Topic: Six Nations

Early History of the Six Nations

Rising up from the obscurity of the past, we find a people, singular in their habits and character, whose history has been strangely, and in some respects sadly interwoven with our own. They were the original occupants of the soil, claiming to have lived here always, and to have grown out of the soil like the trees of the forest. Scattered over this continent were various Indian tribes, resembling each other in their general features and habits, but in some instances exhibiting stronger and more interesting traits of character than the others. Among these were the Iroquois, and if Red Jacket was distinguished among his own people, his own people were not less conspicuous among the North American Indians. He sprang from the Seneca, and was accustomed to speak of his origin with feelings of conscious pride. For the Seneca were the most numerous and powerful of the six nations, of whom they were a part. Such was the title given to that celebrated Indian confederacy which, for a length of time unknown to us, inhabited the territory embraced by the State of New York. Here they lived in a line of settlements extending from one end to the other, through the middle of the State, and their domain as thus occupied, they were accustomed to style their “Long House”. It was a shadowy dome, of generous amplitude, covered...

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Cornplanter in Disrepute

Not long after the large sale of their domain to Robert Morris, which had been negotiated at Big Tree, the Seneca began to realize that they had committed a great mistake. The broad lands, mountain, hill, and valley, over which they had roamed, the springs and streams of water by whose side they had been wont to encamp, and above all the graves of their sires, where affection’s altar had been hallowed by their sighs and tears, these were still in view, but they appeared not as in days gone by, to wear for them the smiles of old and long tried friends. They seemed to present a look and utter a voice of reproach, as though chiding them for having broken in upon the harmony of those time honored arrangements, which had bound them together, and the thought of this filled their minds with anxiety and grief. Had they been aware of the sorrow they would experience in looking upon these lands, as no longer their own, their consent to part with them would not so readily have been given. The reverse which thereupon took place in their minds, fell heavily on those who had taken the most active part of the business of selling their country. Cornplanter, having borne a prominent part in these proceedings, fell deeply under the displeasure of his people. Their displeasure was so...

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Temperance Society

About the year 1800, a new religion was introduced among the Six Nations, who alleged to have received a revelation from the Great Spirit, with a commission to preach to them the new doctrine in which he was instructed. This revelation was received in circumstances so remarkable and the precepts which he sought to inculcate, contained in themselves such evidences of wisdom and beneficence, that he was universally received among them, not only as a wise and good man, but as one commissioned by the Great Spirit to become their religious teacher, by the name of Ga-ne-o-di-yo , or “Handsomelake.” This new religion, as it has ever since been called, with all the ancient and new doctrines, was also taught, strenuously, the doctrine of Temperance, which seemed to be the main and ultimate object of his mission, and upon which he chiefly used his influence and eloquence through the remainder of his life. He went from village to village, among the several nations of the Iroquois, and continuing his visits from year to year, preaching the new doctrine with remarkable effect; many abandoned their dissolute habits and became sober and moral men. The wholesome doctrine of sobriety was not preached in vain, even among the Tuscaroras; nevertheless, they did not embrace the ancient and the new faith, nor its ceremonies, but the preaching of this singular person. The influence...

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Treaty of February 8, 1838

And also in the treaty of Feb. 8th, 1838, we find, in enumerating the several reasons for effecting a treaty at the above date, the following, commencing at line 20,928, in the Revision of Indian Treaties, viz: “as well as for the purpose of settling the long existing dispute between themselves, and the several tribes of the New York Indians, who claim to have purchased a portion of their lands, the undersigned, Chiefs and head men of the Menomonee tribe, stipulate and agree with the United States as follows: Article I. The Menomonee tribe of Indians declare themselves the friend and allies of the United States, under whose parental care and protection they desire to continue; and although always protesting that they are under no obligation to recognize any claim of the New York Indians to any portions of their country; that they neither sold nor received any value for the land claimed by these tribes, yet at the solicitation of their Great Father, the President of the United States, and as an evidence of their great love and veneration for him, they agree that such a part of the land described, being within the following boundaries, as he may direct, may be set apart as homes for the several tribes of the New York Indians, who may remove to and settle upon the same within three years from...

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Tuscarora of North Carolina

Before the discovery, by Columbus, the Tuscarora consisted of six towns, and they were a powerful nation, numbering over twelve hundred warriors, which, at a ratio according to the rule of estimating, would bring them at about five or six thousand souls. The Tuscarora had many years of enjoyment and peaceful possession of their domain, consisting of six towns on the Roanoke, Neuse, Taw and Pemlico rivers, in the State of North Carolina. And they were also confederated to six other nations, which were the Coree, Mattamuskeet, Nottoway and the Bear River Tribe; the names of the other two nations I have been unable to obtain. My readers will readily see why some writers have it that they consisted in twelve towns, and other writers would have it that they consisted in six towns. The real Tuscarora consisted in six towns; but with the confederate nations, altogether, were known to be in twelve towns, and all these different nations which composed the confederacy went under the name of Tuscarora, the Tuscarora being the most powerful of the several nations. The tradition of the Tuscarora admits of having captured Lawson and his party, and executed some of them to death on account of their encroachments upon their domain; but concerning the massacre of Oct. 2d, 1711, the Tuscarora emphatically deny having taken any part in the affair whatever, officially. The...

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Laws of North Carolina 1827-1831

“An act concerning the lands formerly occupied by the Tuscarora tribe of Indians lying in Bertie County, on the north side of Roanoke river. “Whereas the Tuscarora Indians have for more than a century been the firm and un-dividing friends of the white people of this country, insomuch that the people of North Carolina not only render to them full and complete Justice, but also to exercise towards them that spirit of generosity which their conduct has merited: Therefore, Article I. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina, and is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, that William R. Smith of Halifax, Simon J. Barker, of Martin and William Brittin of Bertie, be, and they are hereby appointed commissioners for the purpose of advertising and selling in manner hereinafter directed, the above named tract of land bounded as follows, to wit: beginning at the mouth of Quitsnoy swamp; running up the swamp 430 poles to a scrubby oak, near the head of said swamp by a great spring; thence north 10 degrees east 850 poles, to a persimmon tree, on Raquis Swamp; thence along the swamp and Pocasin main course north 57 degrees west 2,640 poles, to a hickory on the east side of Falling Run on Deep Creek, and down the various courses of said Run to Roanoke River; then...

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Osteological Remains

“In the town of Cambria, six miles west of Lockport, a Mr. Hammon, who was employed with his boy in hoeing corn, in 1824, observed some bones of a child, exhumed. No farther thought was bestowed upon the subject for a time, for the plain of the Ridge was supposed to have been the site of an Indian village, and this was supposed to be the remains of some child who had been recently buried there. Eli Bruce, hearing of the circumstance, proposed to Mr.¬†Hammon that they should repair to the spot, with suitable instruments, and endeavor to find some relics. The soil was a light loam, which would be dry and preserve bones for centuries without decay. A search enabled them to come to a pit but a slight distance from the surface. The top of the pit was covered with small slabs of the Medina sandstone, and was twenty-four feet square, four and a half feet deep, planes agreeing with the four cardinal points. It was filled with human bones of both sexes and ages. They dug down at one extremity and found the same layers to extend to the bottom, which was the dry loam, and from their calculations, they deduced that at least four thousand souls had perished in one great massacre. In one skull two flint arrow-heads were found, and many had the appearance...

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School Operations among the Tuscarora Indians

For the earlier part of the history of school operations among the Tuscarora Indians, I can do no better than to give the report of Rev. John Elliot to the Secretary of War, in the year 1832, viz.: “To the Secretary of War : “This will show the operations of the schools from their organization in 1805, to September 30, 1832. “The first school among the Tuscarora was taught by Rev. Mr. Homes, the first missionary. This, according to the best information, was in 1805. What amount has been expended, either from the fund of the society or by the Government, to sustain its operation, I am wholly unable to state. The Indians converted their Council House into one for public worship, and also one for school operations, until 1828, when, with a little assistance from abroad, they completed a convenient chapel, 28 x 38 feet, for public worship. In 1831 they raised and finished a frame school house 24 x 20 feet, at an expense probably of $200. This sum, with the exception of $8, the Indians obtained by contributions among themselves. “We have but one teacher, whose whole time is engrossed in the concerns of the school (Mrs. Elliot and myself are occasionally employed). Her name is Elizabeth Stone, and the compensation she receives is only the means of support, the same that we receive. Ninety scholars...

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The New Religion

About the year 1800 a new religion was introduced among the Six Nations, the exponent of which alleged to have received a revelation from the Great Spirit, with a commission to preach to them the new doctrine in which he was instructed. This revelation was received in circumstances so remarkable, and the precepts he sought to inculcate contained in themselves such evidences of wisdom and beneficence that he was universally received among them, not only as a wise and good man, but as one commissioned by the Great Spirit to become their religious teacher. The new religion, as it has ever since been called, embodied all the precepts of the ancient faith, recognized the ancient mode of worship giving it a new sanction of the Great Spirit, and also comprehend such new doctrines as came in aptly, to lengthen out and enlarge the original system without impairing it. Charges of imposture and deception were at first preferred against him, but disbelief of his divine mission gradually subsided, until at the time of his death the whole unchristianized portion of the Six Nations had become firm believers in the new religion, which to the present day has continued to some extent as a prevailing faith. This singular person who was destined to obtain such a spiritual sway over the descendants of the ancient Iroquois was Ga-ne-o-di-yo, or “Handsomelake.” a Seneca...

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