I am ashamed of it, or if I ever fail in affectionate veneration for
him who reared it, and defended it against savage violence and
destruction, cherished by all the domestic virtues beneath its roof,
and through the fire and blood of a seven years Revolutionary
war, shrunk from no danger, no toil, no sacrifice, to serve his
110 The Indians.
country, and to raise his children to a condition bettor than his
own, may the name of my posterity be blotted forever from the
memory of man." Such sentiments should ennoble any man ; and
more especially do they illustrate the character and heart of the
man who pul)lislied them — they show an enthusiasm, and holi-
ness oi feeling, devoted to the dead and to the pioneers, which
give character and immortality to him who cherished them. Ifeel
their full force, and gladly record them here !
" A swarthy tribe
Slipt from the secret hand of Providence,
They come we see not how, nor know we whence ;
That seem'd created on the spot — though born,
In transatlantic climes, and thiiher brought.
By paths as covert as the birth of thought ! "
There is in the fate of tliese unfortunate beings much to awake
our sympathy, and much to disturb the sobriety of our judgment ;
much in their character, to incite our involuntary admiration.
What can be more melancholy than their history ? By a law of
their nature, they seem destined to a slow but sure extinction.
Every where at the approach of the white man they fade away :
We hear the rustling of tlieir footsteps, like that of the withered
leaves of autumn ; and themselves, like " the sere and yellow
leaf," arc gone forever!
Once the smoke of their wigwams, and the fires of their coun-
cils, rose in every valley from the ocean to the Mississippi and
the lakes. The shouts of victory and the war dance rung through
the mountains and the glades. The light arrows and the deadly
tomahawk whistled through the forest ; and the hunter's trace,
and the dark encampment, startled the wild beasts from their
lairs. The warriors stood forth in their glory. The young listened
to songs of other days. The mothers played with their infants,
and gazed on the scene with warm hopes of the future. Braver
men never lived ; truer men never drew the bow. They had
courage and fortitude, and sagacity and perseverance, beyond
most of the human race. They shrunk from no dangers, and
they feared no hardships. They were inured, and capable of
sustaining every peril, and surmounting every obstacle for sweet
country and home. But with all this, inveterate destiny has
unceasingly driven them hence !
" Forced from the land that gave them birth,
They dwindle from the face of earth ! "
In our present notice of the Indians, we desire to go back to
the period when first observed by Europeans ; such as they were
TiuHnn Treaty, p. 110.
City of New York, 1S42, p. 143.
The Indians. Ill
before debauched by their contact with the baser part of our white
men. To this end we shall give the following description of
them from the personal observation and pen of the celebrated
Wm. Penn ; to wit : —
The natives I shall consider in their persons, language, man-
ners, religion and government, with my sense of their original.
For their persons, they are generally tall, straight, well built, and
of singular proportion ; they tread strong and clever, and mostly
walk with a lofty chin. Of complexion, black, but by design ;
as the gypsies in England. They grease themselves with bear's
fat clarified; and, usmg no- defence against sun or weather, their
skins, must needs be swarthy. Their eye is little and black, not
unlike a straight looked Jew. The thick lip, and fiat nose, so
frequent with the East Indians and blacks, are not common to
them : many of them have fine Roman noses.
Their language is lofty, yet narrow ; but like the Hebrew, in
signification full ; like short-hand, in writing, one word serveth
in the place of three, and the rest are supplied by the understand-
ing of the hearer: imperfect in their tenses, wanting in their
moods, participles, adverbs, conjunctions, interjections.
Of their customs and manners there is much to be said, I will
begin with children. Soon as they are born, they wash them in
water ; and while very young, and in cold weather they plunge
them in the rivers to harden and embolden them. The children
will go very young, at nine months commonly ; if boys they go
a fishing till ripe for the woods, which is about fifteen ; then they
hunt, and after having given some proofs of their manhood, by a
good return of skins, they may marry ; else it is a shame to thuik
of a wife. The girls stay with their mothers, and help to hoe
the ground, plant corn, and carry burdens ; and they do well to
use them to that young which they must do when they are old ;
for the wives are the true servants of the husbands ; otherwise
the men are very affectionate to them.
When the young women are fit for marriage, they wear some-
thing upon their heads for an advertisement, but so as their faces
are hardly to be seen but when they please. The age they marry
at, if women, is about thirteen or fourteen ; if men, seventeen
and eighteen ; they are rarely elder.
Their houses are mats, or barks of trees, set on poles, in the
fashion of an English barn ; but out of the power of the winds,
for they are hardly higher than a man ; they lie on reeds or grass.
In travel they lodge in the woods, about a great fire, with the
mantle of duffils they wear by the day wrapt about them, and a
few boughs stuck round them.
Their diet is maize or Indian corn, divers ways prepared ;
sometimes roasted in the ashes ; sometimes beaten and boiled
with water, which they call homine ; they also make cakes, not
unpleasant to eat. They have likewise several sorts of beans
112 The Indians.
and pease tliat are good nourishment 5 and the woods and rivers
are their larder.
If an European comes to see them, or calls for lodging at their
house or wigwam, they give him the best place and first cut.
If they come to visit us they salute us with an Ituh ; which is
as much as to say, good be to you, and set them down ; which is
mostly on the ground, close to their heels, their legs upright ; it
may be they speak not a word, but observe all passages. If you
give them any thing to eat or drink, well : for they will not ask ;
and be it little or much, if it be with kindness they are well pleased,
else they go away sullen, but say notliing.
They are great concealers of their own resentments ; brought
to it, I believe, by the revenge that hath been practised among
But in liberality they excel ; nothing is too good for their friend ;
give them a fine gun, coat, or other thing, it may pass twenty
hands before it sticks : light of heart, strong affections, but soon
spent. The most merry creatures that live, feast and dance
perpetually ; they never have much, nor want much : wealth
circulateth like the blood, all parts partake ; and though none
shall want what another hath, yet exact observers of property.
They care for little, because they want but little ; and the reason
is, a little contents them. In this they are sufficiently revenged
on us : if they are ignorant of our pleasures, they are also free
from our pains. We sweat and toil to Xwa ; their pleasure feeds
them ; I mean their hunting, fishing, and fowling ; and this table
is spread every where. They eat twice a-day, morning and
evening ; their seats and table are the ground.
In sickness impatient to be cured, and for it give any thing,
especially for tJieir children, to whom they are extremely natural :
they drink at those times a Tesan, or decoction of some roots in
spring- water ; and if they eat any flesh, it must be of the female
of any creature. If they die they bury them with their apparel,
be they man or woman, and the nearest of kin fling in something
precious with them, as a token of their love : their mourning is
blacking of their faces, which they continue for a year : they are
choice of the graves of their dead ; for, lest they should be lost by
time, anc^fall to common use, they pick ofl" the grass that grows
upon them, and heap up the fallen earth with great care and
These poor people are under a dark night in things relating to
religion, to be sure, the tradition of it ; yet they believe in a God
and immortality without the help of metaphysics ; for they say,
" There is a Great King that made them, who dwells in a glorious
country to the southward of them ; and that the souls of the good
shall go thither, where they shall live again." Their worship
consists of two parts, sacrifice and cantico : their sacrifice is their
first fruits ; the first and fattest buck they kill, goeth to the fire,
The Indians. 113
where he is all burnt, with a mournful ditty of him that perform-
eth the ceremony, but with such marvellous fervency and labour
of body, that he will even sweat to a foam. The other parts is
their cantico, performed by round dances, sometimes words, some-
times songs, then shouts, two being in the middle that begin, and
by singing and drumming on a board, direct the chorus : their
postures in the dance are very antick, and diflering, but all keep
measure. This is done with equal earnestness and labour, but
great appearance of joy. In the fall, when the corn cometh in,
they begin to feast one another.
Their government is by kings, which they call Sachama, and
those by succession, but always of the mother's side ; for instance,
the children of him that is now king will not succeed, but his
brother by the mother, or the children of his sister, whose sons
(and after them the children of her daughters) will reign ; for no
woman inherits. The reason they render for this way of descent
is, that their issue may not be spurious.
Every king hath his council, and that consists of all the old and
wise men of his nation ; which perhaps is two hundred people ;
nothing of moment is undertaken, be it war, peace, selling of land,
or traffic, without advising with them ; and which is more, with
the young men too. It is admirable to consider how powerful
the kings are, and yet how they move by the breath of their
For their original, I am ready to believe them of the Jewish
race ; I mean, of the stock of the ten tribes, and that for the fol-
lowing reasons : first, they were to go to " a land Dot planted or
known,'' which to be sure, Asia and Africa were, if not Europe ;
and he that intended that extraordinary judgment upon them,
might make the passage not uneasy to them, as it is not impossi-
ble in itself, from the easternmost parts of Asia, to the western-
most of America. In the next place, I find them of like countenance,
and their children of so lively resemblance, that a man would
think himself in Dukes-place or Berry-street in London when he
seeth them. But this is not all ; they agree in rites ; they reckon
by moons : they offer \he\x first-fruits ; they have a kind oi feast
of tabernacles ; they are said to lay their altars upon twelve
stones: their mourning a year, customs of ivomen, with many
things that do not now occur.
The following observations concerning our Indians were made,
in 1749, by Professor Kalm, then travelling among them; to
wit : —
The hatchets of the Indians were made of stone, somewhat of
the shape of a wedge. This was notched round the biggest end,
and to this they affixed a split stick for a handle, bound round with
a cord. These hatchets could not serve, however, to cut any
thing like a tree ; their means therefore of getting trees for canoes,
15 ' k2
114 The Indians.
&c., was to put a great fire round the roots of a big tree to burn
it ofi", and with a swab of rags on a pole to keep the tree con-
stantly wet above until the fire below burnt it olT. When the
tree was down, they laid dry branches on the trunk and set fire
to it, and kept swabbing that part of the tree which they did not
Avant to burn ; thus the tree burnt a hollow in one place only ;
when burnt enough, they chipt or scraped it smooth inside with
their hatchets, or sharp flints, or sharp shells. Instead of knives,
they used little sharp pieces of flints or quartz, or a piece of
sharpened bone. At the end of their arrows they fastened narrow
angulated pieces of stone ; these were commonly flints or quartz.
Some made use of the claws of birds and beasts.
They had stone pestles, of about a foot long and five inches in
thickness ; in these they pounded their maize. Many had only
wooden pestles. The Indians were astonished beyond measure
when they saw the first wind-mills to grind grain. They were,
at first, of opinion that not the wind, but spirits within them gave
them their momentum. They would come from a great distance,
and set down for days near them, to wonder and admire at them!
The old tobacco pipes were made of clay or pot stone, or ser-
pentine stone ; the tube thick and short. Some were made better,
of a very fine red pot stone, and were seen chiefly with the
Sachems. Some of the old Dutchmen at New York preserved
the tradition that the first Indians seen by the Europeans, made
use of copper for their tobacco pipes, got from the second river
There was hardly any district of country where the Indians so
fully enjoyed an abundant and happy home as on Long Island.
The tribes there were of the Lenni Lenape or Delaware race,
bearing the designation of the Matouwax and Paiimunake.
They had there vast quantities of wild fowl and abundance of
s^a-fish ; oysters, clams, crabs, muscles, &c. They had the art
of catching fish by torch-light, called wigumss by them, in the
way we call bobbing. It was their practice to set a fire of pine
knots on a platform in the middle of their canoes, the light attract-
ed numerous fish, which they struck with an eel spear. Their
smoked faces and reddened eyes by the operation, often gave
them a grotesque appearance. They would lay up great store
of dried clams by stringing them, and sending them far into the
country for distant tribes. Besides all this, they were great mer-
chants oi ivampnm or seaivant ; they procuring and forming from
the sea shells all the Indian money used for ornament and traffic.
To this day, the soil of the island shows frequent traces of the nu-
merous shells once drawn out from the sea and scattered over its
surface. The families while so engaged in fishing, had always
near them their huts or wigwams by the water side, made close
and warm with an entire covering of sea weed.
Respecting the frequent diet of the Indians in general, we may
The Indians. 115
say, that besides their usual plantations of corn, pumpkins,
squashes, &c. they often used wilds roots and wild fruits ; among
the latter were chestnuts, shellbarks, walnuts, persimons, huckle-
berries, &c. ; of the roots, they had hopniss (glycine apios), kat-
niss (sagittaria sagittifoha), taivho (arum virginicum), tawkee
(orantium aquaticum). These roots generally grew in low damp
grounds, were a kind of potatoes to them, and were divested of
their poisonous or injurious quality by roasting them in the fire.
They used to dry and keep their huckleberries like raisins. They
would pound hickory and walnut nuts to a fine pulp, and mixing
water with it formed a pleasant drink, not unlike milk in sight
and taste. They made yoekeg, a mush, liked also by the whites,
formed of pounded parched corn and cider mixed. Suckatash
they made from corn and beans mixed together and boiled. Their
pmnpkins they preserved long, by cutting them into slices and
drying them. On the rivers they had an art of forming pinfolds
for taking fish ; and when they took sturgeons, they cut them in-
to strips and preserved them by drying. Fish hooks they some-
times made of fish bones and bird claws ; and fish lines they
formed from a species of wild grass, or from the sinews of ani-
mals. All these were indeed but instances of clumsy invention
and rude fare, but their education and hearts were formed to it,
and they loved it and were happy ; having every where their
table spread by nature to their entire wants and satisfaction. In
those days they were hunters more for clothing and amusement
than for necessary food.
The Indians whom we usually call Delawares, because first
found about the regions of the Delaware river, never used that
name among themselves; they called themselves Lenni Lenape,
which means " the original 'people,^' — Lenni meaning original,
— whereby they expressed they were an inimixed race, who had
never changed their character since the creation ; — in effect they
were primitive sons of Jldam, and others were sons of the curse,
as of Ham, or of the outcast Ishraael, &c.
They, as well as the Mengive (caUed by us Iroquois), agreed
in saying they came from westward of the Mississippi — called by
them Namaesi Sipu, or river of fish ; and that when they came
over to the eastern side of that river, they there encountered, and
finally drove off, all the former inhabitants, called the Mligewi —
(and of course the primitives of all our country !) who, probably,
such as survived, sought refuge in Mexico.
From these facts we may learn, that however unjustifiable, in
a moral sense may be the aggressions of our border men, yet on
the rule of the lex talionis we may take refuge and say, we only
drive off or dispossess those who were themselves encroachers,
even as all our Indians, as above stated, were !
The Indians called the Quakers Qtiekels, and " the English,'^
by inability of pronouncing it, they sounded Yengees — from
116 The Indians.
whence probablj-, "vve have now our name of Yankees. In their
own language tlioy called the English Saggenah.
Men whose thoughts are engrossed in the affairs of the world,
or in the immediate concerns of self-preservation, may be unmind-
ful of others ; but youth, who are free from such cares, can
indulge their natural propensity of looking abroad and into the
state of others, by an attention to the actual state of the poor
Indian. They have repeatedly heard that all the lands of our
western interior were not long since the property of the aborigi-
nes ; and as they now witness their entire exclusion from all those
regions, they naturally enquire where are they, and what has be-
come of those who once welcomed to their wigwams and to their
hospitality our pilgrim forefathers? It was once their greatest
gratification to be accounted the white man's friend and benefac-
tor ; for truly they could say, " none ever entered the cabin of
Logan hungry, and he gave him no meat ; or cold, or naked, and
he gave him no clothes."
As the race is receding from the civilization and encroachments
of white men, and becoming more and more scarce among men,
it will become still more the duty and proper kindness of the
coming generation to cherish a regard and a veneration for the
few scattered fragments of a once mighty people. Already the
last feeble remnants are preparing to go into remote exile in the far
distant west. We see them leaving reluctantly their long cherished
homes, " few and faint, yet fearless still." They turn to take a last
look at their deserted towns — a last glance at the graves of their
fathers. They shed no tears ; they utter no cries ; they heave
no groans. There is something in their hearts which surpasses
speech ; there is something in their looks, not of vengeance or
submission, but of hard necessity, which stifles both ; which
chokes all utterance ; which has no aim or method. It is courage
absorbed in despair.
A mind fully alive to the facts which in the new countries of
the west still environ him wherever he goes, can hardly ride
along the highway, or traverse the fields and woods, without
feeling the constant and welcome intrusion of thoughts like these,
to wit : Here lately prowled the beasts of prey ; * there crowded
the deep interminable woodland shade : through that cripple
browsed the deer ; in that rude cluster of rocks and roots were
sheltered the deadly rattlesnake. These rich meadows were
noxious swamps. On those sun-side hills of golden grain crack-
led the growing maize of the tawny aborigines. Where we stand,
perchance to pause and consider, rest the ashes of a chief or of
his family ; and where we have chosen our favourite sites for
• As late as the year 181.5 to '20, the stale treasury expended 38.260 dollars
for killing icolves in 37 of the western counties ! Could any thin? more strikingly
exhibit its recent savage State, even where now " unwieldly wealth and cumbrous
pomp repose !"
The Indians. 117
towns or habitations, may have been the selected spots on which
were hutted the now departed lineage of many generations. On
yon path-way, seen in the distant view, climbing the remote
hills, may have been the very path tracked from time immemorial
by the roving Indians themselves.
It is not possible for a considerate and feeling mind, even now
to stand upon the margin of such charming and picturesque lakes
as the Skaneatteles, the Cayuga, and the Seneca, &c. without
thinking how happily the Indians of primitive days were wont
to pass their time in snch enchanting regions ; but they are all
gone, all wasted like a pestilence. A few diminished tribes still
linger about our remote borders ; and others, more distant in the
rude wilds, still gather a scanty subsistence from the diminished
game. It would be to our honour and to their comfort and
preservation, could we yet extend to them the blessings of civili-
zation and religion. We owe it to ourselves and to them to yet
redeem ti;is wasting, injured, faded race.
" Crush'd race, so long condemned to moan,
Scorn'd, ritled, spiritless and lone,
From heathen rites, from sorrow's maze,
Turn to our temple gates with praise !
Yes, come and bless th' usurping band
That rent away your father's land ;
Forgive the wrong, suppress the blame,
And view your hope, your heaven, the same ! "
New York, at the time of its discovery and settlement, says
Campbell's history, was inhabited by a race of men, distinguished,
above all the other aborigines of the continent, for their intelligence
and prowess. Five distinct and independent tribes, speaking a
language radically the same, and practising similar customs, had
united in forming a confederacy, which, for durability and power,
was unequalled in Indian history. They were the Mohawks,
Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas — called the Iroquois
by the French, and the Five Nations by the English. In cases
of great emergency, each tribe or nation acted separately, and
independently ; but a general council usually assembled at Onon-
daga, near the centre of their territory, and determined upon
peace or war, and all other matters which regarded the interests
of the whole. Acting in these matters, not unlike our own
Congress, under the old confederation. They, therefore, Avho
may visit the present Onondaga and vicinity, may regard that
region of country, as being once the consecrated ground, and the
familiar home, of a now vanished people !
They carried their arms into Canada, across the Connecticut,
and even to the banks of the Mississippi, and verging to the
Gulf of Mexico.
After the settlement of the French in Canada, in IGOS, and at
a time that the Five nations were waging a desperate war, —
118 The Indians.
(long continued, at intervals of time,) with the Hurons and Al-
gonquins, settled there, and assisted by the French, — they applied
to the Dutch, settled at Albany, and along the Hudson, to assist
them in arms and ammunition, — whereby a strong friendship
was created, and which produced a long and sincere attachment
between them. During this period, the Dutch traders passed up
the Mohawk in their little canoes, and carried on, for many years,
a profitable barter of their merchandize and munitions of war,
for the peltry of the Indians.
When the English came to the government of the province, by
the conquest of 1G64, they exerted themselves to acquire and pre-
serve the same influence, with the same Indian tribes. Conventions
were therefore frequently held at Albany, hi which presents and
kindly professions were liberally bestowed. In the mean time,
the French in Canada, endeavoured to counteract this Enghsh
ascendency. They attacked the English frontiers, in hopes, by
some splendid victory, to detach the Indians from their friends.
The}'' also sent Missionaries among them, more desirous of making
allies for France, than converts to Christianity; and in 1671, they
persuaded the Caughnawagas to leave their settlements on the