Legends, Traditions, and Laws of the Iroquois, or Six Nations, and History of the Tuscarora Indians by Elias Johnson - HTML preview
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CUSTOMS AND INDIVIDUAL TRAITS OF CHARACTER.
The more you read, and the better you understand Indian history, the more you wil be impressed with the injustice which has been done the Iroquois, not only in dispossessing them of their inheritance, but in the estimation which has been made of their character. They have been represented, as seen in the transition state, the most unfavorable possible for judging correctly. In the chapter of National Traits of Character, I have in two or three instances quoted Washington Irving and might again al ow his opinions to relieve my own from the charge of partiality. He says, in speaking of this same subject, that "the current opinion of Indian character is too apt to be formed from the miserable hordes which infest the frontiers, and hang on the shirts of settlements.
These are too commonly composed of degenerate beings, corrupted and enfeebled by the voice of society, without being benefited by its civilization."
"The proud independence which formed the main pillar of motive virtue has been spoken down, and the whole moral fabric lies in ruins. The spirits are humiliated and debased by a sense of inferiority, and their native courage cowed and daunted by the superior knowledge and power of their enlightened neighbors. Society has advanced upon them like one of a those withering airs that wil sometimes breed desolation over a whole region of fertility. It has enervated their strength, multiplied their diseases, and superinduced upon their original barbarity the law-vices of artificial life. It has given them a thousand superfluous wants, while it has diminished their means of mere existence. It has driven before it the animals of the chase, who fly from the sound of the axe and the smoke of the settlement and seek refuge in the depths of remote forests, and yet untrodden wilds. Thus do we often find the Indians in the frontiers to be mere wrecks and remnants of once powerful tribes, who have lingered in the vicinity of settlements, and sunk into precarious and vagabond existence. Poverty, repining and hopeless poverty--a canker on the mind before unknown to them--corrodes their spirits and blights every free and noble qualities of their nature. They loiter like vagrants about the settlements among spacious dwel ings, replete with elaborate comforts, which only renders them more sensible of the comparative wretchedness of their own condition. Luxury spreads its ample board before their eyes, but they are excluded from the banquet; plenty revels over the fields, but they are starving in the midst of abundance. The whole wilderness blossomed into a garden, but they feel as reptiles that infest them. How different was their state while undisputed lords of the soil? Their wants were few, and the means of gratification within their reach, they saw every one among them sharing the same lot, enduring the same hardships, feeding on the same aliments, arrayed in the same rude garment. No roof then rose under whose sheltering wings, that was not ever open to the homeless stranger, no smoke curled among the trees, but he was welcome to sit down by its fire and join the hunter in his repast."
In discussing Indian character, writers have been too prone to indulge in vulgar prejudice and passionate exaggeration, instead of the candid temper of the true philosopher. They have not sufficiently considered the peculiar circumstance in which the Indians have been placed, and the peculiar principles under which they having been educated. No being acts more rigidly from rule than the Indians, his whole conduct is regulated according to some general maxims early implanted in his mind. The moral laws which govern him are few, but he conforms to them all. The white man abounds in laws and religion, morals, and manners, but how many of them does he violate. In their intercourse with the Indians the white people were continual y trampling upon their religion and their sacred rights.
They were expected to look merely on while the graves of their fathers were robbed of their treasures, and the bones of their fathers were left to bleach upon the fields. And when exasperated by the brutality of their conquerors, and driven to deeds of vengence, there was very little appreciation of the motives which influenced them, and no attempt was made to pal iate their cruelties.
It was their custom to bury the dead with their best clothing, and the various implements they had been in the habit of using whilst living. If it was a warrior that they were preparing for burial, they placed his tomahawk by his side and his knife in his shield; with the hunter, his bow and arrows and implements for cooking his food; with the woman, their kettles and cooking apparatus and also food for al . Tobacco was deposited in every grave; for to smoke was an Indian's idea of felicity in the body and out of it, and in this there was not so much difference as one might wish, between them and gentlemen of a paler hue.
Among the Iroquois, and many other Indian nations, it was the custom to place the dead upon scaffolds, built for the purpose, from tree to tree, or within a temporary inclosure, and underneath a fire was kept burning for several days.
They had known instances of persons reviving after they were supposed to be dead, and this led to the conclusion that the spirit sometimes returned to animate the body after it had once fled. If there was no signs of life for ten days, the fire was extinguished and the body left unmolested until decomposition had begun to take place, when the remains were buried, or, as was often the case, kept in the lodge for many years.
If they were obliged to desert the settlement where they had long resided, these skeletons were collected from al the families and buried in one common grave, with the same ceremonies as when a single individual was interred.
They did not suppose the spirit was instantaneously transferred from earth to Heaven, but that it wandered in aerial region for many moons. In later days they only al owed ten days for its flight. Their period for mourning continued only whilst the spirit is wandering, as soon as they believe it has entered Heaven they commenced rejoicing, saying, there is no longer cause for sorrow, because it is now where happiness dwel s forever. Sometimes a piteous wailing was kept up every night for a long time, but it was only their bereavement that they bewailed, as they did not fear about the fate of those who died. Not until they had heard of Purgatory from the Jesuits, or endless woe from Protestants, did they look upon death with terror, or life as anything but a blessing.
They were sometimes in the habit of addressing the dead, as if they could hear. The following are the words of a mother as she bends over her only son to look for the last time upon his beloved face: "My son, listen once more to the words of thy mother. Thou wast brought into life with her pains, thou wast nourished with her life. She has attempted to be faithful in raising you up. When you were young she loved you as her life. Thy presence has been a source of great joy to her. Upon thee she depended for support and comfort in her declining days. But thou hast outstripped her and gone before. Our wise and great Creator has ordered it thus. By his wil , I am left yet, to taste more of the miseries of this world. Thy relations and friends have gathered about thy body to look upon thee for the last time. They mourn, as with one mind, thy departure from among us. We, too, have but a few days more and our journey will be ended. We part now, and you are conveyed out of our sight. But we shal soon meet again, and shall look upon each other, then we shal part no more. Our Maker has called thee home, and thither wil we follow."
After the adoption of the league of the Iroquois, and they dwel ed in vil ages, this was one of the duties enjoined by their religious teacher at their festivals: "It is the wil of the Great Spirit that you reverence the aged, even though they be helpless as infants." And also,
"Kindness to the orphan, and hospitality to all." "If you tie up the clothes of an orphan child, the Great Spirit will notice it, and reward you for it." "To adopt an orphan, and bring them up in virtuous ways, is pleasing to the Great Spirit." "If strangers wander about your abode, welcome him to your home, be hospitable towards him, speak to him with kind words, and forget not, always to make mention of the Great Spirit."
The Indians lamentations, on being driven far away from the graves of their fathers, have been the theme of all historians and travelers. It can be easily imagined how those who so loved their homes and revered their fathers' graves, would become fierce with indignation and rage, on seeing themselves treated as without human feeling, and the sacred relics of the dead ploughed up and scattered as indifferently as the stones, or the bones of the moose and the deer of the forest. It was this feeling that often prompted them to acts of hostility, which those who experienced them, ascribed to wanton cruelty and barbarity.
In many of the vil ages there was a strangers home, a house, for strangers where they were placed, while the old men went about col ecting skins for them to sleep upon, and food for them to eat, expecting no reward.
They cal ed it very rude for them to stare at them as they passed in the streets, and said that they had as much curiosity as the white people, but they did not gratify it by intruding upon them, by examining them.
They would sometimes hide behind trees in order to look at strangers, but never stood openly and gaze at them.
Their respective attention to missionaries was often the result of their rules of politeness, as it is a part of the Indian's code. Their councils are eminent for decorum, and no person is interrupted during a speech.
Some Indians, after respectfully listening to a missionary, thought they would relate to him some of their legends, but the good man could not restrain his indignation, but pronounced them foolish fables, while what he told them was sacred truth. The Indian was, in his turn, offended, and said, we listened to your stories, why do you not listen to ours? you are not instructed in the common rules of civility.
A hunter, in his wandering for game, fel among the back settlements of Virginia, and on account of the inclemency of the weather, sought refuge at the house of a planter, whom he met at the door. He was refused admission. Being both hungry and thirsty, he asked for a bit of bread and a cup of cold water. But the answer to every appeal was, "_You, shal have nothing here, get you gone you Indian dog!_"
Some months afterwards this same planter lost himself in the woods, and after a weary day of wandering, came to an Indian cabin, into which he was welcomed. On inquiring the way and distance to the settlement, and finding it was too far to think of going that night, he asked if he could remain. Very cordially the inmates replied, that he was at liberty to stay, and all they had was at his service. They gave him food, they made a bright fire to cheer and warm him, and supplied him with clean deerskin for his couch, and promised to conduct him the next day on his journey. In the morning the Indian hunter and the planter set out together through the forest, when they came in sight of the white man's dwel ing, the hunter, about to leave, turned to his companion, and said,
"Do you not know me?" The white man was struck with horror, that he had been so long in the power of one whom he had so inhumanly treated, and expected now to experience his revenge. But on beginning to make excuses, the Indian interrupted him saying, "when you see a poor Indian fainting for a cup of cold water, don't say again, 'get you gone, you Indian dog.'" and turned back to his hunting grounds. Which best deserved the appel ation of a christian, and to which wil it most likely be said,
"Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these, ye have done it unto me."
ORIGIN OF THE CONTINENT, THE ANIMAL, AND OF THE INDIAN.
INTRODUCTION OF THE TWO PRINCIPLES OF GOOD AND EVIL INTO THE GOVERNMENT
OF THE WORLD.
The Tuscarora tradition opens with the notion that there were original y two worlds, or regions of space, that is an upper and lower world. The upper world was inhabited by beings resembling the human race. And the lower world by monsters, moving on the surface and in the waters, which is in darkness. When the human species were transferred below, and the lower sphere was about to be rendered fit for their residence; the act of their transferrance is by these ideas, that a female who began to descend into the lower world, which is a region of darkness, waters, and monsters, she was received on the back of a tortoise, where she gave birth to male twins, and there she expired. The shell of this tortoise expanded into a continent, which, in the English language, is called
"island," and is named by the Tuscaroras, Yowahnook. One of the children was cal ed Got-ti-gah-rah-quast, or good mind, the other, Got-ti-gah-rak-senh, or bad mind. These two antagonistical principles were at perpetual variance, it being the law of one to counteract whatever the other did. They were not, however, men, but gods, or existences, through whom the Great Spirit, or "Holder of the Heavens," carried out his purposes.
The first work of Got-ti-gah-rah-quast was to create the sun out of the head of his dead mother, and the moon and stars out of the other parts of her body. The light these gave drove the monsters into the deep waters to hide themselves. He then prepared the surface of the continent and fitted it for human habitation, by making it into creeks, rivers, lakes and plains, and by fil ing them with the various kinds of animals and vegetable kingdom. He then formed a man and a woman out of the earth, gave them life, and cal ed them Ongwahonwd, that is to say, a real people. Meanwhile the bad mind created mountains, water-falls, and steeps, caves, reptiles, serpents, apes, and other objects supposed to be injurious to, or in mockery to mankind. He made an attempt also to conceal the land animals in the ground, so as to deprive men of the means of subsistance. This continued opposition, to the wishes of the Good Mind, who was perpetually at work, in restoring the effects and displacements, of the wicked devices of the other, at length led to a personal combat, of which the time and instrument of battle were agreed on. They fought two days; the Good Mind using the deer's horn, and the other, using wild flag leafs, as arms. Got-ti-gah-rah-quast, or Good Mind, who had chosen the horn, final y prevailed. His antagonist sunk down into a region of darkness, and became the Evil Spirit of the world of despair. Got-ti-gah-rah-quast, having obtained his triumph, retired from the earth.
The earliest tradition that we have of the Iroquois is as fol ows: That a company of Ongwahonwa being encamped on the banks of the St. Lawrence River, where they were invaded by a nation--few in number, but were great giants, called "Ronongwaca." War after war was brought on by personal encounters and incidents, and carried on with perfidity and cruelty. They were delivered at length by the skill and courage of Yatontea, who, after retreating before them, raised a large body of men and defeated them, after which they were supposed to be extinct. And the next they suffered was from the malice, perfidity and lust of an extraordinary appearing person, who they cal ed That-tea-ro-skeh, who was finally driven across the St. Lawrence, and come to a town south of the shores of Lake Ontario, where, however, he only disguised his intentions, to repeat his cruel and perfidious deeds. He assassinated many persons, and violated six virgins.
They pointed to him as a fiend in human shape.
In this age of monsters, the country was again invaded by another monster, which they called Oyahguaharh, supposed to be some great mammoth, who was furious against men, and destroyed the lives of many Indian hunters, but he was at length killed, after a long and severe contest.
A great horned serpent also next appeared on Lake Ontario who, by means of his poisonous breath, caused disease, and caused the death of many. At length the old women congregated, with one accord, and prayed to the Great Spirit that he would send their grand-father, the Thunder, who would get to their relief in this, their sore time of trouble, and at the same time burning tobacco as burned offerings. So finally the monster was compel ed to retire in the deeps of the lake by thunder bolts. Before this calamity was forgotten another happened. A blazing star fel into their fort, situated on the banks of the St. Lawrence, and destroyed the people. Such a phenomenon caused a great panic and consternation and dread, which they regarded as ominious of their entire destruction. Not long after this prediction of the blazing star it was verified. These tribes, who were held together by feeble ties, fell into dispute and wars among themselves, which were pursued through a long period, until they had utterly destroyed each other, and so reduced their numbers that the lands were again over-run with wild beasts.
At this period there were six families took refuge in a large cave in a mountain, where they dwelled for a long time. The men would come out occasional y to hunt for food. This mammoth cave was situated at or near the fal s of the Oswego River. Taryenya-wa-gon (Holder of the Heavens) extricated these six families from this subterraneous bowels and confines of the mountain. They always looked to this divine messenger, who had power to assume various shapes, as emergency dictated, as the friend and patron of their nation.
As soon as they were released he gave them instructions respecting the mode of hunting, matrimony, worship and many other things. He warned them against the evil spirit, and gave them corn, beans, squash, potatoes, tobacco, and dogs to hunt their game. He bid them go toward the rising of the sun, and he personal y guided them, until they came to a river, which they named Yehnonanatche (that is going around a mountain,) now Mohawk, they went down the bank of the river and came to where it discharges into a great river, running towards the midway sun, they named it Skaw-nay-taw-ty (that is beyond the pineries) now Hudson, and went down the banks of the river and touched the bank of the great water. The company made an encampment at this place and remained for a while. The people was then of one language. Some of them went on the banks of the great waters, towards the midway sun, and never returned. But the company that remained at the camp returned as they came--along the bank of the river, under the direction of Taryenyawagon (Holder of the Heavens).
This company were a particular body, which cal ed themselves of one household. Of these there were six families, and they entered into an agreement to preserve the chain of alliance which should not be extinguished under any circumstance.
The company advanced some distance up the river of Skawnatawty (Hudson).
The Holder of the Heavens directed the first family to make their residence near the bank of the river, and the family was named Tehawrogeh (that is, a speech divided) now Mohawk. Their language soon changed. The company then turned and went towards the sun-setting, and traveled about two days and a half, then came to a creek, which was named Kawnatawteruh (that is pineries). The second family was directed to make their residence near the creek; and the family was named Nehawretahgo (that is big tree) now Oneida. Their language was changed likewise. The company continued to proceed toward the sun-setting under the direction of the Holder of the Heavens. The third family was directed to make their residence on a mountain, named Onondaga (now Onondaga), and the family was named Seuhnowhahtah (that is, carrying the name.) Their language also changed. The rest of the company continued their journey towards the sun-setting. The fourth family was directed to make their residence near a large lake, named Goyogoh (that is a mountain rising from water) now Cayuga, and the family was named Sho-nea-na-we-to-wah (that is a great pipe). Their language was altered. The rest of the company kept their course towards the sun-setting. The fifth family was directed to make their residence near a high mountain, situated south of Canandaigua Lake, which was named Tehow-nea-nyo-hent (that is possessing a door) now Seneca. Their language was also changed. The sixth, and last family, went on their journey toward the sun-setting, until they touched the bank of the great lake, which was named Kan-ha-gwa-rah-ka (that is a Cape) now Erie, and then went toward, between the midway and sun-setting, and traveled a great distance, when they came to a large river, which was named O-nah-we-yo-ka (that is a principal stream) now Mississippi. The people discovered a grapevine lying across the river, by which a part of the people went over, but while they were crossing the vine broke. They were divided, and became enemies, to those that were over the river in consequence of which, they were obliged to abandon the journey. Those that went over the river were final y lost and forgotten from the memory of those that remained on the eastern banks.
Ta-ren-ya-wa-go (the Holder of the Heavens), who was the patron of the five home bands, did not fail, in this crisis, to direct them their way also. He instructed those on the eastern bank the art of the bow and arrows, to use for game and in time of danger. After giving them suitable instructions, he guided their footsteps in their journeys, south and east, until they had crossed the Al eghany Mountains, and with some wanderings they finally reached the shores of the sea, on the coast which is now cal ed the Carolinas. By this time their language was changed.
They were directed to fix their residence on the banks of the Gow-ta-no (that is, pine in the water) now Neuse River, in North Carolina. Here Taren-ya-wa-gon left them to hunt, increase and prosper, whilst he returned to direct the other five nations to form their confederacy.
Tarenyawagon united in one person the power of a God and a man, and gave him the expressive name of the Holder of the Heavens, and was capable of assuming any form or shape that he chosed, but appeared to them only in the form of a man, and taught them hunting, gardening, and the knowledge of the arts of war. He imparted to them the knowledge of the laws and government of the Great Spirit, and gave them directions and encouragement how to fulfill their duties and obligations. He gave them corn, beans, and fruits of various kinds, with the knowledge of planting those fruits. He taught them how to kill and to cook the game. He made the forest free to all the tribes to hunt, and removed obstructions from the streams. He took his position, sometimes, on the top of high cliffs, springing, if needs be, over frightful chasms; and he flew, as it were, over great lakes in a wonderful canoe of immaculate whiteness and of magic power.
Having finished his commission with the Tuscaroras at Cautanoh, in North Carolina, and the other five families, which were left at the north, he came down to closer terms and intimacy with the Onondagas. He resolved to lay aside his divine character and live among them, that he might exemplify the maxims which he had taught. And for this purpose he selected a handsome spot of ground on the southern banks of Cross Lake, New York. Here he built his cabin, and from the shores of this lake he went into the forest, like the rest of his companions, in quest of game and fish. He took a wife of the Onondagas, by whom he had an only daughter, whom he tenderly loved, and most kindly and carefully treated and instructed, so that she was known far and near as his favorite child, and was regarded almost as a goddess. The excel ence of his character, and his great sagacity and good counsels, led the people to regard him with veneration, and they gave him, in his sublunary character, the name of Hi-a-wat-ha (a wise man). People came to him from al quarters, and his abode was thronged by al ages and conditions who came for advice.
He became the first chief of all the land, and whomsoever he made his companions and friends were likewise clothed with the authority of chiefs in the tribe. In this manner all power came naturally into his hands, and the tribe rejoiced that they had so wise and good a man as their ruler.
For in those days each tribe was independent of al others; they had not yet formed a league, but fought and made war with each other.
Nothing that belonged to Hiawatha, in his character of Tarenyawagon, was more remarkable than his light and magic canoe, which shone with a supernatural lustre, and in which he had performed so many of his extraordinary feats. This canoe was laid aside when he came to fix his residenee at Cross Lake, and never used it but for great and extraordinary purposes. When great councils were called, and he assembled the wise men to deliberate together, the sacred canoe was carefully lifted from the grand lodge; and after these occasions were ended, it was careful y returned to the same receptacle, on the shoulders of men, who felt honored in being the bearers of such a precious burden.
Thus passed away many years, and every year saw the people increasing in numbers, skil , arts and bravery. It was among the Onondagas that Tarenyawagon had located himself, although he regarded the other tribes as friends and brothers; he had become indentified as an adopted member of this particular tribe. Under his teaching and influence they became the first among al the original tribes, and rose to the highest distinction in every art which was known to or prized by the Akonoshuni (Iroquois). They were the wisest counsellors, the best orators, the most expert hunters, and the bravest warriors. They also afforded the highest examples of obedience to the laws of the Great Spirit. If offences took place, Hiawatha redressed them, and his wisdom and moderation preserved the tribe from feuds. Hence, the Onondagas were early noted among all the tribes for their pre-eminence. He appeared to devote his chief attention to them, that he might afterwards make them examples to the others, in arts and wisdom. They were foremost in the overthrow of the Stonish Giants and the kil ing of the great Serpent. To be an Onondaga was the highest honor.
While Hiawatha was thus living in domestic life quietly among the people of the hil s, and administering their simple government with wisdom, they became alarmed by the sudden news of the approach of a furious and powerful enemy from north of the great lakes. As the enemy advanced, they made an indiscriminate slaughter of men, women and children. The people fled from their vil ages a short time before them, and there was no heart in the people to make a stand against such powerful and ruthless invaders. In this emergency, they fled to Hiawatha for his advice. He counseled them to call a general council of all the tribes from the east and west. "For," said he, "our strength is not in the war club and arrows alone, but in wise counsels." He appointed a place on the banks of Onondaga Lake for the meeting. It was a clear eminence from which there was a wide prospect. Runners were dispatched in every direction, and the chiefs, warriors and headmen forthwith assembled in great numbers, bringing with them, in the general alarm, their women and children.
Fleets of canoes were seen on the bosom of the lake, and every inteterior warpath was kept open by the foot-prints of the different tribes, hurrying to obey the summons of Hiawatha. All but the wise man himself had been there for three days, anxiously awaiting the arrival of Hiawatha, when a messenger was dispatched after him. They found him gloomy and depressed. Some great burden appeared to hang on his mind. He told them that evil lay on his path, and that he had fearful forebodings of il -fortune. He felt that he was cal ed to make some great sacrifice, but he did not know what it was, it seemed to be hid from him. Least of all did he think it was to be his daughter: ever careful of her, he bade her kindly to accompany him. Nothing happened to hinder, or at all interrupt their voyage. The Talismanic canoe, which held them, gllded silently down the waters of the Seneca; not a paddle was necessary to give it impetus, while it pursued the downward course of the stream till they reached the point of the lake outlet. At this point Hiawatha took his paddle and gave it impetus against the current, until they entered on the bright and calm surface of the Onondaga, cradled, as this blue sheet of water is, among the lofty and far-swelling hil s. When the white canoe of the venerable chief appeared, a shout of welcome rang among those hil s. The day was calm and serene. No wind ruffled the lake, and scarcely a cloud floated in the sky above. But while the wise man was measuring his steps towards the place designated for the council, and while ascending from the water's edge, a rumbling and low sound was heard, as if it were caused by the approach of a violent, rushing wind.
Instantly al the eyes were turned upwards, where a smal and compact mass of cloudy darkness appeared. It gathered in size and velocity as it approached, and appeared to be directed inevitably to fall in the midst of the assembly. Every one fled in consternation but Hiawatha and his daughter. He stood erect, with ornaments waving in his frontlet, and besought his daughter calmly to await the issue, "for it is impossible,"
said he, "to escape the power of the Great Spirit. If he has determined our destruction we cannot, by running, fly from him." She modestly assented and they stood together, while horror was depicted in the faces of the others. But the force of the descending body was that of a sudden storm. They had hardly taken the resolution to halt when an immense bird, with long, extended wings, came down with swoop. This gigantic agent of the sky came with such force that the assembly felt the shock. The girl being in a nature, and embodied in the combination of the Terrestial and Celestial nature, was beautiful and fascinating in her looks and form, was borne away by this Celestial Bird to be seen no more upon the earth.
But Hiawatha was inconsolable for his loss. He grieved sorely, day and night, and wore a desponding and dejected countenance. But these were only faint indications of the feelings of his heart. He threw himself upon the ground, and refused to be comforted. He seemed dumb with melancholy, and the people were concerned of his life. He spoke nothing; he made no answers to questions put to him, and laid still as if dead.
After several days the council appointed a certain merry-hearted Chief to make him a visit, and to whisper a word of consolation in his ears to arouse him from his stupor. The result was successful. He approached with ceremonies and induced him to arise, and named the time when the council would convene. Yet haggard with grief, he called for refreshments and ate. He then adjusted his wardrobe and head-dress and went to the council. He drew his robe of wolf-skin gracefully around him, and walked to his seat at the head of the assembled chiefs with a majestic step.
Stiliness and the most profound attention reigned in the council while he presided, and the discussion opened and proceeded. The subject of the invasion was handled by several of the ablest counselors and the bravest warriors. Various plans were proposed to defeat the enemy. Hiawatha listened with silence until all had finished speaking. His opinion was then asked. After a brief al usion of the calamity which had befallen him through the descent of the great bird by the Great Spirit, he spoke to the fol owing effect:
"I have listened to the words of the wise men and brave chiefs, but it is not fitting that we should do a thing of so much importance in haste; it is a subject demanding calm reflection and mature deliberation. Let us postpone the decision for one day. During this time we will weigh wel the words of the speakers who have already spoken. If they are good, I wil then approve of them. If they are not, I will then open to you my plan. It is one which I have reflected on, and feel confident that it wil insure safety."
When another day had expired, the council again met. Hiawatha entered the assembly with even more than ordinary attention, and every eye was fixed upon him, when he began to address the council in the fol owing words:
"Friends and Brothers:--You being members of many tribes, you have come from a great distance; the voice of war has aroused you up; you are afraid of your homes, your wives and your children; you tremble for your safety. Believe me, I am with you. My heart beats with your hearts. We are one. We have one common object. We come to promote our common interest, and to determine how this can be best done.
"To oppose those hordes of northern tribes, singly and alone, would prove certain destruction. We can make no progress in that way. We must unite ourselves into one common band of brothers. We must have but one voice.
Many voices makes confusion. We must have one fire, one pipe and one war club. This will give us strength. If our warriors are united they can defeat the enemy and drive them from our land; if we do this, we are safe.
"Onondaga, you are the people sitting under the shadow of the _Great Tree_, whose branches spread far and wide, and whose roots sink deep into the earth. You shall be the first nation, because you are warlike and mighty.
"Oneida, and you, the people who recline your bodies against the _Everlasting Stone_, that cannot be moved, shall be the second nation, because you always give good counsel.
"Seneca, and you, the people who have your habitation at the foot of the _Great Mountain_, and are overshadowed by its crags, shall be the third nation, because you are al greatly gifted in speech.
"Cayuga, you, whose dwelling is in the _Dark Forest_, and whose home is everywhere, shall be the fourth nation, because of your superior cunning in hunting.
"Mohawk, and you, the people who live in the open country, and possess much wisdom, shall be the fifth nation, because you understand better the art of raising corn and beans and making cabins.
"You five great and powerful nations, with your tribes, must unite and have one common interest, and no foes shal disturb or subdue you.
"And you of the different nations of the south, and you of the west, may place yourselves under our protection, and we wil protect you. We earnestly desire the al iance and friendship of you all.
"And from you, Squaw-ki-haws (being a remote branch of the Seneca Nation), being the people who are as the _Feeble Bushes_, shal be chosen, a Virgin, who shal be the peacemaker for al the nations of the earth, and more particularly the favored Ako-no-shu-ne, which name this confederacy shall ever sustain. If we unite in one band the Great Spirit wil smile upon us, and we shal be free, prosperous and happy; but if we shal remain as we are we shal incur his displeasure. We shal be enslaved, and perhaps annihilated forever.
"Brothers, these are the words of Hiawatha. Let them sink deep into your hearts. I have done."
A deep and impressive silence followed the delivery of this speech. On the fol owing day the council again assembled to act on it. High wisdom recommended this deliberation.
The union of the tribes into one confederacy was discussed and unanimously adopted. To denote the character and intimacy of the union they employed the figure of a single council-house, or lodge, whose boundaries be co-extensive with their territories. Hence the name of Akono-shu-ne, who were called the Iroquois.
The great bird which visited them from heaven brought a precious gift to the warriors in the white plumes which she shed at the visit. Every warrior, as he approached the spot where they fel , picked up a feather of snowy white to adorn his crown; and the celestial visitant thus became the means of furnishing the aspirants of military fame with an emblem which was held in the highest estimation. Succeeding generations imbibed the custom from this incident to supply themselves with a plumage approaching it as nearly as possible; they selected the plume of the white heron.
At the formation of the confederacy Ato-ta-rho, being considered next in wisdom and al other traits of character which constitutes the necessary qualifications of an honored Sachem, was ordained as the head Sachem of the confederacy, which office has been transmitted down to succeeding generations of the Onondaga Nation to the present time.
Hiawatha, the guardian and founder of the league, having now accomplished the wil of the Great Spirit, and the withdrawal of his daughter having been regarded by him as a sign that his mission was ended, he immediately prepared to make his final departure. Before the great council, which had adopted his advice just before dispersing, he arose, with a dignified air, and addressed them in the fol owing manner:
"Friends and Brothers:--I have now fulfil ed my mission here below; I have furnished you seeds and grains for your gardens; I have removed obstructions from your waters, and made the forest habitable by teaching you how to expel its monsters; I have given you fishing places and hunting grounds; I have instructed you in the making and using of war implements; I have taught you how to cultivate corn, and many other arts and gifts. I have been al owed by the Great Spirit to communicate to you.
Last of all, I have aided you to form a league of friendship and union.
If you preserve this, and admit no foreign element of power by the admission of other nations, you will always be free, numerous and happy.
If other tribes and nations are admitted to your councils, they will sow the seed of jealousy and discord, and you wil become few, feeble and enslaved.
"Friends and brothers, these are the last words you wil hear from the lips of Hiawatha. The Great Creator of our bodies cal s me to go; I have patiently awaited his summons; I am ready to go. Farewel ."
As the voice of the wise man ceased, sweet strains of music from the air burst on the ears of the multitude. The whole sky appeared to be filled with melody; and while al eyes were directed to catch glimpses of the sights, and enjoy strains of the celestial music that fil ed the sky, Hiawatha was seen, seated in his snow-white canoe, amid the air, _rising, rising_ with every choral chant that burst out. As he rose the sound of the music became more soft and faint, until he vanished amid the summer clouds, and the melody ceased. Thus terminated the labors and cares of the long-cherished memory of Ta-ren-ya-wa-gon.
I will now resume the history of the sixth and last family, the Tuscarora On-gwe-hon-wa, that were left at the Neuse river, or Gan-ta-no. Here they increased in numbers, valor and skil , and in all knowledge of the arts necessary in forest life. The country was wide and covered with dense wilderness, large rivers and lakes, which gave shelter to many fierce animals and monsters which beset their pathways and kept them in dread.
Now the Evil Spirit also plagued them with monstrous visitations. They were often induced to change their locations; sometimes from fear of enemies and sometimes from epidemics, or some strange visitations.
I will now relate a few of the monsters that plagued them: The first enemy that appeared to question their power or disturb their peace was the fearful phenomenon of Ko-nea-rah-yah-neh, or the flying heads. The heads were enveloped in beard and hair, flaming like fire; they were of monstrous size, and shot through the air with the speed of meteors. Human power was not adequate to cope with them. The priests pronounced them a flowing power of some mysterious influence, and it remained with the priests alone to expel them by their magic power.
[Illustration: Flying head and woman sitting by the fire]
Drum and rattle and enchantments were deemed more effective than arrows or clubs. One evening, after they had been plagued a long time with fearful visitations, the flying head came to the door of a lodge occupied by a single female and her dog. She was sitting composedly before the fire roasting acorns, which, as they became cooked, she deliberately took from the fire and ate. Amazement seized the flying head, who put out two huge black paws from under his streaming beard. Supposing the woman to be eating live coals he withdrew, and from that time he came no more among them.
And they were also invaded by a stil more fearful enemy, the Ot-nea-yar-heh, or Stonish Giants. They were a powerful tribe from the wilderness, tal , fierce and hostile, and resistance to them was vain. They defeated and overwhelmed an army which was sent out against them, and put the whole country in fear. These giants were not only of great strength, but they were cannibals, devouring men, women and children in their inroads.
[Illustration: Stonish giant chasing indians.]
It is said by the Shawnees that these giants were descended from a certain family which was journeying on the east side of the Mississippi.
After some of them had crossed the river on a vine it broke, which left the main body on the east bank of the river. Those who were on the west side of the river went toward the northwest. Being abandoned in their wanderings, and being vagrants, without any knowledge of the arts of life, they forgot the rules of humanity. They at first began to eat their game in the raw flesh, which led them final y to become cannibals, and they practiced to rol themselves in the sand, which caused their bodies to be covered with a hard skin, so that the arrows of the Tuscaroras only rattled against their rough bodies and fel at their feet. And the consequence was, that they were obliged to bide in caves and glens, and were brought into subjection by those fierce invaders for many winters.
At length the Holder of the Heavens visited his people, and finding that they were in great distress, he determined to relieve them of these barbarous invaders. To accomplish this he changed himself as into one of those giants. As you will remember, it is said that he was able to change himself into any shape that he wished. He then joined himself with the invaders, and brandishing his heavy war club, led them on under the pretence of finding the other five nations, which they were also in the habit of visiting. When they came near to the strong fort at Onondaga, they being weary of the long journey, and the night being dark, their leader bade them lie down at the foot of a mountain until the customary time to make the attack, which was at the break of day. But during the night the Indian benefactor ascended the height and overwhelmed the slumberers below with a vast mass of rocks. At this catastrophe only one escaped to carry the news of their dreadful fate, and he fled toward the north.
The Tuscaroras and the other five nations were so much troubled with giants and other monsters that they were obliged to build forts to protect themselves. The way they built them was always by selecting an eminence, or rocky cliff, and on the back part was dug a trench according to the plan of the fort. Then timbers were set in the trench upright, projecting above the ground several feet, and being adjusted together as close as possible, and the trench being fil ed in again. They had two gates, one way to get their water, the other for a sal y port.
They were also molested by a terrific animal which they called Ro-qua-ho
--a variegated lizzard--a swift runner and strikes very violent blows with its tail, which destroyed many hunters while lying in lurk for them. One day while a party of hunters were on their journey to camp-out for the purpose of hunting, the party consisting of four, they came to a very large hol ow tree where they noticed quite a number of great marks of claws on the bark of the tree. Supposing it to be the lodge of bears, they laid their bundles down and made ready for their game. One of them bounded on the tree and climbed it, and he struck the trunk of the tree several times. When the supposed bear appeared, to their consternation it was found to be the enemy they so much dreaded, the Ro-qua-ho. The person on the tree only stepped behind it and the other three ran away for their lives. The Ro-qua-ho came down and pursued them, and while yet in sight one was caught, killed and brought back, and he carried the body into the tree. Then he went after the second which was brought in a short time, after which, he went for the third; then the one on the tree came down and ran away also. While on his way he heard a voice cal ing him; he stopped, and behold, a man of stately form, with long flowing hair stood and said, "Why run? I have seen the distress of my people, I have come to deliver them out of trouble; now confide in me and we wil prevail. I am your benefactor, Tarenyawagon. Get behind me, the enemy is approaching."
In the twinkling of an eye this Celestial being was changed, and assumed himself into a great white bear. When the Roquaho came a great struggle ensued, but with the help of the man the enemy was killed.
They were again molested by an extraordinary and ferocious animal in various places--a mammoth bear. One morning while a party of hunters were in their camp, they were alarmed by a great tumult breaking out from the forest. Upon going to ascertain the cause of this extraordinary noise, they saw the great monster on the bank pawing and rolling stones and logs in every direction, exhibiting the utmost rage. Another great animal of the cat kind appeared, and seized the bear and a dreadful fight ensued.
In the end the bear got the worst of it and retired horribly mangled, and never was heard of afterwards.
After a while a pestiferous and annoying creature of the insect kind appeared in the guise of the Ro-tay-yo (a huge mosquito). It first appeared among the Tuscaroras along the Neuse river. It flew about with vast wings, making a loud noise, with a long stinger; and on whomsoever it lighted it sucked out al the blood and kil ed them. Many warriors were destroyed in this way, and al attempts made to subdue it were vain; but at length it retired of itself. Next they heard that it appeared about the fort at Onondaga, where it also destroyed many lives, until Tarenyawagon made a visit to the ruler of the Onondagas. The great mosquito happened to come flying about the fort as usual at that time.
Tarenyawago immediately made his attack, but such was the rapidity of its flight, that he could scarcely keep in sight of it. He chased it around the borders of the great lakes, towards the sun-setting, and around the great country at large, east and west. At last he overtook it, and took his strong bow and sent an arrow which struck him through the heart and kil ed him, near Gen-an-do-a (the salt lake of Onondaga). From the blood flowing out on this occasion were the present species of smal mosquito originated.
I have now related a few of the tragedies of the dark recesses of the forest, from the many that our tradition relates.
There was also a little old man of singular appearance that frequented among them at their bal plays, and did not seem to be inclined to make acquaintance with any one, but kept by himself and appeared to be mild and humble. At length this man became very sick with putrefying sores from head to foot and was very loathesome. Nobody knew who he was or where he came from: he had no home; he gave his name as Qua-ra, or Rabbit: he went from house to house of all the different clans or tribes in the nation, as for instance, the Eel, Snipe, Beaver, Turtle, Wolf, Deer. When he would approach the house, seemingly to go in, they would loathe him to enter, and when he came to the doorstep he would seem to hear their thoughts and then return; thus he was repulsed from al the houses of the above clans, he final y came to the house of the Bear clan.
When the mistress of the house observed him coming, she had pity on him, and presently prepared a bed for him with the best deerskins she had; when he came to the door he knew her hospitable heart and went in. She immediately assured him of his welcome in her meanly hut, and that she was ready to do everything in her power to relieve his distress, and appointed his lodge where he had laid himself nearly exhausted. He then told her to go and get the root of a certain kind of plant, which she immediately did and prepared according to his direction, which he took and readily recovered. He then went through a series of diseases, directing her as before to get the different kind of medicines for the different diseases. Lastly, he became sick with that fatal disease, consumption. This he said was incurable, and he must die. He then told her he was a messenger from Tarenyawagon, to show them the diseases that they should be subjected to, and also the medicine to cure them. And also to tell them the predictions of their fate and doom. Said he could not withhold the water from his eyes, or keep from quaking when he thought of their irrevocable doom to which they were destined, and said: "There is a habitation beyond these great waters towards the sun-rising, which are inhabited by beings of very pale faces, and are looking only to themselves, have pity for nobody, and make their delight in doing mischief. They have kil ed Rah-wah-ne-yo (God); they mocked him and done all manner of bad things to him, and finally, they fastened him to a tree until he died. But death and the grave had not power to hold him. He arose and lives again, and he has gone to the world above, in those happy hunting grounds where al good O-qua-ho-wa (Indians), will go when they die, and wil see him as he is.
"Now this class of pale-faces wil come across the great waters and make their abode on this island, and will bring poison to give you to drink, which wil poison the spirit and kil the body. They wil kil your husbands, brothers and sons, and drive you away to the sun-setting, and wil deprive the children that are coming behind, off their domain. They wil drive you until you are in the great salt water up to your waist.
Oh, hostess, this is the final doom of your great nation.
"And now as for you, Oh, mother, I have no words that I can utter, to express the sincere gratitude of my inmost soul. I have nothing to give to compensate you for al the tenderness you have given me. But my blessings I will leave with you. I place in the midst of your clan, the Bear, a majestic pine tree, which is ever green, and as the top reaches above al other trees, so wil your clan be. Wherever the nation will be driven to, your clan wil multiply above all others, and be the ruler of the nation. This is all I have to deliver unto you. I now commend myself to that Great Spirit that has made us all, who ruleth above."
Thus ended the last messenger of Tarenyawagon, who is now basking in the pleasures of that hunting ground in the world above.
Before the discovery, by Columbus, the Tuscaroras consisted of six towns, and they were a powerful nation, numbering over twelve hundred warriors, which, at a ratio according to the rule of estimating, would bring them at about five or six thousand souls.
The Tuscaroras had many years of enjoyment and peaceful possession of their domain, consisting of six towns on the Roanoke, Neuse, Taw and Pemlico rivers, in the State of North Carolina. And they were also confederated to six other nations, which were the Corees, Mattamuskeets, Notaways and the Bear River Indians; the names of the other two nations I have been unable to obtain. My readers wil readily see why some writers have it that they consisted in twelve towns, and other writers would have it that they consisted in six towns. The real Tuscaroras consisted in six towns; but with the confederate nations, altogether, were known to be in twelve towns, and all these different nations which composed the confederacy went under the name of Tuscarora, the Tuscaroras being the most powerful of the several nations.
The tradition of the Tuscaroras admits of having captured Lawson and his party, and executed some of them to death on account of their encroachments upon their domain; but concerning the massacre of Oct. 2d, 1711, the Tuscaroras emphatical y deny having taken any part in the affair whatever, official y. The project was presented to them and in the council of the sachems, chiefs and warriors, they emphatical y declined taking any part in such a movement, but said if the colonists made encroachments and trespass on their domain, it is no more than right and just that we defend our rights, and even cautioned their young men that they should not take any part whatever in the action; but, nevertheless, there were a few of the rash and reckless warriors that took part in the disorder.
The Corees, Mattamuskeets, and Bear River Indians seemed to be the instigators of the project: but there were several other nations that took part in the massacre. These three nations being considered Tuscaroras, on account of the confederacy, and the capture of Lawson and his party a little previous to this time by the Tuscaroras, led the colonists to conclude that it was the Tuscaroras who caused the disaster, and to them was directed the feud of the colonists.
A little previous to these disorders, it seems that there were some white men, as our tradition states, with long coats and wide brimmed hats, visited several nations of the Indians in that neighborhood, and appeared to be very friendly toward them, wished them success in everything, and told them that those settlers who were on the borders of their lands and constantly encroaching and committing depredations upon the Indians, were not of the government, but were merely squatters, who settled there of their own accord, and if they were cut off, there would be none to avenge them, and were advised to do so.
It has always been a question in my mind who those white men were, to give such rash advice. Were they Quakers? But what motive had they in advising, from which so great a disaster was the result? Or, were they men in disguise, from the county of Bath, in which the massacre was committed, to make the Indians believe that they were Quakers, as the two counties were in arms against each other at that time.
To coroborate the tradition above, I would cal your attention to part of a letter from President Pol ock to Lord Craven, in the year 1712, who attributes the calamity thus:
"Our divisions," says he, "chiefly occasioned by the Quakers and some other il -disposed persons, have been the cause of all the troubles, for the Indians were informed by some of the traders that the people who lived here are only a few vagabonds, who had run away from other governments and settled here of their own accord, without any authority, so that if they were cut off, there would be none to revenge them. This with their seeing our differences rise to such a heighth, that consisting of two counties only, were in arms one against the other, encouraged them to fall upon the county of Bath, expecting it would have no assistance from this nor any other of the English plantations. This is the chief cause that moved the Indians to rise against us, as far as I understand."
The Tuscaroras never had the inclination of cutting off the inhabitance of the pale faces. Nevertheless, they did not always remain idle or unconcerned spectators of the feuds and dissensions that so long prevailed among the white people, toward the red men. The successive and regular encroachments, on their hunting grounds and plantations, which the increase of the European population occasioned, had not always been submitted to without murmur.
Although they were pleased with the neighbors, from whom they had trade for their furs, and could procure spirituous liquors and other articles, which tended to the gratification of their real or imaginary wants. And they were required to surrender larger and larger portions of their domain, and at last, the removal of families from the neighborhood of their long cherished memories of the graves of their ancestors, to the more distant and less valuable tracts of land. Other causes of animosity and il -wil were not wanting. Their hunters were shot down like so many beasts, at the edge of the settlement, kil ed in their wigwams, their young females' chastity violated, and many other things might be related, which their tradition shows. But I have neither heart nor inclination to bring to a resurrection the long gone-by memories of our forefathers. I would that all were cast into oblivion, where might not be found neither trace nor track; but rather that the chain of friendship which has existed for more than a century between the Tuscaroras and the United States Government may be made brighter and brighter as time rol s on.
I have said that the Tuscaroras never had the inclination of cutting off the first colonies, and if that were their desire, how readily would they have excepted the advice of President Thomas Carey, through one of his counsel--Edward Porter--in the year 1710, of which you wil find in Martin's History of North Carolina a difficulty between Gov. Hyde and the above, to-wit: "Before any relief could be sent he attempted the landing of some of his men under fire of his brig, but they were repulsed by the militia of the neighborhood, which Gov. Hyde had time to col ect. They returned on board, and their Chief sought a safe retreat in the swamps of the Tar river, where he raised his standard and endeavored to bring the Tuscarora Indians into an alliance. For this purpose he dispatched to them Edward Porter, one of his counsel, who endeavored by promises of great rewards to induce them to cut off all the inhabitants of that part of the province who adhered to Gov. Hyde. This was acceded to by some of his young warriors, but when the matter was debated in council the old men dissuaded them from listening to Porter."
Now, did not some of Carey's men go afterwards to some of the neighboring Indian nations and induced them, in the year 1710, to commit the massacre?
I suppose to the critical reader, and to the people generally, my writing wil appear to them fictitious, because of their first impression, which has been taught them by many historians. Historians general y have given only one side of the story, and have avoided, as much as possible, to give the history of the wrongs done to the Tuscaroras, but they are very scrupulous to preserve the history of the capture of Lawson, his execution and of the massacre, which they al ege to have been committed by the Tuscaroras, and are styled by many as being inimical, haughty, jealous, warlike bloodhounds, bloodthirsty and scarcely to be human.
These are the first impressions made by the historians upon the mind of the world. I suppose, for the purpose of getting a general verdict, that it was right; that they were crushed as a nation, their domain snatched from them, driven into the cold world, and not a word has been written by historians, or the Tuscaroras themselves, to vindicate their cause.
But with all the great tide of prejudiced feelings towards the Tuscaroras, I have ventured to write their history as I have received it, and think it to be true.
After the massacre, and the Tuscaroras heard it reported that they were charged with being the author of the disaster, they immediately sent messengers and denied the charge of having official y taken any part in the disorder, but acknowledged that a few of the reckless and lawless warriors did take part against their admonitions, but they were wil ing to make al the restoration that was in their power to do, and would fight for them if necessary. At different times they petitioned, remonstrated and supplicated for peace, which was slighted and disregarded, and only produced more violence and insult.
Notice what Governor Spotswood, of Virginia, said concerning the Tuscaroras, to wit:
"On the first of the disaster I sent a detachment of the militia to the tributary Indians of this province to prevent them from joining in the war, and understanding that the Indians in some of the Tuscarora towns had refused to march against the whites, sent a messenger to invite them, with the rest of the friendly tribes, to a conference at the Nottoway line, on the southern border of Virginia, where he met them on the 7th of November."
"The Governor, after entering into some conversation with the Chiefs, had the pleasure of finding the report which his messengers had made, from their observations while in the Tuscarora towns, that they were very desirous of continuing in peace, and were greatly concerned that any of their nation should have joined in the massacre."
The Chiefs, after accounting for the delay that occurred, expressed the desire of the Indians of their towns to continue in strict friendship with the whites, and assist them in chastising the authors of the late disorder.
"But now an unfortunate difference arose between the Governor and the burgesses, the latter insisting on the passage of a bil for raising an army in Virginia, without trusting to the sincerity of the profession of the Tuscarora Chiefs. The Governor refusing to accede to this proposition, and declining to co-operate in their plans, the dispute ended by a dissolution of the assembly."
There was at one time a treaty of peace concluded between the Sachems and Chiefs of the Tuscaroras and Governor Spotswood, of Virginia, and one of the conditions of the treaty was to help in chastising the authors of the late massacre. In conformity with this pledge the Tuscaroras made an attack on the Mattamuskeets, where they obtained thirty scalps and presented them to the authorities of the whites, of which they pretended to be pleased. I don't doubt but that they were real y pleased, but not with any good feelings towards the Tuscaroras. I suppose the object was to get all the other Indian nations alienated from them, so that in due time they might be easily conquered, because they were the nation that the whites seemed bent on destroying. The Tuscaroras had faith in the treaty, but only to disappoint them in the thought of having the dark cloud which hung so glowingly over them taken away. It is said by historians that the Tuscaroras disregarded the treaty and began hostilities. But I will relate a tradition, handed down from generation to generation, which is as fol ows, to wit: Some little time after the treaty concluded, several white men went into one of their towns and said that they were sent by the government to distribute among them an annuity of goods in token of friendship; and also said, "In token of your sincerity to the treaty of peace, you wil all repair to a place where there is a cord stretched out in a straight line, you must al take hold of the line with your right hand, and all those that refuse to take hold will be considered as hostile and wil be omitted in the distribution of the goods." They al went to the place designated and found the cord strung out for nearly a mile; at one end of it was a bundle covered with cloth, which, as they supposed, contained the goods; so the unsuspecting Indians, women and children, with eager hearts, laid hold on the rope. When it was thought that they were in a proper position, the white men al at once uncovered the supposed goods, which was a large cannon, and being prepared to shoot in a line with the cord it was at once fired and roared like thunder. In a moment the ground along the cord was strewn with the meats of the Tuscaroras. This is one of the effects of the treaty at that time.
I will copy a report of Governor Spotswood to the Lords Commissioners of Trade, in the year 1711, to-wit:
"Had they," said he, "real y intended to carry on the war against the Indians, they could not have done it in a more frugal way than by the treaty I concluded with the Tuscarora chiefs.
"Indeed, some of that house, since the dissolution, own more freely than they would do while sitting, that most of the irregularities of their proceedings are owing to some rash votes, passed without foresight, which they could not afterwards get over without breaking the rules of their house; and so they chose, rather, to let the country suffer than to own themselves in an error.
"Some of the Tuscarora chiefs have lately been with Governor Spotswood, of Virginia, and pretend a great inclination to peace.
"They are again to be with him on the 26th of this month; we are to send two agents to meet them there--Mr. Tobias Knight and Mayor Christophe Gale--not with any expectation that the Governor wil make any treaty for us, for that would be dishonorable to your lordship and make us appear contemptible in the eyes of the Indians, but with a view to hear what they have to propose."
I might quote many more passages similar to those above, but let these few suffice to show how the Tuscaroras were treated. Now, finally, with a combination of causes, they were in 1713, crushed and broken down as a nation, to satisfy the inclinations of the white people, persecutions being kept up by neighboring whites and southern Indians until June fol owing. The Oneida Indians, having heard of the disaster to the Tuscarora Nation, invited them to come and make their dwel ing among them: so, accordingly, they left Carolina and took their journey north to rejoin their sister nations.
Methink I can see them leaving their once cherished homes--the aged, the helpless, the women and children, and the warriors faint and few--the ashes are cold on their native hearth; the smoke no more curls round their lowly cabin: they move on with slow, unsteady steps; they turn to take a last look upon their doomed vil age and cast a last glance upon the long cherished memories of their fathers' graves. They shed no tears; they utter no cries: they heave no groans, they linger but a moment. They know and feel that there is for them still one more remove further, not distant nor unseen.
One bright, sunny June morning, in the year 1813, was one of the darkest days that the Tuscaroras ever witnessed, when most of the nation took their pace to the north until they came within the bounds of the Oneida domain, about two miles west of Tamaqua, in the state of Pennsylvania, where they located and set out apple trees which can be seen to this day: some of the trees, will measure about two feet in diameter. Here they dwel ed for about two years.
In about the year 1815, the Iroquois, being the Mohawk, Onondaga, Seneca, Oneida and Cayuga nations, which were then cal ed the five nations, had a general council where the Tuscarora made an application through their brothers the Oneida, to be admitted into the Iroquois and become the sixth nation, on the grounds of a common generic origin, which was granted them unanimously. Then the Seneca adopted the Tuscarora as their children. Ever since that time to the present, if a Seneca addresses the Tuscaroras, he will invariably salute them as "my sons," in social or in council; and also the Tuscaroras in return will say "my fathers." The relation has always been kept up to the present.
The Tuscaroras were then initiated without enlarging the frame-work of the confederacy and formation of the League, by al owing them their own Sachems and Chiefs, which they had as hereditary from their nation in the south, except on which they gave, as the Holder of the Tree, to sit and enjoy a nominal equality in the councils of the League, by the courtesy of the other five nations. They were not dependent, but were admitted to as ful an equality as could be granted them without enlarging the framework of the confederacy. In the councils of the League they had no national designation. They were then assigned a portion of the Oneidas'
territory, which is lying upon the Unadil a river on the east, the Chenango on the west, and the Susquehanna on the south, where they dwel ed and enjoyed their peace again for about seventy years. In 1736
they numbered 200 warriors of fighting men.
We again hear of the Tuscarora by history, concerning a massacre of the German Flats, N. Y., in November, 1757.
A narrative communicated to the author of the Documentary History of New York, vol. 2, page 520, viz: A few days after this massacre and desolation had been perpetrated, Sir Wil iam Johnson dispatched Geo.
Croghan, Esq., Deputy Agent, with Mr. Montour, the Indian interpreter, to the German Flats, where he understood several of the Oneida and Tuscarora Indians were assembled, in order to cal upon them to explain why they had not given more timely notice to the Germans of the designs and approach of the enemy, it having been reported that no intel igence had been given by the Indians until the same morning the attack was made, and as these Indians might natural y be supposed, from their situation and other circumstances, to have had an earlier knowledge of the enemy's design and march.
Before Mr. Croghan could get up to the German Flats the aforesaid Indians were on their road homewards, but he was informed that the Chief Sachem of the Upper Oneida town, with a Tuscarora Sachem (which is supposed to be Solomon Longboard) and another Oneida Indian, were stil about four miles from Fort Harkeman, upon which he sent a messenger to acquaint them that he was at the said fort.
The aforesaid Indians returned, and on the 3oth of November, at Fort Harkeman, Conaghquieson, the Oneida Sachem, made the following speech to Mr. Croghan, having first called in one Rudolph Shumaker, Hanjost Harkman and several other Germans who understood the Indian language, and desired them to sit down and hear what he had to say. Conaghquieson then proceeded and said:
"Brothers:--I can't help tel ing you that we were very much surprised to hear that our English brethren suspect and charge us with not giving them timely notice of the designs of the French, as it is wel known we have not neglected to give them every piece of intel igence that came to our knowledge.
"Brothers, about fifteen days before the affair happened we sent the Germans word that some Swegatchi Indians told us that the French were determined to destroy the German Flats, and desired them to be on their guard. About six days after that we had a further account from the Swegatchi Indians that the French were preparing to march.
"I then came to the German Flats, and in a meeting with the Germans told them what we had heard, and desired to col ect themselves together in a body at their fort, [Footnote: A stockaded work round the church, and a block-house, with a ditch, and a parapet thrown up by Sir Wil iam Johnson, a year ago, upon an alarm then given.] and secure their women, children and effects, and to make the best defence they could. At the same time I told them to write what I had said to our brother, Warraghryagey (meaning Sir William Johnson [Footnote: They never sent this intelligence to Sir William Johnson.]), but they paid not the least regard to what I told them, and laughed at me, slapping their hands on their buttocks, saying they did not value the enemy, upon which I returned home and sent one of our people to the lake (meaning Oneida Lake) to find out whether the enemy were coming or not. After he had staid there two days the enemy arrived at the carrying-place, and sent word to the castle at the lake that they were there, and told them what they were going to do, but charged them not to let us at the upper castle know anything of their design. As soon as the man I sent there heard this he came on to us with the account that night; and as soon as we received it we sent a belt of wampum, to confirm the truth thereof, to the Flats, which came here the day before the enemy made their attack: but the people would not give credit to the account even then, or they might have saved their lives. [Footnote: The Indians who brought the belt of wampum, finding the Germans stil incredulous, the next morning, just before the attack began, laid hold on the German Minister, and in a manner forced him over to the other side of the river, by which means he and some who fol owed him escaped the fate of their brethren.] This is the truth, and those Germans here present know it to be so. The aforesaid Germans did acknowledge it to be so, and that they had such intel igence.