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Witchcraft–Case of Tom. Jemmy

In the spring of 1821, a man belonging to Red Jacket’s tribe, fell into a languishing condition, and after lingering for some time, unable to obtain relief, died. The “medicine men” were unable to divine the cause of his malady; the circumstances of his sickness and death, were thought to be very peculiar, and his friends could discover no better way of explaining the matter, than to suppose he had been bewitched. The Indians believed in sorcery, and at different times in their history had been known to execute summary judgment, on those whom they supposed to be guilty of practicing the Satanic art. In the present instance suspicion rested on the woman, by whom he had been attended, during his sickness. In pursuance of the customs of their nation she was condemned to die. The sentence was executed by Soo-nong-gise, a chief, commonly called Tom Jemmy. It took place at their reservation near Buffalo. Coming to the knowledge of the whites in the vicinity, it excited feelings of horror, mingled with indignation. The case was taken in hand by their authorities, who without regard to Indian jurisdiction, arrested Tom-Jemmy and threw him into prison. At his trial the plea was set up in his defense, that the Indians were a sovereign and independent nation, having their own laws, and their own mode of carrying them into execution; that the offense was within the acknowledged bounds of their own territory, that according to their laws, it was not a crime, inasmuch as the act of the prisoner was in the execution of a sentence, that had been passed upon...

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