Anna C. (Anna Cummings) Johnson.

The Iroquois; online

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Online LibraryAnna C. (Anna Cummings) JohnsonThe Iroquois; → online text (page 1 of 25)
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ExTKRKD according to Act of Congress, in tlie year 1855, by


In the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District of New York-



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"Without their knowledge, I presume to dedicate
my first volume of Indian History to those whose
names I have heard most frequently, as friends of
the red man. The title of the first indicates that
he has been on the war-path, while the other belongs
to the Society whose members are so eminently the
missionaries of peace. The one v/as for many years
conspicuous as a public man, and the other has been
seen only in the most private walks, but they have
been ever intimately associated in efforts for pro-
moting the best interests of Indians of every name
and race. The '^ good works'' of the one, in his
official capacity and as an author, are well known,
while those of the other have been necessarily silent
and unseen, except by his friends, and those who


were the recipients of the blessings he has so munifi-
cently scattered ; but having wandered through the
scenes of their labors, I have found them to have been
fellow-laborers, the designs of each being cordially
a23proved and forwarded by the other, and their
sympathies always the same.

In behalf of the Indian, to whom each name is
dear as father, protector and friend, and as a testi-
mony of her own reverence and grateful affection,
this slight tribute is offered by the




Introduction, . . . . . , , , .11


National Traits op Charactek, . . . . .19

Christian Atrocities, ..... 21

Indian Homes, . . . . . . .23

Civilized Barbarism, ..... 25

King Philip, . . . . . . .21

Hospitality, ...... 29

~^>iTho Christian and Indian contrasted, . . . .31


National Government; or, Long House of the Iroqitois League, 82

Origin of the League, . . . . . .38

Design of the League, ..... 85

Indian Traits, . . . . . . .87

Councils, ....... 89

Wampum and Calumet, . . . . .41

Indian "Women, ...... 43


The Religion of the Iroquois, . . . . .44

Anecdote, ....... 45

Employment in Heaven, . . . . .47

Maplo Festival, ...... 49

Thanks to tho Great Spirit, . , . . .51


Address to Heno,


Thanksgiving Address,

Guessing of Dreams,

Indian Courtesy,
^The Council Fire,
^The Iroquois not Savages.


. 55

. 59

. 63



Customs and Individual tbaits op Chabacteb,
Indian Burials,
Keligious Duties,
Jndiau Vengeance, .
\ Good for Evil, ....

Hans Hanson, ....
^ Indian Honesty,
-Indian Beauty, ....



Love, Music, and Poetry, .


. 88

^ Matrimonial Negotiations,


Social Affections,

. ,

: 87

Legend of Anipatd Sapa,


Poetic Sentiment of the Indians, .


. 91

- A Love Legend, . . . .


Indian Nobleness,

, ,

. 95

Instances of Civilization,


Characteristic Songs,

. ,

. 99

Transportation of Children, .


Honor to the Noble Dead,


. 103


Legendaey Litekatuke,


. 105

Indian Legend, . . . .



Medicinal Feast,


. 109

A Hunting Legend, . . . .



Adventures of the Hunter Ho-cha-gah,


. 116

A Pigmy Legend, . . . .



Legend of the Jo-go-o, or Pigmies destroying the

Monster Buffaloes,

. 121

A War Legend, . . . .


"War Dance, ....

. 125

The Virgin of War, . . . .



Indian Fireside,


. 129

Mythological Legends,



The Legend of He-no, the Thunderer,


. 181



The Seven Stars,
The Three Sisters,
The Spirit of Corn,

A Captivk's Life among Ij
White Woman,"
Treatment of Prisoners,
Eespect towards "Women,
Story of Mary Jewison,
The Deserted Baby,
Mission Burial Ground,


. 133

. 135

dians. Illustrated by the Life of "The


Eloquence among the Iroquois— Eed Jacket, or Sa-go-y
Eed Jacket, ....

Plea of the Women, ....
Indian Superstitions, ....
Eloquence of Eed Jacket,

The Missionaries, ....
Witchcraft, .....




Sarcasm and Sagacity — Eed Jacket, ok Sa-go-ye-wat-ha, . . 174

Interview with Eed Jacket, . . . . .175

Vanity of Eed Jacket, . . . . . .185

Last hours of Eed Jacket, ..... 197

Deatli of Eed Jacket, . . . . . .199

Eed Jacket's Grave, . . . . .201


Dignity of Character among the Iroquois, Illustrated by the life

of Farmer's Brother and Young-King, . . . 202

Farmer's Brother, . . . . . .203

Generosity to Captives, ..... 205

Ignorance of !^^oney, ...... 209

Indian Fund, ...... 211

American Barbarism, . . . . . .215

Young-King, ....... 217

Death of Young- King, . . . . . .219


-^ Indian Magnanimity Illustrated by the life of cornplanteb, . 220

Cornplanter, . . . . . . .221

Cornplanter's Generosity, ..... 223



Code of Morality, ......

Cornplanter's Appeal, .....

Cornplanter's Son, ......


Refinement and Sensibility in Indian Character, Illustrated in tue
Life of Logan, ......

Logan, .......

Logan's Wrongs, ......

Speech of Logan, ..."..




The Darkest Page of Indian History,
Report upon the Indians,

Appeal of the Indians, ....
Society of Friends, ....
Big Kettle, .....

Speech of Big Kettle,
Speech of Gayashuta, addressed to the Society of Friends,
Speech of Black Hawk,

Manners and Customs, ....
Red Jacket's Step-daughter, .

. 245

. 249

. 252

. 25T

. 201


The Educated Indian,
Indian Orations,
Injustice to the Indians,
Indian Civilization,
Indian Oration,
Closing Remarks,



The Future of the North American Indian,.

Injustice to the Indians,

Story of James Macdonald,

Stigma attached to the Indians,

Inconsistency, ....

Kusick, ....

Sabbath Morning among the Chippewas,
_^Ni Doom of the Indian,





" A book about Indians, — who cares any thing about
them ? "

This will probably be the exclamation of many who
glance at my title-page, for to those who know nothing con-
cerning them, a whole book about Indians will seem a very
prosy affair. To these I can answer nothing, for they will
not proceed as far as my preface to see what reason I
can render for this seeming folly. But to those who are
willing to listen, I will say, that the Indians are a very
interesting people, whether I have made an interesting
book about them or not.

The Antiquarian, the Historian, and the Scholar, have
been a long time studying Indian character, and have
given us plenty of information concerning Indians, but it
is all in ponderous tomes for State and College libraries,
and quite inaccessible to the multitudes. Those who only
take up such books as may be held in the hand, sitting by
the fire, still remain very ignorant of the inhabitants who
peopled the forests, before the Saxon set his foot upon our

There is also a great deal of prejudice, the consequence


of this ignorance, and the consequence of the representa-
tions of our forefathers, who were brought into contact
with the Indians, under circumstances that made it im-
possible to judge impartially and correctly.

This ignorance and prejudice I have attempted to dis-
pel. I thought at first of only giving a series of Indian
Biographies, but without some knowledge of the Govern-
ment and Religion of the Iriquois, the lives of their great
men could not be understood or appreciated. The histo-
ries which are in our schools, and from Avhich our first im-
pressions are obtained, are still very deficient in what
they relate of Indian history, and most of them are still
filling the minds of children and youth with very false

I knew little of what I was undertaking when I began,
or I might have shrunk from the task. In my ignorance
I thought a very small book would cover all the ground I
had marked out, but I soon found it would not cover half
of it, and I am obliged to leave the lives of Brandt the
great Mohawk Chief, of Sir William Johnson and several
other interesting chiefs and personages connected with
Indian history, for another volume. If the success of
these should be sufficiently encouraging, they may be fol-
lowed by others, concerning Southern Indians, in volumes
to correspond in design and character.

Though a difficult task, I have found it a very pleas-
ing one. The mists of prejudice and ignorance have been
cleared from my own mind by the light of truth, and I have
been happy indeed, when, either in imagination or in
reality, I have been seated by Indian firesides. I have


read every thing I could hear of connected with ray sub-
jects, but aside from books have enjoyed peculiar facilities
for prosecuting my labors. A teacher whom I loved in
childhood, became a missionary among the Senecas in
Western New York. In compliance with her wishes we
took a little Indian girl into our family, who was my pupil
and companion two years, and whom we all learned to
love. Her father was the step-son of Red Jacket, the
most renowned chief of the Iriquois, and through our
correspondence with the missionaries, we continued, and
deepened our interest in her people. It was long a favor-
ite idea with me to write a book concerning them, and
when I had decided to do so, I went to Cattaraugus and
spent several months in order to become better acquainted
with the Indians myself, and to be in daily communion
with those who had been among them more than twenty
3'ears, and also to gain access to books and documents to
be found nowhere else.

On glancing at the table of contents the book may
seem fragment^y, but instead of devoting a whole long
chapter to the dry details of " manners and customs," I
have woven these usually uninteresting materials into the
Biographies, so that no one part can be at all understood
or appreciated without reading the whole.

My title will not be so attractive to American ears as
if it related to any other unknown people. A tour in
Arabia, or Africa, or Kamschatka, with far less important
and interesting material, would secure a greater number
of readers, as we are always more curious about things
afar off.


I might have covered as many pages with " Indian
atrocities," but these have been detailed in other histories
till they are familiar to every ear, and I had neither room
nor inclination for even a glance at war and its dark

I have not written the wliole truth^ yet what I have
written is truth, in the minutest details.

Mr. Clarke in the " Onondaga," has in two large
volumes given, a mass of useful information concerning mis-
sions, and Indian life and character ; and in the " History
of Pontiac," by Parkman, wo have a glowing picture of
forest life, and life-breathing portraits of forest men.

Charlevoix, La Hontan, Colden, Smith, Macaulay,
Morse, and Bancroft, are well known historians, and their
books are the fountains to which all resort for historical

Mr. William L. Stone has given us several Indian
Biographies, which are most interesting and truthful, pre-
senting Indian rights and wrongs in a new light, and doing
justice to Indian character. To these I am indebted for
some of the most valuable materials of my book.

Mr. Schoolcraft has given us a world of wondrous
things in his numerous quartos and folios, which will
prove a treasure-house in all future time for philologists,
ethnologists, and antiquarians of all names ; and Mr.
Lewis H. Morgan has written one of the most curious
books in his " League of the Iriquois," in which we have
the Government, Religion, and Customs of the Six Na-
tions portrayed truly, and yet so brightly, that one is
almost tempted to say, " What need is there of a better


way ? " There are few, however learned, who would not
be surprised on readmg his account of Indian '• Church
and State." Knowing his devotion to truth and accuracy,
and his opportunities for, obtaining correct knowledge of
what he wrote, I have, in all I have taken from books
concerning the Iriquois Confederacy, relied upon him. To
him I am also indebted for criticisms and suggestions
which will save the critics much trouble, though they will
probably have plenty to do as it is.

The works of Col. Thomas L. McKenney, the well-
known administrator of Indian affairs, contain the most life-
like and glowing pictures of Indian character, and the most
truthful appreciation of Indian life, for he knew our forest
forefathers longer, and saw them under a greater variety
of circumstances, than it was possible for another to do ;
and he rightly understood both the Indian and the white
man, and the means of adapting them to each other.

Alas, that his noble plans for civilizing and Chris-
tianizing the red races of America should have been frus-
trated, when there was not only the hope, but the most
encouraging prospect, that the work might be accom-
plished. His was no Utopian scheme, but one which suc-
cessful operation had proved practicable. But it was not
so to be. He could not save them ; but through his own
personal efforts, and influence as head of department, we
have the gallery of Indian portraits, invaluable as speci-
mens of art, and invaluable as the only correct representa-
tives of a people so soon to have passed away. I am not
only indebted to the books of Mr. McKenney, but to him,


for every facility which it has been in his power to afford
for information, and promoting the success of my plan.

In the poem of Alfred B, Street, " Frontenac," we
have the government, religion, and festivals of the Long
House in one beautiful picture. As a poem, it is one of
the most artistic in our language ; but its Indian hue has
prevented its being appreciated, and it concerns a people
so little known and so entirely misunderstood in prose,
that its descriptions are like a panorama without light. I
have quoted from it several songs, to embellish my sombre

Tecumseh, by Colton, has been longer published, and
is better known ; and the poems of Hosmer are familiar
to the readers of Magazines, and do not need me to com-
mend them.

I have not wished to encumber my book with notes
and authorities^ and therefore express my obligations, by
naming the principal sources of my information from
books, in this way, and add that I have gleaned " here
a little and there a little," wherever I could find any
thing to suit my purpose.

Mr. Wright, in whose family I remained whilst seek-
ing new materials, understands the Seneca language, and
also many others, and gave me freely the results of his long
and intimate experience of Indian life ; whilst his wife,
who also speaks the language with fluency, was enabled,
by the observation which is woman's peculiar province,
and as a highly cultivated intellectual woman, to give me
the aid which no man, however learned he might be, could


There are also many educated Indians on my list of
friends and helpers. Dr. Peter Wilson is well known as
a highly gifted and educated man. Mr. N. T. Strong
and M. B. Pierce are intelligent and accomplished gen-
tlemen. To Mr. N. W. and Ely S. Parker I am much
indebted, as their time and knowledge have been ever
cordially at my service. The one is engaged in transla-
ting the Bible into the Seneca language, having been edu-
cated at the Normal School, Albany ; and the other is
one of the most honored and valuable servants in the em-
ployment of the State, as Engineer. Their sister is a
highly intelligent and cultivated young lady, as one often
meets in any society. These that I have mentioned are
young, and pertain to the new order of things ; but there
are aged men and aged women still living, who give us
some idea of the Indian as he was. I have been in their
houses, and become acquainted with their hearts, and not
among any people have I seen firesides where love and
friendship wore a brighter smile, or hearts throbbed with
more genuine Christian sympathy.

I experienced to the full their cordial hospitality,
and bring away the mark of respect which they only be-
stow u])on favored ones. The manner in which names are
bestowed is one of their peculiar customs, and is quite an
imposing ceremony. The name of every child is pub-
licly confirmed in Council, in order to be a legal name ;
and when he grows to man^s estate., another is given him,
which is confirmed in the same public way. At the
present time, when they bestow a name upon a stranger,


it is usually done at the New Year's Council, whether the
person is present or absent.

Mine was conferred at a private social gathering, a
speech being made on the occasion by Sha-dye-no-wah
(John Hudson), one of their most distinguished men, who
adopted me into the Bear tribe as his niece. This token
of regard was afterwards confirmed by a Council of the
Nation, and this name I shall be ever proud to subscribe.
It signifies " one who has a new style," or " tells new






In all the early histories of the American colonies — in
the stories of Indian life and delineations of Indian cha-
racter — we have these children of the wilderness repre-
sented as savage and barbarous, with scarcely a redeeming
trait of character. And in the minds of a large portion
of the community the sentiment still prevails, that they
were bloodthirsty, revengeful, and merciless — ^justly a
terror to both friends and foes. Children are impressed
with the idea that an Indian is scarcely human, and as
much to be feared as the most ferocious animal of the

Novelists have now and then clothed a few with a
garb which excites our admiration ; but seldom has one
been invested with qualities which we could love, unless
it were also said that through some captive, taken in dis-
tant wars, he inherited a whiter skin and a paler blood.

But I am inclined to think that Indians are not alone
in being savage — not alone barbarous, and heartless, and

20 i'he: moQUOis.

It is said tney were exterminating each other by ag-
gressive and devastating wars before the white people
came among them. But wars— certainly, aggressive and
exterminating wars — are not proofs of barbarity. The
bravest warrior was the most honored ; and this has been
ever true of Christian nations : and those who call them-
selves Christian, have not ceased yet to look upon him
who could plan most successfully the wholesale slaughter
of human beings, as the most deserving his king's and his
country's laurels. How long since the poean died away
in praise of the Duke of "Wellington ? What have been
the wars in which all Europe has been engaged since there
have been any records of her history ? For what are
civilized and Christian nations now drenching their fields
with blood ?

It is said the Indian was cruel to the captive, and in-
flicted unspeakable tortures upon his enemy taken in battle.
But, from what we know of them, it is not to be inferred
that Indian chiefs were ever guilty of filling dungeons
with innocent victims, or slaughtering hundreds and thou-
sands of their own people, whose only sin was a quiet dis-
sent from some relio-ious doo;ma. Towards their enemies
they were often relentless, and they had good reason to
look upon white men as their enemies. They slew them
in battle, plotted against them secretly, and in a few in-
stances — few comparatively — subjected individuals to tor-
ture, burnt them at the stake, and, perhaps, flayed them
alive. But who knows any thing of the precepts and prac-
tice of Roman Catholic Christendom, and quotes these
things as proofs of unmitigated barbarity ? At the very
time that Indians were using the tomahawk and scalping-
knife to avenge their wrongs, peaceful citizens in every
country in Europe, where the Pope was the man of au-
thority, were incarcerated for no crime whatever, and


such refinements of torture invented and practised as it
never entered in the heart of the fiercest Indian warrior
that roamed the wilderness, to inflict upon man or beast.
We know very little of the secrets of the Inquisition, and
this little chills our blood with horror ; 3-et these things
were done in the name of Christ, the Saviour of the world
— the Prince of Peace; and not savage, but civilized,
CJiristian men looked on, not coldly, but rejoicingly,
while women and children writhed in flames and weltered
in blood !

Were the atrocities, committed in the Vale of Wyo-
ming and Cherry Valley uuprecedented among the Wal-
densian fastnesses and the mountains of Auvergne ? Who
has read Fox's Book of Martyrs and found any thing to
parallel it in all the records of Indian warfare ? The
slaughter of St. Bartholomew's-day, the destruction of
the Jews in Spain, and the Scotch Covenanters, were in
obedience to the mandates of Christian princes, aye, and
some of them devised by Christian women, who professed
to be serving God, and to make the Bi'jle the man of
their counsel.

It is said also the Indian was treacherous, and in com-
pliance with the conditions of no treaty was ever to be
trusted. But our Puritan fathers cannot be wholly ex-
onerated from the charge of faithlessness ; and who does
not blush to talk of Indian traitors when he remembers
the Spanish invasion and the fall of the princely and
magnanimous Montezuma ?

" Indians believed in witches and burned them too ! "
Did not the sainted Baxter, with the Bible in his hand,
pronounce'it right ? and was not the Indian permitted to
be present, when a quiet, unoffending woman was cast
into the fire by the decree of a Puritan council ?

To come down to more decidedly Christian times, we


are yet called upon to shudder at the revelations of
Howard and Miss Dix. It is not so very long since, in
Protestant England, hanging was the punishment of a
petty theft, and long and hopeless imprisonment, of a
slight misdemeanor. I think it is within the memory of
those who are not the oldest inhabitants, when men were
bet up to be stoned and spit upon by those who claimed
the exclusive right to be called humane and merciful.

Again, it is said, the Indian mode of warfare is, with-
out exception, the most inhuman and revolting. But I do
not know that those who die by the barbed and poisoned
arrow, linger in more unendurable torments, than those
who are mangled by powder and balls. The tomaliawk
makes quick work of dying, and the custom of scalping
among Christian murderers would save thousands from
groaning days, and perhaps weeks, among heaps that cover
victorious fields and fill hospitals with the wounded and the
dying ! But scalping was not an invention exclusively
Indian. " It claims," says Prescott, " high authority, or, at
least, antiquity." The Father of history, Herodotus, gives
an account of it among the Scythians, showing that they
performed the operation, and wore the scalps of their ene-
mies taken in battle, as trophies, in the same manner as
our North American Indians. Traces of the same custom
are also found in the laws of the Visigoths, among the
Franks, and even the Anglo-Saxons.'' The Southern In-
dians did not scalp, but they had a system of slavery, no
trace of which is to be found among the customs, laws,
or legends of the Iriquois.

Again : " They carried away women and children cap-

Online LibraryAnna C. (Anna Cummings) JohnsonThe Iroquois; → online text (page 1 of 25)