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The Saponi and Tutelo Indians
Posted By Dennis Partridge On In Native American,North Carolina,Virginia | No Comments
The Tutelo and Saponi tribes must be considered together. Their history under either name begins in 1670.
As already stated, Monahassanugh and Nahyssan are other forms of Yesan, the name given to themselves by the last surviving Tutelo, and which seems to have been the generic term used by all the tribes of this connection to designate them as a people. The name Saponi (Monasickapanough?) was generally limited to a particular tribe or aggregation of tribal remnants, while the Iroquois name Tutelo, Totero, or Todirich-roone, in its various forms, although commonly used by the English to designate a particular tribe, was really the generic Iroquois term for all the Siouan tribes of Virginia and Carolina, including even the Catawba. In 1722 the remnants of all the tribes of Virginia and the adjacent parts of Carolina, included under this general designation by the Iroquois, had been gathered at Fort Christanna and were commonly known collectively as Christanna Indians or Saponi. After their removal to the Iroquois country in the north the Iroquois collective term, Tutelo, became more prominent. In deference to Hale, who first established their Siouan affinity, we have chosen to use the form Tutelo, although Totero is more in agreement with the old authorities. With the Iroquois it takes the tribal suffix rone, as Todirich roone. Hale states that, so far as known, the name has no meaning either to the Tutelo, who call themselves Yesang, or to the Iroquois. As the name is used by Batts and Lawson it probably belongs to some southern language and was adopted by the Iroquois. It frequently happens that Indian tribes cannot interpret their common tribal designations, but know themselves simply as “the people.”
The next reference to either of these tribes is in 1686, when the French missionary Lambreville reported that the Seneca of New York were preparing to go against the “Tolere,” a misprint for Totere. In 1699 we find the Earl of Bellomont writing from New York as to the convenience of Carolina for treaty with the Shatera (misprint of Totera), Twichtwicht (Miami), and Dowaganhas (Shawano) Indians, “and a world of other nations,” which the northern tribes had informed him were as numerous as the sands on the seashore.
In their frontier position at the base of the mountains the Saponi and Tutelo were directly in the path of the Iroquois, whose war trail toward the Catawba crossed the Dan at a point between the mouths of Smith River and Mayo River, about on the line of the present railroad. Unable to withstand the constant assaults of their northern enemies, the two western tribes abandoned their villages and removed (sometime between 1671 and 1701) to the junction of the Staunton and the Dan, where they established themselves adjoining their friends and kinsmen the Occaneechi, whose history thenceforth merges into theirs. The Occaneechi, of whom more will be said later, although now themselves reduced by the common enemy, had been an important tribe They occupied at this time a beautiful island about 4 miles long, called by their tribal name, lying in the Roanoke a short distance below the forks of the stream, in what is now Mecklenburg county, Virginia. Above and below Occaneechi Island, in the same stream, were two other islands, of nearly equal size. The Saponi settled on the lower of these, while the Tutelo took possession of the upper one just at the confluence of the two rivers. How long they remained there is not definitely known, but it is evident they were not able to hold their position, even with the river on all sides as a protecting barrier, for in 1701 all three tribes were far down in Carolina – uniting their decimated forces and preparing to remove into the English settlements. They may have been driven from their position on the Roanoke by that general Indian upheaval, resulting from the conquest of the Conestoga or Susquehanna by the Iroquois about 1675, which culminated in Virginia in the Bacon rebellion. In 1733 Byrd visited the islands, and found tall grass growing in the abandoned fields. On the Tutelo island he found a cave where, according to his story, “the last Tetero king,” with only two men, had defended himself against a large party of Iroquois and at last forced them to retire.
After Lederer and Batts, the next definite information comes from John Lawson, the surveyor-general of North Carolina. With a small party he left Charleston, South Carolina, on December 28, 1700, and, after ascending Santee and Wateree rivers to the Catawba country, struck across and came out about seven weeks later on Pamlico River in North Carolina. A considerable portion of his journey was along the great Indian trail and trader’s route, known to the Virginia traders as the Occaneechi or Catawba path, which extended from Bermuda Hundred, on James River, in Virginia, to Augusta, Georgia. He had intended to follow this trail to Virginia, but was obliged to leave it at the Occaneechi village (near the present site of Hillsboro, North Carolina), and turn southeastward on account of the alarm created by a fresh inroad of the dreaded Iroquois.
While stopping at the village of the Waxhaw on a small eastern tributary of the Catawba, just within the limits of South Carolina, a messenger arrived from the Saponi to arrange some tribal business with the Waxhaw. The visitor had his entire face painted with vermilion, and carried a cutlass in his belt and a gun in his hand. His coming was celebrated that night by a masquerade dance, to which Lawson and his party were invited.
Continuing on his journey, in the course of which he found several fresh reminders of the Iroquois in the shape of stone heaps erected to commemorate several of their victims slain near the path, he arrived at last at the Saponi village, situated on Yadkin river, in the neighborhood of the present Salisbury, North Carolina: Lawson calls the stream Sapona, and incorrectly supposed it to be a branch of Cape Fear river. The name is still retained in connection with a small village a few miles northeast of Salisbury in Davidson County. He has much to say of the beauty of the stream, making constant music as it rippled over its rocky bed in unison with the songs of innumerable birds on the hills round about. He declares that all Europe could not afford a pleasanter stream, and describes the surrounding country as delicious, leaving nothing to be desired by a contented mind.
He found the people as friendly as the location was agreeable, and rested there several days as the special guest of the chief, who had lost an eye in defense of an English trader, and who added to his dignity as a chief the sacred character of a medicine-man. While here the Englishmen were well entertained with feasting and presents of game and medical dissertations by one of the Indian doctors. Near the village they noticed several stone sweat-houses, which were in frequent use, especially for rheumatic pains due to exposure in the woods.
From one of the Totero with whom he talked at this village he found that a powder made from the so-called bezoar stone, a hairy concretion sometimes found in the stomach of the deer and other ruminants, was in great repute among their hunters, who believed that when blown into the eyes it strengthened the sight.
The Saponi had recently taken prisoner several “Sinnagers” (Iroquois), whom they were preparing to burn when Lawson arrived. The burning was to be by the horrible splinter torture, in which the body of the victim was stuck full of pine splinters, which were then lighted like so many candles, while the sufferer was compelled to dance around a fire until his strength failed and he fell, when the tomahawk put an end to his agony. A ceremonial feast was always an accompaniment of the tragedy. Before the burning, however, some “Toteros” (Tutelo) came down from their tribe living in the neighboring mountains toward the west, probably about the headwaters of the Yadkin, and asked possession of the prisoners in order to send them home to their own people in the north, in return for a generous act of the Iroquois who had some time before captured some Totero and, instead of killing them by torture in the usual fashion, had treated them kindly and then released them to go back to their friends, with the parting message that by such conduct they might hope to bring about a permanent peace. The matter was debated by the Saponi, who finally delivered the prisoners to the Totero to be by them conducted back to their home in the north. They repented of their kindness, however, a night or two later, when a terrible storm nearly blew down the village, all owing, so the chief said, to the devil’s anger because they had not put the prisoners to death. However, as the chief was a priest as well as a king, be ran out into the storm and began his conjurations at a great rate, and, said Lawson, “I thought he would have been blown away or killed before the devil and he could have exchanged half a dozen words; but in two minutes the wind was ceased and it became as great a calm as ever I knew in my life” – evidently the first Carolina cyclone on record.
Lawson described the Totero as tall and robust, which he ascribes to their plentiful diet of buffalo, elk, and bear meat. This agrees with Lederer’s account of the Nahyssan thirty years before. By this time (1701) the Saponi and Tutelo had been driven entirely out of Virginia; where Lederer and Batts had found them in 1670 – 271, and had become so reduced in numbers that they were then combining with the Keyauwee, Occaneechi, and Shoccoree – all five tribes numbering together only about 750 souls – and were moving into the neighborhood of the Carolina settlements to escape their enemies from the north. Hale is in error in supposing from Lawson’s narrative that the Tutelo and Saponi in 1701 had found shelter from the Iroquois by placing between themselves and their destroyers the “living rampart” of the Tuskarora. The error grows out of Lawson’s supposition that Sapona river is identical with the Cape Fear, while, as a matter of fact, he had in mind the Yadkin; and the Tutelo and Saponi were then at least a hundred miles west of the Tuskarora and in the direct line of the Iroquois war parties sent out against the Catawba. As the Tuskarora were friends and kinsmen of the Iroquois, who made their villages a resting place on these southern incursions, the smaller tribes had nothing to expect from them until the war, a few years later, had broken the power of the Tuskarora and rendered them dependent on the whites.
In regard to the location on the Yadkin of the Saponi and their allied tribes and to the causes of their removal from that stream, Byrd in 1728 says:
They dwelt formerly not far below the Mountains, upon Yadkin River, about 200 Miles West and by South from the Falls of Roanoak. But about 25 Years ago they took Refuge in Virginia, being no longer in condition to make Head not only against the Northern Indians, who are their Implacable enemies, but also against most of those to the South. All the Nations round about, bearing in mind the Havock these Indians us’d formerly to make among their Ancestors in the Insolence of their Power, did at length avenge it Home upon them, and made them glad to apply to this Government for protection.
As there will be frequent occasion to refer to Lawson’s narrative, his route, which has been the subject of much misapprehension, may be described in some detail. His own guesses are often misleading, as much of the country through which he passed was still unexplored, and he constantly confounded the numerous large streams met with in the interior with the two or three with which he was acquainted along the coast. Starting from Charleston, South Carolina, he went by water to the mouth of the Santee, which he ascended 20 or 30 miles to the French settlements. Then, taking the trail from Charleston, which came in near the present railroad crossing, he followed the eastern side of Santee, Wateree, and Catawba rivers, passing in succession through the territories of the Sewee, Santee, Congaree, Wateree, and Waxhaw tribes, until be came to the Catawba (Esaw and Kadapaw) on the boundary between South Carolina and North Carolina. Here he took the great trading path from Virginia to Georgia and followed it into North Carolina as far as the Occaneechi village, about the present Hillsboro, North Carolina. On this part of the journey he encountered the Sugeree, Saponi, Keyauwee, and Occaneechi, and crossed several rivers and smaller streams. His “Sapona” river, supposed by him to be a branch of the Cape Fear, is the Yadkin, which he crossed at the traders’ ford near the site of Salisbury. Here was the Saponi village; the name being still ‘commemorated in a small station on the northern side of the river. His “Rocky river,” miles farther on, is probably Abbott creek, and his “Haw or Reatkin” is the Haw, which he forded about at the present railroad crossing at Graham. In fact, the Richmond and Danville railroad from Hillsboro, North Carolina, through Greensboro, Salisbury, and Charlotte, into South Carolina, is laid out almost exactly on the line of the old Occaneechi trail along which Law– son traveled. It is evident that he was not aware of the existence of the Yadkin or Pedee as a distinct stream, as in crossing it he supposes it to be a branch of Cape Fear river, and later on confounds it under the name of “Reatkin” with the Haw or main upper portion of the same stream. At the Occaneechi village near Hillsboro, commemorated in the “Occaneeche hills” at that town, he left the trading path and struck off in a southeasterly direction toward the English settlements on the coast. His general course was down along the western bank of Eno and Neuse rivers until he crossed over to the northern bank about the falls near the railroad crossing at Wake Forest, where he entered the territory of the Tuskarora. He then continued down between the main Neuse and the Cotentney, probably passing near the site of Goldsboro, until he turned northward and crossed the latter stream about the present railroad crossing at Grifton, afterward continuing across the Tar or Pamlico at Greenville or lower down, and finally coming out at the English settlements on Pamlico river around the present Washington and Bath. Although it is not an easy matter to follow these old explorers through an unnamed and unsurveyed country, the problem is simplified if it is remembered that the principal Indian settlements, even though successively abandoned and reoccupied through the constant shifting of tribes, were usually situated in the most favorable locations for the future cities of the whites, and as the principal trails naturally followed the best lines of travel between these Indian settlements the wagon roads of the early settlers, and afterward the railroads, were laid out nearly on the same lines.
Soon after Lawson’s visit in 1701 the Saponi and Tutelo left their villages on the Yadkin and moved in toward the settlements, being joined on the way by the Occaneechi and their allied tribes. The name of Saponi creek, near Nashville, North Carolina, probably indicates the line of this eastward migration. Together they crossed the Roanoke, evidently before the Tuskarora war of 1711, and made a new settlement, called “Sapona Town,” a short distance east of that river and about 15 miles westward from the present Windsor in Bertie County, North Carolina. For information in regard to this settlement, which appears to have escaped the notice of historians, I am indebted to the kindness of Dr E. W. Pugh, of Windsor, to one of whose ancestors the land in question was deeded by the last remaining of the Tuskarora on their removal to New York. That tribe lived originally along the waters of the Neuse, and did not occupy this territory until after the Tuskarora war, when, in 1717, that portion of the tribe which had remained friendly was settled north of the Roanoke in Bertie County. From a reference in a document of 1711, shortly after the outbreak of the Tuskarora war, it appears probable that the Saponi were already established there in 1711. In the next year the government of North Carolina took steps to engage their help against the hostile Tuskarora, leaving the Saponi to make their own terms, and promising to provide for their families in the meantime if they would remove into the settlements, which at that time were confined to the northern shore of Albemarle sound. As they evidently had no reason to love the Tuskarora it is probable that this invitation was accepted, for a few months later it was proposed to get the assistance of the Saponi in cutting off the retreat of the hostiles on the north. It was believed that the Nottoway and Meherrin, who were of the Iroquoian stock, could not be trusted for such service. The negotiation was left to Virginia, whose energetic governor, Spotswood, possessed almost boundless influence over all the tribes of that neighborhood.
From all accounts it appears that there was always bad feeling between the Saponi and their confederates on the one side and the Tuskarora, Nottoway, and Meherrin-all Iroquoian tribes-on the other, after they became near neighbors, so that it required the constant effort of the English to adjust their quarrels and prevent them from killing one another. In 1709 the Saponi chief complained that the Nottoway and Tuskarora had killed two of his people. On this the Nottoway replied that the Saponi had killed three of theirs and wounded two others not long before, and they thought it reasonable that they as well as the Saponi should have satisfaction. Then the Saponi proposed, according to the Indian custom, that the Nottoway should pay for the two murdered Saponi, which the Nottoway agreed to do provided the Saponi would pay for the three Nottoway, on which the disgusted judge to whom they had come told them that if they would make such bargains among themselves he would have nothing to say, but it was not in the white people’s law to sell men’s lives for money. The Saponi then tried to shift the blame upon the Tutelo, but the Nottoway answered that they were both as one people, and further stated that they had some time ago paid the Saponi a quantity of wampum to help them exterminate the Tutelo ; but that the false Saponi, after taking the wampum, had broken their promise and privately warned the Tutelo of the designs of their enemies. To settle the whole matter the Nottoway proposed that if the Saponi would fulfill their agreement and join them against the Tutelo, they (the Nottoway) would not only let them keep the wampum, but would also pay them for the two men killed. The Saponi chief promised to take the matter under consideration and returned home; while the judge wrote to the Virginia government that if a Tuskarora was delivered up to be killed by the Saponi some English lives would certainly pay for it.
About this time the Saponi, Tutelo, and confederated tribes removed from North Carolina through the persuasions of Governor Spotswood, of Virginia, who settled them near Fort Christanna, 10 miles north of Roanoke River, about the present Gholsonville, in Brunswick County, Virginia. Their village was close to Meherrin River, and the name of Totaro district, south of Meherrin River and southeast of Lawrenceville, in Brunswick county, preserves their memory. The exact date of this removal does not appear, but it was probably shortly after the opening of the Tuskarora war, which began with the general massacre of September 22, 1711. Spotswood’s object in procuring their removal to the fort was to draw away the Saponi and their confederates from an alliance with the hostile tribes and to make them a barrier between the latter and the Virginia settlements, as well as to render the Saponi more secure from the attacks of time Iroquois. The name of Saponi creek and chapel, in Dinwiddie County, dating back at least to 1733, indicates that they sometimes extended their excursions north of Nottoway river. They gained nothing, however, by their removal to Fort Christanna, for by so doing they became embroiled in constant quarrels with the neighboring Nottoway and Meherrin and with the remnant of the Tuskarora on Roanoke river, while their old enemies, the Iroquois, still continued their attacks, even after they had agreed to make peace, in 1722. There is evidence that the refugee Tuskarora who had fled to New York had a great deal to do with instigating the Iroquois to these outrages.
As is always the case when wild tribes come in contact with civilization, the result was rapid degradation through the work of unprincipled white men, who aided in their destruction by debauching their morals and ruining their systems with liquor, resulting in continual quarreling and bloodshed.
The one bright spot in the darkening history of the dying tribes is the effort made by Governor Spotswood to have their children educated, but this also ended in failure, as seems to be the fate of every attempt at making the Indian a white man. During the war with the Tuskarora, in 1711-1712, this energetic and benevolent Virginia governor conceived the idea of securing the fidelity of the smaller tribes and advancing their younger generation in civilization by putting the children of the chiefs into the college established for the purpose at Williamsburg by Mr. Boyle. In this way lie hoped to accomplish lasting good results for the Indians, while at the same time securing hostages for their good behavior. He also sent a schoolmaster to the Saponi, at an annual salary of 50 pounds, to instruct their children. For this purpose he selected Charles Griffin, described as “a man of a good family, who, by the innocence of his life, and the sweetness of his temper, was perfectly well qualify’d for the pious undertaking. Besides, lie had so much the secret of mixing pleasure with instruction, that he had not a scholar, who did hot love him affectionately.” So gentle a worker could hardly fail to accomplish good, but in the midst of his labor he was called away to the college and the Saponi were left to their original barbarism, so that the only result of his teaching was to make them somewhat cleaner in habit than other Indians.
Notwithstanding their vicinity to the whites, the Saponi were still subjected to the inroads of the Iroquois, even under the pins of Fort Christanna. In April, 1717, a party of Catawba and others of the smaller tribes of South Carolina, who had been engaged in the Yamasi war, arrived at the fort to conclude a peace and leave a number of their children to be educated as a pledge of their good faith. While camped outside the fort, having previously delivered up their arms to the commander, they were attacked during the night by a party of Iroquois who killed five and carried off a number of prisoners, including the chief of the Catawba. From one of the prisoners who made his escape it was learned that the Iroquois had come down to surprise the Saponi, and that they threatened to return in a short time and massacre the whole tribe, with any of the whites who might be disposed to befriend them. On being called to account for this outrage by the English representatives at Albany, the Iroquois claimed that the Catawba themselves, whom also they called Toderichroone, had acted treacherously three years before in killing five of their men while asleep, the night after they had made a treaty of peace. They declared that all the Indians in those southern parts had been for a long time the enemies of the Iroquois, who had such hatred against them that they had even taken them prisoners out of the very houses of the Christians.
In conclusion they asserted that the report that they intended to attack the Saponi or the whites of Virginia was false, and that they desired to be friends of the English and of their Indian allies, and proposed that commissioners might be sent from Virginia to meet them at Albany and conclude a firm and lasting peace.
As a result of this mutual desire for peace a conference was held at Albany, New York, in September, 1722, which was attended by representatives of the Five Nations of Iroquois, with their allies, the Tuskarora, Shawnee, and others, then living on the Susquehanna, and by the governors of New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, including Governor Spotswood himself. A treaty was there concluded between the Iroquois and their allies on the one side, and Virginia and her tributary Indians, including those of Carolina, on the other, by which an end was made to the exterminating warfare that had so long been waged between the northern and southern tribes; and the Potomac and Blue ridge were made the boundaries between the two parties. The Iroquois agreed that in their southern excursions they would keep within the mountains and would not cross the Potomac or come beyond the Blue ridge without the knowledge and consent of Virginia, and Governor Spotswood, on behalf of the southern tribes, promised that they would not go beyond the same boundaries to the northward without the same permission. To render the agreement more binding, Spotswood made it a provision of the treaty that any of the Iroquois who were found within the proscribed limits without authority should be hanged or transported as slaves. To this hard condition the Five Nations willingly consented, but magnanimously declared for themselves that should they meet any of the southern tribes on the northern side of the boundary they would give them food and treat them as friends, in order that peace might remain assured. It is clear that the Iroquois had some rudimentary philanthropy not learned from the whites.
The Virginia tribes for whom Governor Spotswood particularly engaged are named as “The Nottoways, Meherins, Nanemonds, Pamunkeys, Chichominys, and the Christanna Indians whom you call Todirichroones that we comprehend under the name, the Saponies, Ochineeches, Stenkenocks, Meipontskys and Toteroes, all the forenamed Indians having their present settlements on the east side of the high ridge of mountains and between the two great rivers of Potomack and Roanoke” . Although small parties several times violated the agreement then made, the Iroquois as a body always respected it, and the long war which they had waged against the Virginia tribes thus came to an end. The Shawano and other tribes of Ohio valley, however, kept up their raids on the Catawba to the close of the French and Indian war.
In 1728 (1729 by an error in the Byrd manuscript) the boundary line between Virginia and North Carolina was run by commissioners and surveyors from each colony. William Byrd was the chief commissioner for Virginia and has left us a valuable account of Their Adventures, told in the rarest and raciest old English. For guides and hunters they engaged two Saponi Indians from Fort Christanna, Saponi, be it remembered, being used as a collective designation for all the Siouan tribes there established. One of the two became sick and returned, but the other, whose name was Bearskin, accompanied them and proved most excellent company, keeping them well supplied with meat all the way to the foothills and back again. This same Bearskin as much deserves a monument as did the old Cornish woman, for upon him depends nearly all that we have of the language and folklore of the Saponi tribe. As they advanced slowly westward along the line, cutting through thickets, wading swamps, and fording rivers, he told them the name of each stream in turn in his own language, with the meaning in English. Sitting around the camp-fire at night he taught them the secrets of the woods and the things of the spirit world. The few words of his language which we thus obtain are unmistakably Siouan, and although we cannot be sure that they are really Saponi and not Tutelo, we have the concurrent assertion of every authority from Lederer and Byrd down to old Nikonha, the last of the Tutelo, that the language of both was the same, with no more than a dialectic difference.
Among the local names which Bearskin gave are Moni-seep or “shallow-water,” the ford where the trading path crossed the Roanoke nearly due north of Warrenton, North Carolina; Massa-moni or “paint creek,” so called on account of the red ocher which lined its banks, now Island creek, joining the Roanoke south of Boydton, Virginia; Yapatsco or Yatapsco, “beaver creek,” so called on account of a high beaver darn built across it; Ohimpa-moni, “jumping creek,” so named on account of the jumping of the fish there during the spring (probably identical with Grassy creek); Tewawho-mini, or “Tuskarora creek,” so called because a Tuskarora had been killed there and his body thrown into the water (identical with Aaron creek); and Hico-oto-moni, or “turkey-buzzard river,” so called from the great numbers of buzzards that roosted in the trees in its neighborhood (now known as Hyco or Hycootee river). In these names the mold or mini is the same word mini, “water” (in Tutelo mani), which appears in the Dakota names Mini-sota “cloudy water,” and Mini-haha, “laughing water.” Massa, here rendered paint, or ocher, is probably the generic term for mineral or metal, which appears in the Dakota language as ma”za, in Tutelo as mas or mass, and in Biloxi as maxi. The word for beaver, which is embodied in the name Yapatsco, is yaop iu Tutelo, chaps in Dakota, and shape in Osage. In the North Carolina records the name is spelled Yapatio, which is probably nearer the true form of Yapa-tio, “beaver lodge.” Hega in Omaha and hecha in Dakota is a buzzard, and tipi or ti is a house or lodge, so that Hico-oto-moni would be in Dakota, if used in that language, Hecha-oti-mini, “buzzard lodge water.” In Tutelo and Biloxi the word for house is ati. Moni-seep, the name of the ford, appears in the Carolina records as Mony Shap. In the Dakota language chopa, and in the cognate Kansa jupshe, signify to ford. Two other words mentioned, evidently also of the Saponi language, are maosti, “turkey-cock beard,” and cohunks, “wild goose,” the latter being an onomatope. In the journal of the same expedition, as printed in the North Carolina Colonial Records, the names sometimes appear in slightly different form through misprints or carelessness in the original writing.
From Byrd and his .Saponi informant several little points in regard to Indian habit and belief are obtained. Although not always definitely so stated, the references are usually intended to apply to the Saponi, and their associated tribes – the Tutelo, Occaneechi, and others at Fort Christanna.
Fire was made by rubbing together two dry sticks of papaw wood, the process requiring about ten minutes. On the occasion of any religious ceremony new fire was always made for the purpose from two sticks which had never before been used, as it was deemed a sacrilege to use the fire already kindled. From the fiber of a kind of “silk grass” the women made a strong thread from which they wove baskets and the aprons which formed the chief part of the woman’s dress. These aprons or skirts were wrapped round the body and hung from the waist to the knee, bordered with a fringe at the bottom. Spoons were made of buffalo horn, and the Indians believed that these spoons would split and fall to pieces if poison were put into them. Skins were dressed with deer’s brains, a method which the English learned to pattern, and the skin was sometimes stretched over a smoke to dry it more speedily. They annointed their bodies with bear’s grease as a protection against mosquitos and all other insects. A diet of bear’s meat was supposed to increase the generative power. It was believed that venison and turkey (i. e., the flesh of birds and of quadrupeds) must never be cooked together, on penalty of provoking the anger of the hunting gods, who would drive the game away so that the offending hunter would never be able to kill anything afterward. When the party laughed at Bearskin’s fears on this score and deliberately violated the taboo to convince him that he was in error, he took the precaution afterward when he had shot a buck and a wild turkey together, of leaving the turkey behind and bringing only the deer into camp, in order to put such a sacrilege out of their power. They justified their laying of the heavier burdens on the weaker sex by a tradition that work had originally come upon the human race through some fault of the woman.
The general statement of the Saponi belief in regard to the spirit world, as obtained from Bearskin in a Sunday night talk around the fire, is best told in the language of Byrd himself, always making liberal allowance for the preconceived notions of a white man who did not claim to be an ethnologist. The transmigration idea here set forth agrees with what Lederer says of the same people:
In the evening we examin’d our friend Bearskin, concerning the religion of his country, and he explain’d it to us, without any of that reserve to which his nation is subject, He told us he believ’d there was one supreme God, who had several sub-altern deities under him. And that this master-God made the world a long time ago. That he told the sun, the moon, and stars, their business in the beginning, which they, with good looking after, have faithfully perform’d ever since. That the same power that made all things at first has taken care to keep them in the same method and motion ever since. He believ’d. God had form’d many worlds before he form’d this, but that those worlds either grew old and ruinous, or were destroyed for the dishonesty of the inhabitants. .
That God is very just and very good-ever well pleas’d with those men who possess those God-like qualities. That he takes good people into his safe protection, makes them very rich, fills their bellies plentifully, preserves them from sickness, and from being surpriz’d or overcome by their enemies. But all such as tell lies, and cheat those they have dealings with, he never fails to punish with sickness, poverty and hunger. and, after all that, suffers them to be knockt on the head and scalpt by those that fight against them.
He believ’d that after death both good and bad people are conducted by a strong guard into a great road, in which departed souls travel together for some time, till at a certain distance this road forks into two paths, the one extremely levil, and the other stony and mountainous. Here the good are parted from the bad by a flash of lightening, the first being hurry’d away to the right, the other to the left.. The right hand road leads to a charming warm country, where the spring is everlasting, and every month is May; and as the year is always in its youth, so are the people, and particularly the women are bright as stars, and never scold. That in this happy climate there are deer, turkeys, elks, and buffaloes innumerable, perpetually fat and gentle, while the trees are loaded with delicious fruit quite throughout the four seasons. That the soil brings forth corn spontaneously, without the curse of labour, and so very wholesome, that none who have the happiness to eat of it are ever sick, grow old, or dy. Near the entrance into this blessed land sits a venerable old man on a mat richly woven, who examines strictly all that are brought before him, and if they have behav’d well, the guards are order’d to open the crystal gate, and let them enter into the land of delights.
The left hand path is very rugged and uneaven, leading to a dark and barren country, where it is always winter. The ground is the whole year round cover’d with snow, and nothing is to be seen upon the trees but icicles. All the people are hungry, yet have not a morsel of anything to eat, except a bitter kind of potato, that gives them the dry-gripes, and fills their whole body with loathsome ulcers, that stink, and are insupportably painfull. Here all the women are old and ugly, having claws like a panther, with which they fly upon the men that slight their passion. For it seems these haggard old furies are intolerably fond, and expect a vast deal of cherishing. They talk much, and exceedingly shrill, giving exquisite pain to the drum of the ear, which in that place of the torment is so tender, that every sharp note wounds it to the quick. At the end of this path sits a dreadful old woman on a monstrous toad-stool, whose head is cover’d with rattle-snakes instead of tresses, with glaring white eyes, that strike a terror unspeakable into all that behold her. This hag pronounces sentence of woe upon all the miserable wretches that hold up their hands at her tribunal. After this they are deliver’d over to huge turkey- buzzards, like harpys, that fly away with them to the place above mentioned. Here, after they have been tormented a certain number of years, according to their several degrees of guilt, they are again driven back into this world, to try if they will mend their manners, and merit a place the next time in the regions of bliss.
This was the substance of Bearskin’s religion, and was as much to the purpose as cou’d be expected from a meer state of nature, without one glimps of revelation or philosophy.
On their return from the mountains their guide left them as they approached the settlements and hurried on ahead. As the commissioners drew near Meherrin River all the chiefs of the Saponi came out to meet them, and among them was their old friend Bearskin, dressed in all his ceremonial finery. The whole party was on horseback, which was evidently in greater honor of the occasion, as the distance from the village was only 3 miles, and, as Batts says, they had probably walked as far on foot to catch their horses. But these timber Indians were very different from the free rangers of the plains, for the traveler declares that they rode more awkwardly than a Dutch sailor. With them came several women, who rode man-fashion, as do the women of all the tribes. The men are described as having something great and venerable in their countenances, beyond the common mien of savages, which agreed with their reputation as the most honest and brave Indians the Virginians had ever known. Anyone familiar with the facial type and bearing of the Sioux or Osage will understand what it was that struck the observer so forcibly in the appearance of these Saponi.
Continuing, the traveler says:
This people is now made up of the remnant of several other nations, of which the most considerable are the Sapponys, the Occaneches, and Steukenhocks, who not finding themselves separately numerous enough for their defense, have agreed to unite into one body, and all of them now go under the name of the Sapponys. Each of these was formerly a distinct nation, or rather a several clan or canton of the same nation, speaking the same language, and using the same customs. But their perpetual wars against all other Indians, in time, reduc’d them so low as to make it necessary to join their forces together.
He goes on to tell how, about twenty-five years ago, they had fled from the Yadkin and taken refuge in Virginia, where Governor Spotswood, having a good opinion of their courage and fidelity, had settled them at Fort Christanna as a barrier against the attacks of other foreign Indians upon the settlements. His purpose was defeated, however, by the debauchery wrought among them by the whites, resulting in many disorders and culminating at last in a murder committed by one of their chiefs while drunk, and for which he was hanged after he had become sober. The ignominious manner of his death angered his people exceedingly, largely from an idea, common to other tribes, that the soul of the dead person, being prevented by this mode of execution from leavingo the body by the mouth, must necessarily be defiled. Some of the Indians took the matter so much to heart that they soon after left their settlement and moved in a body to the Catawba tribe. Byrd says that those who thus removed to the south were the Saponi proper, but this is certainly a mistake if intended to apply to the whole tribe. It is more probable that they were the Eno or the Keyauwee, or perhaps the Sara, the two former of whom had joined the Saponi and Tutelo about 1701, but were afterwards found incorporated with the Catawba, with whom also the Sara had confederated. He states also that the daughter of the Tutelo chief went away with them, but being the last of her nation, and fearing that she would not receive the treatment due her rank, she poisoned herself with the root of the trumpet plant. Her father, who had died two years before, had been a noted warrior who had made himself terrible to all other Indians by his exploits, and had escaped so many dangers that he seemed invulnerable, but died at last of an illness, the last man of his race and nation” . This is the same Tutelo chief previously mentioned as having defended himself so valiantly against the Iroquois on an island in the Roanoke, bat he was by no means the last of his race, as our author supposed.
In regard to the hanging of this Saponi chief and the general interference of the whites in the quarrels of the Indians, additional information is gathered from a document of 1728. From this It appears that some Saponi delegates went to the Catawba to bring back a hundred of them to demand satisfaction of the English for imprisoning their men. They also threatened that if a certain Captain Tom was hanged they would remove their women and children across the Roanoke and would then drive the whites beyond the James. Another one told the white man that the English had no business to come to the fort to concern themselves about the Indians killing one another.
Being restless and dissatisfied at the vicinity of the whites, and having now made peace with the Iroquois, the Saponi and Tutelo, with other confederated tribes, resolved to follow the example set by the Tuskarora and put themselves under the protection of the Iroquois in the north. Accordingly they abandoned their settlement near Fort Christanna and removed from Virginia into Pennsylvania, and by permission of the Iroquois established themselves at the Indian village of Shamokin on both banks of the Susquehanna just below the forks, where now is the town of Sunbury. The village was composed of the remnants of the Nanticoke and Conoy, with some Delaware, who, like the later immigrants, after having been driven out of their own country and impoverished by contact with the whites, had been received under the protection of the Iroquois and assigned lands within their territory. The exact date of this removal northward cannot be given, but it must have been about 1740. It was probably a gradual movement by small parties, extending over a period of several years. The immediate cause was doubtless the dissatisfaction growing out of the hanging of one of their chiefs by the Virginians about 1728. From a casual French reference it seems probable that they were still in the south in 1736. The Occaneechi probably accompanied them, while the Eno, Keyauwee, and Sara went southward and joined the Catawba.
In 1745 missionary David Brainerd visited Shamokin, which then contained about 300 Indians, of whom half were Delaware and the remainder Seneca and Tutelo, under which latter name he included all the emigrants from Fort Christanna. It is not certain, however, that all the Tutelo and Saponi were congregated at this village. The three tribes named as making up this small community spoke languages radically different. Three years later another missionary, David Zeisberger, passed through the same region and found the Tutelo, or a part of them, living farther up the northern branch of the Susquehanna at a village called Skogari, in what is now Columbia County, Pennsylvania. He describes it as “the only town on the continent inhabited by Tuteloes, a degenerate remnant of thieves and drunkards” . Two generations of civilization had evidently changed them from the honest and brave men described by Lederer and Lawson.
In 1753 the Cayuga formally adopted the Tutelo and Saponi, who thus became a part of the Six Nations. The measure was approved by Sir William Johnson, the English representative. At the same time the Oneida adopted the Nanticoke, as they had already received the Tuskarora. From this time the Tutelo and Saponi chiefs appear on equal terms with those of the Cayuga in the conclaves of the Iroquois League. In 1763 the Nanticoke and Conoy, with the “Tutecoes, Saponeys, etc.,” were reported by Johnson to number together 200 warriors. By “ettc.” may perhaps be understood the Occaneechi.
The Tutelo and Saponi did not at once remove to the Cayuga. In 1765 the Saponi are mentioned as having 30 warriors, living at Tioga (about Sayre, Pennsylvania) and other villages on the northern branch of the Susquehanna, in connection with the Delaware and Munsee. A part of them may have remained at Tioga until its destruction in 1778, but in 1771 the principal portion had their village in the territory of the Cayuga, about 2 miles south of Cayuga- lake and 2 miles south of the present Ithaca, New York. On the Guy Johnson map of 1771 it appears as Todevigh-rono (for Toderigh-rono); on another map of about the same date as Kayeghtalagealat; in Giant’s journal of 1779 as Dehoriss-kanadia, (apparently the Mohawk Tehoterigh-kanada, ” Tutelo town”) ; and in Dearborn’s journal as Coreorgonel .
Then came the Revolution, which resulted in driving half the Iroquois into Canada. The ‘Intel() village, with those of the Cayuga and Seneca, was destroyed by Sullivan in 1779. Most of the Cayuga fled with Brant to Canada and were settled by the British government on a reservation assigned to the Six Nations on Grand river in Ontario, on the northern side of Lake Erie. The Tutelo went with them and built their village on what is now known as “Tutelo Heights,” a suburb of Brantford, on the western bank of Grand river.
The last surviving Tutelo told Hale in 1870 that when his people came to Canada with Brant they parted with the Saponi at Niagara, and what became of the Saponi afterward lie did not know. He did know that the two tribes could understand each other’s speech. It is possible to settle the _question of the ultimate fate of the Saponi from the record of a treaty made with the New York Cayuga at Albany in 1789, in which it is stated that the “Paanese” (Sa-poonese), the “adopted brethren ” of the Cayuga, were then living with them on their reservation, near Salt Spring, on Seneca river, in Seneca county, New York. It is barely possible that some of their descendants, retaining the language, may still be found among the Cayuga in New York.
About sixty years ago, says Hale, when Brantford was a frontier hamlet, the Tutelo cabins were scattered over these heights, having in the center the “long house” wherein their councils were held and their festivals celebrated. They numbered then about 200 souls, and from all accounts were a jovial, uproarious lot, quite different from the sedate Iroquois among whom they lived. Nearer to the white settlements than the others, they sunk still lower into dissipation, until their systems had become so enfeebled that they became a prey to disease. When the cholera swept over the country in 1832 it carried off the greater portion of the tribe, and a second visitation in 1848 completed their destruction. The few survivors took refuge among the Cayuga and the Tutelo tribe ceased to exist. In 1870 only one full-blood Tutelo remained. This venerable remnant of a nation was said, when discovered by Hale in the year named, to be the oldest man on the reservation. He believed himself to be considerably over a hundred, and was a pensioner of the war of 1812. His memory went back to a time before the Revolution when his people were living together with the Saponi and the Patshenin (Occaneechi?). His Cayuga name was ” Old Mosquito;” his Tutelo name was Waskiteng. Hale describes him as having “a wrinkled, smiling countenance, a high forehead, half-shut eyes, white hairs a scanty, stubbly beard, fingers bent with age like a bird’s claws,” but withal a man of marked intelligence and much lively humor. His wife was a Cayuga and for many years he had spoken only that language, but he remembered well his own, and from him Hale obtained a sufficient vocabulary to establish the important discovery that the Tutelo is a Siouan tongue. This was published in the Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society in 1883, having been noted in the minutes of that society as early as 1879. Even on the threshold of his second century, the old man remembered that the tribes against whom the Tutelo had been most often at war had been the Tuskarora, Seneca, and Cayuga.
On a second visit to the reservation in October, 1870, Hale obtained some additional material from the old man, who died shortly after, in February, 1871, leaving none of full Tutelo blood behind. There are, however, several children of Tutelo mothers by Iroquois fathers still remaining, retaining their language and their name of Tutelo, according to the Indian law of descent through the female line. One of them (from whom other linguistic material was obtained) was even allowed to retain his seat in the councils of the league as the representative of the Tutelo, and to exercise the league privilege of making his address in the language of his tribe, after the tribe itself had disappeared.
In 1882 Dorsey visited the Grand River reservation in Canada, but found then only two persons of Tutelo blood remaining and retaining their language: From a letter obtained by him two or three years later, however, it appears that there was then at least one other Tutelo living somewhere else in Canada, probably with the Caughnawaga Mohawk or the Moravian Delaware, and still claiming title to lands in Virginia. As already stated there are probably a few Saponi still with the Cayuga in New York.
To this pitiful handful have come at last “the honestest and bravest Indians Virginia ever knew.”
Christanna Indians (collective).-Albany Conference (1722) in Byrd, Hist. Dividing Line, 1866, vol. i i, p. 253.
Christian Indians.-Albany Conference (1722) in N. Y. Documentary Colonial History, vol. v, p. 671 (misprint).
Christianna p. 673.
Paanese (for Sa-paahese).-Albany treaty (1789) in Hale, N. W. States, 1849, p. 70. Saps.-Lawson (1714), History of Carolina, 1860, p. 89.
Sapan.-Lederer, Discoveries, 1672, map.
Sapon.-Ibid., p. 2.
Saponas.-Lawson, op. cit., p. 83.
Sapones.-Drake, Book of the Indians, 1848, p. xii.
Sapongs.-Batts (1671) in N. Y. Doc. Col. Hist., vol, iii, p. 194 (misprint, g for y).
Saponeys.-Johnson (1763), ibid., vol. vii, p. 582.
Saponees.-Knight (1712) in N. C. Records, vol. i, p. 866.
Saponi.-Byrd (1728), Hint. Dividing Line, vol. i, p. 75.
Saponie.-Document of 1711 in N. C. Records, vol. i, p. 808.
Saponys.-Document of 1728 in Colonial Virginia State Papers, 1875, vol. i, p. 215.
Sapoones.-Croghan (1765) in Monthly American Journal of Geology, 1831, p. 271.
Sapoonies.-Hutchins (1768) in Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1787, p. 169.
Sappona.-Pollock (1712) in N. C. Records, vol. i, p. 884.
Sapponces:-Albany Conference (1717) in N. Y. Documentary Colonial History, vol. v, p. 490 (misprint, c for e).
Sapponees.-N. C. Council (1727) in N. C. Records, vol. ii, p. 674.
Sapponeys.-Document of 1709 in Colonial Virginia State Papers, 1875, vol. i, p. 131.
Sapponie.-N. C. Council (1726) in N. C. Records, vol. ii, p. 643.
Sapponnee.-Albany Conference (1717) in N. Y. Doc. Col. Hist., vol. v., p. 490.
Sappony.-N. C. Council (1727) in N. C. Records, vol. ii, p. 674.
Shateras.-Bellomont (1699) in N. Y. Documentary Colonial History, vol. iv, p. 488. (misprint for Tateras).
Taderighrones.-Index, ibid., 1861, p. 312.
Tadirighrones.-Albany Conference (1722), ibid., vol. v, p. 660.
Tatera.-Boudinot, Star in the West, 1816, p. 100.
Tedarighroones.-Mount Johnson Conference (1753) in N. Y. Documentary Colonial History, vol. vi, p. 811.
Tedarrighroones.-Ibid., p. 812.
Tedderighroones.-Index, op. cit.
Tedirighroonas.-Conference of 1756, ibid., vol. vii, p. 55.
Tehotirigh.-Hale, in Proc. Am. Philosoph. Soc., 1883-’84, vol. xxi, p. 11 (dialectic Iroquois form j.
Tehutili.-Ibid. (dialectic Iroquois form).
Tentilves.-Boudinot, Star in the West, 1816, p. 129 (for Teutilues).
Tetarighroones.-Mt. Johnson Conference (1753) in N. Y. Doc. Col. Hist., vol. vi, p. 814.
Tetero.-Byrd (1729), History of the Dividing Line, 1866, vol. i, p. 189.
Teuteloe.-Macauley, History of New York, 1829, yol. ii, p. 180.
Thedirighroonas.-Index, op. cit.
Thoderighroonas.-Conference of 1756 in N. Y. Documentary Colonial History, vol. vii, p. 136.
Tiederighroenes.-Cannajohary Conference (1759) in ibid., vol. vii, p. 380.
Tiederighroonas.-Mount Johnson Conference (1755) in ibid., vol. vi, p. 982.
Tiederigoene.–Stone, Life of Sir William Johnson, 1865, vol. i, p..485, note.
Tiederigroenes.-Mount Johnson Conference, op. cit., p. 964.
Tiutei.-Hale in Proc. Am. Philosoph. Soc., 1883-’84, vol. xxi, p. 11 (Iroquois dialectic form).
Tiuterih.-Ibid (Iroquois dialectic form).
Toalaghreghroonees.-Albany Conference, 1748, in N. Y. Documentary Colonial History, vol. vi, p. 447 (misprint).
Toataghreghroones. -Ibid., p. 441, note.
Toderechrones.-Albany Conference, 1722, op. cit., vol. v, p. 671.
Toderichroone.-Albany Conference, 1717, op. cit., vol. v, p. 491.
Toderieks.-Boudinot, Star in the West, 1816, p. 100.
Todevigh-rono.-Johnson map, 1771; fide Hale, Proc. Am. Philosoph. Soc., 1883-’84, vol. xxi, p. 8 (misprint, v for a).
Todirichroones.-Albany Conference, 1722, op. cit., vol. v, p. 673.
Tolera.-Batts, 1671, op. cit., vol. iii, p. 194 (misprint).
Tolere.-Lambreville, 1686, fide Hale, op. cit., p. 2 (misprint).
Toleri.-Index, op. cit., p. 313.
Torteros.-Logan, History of Upper South Carolina, 1859, vol. i, p. 33 (misquotation).
Totaly.-Macauley., History of New York, 1829, vol. ii, p. 166.
Totaro. -Dorsey, manuscript information. (A district in Brunswick County, Virginia, named from the tribe.)
Toteloes.-Schoolcraft, Indian Tribes, 1853, vol. iii, p. 196.
Toteras.-Brickell, Natural History of North Carolina, 1737, p. 343.
Toteris.-Index, op. cit., p. 313.
Toteros.-Lawson (1714), History of Carolina (reprint, 1860), p. 83.
Totierono.-Vaudreuil Conference (1756) in N. Y. Documentary Colonial History, vol. x, p. 500.
Totiris.-Chauvignerie (g), 1736, in ibid., vol. ix, p. 1057.
Totora. -Clay ton (1671) in Fernow, Ohio Valley, 1890, p. 221.
Totteros.-Spotswood (1711) in Burk, History of Virginia, 1805, vol. iii, opposite p. 89.
Tutecoes.-Johnson (1763) in N. Y. Doc. Col. History, vol. vii, p. 582 (misprint).
Tuteeves.-Plan of Management (1764) in ibid., vol. vii, p. 641 (misprint).
Tutela.-Brainerd (1745) in Day, History of Pennsylvania, 1843, p. 525.
Tutele, Tutelegi. -Gatachet, Shawano MS. (Shawano singular and plural forms).
Tutelee.-Zeisberger (1782), Diary, 1885, vol. i, p. 115.
Tuteloes.-German Flats Conference (1770) in N. Y. Documentary Colonial History, vol. viii, p. 229.
Tutie.-Hale, op. cit., p. 11 (Iroquois dialectic form).
Tutloe.-Macauley, op. cit., p. 169.
Tuttelars.-Document of 1756 in Rupp, Northampton County, 1845, p. 106.
Tuttelee.-Jones, Ojibway Indians, 1861, p. 21.
Tutulor.-Peters (1761) in Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll., 4th series, 1871, vol. ix, p. 440.
Yesan.-Hale, Letter of 1877, in Bureau of Ethnology (proper tribal name).
Yesah, Yesang.-Hale, op. cit., p. 11 (proper tribal name).
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