worship which he required from his creatures, and of the sanctions with which he enforced his commands, must have been common to all. It is impossible to conceive of any distinction where all were equally related to him, and possessed equal means of instruction and knowledge. In a word, the whole of mankind formed one universal church, having the same faith and the same worship.
How long this purity continued we know not, nor when, nor where, idolatry was first introduced. That it began, however, at a very early period, we have the strongest evidence; for Terah, the father of Abraham, was an idolater, notwithstanding the precepts and example of Noah, both of which, for more than a hundred years, he personally enjoyed. We may account for it from that tendency in our nature which seeks to contract every thing within the compass of our understanding, and to subject it, if possible, to the scrutiny of our senses. A Being purely spiritual, omniscient and omnipotent, is above our comprehension, and we seek, by the multiplication of subordinate deities, to account for the operations of his power, When this is done, the imagination feels itself at liberty to clothe them with corporeal forms; and from this idea, the transition is not difficult, to the formation of idols, and the introduction of idolatry.
But notwithstanding this departure from primeval purity, the religion of mankind did not at once lose all its original brightness. It was still the form of the archangel ruined. It did not reject the worship of the true God, but seems only to have absurdly combined with it the worship of inferior divinities.
When Abraham sojourned at Gerar, the king of that country had evidently communications with the
14Almighty; and the testimony which God gave of the integrity of his character, and his submission to the divine admonition, clearly prove that he was a true believer.
At a subsequent period, when Isaac lived in the same country, the king, a descendant of the former monarch, requested that a covenant of friendship should be made between them, because, as he observed, Isaac was the blessed of Jehovah.
When Joseph was brought before the king of Egypt, both speak of God as if they had the same faith, and the same trust in his overruling providence.
Even at so late a period as when the Israelites entered Canaan, the spies of Joshua found a woman of Jericho, who confessed that "Jehovah, the God of Israel, he is God in heaven above, and in the earth beneath."
The book of Job presents an interesting view of the patriarchal religion as it existed in Arabia; and, it will be remembered that in Mesopotamia, Balaam was a prophet of the Most High.
These instances are sufficient to show how extensively the worship of the true God prevailed, and that it had not become extinct even when the children of Israel took possession of the land of promise, and became the peculiar people of Jehovah. That it was blended, however, with the worship of inferior divinities, represented in idolatrous forms, is equally apparent from the sacred history.
When the servant of Abraham had disclosed to the family of Nahor the purpose of his mission, both Laban and Bethuel replied: "The thing proceedeth from Jehovah; we cannot speak unto thee bad or good."
15God; yet it afterwards appears that the same Laban had images which he called his gods, and which were regarded with veneration, and greatly valued by himself and his children.
But this was idolatry in its milder form. The progress of corruption among mankind soon introduced a grosser and more malignant species. The worship of the invisible Creator was at length forgotten; His seat was usurped by fictitious deities; and a general apostacy prevailed.
AEgyptus portenta colat? —
Porrum et caepe nefas violare, aut frangere morsu.
O sanctas gentas, quibus haec nascuntur in hortis Numina!
JUVENAL, SAT. XV.
Then it was that the Almighty was pleased to give the nations over "to a reprobate mind,"
1. Having thus seen that all false religions are, in a greater or less degree, departures from the true; that
16there is a tendency in the human mind, to form low and limited views of the Supreme Being; and that, in fact, all nations have fallen into the corruptions of reasoning a priori, that the religion of the Indians would be found to partake of the general character. Accordingly, the fact is amply attested, that while they acknowledge one Supreme Being, whom they denominate the Great Spirit, or the Master of Life, they also believe in subordinate divinities, who have the chief regulation of the affairs of men.
Charlevoix, who had all the opportunities of obtaining information which personal observation, and the united testimony of the French missionaries could give, is an unexceptionable witness with regard to the Hurons, the Iroquois, and the Algonquins. Nothing, says he, is more certain, though at the same time obscure, than the conception which the American savages have of a Supreme Being. All agree that he is the Great Spirit, and that he is the master, creator, and governor of the world.
But, beside the Supreme Being, they believe in an infinite number of subaltern spirits, who are the objects of worship. These they divide into good and bad. The good spirits are called by the Hurons, Okkis, by the algonquins, Manitous. They suppose them to be the guardians of men, and that each has his own tutelary deity. In fact, every thing in nature has its spirit, though all have not the same rank nor the same influence. The animals they hunt have their spirits. If they do not understand any thing, they immediately say, it is a spirit. If any man performs a remarkable exploit, or exhibits extraordinary talents, he is said to be a spirit, or, in other words, his tutelary deity is supposed to be of more than ordinary power.
It is remarkable, however, that these tutelary deities are not supposed to take men under their protection till something has been done to merit the favour. A parent who wishes to obtain a guardian spirit for his child, first blackens his face, and then causes him to fast for several days. During this time it is expected that the spirit will reveal himself in a dream; and on this account, the child is anxiously examined every morning with regard to the visions of the preceding night. Whatever the child happens to dream of the most frequently, even if it happen to be the head of a bird, the foot of an animal, or any thing of the most worthless nature, becomes the symbol or figure under which the Okki reveals himself. With this figure, in the conceptions of his votary, the spirit becomes identified; the image is preserved with the greatest care — is the constant companion on all great and important occasions, and the constant object of consultation and worship.
As soon as a child is informed what is the nature or form of his protecting deity, he is carefully instructed in the obligations he is under to do him homage — to
18follow his advice communicated in dreams — to deserve his favours — to confide implicitly in his care — and to dread the consequences of his displeasure. For this reason, when the Huron or the Iroquois goes to battle or to the chase, the image of his okki is as carefully carried with him as his arms. At night, each one places his guardian idol on the palisades surrounding the camp, with the face turned from the quarter to which the warriors, or hunters, are about to march. He then prays to it for an hour, as he does also in the morning before he continues his course. This homage performed, he lies down to rest, and sleeps in tranquillity, fully persuaded that his spirit will assume the whole duty of keeping guard, and that he has nothing to fear.
With this account of Charlevoix, the relations which the Moravian missionaries give, not only of the Iroquois, but also of the Lenapes, or Delawares, and the numerous tribes derived from them, perfectly accord. "The prevailing opinion of all these nations is," says Loskiel, "that there is one God, or, as they call him, one great and good Spirit, who has created the heavens and the earth, and made man and every other creature."
19But "beside the Supreme Being, they believe in good and evil spirits, considering them as subordinate deities." "Our missionaries have not found rank polytheism, or gross idolatry, to exist among the Indians. They have, however, something which may be called an idol. This is the Manitto, representing, in wood, the head of a man in miniature, which they always carry about them, either on a string round their neck, or in a bag. They hang it also about their children, to preserve them from illness, and ensure to them success. When they perform a solemn sacrifice, a manitto, or a head as large as life, is put upon a pole in the middle of the house. But they understand by the word manitto, every being to which an offering is made, especially all good spirits. They also look upon the elements, almost all animals, and even some plants, as spirits, one exceeding the other in dignity and power. The manittoes are also considered as tutelar spirits. Every Indian has one or more, which he conceives to be peculiarly given to assist him and make him prosper. One has, in a dream, received the sun as his tutelar spirit, another the moon; a third, an owl; a fourth, a buffalo. An Indian is dispirited, and considers himself as forsaken by God, till he has received a tutelar spirit in a dream; but those who have been thus favoured, are full of courage, and proud of their powerful ally.
This account is corroborated by Heckewelder in his late interesting history of the Indian nations.
"It is a part of their religious belief," says he "that there are inferior manittoes, to whom the great and good. Being has given the rule and command over the elements; that being so great, he, like their chiefs, must have his attendants to execute his supreme behests: these subordinate spirits (something in their nature between God and man) see and report to him what is doing upon earth; they look down particularly upon the
20Indians, to see whether they are in need of assistance, and are ready at their call to assist and protect them against danger. Thus I have frequently witnessed Indians, on the approach of a storm or thunder-gust, address the manitto of the air to avert all danger from them: I have also seen the Chippeways, on the lakes of Canada, pray to the manitto of the waters, that he might prevent the swells from rising too high, while they were passing over them. In both these instances, they expressed their acknowledgment, or showed their willingness to be grateful, by throwing tobacco in the air, or strewing it on the waters." — "but amidst all these superstitious notions, the Supreme Manitto, the creator and preserver of heaven and earth, is the great object of their adoration. On him they rest their hopes — to him they address their prayers, and make their solemn sacrifices."
The Knistineaux Indians, who inhabit the country extending from Labrador, across the continent, to the Highlands which divide the waters on Lake Superior from those of Hudson's Bay, appear, from Mackenzie's account, to have the same system, of one great Supreme, and innumerable subordinate deities. "The Great Master of Life," to use their own expression, "is the sacred object of their devotion. But each man carries in his medicine bag a kind of household God, which is a small carved image about eight inches long. Its first covering is of down, over which a piece of beech bark is closely tied, and the whole is enveloped in several folds of red and blue cloth. This little figure is an object of the most pious regard."
It is remarkable, that the description given by Peter Martyr, who was the companion of Columbus, of the worship of the inhabitants of Cuba, perfectly agrees
21with this account of the Northern Indians by Mackenzie. They believed in the existence of one supreme, invisible, immortal, and omnipotent Creator, whom they named Jocahuna, but at the same time acknowledged a plurality of subordinate deities. They had little images called Zemes, whom they looked upon as only a kind of messengers between them and the eternal, omnipotent, and invisible God. These images they considered as bodies inhabited by spirits, and oracular responses were therefore received from them as uttered by the divine command.
The religion of Rorto Rico, Jamaica, and Hispaniola, was the same as that of Cuba; for the inhabitants were of the same race, and spoke the same language. The Carribean Islands, on the other hand, were inhabited by a very fierce and savage people, who were continually at war with the milder natives of Cuba and Hispanialo, and were regarded by them with the utmost terror and abhorrence. Yet "the Charaibes," to use the language of the elegant historian of the West Indies "while they entertained an awful sense of one great Universal Cause, of a superior, wise, and invisible Being of absolute and irresistible power, admitted also the agency of subordinate divinities. They supposed that each individual person had his peculiar protector or tutelary dieity; and they had their lares and penates, gods of their own creating." "Hughes, in History of Barbadoes, mentions many fragments of Indian idols, dug up in that island, which were composed of the same materials as their earthen vessels. — ‘I saw the head of one,’ says he, ‘which alone weighed above sixty pounds. This, before it was broken off, stood upon an oval pedestal, about three feet in height. The heads of all the others were very small. These lesser idols were, in all probability, made small for the ease and conveniency of being carried with them in
22their several journeys, as the larger sort were perhaps designed for some stated places of worship.’"
Thus, in this vast extent of country, from Hudson's Bay to the West Indies, including nations whose languages are radically different, nations unconnected with and unknown to each other, the greatest uniformity of belief prevails with regard to the Supreme Being, and the greatest harmony in their system of polytheism. After this view, it is impossible not to remark, that there is a similar departure from the original religion among the Indians of America, than among the more civilized nations of Egypt, Greece, and Rome. The idea of the Divine Unity is much more perfectly preserved; the subordinate divinities are kept at a much more immeasurable distance from the Great Spirit; and, above all, there has been no attempt among them to degrade to the likeness of men, the invisible and incomprehensible Creator of the universe. In fact, theirs is exactly that milder form of idolatry which "prevailed every where from the days of Abraham, his single family excepted," and which, after the death of that patriarch and of his son Isaac, infected, from time to time, even the chosen family itself.
II. The belief of a future state of rewards and punishments has been kept alive among all heathen nations, by its connexion with the sensible enjoyments and sufferings, and the consequent hopes and terrors of men.
Its origin must have been in divine revelation; for it is impossible to conceive that the mind could have attained to it by its own unassisted powers. But the thought, when once communicated, would, in the shipwreck of dissolving nature, be clung to with the grasp of expiring hope. Hence no nations have yet been found, however rude and barbarous, who have not agreed in the great and general principle of retributive
23immortality. When, however, we descend to detail, and inquire into their peculiar notions with regard to this expected state, we find that their traditions are coloured by the nature of their earthly occupations, and the opinions they thence entertained on the subject of good and evil.
This remark is fully verified by the history of the American Indians. "The belief most firmly established among the American savages," says Charlevoix, "is that of the immortality of the soul. They suppose, that when separated from the body, it preserves the same inclinations which it had when both were united. For this reason, they bury with the dead all that they had in use when alive. Some imagine that all men have two souls, one of which never leaves the body unless it be to inhabit another. This transmigration, however, is peculiar to the souls of those who die in infancy, and who therefore have the privilege of commencing a second life, because they enjoyed so little of the first. Hence children are buried along the highways, that the women as they pass, may receive their souls. From this idea of their remaining with the body, arises the duty of placing food upon their graves;
When the time has arrived for the departure of those spirits wich leave the body, they pass into a region which is destined to be their eternal abode, and which is therefore called the Country of Souls. This
24country is at a great distance towad the west and to go thither costs them a journey of many months. They have many difficulties to surmount, and many perils to encounter. They speak of a stream in which many suffer shipwreck; — of a dog from which they, with difficulty, defend themselves; of a place of suffering where they expiate their faults; of another in which the souls of those prisoners who have been tortured are again tormented, and who therefore linger on their course, to delay as long as possible the moment of their arrival. From this idea it proceeds that after the death of these unhappy victims, for fear their souls may remain around the huts of their tormentors from the thirst of vengeance, the latter are careful to strike every place around them with a staff, and to utter such terrible cries as may oblige them to depart,"
To be put to death as a captive, is, therefore, an exclusion from the Indian paradise; and, indeed, "the souls of all who have died a violent death, even in war, and in the service of their country, are supposed to have no intercourse in the future world with other souls.
To have been a good hunter, brave in war, fortunate in every enterprise, and victorious over many enemies,
25are the only titles to enter their abode of bliss. The happiness of it consists in the never-failing supply of game and fish, an eternal spring, and an abundance of every thing which can delight the senses without the labour of procuring it."
The Chippewyans live between the parallels of lat. 60 and 65 north, a region of almost perpetual snows; where the ground never thaws, and is so barren as to produce nothing but moss.
To them, therefore, perpetual verdure and fertility, and waters unincumbered with ice, are voluptuous images. Hence they imagine that, after death, they shall inhabit a most beautiful island in the centre of an extensive lake. On the surface of this lake they will embark in a stone canoe, and if their actions have been generally good, will be borne by a gentle current to their delightful and eternal abode. But if, on the contrary, their bad actions predominate, "the stone canoe links, and leaves them up to their chins in the water, to behold and regret the reward enjoyed by the good, and eternally struggling, but with unavailing endeavours, to reach the blissful island, from which they are excluded for ever."
On the other hand, the Arrowauks, or natives of Cuba, Hispaniola, Porto Rico, Jamaica, and Trinidad, would naturally place their enjoyments in every thing that was opposite to the violence of a tropical climate. "They suppose, therefore, that the spirits of good men were conveyed to the pleasant valley of Coyaba; a place of indolent tranquillity, abounding with guavas and other delicious fruits, cool shades, and murmuring
26rivulets; in a country where drought never rages, and the hurricane is never felt."
While these voluptuous people made the happiness of the Future State to consist in these tranquil enjoyments, their fierce enemies, the Charaibes, looked forward to a paradise, in which the brave would be attended by their wives and captives. "The degenerate and the cowardly, they doomed to everlasting banishment beyond the mountains; to unremitting labour in employments that disgrace manhood — a disgrace heightened by the greatest of all afflictions, captivity and servitude among the Arrowauks."
Thus the ideas of the savage, with regard to the peculiar nature of future bliss or woe, are always modified by associations arising from his peculiar situation, his peculiar turn of thought, and the pains and pleasures of the senses. With regard to the question in what their happiness or misery will consist, they differ; but with regard to the existence of a future state, and that it will be a state of retribution for the deeds done in the body, they agree without exception, and their faith is bright and cloudless. "Whether you are divinities or mortal men," said an old man of Cuba to Columbus, "we know not — but if you are men, subject to mortality like ourselves, you cannot be unapprized, that after this life there is another, wherein a very different portion is allotted to good and bad men. If, therefore, you expect to die, and believe, with us, that every one is to be rewarded in a future state, according to his conduct in the present, you will do no hurt to those who do none to you."
This relation is given us by Martyr, and it is sufficient to shew, with what exactness the primitive belief has been retained. This man was a savage, but he spoke the language of the purest revelation.
III. On the belief of a God who regulates the affairs of men, and of a future state of rewards and punishments, all religion is founded; and from these principles, all religious rites are ultimately derived. But there is an obvious distinction to be made, between the tradition of doctrines, and the tradition of those outward observances with which the doctrines were originally connected. The tradition of doctrines is oral; the tradition of ceremonies is ocular. The relation of the most simple fact, as it passes from mouth to mouth, is discoloured and distorted. After a few removals from its source, it becomes so altered as hardly to have any resemblance to its first form. But it is not so with regard to actions. These are retained by the sight, the most faithful and accurate of our sense; — they are imitated; — the imitation becomes habitual — and habits, when once formed, are with difficulty eradicated. No fact is more certain, or falls more within the experience of every attentive observer of our nature, than that of customs prevailing among nations, for which they are totally unable to account. Even among individuals, habits exist, long after the causes have ceased, to which they owed their origin. The child imitates the actions of the parent, without inquiring, in all cases into the motives which lead to the observance; and even if informed of the motives, he may either misconceive or forget them. Here then is the difference between oral and ocular tradition. The doctrine may be lost in the current of ages, while the ceremony is transmitted unimpaired.
Quam quae sunt oculis subjecta fidelibus.
HOR. A. P. 180.
In endeavouring, therefore, to trace the affinities which a corrupt religion may bear to the pure, if we
28wish to be successful, we must confine ourselves to its outward observances. This remark applies with peculiar force to the religion of the Indian tribes. They have never possessed the knowledge of letters, and all their religious doctrines have been trusted to the uncertain conveyance of oral tradition. The wild and roving life of the Indian is at variance with the reception of regular instruction; and though the parents may be very careful in relating their traditions to their children,
But supposing them to be ever so exact, we have no certainty that the accounts given of them by travellers are correct. The Indians, it has before been observed, are not communicative on religious subjects; and they may take pleasures in baffling, or misleading, the curiosity of white men, whom they, in general, look upon with no friendly eye. And with regard to oral traditions, there is greater room, also, for the imagination of the traveller to draw wrong conclusions, and to be influenced in his report by the power of a preconceived system. On the other hand, with regard to religious ceremonies, he has only to give a faithful relation of what he sees; and even if the force of some favourite theory, leads him to mingle his comments with his description, a judicious reader is able to separate the one from the other. The application of these principles will save much labour, and give certainty to a subject, which has hitherto been considered as affording nothing but conjecture. We will proceed, then, to consider the external part of the religion of the Indians, and we shall soon see, not only that there is a great uniformity among the rites of nations who are radically different, but, if I am not mistaken, that connexion with the patriarchal religion which might naturally be supposed
29to exist, if the one be considered as a corruption of the other.
All who have been conversant with the worship of the American tribes, unite in the assertion, that they offer sacrifices and oblations, both to the Great Spirit, and to the subordinate or intermediate Divinities.
To all the inferior deities, whether good or malevolent, the Hurons, the Iroquois, and the Algonquins, make various kinds of offerings. "To propitiate the God of the Waters," says Charlevoix, "they cast into the streams and lakes, tobacco, and birds which they have put to death. In honour of the sun, and also of inferior spirits, they consume in the fire a part of every thing they use, as an acknowledgment of the power from which they have derived these possessions. On some occasions, they have been observed to make libations, invoking at the same time, in a mysterious manner, the object of their worship. These invocations they have never explained; whether it be, that they have in fact no meaning, or that the words have been transmitted by tradition, unaccompanied by their signification, or that the Indians themselves are unwilling to reveal the secret. Strings of wampum, tobacco, ears of corn, the skins, and often the whole carcases of animals, are seen along difficult or dangerous roads, on rocks, and on the shores of rapids, as so many offerings made to the presiding spirit of the place. In these cases, dogs are the most common victims; and are often suspended alive upon trees by the hinder feet, where they are left to die in a state of madness."
What Charlevoix thus affirms, with regard to the Hurons, Iroquois, and Algonquins, is mentioned by Mackenzie, as practised among the Knisteneaux.
There are stated periods," says he, "such as the spring and autumn, when they engage in very long and solemn ceremonies. On these occasions, dogs are offered as sacrifices: and those which are fat and
30milk-white are preferred. They also make large offerings of their property, whatever it may be. The scene of these ceremonies, is in an open enclosure, on the bank of a river or lake, and in the most conspicuous situation, in order that such as are passing along, or travelling, may be induced to make their offerings, — There is also a particular custom among them, that on these occasions, if any of the tribe, or even a stranger, should be passing by, and be in real want of any thing that is displayed as an offering, he has a right to take it, so that he replaces it with some article he can spare, though if be of far inferior value; but to take or touch anything wantonly is considered as a sacrilegious act, and highly insulting to the great Master of life, who is the sacred object of their devotion." At the feasts made by their chiefs, he further observes, "a small quantity of meat or drink is sacrificed before they begin to eat, by throwing it into the fire, or on the earth."
A similar account is given by Adair of the practice among the Creeks, Katabahs, Cherokees, Chocktaws, and other southern Indians. "The Indian women," says he, "always throw a small piece of the fattest of the meat into the fire, when they are eating, and frequently before they begin to eat. They pretend to draw omens from it, and firmly believe that it is the mean of obtaining temporal blessings, and averting temporal evils. The men, both in their summer and winter hunt, sacrifice in the woods a large fat piece of the first buck they kill, and frequently the whole carcass. This they offer up, either as a thanksgiving for the recovery of health, and for their former success in hunting, or that the Divine care and goodness may still be continued to them."
The song of the Lenape warriors, as they go out to
31meet their enemy, concludes with the promise of a victim if they return in safety.
* * * * * * *
Give me strength and courage to meet my enemy;
Suffer me to return again to my children,
To my wife,
And to my relations!
Take pity on me and preserve my life,
And I will make to thee a sacrifice.
Accordingly, "after a successful war," says Heckewelder, "they never fail to offer up a sacrifice to the great Being, to return him thanks for having given them courage and strength to destroy or conquer their enemies."
Loskiel, who has given a minute account of the sacrifices offered by the Lenape or Delawares, and who is said, by Heckewelder, to have almost exhausted the subject, affirms that they are offered upon all occasions, the most trivial, as well as the most important. "They sacrifice to a hare," says he, "because, according to report, the first ancestor of the Indian tribes had that name."
32dreams, that he sees a large bird of prey, of the size of a man, flying towards him from the north, and saying to him, "Roast some meat for me," the boy is then bound to sacrifice the first deer or bear he shoots to this bird. The sacrifice is appointed by an old man, who fixes on the day and place in which it is to be performed. Three days previous to it, messengers are sent to invite the guests. These assemble in some lonely place, in a house large enough to contain three fires. At the middle fire, the old man performs the sacrifice. Having sent for twelve straight and supple sticks, he fastens them into the ground, so as to enclose a circular spot, covering them with blankets. He then rolls twelve red-hot stones into the enclosure, each of which is dedicated to one God in particular. The largest belongs, as they say, to the great God in Heaven; the second to the sun, or the God of the day; the third, to the sun or the moon; the fourth, to the earth; the fifth, to the fire; the sixth, to the water; the seventh, to the dwelling or house God; the eighth, to Indian corn; the ninth, to the west; the tenth, to the south; the eleventh, to the east; and the twelfth, to the north. The old man then takes a rattle, containing some grains of Indian corn, and leading the boy, for whom the sacrifice is made, into the enclosure, throws a handful of tobacco upon the red-hot stones, and as the smoke ascends, rattles his calabash, calling each God by name, and saying: "This boy (naming him) offers unto thee a fine fat deer, and a delicious dish of sapan! Have mercy on him, and grant good luck to him and his family.
All the inhabitants of the West Indies offered sacrifices; and of these, the Charaibes were accustomed, at the funerals of their friends, to offer some of the captives who had been taken in battle.
33scarcely need advert to the well known fact, that human sacrifices were offered by the Mexicans. Of these, all the Spanish historians have given the most horrible and disgusting account, and they are described more especially by Bernal Diaz, who was an eye-witness, with the most artless and affecting simplicity. Of this practice, however, there are no traces among the present Indian tribes, unless the tormenting of their captives, as Charlevoix seems to intimate, be considered as a sacrifice to the God of war.
That the practice of sacrifice, as an expiation for sin, formed a prominent feature in the religion of all the nations of the old world, is a truth too well known to require proof. That it formed a part of the patriarchal religion is equally evident; and that it must have been of divine institution will, I think, be admitted, after a very little reflection. The earliest instance of worship, recorded in the Holy Scriptures, is the sacrifice offered by Cain and Abel, at a period when no permission had yet been given to eat animal food, and no pretext could have possibly presented itself to the mind of man for taking the life of any of the creatures of God. It is equally inconceivable, that by any deduction of unassisted reason, the mind could have arrived at the conclusion, that to destroy a part of creation, could be acceptable to the Creator; much less, than it could be viewed as an act of homage. The difficulty is still greater, when it is considered that this was intended as an expiation for the sins of the offerer. How could the shedding of the blood of an animal be looked upon as an atonement for the offences which man had committed against his Maker? This would have been to make an act at which nature would once
34have involuntarily shuddered, the expiation of another act which might not in itself be so hurtful or so barbarous.
This reasoning is further strengthened by the next instance of worship recorded in the Bible. When Noah had descended from the Ark, the first act of a religious nature which he performed, was to build an altar and to offer sacrifice. Human reason would have dictated a course of conduct directly opposite; for it would have told him not to diminish the scanty remnant of life; especially when the earth was already covered with the victims which had perished in the mighty waste of waters.
But if of divine institution, the question then arises, what was the reason of the institution? Every intelligent being proposes to himself some end — some design to be accomplished by his action. What, then, with reverence let it be asked, was the design of God?
To the Christian the solution of this inquiry is not difficult. He has learned, that in the secret counsels of almighty wisdom, the death of the Messiah was essential for the salvation of man; that in his death, the first of our race was as much interested as he will be, who will listen to the last stroke of departing time; that it was necessary, therefore, to establish a representation of this great event as a sign of the future blessing, in order to keep alive the hopes and the expectations of men; and that this was effected by the slaughter of an innocent animal whose life was in the blood, and whose blood poured out was the symbol of His death, who offered himself a ransom for the sins of men.
Assuming this as the origin and intent of sacrifice, it is easy to account for its universal prevalence among mankind. Noah, as we have seen, offered a burnt-offering immediately after he left the Ark. From him, and his three sons, did their posterity derive the practice; and we find from the Scriptures, that it prevailed among all the nations, which, from their connexion
35with the family of Israel, are there incidentally mentioned.
If we return to profane history, we cannot open a volume without meeting every where the record of sacrifice. The Phoenicians, the Ethiopians, the Egyptians, the Chinese, the Persians, the nations in the north of Europe and Asia, the Carthaginians, the Greeks, the Romans, the inhabitants of Gaul and Britain — in a word, every heathen nation, of which we have any records remaining, constantly offered sacrifice as an expiation for sin. The gradual corruption of the true religion, while it caused the origin of the rite to be forgotten, made no other alteration in the practice than such as regarded the quality of the victim. Human reason must, at all times, have perceived, how inadequate was the slaughter of animals to atone for the sins of mankind. A nobler victim seemed to be demanded; and it was not to be wondered at, that the blood of men, and even of children, as approaching nearer to innocence, should finally be considered as essential to obtain the grant of pardon.
To find the same practice prevailing among all the Indian tribes of America, a practice deriving its origin, not from any dictate of nature, or from the deductions of reason, but resting solely upon the positive institution of God, affords the most triumphant evidence, that sprang from the common parent of mankind, and that their religion, like that of all other heathen nations, is derived by a gradual deterioration from that of Noah. At the same time, it will be seen, that they are far from having sunk to the lowest round on the scale of corruption. With the exception of the Mexicans, their religious rites have a character of mildness which we should elsewhere seek in vain.
IV. Having seen that sacrifice is practised among the Indians, we are naturally led to consider the question, whether they have among them a priesthood; and, on this point, the testimony of travellers is somewhat discordant. Mackenzie mentions that the
36Chipewyans have high priests;
On the other band, Bartram, in his account of the Southern tribes, says, "There is in every town, or tribe, a High Priest, with several inferior, or junior priests, called by the white people jugglers, or conjurers."
37their High Priests, and others of a religious order." "Ishtohoollo," he observes, "is the name of all their priestly order, and their pontificial office descends by inheritance to the eldest."
Notwithstanding this diversity, however, the difference is more in appearance than in reality. Various meanings attached to the same words, in consequence of arbitrary associations, may produce a diversity of description. If a priest be one whose exclusive duty it is to celebrate the rites of religion, then it must be admitted that a priesthood exists among the indians; for those who deny that they have priests, allow that in their public sacrifices the chiefs are the only persons authorized to officiate. The only difference, then, lies in this, whether the priesthood be or be not connected with the office of the magistrate.
Among Christians, as among the Jews, the priesthood is distinct from the civil authority; but previous to the separation of the family of Aaron, these two offices were generally united. Melchizedeck was both king of Salem and priest of the most High God. Jethro was, at the same time, priest and prince of Midian; and Abraham himself, who is called a prince, performed the sacerdotal functions. We find this union of the regal and sacerdotal characters existing among heathen nations. Homer describes the aged Pylian King as performing religious rites;
Among the Creeks and other Southern Indians, a monarchical form of government seems to prevail; among the Northern Indians, a republican. In both, the sacerdotal office may be united with civil authority,
38and therefore partake of its peculiar character. Among the one, it may be hereditary; among the other, elective. If this be not sufficient to reconcile the discordant accounts, we are bound, I think, to respect the united testimony of Charlevoix and Loskiel, in preference to any other, as they do not appear to have had any system to serve, which might give a bias to their statements. And if this be so, it will be seen that the Religion of the Indians approaches much nearer to the patriarchal, than to that of the Jews. Their public sacerdotal offices are performed by their chiefs, and in their private, the head of every family is its priest.
V. But there is another office, which Carver, Bartram, and others, have confounded with the priesthood, which exists among all the Indian Tribes, and concerning which, there is no diversity in the statement of travellers. To this class of men, the French Missionaries gave the name of Jongleurs, whence the English have derived that of Jugglers or Conjurers. To use the definition of Charlevoix, they are those servants of their Gods, whose duty it is to announce their wishes, and to be their interpreters to men:
39success to the most difficult negotiations, and to render the Gods propitious to warriors and hunters." "I have heard," he adds, "from persons of the most undoubted judgment and veracity, that when these impostors shut themselves up in their sweating stoves, which is one of their most common preparations for the performance of their sleight of hand, they differ in no respect from the descriptions given by the poets, of the priestesses of Apollo, when seated on the Delphic Tripod. They have been seen to fall into convulsions, to assume tones of voice, and to perform actions, which were seemingly superior to human strength, and which inspired with an unconquerable terror, even the most prejudicial spectators." Their predictions were sometimes so surprisingly verified, that Charlevoix seems firmly to have believed, that they had a real intercourse with the father of lies.
This account of the Jongleurs of Canada, is confirmed by Mr. Heckewelder, in his late work on the Indian Tribes. "They are a set," he observes, "of professional impostors, who, availing themselves of the superstitious prejudices of the people, acquire the name and reputation of men of superior knowledge, and possessed of supernatural powers. As the Indians in general believe in witchcraft, and ascribe to the arts of sorcerers many of the disorders with which they are afflicted in the regular course of nature, this class of men has arisen among them, who pretend to be skilled in a certain occult science, by means of which they are able, not only to cure natural diseases, but to counteract or destroy the enchantments of wizards or witches, and expel evil spirits."
"There are jugglers of another kind, in general old men and women — who get their living by pretending to supernatural knowledge — to bring down rain when wanted, and to impart good luck to bad hunters. In the
40summer of 1799, a most uncommon drought happened in the Muskingum country. An old man was applied by the women to bring down rain, and, after various ceremonies, declared that they should have rain enough. The sky had been clear for nearly five weeks, and was equally clear when the Indian made this declaration. But about four in the afternoon, the horizon became overcast, and, without any thunder or wind, it began to rain, and continued to do so till the ground became thoroughly soaked. Experience had doubtless taught him to observe that certain signs in the sky or in the water were the forerunners of rain; yet the credulous multitude did not fail to ascribe it to his supernatural power,"
A remarkable instance of this belief in the power of these sorcerers, and of the wonderful effects of imagination, is related by Hearne, as having occurred during his residence among the northern or Chepewyan Indians. Matonabbee, one of their chiefs, had requested him to kill one of his enemies, who was at that time several hundred miles distant. "To please this great
41man," says he, "and not expecting that any harm could possibly arise from it, I drew a rough sketch of two human figures on a piece of paper, in the attitude of wrestling; in the hand of one of them I drew the figure of a bayonet, pointing to the breast of the other. ‘This,’ said I to Matonabbee, pointing to the figure which was holding the bayonet, ‘is I, and the other is your enemy.’ Opposite to those figures I drew a pine tree, over which I placed a large human eye, and out of the tree projected a human hand. This paper I gave to Matonabbee, with instructions to make it as public as possible. The following year when he came to trade, he informed me that the man was dead. Matonabbee assured me, that the man was in perfect health when he heard of my design against him, but almost immediately afterward became quite gloomy, and, refusing all kinds of sustenance, in a very few days died."
Bartram, in his account of the manners and habits of the tribes which inhabit Florida and the south of the United States, relates, as their general belief, that "their seer has communion with powerful invisible spirits, who have a share in the government of human affairs, as well as of the elements. His influence is so great, as frequently to turn back an army when within a day's journey of their enemy, after a march of several hundred miles." "Indeed," he adds, "the predictions of these men have surprised many people. They foretel rain or drought, pretend to bring rain at pleasure, cure diseases, exercise witchcraft, invoke or expel evil spirits, and even assume the power of directing thunder and lightning."
The power, then, of these impostors, is supposed to consist — in the miraculous cure of diseases — the procuring of rain, and other temporal blessings, in the same supernatural manner — the miraculous infliction of
42punishment upon the subjects of their displeasure — and the foretelling of future events. It will immediately be seen, that these are, in fact, the characteristics of the prophetic office; those, I mean, which are external, which produce, therefore, a lasting impression upon the senses of men, and from the force of ocular tradition, would naturally be pretended to, even after the power of God was withdrawn.
That true prophets had such power, is evident from the whole tenor of Sacred History. On their power of predicting future events, it is not necessary to dwell; but it will be seen, that there is a striking analogy between the pretensions of the Indian impostors, and the miracles wrought by the prophets. We have seen, that the former assume the power of curing or inflicting diseases by supernatural means. We find the prophets curing or inflicting the most inveterate diseases, by a word, by a touch, by washing, and other means naturally the most inadequate.
But I wish to direct your attention more especially to a very early period of Sacred History, while the Gentiles had not yet entirely apostatized from the worship
43of the true God, and therefore were not yet wholly cut off from the patriarchal church. In the history of Abraham and Abimelech, we have an instance of the power which prophets possessed of obtaining blessings for others. "Now, therefore," said God to Abimelech, "restore the man his wife: for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for time, and thou shalt live"
Traces of the same power are to be found in the History of Balaam, the prophet of Midian. When the Israelites, on their passage from Egypt, were passing through the country of Moab, the King of the Moabites, alarmed for his personal safety, sent for the prophet to curse them. "Come now, therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people, for they are too mighty for me; peradventure, I shall prevail, that we may smite them, and that I may drive them out of the laud: for I wot, that he whom, thou blessest is blessed, and he whom thou cursest is cursed. And the elders of Moab, and the elders of Midian, departed with the rewards of divination in their hand; and they came unto Balaam and spake unto him the words of Balak. And he said unto them, Lodge here this night, and I will bring you word again, as Jehovah shall speak unto me. And God said unto Balaam, Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people, for they are blessed."
44dwelt, but a recognition, by God himself, of the authority of Balaam to bless and curse in his name. And here, if I mistake not, we may observe the connecting link between the power of true prophets, and the arts practised by the false, after the divine influence was withdrawn, The elders of Moab and of Midian, it said, "departed with the rewards of divination in their band." The inference is inevitable, that Balaam, was undoubtedly had intercourse with the true God, was at times deprived of the divine influence, and that under a sense of that deprivation, he had recourse to the arts of divination. Of this there is farther evidence. "Surely," he exclaims, in one of his sublime prophecies, "there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel." And it is subsequently stated, that "when Balaam saw that it pleased the Lord to bless Israel, he went not, as at other times, to seek for enchantments."
In proportion, then, as Idolatry increased, the prophetic spirit in the patriarchal church was gradually withdrawn. While the true God was worshipped, even though in absurd connexion with Idols, the divine influence was sometimes communicated. But being gradually more and more frequently denied, the prophets had recourse to the superstitious observances of divination and judicial astrology. And as Idolatry, in its downward course, at length lost sight of the Creator, and worshipped only the creatures, so the prophetic
45office degenerated into the arts by which impostors preyed upon the superstition of the ignorant.
I have now, gentlemen, finished the view which I proposed to take of the Religion of the Indians. I am sensible that it is very imperfect, but enough has been said, I hope, to show the analogy which it bears to religion of the patriarchal ages, and its wonderful uniformity, when considered as prevailing among nations so remote and unconnected.
It has already been observed, however, that their religious system can afford no clue by which to trace them to any particular nation of the old world. On a subject so obscure as the origin of nations, there is great danger of expatiating in conjectures. In fact, the view here taken, in some measure cuts off these conjectures, by tracing the Aborigines of America, to a higher source than has usually been assigned to them. If the opinion I have advanced be true, it will, I think, appear rational to believe, that the Indians are a primitive people; — that, like the Chinese, they must have been among the earliest emigrants of the descendants of Noah; — that, like that singular nation, they advanced so far beyond the circle of human society, as to become entirely separated from all other men; — and that, in this way, they preserved a more distinct and homogeneous character than is to be found in any other portion of the globe. Whether they came immediately to this western continent, or whether they arrived here by gradual progression, can never be ascertained, and is, in fact, an inquiry of little moment. It is probable, however, that, like the northern hordes who descended upon Europe, and who constituted the basis of its present population, their numbers were great; and that from one vast reservoir, they flowed onward in successive purges, wave impelling wave, till they had covered the whole extent of this vast continent. At least, this hypothesis may account for the uniform character of their religion, and for the singular fact which has lately been illustrated by a learned member of the American
46Philosophical Society, that their languages form a separate class in human speech, and that, in their plans of thought, the same system extends from the coasts of Labrador to the extremity of Cape Horn.
But, turning from speculations which are rendered sublime by their shadowy form, and immeasurable magnitude, I shall conclude a discourse which, I fear, has become already tedious, by remarks of a more practical, and, I would hope, of a more useful nature.
We have seen that, like all other nations unblessed with the light of Christianity, the Indians are idolators; but their idolatry is of the mildest character, and has departed less than among any other people from the form of primeval truth. — Their belief in a future state is clear and distinct, debased only by those corporeal associations which proceed from the constitutional operations of our nature, and from which even Christians, therefore, are not totally exempt — They retain among them the great principle of expiation for without which all religion would be unavailing — And they acknowledge, in all the common occurrences of life, and even in their very superstitions, the overruling power of Divine Providence, to which they are accustomed to look up with an implicit confidence, which might often put to shame the disciples of a purer faith.
Provided, then, that their suspicions respecting every gift bestowed by the hands of white men, can be overcome, the comparative purity of their religion renders it so much the easier to propagate among them the Gospel of Salvation. In this view, is it possible for the benevolent heart to restrain the rising wish, that the scanty remnant of this unfortunate race may be brought within the verge of civilized life, and made to feel the influence, the cheering and benign influence of Christianity? Is it not to be wished, that the God whom they ignorantly worship, may be declared to them, and that, together with the practices they have so long preserved, may be united that doctrine which alone can illumine what is obscure, and unravel what
47is intricate? If this be desirable, it must be done quickly, or the opportunity will be forever lost. Should our prejudices prevent it, we must remember that their faults will be obscured, and their virtues brightened by the tints of time. Posterity will think of them, more in pity than in anger, and will blame us for the little regard which has been paid to their welfare.
Hapless nations! — Like the mists which are exhaled by the scorching radiance of your summer's sun, ye are fast disappearing from the earth. But there is a Great Spirit above, who, though for wise purposes he causes you to disappear from the earth, still extends protecting care to you, as well as to the rest of his creatures. — There is a country of Souls, a happier, and better country, which will be opened, we may charitably hope, to you, as well as to the other children of Adam. There is the atoning blood of the Redeemer, which was shed for you, as well as the rest of mankind; the efficacy of which, you have unwittingly continued to plead; and which may be extended, in its salutary influence, even to those who have never called on, because they have never heard, THE NAME OF THE SON OF GOD.
Chapter XV. Language of the Indians.
MORE than two years having elapsed since, by the desire of the Historical Committee, I had the honour of carrying on a Correspondence with the Rev. Mr. Heckewelder, of Bethlehem, the object of which, in connexion with a course of studies which I was pursuing at the same time, and to which my leisure moments have since been devoted, was to investigate and ascertain, as much as possible, the structure and grammatical forms of the Languages of the Aboriginal Nations of America. The committee have been pleased to express a wish that I should report to them the further results of my subsequent inquiries into this highly interesting subject; so that it might appear whether the views which I took of it in the beginning were confirmed by a deeper and more accurate research, or whether those views had proceeded from too hasty conclusions from particular facts. I have delayed to the last moment the performance of this duty, in order to profit by all the facts and observations which I might be able to collect in the mean time. The first volume of the committee's transactions, of which the said correspondence makes a part, being now entirely printed, except the introductory matter which the committee may think proper to prefix to it, I cannot postpone any longer the execution of the task expected from me.
In the first place, I wish to state, that when I entered upon the present investigation, I had no favorite hypothesis or theory to support. Whether the Indian
49population of this country took its origin from the Tartars, or any other race of men; whether America was peopled from any of the countries of the old hemisphere, or those from America, are questions upon which I have never yet employed my mind. I have purposely left it free, that I might pursue my philological inquiries in an abstract point of view, unmixed and unconnected with those more important subjects on which their results, when fully ascertained, may, perhaps, ultimately throw light. My sole object has been to endeavour, by means of the study of the Indian Languages, to collect some facts of which philosophy might avail itself to extend the bounds of our limited knowledge of the all-important history of man.
I have, it is true, generalized my observations as much as possible. My inquiries have not been confined to one Indian language, or only to a few: I wished to take a birds-eye view of the whole, as the only means of obtaining some interesting results. I was anxious to know, in the first instance, whether the American idioms differed as essentially from each other as those of the nations who inhabit the Old Continent. That they so differ in point of etymology is a fact too well known and established to admit even a doubt; nothing therefore remained for me to inquire into, but the similarity or difference of their general construction or grammatical forms. Next followed of course their comparison with the idioms of the Trans-Atlantic Hemisphere. I fixed my mind upon these points, and made them the principal object of my researches.
In this investigation of facts, I have not drawn my information indiscriminately from every source, otherwise I should very soon have been lost in a labyrinth of contradictions. I left no book or manuscript unconsulted that came within my reach; but I examined the assertions of each writer with a critical eye, fully determined in no case to swear on the word of a master. I tried to discover the sources from which my authors had derived their knowledge; the opportunities which
50they had of acquiring it; the time which they had spent among the Indians, or in the study of their languages; the degree of attention which they had bestowed upon it, and the powers of mind by which they had been enabled to take a just and an accurate view of their subject. Finally, I rejected every thing that came in the shape of mere assertion, and paid attention only to those specimens of the different idioms in which their grammatical structure was sufficiently exhibited. I found more of these than I had at first expected, and was enabled by their means to take that wide range of observation, which alone could serve the purpose I had in view.
I have derived no little aid from that excellent work ably commenced by the late Professor Adelung,
51followed by a commentary in which every sentence is parsed and the meaning of each word given, with an explanation of the grammatical sense and form in which it is employed. Of this extensive work two volumes
From the labours of the Missionaries of the Society of the United Brethren in this country, I have derived considerable assistance. With a view to promote the Christian faith and the civilization of the aborigines of the country, those venerable men had written a number of grammars, dictionaries, and other elementary works on the Indian languages, which being intended merely for the use of their young ministers, were unknown to the rest of the world, and would have remained for ever buried in obscurity, had not the exertions the Historical Committee brought them to light, and rendered them more generally useful. By their means the forms and construction of the two principal mother tongues of this country, the Delaware and the Iroquois, are become sufficiently known. Professor Vater has not given a very particular description of either, for want of materials to work upon; for neither the England nor the French, who were both so long in possession of the northern part of the American continent had taken pains to furnish them.
I have the honour of annexing to this report a list of the various grammars, dictionaries, vocabularies, and other MS. works on Indian languages, which have been presented or communicated to the Historical Committee in aid of their researches. It will be easily perceived how much advantage has been derived from them in the course of inquiries which I have been
52directed to make. I have, moreover, obtained much additional information from the correspondence which I have carried on with Missionaries and others at home and abroad, and which is every day becoming more extensive and interesting. I have found everywhere the greatest readiness to promote the objects that we have in view; in the south, the Honourable Josiah Meigs, the Government's Commissioner for Indian Affairs, has professed his willingness to aid our pursuits by all the means in his power; and in the north, the Right Reverend Catholic Bishop of Quebec, with a liberality worthy of his exalted character and station, has opened and facilitated to us the means of correspondence with the Missionaries of his persuasion, who reside among the Indians of Canada. From these rich and numerous sources your secretary flatters himself that much light will be thrown on the character and affinities of the aboriginal languages of this part of the American continent, particularly the southern idioms, which are yet very little known.
I have made the best use in my power of these various sources of information, and have besides neglected none of the opportunities that have fallen in my way of conversing with the Indians, interpreters, and other persons particularly skilled in the different languages; I have to regret that too few such opportunities have offered; for I have obtained much knowledge from those living instructors which books do not, and much which they cannot, communicate.
These are the means through which I have been hitherto enabled to pursue the inquiry which the committee directed me to make into the forms and character of the languages of the American Indians. I have proceeded in this laborious investigation with an anxious wish to discover the truth, and have endeavoured to keep my mind as much as possible free from the bias of preconceived opinions. As far as my researches have gone, I have yet found nothing to induce me to change the view which I at first took of my subject, or
53to come to conclusions materially different from those which I drew in my correspondence with Mr. Heckewelder. It becomes my duty, therefore, to state those conclusions, and lay before the committee the facts subsequently ascertained by which they may appear to be contracted or supported. It is of little consequence perhaps, whether these general inferences are correct or not, provided their truth or falsity is thought of sufficient importance to give a precise, and at the same time an interesting direction to the study of the Indian languages; for it must, be acknowledged that there is but little attraction in the mere search after insulated facts.
Three principal results have forcibly struck my mind. I do not state them to the committee as positive facts; it would be highly presumptuous in me so to do. The knowledge which the world in general has acquired of the American languages is yet very limited; that which I individually possess is extremely so. But in pursuing a course of studies the committee have very properly judged that it is necessary to have some fixed object in view; and therefore have specially directed me to endeavour to ascertain the general and relative character of the aboriginal idioms of this country. I proceed then, from the hypotheses which, on the most attentive consideration of the whole subject, have appeared to me the most probable; If I have been mistaken, further inquiries will shew it, and will perhaps, lead to more important discoveries; in the contrary supposition, the attention of philosophers will have been drawn to facts not unworthy of it. With the greatest diffidence, therefore, I beg the committee will permit me to state and illustrate the three propositions which I wish to submit to the further investigation of the learned. They are the following:
1. That the American languages in general are rich in words and in grammatical forms, and that in their complicated construction, the greatest order, method, and regularity prevailed.
2. That these complicated forms, which I call polysynthetic, appear to exist in all those languages, from Greenland to Cape Horn.
3. That these forms appear to differ essentially from those of the ancient and modern languages of the old hemisphere.
In the course of the observations which I shall make upon each of these three propositions or rather questions most respectfully submitted, I shall make it my particular duty to report to the committee the various facts which I have been able to ascertain since I had the honour of corresponding by their order with Mr. Heckewelder, and point out to them the sources from which those facts have been drawn. In support of the general views which I have taken of the forms and construction of the American languages, I shall content myself in most cases with referring to the principal authorities from which those views have been deduced. As the subject is already familiar to the committee, and it is a report and not a dissertation that I conceive to be expected from me, I shall avoid fatiguing their patience with numerous verbal examples, in proof of the facts that I shall adduce as the result of my studies. If my conclusions should be erroneous, all I can do is to furnish the means of correcting them. I proceed, therefore, to the consideration of my subject.
GENERAL CHARACTER OF THE INDIAN LANGUAGES. To fix the general character of the aboriginal languages of this extensive continent, it is not necessary to go into minute details, nor to confuse our imagination by two extensive a display of its numerous idioms; it is sufficient, I think, for our purpose, to select a few of those that are best known, and the principles of which have been most satisfactorily explained in approved grammatical works. In making this selection, however, we are not to confine ourselves to a particular
55part of the country; but to take the widest possible range, so as to adduce examples from quarters the most remote from each other. In this manner, I conceive, we can take a commanding position, assume our general rule, and call for exceptions.
Pursuing this plan, I have selected in the north the three principal mother tongues, the Karalit or language of Greenland, and the Esquimaux, the Delaware, and the Iroquois. That the two former are constructed on the true polysynthetic plan, the works of Egede and Crantz, and Mr. Heckewelder's correspondence, sufficiently prove; and as to the Iroquois, the committee have before them the grammatical works of the Missionaries, Pyriaeus and Zeisberger, by which they may easily be convinced that in this language also the polysynthetic forms prevail.
In middle America, I shall instance the Poconchi, a language spoken in the province of Guatemala, of which Thomas Gage in his voyage to New Spain has given a short description, by which, however, its polysynthetic character sufficiently appears; and also the Mexican proper, and the Tarascan dialect, with their reflected, transitive, compulsive, applicative, meditative, communicative, reverential, and frequentative verbs, and other complex forms, which are well explained and exemplified by Tapia Zenteno, F. Antonio de Rincon, and F. Diego Basalenque, in their grammars of those languages, which are in our Society's library. Those that we have of the other dialects of Mexico are extremely deficient; their authors having too much endeavoured to make their grammatical construction square with the rules of the Latin and Spanish grammar. Yet enough may be drawn from them, and from other sources, to satisfy us that they also partake of the general character of American languages. Zenteno's grammar of the Huastecan informs us that it has the compulsive or causative and the transitive verbs, and the pronominal affixes,
56in the Mixtecan;
South America remains. I think it sufficient to notice at its two extremities the Carribbee and Araucanian languages. Of the former there is a very good grammar and a dictionary by Father Breton; and the grammatical character of the latter has been well displayed by the Abbι Molina in his excellent History of Chili. I believe I need not do more than refer to those works to prove that these two languages are polysynthetic in the highest degree, and that the greatest analogy exists between their forms and those of the idioms of the northern parts of this continent. I beg leave to adduce one single example to illustrate the extraordinary similarity which subsists between the languages of the north and south. The Abbι Molina, amidst a number of compound verbs in the Araucanian language, instances the verb "iduancloclavin," "I do not wish to eat with him." I once asked Mr. Heckewelder whether there was any similar verb in the Delaware, and he immediately gave me n'schingiwipoma, "I do not like
57to eat with him." A stronger feature of resemblance in point of grammatical construction between the idioms of nations placed at such an immense distance from each other, cannot, I think, be exhibited, and with this and the references I have above made, I believe I may, for the present, rest satisfied.
If I have shewn it to be, at least, sufficiently probable that polysynthetic forms are the general characteristic of the American Indian languages, I need only refer to Mr. Heckewelder's correspondence, to prove that those forms, as exemplified by him in the Delaware, are such as I have described them; that they are rich, copious, expressive, and particularly that the greatest order, method and analogy reign through them. To endeavour to give better proof of this fact, than those which that learned gentleman has given, would be a waste of labour and time. Indeed, from the view which he offers of the Lenni Lenape idiom, it would rather appear to have been formed by philosophers in their closets, than by savages in the wilderness. If it should be asked how this can have happened, I can only answer, that I have been ordered to collect and ascertain facts, not to build theories. There remains a great deal yet to be ascertained, before we can venture to search into remote causes.
As the Delaware appears in the delineations which Mr. Heckewelder has given of it, so the other languages, formed on the same model, have appeared to me; and indeed it can hardly be supposed that with similar means, different effects will be produced. Wherever the polysynthetic form of language prevails, it is natural to presume that it is accompanied with all its inherent qualities, which are those which I have above described. The manner in which words are compounded in that particular mode of speech, the great number and variety of ideas which it has the power of expressing verbs in one single word, (particularly by means of the verbs,) all these stamp its character for abundance, strength, and comprehensiveness of expression, in such
58a manner, that those accidents must be considered as included in the general descriptive term polysynthetic. Nor can this class of languages be divested even in imagination, of the admirable order, method and regularity, which pervade them; for it is evident that without these, such complicated forms of language could not subsist, and the confusion which would follow would render them unfit even for the communication of the most simple ideas. A simple language may be, perhaps, unmethodical; but one which is highly complicated, and in which the parts of speech are to a considerable degree interwoven with each other, I humbly conceive, never can.
Still, I am aware that this statement of facts will have many prejudices to encounter. It has been said, and will be said again, that "Savages having but few ideas, can want but few words, and therefore that their languages must necessarily be poor." Whether savages have or have not many ideas, it is not my province to determine: all I can say is, that if it is true that their ideas are few, it is not less certain that they have many words to express them. I might even say that they have an innumerable quantity of words, for, as Colden very unjustly observes, "they have the power and the means of compounding them without end."
Permit me, Sir, to add to the numerous proofs which Mr. Heckewelder has given of the copiousness of the Indian languages, a strong example, taken, not from the Delaware, but from the lroquois, idiom. Of this we knew very little until the grammatical works of Pyrlaeus and Zeisberger, and the dictionary of the latter, which were thought irretrievably lost, were fortunately recovered. By the liberality of the venerable Society of the United Brethren at Bethlehem, this dictionary is now deposited in our Society's Library. It is German and Indian, beginning with the German; the counterpart,
59it seems, never was undertaken; at least, no traces of it are to be found. But the part that we have fills alone seven quarto manuscript volumes, containing together not less than two thousand three hundred and sixty-seven pages. It is true, that one-half of each page is left blank for a margin; but allowing one-fourth as the usual space for that purpose, it still leaves one thousand seven hundred and seventy five pages of writing, consisting of German words and phrases, with their translation into Indian. It must be acknowledged that there are not many dictionaries of this size; and if this is filled (as there is no reason to doubt) with genuine Iroquois, it is vain to speak of the poverty of that language.
I wish to avoid as much as possible entering into tedious details; but perhaps it will not be amiss, by way of example, to make one or two short extracts out of this book, to shew that the ideas and words of Indians are not, as many suppose, confined to the expression of things relating to their usual occupations and physical existence.
In the first volume, under the letter B, and the German word Bankerott, we find:
|Er hat bankerott gemachat||In Iroquois, Ohne hawaheje, Ohne jachstennahote hoje.|
|He is a bankrupt, or has become bankrupt|
And in the third volume, under the letter I, and the German word Inwendig, inward, inwardly.
|Inward heat,||Otariche gajatacu.|
A quite conscience,
Scoeno agonochtonnie gajatacu.
|What is inwardly concealed||Nonahote nacu ne sechta.|
The committee have now the means of judging whether "the Indians have few ideas, and few words to express them." For my part, I confess that I am lost in astonishment at the copiousness and admirable
60structure of their languages, for winch I can only account by looking up to the GREAT FIRST CAUSE.
SIMILARITY OF THE INDIAN LANGUAGES WITH EACH OTHER, IN RESPECT OF GRAMMATICAL FORMS.
I have already taken a general view of this question in my examination of the first, and it was impossible not to do so, as they are so very intimately connected together. I have endeavoured to shew that the forms which I call polysynthetic are found in the languages of various nations, situated at immense distances from each other, in the northern, middle, and southern parts of this continent. I am now to inquire still further whether those forms exist in all the languages of the American Indians. The committee will immediately perceive that it is impossible to decide this question in its full extent, as most of those languages are unknown to us, and many are yet but imperfectly known. We can therefore only speak of our actual knowledge, and as far as the means that we have in our power enable us so to do, endeavour to judge, by what is open to our view, of what is still concealed from us. An hypothetical theory is the utmost point to which the most laborious researches can at present lead us; it will not be unimportant, however, to ascertain, as far as we can, the facts within our reach, and if we should find a striking similarity in the construction of those Indian languages that we are best acquainted with, it will afford much matter for present wonder and future investigation.
I have explained elsewhere what I mean by a polysynthetic or syntactic construction of language.
61locations which is not confined to joining two words together, as in the Greek, or varying the inflection or termination of a radical word as in most European languages, but by interweaving together the most significant sounds or syllables of each simple word, so as to form a compound that will awaken in the mind at once all the ideas singly expressed by the words from which they are taken. 2. By an analogous combination of the various parts of speech, particularly by means of the verb, so that its various forms and inflections will express not only the principal action, but the greatest possible number of the moral ideas and physical objects connected with it, and will combine itself to the greatest content with those conceptions which are the subject of other parts of speech, and in other languages require to be expressed by separate and distinct words. Such I take to be the general character of the Indian languages.
Their most remarkable external appearance is that of long polysyllabic words, which, being compounded in the manner I have stated, express much at once. Another striking trait which may be generally observed in their construction, is the frequent combination of the possessive pronoun and of different prepositions with the substantive, and above all the transitive form of the verb, which combines in the same word the ideas of the governing pronoun and of that which is governed. Wherever in Indian languages I have found these distinctive signs, and have had the means of investigating farther, I have generally discovered the whole polysynthetic system in the construction of the particular idiom. But in many instances I have not had those means of investigation at command. Among those who have pretended to give information on these subjects, there have been few Abbι Molinas, few Egedes, few Zeisbergers, few Heckewelders. Nor can we expect the Adelungs, the Vaters, and the Humboldts, will visit this country to study the languages of our Indians, though we have reason to believe that were
62not the distance so great, they would not want the spirit to do it.
The idea that the languages of the Indians are all constructed merely on the same model, occurred to me early in the course of the studies which I was directed by the committee to pursue. It will be found distinctly expressed in my correspondence with Mr. Heckewelder. Since that time my inquiries have been principally directed to ascertaining the correctness of this opinion. I beg the committee will be pleased to follow me in the account which I am going to give of the further researches that I have made.
1. I had heard much of the excellent work which I have before mentioned, the Mithridates, but had not been able to procure a copy of it. At last, the late lamented Professor Ebeling, of Hamburgh, had the goodness to send me the two volumes which relate to American languages, and I have since been so fortunate as to procure a complete copy of the work. There for the first time I had abundant materials to work upon. Thanks to the Germans and Russians, our masters, to whose able and indefatigable exertions the general science of languages is peculiarly indebted for the great progress that it has lately made!
In this invaluable book I have found a delineation of the grammatical character of thirty-four American languages, and the Lord's prayer in fifty-nine different idioms or dialects of the savages of this country, with explanations more or less full, according to the means which the author had of giving them. Among all the examples which Professor Vater has given of those different languages, I have not found one that did not appear to me to partake more or less of the
63polysynthetic forms, and I observed those forms to be more and more apparent in proportion as the construction of the language was better known and more fully explained. As this book is before the world, I need only refer to it for the proof of what I have advanced.
2. Among the languages of the grammatical forms of which Professor Vater had it not in his power to give a sufficient delineation, is the Iroquois, or language of the five confederated nations. The grammars and dictionaries which the Society of the United Brethren has kindly communicated, have proved it to be also polysynthetic.
3. The description which Professor Vater gives of the language of the Aruwaks, a nation of Indians who inhabit Guayana, near Surinam,
4. The language of the Chippeways, which Professor Vater once thought to be almost entirely destitute of grammatical forms,
5. Being desirous of ascertaining the character of the Southern or Floridian languages, (as yet so little known to us,) I took the liberty of addressing some questions on the subject to the Reverend Mr. Daniel S. Butrick, a minister of the Moravian persuasion, who resides among the Cherokees.
64to receive an answer from him, in which he gives such a description of the Cherokee language as leaves no doubt of its being polysynthetic in the highest degree. Among other things he informs me that the pronouns and the verbs have three plural numbers; the general plural, we, speaking without restriction; the particular plural, we, speaking of a particular company or description of men, and the dual. He gives instances of these three plurals, as well as of several other polysynthetic forms. The verbs are as rich as those of the Chippeway and Delaware. I hope the committee will derive much interesting information from the continuation of this correspondence.
In one of my letters to Mr. Heckewelder, I was led to suppose that the Abbι Molina had mistaken the particular plural in the Araucanian language for the dual.
6. I have obtained similar information respecting the Chickasaw, (another southern language,) from two interpreters of that nation, with whom I had lately an opportunity of conversing.
657. I was very anxious to get correct information concerning the Wyandot or Huron language, of which Lord Monboddo and others had given such a strange character, and which was only known to me from Father Sagard's imperfect dictionary, when I fortunately became acquainted with Messrs. Isaac Walker and Robert Armstrong, both interpreters of that nation, to whom the language has been familiar from their infancy. I shewed them the dictionary of Father Sagard, in which, amidst its numerous errors and mistakes, which they easily discovered and pointed out, they gladly recognised the language of their nation. It did not appear to them to have undergone any material change in the period of two hundred years since that book was written, which sufficiently contradicts the good father's assertion in his preface, that that language is so constantly changing, that after a lapse of time it appears almost entirely new. They were greatly astonished, when I shewed them that part of the preface in which the author says: that the Huron is une langue presque sans regles, et tellement imparfait, qu'un plus habile que lui (Sagard) se trouveroit bien empeche, non pas de le critiquer, mas de mieux faire;
66unlike that of the Creoles of the French West Indies; upon the whole I think I may say that there is a great deal of music in the Idiom. One of the interpreters, at my request, recited slowly and with emphasis part of a speech, by which I acquired a pretty clear idea of the modulation of the language.
On the subject of its grammatical forms, I obtained from those gentlemen all the satisfaction that I could require. They gave me several examples of simple and compound verbs, with their various forms, by which I was fully satisfied that the Huron is constructed on the same plan with the other North-American languages, and is equally rich and copious. I observed with pleasure that it possesses also the three plurals.
Thus all the inquiries and researches that I have been able to make, since this branch of science was specially referred to me for investigation by the Historical Committee, have led to the same result. It has not yet been in my power to find one single well-ascertained exception to the general principal of construction, which seems to pervade the American Indian languages. I have found them all, whenever I have had sufficient data to ascertain their character, of the class which I have denominated polysynthetic, merely for the sake of designation, and without meaning to affix any other importance to the name. For I am well convinced that the science is not yet ripe for a complete and correct classification of all existing idioms and dialects; when that is the case we must expect that the Lineus of languages will appear, and give to each class its proper and fixed denomination.
The committee will not suppose that my labours are at an end. I consider them only begun. The greatest part of the time which I have devoted to this subject has hitherto been spent in preparatory studies, which will enable me, in future, to pursue this investigation with greater effect. By means of the extensive correspondence which I have secured, in Europe, as well as
67in America, I hope it will be in my power to discover interesting facts, which will lead to a better knowledge than we yet possess of the genius and character of the languages of America.
Among the materials which the committee has collected, are a considerable number of vocabularies of various languages of the north and south of this part of our continent. Of those it may be supposed that little use can be made towards the principal object of this inquiry. But I conceive it to be otherwise. When the student has become tolerably conversant with Indian languages, and is familiarized as it were, with their physiognomy, he acquires a greater degree of perception, which enables him to judge with more or less certainty, sometimes by a single insulated word, of their general construction and grammatical forms. Their verbal affinities aid him considerably in this respect; for it is natural to suppose, and has hitherto always been found to be the case, that languages which their etymology shews to be derived from the same stock, partake of the forms and construction of the mother tongue and of each other. If this hypothesis is correct, the language of the Washash Indians, commonly called Osages, of which the committee possess a vocabulary by Dr. Murray of Louisville, from its affinity with the Naudowessie and Huron, may be considered as a dialect derived from the Iroquois stock, and presumed to be, like it, polysynthetic in its forms. By means of this vocabulary we have acquired a knowledge of the wide-spread extent of the family of Indian nations of Iroquois origin, which not long ago were thought to exist only in the vicinity of the great lakes, while we are enabled to trace them even to the banks of the Missouri. Thus one branch of knowledge comes in aid of another, and a course of studies pursued with a sole view to languages, by pointing out the various families and connexions of Indian nations, may, perhaps, lead to the discovery of their origin.
AMERICAN LANGUAGES CONSIDERED IN RELATION TO THOSE OF THE OLD WORLD.
When we cast our eyes for the first time on the original structure of the languages of the American Indians, and consider the numerous novel forms with which they abound, it is impossible to resist the impression which forces itself upon us, that we are among the aboriginal inhabitants of a New World. We find a new manner of compounding words from various roots, so as to strike the mind at once with a whole mass of ideas; a new manner of expressing the cases of substantives, by influencing the verbs which govern them; a new number, (the particular plural,) applied to the declension of nouns and conjugation of verbs; a new concordance in tense of the conjunction with the verb; we see not only pronouns, as in the Hebrew and some other languages, but adjectives, conjunctions, adverbs, combined with the principal part of speech, and producing an immense variety of verbal forms. When we consider these, and many other singularities which so eminently characterize the American idioms, we naturally ask ourselves the question: Are languages, formed on this model, to be found in any other part of the earth?
I cannot but consider this question as very interesting, as it may lead to important discoveries in the history of man. That there are languages in which some of the forms which characterize those of the Indians are to be found, is a fact too well known to be controverted. We know that the Hebrew, particularly, has the pronominal affixes, the transitive and reflected verbs, and that the gender is even expressed in it sometimes by a modification of that part of speech; we know also that the transitive forms of verbs are found in other languages than the Hebrew and its kindred idioms; but the question is not reduced to this; we are to inquire
69whether, amidst the numerous languages of the old world, there are any that can be said to bear a sufficient analogy in point of construction and forms to those of our Indians, to entitle them to be placed in the same class with them.
This question is not entirely new. Professor Vater, whose extensive knowledge of languages peculiarly fitted him for its investigation, has taken the pains to compare almost every language with those of the American Indians, with a view to ascertain whether they were equalled in the numerous combinations of their verbs. I shall not attempt to go over the same ground which he has so ably and so laboriously examined; but taking up the subject where he left it, and extending the inquiry to the whole grammatical system, I hope I shall not be thought presumptuous if I take the liberty of adding a few observations of my own.
This eminent philologist tells us, that among all the languages which he took the pains to compare with those of the American Indians, in order to ascertain whether any of them possessed combinations of the verbs similar to theirs, he could find but three which in this respect could be assimilated to them; which were, in Europe, the Basque;
Let me be permitted to say a few words on each of those languages.
1. The BASQUE. I once was inclined to believe with Professor Vater, partly on his authority, and partly from the feeble light which I thought I drew from the comparison of a book translated into this language with its original,
70at the beginning of the second volume, and by a learned dissertation of Baron William Von Humboldt in the fourth. Then I began to be acquainted for the first time with a language which I believe has not its fellow in all the rest of the world. It is preserved in a corner of Europe, by a few thousand mountaineers, the sole remaining fragment of, perhaps, a hundred dialects, constructed on the same plan, which probably existed and were universally spoken at a remote period in the quarter of the globe. Like the bones of the Mammoth, and the shells of unknown fishes, the races of which have perished, it remains a frightful monument of the immense destruction produced by a succession of ages. There it stands single and alone of its kind, surrounded by idioms whose modern construction bears no kind of analogy to it. It is a strange and a singular language; like those of the Indians, highly artificial in its forms, and so compounded as to express many ideas at the same time; but when those forms are compared with those of the American languages, it is impossible not to perceive the immense difference which exists between them. It will be sufficient for my purpose to exemplify it in one single point.
It is one of the most striking traits in the Indian languages, that they are entirely deficient of our auxiliary verbs to have, and to be. There are no words that I know in any American idioms to express abstractedly the ideas signified by those two verbs. They have the verb sto, I am, (in a particular situation or place,) but not the verb sum;
71not habeo, in the sense that we affix to it. On the contrary, in the conjugation of the Basque verbs, these two auxiliaries are every thing, it is on them that is lavished all that profusion of forms which enables them to express together the relative ideas connected with the verb; while the principal action or passion is expressed separately and by itself by means of a participle. For instance, I love him is a transitive verb and is rendered in the Basque by maitetuba dot, which literally means amatum illum habeo ego. Maitetuba is the word which expresses the participal form amatum; the three other ideas are comprised in the monosyllable dot, the first letter of which, d, stands for illum; o is the root of the auxiliary verb habeo, and t represents the personal pronoun ego.
2. The TSCHUKTSCHI. The people who bear this name are in fact two separate and distinct nations or tribes, one of which is called the Settled or Sedentary, and the other the Wandering or Rein-deer Tschuktchi. The former reside in the north eastern-most peniusula of Asia, divided by a narrow strait from the American continent; the others inhabit the country to the south of them and north of the river Anadir. The sedentary Tschuktschi speak a dialect of the Karalit or Eskimaux, and from this circumstance as well
72as from their manners and habits, there is reason to suppose that they are an American colony.
While I am on the subject of Asia, it may not be improper to observe that there is a tribe or people in that country called the Grusinians, of whose language we know very little, but as far as it is described to us by Mr. Fred. Adelung, in his additions to the Mithiridates, it appears to bear a striking resemblance in some of the forms of its verbs to those of the American Indians.
It is to be hoped that this language will be further investigated, and also that some learned Orientalist will institute a fair and detailed comparison between the forms of the idioms of the American Indians and those of the Hebrew and other languages of the East. This task is not unworthy of the talents of Dr. Mason of New-York, or of Mr. Banks, of the university of Pennsylvania. I am not without hopes that the latter will conquer his modest scruples, and render this service to the learned world. As there are many who consider the Hebrew to be the root or fountain of all existing
73languages, it is highly important that this question should be fully considered, and, if possible, set at rest.
3. The CONGO. Here we find ourselves in the midst of an unexplored field, so little being yet known of the languages of the black population of Africa. It would be a strange and curious fact, if the idioms of the black and red races of mankind should be conducted on a similar plan of grammatical forms; but we must not suffer ourselves to be led away so soon by untried theories.
Of all the languages spoken by the blacks who inhabit the western coast of Africa, that of the people of Congo is the best known from the works of Astley, Dapper, Grandpre, Baudry, Deslozieres and others who have written upon it. So early as the year 1659, a grammar of this language by Giacinto Brusciotto di vetralla, was published at Rome at the expense of the congregation de Propoganda Fide, a copy of which I hope to be able to procure for our Society's library. Professor Vater in the first part of the third volume of Mithridates has described from these and other sources which he had at hand, the principal features of its grammatical character, from whence we are able to form a pretty correct idea of it.
That this language is synthetic in a very high degree and that in some respects its forms resemble those of the American idioms, cannot be denied; but it is true likewise that there are many essential differences between them. For instance, the cases of substantives are expressed in the Congo, by inflections of the article, whereas the Indian languages have no articles at all; instead of adjectives, the Congo make use of the genitive case of substantives, as water of fire for hot water; they place the possessive pronoun after the substantive, with an article between, as it were, father the mine, for my father,
74forms which I need not enumerate, are not to be found in any of the languages of our Indians.
I must acknowledge, however, that in the forms of the verbs the resemblance is considerable. Like the Americans, these people can, by means of this part of speech, express many of the relations connected with the principal action; whether they can do it to the same extent, I have not the means of ascertaining.
That the information given by Professor Vater on the subject of this language, and derived by him from the original sources, is correct, is a fact which does not admit even the possibility of a doubt. I have been therefore, not a little astonished in finding it positively contradicted in a late account of Capt. Tuckey's Expedition to the river Zaire,
As this strange assertion immediately follows the observations of the learned Marsden on the vocabularies furnished by Captain Tuckey, I was for a moment inclined to believe that it was the expression of his own opinion. But I was soon undeceived when I observed
75that this eminent philologist is so well acquainted with the works of Brusciotto, Oldendorp, and Hervas, that it is impossible to suppose that he could have fallen in such a mistake, which is solely to be ascribed to the book-maker, whoever he is, who edited the work, and who has imposed upon the public his own crude opinions, by the side of the facts of Captain Tuckey and Professor Phillips, and of the sensible observations of a Marsden. It is impossible to guard too strongly against similar impositions, as they cannot but operate greatly to the detriment of science.
The French geographer, Malte-Brun, who asserts that the language of Congo is complicated in its forms, undoubtedly drew his information from the best sources, with which his assertion perfectly agrees. The anonymous writer, who assumes that he had borrowed it from some fanciful author, shews that he himself knew nothing of the subject, and was not competent to write upon it.
There is great reason to believe that among the idioms of Africa, the Congo is not the only one that has complicated forms, and that the same grammatical construction extends to all those of the black nations who inhabit that coast. Oldendorp, in his History of the Missions, has given us a sentence in not less than eighteen of those languages, which appears to have escaped the observation of Professor Vater, and clearly evinces that in their verbs, at least, they have the transitive forms of the Indians. The phrase is: "God has loved me, and has washed away my sins with his blood." In the Congo dialect this phrase is expressed by Christus ensolani sukkula nituam winu mengaman. The word ensolani, by an evident transition, expresses the compound idea, "has loved me," and the last word mengaman, from menga, "blood," conveys the meaning of that substantive, coupled with the proposition "with." The three other words sukkula nituam winu,
76the author translates by "has my body washed from uncleanness."
I shall not trouble the committee with the translation of the same or similar sentences in other African languages, the forms of which the author thus exemplifies, of which six are mother tongues,
From the above facts and observations it would seem to result, that the languages of the Negroes of the western coast of Africa, are in a degree complex and synthetic in their forms; to what extent does not sufficiently appear; but enough is shewn to warrant the inference that they differ in several material points from those of the languages of the American Indians. — Their greatest resemblance appears to be in the combinations of the verb with other parts of speech.
Perhaps, therefore, it may not be an improbable supposition that the great characteristics which so generally distinguish the idioms of the aborigines of this continent, are not to be found to the same extent in any other language upon earth. Considerable labour, however, will be required before this question can be fully solved, and the fact completely ascertained. The study of the languages of the different races of men, considered in relation to their internal structure and grammatical forms, has but lately begun to be attended to, and may still be considered as being in its infancy; the difficulties which attend the pursuit of this interesting branch of science ought not to deter us from still
77pursuing it, in hopes of discovering some path that may lead to a better knowledge than we yet possess of the origin, history, connexions, and relations, of the various families of human beings by whom this globe now is and formerly was inhabited.
Of Manuscript Works, on the Indians and their Languages, presented to the American Philosophical Society, or deposited in their Library.
1. Deutsch und Onondagoisches Woerter buch, von David Zeisberger. A Dictionary of the German and Onondago languages, by David Zeisberger. 7 vols. 4to. Deposited by the Society of the United Brethren of Bethlehem.
2. Aruwakkisch Deutsches Woerter Buch vermehrt, 1803, durch Theodor Schultz. A Dictionary Aruwack and German, augmented in 1803, by Theodore Schultz. vol. 4to. 622 pp. Deposited by the Author.
3. Dicionaire de la Langue Huronne, par Samuel Sagard. MS. copy of the original work, printed at Paris in 1632. Presented by P. S. Duponcau.
1. A Grammar of the Lenni Lenape, or Delaware Language; by the late Rev. David Zeisberger. Translated from the German MS. of the Author, by P. S. Duponceau; fol. 140 pp. Presented by the Translator.
2. Grammaticalische Saetze von der Aruwakkische sprache. A Grammar of the Aruwack language, by Theodore Schultz, 12mo. 173 pp. Deposited by the Author.
3. Essay of an Onondago Graammar, or a short introduction to learn the Onondago, alias Maqua Tongue; by David Zeisberger, 4to. 67. pp.
4. Onondagoische Grammatica; by the same 4to. 87 pp.
5. Another Onondago Grammar in the German Language, by the same, 4to. 176 pp.
6. Affixa Nominum et Verborum Linguae Macquaicae. Auctore Chr. Pyrlaeo, 4to. 25 pp.
[With this work are bound several Iroquois Vocabularies and Collections of Phrases, the whole together making 178 pp. 4to.]
7. Abjectiva, Nomina et Pronomina Linguae Macquaicae, cum nonnullis de Verbis Adverbis ac Praepositionibus ejusdem Linguae. By the same, 4to. 86 pp. [The five last above mentioned works have been deposited by the Society of the United Brethren at Bethlehem.]
A Collection of Words and Phrases in the Iroquois or Onondago Language, explained into German. By the Rev. Chr. Pyrlaeus, 4to. 140 pp. Deposited by the Society of United Brethren at Bethlehem.
The following are all donations made to the Philosophical Sociey.
Presented by Mr. Jefferson.
1. A Vocabulary of the Language of the Unquachog Indians, by the donor.
2. Of the Nanticoke, by —.
3. Of the Miami, by M. Volney.
4. Of the same, from the mouth of the Little Turtle
81and of the Interpreter William Wells, by W. Thornton.
5. Of the Cherokee, by Judge Campbell.
6. Of the Cherokee (over hill,) and Choctaw, by Benjamin Hawkins,
7. Of the Creek, Chickasaw, Cherokee and Chocktaw, by the same.
8. Of the Atacapas, by Martin Duralde.
9. Of the Chetimachas, by the same.
10. Fragments of a Comparative Vocabulary of several Indian Languages, (partly destroyed by accident,) by the donor.
Presented by the Rev. Mr. Heckewelder.
1. A Vocabulary of the Mahicanni, taken down from the mouth of one of that nation, born in Connecticut; by the donor.
2. A Vocabulary of the Shawano; taken down from the mouth of a white woman, who had been twenty years a prisoner with that nation; by the donor.
3. A Vocabulary of the Nanticoke, taken from the mouth of a Nanticoke Chief, in 1785; by the donor.
4. A comparative Vocabulary of the Lenni Lenape and Algonquin; by the donor.
5. Same of the Lenni Lenape proper, the Minsi dialect, the Mahicanni, Natik or Nadik, Chippeway, Shawano, and Nanticoke; by the donor.
6. Same of the Lenni Lenape and Miami or Twightwee; by the donor.
7. Names of various trees, shrubs and plants in the Language of the Lenni Lenape or Delaware, distinguishing the dialects of the Unamis and Minsi; by the donor.
A vocabulary of the Language of the Osage Indians, by Dr. Murray, of Louisville, Kentucky.
Other MS. Works concerning the Indians.
1. A Sketch of the Creek Country in the years 1798, and 1799. By Col. Benj. Hawkins, late Agent of the United States to the Creek Nation, 4to. 168 pp. Presented by Mr. Jefferson.
2. A Short Account of the Mengwe, Maqua, or Mingoes, (as they are called by the white people,) according to the sayings and reports of the Lenni Lenape, Mahicanni, and other tribes connected with these. By Mr. Heckewelder, 4to. 25 pp. Presented by the author.
3. A Short Account of the Emigration of the Nation of Indians, calling themselves Lenni Lenape, and improperly called, by the whites, Delawares, as related by themselves. By the same, 4to. 28 pp. Presented by the author.
4. The Horsfield Papers. A large collection of original documents and letters from the principal characters in Pennsylvania, relating to Indian business, at and about the period of the war of 1756. Deposited by Joseph Horsfield, Esq. of Bethlehem.
5. A Collection of Indian Treaties from the year 1755, to 1758, both inclusive, fol. 250 pp. Deposited by Joseph Parker Norris, Esq.
THE following quotation from Governor Clinton's discourse, contains the sublime theory I alluded to in the first chapter of the foregoing work. It is so eloquent in style, and ingenious in speculation, that I feel assured the reader will be much gratified by having it placed before him: "It would be an unpardonable omission, not to mention, while treating on this subject, that there is every reason to believe, that previous to the occupancy of this country by the progenitors of the present nations of Indians, it was inhabited by a race of men much more populous, and much further advanced in civilization. The numerous remains of ancient fortifications, which are found in this country, commencing principally near the Onondaga River, and from thence spreading overthe Military Tract, the Genesee country, and the lands of the Holland Land Company, over the territory adjoining the Ohio and its tributary streams, the country on Lake Erie, and extending even west of the Mississippi, demonstrate a population far exceeding that of the Indians when this country was first settled.
"I have seen several of these works in the western parts of this state. There is a large one in the town of Onondaga; one in Pompey, and another in Manlius; one in Camillus, eight miles from Auburn; one in Scipio, six miles; another one mile; and one, half a mile from that village. Between the Seneca and Cayuga Lakes there are several; three within a few miles of each other. Near the village of Canadaigua there are
86three. In a word, they are scattered all over that country.
"These forts were, generally speaking, erected on the most commanding ground. The walls or breastworks were earthen. The ditches were on the exterior of the works. On some of the parapets, oak trees were to be seen, which, from the number of the concentric circles, must have been standing one hundred and fifty, two hundred and sixty, and three hundred years; and there were evident indications, not only that they had sprung up since the erection of those works, but that they were at least a second growth. The trenches were in some cases deep and wide, and in others shallow and narrow; and the breastworks varied in altitude from three to eight feet. They sometimes had one, and sometimes two entrances, as was to be inferred from their being no ditch at those places. When the works were protected by a deep ravine, or a large stream of water, no ditch was to be seen. The areas of these forts varied from two to six acres; and the form was generally an irregular ellipsis; and in some of them fragments of earthenware and pulverized substances, supposed to have been originally human bones, were to be found.
"These fortifications, thus diffused over the interior
87of our country, have been generally considered as surpassing the skill, patience and industry of the Indian race; and various hypotheses have been advanced to prove them of European origin.
"An American writer of no inconsiderable repute pronounced some years ago, that the two forts at the confluence of the Muskingum and Ohio rivers, one covering forty and the other twenty acres, were erected by Ferdinand de Soto, who landed with one thousand men in Florida in 1539, and penetrated a considerable distance into the interior of the country. He allotted the large fort for the use of the Spanish army; and after being extremely puzzled how to dispose of the small one in its vicinity, he at last assigned it to the swine, that generally, as he says, attended the Spaniards in those days; being in his opinion very necessary, in order to prevent them from becoming strays, and to protect them from the depredations of the Indians.
"When two ancient forts, one containing six and the other three acres, were found near Lexington in Kentucky, another theory was propounded, and it was supposed that they were erected by the descendants of the Welch colony, who are said to have migrated under the auspices of Madoc to this country, in the twelfth century; that they formerly inhabited Kentucky; but being attacked by the Indians, were forced to take refuge near the sources of the Missouri.
"Another suggestion has been made, that the French in their expeditions from Canada to the Mississippi, were the authors of these works: but the most numerous are to be found in the territory of the Senecas, whose hostility to the French was such, that they were not allowed for a long time to have any footing among them.
"Louis Dennie, a Frenchman, aged upwards of seventy, and who has been settled and married among the confederates for more than half a century, told me that according to the traditions of the ancient Indians, these forts were erected by an army of Spaniards, who were the first Europeans ever seen by them; the French the next; then the Dutch; and finally the English; that this army first appeared at Oswego in great force, and penetrated through the interior of the country, searching for the precious metals; that they continued there two years, and went down the Ohio.
"Some of the Senecas told Mr. Kirkland the missionary, that those in their territory were raised by their ancestors in their wars with the western Indians, three, four or five hundred years ago. All the cantons have traditions, that their ancestors came originally from the west; and the Senecas say that theirs first settled in the country of the Creeks. The early histories mention, that the Iroquois first inhabited on the north side of the great lakes; that they were driven to their present territory in a war with the Algonkinsor Adirondacks, from whence they expelled the Satanas. If these accounts are correct, the ancestors of the Senecas did not, in all probability, occupy their present territory, at the time they allege.
"I believe we may confidently pronounce, that all the hypotheses which attribute those works to Europeans, are incorrect and fanciful: 1st. On account of the present number of the works. 2d. On account of their antiquity; having, from every appearance, been erected a long time before the discovery of America; and finally, their form and manner are totally variant from European fortifications, either in ancient or modern times.
"It is equally clear that they were not the work of the Indians. Until the Senecas, who are renowned for their national vanity, had seen the attention of the Americans attracted to these erections, and had invented the fabulous account of which I have spoken, the Indians of the present day did not pretend to know any
89thing about their origin. They were beyond the reach of all their traditions, and were lost in the abyss of unexplored antiquity.
"The erection of such prodigious works must have been the result of labour, far beyond the patience and perseverance of our Indians; and the form and materials are entirely different from those which they are known to make. These earthen walls, it is supposed, will retain their original form much longer than those constructed with brick and stone. They have, undoubtedly, been greatly diminished by the washing away of the earth, the filling up of the interior, and the accumulation of fresh soil; yet their firmness and solidity indicate them to be the work of some remote age. Add to this, that the Indians have never practised the mode of fortifying by entrenchments. Their villages or castles were protected by palisades; which afforded a sufficient defence against Indian weapons. When Cartier went to Hochelaga, now Montreal, in 1535, he discovered a town of the Iroquois, or Hurons, containing about fifty huts. It was encompassed with three lines of palisadoes, through which was one entrance, well secured with stakes and bars. On the inside was a rampart of timber, to which were ascents by ladders; and heaps of stones were laid in proper places to cast at an enemy. Charlevoix and other writers agree, in representing the Indian fortresses as fabricated with wood. Such also were the forts of Sasacus, the great chief of the Pequots; and the principal fortress of the Narragansets was on an island in a swamp, of five or six acres of rising land: the sides were made with palisades set upright, encompassed with a hedge, of a rod in thickness.
"I have already alluded to the argument for the great antiquity of those ancient forts, to be derived from the number of concentric circles. On the ramparts of one of the Muskingum forts, four hundred and
90sixty-three were ascertained on a tree, decayed at the centre; and there are likewise the strongest marks of a former growth of a similar size. This would make those works near a thousand years old.
"But there is another consideration which has never before been urged, and which appears to me to be not unworthy of attention. It is certainly novel, and I believe it to be founded on a basis, which cannot easily be subverted.
"From near the Genessee river to Lewiston, on the Niagara river, there is a remarkable ridge or elevation of land, running almost the whole distance, which is seventy-eight miles, and in a direction from east to west. Its general altitude above the neighbouring land is thirty feet, and its width varies considerably: in some places it is not more than forty yards. Its elevation above the level of lake Ontario is perhaps one hundred and sixty feet, to which it descends by a gradual slope, and its distance from that water is between six and ten miles. This remarkable strip of land, would appear as if intended by nature for the purpose of an easy communication. It is, in fact, a stupendous natural turnpike, descending gently on each side, and covered with gravel; and but little labour is requisite to make it the best road in the United States. When the forests between it and the lake are cleared, the prospects and scenery which will be afforded from a tour on this route to the cataract of Niagara, will surpass all competition for sublimity and beauty, variety and number.
"There is every reason to believe, that this remarkable ridge was the ancient boundary of this great lake. The gravel with which it is covered was deposited there by the waters; and the stones every where indicate by their shape, the abrasion and agitation produced by that element. All along the borders of the western rivers and lakes, there are small mounds or heaps of gravel, of a conical form, erected by the fish for the protection of their spawn; these fish banks are found in a state that cannot be mistaken, at the foot of the
91ridge, on the side toward the lake; on the opposite side none have been discovered. All rivers and streams which enter the lake from the south, have their mouths affected with sand in a peculiar way, from the prevalence and power of the north-westerly winds. The points of the creeks which pass through this ridge, correspond exactly in appearance with the entrance of the streams into the lakes. These facts evince, beyond doubt, that Lake Ontario has, perhaps one or two thousand years ago, receded from this elevated ground. And the cause of this retreat must be ascribed to its having enlarged its former outlet, or to its imprisoned waters (aided, probably, by an earthquake) forcing a passage down the present bed of the St. Lawrence; as the Hudson did at the Highlands, and the Mohawk at the Little Falls. On the south side of this great ridge, in its vicinity, and in all directions through this country, the remains of numerous forts are to be seen: but, on the north side, that is, on the side toward the lake not a single one has been discovered, although the whole ground has been carefully explored. Considering the distance to be, say, seventy miles in length, and eight in breadth, and that the border of the lake is the very place that would be selected for habitation, and consequently for works of defence, on account of the facilities it would afford for subsistence, for safety, for all domestic accommodations and military purposes; and that on the south shores of Lake Erie, these ancient fortresses exist in great number, there can be no doubt but that these works were erected, when this ridge was the southern boundary of Lake Ontario, and, consequently, that their origin must be sought in a very remote age.
"A great part of North America was then inhabited by populous nations, who had made considerable advances in civilization. These numerous works could never have been supplied with provisions without the aid of agriculture. Nor could they have been constructed without the use of iron or copper; and without a
92perseverance, labour, and design, which demonstrate considerable progress in the arts of civilized life. A learned writer has said, ‘I perceive no reason why the Asiatic North might not be an officina virorum, as well as the European. The over-teeming country to the east of the Riphaen mountains, must find it necessary to discharge its inhabitants. The first great wave of people was forced forward by the next to it, more tumid and more powerful than itself: successive and new impulses continually arriving, short rest was given to that which spread over a more eastern tract: disturbed again and again, it covered fresh regions. At length, reaching the farthest limits of the old world, it found a new one, with ample space to occupy, unmolested for ages.’
Poured from her frozen loins, to pass
Rhene or the Danaw, when her barbarous sons
Came like a deluge on the South, and spread
Beneath Gibraltar to the Lybian sands.
"The great law of self-preservation compelled them to stand on their defence, to resist these ruthless invaders, and to construct numerous and extensive
93works for protection. And for a long series of time the scale of victory was suspended in doubt, and they firmly withstood the torrent: but like the Romans in the decline of their empire, they were finally worn down and destroyed, by successive inroads, and renewed attacks. And the fortifications of which we have treated, are the only remaining monuments of these ancient and exterminated nations. This is, perhaps, the airy nothing of imagination, and may be reckoned the extravagant dream of a visionary mind: but may we not, considering the wonderful events of the past and present times, and the inscrutable dispensations of an overruling Providence, may we not look forward into futurity, and without departing from the rigid laws of probability, predict the occurrence of similar scenes, at some remote period of time. And, perhaps, in the decrepitude of our empire, some transcendent genius, whose powers of mind shall only be bounded by that impenetrable circle which prescribes the limits of human nature,
Extract from Blome's State of His Majesty's Isles and Teritories in America.
THE natives I shall consider in their persons, language, manners, religion, and government, with my sense of their original. For their persons, they are generally tall, straight, well built, and of singular proportion; they tread strong and clever, and mostly walk with a lofty chin; of complexion black, but by design, as the gipsies in England; they grease themselves with bear's fat clarified, and using no defence against sun or weather, their skins must needs be swarthy; their eye is little and black not unlike a straight-looked Jew; the thick lip and flat nose, so frequent to the East Indians and blacks, are not common to them; for I have seen as comely European-like faces among them of both sexes, as on your side the sea; and truly an Italian complexion hath not much more of the white, and the noses of several of them have as much of the Roman.
Their language is lofty, yet narrow, but like the Hebrew in signification, full like short-hand in writing; one word serveth in the place of three, and the rest are supplied by the understanding of the hearer; imperfect in their tenses, wanting in their moods, participles, adverbs, conjunctions, and interjections. I have made
95it my business to understand it that I might not want an interpreter on any occasion, and I must say I know not a language spoken in Europe that hath words of more sweetness or greatness, in accent and emphasis than theirs.
Of their customs and manners there is much to be said. I will begin with children: so soon as they are born, they wash them in water, and while very young and in cold weather to choose, they plunge them in the rivers, to harden and embolden them; having wrapt them in a clout, they lay them on a straight thin board, a little more than the length and breadth of the child, and swaddle it fast upon the board, to make it straight; wherefore all indians have flat heads, and thus they carry them at their backs. The children will go very young, at nine months commonly; they wear only a small clout round their waist till they are big; if boys, they go a fishing till ripe for the woods, which is about fifteen; then they hunt, and having given some proofs of their manhood, by a good return of skins, they may carry, else it is a shame to think of a wife.
The girls stay with their mothers, and help to hoe the ground, plant corn, and carry burthens; and they do well to use them to that young, which they must do when they are old, for the wives are the true servants of their husbands; otherwise the men are very affectionate to them.
When the young women are fit for marriage, they wear something upon their heads for an advertisement, but so as their faces are hardly to be seen, but when they please. The age they marry at, if women, is about thirteen and fourteen, if men, seventeen and eighteen, they are rarely older: their houses are mats, or barks of trees, set on poles, in the fashion of an English barn, but out of the power of the winds, for they are hardly higher than a man; they lie on reeds or grass. In travel they lodge in the woods about a great fire, with the mantle duffies they wear by day, wrapt about them, and a few boughs stuck round them.
96Their diet is maize or Indian corn, divers ways prepared; sometimes roasted in the ashes, sometimes beaten and boiled with water, which they call Homine, they also make cakes, not unpleasant to eat; they have likewise several sorts of beans and pease, that are good nourishment, and the woods and rivers are their larder.
If an European comes to see them, or calls for lodging at their house or wigwam, they give him the best place and first cut. If they come to visit us, they salute us with an It hah! which is as much as to say, good be to you, and sit them down which is mostly on the ground, close to their heels, their legs upright; may be they speak not a word more, but observe all passages. If you give them any thing to eat or drink, well, for they will not ask; and be it little or much, if it be with kindness they are well pleased, else they go away sullen, but say nothing. They are great concealers of their own resentments, brought to it I believe by the revenge that hath been practised among them; in either of these they are not exceeded by the Italians. A tragical instance fell out since I came into the country; a king's daughter, thinking herself slighted by her husband, in suffering another woman to lie down between them, rose up, went out, pluckt a root out of the ground, and eat it, upon which she immediately died, and for which, last week, he made an offering to her kindred, for atonement, liberty, and marriage, as two others did to the kindred of their wives that died a natural death; for till widowers have done so they must not marry again. Some of the young women are said to take undue liberty before marriage for a portion; but when married, chaste: when with child, they know their husbands no more, till delivered; and during their month, they touch no meat, they eat but with a stick, lest they should defile it; nor do their husbands frequent them till that time be expired.
But in liberality they excel; nothing is too good for their friends; give them a fine gun, coat, or other things, it may pass twenty hands before it sticks; light
97of heart, strong affections, but soon spent; the most merry creatures that live, feast and dance perpetually; they never have much, nor want much; wealth circulateth like the blood, all parts partake; and though none shall want what another hath, yet exact observers of property.
Some kings have sold, others presented me with several parcels of land; the pay or presents I made them, were not hoarded by the particular owners, but the neighbouring kings and their clans being present when the goods were brought out, the parties chiefly concerned consulted what, and to whom they should give them; to every king then, by the hands of a person for that work appointed, is a present sent, so sorted and folded, and with that gravity, that it is admirable; then that king subdivideth it in like manner among the dependants, they hardly leaving themselves an equal share with one of their subjects: and be it on such occasions as festivals, or at their common meals, the kings distribute, and to themselves last; they care for little, and the reason is, a little contents them: in this they are sufficiently revenged on us; if they are ignorant of our pleasures, they are also free from our pains.
They are not disquieted with bills of lading and exchange, nor perplexed with chancery suits and exchecquer reckonings; we sweat and toil to live, their pleasure feeds them, I mean their hunting, fishing, and fowling, and this table is spread everywhere; they eat twice a day, morning and evening; their seats and tables are the ground. Since the Europeans came in to these parts, they are grown great lovers of strong liquors, rum especially, and for it they exchange the richest of their skins and furs: if they are heated with liquors, they are restless till they have enough to sleep; and this is their cry, Some more, and I will go to sleep; but when drunk, one of the most wretched spectacles in the world.
In sickness, impatient to be cured; for it, give any thing, especially for their children, to whom they are
98extremely natural; they drink at those times a yeran, or decoction of some roots, in spring water; and if they eat any flesh, it must be of the female of any creature; if they die they bury them with their apparel, be they men or women, and the nearest of kin flings in something precious with them, as a token of their love; their mourning is blacking of their faces, which they continue for a year; they are choice of the graves of their dead; for, least they should be lost by time, and fall to common use, they pick off the grass that grows upon them, and heap up the fallen earth with great care and exactness.
These poor people are under a dark night in things relating to religion, or rather to the tradition of it; yet, they believe a God and immortality without the helps of Metaphysics; for they say there is a great king that made them, who dwells in a glorious country to the southward of them, and that the souls of the good shall go thither, where they shall live again. Their worship consists of two parts, sacrifice and cantico: Their sacrifice is their first fruits, the first and fattest bullock they kill, goes to the fire, where he is all burnt with a mournful ditty of him that performs the ceremony, but with such marvellous fervency and labour of body, that he will even sweat to a foam; the other part of their cantico, is performed by round dances, sometimes words, sometimes songs, then shouts, two being in the middle that begin, and by singing and drumming on a board, direct the chorus; their postures in the dance are very antick and differing, but all keep measure. This is done with equal earnestness and labour, but great appearance of joy.
In the fall, when the corn comes in, they begin to feast one another; there have been two great festivals already, to which all come that will. I was at one myself; their entertainment was a great seat by a spring, under some shady trees, and twenty bucks, with hot cakes of new corn, both wheat and beans, which they make up in a square form, in the leaves of the stem,
99and bake them in the ashes; and after that they fell to dance; but they that go, must carry a small present of their money, it may be sixpence, which is made in the bone of a fish; the black is with them as gold, the white silver; they call it all wampum.
Their government is by kings which they call sachema, and those by succession, but always by the mother's side; for instance, the children of him that is now king, will not succeed, but his brother by the mother, for the children of his sister, whose sons (and after them the children of her daughters) will reign; for no woman inherits; the reason they render for this way of descent is, that their issue may not be spurious. Every king hath his counsel, and that consists of all the old and wise men of his nation, which perhaps is two hundred people. Nothing of moment is undertaken, be it war, peace, selling of land, traffic, without advising with them; and which is more, with the young men too.
It is admirable to consider how powerful the kings are, and how they move by the breath of the people.
I have had occasion to be in council with them upon treaties of land, and to adjust the terms of trade. Their order is thus; the king sits in the middle of a half moon, and hath his council, the old and wise on each hand; behind them or at a little distance sit the younger fry in the same figure; having consulted and resolved their business, the king ordered one of them to speak to me, and he in the name of his king saluted me; then took me by the hand, and told me, that he was ordered by his king to speak to me; and now it was not he, but the king that spoke, because what he should say, was the king's mind.
He first, prayed me to excuse them that they had not complied with me the last time, he feared there might be some fault in the interpreter, being neither Indian nor English; besides it was the Indian custom to deliberate, and take up much time in council before they resolve; and that if the young people and owners of the land had been as ready as he, I had not met with so much delay.
Having thus introduced this matter, he fell to the bounds of the land they had agreed to dispose of, and the price; the land now is little and dear, that which would have bought twenty miles, not buying now two. During the time that this person spoke, not a man of them was observed to whisper or smile; the old grave, the young reverent in their deportment. They do speak little, but fervently and with elegancy; I have never seen more natural sagacity, considering them without the help of tradition; and he will deserve the name of wise, that outwits them in any treaty about a thing they understand.
When the purchase was agreed, great promises passed between us of kindness and good neighbourhood, and that the Indians and English must live in love as long as the sun gave light; which done, another made a speech to the Indians, in the name of all the sachamakers, or kings, first to tell them what was done; next, to charge and command them to love christians; and particularly to live in peace with me, and the people under my government. That many governors had been in the river, but that no governor had come himself to live and stay here before; and having now such a one that had treated them well, they should never do him or his any wrong. At every sentence of which, they shouted, and said amen, in their way.
The justice they have is pecuniary; in case of any wrong or evil fact, be it murder itself, they atone by feasts and presents of their wampum, which is proportioned to the quality of the offence, or person injured, or the sex they are of. For in case they kill a woman, they pay double; and the reason they render, is, that she breedeth children, which men cannot do. It is rare that they fall out, if sober; and if drunk they forgive it, saying, it was the drink, and not the man that abused them.
We have agreed, that in all differences between us, six of each side shall end the matter. Don't abuse them, but let them have justice, and you win them.
101The worst is, they are the worse for the christians, who have propagated their vices, and yielded them tradition for ill, and not for good things. But as low an ebb as they are at, and as inglorious as their condition looks, the christians have not outlived their sight, with all their pretensions to an higher manifestation.
What good, then, might not a good people graft, where there is so distinct a knowledge left between good and evil? I beseech God to incline the hearts of all that come into these parts, to outlive the knowledge of the natives, by a fixt obedience to their greater knowledge of the will of God; for it were miserable indeed for us to fall under the just censure of the poor Indian conscience, while we make profession of things so far transcending.
For their original, I am ready to believe them of the Jewish race; I mean of the stock of the ten tribes; and that for the following reasons: First, they were to go to a land not planted or known, which to be sure Asia and Africa were, if not Europe, and he that intended that extraordinary judgment upon them, might make the passage not uneasy to them, as it is not impossible in itself, from the easternmost parts of Asia to the western-most parts of America. In the next place I find them of like countenance, and their children of so lively resemblance, that a man would think himself in Duke's-place or Bury-street in London, when he seeth them. But this not all; they agree in rites, they reckon by moons, they offer their first fruits, they have a kind of feast of tabernacles, they are said to lay their altar upon twelve stones, their mourning a year, customs of women, with many things that do not now occur.
About this time (1607) James'-town was built. In the discovery of Chickahamine river, one George Casson was surprised, and one Smith, with two others, beset with two hundred savages, his men slain, and himself taken prisoner; but in about a month's time he procured not only his liberty, but was in great favour among them, so that he had a most noble entertainment
102from Powhatam, one of their emperors, who sate in state upon his bed of mats, pillow of leather, embroidered with pearl and white beads, attired with robes of skins, as large as an Irish mantle; at his head sat a handsome young woman, and another at his feet, and on each side the room twenty others, their heads and shoulders painted red, with a chain of beads about their necks and a robe of skins; before them sat his chiefest men, in their orders. This emperor had about thirty kings under him, his treasure consisting of skins, copper, pearls, beads, and the like; his house being fifty or sixty yards long, frequented only by priests; at the four corners stood four images, as sentinels, one of a bear, one of a dragon, another a leopard, and the fourth a giant: he hath as many women as he pleases, whom, after he has grown weary of, he bestows upon his favourites. His will, with the custom of the country, are his laws.
The Virginians are not born so swarthy as they appear; their hair is generally black and flaggy which they wear long; few men have beards, because they pluck out the hairs that would grow; their ointments and smoky houses do in a great measure cause their blackness, whereby they look like bacon; they are of a ready wit, very subtle and treacherous, not much addicted to labour and much given to hunting. They have one wife, and many concubines. The ancient women are used for cooks, barbers and other services, the younger for dalliance, they are modest in their carriage and seldom quarrel; in entertaining a stranger, they spread a mat for him to sit down, and then dance before him; they wear their nails long to flee their deer, and put bows and arrows into the hands of their children at six years old.
The queen of Apometica was attired with a cornet beset with many white bones, with copper in her ears, and a chain of the same six times encompassing her neck. They have several ridiculous conceits concerning their original; as that a hare came into their
103country, and made the first man; and two other hares came thither, the first killed a deer for their entertainment, which was then the only deer in the world, and strewing the hairs of that deer, every hair became a deer.
The natives think it a disgrace to fear death, and therefore when they must die, they do it resolutely; as it happened to one that robbed an Englishman, and was by Pawhatam (upon complaint made against him) fetched sixty miles from where he was concealed, and executed in the presence of the English; his brains being knocked out without the least show of fear or terror.
Their principal recreations are foot-ball, and cards, at which they will play away all they have. They are lovers of strong drink; without they have enough to be drunk, they care not to drink at all; they observe several ceremonies in their Religious Rites, and are said to worship the devil; they are usually performed on such occasions as the making of war; when their corn is ripe, or the like.
They are much addicted to go to war against one another, but they fight no pitched battles, but upon their enemy's approach armed with guns and hatchets, they way-lay him, and it is counted a great fight when seven or eight are slain; they seldom give quarter to any but the women and children, whom they reserve and make use of for the increasing their strength.
When an Indian dies they bury him upright sitting upon a seat with his gun, money, and goods, to furnish him in the other world, which they believe to be westward, where they shall have a great store of game for hunting, and live at ease. At his funeral his relations paint their faces black, making sad lamentations; near his grave they do not suffer any grass to grow, but cover it with mats as a shelter from the rain. Notwithstanding this, when an Indian is dead his name
104dies with him, none daring after to mention his name it being not only a breach of their law, but an affront to his friends and relations, as if done on purpose to renew their grief; and persons bearing the same name change it for another, which every one invents for himself. Their weddings are without ceremony, the match being made by money, which being agreed on, makes a consummation of the marriage; upon the least dislike he turns her away and takes another. It is no offence for their married women to lie with another man, provided she acquaint her husband or some near relation therewith, but if not, it is sometimes punishable with death.
They are extremely charitable one to another, they share one with another, commonly leaving the least parts to themselves.
Before they make war they first consult with their priests and conjurers, no people being so barbarous almost but they have their gods, priests and religion; they adore such things as they think may unavoidably hurt them, as fire, water, lightning, thunder, our great guns, muskets and horses; the chief god they worship is the devil, which they call Okee. They paint themselves and their children, and he is most gallant who is most deformed. They are exact archers, and with their arrows will kill birds flying; their bows are of tough hazel; their strings of leather; their arrows of cane or hazel, headed with stones or horn, and feathered. They soon grow heartless, if they find their arrows do no execution.
The Five Nations.
"The Five Nations
106put a stop to these growing evils. If these practices be winked at, instead of faithful friends that have manfully fought our battles for us, the five nations will become faithless thieves and robbers, and join with every enemy that can give hope of plunder. "If care were taken to plant and cultivate in them that general benevolence to mankind, which is the true first principle of virtue, it would effectually eradicate those horrid vices occasioned by their unbounded revenue; and then they no longer would deserve the name of barbarians, but would become a people whose friendship might add honour to the British nation.
"The Greeks and Romans were once as much barbarians as our Indians now are; deified the heroes that first taught them those virtues, from whence the grandeur of those renowned nations wholly proceeded. A good man, however, will feel more real satisfaction and pleasure from the sense of having in any way forwarded the civilizing of a barbarous nation, or of having multiplied the number of good men, than from the fondest hopes of such extravagant honours.
In his preface (p. 10.) Mr. Colden observes, very justly, that two things in his performance would be found fault with, namely, filling up a great part of the work with the adventures of small parties, (of Indians) and sometimes of those of a single man; and inserting speeches at full length. As to the first, he observes, that the history of the Indians would be very lame without an account of their private adventures; for their warlike expeditions are almost always carried on by surprising each other; the whole art of war consisting in managing small parties; and with regard to their speeches, he thinks if highly interesting, to know the manners and customs of the Indians, in their public treaties especially. We are fond of searching into remote antiquity to know the manners of our earliest progenitors, of whom it may be safely averred, the Indians are living images.
"The Five Nations consist of so many tribes or
107nations joined together, without any superiority of the one over the other. The union has continued so long, that nothing is known by the Europeans of the origin of it. They are known by the names of Mohawks, Oneydoes, Onondagas, Cayugas and Sennekas. Each of these nations is again divided into three tribes or families, who distigtinguish themselves by three different arms or ensigns; the Tortoise, the Bear, and the Wolf; and the Sachems, or old men of these families put their ensign or marks of their family to every public paper, when they sign it.
"Each of these nations is an absolute Republic by itself, and is governed in all public affairs by its own Sachems. The authority of these rulers is gained by and consist wholly in the opinion the rest of the nation have of their wisdom and integrity. They never execute their resolutions by force upon any of their people. Honour and esteem are their principal rewards; as shame and being despised their punishment. — These readers and captains in like manner obtain their authority by the general opinion of their courage and conduct; and lose it by a failure in those virtues. These great men, both sachems and captains, are generally poorer than the common people, for they uniformly give away and distribute all the presents or plunder they get in their treaties or in war, so as to leave nothing to themselves.
"There is not a man in the ministry of the Five nations, who has gained his office otherwise than by merit; there is not the least salary or any sort of profit annexed to any office to tempt the covetous or sordid; but on the contrary, every unworthy action is unavoidably attended with the forfeiture of their commission, for the authority is only the esteem of the people, and ceases the moment that esteem is lost.
"The Five nations think themselves superior to the rest of mankind, and call themselves Ongue-honwe; that is, men surpassing all others. All the nations
108round them have for many years entirely submitted to them, and pay a yearly tribute to them of Wampum.
They dare neither make war or peace without the consent of the Mohawks. Two old men of this tribe commonly go about every year or two to receive this tribute; and I have often had opportunity to observe what anxiety the poor Indians were under while these two old men remained in that part of the country where I was. An old Mohawk Sachem in a poor blanket and dirty shirt may be seen issuing his orders with as arbitrary authority as a Roman Dictator. It is not however for the sake of tribute they make war, but from notions of glory, which they have ever most strongly imprinted on their minds; and the farther they go to seek an enemy, the greater glory is gained. The Five nations, in their love of liberty and of their country, in their bravery in battle, and their constancy in enduring torments, equal the fortitude of the most renowned Romans. I shall finish their character by what their enemy, Monsieur De La Pothene in his History of North America says of them: "When we speak in France of the Five Nations they are thought, by a common-mistake, to be mere barbarians always thirsting after human blood; but their true character is very different. They are indeed the fiercest and most formidable people in North America, and at the same time are as politic and judicious as can well be conceived; and this appears from the management of all the affairs which they transact, not only with the French and English, but likewise with almost all the Indian nations of this vast continent."
They strictly form a Roman maxim, to increase their strength by encouraging other nations to incorporate with them, and adopt many captives taken in battle, who afterwards have become sachems and captains. The cruelty the Indians use in their wars, is deservedly held in abhorrence; but whoever has read the history of the far-famed heroes of Greece and Rome, will find them little, if at all, better even in this respect. Does the behaviour of Achilles to Hector's dead body appear less savage? But Achilles had a Homer to blazon forth his virtues: not so the unlettered Indian; every pen is dipped in gall against him. Witness the Carthaginians, and Phenicians offering their children in sacrifice, and in latter days behold men professing Christianity, out-stripping all true or fabled cruelty, blasphemously and impiously under the idea of honouring God. Let no member of the church of Rome, nor of any persecuting body, call the Indians savage.
Previous to setting out on any warlike expedition they have a feast, to which all the noted warriors of the nation are invited; when they have the war-dance to the beat of kettle-drums. The warriors are seated on two rows; each rises in turn, and sings the deeds he has performed; so that they work up their spirits to a high degree of enthusiasm. They come to these dances with faces painted in a frightful manner to make themselves look terrible to their enemies. By these war songs they preserve the history of their great achievements.
110assured that there is not one instance of their offering the least violence to the chastity of any woman that was their captive. The captives are generally distributed among those who have lost a member of their family in battle: if they are accepted, they enjoy all the privileges the person had; but if otherwise they die in torment to satiate the revenge of those who refuse them.
They use neither drum nor trumpet, nor any kind of musical instruments in their wars; their throats serve them on all occasions. We find the same was practised by Homer's heroes:
O friend! Ulysses' shouts invade my ears.
The hospitality of these Indians is no less remarkable than their other virtues. As soon as any stranger comes among them, they are sure to offer him victuals; if a number arrive, one of their best houses is cleaned for their accommodation, and not unfrequently they are accommodated with female society while they remain; but this latter mark of simple hospitality is not now to be found among any of the Indian tribes who have had much intercourse with the whites. The two following traits of character in the Mohawks, M. Colden states as having come under his own knowledge; he states that when last in their country, the Sachems told him they had an Englishman who had ran from his master in New-York, that they never would deliver him up to be punished, but that they would pay the value to his master. Another man made his escape from Albany jail, where he was in prison for debt; the Mohawks received him, and as they protected him against the sheriff, they not only paid the debt for him but gave him land over and above sufficient for a good farm whereon he lived when M. Colden was last there.
Polygamy is not usual among them, and in case of separation according to the natural course of all animals, the children follow the mother. The women
111bring forth their children with much ease and without any help, and soon after delivery return to their usual employment. They alone perform all the drudgery about the houses, plant the corn, labour at it, cut the fire-wood, carry it home, and on their marches bear the burdens. The men disdaining all kind of labour, employ themselves alone in hunting; at times when it is not proper to hunt, the old men are found in companies in conversation, the young men at their exercises, shooting at marks, throwing the hatchet, wrestling, or running; and the women all busy at labour in the fields. The ancient state of Lacedemon resembles that of the Five nations, their laws and customs being formed to render the mind and bodies of the people fit for war. Theft is very scandalous and rare. There is one vice which they have acquired since they became acquainted with the Europeans, of which they knew nothing before, drunkenness; all, male and female, are awfully given to this vice; they have not been taught to abhor it; on the contrary, the traders encourage it for the profit they gain on the Suque, and the bargains they obtain while intoxicated. And this imported vice, from men professing Christianity, has destroyed greater numbers than all their wars and diseases put together.
As to what religion they have it is difficult to judge of them, because the Indians that speak English and live near us, have learned many things of us, and it is not easy to distinguish the notions they had originally among them, from those they have learned of the Christians. It is certain they have no kind of public worship, and I am told they have no radical word to express God, but use a compound word signifying preserver, sustainer, or master of the universe. Their funeral rites seem to infer an idea of a future existence. They make a large hole in which the body can be placed upright, or upon its haunches; they dress the corpse in all the finery, and put wampum and other things into the grave with it, and the relations suffer not grass or any weeds to grow on the grave or near it, and
112frequently visit it with lamentations. Like all nations ignorant of the bible, they are very superstitious in the observance of omens and dreams. The inclination which all ignorant people have to superstition and amusing ceremonies affords the popish priests a great advantage in recommending their religion.
Queen Anne sent over a missionary to reside among the Mohawks, and paid him out of her privy purse; she sent furniture for a chapel, and a valuable set of plate for the communion table, and the like furniture and plate for each of the other nations, though that of the Mohawks was alone applied to the use designed. The Common Prayer Book, or at least a considerable part of it, was translated also into their language and printed; some other pieces were also translated for the Minister's use, viz., an Exposition of the Creed, Decalogue, Lord's Prayer, and Church Catechism, and a Discourse on the Sacraments: but as the Minister was never able to obtain any tolerable knowledge of their language, he had but small success, and his allowance failing by the Queen's death, he left them.
There is a custom these men constantly observe, that if they be sent with any message, though it demand the greatest despatch, or though they bring intelligence of any danger, they never tell it at their first approach, but sit down for a moment or two, at least, in silence to recollect themselves before they speak, that they may not shew any degree of fear or surprise by any indecent expression. Every sudden repartee in a public treaty, leaves with them an impression of a light, inconsiderate mind, but in private conversation they use and are as delighted with brisk witty answers, as we can be by them; they shew the great difference they place between the conversation of man and man, and of nation and nation, and this might well be an example to polished nations.
The Dutch who settled in the New Netherlands, now called New-York, in 1609, entered into an alliance with the Five Nations which continued without any breach
113in their side till the English gained this country. The Dutch gained the hearts of the Five Nations by their kind usage, and were frequently useful to the French in saving those of them that were prisoners from the cruelty of the Indians.
In 1664 New-York was taken by the English; they likewise immediately entered into a friendship with the Five Nations, which has continued without the least breach to this day; and history, I believe, cannot give an instance of the most Christian or most Catholic Kings observing a treaty so strictly for so long a time as these barbarians, as they are called, have done.
When the Five Nations make peace with a nation that has taken some of their people prisoners, if their prisoners are dead or cannot be restored, they usually demand some Indians in friendship with the Five Nations in their stead, who either are adopted in place of their dead friends or restored to their own nation; and sometimes they desire some of their enemies to be given them, and even these frequently are adopted by a father in place of a son, by a sister in place of a brother, and most frequently by a wife in place of a husband lost in the wars; but if they chance not to be agreeable to the relations, then they are certainly made sacrifices to their revenge.
The French having for a long time felt the inconvenience and dangers they were in from the warlike spirit of the Five Nations (about the year 1666,) sent some of their priests and Jesuits among them; and the Governors of New-York were ordered by the Duke of York to give their priests all the encouragement in their power. Their chief view was to give the Indians the highest opinion of the French power, and to render the English suspected; for these purposes their priests were well fitted in turning the resentment of the Five Nations of the Indians, that were in friendship with Virginia and Maryland. The Governor of Maryland on the other hand, to prevent the ill consequence of war among nations in friendship with the English,
114sent Colonel Coursey, in 1677, to Albany, to increase the friendship between Maryland and Virginia and the Five Nations, and accordingly both sides gave mutual promises at Albany of friendship. But this understanding was soon shaken by some parties of the Oneydoes, Onandagoes, and Senekas, who were out, and ignorant of the treaty; one of them having met with the Susquehannas Indians, who were in friendship with Maryland, fell upon them, felled four, and took six prisoners; five of them fell to the share of the Senekas, who as soon as they arrived in their own country, sent them back with presents, to show they kept their promises with Maryland, but the Oneydoes kept the prisoners they had.
The Dutch settlers, who lived about Albany, spirited up the Indians against the English, having pursuaded the Oneydoes that the English at New-York were resolved to destroy them: in this the Dutch and French priests joined, and Sworise, one of the chief Sachems of the Oneydoes excused his people to the governor of Albany, in Feb. 1678, by laying the blame where it ought to rest, by stating they had been informed repeatedly by the people of Schenutady, (Dutch, now become English subjects,) that the English designed to cut them off; he also brought with him a woman and her child that had been taken prisoners, and restored them, praying the Governor to use his endeavours to have the people restored that had been taken by the people of Virginia; but they kept another woman and her two children until such time as their prisoner should be restored or some Conastoga Indians given in their place.
The Governor being informed of this last proposal of the Oneydoes, required the immediate delivery of the women and children, and he would write to Virginia to have the Indian prisoners saved; the Oneydoes promised to bring them in a month's time; they also informed the governor that eight of these men were out against the people of Virginia, who knew nothing
115of what was now promised, and should they do any harm it was not to be considered as a breach of their promise, observing they should be sorry any thing should befall the prisoners they had promised to restore lest it should create jealousies; but it was to be borne in mind they were mortal.
However, in May following, the Oneydoes, according to promise, came to Albany with the woman and her two children; and Sworise, when he delivered them to the commissioners for Indian affairs, said,
"Brethren, — We are come to this place with much trouble as we did last winter, and renew the request we then made, that six Indians be delivered to us in the room of these six Christians, in case our people who are prisoners are dead.
"None of us have gone out against the Christians since we were last here, but we told you then that some were then out who knew nothing of the Governor's orders, and we desired that if any thing happened it might not be taken ill. Now thirteen of our people who went out against our Indian enemies, met eighteen men on horseback as far from the English plantation as Cahuaga is from Albany, they fired upon our people; our men, being soldiers, returned their fire, and killed two men and two horses, and brought away their scalps. It would be convenient that the governor tell the people of Virginia not to send their men so far from home, or if they should meet our parties on their way against our enemies, the Cahnowas, whom the English call Arogiste, we cannot answer for the consequences. We have now observed the Governor's orders in bringing the three other Christian prisoners, and we trust the affair of our prisoners wholly to the governor. We have now performed our promises, but where are our prisoners? or if they be dead, the others in their room? Now when it is so late in the spring, however, we will trust this to the Governor." Then delivering the prisoners one by one,
116said, We have, we say, now performed our promises and are not ashamed. We hope Corlear,
Then the governor gave them presents for their kind usage of the prisoners; after which Sworise stood up again and said, "Let Corlear take care that the Indian woman that is wanting be restored, and for those that are killed, others in their room. If Colear will not give ear to us in this affair we will not give ear to him hereafter in any thing." Hearing that these last words were ill taken, Sworise with two Oneydo Sachems, excused it, saying, "what we said of not hearkening to Corlear did not proceed from the heart but was spoken by way of argument, to make Corlear more careful to release our people that are prisoners; and you may be convinced it was so, when you consider that it was said after your answer, and without laying down either beavers or any belt of wampum, as we always do when we make propositions; therefore we desire if it be noted it may be blotted out, and not made known to Corlear, for we hold firmly to our covenant, as we said in our propositions."
In consequence of several outrages committed on the inhabitants of Virginia and Maryland, Lord Howard of Effingham, Governor-General of Virginia, came to Albany to meet the Sachems of the Five Nations in Council; and having enumerated many acts, and represented that he would have proceeded to like revenge, yet, he was stirred to peace by the interposition of the Governor of New-York, and his Lordship having brought two hatchets,
117in token of peace. The next day being all assembled when the Indians were to reply, the Mohawks answered first by their speaker, saying "We must in the first place say something to the other Three Nations, by way of reproof for their not keeping the former chain as they ought; and therefore we desire you, great Sachem of Virginia, and your Corlear, and all here present, to give ear, for we will conceal nothing of the evil they have done." Then turning to the other nations: "You have heard yesterday all that has been said; as for our parts we are free of the blame laid on us; we have always been obedient to Corlear and have steadily kept our chain with Virginia, Maryland, and Boston: but ye are stupid and brutish, and have no understanding; we must thump understanding into you: let the new chain made yesterday (the proposition of peace by his Lordship) be carefully preserved for the future; this we earnestly recommend to you, for we are ready to cry for shame of you; let us be no more ashamed on your account, but be obedient and take this belt to keep what we say in your memory. Hear now, now is the time to hearken; the covenant chain had very near slipt by your not keeping it firmly; hold it fast now when all former evils are buried in the pit.
"You Oneydoes, I speak to you as children; be no longer childish or void of understanding. You Onandagas, our brethren, you are like deaf people that cannot hear, your senses are covered with dirt and filth.
"You Cayugas, do not return unto your former ways; there are three things we must all observe.
"First. The covenant with Corlear. Secondly, the covenant with Virginia and Maryland. Thirdly, with Boston. We must thump understanding into you, that you may be obedient, and take this belt for a remembrancer."
Then Cadeanne, the same Mohawk speaker turning to Lord Howard said, "We are very thankful to you, great Sachem of Virginia, that you are persuaded by
118Corlear, our governor, to forgive all former faults. We are very glad to hear you and see your heart softened. Take these three beavers as a token. We thank the great Sachem of Virginia for saying that the axe shall be thrown into the pit. Take these two beavers as a token of our joy and thanksgiving.
"We are glad that Assarigoa,
"Assarigoa, you are a man of knowledge and understanding, thus to keep the covenant-chain bright as silver, and now again to renew it and make it stronger:" (then pointing to the other three nations, he said) "but they are chain breakers. I lay down this as a token that we Mohawks have preserved the chain intire on our parts." Puts down two beavers and a racoon.
"The covenant must be kept; for the fire of love of Virginia and Maryland burns in this place, as well as in our's; and the house of peace must be kept clean." Gives two beavers.
"We now plant a tree,
"You have not heard what expectation we have made to the other three nations. We have taken the hatchet out of their hands. We now, therefore, pray that both your hatchets may likewise be buried in a deep pit." Giving two beavers.
"Assarigoa! some of us Mohawks are out against our enemies, that lie far off; they will do you no harm, nor plunder as the others do. Be kind to them, and if they shall happen to come to any of your plantations, give
119them some tobacco and some victuals; for they will neither rob nor steal as the Oneydoes, Onondagas, and Cayugas have done.
"The Oneydoes particularly thank you, great Sachem of Virginia, for consenting to lay down the axe; the hatchet is taken out of all their hands." Gives a belt of wampum.
"We again thank Assarigoa that he has made a new chain; let it be kept bright and clean, and held fast on all sides: let not any one pull his arm from it. We include all the four nations in giving this belt.
"We again pray Assarigoa to take the Oneydas into his favour, and keep the chain strong with them, for they are our children." Gives a belt.
"The Oneydas give twenty beavers as a satisfaction for what they promised the Lord Baltimore, and desire they may be discharged of that debt."
The two governors having promised to use their endeavours with Lord Baltimore to forgive the remainder:
Then the Indians desired that the hole might be dug to bury the axes. One on behalf of Virginia and their Indians, another on behalf of Maryland and theirs, and three for the Onondagas, Oneydoes and Cayugas. The Mohawks said there was no need of burying any on thier account, for the first chain had never been broken by them.
Then the Three Nations spoke, by Onondaga, called Thanohjanihta, who said, "We thank the great Sachem of Virginia, that he has so readily forgiven and forgot the injuries that have been done, and we for our parts gladly catch at it, and lay hold of the new chain." Then each of them delivered an axe to be buried, and gave a belt. "I speak in the name of all Three Nations, and include them in the chain, which we desire may be kept clean and bright like silver. Gives a belt.
"We desire that the path may be open for the Indians under Assarigoa's protection, to come safely and
120freely to this place in order to confirm the peace." Gives six fathoms of wampum. Then the axes were buried in the court-yard, and the Indian threw the earth upon them.
Lastly, all the Oneydas, the Onnondagas, and the Cayugas, jointly sang the peace-song with joy, and thanked the Governor of New-York for his effectual mediation with the Governor of Virginia in their favour. In the month of August, after the foregoing treaty, the following speech was delivered by the Onnondagas and Cayugas to the two Governors: —
"Your Sachem (meaning the king) is a great Sachem, and we are but a small people: when the English came in first to Manhattan,
121of Virginia, very well know. We have put ourselves under the great Sachem Charles, that lives on the other side the great lake (the Atlantic ocean:) we give these two white dressed deer-skins to send to the great Sachem, that he may write on them and put a great red seal to them, to confirm what we now do, and put the Susquehana river and all the rest of our land under the great Duke of York, and give that land to none else. Our brethren, his people have been like fathers to our wives and children, and have given us bread when we were in need of it; we will not therefore join ourselves or our land to any other government but this. We desire Corlear, our Governor, may send this our proposition to the great Sachem Charles who dwells on the other side the great lake, with this belt of wampum, and this other small belt, to the Duke of York his brother, and we give you Corlear this beaver that you may send over the proposition.
You great man of Virginia, we let you know that the great Penn did speak to us here, in Corlear's house, by his agents, and desired to buy the Susquehana river of us; but we would not hearken to him, for we had fastened it to this government.
"We desire you therefore to bear witness of what we now do, and that we now confirm what we have done before; let your friend that lives on the other side the great lake, know this, that we being free people, though united to the English, may give our land to the Sachem we like best: we give this beaver to remember what we say." The Sennekas arrived soon after, and on the fifth of August, spoke to Lord Howard in the following manner: —
"We have heard and understood what mischief hath been done in Virginia; we have it perfect as if it were upon our fingers' ends. O Corlear! we thank you for having been our intercessor, so that the axe has not fallen on us; and, you Assarigoa, great Sachem of Virginia, we thank you for burying all evil in the pit. We are informed that the Mohawks, Oneydoes, Onondagas, and
122Cayugas have buried them already. Now we that live remotest off, are come to do the same, and to include in the chain the Cahnowas your friends. We desire therefore that an axe on our part may be buried with one of Assarigoa's. O Corlear, O Corlear! we thank you for laying hold of one end of the axe; and we thank you, great Governor of Virginia, not only for throwing aside the axe, but more especially for your putting all evil from your heart. Now we have a new chain, a strong, and a straight chain that cannot be broken; the tree of peace is planted so firmly, that it cannot be removed; let us on both sides hold the chain fast. We understand what you said of the great Sachem that lives on the other side of the great water. You tell us that the Cahnowas will come hither to strengthen the chain; let them not make any excuse that they are old and feeble, or that their feet are sore. If the old Sachem cannot, let the young men come: we shall not fail to come hither, though we live farthest off, and then the new chain will be stronger and brighter. We understand that because of the mischief that has been done to the people and castles of Virginia and Maryland, we must not come near the heads of your rivers, nor near your plantations, but keep on the foot of the mountains, for there we lay down our arms as friends; we shall not be trusted for the future, but looked on as robbers. We agree, however, to the proposition, and shall wholly stay away from Virginia. And then we do no gratitude to Corlear, who has been at so great pains to persuade your great Governor of Virginia to forget what is past: you are wise in giving ear to Corlear's advice, for we shall now go a path which was never trod before. We have now done speaking to Corlear and the Governor of Virginia, let the chain be for ever kept clean and bright by him, and we shall do the same.
"The other nations from the Mohawk's country to the Cayugas, have delivered up the Susquehana river, and all the country to Corlear's government: we confirm what they have done by giving this belt."
The Senekas lie next the lakes, and nearest the nation with which the French carried on the greatest trade. The Senekas were so averse to the French, that they never would receive any priests among them, and with arms and powder; for these reasons M. De la Barre, Governor of Canada, sent a message to Col. Dungan, the Commander at Albany, to complain of the injuries the Senekas had done the French, and to shew the necessity he was under, to bring the Five Nations to reason by force of arms. The messenger happening to come at the time the Indians met Lord Howard at Albany, Col. Dungan told the Senekas, the complaints of the French, on the fifth of August, in presence of the Governor of Canada's messenger. The Senekas replied to said complaints as follows: —
"We were sent for and are come, and have heard what you said to us, that Corlear hath great complaint of us, both from Virginia and Canada; what they complain of from Canada may possibly be true, that some of our young men have taken some of their goods, but Younendio the Governor of Canada is the cause of it. He not only permits his people to carry ammunition, guns, powder, lead, and axes, to the Ticebticebronoons our enemies, but sends them thither on purpose: these guns which he sends, knock our beaver-hunters on the head, and our enemies carry the beaver to Canada, that we would have brought our brethren. Our beaver-hunters are soldiers, and could bear this no longer. They met some French in their way to our enemies, and very near them, carrying ammunition, which our men took from them. This is agreeable to our customs in wars; and we may therefore openly own it, though we know not whether it be practised by the Christians in such like cases.
"When the Governor of Canada speaks to us of the chain, he calls us children, and saith, I am your father, you must hold fast the chain, and I will do the same, I will protect you as a father doth his children. Is this
124protection, to speak thus with his lips, and at the same time to knock us on the head, by assisting our enemies with ammunition? He always says, I am your father, and you are my children; and yet he is angry with his children, for taking these goods. But O Corlear! O Assarigoa! we must complain to you; you Corlear are a lord, and govern this country: is it just that our father is going to fight with us for these things, or is it well done? We rejoiced when La Sal was sent over the great water; and when Perot was removed, because they had furnished our enemies with ammunition; but we are disappointed in our hopes, for we find our enemies are still supplied. Is this well done? Yea, he often forbids us to make war on any of the nations with whom he trades; and at the same time furnishes them with all sorts of ammunition, to enable them to destroy us.
"Thus far in answer to the complaint, the Governor of Canada hath made of us to Corlear.
"Corlear said to us, that satisfaction must be made to the French, for the mischief we have done them.
"This he said before he heard our answer. Now let him that hath inspection over all our countries, on whom our eyes are fixed, let him, even Corlear, judge and determine. If you say that it must be paid, we shall pay it, but we cannot live without free beaver-hunting. Corlear, hear what we say; we thank you for the Dukes arms, which you have given us to put in our castles, as a defence to them. You command them. Have you wandered out of the way, as the Governor of Canada says? we do not threaten him with war, as he threatens us. What shall we do? Shall we run away, or shall we sit still in our houses? What shall we do? We speak to him that governs and commands us.
"Now Corlear, and Assarigoa, and all people here present; remember what we have announced to the complaints of the Governor of Canada; yea, we wish that what we here said, may come to his ears."
The following method prevails among the Indians
125in their councils, in order that they may consider with clearness, and reply, as it were paragraph by paragraph, for they are ignorant of letters, or other signs of ideas, or means of recording speeches, propositions or agreements. They commonly repeat over among themselves all that has been said to them, before they return an answer, and one may be surprised at the exactness of their repetitions. They take the following method to assist their memories; the Sachem who presides at these conferences, has a bundle of small sticks in his hand. As soon as the speaker has finished anyone article of his speech, the Sachem gives a stick to another Sachem who is particularly to remember that article; and so when another article is finished he gives a stick to another, and so on. In like manner when the speaker answers, each of these have the particular care of the answer resolved on to each article, and prompts the orator when his memory fails him in the article committed to his charge.
At a Council held in Philadelphia,
Brethren, the Governor and Council, — The other day you informed us of the misbehaviour of our cousins, the Delawares with respect to their continuing to claim, and refusing to remove from, some land on the river Delaware, notwithstanding their ancestors had sold it by deed, under their hands and seals to the Proprietaries for a valuable consideration upwards of fifty years ago, and that notwithstanding that they themselves had also not many years ago, after a long and full examination ratified that deed of their ancestors, and gave a fresh one under their hands and seals; and then you requested us to remove them, enforcing your request with a string of wampum. Afterwards we laid on the table our own letters by Conrad Weiser; some of our cousins' letters, and the several writings to prove the charge against our cousins, with a draft of the land in dispute. We now tell you we have perused all these several papers. We see with our own eyes that they have been a very unruly people, and are altogether in the wrong in their dealings with you.
We have concluded to remove them, and oblige them to go over the river Delaware, and quit all claim to any lands on this side for the future, since they have received pay for them, and it is gone through their guts long ago. To confirm to you that we will see your request executed, we lay down this string of wampum in return for yours.
Then turning to the Delawares, holding a belt of wampum in his hand, he spoke to them as follows: —
Cousins, — Let the belt of wampum serve to chastise you. You ought to be taken by the hair of the head, and shaken severely till you recover your senses and become sober. You don't know what ground you stand on, nor what you are doing. Our brother Onas's
128a dishonest part, not only in this but in other matters; your ears are ever open to slanderous reports about our brethren; you receive them with as much greediness as lewd women receive the embraces of bad men; and for all these reasons we charge you to remove instantly. We don't give you the liberty to think about it. You are women, take the advice of a wise man, and remove immediately. You may remove to the other side of Delaware, where you came from; but we do not know whether, considering how you have demeaned yourselves, you will be permitted to live there, or whether you have not swallowed that land down your throats, as well as the land on this side. We therefore assign you two places, to go either to Wyoman or Shamokin; you may go to either of these prices; and then we shall have you, more under our eye, and shall see how you behave; don't deliberate, but remove away and take the belt of wampum. After our just reproof, and absolute order to depart from the land, you are now to take notice of what we have further to way to you.
This string of wampum serves to forbid you, your children and grand-children to the latest posterity, for ever, meddling in land affairs; neither you nor any who shall descend from you, are ever hereafter to presume to sell any land: for which purpose you are to preserve this string, in memory of what your uncles have this day given you in charge. We have some other business to transact with our brothers; and therefore depart the Council, and consider what has been said to you.
CANASSATIEGO then spoke to the Council:
Brethren, — We called at our old friend, James Logans in our way to the city, and to our grief we found him hid in the bushes, and retired through infirmities from public business; we pressed him to leave his retirement, and prevailed with him to assist once more on our account at your councils. We hope, notwithstanding
129his age and the effects of a fit of sickness, which we understand has hurt his constitution, that he may yet continue a long time to assist the provinces with his counsels. He is a wise man, and a fast friend to the Indians; and we desire when his soul goes to God, you may choose in his room just such another person, of the same prudence and ability in counselling, and of the same tender disposition and affection for the Indians. In testimony of our gratitude for all his services and because he was so good as to leave his country house, and follow us to town, and be at the trouble in this his advanced age to attend the council, we present him with this bundle of skins.
Brethren, — It is always our way at the conclusion of a treaty, to desire you will use your endeavours with the traders, that they may sell their goods cheaper, and give us better price for our deer-skins. Whenever any particular sort of Indian goods is scarce, they constantly make us pay the dearer on that account. We must now use the same argument with them. Our deer are killed in such quantities, and our hunting countries growing less every day, by the settlement of white people, that game is now difficult to find, and we must go a great way in quest of it; they therefore ought to give us a better price for our skins, and we desire you would speak to them to do so. We have been stinted in the article of rum in town, we desire you will open the rum bottle, and give it to us in greater abundance on the road: to enforce this request, we present you a bundle of skins.
Brethren, — When we first came to your houses, we found them clean and in order, but we have staid so long as to dirty them, which is to be imputed to our different way of living from the white people; and therefore as we cannot but have been disagreeable to you on this account, we present you with some skins to make your houses clean, and put them in the same condition they were in when we came amongst you.
Brethren, — The business of the Five Nations is of
130great consequence, and requires a skilful honest person to go between us; one in whom both you and we can place confidence. We esteem our present interpreter to be such a person, equally faithful in the interpretation of whatever is said to him by either of us, equally allied to both: he is of our nation, and a member of our council, as well as of yours.
When we adopted him, we divided him into two equal parts; one we kept for ourselves, and one we left for you. He has had a great deal of trouble with us, wore out his shoes in our messages, and dirtied his clothes by being among us; so that he is become as nasty as an Indian. In return for these services we recommend him to your generosity; and on our own behalf we give him five skins to buy him clothes and shoes.
Brethren, — We have still one favour to ask: our treaty and all we have to say about public business is now over, and to-morrow we design to leave you. We hope as you have given us plenty of good provision whilst in the town, that you will continue your goodness so far, as to supply us on the road. And we like-wise desire you will provide us with waggons to carry our goods to the place where they are to be conveyed by water.
To which the Governor made a suitable reply; observing, amongst other things, that the judgment they had passed on the Delawares, confirms the high opinion ever entertained of the justice of the Six Nations, and for which they were deservedly famed; and concluded by granting their requests, as to supply of provisions and waggons for the road, &c. &c.
At a Council, held at Lancaster, June the 30th, 1744.
Among other things the Governor observed, relative to the possession of certain lands, that such belonged to the great King, the common father, who will do equal justice to all his children. Whereupon on the next
131day, after hearing the Governor, Gachradodow in a strong voice, and with a proper action, spoke as follows: —
Brother Assarargoa, — Though great things are well remembered among us, yet, we don't remember that we were ever conquered by the great King, or that we have been employed by that great King to conquer others: if it was so, it is beyond our memory. We do remember we were employed by Maryland to conquer the Conestogoes, and that the second time we were at war with them, we carried them all off.
Brother Assaragoa, — You charge us with not acting agreeably to our peace with the Catawbas. We will repeat to you truly what was done; the Governor of New-York at Albany in behalf of Assaragoa, gave us several belts of wampum from the Cherokees and Catawbas, and we agreed to a peace, if those nations would send some of their great men to us to confirm it face to face, and that they would trade with us; and desired that they would appoint a time to meet at Albany for that purpose, but they never came.
Brother Assaragoa, — We then desired a letter might be sent to the Catawbas and Cherokees, to desire them to come and confirm the peace. It was long before an answer came, but we met the Cherokees and confirmed the peace, and sent some of our people to take care of them until they returned to their own country. The
132Catawbas refused to come, and sent us word that we were but women, and that they were men, and double men; and that they would make women of us, and would be always at war with us; they are a deceitful people: our brother Assaragoa is deceived by them: we don't blame him for it, but are sorry he is so deceived.
Brother Assaragoa, — We have confirmed the peace with the Cherokees, but not with the Catawbas; they have been treacherous and know it, so that the war must continue till one of us is destroyed; thus we think proper to tell you, that you may not be troubled at what we do to the Catawbas.
Brother Assaragoa, — We will now speak to the point between us. It is always a custom among brethren and strangers to use each other kindly: you have some very ill-natured people living up there, so we desire the persons in power may know that we are to have reasonable victuals when we want.
You know very well when the white people came first here, they were poor; but now they have got lands and are by them become rich, and we are now poor: what little we have had for the land goes soon away, but the land lasts for ever. You told us you had brought with you a chest of goods, and that you have the key in your pockets; but we have never seen the chest, nor the goods that are said to be in it: it may be small and the goods may be few; we want to see them, and are desirous to come to some conclusion. We have been sleeping here these two days past, and have not done any thing to the purpose.
The Commissioners replied they should see the goods on Monday.
GOVERNOR OF PENNSYLVANIA;
COMMISSIONERS FROM VIRGINIA AND MARYLAND;
THE DEPUTIES OF THE SIX NATIONS.
The GOVERNOR spoke as follows: —
Friends and Brethren of the Six Nations, —
At a treaty held with many of the chiefs of your nations two years ago, the road between us was made clearer and wider, our fire was enlarged, and our friendship confirmed, by an exchange of presents.
We think ourselves happy in having been instrumental to your meeting with your brethren of Virginia and Maryland; this has given us an opportunity of seeing you sooner than perhaps we should otherwise have done. As we are under mutual obligation by treaties, we hear with our ears for you, and you hear with your ears for us, we take this opportunity to inform you of what very nearly concerns us both.
The Great King of England and the French King, have declared war against each other; two battles
The engagement at sea was likewise to the advantage of the English. The French and the Spaniards joined their ships together and came out to fight us. The brave English Admiral burned one of their largest
134ships, and many others were so shattered that they were glad to run away in the dark and hide in their own harbour.
I need not put you in mind how much William Penn and his sons have been your friends, and the friends of all the Indians: you have long and often experienced their friendship for you, nor need I repeat to you how kindly you were treated and what valuable presents were made to you two years ago by the Governor, the Council and the Assembly of Pennsylvania: the sons of William Penn are all now in England and have left me in their place, well knowing how much I regard you and all the Indians; as a fresh proof of this I have left my house and am come to renew our treaties, to brighten the covenant chain, and to confirm our friendship with you: in testimony whereof I present you with this belt of wampum. (Which was received with the yo-ha.)
As your nations have engaged themselves by treaty, to assist us, your brethren of Pennsylvania, in case of a war with the French, we do not doubt but you will punctually perform an engagement so solemnly entered into. A war is now declared, and we expect that you will not suffer the French or any of the Indians in alliance with them, to march through your country to disturb any of our settlements, and that you will give us the earliest and best intelligence of any danger that may be formed by them to our disadvantage, as we promise to do of any that may be to yours. To enforce what I have now said in the strongest manner, I present you with this belt of wampum. (Which was received with the yo-ha.)
After a pause, the Governor proceeded: —
Friends and Brethren of the Six Nations, — What I have now said to you is in conformity to treaties subsisting between the province of which I am Governor, and your nations. I now proceed with the consent of
135the Honourable the Commissioners for Virginia and Maryland, to tell you that all differences having been adjusted, and the roads between us and you made quite clear and open. We are ready to confirm our treaties with your nations, and establish a friendship that is not to end, but to last with the world itself; and in behalf of the Province of Pennsylvania, I do, by this fine belt of wampum, and a present of goods, to the value of £300, confirm and establish the said treaty of friendship, union, and peace; you on your parts doing the same. (Received with yo-ha.)
The COMMISSIONERS of Virginia spoke as follows: —
The way between us being made smooth by what passed yesterday, we desire now to confirm all former treaties made between Virginia and you our brethren of the Six Nations: and to make our chain of honour and friendship as bright as the sun, that it may not contract any more rust for ever, that our children's children may rejoice at, and confirm what we have done, and that you and your children may not forget it, we give you one hundred pounds in gold, and this belt of wampum. (Which was received with yo-ha.)
Friends and Brethren, — Although we have been disappointed in our endeavours to bring about a peace between you and the Catawbas, yet we desire to speak to you something more about them; we believe they have been unfaithful to you, and speak of you with a foolish contempt; but this may be only the rashness of some of their young men in this time of war with our common enemies, the French and the Spaniards. It will be the wisest way to be at peace among ourselves; they the Catawbas are also children of the great King, and therefore we desire you will agree, that we may endeavour to make a peace between you and them, and that we may be all united by one chain of friendship. We give you this strong belt of wampum. (Which was received with the yo-ha.)
Brethren, — Our Grand Conrad Wieser, when he is dead, will go into the other world as our fathers have done; our children will then want such a friend to go between them and your children, to reconcile any differences that may happen to arise between them, one that like him may have the ears and tongues of our children and yours.
The way to have such a friend is for you to send three or four of your boys to Virginia, where we have a fine house for them to live in, and a man on purpose to teach the children of you our friends, the religion, language, and customs of the while people. To this place we kindly invite you to send some of your children, and we promise you, they shall have the same care taken of them, and be instructed in the same manner as our own children; and be returned to you again when you please: and to confirm this, we give you this string of wampum. (Which was received with the usual ceremony.)
Then the Commissioners of Maryland expressed their hope, that the chain between them should be kept bright and without any rust, and gave a belt of wampum; which was received with the yo-ha.
CANASSATIEGO in return, spoke as follows:
Brother Onas, Assaragoa, and Tocarry-hogan,
You tell us you beat the French; if so, you must have taken a great deal of rum from them, and can the better spare us some of that liquor, to make us rejoice with you in the victory.
The Governor ordered a dram of rum to be given to each, in a small glass, calling it a French glass.
July 4th, 1744.
Brother Onas, — Yesterday you expressed your satisfaction in having been instrumental to our meeting with our brethren of Virginia and Maryland. We in return assure you that we have great pleasure in this meeting, and thank you for the part you have had in bringing us together, in order to create a good understanding and to clear the road; and in token of our gratitude we present you with this string of wampum. (Which was received with the usual ceremony.)
Brother Onas, — You was pleased yesterday to remind us of our mutual obligation to assist each other in case of a war with the French, and to repeat the substance of what we ought to do by our treaties with you and that as a war had been already entered into with the French, you call upon us to assist you, and not to suffer the French to march through our country to disturb any of your settlements. In answer we assure you we have all these particulars in our hearts: they are fresh in our memory: we shall never forget that you and we have but one heart, one head, one eye, one ear, and one hand; we still have all your country under our eye, and take all the care we can to prevent any enemy from coming into it; and in proof of our care we must inform you that before we came here we told Onandio,
138upon our using our utmost care to see this effectually done; and in token of our sincerity we present you with this belt of wampum.
Brother Onas, — You was pleased yesterday to inform us that war had been declared between the great King of England and the French king; that two great battles had been fought, one by land and the other by sea, with many other particulars. We are glad to hear the arms of the King of England were successful, and take part with you in your joy on this occasion. You then came nearer home, and told us you had left your house and were come this far on behalf of the white people of Pennsylvania, to see us, to renew our treaties, to brighten the covenant-chain, and to confer your friendship with us. We approve this proposition, we thank you for it. We own with pleasure that the covenant-chain between us and Pennsylvania is of old standing, and has never contracted any rust; we wish it may always continue as bright as it has done hitherto, and in token of the sincerity of our wishes we present you with this belt of wampum. (Which was received with the yo-ha.)
After some little time the interpreter said Canassatiego had forgot something material, and desired to mend his speech, and to do so as often as he should omit any thing of moment: and thereupon he added.
The Six Nations have a great authority and influence over sundry tribes of Indians in alliance with the French, and particularly over the praying Indians, formerly a part with ourselves, who stand in the very gates of the French; and to shew our further care we have engaged these very Indians, and other Indian allies of the French for you; they will not join the French against you; they have agreed with us before we set out; we have put the spirit of antipathy against the French in those people; our interest is very considerable with them and many other nations, and as far as ever it extends we shall use it for your service.
The governor said Canassatiego did well to mend
139his speech; he might always do it whenever his memory should fail him in any point of consequence, and he thanked him for the very agreeable addition.
Brother Assaragoa, — You told us yesterday that all disputes with you now being at an end, you desired to confirm all former treaties between Virginia and us, and to make our chain of union as bright as the sun; we agree very heartily with you in these propositions; we thank you for your good inclinations. We desire you will pay no regard to any idle stories that may be told to our prejudice; and as the dispute about the land is now entirely over, and we perfectly reconciled, we hope for the future we shall not act towards each other but as becomes brethren and hearty friends. We are very willing to renew the friendship with you, and to make it as fair as possible for us and our children with you and your children to the last generation. And we desire you will imprint these engagements on your hearts in the strongest manner; and in confirmation, that we shall do the same, we give you this belt of wampum. (Which was received with the yo-ha from the interpreter and all the nations.)
Brother Assaragoa, — You did let us know yesterday that though you had been disappointed in your endeavours to bring about a peace between us and the Catawbas, yet you would still do the best to bring such a thing about; we are well pleased with your design, and the more so as we heard that you knew what sort of people the Catawbas are, that they are spiteful and offensive, and have treated us contemptuously; we are glad you know these things of the Catawbas: we believe what you say to be true, that there are, notwithstanding, some among them who are wiser and better; and as you say they are your brethren and belong to the great King over the water, we shall not be against a peace on reasonable terms, provided they will come to the northward to treat about it. In confirmation of what we say, and to encourage you in your undertaking, we give you this string of wampum. (Which was received with the usual ceremonies.)
Brother Assaragoa, — You told us likewise you had a great house provided for the education of youth, and that there were several white people and Indian children there to learn languages and to write and read, and invited us to send some of our children amongst you. We must let you know we love our children too well to send them so great a way, and the Indians are not inclined to give their children learning; we allow it to be good, and we thank you for your invitation, but your customs differing from ours you will be so good as to excuse us. We hope Tarachwagon (Connard Wieser the interpreter,) will be preserved by the Good Spirit to a good old age; when he is gone under ground it will be then time enough to look out for another; and no doubt but among so many thousands as there are in the world, one such man may be found, who will serve both parties with the same fidelity as Tarachwagon does; while he lives there is no room to complain. In token of our thankfulness for your invitation we give you this string of wampum. (Which was received with the usual ceremony.)
Brother Tocarry-Hogan, — You told us yesterday that since there was nothing in controversy between us, and the affair of the land was settled to your satisfaction, you would now brighten the chain of friendship which hath subsisted between you and us ever since we became brothers. We are well pleased with the proposition, and we thank you for it; we also are inclined to renew all treaties and keep a good correspondence with you. You told us farther if ever we shall perceive the chain had contracted any rust, to let you know, and you would take care to take the rust out, and preserve it bright. We agree with you in this, and shall on our parts do every thing to preserve a good understanding, and to live in the same friendship with you as with our brother Onas and Assaragoa; in confirmation whereof we give you this belt of wampum. (On which the usual cry of yo-ha was given.)
Brethren, — We have now finished our answer
141what you said to us yesterday, and shall now proceed to Indian affairs, that are not of so general a concern.
Brother Assaragoa, — There lives a nation of Indians on the other side of your country, the Tuscaroras, who are our friends, and with whom we hold correspondence; but the road between us and them has been stopped for some time on account of the misbehaviour of some of our warriors. We have opened a new road for our warriors, and they shall keep to that; but as that would be inconvenient for messengers going to the Tuscaroras, we desire they may go the old road. We frequently send messengers to one another, and we shall have more occasion to do so now that we have concluded a peace with the Cherokees; to enforce our request we give you this string of wampum.
Brother Assaragoa, — Among these Tuscaroras there live a few families of the Coney Indians, who are desirous to leave them, and remove to the rest of their nation among us, and the straight road from thence to us lies through the middle of your country; we desire you will give them a free passage through Virginia, and furnish them with passes; and to enforce our request we give you this string of wampum. (Received with the usual yo-ha.)
Brothers Onas, Assaragoa, and Tocarry-hogan. — At the close of your respective speeches yesterday, you made us very handsome presents, and we should return you something suitable to your generosity; but, alas! we are poor, and shall ever remain so as long as there are so many Indian traders among us; them and the white people both have eat up all the grass and make deer scarce. However, we have provided a small present for you, and though some of you gave us more than others, yet as you are all equally our brethren, we shall leave it to you to divide it as you please. (And then presented three bundles of skins, which was received with the usual ceremony from the three governments.)
We have one thing further to say, and that is we
142heartily recommend union and a good agreement between you our brethren; never disagree, but preserve a strict friendship for one another, and thereby you, as well as we, will become the stronger. Our wise fore-fathers established union and amity between the Five Nations; this has made us formidable, this has given us great weight and authority with our neighbouring nations. We are a powerful confederacy; and by your observing the same methods our wise fore-fathers have taken, you will acquire fresh strength and power; and, therefore, what ever befalls you, never fall out one with the other.
The GOVERNOR replied,
We return you thanks for the many proofs of your zeal and for the English, and for your having so early engaged in a neutrality the several tribes of Indians in the French alliance. As to your presents we estimate them, not for their real worth but by the disposition of the giver, and put a high value on them. We are obliged by your recommending peace and good agreement among ourselves. We are all, as well as you, subjects of the great King beyond the water, and we will always be inclined to live in friendship, as it is our interest and duty.
Then the commissioners from Virginia presented the three hundred pounds in gold, which was received with yo-ha; and promised the Coney Indians should have passes to the northward. The commissioners from Maryland presented three hundred pounds in gold, which was likewise received with yo-ha.
We mentioned to you yesterday the booty you had taken from the French, and asked you for some of the rum, which we supposed to be part of it, and you gave us some; but it turned out unfortunately that you gave
143it in French glasses; we now desire you will give us some in English glasses.
The GOVERNOR made answer,
We are glad to hear you have such a dislike for what is French; they cheat you in your glasses as well as in every thing else; you must consider we are at a distance from Williamsburgh, Arnocopolis, and Philadelphia, where our rum stores are; and although we brought a good quantity, you have almost drank it all out: but we have enough left to fill our English glasses, and will shew the difference between the narrow ways of the French and the generosity of your brethren the English towards you. The Indians gave in their order five yo-hahs; and the Governor, calling for rum, drank health to the great King of England and the Six Nations, and put an end to the treaty by three loud huzzas.
The commissioners of Virginia gave Canassatiego a scarlet camblet coat, and took leave in form; those of Maryland presented Gachradodow with a broad goldlaced hat, and took leave in like manner.
Plan for the Melioration and Civilization of the British North American Indians.
To His Excellency Lieut. General, the Earl of Dalhousie, G. C. B. Governor General, &c. &c. &c. of all His Majesty's possessions in North America.
YOUR Lordship having allowed me the honour of dedicating to you my "Sketches of the History, Manners, and Customs of the North American Indians," in which a plan for the civilization and melioration of these Aborigines was intended to have been inserted, but which, from circumstances caused by my being so far removed from the printer, has been omitted, I am induced to submit the following suggestions to your Lordship's consideration; assured that by so doing, I shall adapt the best and most proper method of promoting the object which I am most anxious to accomplish, and which I am happy to find has become a subject of general interest.
I avail myself of this opportunity to disclaim all intention of expressing any sentiment hostile to education in general — a charge to which I may perhaps be liable through misapprehension of my observations, under the head of "Hints to Missionaries."
146present disseminated in civilized society, which I do not think adapted to the Savage state. A literary education I do not deem essential for some generations. Instruction by sensible signs, the active exercise of the mind and body, I consider indispensible. To bind down a child under the dread of punishment six hours a day, his limbs in a state of irksome inactivity, that he may commit to memory words, the utility of which he cannot comprehend, is galling to the child of Civilization: but to the child of the forest, it would be the height of barbarity.
The transition of nations from one state of society to another must be a work of time; and if we do not keep this in view, with reference to the rising generation, all our efforts will inevitably fail. I have already observed,
Two modes present themselves for consideration: — the one to be effected under the superintendance of his Majesty's Government, the other to be directed by a Society under the immediate patronage of the King, and subject to the controul of his Majesty's Secretary of State for the Colonies.
The first appears the more efficient; and having been in part acted upon under the superintendence of officers long connected with the Indians, and consequently acquainted with their character; the setting of whom aside might excite their hostility, and convey an indirect censure upon the heads of the Indian department in Canada, which would neither be just nor prudent.
It must nevertheless be admitted that nothing effective has yet been done to improve the hitherto neglected
147situation of the native proprietors of the soil of this vast continent; and though his Majesty's Government have liberally granted all that was deemed necessary to their wants, impartial observers have been led to question the wisdom of the measures hitherto pursued, and all agree that, notwithstanding such avowed protection and expenditure, the Indians are yearly deteriorating and diminishing; so that only a wretched remnant exists to share the benefits of such benevolence and protection as may be extended to them by our gracious Sovereign, whose humane intentions, not only his Majesty's ministers but the British public are disposed to second.
To attempt to engraft on the present system any efficient plan would, it is feared, greatly retard, if not render useless, the measures deemed essential; and it is all important to convince the Indians that measures totally different from the present are to be pursued, and this under the immediate patronage of their great Father on the other side the salt lake.
To effect this purpose, it is essential the whole system of presents, as now administered, should be abandoned as soon as practicable; but it would at the same time be truly desirable to retain such experienced officers as were disposed to transfer their services from the present to the proposed establishment.
Looking at the efficiency of every benevolent institution under the superintendance of those humane characters that abound in his Majesty's dominions, I venture to suggest the forming of a chartered society, under the patronage of the King, to be styled "The Royal British Society for the Preservation of the remaining Aborigines of British North America, and for the Melioration of their state and condition."
This society would, I feel confident, be honoured the countenance and protection of the Royal family; the great offices of the state, the dignitaries of the church, the nobility, governor, and officers of the Crown in his Majesty's North American possessions, and of the people of the empire at large.
That to such Royal Society should be committed the funds now appropriated to the use of the Indians, and also such sums as might be contributed by those illustrious and humane individuals who are disposed to protect and cherish the perishing remnant of those forlorn but noble specimens of human nature.
That the paternal feelings of his Majesty should be moved to grant to the said Society that portion or tract of country (which did belong to the Indians) comprised within the line of the 44th degree of north latitude, and the lakes Huron and Simcoe, to be set apart as a Royal Asylum for the Indians of North America, and for their sole and separate accommodation for ever; within the limits of which no white man should reside, nor be permitted to remain without the authority hereinafter mentioned.
This situation embraces in a super-eminent degree all the advantages essential to such an experiment as is proposed; it contains nearly four millions of acres, surrounded with lakes abounding with fish, and leading to the great hunting districts; possesses a soil and climate rich and salubrious; is near the seat of government; and within the reach of that humane investigation so essential to faithfulness in superintendents.
That those tribes who might resort to, and be admitted into this Royal Asylum should be represented by one or more chiefs of their tribes according to the number of the tribe: which chiefs should form a council, who should decide all matters relating to the carrying into effect the measures deemed necessary and proper for the good government of the establishment.
That the Society, when formed, should recommend for his Majesty's approval a suitable person to fill office of his Majesty's high commissioner, who should preside over the execution of all measures relating to the affairs of the Royal Asylum, and the sanction of this officer should be indispensible in the following cases, viz.
First. The admission of Indians or tribes into the Asylum.
Secondly. The removal of any therefrom.
Thirdly. The removal of any person from lands upon which he had entered with the approbation of the council, and upon which he had made any useful improvements.
That the Asylum should be a place of refuge for all Indians, within which no blood should be shed for any offence, without a fair, impartial, and public trial, sanctioned by the council of chiefs; and that no adjudication in any matter of life or banishment should be carried into effect unless sanctioned under the hand and seal of his Majesty's high commissioner.
That regular courts of session should be established, as soon as practicable, to be held by his Majesty's high commissioner and the council of Indians, at stated times, at least twice a year.
That reports of all proceedings should be annually laid before his Majesty, the Parliament of Great Britain, and of Canada; and also, from time to time, before the Society, as they should please to order.
That in all cases the council should consist of men of wisdom and humanity, and of characters calculated to improve the state of the remaining Aborigines: and no member of the council should be removed except by the order of the directors of the Society.
That no instructor of any kind should be introduced into the Asylum, unless sanctioned by the council and his Majesty's high commissioner.
That the Indians on the Grand river and the Mohawk townships near Kingston and others, should be treated with to accept of lands in the Royal Asylum in exchange for those they now occupy.
That in all such places as the council and his Majesty's high commissioner should approve, dwellings should be erected, saw and grist mills built, and that roads should be opened through the Asylum to lakes Huron and Simcoe.
That houses should be built, grounds cleared, and seed furnished for such persons, and in such allotments, as the
150chiefs should approve, but invariably as the reward of good conduct.
That the pastoral life should be earnestly promoted as best adapted to wean the hunter from his course.
That no Indian, to whom location should be assigned, should be permitted to absent himself from his family on hunting expeditions during the summer season without the consent of the council; and that a faithful account of the result of such expeditions should be given by every hunter on his return, so as to keep up a constant feeling of regard for his wife and children, and a sense of accountability to the chiefs; as also of the advantages he and his family would derive from a fixed residence in the Asylum.
That, connected with a school, there should always be associated a smith's forge, a wheelwright's, and carpenter's shop, and facilities for such other trades as may appear essential; to which should be added a school of music, wherein should be taught such simple wind, and other instruments as are most attractive; this instruction to be the reward of industry and obedience in those Indians who should acquire a knowledge of any of the approved trades.
That with these establishments female schools should also be connected; at which cutting out and making clothes, mockasins, dressing of leather, as used by the Indians, and platting of straw should be taught; instruction in singing to be the reward of good behaviour, and form a regular part of the daily exercise.
As it is intended that no workman should be employed by the society but married men of strict moral habits,
It is above all things necessary to lead the Indians to a sense of christianty: but the hope of success herein must be founded upon a judicious line of conduct, by directing the chief efforts of the instructors to prepare the minds of the young for a favourable disposition towards christianity; by exhibiting to them a merciful, kind, and humane course of proceeding by persuasion alone; by manifesting, in the conduct of all who may be employed by the Society, a truly christian and affectionate disposition: by doing good to their bodies, bearing with their prejudices, turning them to a just course of reflection, and by kindness and humanity, as it were, to win them to regard with affection that religion which we profess. Having, in my work on the Indian character, more fully explained this part of my plan, (Page 113) I do not deem it necessary to dwell upon it here; but lest I should be charged, as Mr. Owen has been, with viewing the Christian religion as a matter of indifference, I beg leave distinctly to state, that without having in view the making them acquainted with the divine character and atonement of the Lord Jesus; with that accountability, which all must render, for the deeds done in the body; with that all-seeing Providence, which rules and controuls all things; and the instructing of them in the performance of all the duties of life, in accordance with the Holy Scriptures; I would not look,
152with that confidence that I do, for the blessings of the Lords upon the undertaking; but all these divine principles should arise from persuasion, and be adopted from choice; should be exhibited to the Indians more by example than by precept; and should be laid before them in proportion as they may be able to bear or comprehend them; carefully avoiding the zeal of the Jesuit Dobrizhoffer; who viewed civilization as completed, when an Indian consented to be baptised; as well as the other extreme of these who regard religion as a mere political system, not only overlooking, but disregarding the blessed effects of the Holy Spirit on the heart, and the precepts of the Lord and Saviour on the life and conduct. Deeply impressed with the immense importance of the subject, I submit the preceding suggestions to your Lordship's consideration, with a hope and confidence, that to the many great and benevolent acts which have already distinguished the happy reign of our present gracious Sovereign, will be added the glory of rescuing from impending extermination the Aborigines of his Majesty's vast possessions in America. My solicitude is awfully increased, as the time is fast approaching, when, in the opinion of men best acquainted with the present state of the Indian population, this achievement, so congenial to the feelings of his Majesty and to that exalted benevolence which pervades the British empire, will be for ever lost; while the mournful reflection, that the prosperity of the British nation has been increased by the possessions of those forlorn children of the forest, whose wrongs and sufferings we have so long disregarded and neglected, will alone remain.
I have the honour to remain
Your Lordship's obedient humble Servant,
New York, November 1, 1824.
Extract from Jefferson's Notes on Virginia.
The following extract from "Jefferson's notes on the State of Virginia" having with other interesting matter been omitted in the London Edition, I avail myself of the opportunity afforded by the publication of the work in this City, to add the testimony of that eminent Statesman, to those already adduced in proof of the capacity of the Indians; and as the most conducive evidence in favour of the experiment I have recommended, I feel truly fortunate in being able also, to introduce herein an extract from President Monroe's Message, delivered to Congress now assembled (December 1824) — supported therefore by the concurring testimony of such eminent characters as Governor Clinton, President Monroe, and Ex-President Jefferson, whose stations have afforded the best means of forming a correct judgment as to the Indians, I am cheered with the hope that the objections of interested individuals to any attempt being made in accordance with the plan suggested would be outweighed by such authority.
"Of their bravery and address in War we have multiplied proofs, because we have been the subjects on which they were exercised. Of their eminence in oratory, we have fewer examples, because it is displayed chiefly in their own Councils. Some we have, however, of very superior lustre.
I may challenge the whole orations of Demosthenes and Cicero, and of any more eminent orator, (if Europe has furnished more eminent,) to produce a single passage superior to the speech of Logan, a Mingo Chief, to Lord Dunmore, when Governor of this state;
In the Spring of the year 1774, a robbery was committed by some Indians on certain Land Adventurers on the river Ohio. The whites in that quarter, according to their custom, undertook to punish this outrage
154in a summary way. Captain Michael Cresap, and a certain Daniel Greathouse, leading on these parties, surprised at different times, travelling and hunting parties of the Indians, having their Women and Children with them, murdered many. Among these, were unfortunately the family of Logan; a Chief, celebrated in peace and war, and long distinguished as the friend of the whites. This unworthy return provoked his vengeance. He accordingly signalized himself in the war which ensued. In the Autumn of the same year, a decisive battle was fought at the mouth of the great Kanhaway, between the collected forces of the Shawanese, Mingoes and Delawares, and a detachment of the Virginia Militia. The Indians were defeated and sued for peace.
Logan however disdained to be seen among the suppliants. But least the sincerity of a Treaty should be disturbed from which so distinguished a Chief absented himself, he sent by a messenger the following speech, to be delivered to Lord Dunmore.
"I appeal to any white man to say, if ever he entered Logan's Cabin hungry, and he gave him not meat: if ever he came cold and naked, and he clothed him not. During the course of the last long and bloody war, Logan remained idle in his cabin, an advocate for peace. Such was my love for the whites, that my countrymen pointed as they passed and said, "Logan is the friend of the White Men." I had even thought to have lived with you but for the injuries of one man, COLONEL CRESAP, the last Spring in cold blood and unprovoked, murdered all the relations of Logan, not even sparing my Women and Children. THERE RUNS NOT A DROP OF MY BLOOD IN THE VEINS OF ANY LIVING CREATURE.
This called on me for revenge, I have sought it: I have killed many. I have glutted my vengeance: for my country I rejoice at the beams of peace.
But do not harbour a thought that mine is the JOY OF FEAR. Logan never felt fear. He will not turn on his heel to save his life. Who is there to mourn for Logan? Not one!!"
"Our relations with the Indian tribes, within our limits, have not been materially changed during the year. The hostile disposition evinced by certain tribes, on the Missouri, during the last year, still continues, and has extended, in some degree, to those on the upper Mississippi, and the upper Lakes. Several parties of our citizens have been plundered and murdered, by those tribes. In order to establish relations of friendship with them, Congress at the last session made an appropriation for treaties with them, and for the employment of a suitable military escort to accompany and attend the Commissioners at the places appointed for the negotiations. This object has not been effected. The season was too far advanced when the appropriation was made, and the distance too great to permit: but measures have been taken, and all the preparations will be completed, to accomplish it at on early period in the next season.
"Believing that the hostility of the tribes, particularly on the upper Mississippi and the Lakes, is in no small degree, owing to the wars which are carried on between the tribes residing in that quarter, measures have been taken to bring about a general peace among them, which, if successful, will not only tend to the security of our citizens, but be of great advantage to the Indians themselves. With the exception of the tribes referred to, our relations with all the others are on the most friendly footing; and it affords me great satisfaction to add, that they are making steady advances in civilization, and the improvement of their condition. Many of the tribes have already made great progress in the arts of civilized life. This desirable result has been brought about by the humane and persevering policy of the government, and particularly by means of the appropriation for the civilization of the Indians. There have been established, under the provisions of this act, thirty-two schools, containing nine hundred and sixteen scholars, who are well instructed in several branches of literature, and likewise in agriculture and the ordinary arts of life.
The condition of the Aborigines within our limits, and especially those who are within the limits of any of the states, merits likewise particular attention. Experience has shown, that unless the tribes be civilized, they can never be incorporated into our system, in any form whatever. It has likewise shewn, that in the regular augmentation of our population, with the extension of our settlements, their situation will become deplorable, if their extinction is not menaced. Some well digested plan, which will rescue them from such calamities, is due to their rights, to the rights of humanity, and to the honour of the nation. Their civilization is indispensable to their safety, and this can be accomplished only by degrees. The process must commence with the infant state, through whom some effect may be wrought on the parental. Difficulties of the most serious character present themselves to the attainment of this very desirable result, on the territory on which they now reside. To remove them from it by force, even with a view to their own security and happiness, would be revolting to humanity, and utterly unjustifiable. Between the limits of our present States and Territories, and the Rocky Mountain, and Mexico, there is a vast Territory to which they might be invited, with inducements which might be successful. It is thought, if that Territory should be divided into districts, by previous agreement with the tribes now residing there, and civil governments be established in each, with schools for every branch of instruction in literature, and in the arts of civilized life, that all the tribes now within our limits might gradually be drawn there. The execution of this plan would necessarily be attended with expense, and that not inconsiderable, but it is doubted whether any other can be devised which would be less liable to that objection, or more likely to succeed.
"Au reste si l'on demande d'ou sont venus les Americains, il faut aussi demander d'ou sont venus les habitants des terres Australes; et l'on a deja repondu que la providence qui a mis des hommes dans le Norvege, en a plante aussi en Amerique et sous le cercle polaire meridional, comme elle y a plante des arbres et fait croitre de l'herbe." Ibid. p. 10.
"Se peut-il qu'on demande encore d'ou sont venus les hommes qui ont peuple l'Amerique? On doit assurement faire la meme question sur les nations des Terres Australes. Elles sont beaucoup plus eloignees du port dont partit Christophe Colomb, que ne le sont les iles Antilles. On a trouve des hommes et des animaux partout ou la terre est habitable; qui les y a mis? On a deja dit; C'est celui qui fait croitre l'herbe des champs: et on ne devait pas etre plus surpris de trouver en Amerique des hommes que des mouches." Ib. p. 37.
How much pains did this extraordinary man take to degrade that nature of which he was at once the ornament and the shame! No one can read the writings of Voltaire, without a feeling of admiration at the wonderful versatility of his talents. No one can help being amused, and having his mind drawn along, by the powers of his excursive fancy. But with all this, there is, to every serious and sensitive mind, a feeling of disgust and shrinking abhorrence. By associating ludicrous images with subjects which have been hallowed by the veneration of ages, he has the address to impart to them that ridicule which properly belongs only to the company in which he has placed them. Hence, his writings have done more injury to truth, and to human happiness, than those of any other modern — perhaps I may add, of any other being. The thoughtless and the timid have been frightened out of their good principles by his caustic sarcasm, while to the rashly bold and ignorantly daring, the eyes of the judgment have been blinded by the coruscations of his wit.
The mad inhabitants of Egypt bend?
— 'Tis dangerous here
To violate an onion, or to stain
The sanctity of leeks, with tooth profane.
O holy nations? Sacro-sanct abodes!
Where every garden propagates its gods! — GIFFORD.
"On campe longtems avant le soleil couche, et pour l'ordinaire on laisse devant le camp un grand espace environne d'une palissade ou plutot d'une espece de treillis, sur lequel on place les Manitous tournes du cote, ou l'on veut aller. On les y invoque pendant une heure, et on en fait autant tous les matins, avant que de decamper. Apres cela on croil n'avoir rien a craindre, on suppose que les esprils se chargent de faire seules la sentinelle, et toule l'armee dort tranquillement sous Icur sauve-garde." Ibid, p. 236.
Lives long upon the mind: The faithful sight
Engraves the image with a beam of light.
"Un ancien Missionaire (le pere Claude Allouez, jesuite) qui a beaucoup vecu avec les Outaouais a ecrit que, parmi ces sauvages, un viellard fait l'office de pretre dans les feslins, dont je viens de parler; qu'il commence par remercier les esprits du succes de la chasse; qu'ensuite un autre prend un pain de petun, le rompt en deux, et le jette dans le feu." Ibid, p. 350.
Inspeni, to give in general.
Insuani, to give to many.
Inscuni, to give to one person, Basalenque's Grammar, p. 44.