Betty Zane HTML version

Chapter 9
Yantwaia, or, as he was more commonly called, Cornplanter, was originally a Seneca
chief, but when the five war tribes consolidated, forming the historical "Five Nations," he
became their leader. An old historian said of this renowned chieftain: "Tradition says
that the blood of a famous white man coursed through the veins of Cornplanter. The
tribe he led was originally ruled by an Indian queen of singular power and beauty. She
was born to govern her people by the force of her character. Many a great chief
importuned her to become his wife, but she preferred to cling to her power and dignity.
When this white man, then a very young man, came to the Ohio valley the queen fell in
love with him, and Cornplanter was their son."
Cornplanter lived to a great age. He was a wise counsellor, a great leader, and he died
when he was one hundred years old, having had more conceded to him by the white
men than any other chieftain. General Washington wrote of him: "The merits of
Cornplanter and his friendship for the United States are well known and shall not be
But Cornplanter had not always been a friend to the palefaces. During Dunmore's war
and for years after, he was one of the most vindictive of the savage leaders against the
invading pioneers.
It was during this period of Cornplanter's activity against the whites that Isaac Zane had
the misfortune to fall into the great chief's power.
We remember Isaac last when, lost in the woods, weak from hunger and exposure, he
had crawled into a thicket and had gone to sleep. He was awakened by a dog licking his
face. He heard Indian voices. He got up and ran as fast as he could, but exhausted as
he was he proved no match for his pursuers. They came up with him and seeing that he
was unable to defend himself they grasped him by the arms and fled him down a well-
worn bridle-path.
"D--n poor run. No good legs," said one of his captors, and at this the other two Indians
laughed. Then they whooped and yelled, at which signal other Indians joined them.
Isaac saw that they were leading him into a large encampment. He asked the big
savage who led him what camp it was, and learned that he had fallen into the hands of
While being marched through the large Indian village Isaac saw unmistakable
indications of war. There was a busy hum on all sides; the squaws were preparing large
quantities of buffalo meat, cutting it in long, thin strips, and were parching corn in stone
vessels. The braves were cleaning rifles, sharpening tomahawks, and mixing war
paints. All these things Isaac knew to be preparations for long marches and for battle.
That night he heard speech after speech in the lodge next to the one in which he lay,