Legends, Traditions, and Laws of the Iroquois, or Six Nations, and History of the Tuscarora Indians
and youth, with imperfect ideas. I have read many of the Histories, and
have longed to see refuted the slanders, and blot out the dark pictures
which the historians have wont to spread abroad concerning us. May I live
to see the day when it may be done, for most deeply have I learned to
blush for my people.
I thought, at first, of only giving a series of Indian Biographies, but
without some knowledge of the government and religion of the Iroquois,
the character of the Indians could not be understood or appreciated.
I enter upon the task with much distrust. It is a difficult task at all
times to speak and to write in foreign language, and I fear I shall not
succeed to the satisfaction of myself, or to my readers.
My title will not be so attractive to the American ears, as if it related
to any other unknown people. A tour in Arabia, or Spain, or in India, or
some other foreign country, with far less important and interesting
material, would secure a greater number of readers, as we are always more
curious about things afar off.
I might have covered many pages with "Indian Atrocities," but these have
been detailed in other histories, till they are familiar to every ear,
and I had neither room nor inclination for even a glance at war and its
To animate a kinder feeling between the white people and the Indians,
established by a truer knowledge of our civil and domestic life, and of
our capabilities for future elevation, is the motive for which this work
The present Tuscarora Indians, the once powerful and gifted nation, after
their expulsion from the South, came North, and were initiated in the
confederacy of the Iroquois, and who formerly held under their
jurisdiction the largest portion of the Eastern States, now dwell within
your bounds, as dependent nations, subject to the guardianship and
supervision of a people who displaced their forefathers. Our numbers, the
circumstances of our past history and present condition, and more
especially the relation in which we stand to the people of the State,
suggest many important questions concerning our future destiny.
Being born to an inauspicious fate, which makes us the _inheritors of
many wrongs_, we have been unable, of ourselves, to escape from the
complicated difficulties which accelerate our decline. To make worse
these adverse influences, the public estimation of the Indian, resting,
as it does, upon the imperfect knowledge of their character, and infused,
as it ever has been, with the prejudice, is universally unjust.
The time has come in which it is no more than right to cast away all
ancient antipathies, all inherited opinions, and to take a nearer view of
our social life, condition and wants, and to learn anew your duty
concerning the Indians. Nevertheless, the embarrassments that have
obstructed our progress, in the obscurity which we have lived, and the