Location: Madison County NY

Stockbridge Tribe

Stockbridge Indians. A tribe of the Mahican confederacy, first known under the name Housatonic. They occupied part of the valley of Housatonic river, in south Berkshire county, Mass. Their principal village, Westenhuck, was for a long time the capital of the Mahican after the removal of the council fire from Schodac. They had another village at Skatehook. In 1734 Sergeant began missionary work among them, and two years later the several bands were collected on a tract reserved for their use by the Colonial government. After the village of Stockbridge was established they were known as Stockbridge Indians. The French and Indian war, which broke out in 1754, proved disastrous to the Stockbridge. Many of them joined the English army and their town suffered from marauding parties, so that at the close of the war there were only about 200 remaining. The whites were also closing in around them, and in 1785 the dispirited remnant, accepting an invitation of the Oneida, removed to a tract on Oneida creek in Madison and Oneida county, New York, where a new village sprang up. The removal required two years. Under the protection of the Oneida the Stockbridge again increased, and in 1796 numbered 300. In 1833, with the Oneida and Munsee, they removed to a tract at the head of Green bay, Wis., which had been purchased from the Menominee. Here they...

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The Location of the Fort Ticonderoga

It is utterly impossible, from the Champlain text and map, aided by the best modern charts, and an accurate knowledge of the country, to establish, with any certainty, the exact position of the Iroquois fort. The location which I suggested was on or near Onondaga Lake, 4 leagues or 10 miles from the great Iroquois fishery at the foot of Oneida Lake. The limits of this article forbid my presenting at this time my reasons for this conclusion I will therefore confine myself to an examination of General Clark’s position. He locates the fort on Nichols Pond, in the north-east corner of the town of Fenner, in Madison County, 3 miles east of the village of Perryville, and 10 miles by an air line, south of the east end of Oneida Lake. The following are some of the reasons suggested by Champlain’s text and engraved view, against this proposed location. First. Nichols Pond is over 24 miles, measured on a direct line, from the outlet of Oneida Lake, where the expedition crossed that stream. By any route practicable in 1615, it could not have been reached by less than 30 miles travel, owing to the intervening impassable swamps. Champlain states that the fort was 4 leagues (10 miles) from the “fishery,” a distance more likely to be exaggerated than understated. Second. The expedition reached the fort at 3 P....

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Downfall of the Iroquois Confederacy

“The Pawnees, following the buffalo in his migrations, and having always plenty of animal food to subsist upon, are a much better fed and a larger race than those who find a precarious subsistence in the forest chase, while the woodland tribes, who, though not so plump in form, are of a more wiry and, perhaps, muscular make, have again a decided advantage in figure and gait over the fishing and trapping tribes of the North-west that pass most of their time in canoes. This difference in character and physical appearance between the different Indian [tribes], or rather between those which have such different methods of gaining a livelihood, has not been sufficiently attended to by modern authors, though it did not escape the early French writers on this country. And yet, if habit have any effect in forming the character and temper of a rude people, it must of course follow that the savage who lives in eternal sunshine upon flowery plains, and hunts on horseback with a troop of tribesmen around him, must be a different being from the solitary deer-stalker who wanders through the dim forest, depending upon his single arm for subsistence for his wife and children.” The advent of the European nations to the American continent was the precursor alike of the downfall of the Iroquois Confederacy and the ultimate extinction of the American...

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Oneida and Cayuga join the Iroquois Confederacy

“The Oneida and Cayuga,” says Gallatin, “are said to have been compelled to join [the confederacy.] Those two tribes were the younger and the three others the older members.” Zinzendorf, speaking of the Iroquois, says “the Oneidas and Cayuga are their children.”–Indian tribes of North America. “By the early French writers, the Mohawks and Oneidas were styled the lower or inferior Iroquois; while the Onondagas, Cayuga and Seneca, were denominated the upper or superior Iroquois, because they were located near the sources of the St. Lawrence. The Mohawks, who are commonly supposed to be the first nation in the confederacy and were considered the most warlike people in the land, were also styled elder brothers of the other nations, and so esteemed themselves. To [them] was always accorded the high consideration of furnishing the war captain, or ‘Tekarahogea,’ of the confederacy, which distinguished title was retained with them till the year 1814, when the celebrated Hoa-ho-a-quah, an Onondaga, was chosen in general council at Buffalo to fill that important station. The political and social organizations of the Iroquois though simple in their structure were effective in their operation. They were calculated to violate as little as might be the high regard this people had for individual liberty, which they required should be the largest, consistent with the general welfare. The method by which they secured efficiency without imposing undue...

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Onondaga Council Fire

All business between other nations and the Iroquois was brought to the council fire of Onondaga,(*) and the conclusion there reached carried with it all the weight of a kingly edict. The deliberations of the sachems were conducted with the utmost decorum, and a rigid adherence to their notions of parliamentary usage which challenged the admiration of civilized nations. No speaker interrupted another. Each gave his opinion in turn, but not until he had stated in full the subject of discussion, to prove that he understood it, and had repeated the arguments pro and con of previous speakers. Thus their debates were exceedingly prolix, but resulted in a thorough sifting of the matter in hand. Their sachems received no compensation for their services. Honor and esteem were their chief rewards; shame and being despised, their punishment. Their principal men, both sachems and chiefs, were generally poorer than the common people; for they affected to give away and distribute all the presents or plunder they got by treaty or in war.(+) They held their office by reason of merit and the esteem in which they were held by the people, and forfeited this distinction when that esteem was lost. Thus while the system held out ample incentives to valorous achievement, there was nothing to tempt the covetous and sordid. A respect for native superiority, and a willingness to yield to...

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The Iroquios Council

The Chippewa, however, furnished an exception to this rule. With them the son of a chief had a legal right to succeed his father. The rule, though binding, was very elastic, and capable of stretching to the farthest limits of the tribe–each tribe being allowed to select its chief from among its own members. Almost invariably the chief was succeeded by a near relative, always on the female side; but if these were manifestly unfit, his successor was chosen at a council of the tribe from among remoter kindred, in which case he was nominated by the matron of the late chief’s household. 1Lafitau. In any event the choice was never adverse to the popular inclination. 2Parkman. The new chief was inducted into office by a formal council of the sachems of the league; and on assuming its duties he dropped his own name and substituted that which, since the formation of the league, had belonged to his especial chieftainship. 3Parkman. The chief was required to be a skillful hunter, if not the best in his tribe, and liberal with his game. He must also be a good physician, and able to advise and assist the sick in every circumstance. It was his duty to take care of orphans, to harbor strangers, and to keep order in the town. But he, like the sachem, had no power of compulsion;...

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The Adirondacks

The Iroquois were not always the same fierce, rapacious and blood-thirsty people which they are now familiarly known to have been, but were once engrossed in the peaceful pursuits of the husbandman. Colden graphically relates the circumstances which led them in a measure to forsake that occupation, and involved them in a war with the Adirondacks, in which they were engaged when the French first settled Canada. We quote: “The Adirondacks formerly lived three hundred miles above Trois Rivers, where now the Utawawas are situated; at that time they employed themselves wholly in hunting, and the Five Nations made planting of corn their business. By this means they became useful to each other, by exchanging corn for venison. The Adirondacks, however, valued themselves, as delighting in a more manly employment, and despised the Five Nations, in following business, which they thought only fit for women. But it once happened that the game failed the Adirondacks, which made them desire some of the young men of the Five Nations to assist them in hunting. These young men soon became much more expert in hunting, and able to endure fatigue, than the Adirondacks expected or desired; in short they became jealous of them, and, one night, murdered all the young men they had with them. The Five Nations complained to the chiefs of the Adirondacks of the inhumanity of this action;...

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Tuscarora Incorporated into the Confederacy

From the conquered nations they exacted tribute, and drew conscripts for their armies. The Tuscaroras, who resided in Carolina, were incorporated into the confederacy in 1715, and thereafter they were known as the Six Nations. From the extent of their conquests, the number of their subject nations, and the tribute and military aid rendered them by the latter, they have been called the “Romans of the New World.” When we reflect that of their own warriors they could bring into the field barely 2,000 braves, and with this number subjugated nations numerically more than twice as large, and spread terror and consternation among the French settlements in Canada, threatening their utter extinction, the magnitude of their achievements may be faintly comprehended. Their great successes, however, are scarcely referable to the perfection of their military organization, which, though unquestionably better than that of their neighbors, was wretchedly poor. Occasionally, though rarely, they acted in concert as a great confederacy; but usually their wars were carried on by detached parties, small in numbers, or at best by individual nations, by whom their great conquests were mostly made. They were in a chronic state of warfare, and were easily diverted from other pursuits whenever an opportunity offered to avenge their enemies. The inveterate wars waged by them against their kinsmen, as for instance the Hurons, Eries and Andastes, all mighty and valorous...

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Hiawatha Speaks to the Tribes

At length he regained his composure and took his seat in the council, whose deliberations were participated in by the ablest counselors of the assembled nations. At the conclusion of the debate, Hiawatha, desiring that nothing should be done hastily and inconsiderately, proposed that the council be postponed one day, so that they might weigh well the words which had been spoken, when he promised to communicate his plan for consideration, assuring them of his confidence in its success. The following day the council again assembled and amid breathless silence the sage counselor thus addressed them: “Friends and Brothers: You are members of many tribes and nations. You have come here, many of you, a great distance from your homes. We have convened for one common purpose, to promote one common interest, and that is to provide for our mutual safety, and how it shall best be accomplished. To oppose these hordes of northern foes by tribes, singly and alone, would prove our certain destruction; we can make no progress in that way; we must unite ourselves into one common band of brothers. Our warriors united, would surely repel these rude invaders and drive them from our borders. This must be done and we shall be safe. “You, the Mohawk, sitting under the shadow of the ‘great tree,’ whose roots sink deep into the earth, and whose branches spread...

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Taounyawatha – Deity of the Forest

This was a part of the broad domain of the Iroquois 1Iroquois was the French name for the five confederated nations of Indians residing mostly within this State. By the Dutch they were called “Maquas.” They denominated themselves “Mingoes,” meaning United People – Clark’s Onondaga. Their true name is “Hodenosaunee” or “People of the Long House,” because the five nations were ranged in a long line through Central New York, and likened to one of their long bark houses. Parkman’s Jesuits. Ruttenber says they bore the title of “Aquinosbione,” or “Konosbioni,” having the same meaning. Confederacy,   which extended, in general terms, from the Hudson to the Genesee, and from the north to the south boundary of this State. This confederacy was composed of the following nations, located in the following order from east to west, the Mohawk, (Ganeagaonos,) 3The Iroquois termination in one, means people.–Parkman’s Jesuits. Its origin is buried in the obscurity of vague tradition and was unknown to civilized nations in 1750. 4Coldens Five Nations. on the river which bears their name, the Oneida, (Onayotekaonos) Onondaga, (Onundagaonos) Cayugas, (Gwengwehonos) and Seneca, (Nundawaonos) mostly adjacent to the lakes which bear their names. The traditions of the Iroquois ascribe it, as well as the origin of the individual nations, to a supernatural source. They, like the Athenians, sprung from the earth itself. “In remote ages they had been confined...

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Iroquois Ceremonies

Among the Iroquois, and, indeed, all the stationary tribes, there was an incredible number of mystic ceremonies, extravagant, puerile, and often disgusting, designed for the cure of the sick or for the general weal of the community. Most of their observances seem originally to have been dictated by dreams, and transmitted as a sacred heritage from generation to generation. They consisted in an endless variety of dances, masquerading, and nondescript orgies; and a scrupulous adherence to all the traditional forms was held to be of the last moment, as the slightest failure in this respect might entail serious calamities. Dreams were the great Indian oracles, and were implicitly obeyed. They believed them to be direct emanations from the Great Spirit, and as such were immutable laws to them. From this source arose many of their evils and miseries. In them were revealed their destiny and duty; war and peace, health and sickness, rain and drouth, were all revealed by a a class of professional dreamers and dream interpreters. Wizards and witches were the great bane of the Iroquois, and objects of utter detestation. Murder might be condoned, but witchcraft was punishable with death in all cases. Any one might kill a witch on sight with impunity. They believed that witches could transform themselves at will into any one of the wild animals or birds, or even assume the shape...

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Iroquois Feasts

Prodigality was as much a characteristic of their feasts as their dances and other amusements, with which they were often associated, and like them are supposed to have had their origin in religion. They were often participated in by whole villages, sometimes even by neighboring villages, and in this way a vain or ambitious host applied all his substance to one entertainment. Br‚beuf relates an instance of this kind which occurred in the winter of 1635, at the village of Contarrea, where thirty kettles were over the fires, and twenty deer and four bears were served up. 1Parkman’s Jesuits. The invitation was simple and consisted in the concise summons, “Come and eat.” To refuse was a grave offense. Each guest took his dish and spoon and as he entered, greeted his host with the ejaculation, Ho! He then ranged himself with the rest, squatted on the earthen floor or on the platform along the sides of the house, around the steaming kettles. A long prelude of lugubrious singing preceded the feast. The host, who took no share in the feast, then proclaimed in a loud voice the contents of each kettle and at each announcement the company responded in unison, Ho! The attendant squaws then filled the bowls of the guests, who interspersed their feasting with talking, laughing, jesting, singing and smoking, at times protracting the entertainment throughout the...

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Iroquois Towns

The Indian towns were generally but an irregular and confused aggregation of Indian houses, clustered together with little regard to order, and covering from one to ten acres. They were often fortified, and a situation favorable to defense was always chosen–the bank of a lake, the crown of a difficult hill, or a high point of land in the fork of confluent rivers. These defenses were not often constructed with any mathematical regularity, but made to conform to the nature of the ground. 1The forts attacked by Champlain in 1615 and M. de Tracy in 1666, furnish exceptions to this statement, and the diagram of the former also shows that the inclosed village was built with great regularity. The former was in the form of a hexagon, without bastions, “with strong quadruple palisades of large timber, thirty feet high, interlocked the one with the other, with an interval of not more than a foot between them, with galleries in the form of parapets, defended with double pieces of timber;” and the latter was a triple palisade, twenty feet in height, and flanked by four bastions. Both were provided with the means of extinguishing fires. Water was conducted to the former from a pond with a never-failing supply of water by means of gutters; while in the latter it was kept in bark tanks; Voyages de la Nouv. France par...

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History of the Iroquois Indians

We have no authentic history of a people inhabiting this country anterior to those who occupied it on the advent of the Europeans, and who are classed under the generic term Indians. Even their history prior to their intimate association with civilized people is shrouded in obscurity and is transmitted to us in the form of vague and fragmentary legends. The aborigines were a barbaric race and have left no written history, except that we occasionally discover traces of their rude paintings and still ruder engravings. But this is in a measure compensated by the more enduring relics, consisting of the implements of husbandry, the chase and war, which the plow and other means of excavation have numerously disclosed. Their fortified villages and places of burial are rich also in suggestive incidents. 1The Indians were accustomed to bury with their dead various articles of ornament and use, which, it was supposed, would be serviceable in their passage to a future abode, of which the most barbaric had some conception. Taounyawatha – Deity of the Forest Hiawatha Speaks to the Tribes Oneida and Cayuga Join the Confederacy Onondaga Council Fire The Iroquios Council The Adirondacks Tuscarora Incorporated into the Confederacy Downfall of the Iroquois Confederacy Iroquois Domestic and Social Life Iroquois Social Interactions Iroquois Feasts Iroquois Towns Iroquios Personal Ornamentation Iroquois Religion Iroquois Ceremonies Footnotes:   [ + ] 1. ↩ The...

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Iroquois Domestic and Social Life

We purpose giving in this chapter some of the more prominent features of Indian domestic and social life, which furnish the best index to their true character. The Indian, viewed as a distinct branch of the human family, has some peculiar traits and institutions which may be advantageously studied. They furnish the key to those startling impulses which have so long made him an object of wonder to civilized communities, and reveal him as the legitimate product of the conditions attending his birth, his forest education, and the wants, temptations and dangers which surround him. They show him also to be as patient and politic as he is ferocious. “America, when it became known to Europeans, was, as it had long been, a scene of wide-spread revolution. North and South, tribe was giving place to tribe, language to language; for the Indian, hopelessly unchanging in respect to individual and social development, was as regarded tribal relations and social haunts, mutable as the wind. In Canada and the northern section of the United States, the elements of change were especially active. The Indian population which, in 1535, Cartier found at Montreal and Quebec, had disappeared at the opening of the next century, and another race had succeeded, in language and customs widely different; while in the region now forming the State of New York, a power was rising to a...

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