Legends, Traditions, and Laws of the Iroquois, or Six Nations, and History of the Tuscarora Indians HTML version

prevailing indifference to our welfare, we have gradually overcame many
of the evils inherent in our social system, and raised ourselves to a
degree of prosperity. Our present condition, if considered in connection
with the ordeal through which we have passed, shows that there is the
presence of an element in our character which must eventually lead to
important results.
As I do not profess that this work is based upon authorities, a question
might arise in the breast of some reader, where these materials were
derived, or what reliance is to be placed upon its contents. The
credibility of a witness is known to depend chiefly upon his means of
knowledge. For this reason, I deem it important to state, that I was born
and brought up by Tuscarora Indian parents on their Reservation in the
Town of Lewiston, N.Y. From my childhood up was naturally inquisitive and
delighted in thrilling stories, which led me to frequent the old people
of my childhood's days, and solicited them to relate the old Legends and
their Traditions, which they always delighted to do. I have sat by their
fireside and heard them, and thus they were instilled upon my young mind.
I also owe much of my information to our Chief, JOHN MT. PLEASANT. I have
also read much of Indian history, and compared them with our LEGENDS and
In all the early histories of the American Colonies, in the stories of
Indian life and the delineations of Indian character, these children of
nature are represented as savages and barbarians, and in the mind of a
large portion of the community the sentiment still prevails that they
were blood-thirsty, revengeful, and merciless, justly a terror to both
friends and foes. Children are impressed with the idea that an Indian is
scarcely human, and as much to be feared as the most ferocious animal of
the forest.
Novelists have now and then clothed a few with a garb which excites your
imagination, but seldom has one been invested with qualities which you
would love, unless it were also said that through some captive taken in
distant war, he inherited a whiter skin and a paler blood.
But I am inclined to think that Indians are not alone in being
savage--not alone barbarous, heartless, and merciless.
It is said they were exterminating each other by aggressive and
devastating wars, before the white people came among them. But wars,
aggressive and exterminating wars, certainly, are not proofs of
barbarity. The bravest warrior was the most honored, and this has been
ever true of Christian nations, and those who call themselves christians
have not yet ceased to look upon him who could plan most successfully the
wholesale slaughter of human beings, as the most deserving his king's or
his country's laurels. How long since the pean died away in praise of the
Duke of Wellington? What have been the wars in which all Europe, or of
America, has been engaged, That there has been no records of her history?