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Ancient Work On Buffalo Creek

Chapter 31
Page 122

A. denotes the site of the mission house; B, of the council house; D, of the battle field, or that portion of it where the result was consummated; F, the grave yard. At C, there are still the re mains of a mound, which tradition asserts was raised over the incinerated bodies of victor and vanquished slain in battle. These bodies were piled together, interspersed with the carcasses of deer and other game, which had been hunted with the special view, that it might be offered as a sacrifice with the bodies, or to appease their spirits in the land of the dead. In making partial excavations into this mound, which has been frequently plowed over in modern times, I procured

Ancient Work On Buffalo Creek
Page 123

several partially charred or blackened bones, supposed to represent parts of the human and brute species; a proof, it would seem, of the truth of this curious part of the tradition.1 Mixed in the funeral pile, there were set vessels of pottery, with drinks offered as libations to the dead. And it is certain, also, that pieces of reddish coarse pottery were obtained at the same time, in making these partial examinations.

The dotted lines are designed to show the probable figure and ex tent of the work, from the accounts of the Indians. That it was a circular work, appears to be denoted by the only parts of the wall yet remaining, which are drawn in black. The site itself was elevated moderately above the plain. There is no reason to suppose that this elevation of the surface was artificial. The relative position of the creek is denoted by G. H marks the position of a stone, which is connected with the history of their domestic arts, before the disco very of the country. It was not practicable to obtain accurate ad measurements of distances; the design being merely to present a pencil sketch.

1. The Indian name of Buffalo Creek, which gives name to the city, has been variously written. In the treaty of 1784, at Fort Stanwix, it is called "Tehoseroron," which is the Mohawk term, the final n being probably designed to convey a nasal sound. The word, as pronounced to me by the late Mrs. Carr of Wellington square, Canada, who was a daughter of the celebrated Brandt, I have written Tehoseroro, meaning Place of the Linden tree. The letters d and t are interchangeable between the Mohawks and Senecas. The latter, who at the same time do not use the letter r, and have some peculiarities in the use of the vowels, pronounce it in a manner which I thought should be written Deoseowa, as above. Mr. Wright, in his "Mental Elevator" and "Seneca Spelling Book, makes it a word of four syllables, and uses the sound of y as heard in "yonder," for the vowel e in his second syllable. Every practised ear is acute to satisfy its own requisitions of sound, which is not easy in unwritten languages; and there is besides a marked difference in the pronunciation of Indians from different localities, or uttered under different circumstances. Mr. Ellicott, on his original plat of Buffalo, writes it Tushuway." Others have spelt it still differently. The meaning of the word has excited but little difference of opinion. It denotes a locality of the linden or basswood tree, a species found upon the rich bottom lands of this stream, whose bark was highly valuable to these tribes for covering their lodges, and for the tough and fibrous inner coat, which at an early time served them to make both twine and ropes.

Whence then, it may be asked, is the origin of the word Buffalo, since it is not found in the Indian term? Tradition denotes that the range of this animal once extended to the banks of the great lakes. There was a current opinion among the early travelers along the shores of Lake Erie, that the bison had been seen and killed on this creek. Whether the impression arose from, or was traceable, in part or wholly, to a deception of certain hunters in bringing in "other flesh," under the denomination of Buffalo meat, as has been said, it would be difficult to determine. From whatever cause, it is certain that the stream acquired the popular name it now bears at an early day, whilst the aboriginal name was neglected.

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Iroquois General Ethnology - Table of Contents
Iroquois General Ethnology of Western New York

Notes About the Book:

Source: Notes on the Iroquois or, Contributions to the Statistics, Aboriginal History, Antiquities and General Ethnology of Western New York, By Henry R. Schoolcraft, 1846, Senate Document, Twenty-Four.

Online Publication: The manuscript was scanned and then ocr'd. Minimal editing has been done, and readers can and should expect some errors in the textual output.

This site includes some historical materials that may imply negative stereotypes reflecting the culture or language of a particular period or place. These items are presented as part of the historical record and should not be interpreted to mean that the WebMasters in any way endorse the stereotypes implied.


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