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History of Pittsburgh and environs: from prehistoric days to the ..., Volume 1 online

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his identity is revealed as Lewis H. Morgan, no scholar will dispute
the assertion. Mr. Craig did not announce the author's identity; either
he did not know, or Morgan at the time wished his identity concealed
in the name of a famous war chief of the Oneidas who died at an
advanced age in 1816. Morgan was a young man when he wrote the
Letters — ^about twenty-six. In 1851 they were published in book form
under the title, "League of the Ho-de-no-sau-nec, or Iroquois."

The sachem is to be always distinguished from the chief, and chief
warriors. The sachem's place was in the Assembly or Council; the
chiefs were leaders in war. The scheme of sachemship in the Confed-
eracy was simple. Fifty permanent sachemships were created at the
institution of the Confederacy, with appropriate names, and those who
held these titles were vested with the supreme powers of the Confederacy.
To secure order in the succession and to determine the individuals
entitled, the sachemships were made hereditary under limited and pecu-
liar laws of descent. The sachems themselves were equal in rank and
authority (except three in the Onondaga Nation) and, in the place of
holding separate territorial jurisdictions their powers were joint, and
coextensive with the Confederacy. As a safeguard against contention

Pitts.— 6



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82 HISTORY OF PITTSBURGH

and fraud, each sachem was "raised up" and invested with his title by
a Council of all the sachems, with suitable forms and ceremonies. Until
this ceremony of confirmation or investiture was performed, no one
could become a ruler. He received, when raised up, the name of the
sachemship itself, as in the cases of titles of nobility, and so also did
his successors from generation to generation. The sachemships were
unequally distributed among the five nations, but without thereby giving
to either a preponderance of political power. Nine of them were assigned
to t'he Mohawk nation; nine to the Oneida; fourteen to the Onondaga;
ten to the Cayuga ; and eight to the Seneca. The sachems, united, formed
the Council of the League, the ruling body in which resided the execu-
tive, legislative and judicial authority. It thus appears that the govern-
ment of the Iroquois was somewhat of an oligarchy in its eclectic sense ;
and while more system is observable in this than in the oligarchies of
old, it seems also better calculated in its framework to resist political
changes. This specimen of Indian legislation is certainly most striking.
To the Onondagas were allotted the three highest sachemships, the
highest called Ta-do-da-hoh, always of the Bear tribe, who had two
hereditary counselors, always of the Beaver tribe. Ta-do-da-hoh was
regarded as superior in dignity and authority to the other sachems, yet
he had no unusual or executive powers, no authority not equalled pos-
sessed by his compeers. In this sachemship there appears an anomaly
explainable only by tradition, that the name Ta-do-da-hoh was once
that of a living person who was so illustrious that he had been handed
down for ages as the personification of heroism, of forecast, and of
supreme dignity of character; hence this sachemship descending from
him was dignified above all others.

The sachems had no set time for assembling. The kindling of the
council-fire depended entirely upon the exigencies of a public or domes-
tic character. The object of the Council, originally to raise up sachems
to fill vacancies that had been occasioned by death or deposition, was
in time enlarged and assumed charge of all matters which concerned
the common welfare. The Council declared war and received embassies ;
disposed of subjugated nations, as we shall presently note in the case
of the Delawares and Shawanese; and took all necessary measures to
secure the prosperity and expansion of the Confederacy. For all purposes
of a local and domestic character, and many of a political, the nations
were entirely independent of each other. The nine Mohawk sachems
administered the affairs of that nation with joint authority, precisely
as they did in connection with the others the affairs of the Confederacy-
at-large. With similar powers the Cayuga sachems regulated the
internal affairs of their nation, and so the other nations' sachems. As the
sachems of each nation stood upon a perfect equality in authority and
privileges, the measure of influence was determined solely by the talents
and address of the individual.



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THE BARBARIC REPUBLIC 83

The councils of the nations were frequent in which all business of
national concernment was transacted, and although on such occasions
the questions moved would be finally settled by the opinions of the
sachems, yet such was the spirit of the whole system of their govern-
ment that the influence of the inferior chiefs, the warriors, and even
the women, would make itself felt whenever the subject to be considered
aroused a general public interest. The powers and duties of the sachems
were entirely of a civil character, yet arbitrary within their sphere of
action. The warrant for this is to be found in the etymology of the
Iroquois word which corresponds with "sachem," and which signifies
"a counselor of the people," and this signification can be taken as inti-
mating a check upon the enlargement of civil authority.

The sachems' duties having been confined to civil matters, it became
necessary to provide a class of officers in whom the military power
might be vested. Hence fifty war-chieftainships were created simul-
taneously with the sachemships, in their relation to inheritance and
investiture almost the same. By a novel provision, the subordination of
the military to the civil power was perpetually indicated. To each
sachem was assigned a war-chief to stand behind him on all ceremonious
occasions to aid with his counsel and to execute the commands of the
sachem. The war-chief was "raised up" to discharge these duties, and
for the particular sachem upon whose death, or deposition, the office
in him ceased, for with the successor of the sachem there was raised up
another military chief. If the sachem should join a war party led forth
by his war-chief, as was his privilege, he would cease for the time to be
other than a common warrior, and would fall under his war-chief's com-
mand.

An interesting question presents itself here: in whom resided the
superior military command of the forces of the Confederacy? The
Onondagas, Cayugfas and Senecas agree upon an answer that at an
early period in the League's existence two military chieftains were
established and made hereditary. The names given these were to be
taken, as in the case of the sachemships, by successive incumbents, and
they were raised up in like manner as sachems. To these high chiefs
the supreme command of the forces of the Confederacy was given and
the general conduct of wars entrusted. It was provided that they were
always to be taken from the Seneca nation, for the reason that this
nation was the hereditary keeper of the door of the Long House, which
faced the west ch- towards the country of the Senecas. Thus, ever at
the door of the Long House, the Senecas could first take the warpath.
If they could not drive back the invaders, they called upon the next fire
(the Cayugas) for aid, and if more aid was necessary, the Onondagas,
and so on until all five nations were in arms. Hence it was considered
necessary, in justice to the Senecas, that the g^eat war-chiefs be taken



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84 HISTORY OF PITTSBURGH

from them, for upon this nation was placed the first defense, and the
chief defense of the Council House of the Confederacy.

It is not a fact that Thayandanega (Brant) ever commanded the
forces of the Six Nations as military chieftain. He did those of his own
nation, the Mohawks, especially during the Revolution. All the other
tribes denied that he held supreme command, and the fact is he himself
never advanced such a claim ; such an honor having been assigned him
by English writers from his conspicuous position and the high confi-
dence reposed in him. Brant was a war-chief. He did not figure in
events in the West in any history that concerns Pittsburgh, except in
the disastrous affair of August 24, 1781, when Colonel Archibald Lochry's
expedition from Westmoreland county was ambushed on the Ohio river
and all killed or captured by a force of Iroquois, Shawanese and Wyan-
dots under Brant's command. Brant was also a party to the negotia-
tions with General Wayne in 1794, by which all of Western Pennsylvania
was forever freed from Indian marauding.®

The peculiar method of warfare among the Iroquois has rendered it
difficult to obtain a satisfactory exposition of the manner in which their
wars were conducted, and to ascertain beyond disputation with whom
the military power actually resided. As the Confederacy was at war
with all nations not in actual alliance, it was lawful for any warrior to
organize a party and go on the warpath whither he pleased. All that
was necessary to do was to institute a war dance, which served as a
recruiting station. There enough warriors enlisted to warrant the
expedition, however perilous or distant the enterprise might be. There
were no drafts required to fill the ranks.

However strong the war party might be, there was a third party
which had the right to veto a declaration of war. This party was com-
posed of the Matrons of the Long House, who could command a cessa-
tion of war, nor was it any disgrace for the bravest chief to bury the
hatchet at the command of the peace party. In this one particular the
Iroquois were a long way in advance of civilized nations, for only
within very recent years, and not until 1920, did women appear nationally
as man's co-worker in legislaticm.

It will be shown in the story of the degradation of the Delawares that
the mediators among the Indians were the women. No warrior ever
spoke of peace while war raged. Their wars were to the knife and the
tomahawk. The "assumption of the role of women mediators" by a
whole nation will strike the reader as in a manner comedy; in the end
it was tragedy. Mr. Craig calls it a "metamorphosis," and states that
it was celebrated with great pomp. The year is fixed approximately as
1677; certain it is that it was prior to the coming of William Penn.
However, this long and peculiar story is well authenticated in Pennsyl-



8" Annals of the West;" J. R. Albach, pp. 334, 656.



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THE BARBARIC REPUBLIC 85

vania history. The Delawares always blamed the Dutch for conspiring
with the Delawares' enemies, the Mengwe, the Dutch term for the Five
Nations. The reason is that the "metamorphosis" was celebrated in the
presence of the Dutch at Albany, a Dutch town.

The admission of the Tuscaroras having been long subsequent to
the formation of the League, they were never received into an equal
alliance with the other nations. After their disastrous overthrow and
expulsion from North Carolina, to be noted later, most naturally they
turned toward the country of their congeners, the Iroquois, and were
admitted about 171 5 (the dates vary), as the sixth nation, as related.
They were never allowed to have a sachem who could sit as an equal
in the Council of Sachems. The Five Nations were unwilling to enlarge
the number of sachemships founded at the institution of the- League.
For purposes of national government, however, the Tuscaroras were
organized like the other nations, with similar tribes, relationships, laws,
and institutions. They also enjoyed a nominal equality in the Councils
of the League by the courtesy of the other five tribes, and their sachems
and war chiefs were "raised up" with the same ceremonies. They were
not dependent, but were admitted to a full equality as could be granted
them, without enlarging the framework of the Confederacy. In the
Councils of the League they had no national designation.

It is to be remembered that the Tuscaroras were nevertheless an
integral part of the Confederacy, and always recognized to that extent,
and acknowledged to have an equity in Iroquois land similar to that
of the other tribes. This fact is apparent in the premises of the deed
granted at the Fort Stanwix Treaty in 1768, previously referred to, in
which the Confederacy extinguished its title to-that vast tract of Penn-
sylvania territory then acquired by Thomas and Richard Penn, and
known as the "Purchase of 1768," the western boundary of which came
to the Allegheny river above Kittaning and thence to the Ohio. The
Tuscaroras* interest in this land was neither assailed nor controverted
at any time. In Craig's "History of Pittsburgh" and his "Olden Time,"
and in histories that have copied from Craig, in the text of this treaty,
in the enumeration of the parties of the first part, that is the grantors,
the sachem representing the Tuscaroras is named fifth in order, and
precedes the Cayuga sachem. The order is: Mohawk, Oneida, Onon-
daga, Seneca, etc. Actually they sigiied in this order : Mohawk, Oneida,
Tuscarora, Onondaga, Cayuga and Seneca, as the original deed at Har-
risburg shows.

There is, in fact, another order of precedence than that stated to
have been assigned by Hi-a-wat-ha. When the nations were enumerated,
the Mohawks were always placed first, for what reason is not under-
stood unless so ordered in the Hiawathan legend. Each tribe had a
national designation significant to a degree, and always a term of respect.



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86 HISTORY OF PITTSBURGH

Thus the Mohawks' designation meant "neutral," or as some of the
nations interpreted it, "a speech divided/* Its origin is lost in obscurity.
"Skenandoah" names the Onondagas next, the designation meaning the
"Name Bearer." This term is asserted to have been conferred in com-
memoration of the circumstances that this tribe bestowed the names
upon the fifty original sachems of the League. This was a great privi-
lege, and these sachem names were to descend from generation to
generation — in fact they are yet in use.

The Senecas, justly proud of their designation, "The Door Keeper,"
came next in the order of succession, as "Skenandoah" has it. To this
tribe belonged the hereditary guardianship of the door of the Long
House.

The Oneidas occupied the fourth place, and originally had no appel-
lation by which they were distinguished. At a long subsequent period
an epithet meaning the "Great Tree" was conferred upon them by
their confederates.

The Cayugas came last in this enumeration. Their appellation sig-
nified the "Great Pipe." Tradition refers its bestowal to the incident
that the leading Cayuga chief in attendance at the Council which estab-
lished the Confederacy, smoked a pipe of unusual dimensions and
workmanship.

Historians have remarked that the Iroquois Confederacy had np
chief sachem or chief magistrate; Lossing concludes that the League
had a president, clothed with power similar to those conferred on the
President of the United States — ^authority to assemble a congress of
representatives of the League. He had a council of six advisors, and
in the Grand Council he was moderator. Only by merit could public
office be secured, and public opinion was the only reward for years of
service. The Onondagas were honored by having the first president
selected from among their wise men. Receiving no pay but public
favor, the sachems became renowned for prudence and sagacity. Lossing
evidently refers to the sachem To-do-da-hoh of the Onondagas.

The Iroquois resembled the Romans in that the military power was
stronger than the civil, and instances occurred when the civil power
was overthrown by deposing the sachems. The military leaders received
their authority from the people and were always called Chief. That
these people loved freedom, stands preeminent in the fact that they never
made slaves of any ; not even captives in war. These were either killed
or adopted into the Iroquois tribes. The history of their League shows
that they were born diplomats, unequalled for tact in diplomatic art,
self-repression and political strategy. In short, they were the ideal
Indians from the Indian standpoint.

There is much in the family life of the Iroquois to awaken interest;
their mode of computing degrees of consanguinity for one thing; also



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THE BARBARIC REPUBLIC 87

the relation of the tribes to each other with reference to marriage. In
this respect the Wolf, Bear, Beaver and Turtle tribes were brothers to
each other, and cousins to the other four. They were not allowed
to intermarry. The opposite four tribes were also brothers to eaeh
other, and were also prohibited from intermarrying; however, either of
the first four could intermarry with either of the last four — ^the Hawk
with the Bear or Beaver ; Heron with Turtle, but not Beaver and Turtle,
nor Deer and Deer. Whoever violated these laws of marriage incurred
the deepest detestation and disgrace. The rigor of this original system
in time was relaxed, and the prohibition was confined to the tribe of the
individual, which among the residue of the Six Nations is still the rule.
Under both the original and modem regulation, the husband and wife
were of different tribes ; the children still follow the tribe of the mother.
However greatly the social relations of these wonderful people may
interest us, we Pittsburghers are not especially concerned. For lack of
space, if for no other reason, it must be left without further elucidation.
It may be permitted to say that the study of these relations is of absorb-
ing interest, and those who desire to follow it more largely are referred
to the authorities who have been named.

We may well believe that before the European had planted his foot-
steps upon the Red Man's trail, or the Old World had knowledge of the
New, these boundless solitudes had been the scene of human conflicts,
and therein occurred the rise and fall of Indian sovereignties. ''Isolated
nations," remarks "Skenandoah" in his ''Letters," "sprang up with an
energetic growth, and for a season spread their dominion far and wide.
After a brief period of prosperity, they were borne back by adverse
fortune into their individual obscurity. The reason must be sought in
the unsubstantial nature of their political structures. It was the merit
of the Iroquois to rest themselves upon a more durable foundation by
the establishment of their Confederacy. The alliance between their
nations, they cemented by the stronger and more imperishable bands
of their Tribal League. At the epoch of the Saxon occupation, they
were rapidly building up an empire which threatened the whole Indian
race from the chain of lakes to the Gulf of Mexico. Their power had
become sufficient to set at defiance all hostile invasions from contigu-
ous nations, and to preclude the idea of subjugation. A nationality of
character and a unity of interest had resulted from the relationships by
which they were so blended together, and above all, the Confederacy,
while it suffered no loss of numbers by emigrating bands, was endued
with a capacity for indefinite expansion. At the period of discovery,
the Aztecs of the South and the Iroquois in the North were the only
Indian races upon the continent whose institutions promised at maturity
to ripen into civilization. Such were the conditions and prospects of the
Indian League when Hendrick Hudson sailed up the river which con-



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88 HISTORY OF PITTSBURGH

stittited the League's eastern boundary. This silent voyage of the navi-
gator may be r^;arded as the opening event in the series which resulted
in reversing the political prospects of the Ho-de-no-sau-nee, and in
introducing into their Long House an invader more relentless in his
purposes and more invincible in arms than the Red Man against whose
assaults it had been erected/'

The invader was a man of white skin.

'^Skenandoah'' points out a singular feature in connection with Indian
organizations^ in that their decline and fall are sudden and usually
simultaneous. "A rude shock from within/' he said, ''but too easily
disturbs their inter-relations, and when once cast back upon the pre-
dominating sentiment of Indian life — ^the Hunter state — a powerful na-
tion rapidly dissolves into a multitude of fragments, and is lost and
forgotten in the undistinguished mass of lesser tribes. But the Iroquois
Confederacy was subjected to a severer test. It went down before the
Saxon, and not the Indian race. This Indian constellation paled only
before the greater constellation of the American Confederacy. If it had
been left to resist the pressure of surrounding nations (living like the
Iroquois themselves, a hunter-life), there is reason to believe that it
would have subsisted for ages, and perhaps having broken the spell,
would have introduced civilization by an original and spontaneous move-
mcnt/'^

Perhaps ! Great events occurred in the region about Pittsburgh that
were poweriul factors in the expulsion of all Indians from the region,
incidentally destroying the dominion of the Iroquois. It is for this reason
that the history of their League is part of the history of the region. The
Seneca nation alone made more Pittsburgh history than any other in
the League.



•''Letters on the Iroquois." "Olden Time;" Vol. II, p. 127. Ibid,, p. 71.




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CHAPTER V.
The Leimi-Lenape, alias the Delawares.

In the history of Pennsylvania, the story of the Lenape takes up many
pages. From the arrival of William Penn on the River Delaware in
1682 until Wayne's victory over the western tribes in 1794, or more than
a century, this nation made most of Pennsylvania's Indian history, and
with this record in large degree the history of the Shawanese runs con-
current.

The tribal union of the remarkable people commonly known as the
Iroquois, has received extended notice in Chapter IV. Dr. Brooks re-
marks that "this union was not exceeded in rude statecraft by the half
mythical Aztec Confederation," and their story briefly told will indicate
the general nature of other though less perfect Indian confederacies of
North America.^

The less perfect confederacies that pertain to this history were of
Algonquian tribes or nations. They could not say as Thayendanega, the
Mohawk (Joseph Brant). "The Six Nations have no dictator among the
nations of the earth. We are not the wards of the English. We are a
commonwealth." We can in a softer sense refer to the Pennsylvania
Algonquins as wards of the Iroquois. Historians are more apt to say
vassals of the Iroquois. We may note the remark of Parkman also, that
the nations of the Iroquois Confederacy were placed together by an
eight-fold band, and to this hour have the slender remnants clung to one
another with an invincible tenacity. The Pennsylvania Indians are
among those who "have withered from the land." It is an observation
of Dr. Brinton that "the League of the Iroquois was a thoroughly states-
manlike creation illustrative of the social fact of self-government; the
neighbors of the Iroquois, the Lenape, had nothing resembling 'the Long
House.'"

The Algonquins were the largest and most widely ranged family
of North American Indians. Their tribes stretched from Labrador to
the Rocky mountains, and from Hudson's Bay to the Carolinas. Many
of the Indian tribes with whom our national history is most intimately
associated, and their vigor and persistency of life, remarks Dr. Ji^nkins,
have made them most familiar in our annals. Pocahontas was an Algon-
quin, we are to remember ; and Sassacus, the Pequot, and Massasoit, and
Philip of Pokanoket, and Uncas the Mohegan, and Pontiac and Tecumseh
in the West, and the host of sachems and chiefs who figure in early
colonial history ; so, too, all who made history in Pennsylvania, not dis-



i"Story of the American Indian; His Origin, Development, Decline and Destiny;"
Elbridge G. Brooks; p. 98; Ibid^ loo-ioi.



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90 HISTORY OF PITTSBURGH

tinctly mentioned as Iroquois, and among these latter there is to come
Tanacharison, "the Half-King;" Monocatoocha ; Cornplanter, or Gy-an-
ta-wa-chia ; Cannassatego ; and that anomaly among Indian rulers, Queen
AUiquippa. Each of these will have more or less mention as this history
proceeds. We are now concerned with the Pennsylvania Algonquins,
especially the Delawares, and still follow Parkman as authority:

They were Algonquins who under the great tree at Kensington made the covenant



Online LibraryAmerican Historical Society George Thornton FlemingHistory of Pittsburgh and environs: from prehistoric days to the ..., Volume 1 → online text (page 12 of 81)