Collection: Notes on the Iroquois

Necariage Indians

The Tuscaroras were probably admitted into the confederacy about 1714. Nine years afterwards the Iroquois received the Nicariages. Under this name the long expatriated Quatoghies, or Hurons, then living at Teiodonderoghie or Michilimackinac, were taken into the confederacy as the Seventh Tribe, or canton. This act was consummated in the reign of George II, at a public council held at Albany on the 30th May, 1723, on their own desire. A delegation of 80 men, who had their families with them, were present. Of this curious transaction but little is known. For although done in faith, it was not perceived that a tribe so far separated from the main body, although now reconciled, and officially incorporated, could not effectually coalesce and act as one. And accordingly, it does not appear, by the subsequent history of the confederacy, that they ever came to recognize, permanently, the Necariages as a Seventh Nation. The foundation for this act of admission had been laid at a prior period by the daring and adroit policy of Adario, who had so skillfully contrived to shift the atrocity of his own act, in the capture of the Iroquois delegates on the St. Lawrence, on the Governor-General of Canada. It has been mentioned, in a preceding page of this report, that the Iroquois recommended their political league as a model to the colonies, long before the American...

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Moral and Social Condition of the Iroquois People

The gospel was preached to the Iroquois as well as to the several tribes of Algonquin origin, who lined the banks of the Hudson and the Delaware, early in the 17th century. The Reformed Church of Holland does not appear to have underrated its duties in this respect, while the Holland States, under a hereditary President or Stadtholder, were extending their civil jurisdiction and commercial enterprise on this continent, notwithstanding the want of any direct evidence, that the conversion of the Indians constituted a fixed part of the policy of the servants and governors of the West India Company, to whose lot it fell to introduce the arts and commerce of the mother country. It was the common impression of those times, not only in Holland, the center of theological discussion, but in the reformed churches generally, that civilization and the arts must precede the introduction of Christianity among barbarous and idolatrous nations, and it was under such views, that the gospel was first carried to India and to Iceland by the pious zeal of the German reformers. The impulse which had been imparted to the subject through the zeal and devotion of Xavier and Loyola, and the energetic spirit of making proselytes and converts, which characterized the particular order of the Romish church, which they founded, impressed the rulers of Spain, France and Portugal, with a deep sense...

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Mohawk Vocabulary

Mohawk Vocabulary 1 God Niyoh 2 Devil Onesohrono 3 Man Rongwe 4 Woman Yongwe 5 Boy Raxaa 6 Girl Kaxaa 7 Child Exaa 8 Infant Owiraa 9 Father (my) Rakeniha 10 Mother (my) Isteaha 11 Husband (my) Teyakenitero 12 Wife (my) Teyakenitero 13 Son (my) Iyeaha 14 Daughter (my) Keyeaha 15 Brother (my) Akyatatekeaha 16 Sister (my) Akyatatoseaha 17 An Indian Ongwehowe 18 Head Onontsi 19 Hair Ononkwis 20 Face Okonsa 2 1 Scalp Onora 22 Ear Ohonta 23 Eye, Okara 24 Nose Onyohsa 25 Mouth Jirasakaronte 26 Tongue Aweanaefhsa 27 Tooth Onawi 28 Beard Okeasteara 29 Neck , Onyara 30 Arm Onontsa 31 Shoulder Oghneahsa 32 Back, Oghnagea 33 Hand Osnosa 34 Finger Osnosa 35 Nail Ojiera 36 Breast Aonskwena 37 Body Oyeronta 38 Leg Oghsina 39 Navel Oneritsta 40 Thigh Oghnitsa 41 Knee Okwitsa 42 Foot Oghsita 43 Toe Oghyakwe 44 Heel Grata 45 Bone Ostiea 46 Heart Aweri 47 Liver Otweahsa 48 Windpipe Ratoryehta 49 Stomach Onekereanta 50 Bladder Oninheaghhata 51 Blood Onegweasa 52 Vein Oginohyaghtough 53 Sinew Oginohyaghtough 54 Flesh Owarough 55 Skin Oghna 56 Seat Onitskwara 57 Ankle Osinegota 58 Town Kanata 59 House Kanosa 60 Door Kanhoha 61 Lodge Teyetasta 62 Chief Rakowana 63 Warrior Roskeahragehte 64 Friend Atearosera 65 Enemy Shagoswease 66 Kettle Onta 67 Arrow Kayonkwere 68 Bow Aeana 69 War club Yeanteriyohta kanyoh 70 Spear Aghsikwe 71 Axe Atokea 72...

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Letter from Rev. William Hall to Henry R. Schoolcraft

Letter from Rev. William Hall to Henry R. Schoolcraft Allegany Mission, Sept. 8th, 1845 DEAR SIR: Your inquiries in relation to the state of religion, education, &c., among the Indians of this reservation, if I rightly understand them, are briefly answered as follows: Christianity very much prospered here during the four years next preceding the past. The number of church members during that period, was nearly tripled, and very encouraging additions were made to their know ledge and zeal. But the past year has been one of stupidity and drought. There has, however, been four additions from the Indians, made to the church, by profession of faith, and two whites. The present number of Indian members is about one hundred and fifteen. The number of whites is eight. Seven of the Indian members are under censure. I have sustained three schools during the past summer, in which about eighty Indian children have been more or less taught. One of these schools, whose whole number is only about thirty, gives an average attendance of nearly twenty-five. In this neighborhood the population is sufficiently compact for a farming community, and the younger parents are partially educated. In the other neighborhoods, the population is very sparse, and the parents very ignorant. The consequence is, that the daily attendance falls short of one half the whole number of scholars, and cannot be called...

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Letter from Rev. Gilbert Rockwood to Henry R Schoolcraft

Letter from Rev. Gilbert Rockwood to Henry R Schoolcraft. Tuscarora Mission, August 1, 1845. SIR: In the following communication, you can make use of such statements as you may deem proper. If all the statements should not be necessary for your official objects, yet they may be interesting to you as an individual. This mission was commenced about fifty years since, under the care of the “New York Missionary Society.” It was transferred to the ” United Foreign Mission Society,” in 1821, and to the ” American Board of Com. for Foreign Missions,” in 1826. The church was organized in 1805, with five persons. The whole number of native members who have united since its organization is 123. The present number of native members is 53; others 5, total 58. Between July 1st, 1844, and July 1st, 1845, there were only three admissions, two by profession and one by letter. About one-third of the population attend meeting on the Sabbath. Their meeting house was built by themselves, with a little assistance from abroad. They have also a schoolhouse, the expense of which was nearly all defrayed by themselves. There is but one school among them, which is kept the year through, with the exception of the vacations. The teacher is appointed by the American Board. The number of scholars the past year is not far from 50. I have...

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Letter from Rev. William McMurray to H. R. Schoolcraft

Letter from Rev. Wm. McMurray to H. R. Schoolcraft Dundas, November 11th, 1845. MY DEAR SIR I have just received the vocabularies, with the Indian words, from the Rev. Adam Elliot, of Tuscarora, to whom I sent them for the translation. The cause of the delay was his severe illness, and the difficulty of getting suitable persons to give him the Indian. He says, before you publish, if you will send him, through me, the proof sheets, he will have them corrected for you, and forwarded without delay. He is an amiable and most excellent man. Yours, most faithfully, WILLIAM...

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Letter from Rev. Asher Bliss to Henry R. Schoolcraft

Letter from Rev. Asher Bliss to Henry R. Schoolcraft. Cattaraugus Mission Sept. 4th, 1845. DEAR SIR Agreeably to your request I forward you some facts in regard to the establishment and progress of the gospel among the natives of this reservation. The Cattaraugus Mission Church was organized July 8th, 1827, (which is a little more than 18 years.) It consisted of Mr. William A. Thayer, the teacher, his wife, and 12 native members. There have been additions to it from time to time, until the whole number who have held a connection with this church is one hundred and eighteen. Thirteen of these have been white persons and most of them connected with the mission family. Of the one hundred and five native members seven or eight have come by letter from other reservations, so that the number who have united on profession of faith is a little short of one hundred. Twenty-five of these have gone to their final account. Some have died in the triumphs of faith, and we humbly hope and trust that they are among the blessed, in the kingdom of our common Father. A number (as it was natural to expect from converts out of heathenish darkness) have apostatized from Christianity, and returned to their former courses. The proportion of these is not probably more than one in ten. Between sixty and seventy are...

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Letter from Mr. Richard U. Shearman to Henry R. Schoolcraft

Letter from Mr. Richard U. Shearman to Henry R. Schoolcraft. Vernon, October 4th, 1845. SIR: I completed the enumeration of the Oneida Indians some days ago, but delayed sending a return to you to ascertain the Indian names. It doubtless contains all the information you require at this particular time. Several families are included in the marshal’s enumeration of the inhabitants of the town of Vernon. The remainder reside in Madison county. The houses of these Indians are generally much better than the log houses of the whites, being constructed of hewn, even jointed logs, with shingle roofs and good windows. There are three good frame houses belonging to them; one of these is a very handsome one, belonging to Skenado. I noticed in it some tasty fringed window curtains and good carpets. The Indians whom you met at Oneida were the flower of the tribe, being mostly farmers, who raise a sufficiency of produce for their comfortable support. There are several heads of families in my list, who cultivate no land of their own, but gain subsistence by chopping wood and performing farm labor for others. The whole number of families, I make, as you will perceive, 31. The whole number of houses I believe is but 28, but in each of these houses I found two families. The number of persons is 157. The count of last...

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Letter from Mr. D. E. Walker to Henry R, Schoolcraft

Letter from Mr. D. E. Walker to Henry R. Schoolcraft. Batavia, July 26th, 1845. MR. SCHOOLCRAFT: I have visited the mound on Dr. Noltan’s farm. Nothing of great importance can be learned from it. I should think it about fifty rods from the creek, and elevated, perhaps, some eight feet above the general level of the ground. A similar one is also found about two miles south of this, and, as is this, it is on high ground, of circular form, and with a radius of about one rod. They were discovered about thirty or thirty-five years since. Nothing has been found in them, save human bones. The first, some nine or ten years since, was nearly all ploughed up and scraped into the road. It is said that; “sculls, arms and legs were seen on fences, stumps and the high-way for a long time after they were drawn into the road.” On, some two miles beyond the second was discovered a burial-ground. At that place were ploughed up shell, bone, or quill-beads. Near this place was found a brown earthen pot, standing between the roots of a large tree, (maple, they think) and with a small sapling grown in it, to some six inches in diameter. Beads of shell, bone or porcupine quills have often been found. I would have remarked, that on the first mound stood a...

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Letter from Mr. Cusick to Henry R. Schoolcraft

Letter from Mr. Cusick to Henry R. Schoolcraft August 4th, 1845. It appears to me, very great difficulties are in the way of finding out and becoming acquainted with the discovery of all ancient traditions, and what original stock we came from. So far as our recollections extend according to our traditions of many centuries, the aborigines who inhabited the vast wilderness in this great continent, now North America, were guided and led by a certain man, who stood highest in dignity, and next to the Supreme Being, who is called Tharonyawago, that is to say, being interpreted, the Holder of Heavens. He was the great leader of the Red Men, and he regulated and taught how to divide the country and rivers, and mode of their living, and manners of costume and ceremonies, in many centuries. The Tuscaroras were descended from the Iroquois; they emigrated from the Five Nations to the Southern Country in North Carolina, and when the Iroquois used to send expeditions and war parties to go to war with other Indian tribes in that quarter, these parties went to the Tuscarora towns in North Carolina, and found a resting place and refreshment, and they used to be in the habit of intermarriage with each other, they have never been to war against each other, and they were always on terms of good friendship and connexion....

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Letter from L. T. Morgan, Esq., to H, R. Schoolcraft

Letter from L. T. Morgan, Esq., to H, R. Schoolcraft. Rochester October 7, 1845. Sir: You have doubtless seen a notice of the great council of the Six Nations, recently held at Tonawanda. We call it great, because we never saw any thing of the kind before, and perhaps never will again. Three of us started in season, and spent the whole of last week in attendance, and were also joined by Mr. Hurd, a delegate from Cayuga. We were there before the council opened, and left after the fire was raked up. Our budget of information is large, and overthrows some of our past knowledge, and on the whole, enlarges our ideas of the vastness and complexity of this Indian fabric. We are a great way from the bottom yet; we may never reach it, but what we do bring up to the surface, remunerates richly for the search. We learn that at the establishment of the confederacy, fifty sachem-ships were founded, and a name assigned to each, which they are still known by, and which names every sachem of the several sachemdom, from the beginning to the present time, has borne. There were also fifty sub-sacheins, or aids; that is, to every sachem was given a sub-sachem to stand behind him in a word, to do his bidding. These sachemships are still confined to the five nations;...

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Letter from J. V. H. Clark to Henry R. Schoolcraft

Manlius, Oct. 6th, 1845. H. R. SCHOOLCRAFT, ESQ., DEAR SIR Agreeable to your request I have been upon the grounds in our vicinity once occupied as forts and places of defense. So devastating has been the hand of time and the works of civilized men, that little can now be possibly gleaned by observation. Our main reliance in these matters must depend almost entirely upon the recollections of early settlers and traditions. Many of these accounts, as you are aware, are differently related by different individuals, and not infrequently in material points contradictory. From careful investigation and inquiry I have been enabled to add a little to what I had previously gathered and referred you to, in the New York Spectator. A locality in the town of Cazenovia, Madison co., near the county line, and on Lot 33, Township of Pompey, Onondaga co., called the “Indian Fort” was not described in that paper. It is about four miles southeasterly from Manlius village, situated on a slight eminence, which is nearly surrounded by a deep ravine, the banks of which are quite steep and somewhat rocky. The ravine is in shape like an ox-bow, made by two streams, which pass nearly around it and unite. Across this bow at the opening, was an earthen wall running southeast and northwest, and when first noticed by the early settlers, was four or...

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Letter from Frederick Follet to Henry R. Schoolcraft

Letter from Frederick Follet to Henry R. Schoolcraft Batavia, Oct. 25, 1845. Dear Sir My private and public duties together prevented my making a visit to “Fort Hill,” until the 22d inst. and I proceed to give you my ideas of that formation. The ground known as “Fort Hill” is situated about three miles north of the village of Le Roy, and ten or twelve miles northeast from Batavia, the capitol of Genesee county. The better view of “Fort Hill” is had to the north of it, about a quarter of a mile, on the road leading from Bergen to Le Roy. From this point of observation it needs little aid of the imagination to conceive that it was erected as a fortification by a large and powerful army, looking for a permanent and almost inaccessible bulwark of defense. From the center of the “Hill,” in the northwesterly course, the country lies quite flat immediately north, and inclining to the east, the land is also level for one hundred rods, when it rises nearly as high as the “Hill,” and continues for several miles quite elevated. In approaching the “Hill” from the north it stands very prominently before you, rising rather abruptly, though not perpendicularly, to the height of eighty or ninety feet, extending about forty rods on a line east and west, the corners being round or truncated,...

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Letter from C. Dewey to Henry R. Schoolcraft

Letter from C. Dewey to Henry R. Schoolcraft, Fort Hill. This is celebrated as being the remains of some ancient work, and was supposed to have been a fort. Though the name is pronounced as if hill was the name of some individual, yet the place is a fort on a hill, in the loose use of the word. The name designates the place as Fort Hill, to distinguish it from the hills which have no fort on them. Neither is it a hill, except as you rise from the swale on the north, for it is lower than the land to which it naturally belongs. As you pass towards Fort Hill in the road from LeRoy village, which is about three miles to the south, you descend a little most of the distance to this place. The road passes a little west of the middle of the space nearly north and south. The shape is quadrangular, and is shown in the diagram or ground plot. On the right and east side is the deep water course of Allen s Creek, cut down through the rocks for a mile or more, perhaps one hundred and thirty feet deep; on the north is that of Fordham’s Brook, of nearly the same depth, which drains a wide swale from the north and northwest; and on the west is a short and deep...

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Letter from S. A. Goodwin to Henry R. Schoolcraft

Letter from S. A. Goodwin to Henry R. Schoolcraft Auburn, Oct. 17, 1845. My Dear Sir I received yours of the 2d inst. in due course of post, and now send you, at the first practicable moment, a diagram and sketch of the ” Old Fort.” My engagements have been such as to prevent my going out to Geneva, and making a trip to the old fortification alluded to. As to the other one here referred to by McAuley, it is just back of my house, and as soon as I have time to make an examination I will...

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