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Arbitration of outstanding pecuniary claims between Great Britain and the United States of America : the Cayuga Indians online

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volume 2, number 64. from pages I to II.

Mr. Strong — I object to it as incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial.
(Objection overruled, and exception.)

Mr. Sheehan — I also offer in evidence Assembly Document in volimie
5, 1850. number 130.

Mr. Strong — I interpose the same objection, irrelevant, immaterial and
incompetent, and not within the scope of this inquiry.
(Objection overruled, and exception.)

Evidence closed.

I, the undersigned, a commissioner appointed by an order of the
Supreme Court, sitting in Erie County, made on the 7th day of May, 1888,
pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 84 of the laws of 1888, entitled ' An
act to appoint a commissioner to ascertain who are the payees under cer-
tain treaties made by this State, dated respectively February 27, 1789, and
July 27, 1795, and to modify said treaties,' hereby certify that the fore-
going is a complete record of all proceedings had and the testimony taken
by and before me pursuant to the provisions of said act.

Dated, Buffalo, N.T., January 24, 1889.






No. 83.
In Assembly, Feb. 20, 1851.

Petition of the Cayuga Nation of Indians, for the payment of An-
nuities due to the said Nation from the State of New York.

To the Legislature of the State of New York.

The Cayuga Nation now no longer under your protection come to you
for justice. We have been deeply wronged, our chiefs and representatives
bear to you our words. They are plain men, and can only talk straight.

They go from a pleasant land which was given us by our Cousins the
Menominces, when we were without homes, but they will pass on their way
through the far fairer country we sold to the State of New York, and
they will feel sad when they reach your great Council House. Make their
hearts glad we pray you by kindness and listen to their words when they
tell you, that the Cayugas remember the old ties that bound them to the
State of New York, and rejoice at your greatness.

You are great in wealth, in power, in honour; we are very weak, and
very poor, and of no account in the world. The long house to which your
fathers came to talk of peace and war with our fathers, is all broken and
gone, and they who were happy in it are scattered like leaves by the wind,
and you have built where it stood a stronger house and fixed it so firmly
that the storm cannot shake it.

But who can measure the strength of the Great Spirit? He made the
Indians as well as the white man. • He frowns at injustice in the white
man as well as the Indian. He has put a spirit in each, to tell him what
is right and what is wrong, and he gives jrawer only that it may be used
in kindness in bringing about good.

We complain of you to yourselves. The wrong is plain, so plain that
no crooked tongue can make it seem right. As well might the breezes try
to turn the deep lake brown in iis centre. It is pure and clear, and though
the hurricane may toss its waters up, they will always settle back, as in a
great glass that the moon loves to shine upon.

Two winters ago our Chiefs told you our story, our people were poor,
and our old folks talked of the happy lives they had lived in the State of
New York, and told how they left it. Then the chiefs brought out the
parchment and there it stood written, that the State of New York had
bought the lands of the Cayuga Nation, and would pay the Cajniga Nation
for these $2,300 a year forever. Our people were in want, and our Chiefs
took the parchment and showed it to you. They take it now. Look at
it. If it is not your deed, it is well. The Cayuga Nation can suffer. It
asks only its own. They never break their word though it be only spoken.


They said they would give all their lands to somebody, and they gave
them. If it be your deed why should you not give them what you pro-
mised? Are there two laws in such matters, one for the poor Indians and
one for the great State of New York? We are indeed very small. The
State of New York, looking' at great things far away, might well overlook
and forget our little nation as it lay crouching in a corner of Canada
West, even as the hunter in chasing the deer sees not and thinks' not of
the worm that lies hid in the leaves. But we came to your very feet, and
you saw us two winters ago and talked kindly awhile and then sent us
away as poor as we came. You are far wiser than we, but you gave us no
reason for not doing what the parchment promises for you. If you had
shown us that it did not mean what it says, we would not have troubled

The State bought the lands of the Cayuga Nation and promised to
pay the Cayniga Nation. We are that Nation. If we are not, where is it?
Are the few Cayugas who straggle over the United States the Nation?
The Senecas have been kind to a few who have come to them on their
reservations, and let them build on their land. Count them and make
out a Nation. Have they a Council fire? They are Cayugas, but if two of
your people should cross the great waters, would they or you be the
American people?

Listen — The Cayugas though dependent were free. They sold all
their lands, and you gave them none in return. They had not a spot of
earth in the whole world which they could call their own. They had
nothing but the parchment promises of the State of New York.

You did not require, you could not be unjust enough to require the
Nation to stay in the State of New York. The parchment is silent. And our
fathers did not believe your fathers wished them to scatter and beg through
your land. They were strangers in your land and aliens to your blood
and laws. Then they moved to Canada. They got land there, they built
their council fire, and there the Nation has lived ever since. Did their
moving to Canada break up their Nation? Did it take your father's names
off this parchment? There are the receipts of the Cayuga Nation, of the
Nation living in Canada West, for the money, year after year down to the
time of the war. Look at your own papers and see if you find not the
same thing. We then, the Cayuga Nation, ask for our money and show
your bond. Will you send us away?

If it said that we took up the hatchet against you, and therefore are not
the Cayuga Nation, listen — The Indians are learning to live like the
white man, but the white men love war. The Indians are not strong
enough to make war, and when nations fight, they come in like children to
do what they can for the one that they live with. When the time came, who
did we live with, and who sheltered us? Did we do wrong? Then how
came it that the Indians living in New York, took up the hatchet? Did
the State of New York know it? But remember what part we took in that
war. When warriors were poured into Canada, and its towns were burnt,
and our neighbours were fleeing from danger, or taking up arms, could the
Cayugas be still any more than our cousins the Senecas on the other side
of the lake and river ? Would you punish us for that ? And yet that is what
your agent told us at Canadaigua, when we came for our money after the


He said we had fought for the land we lived in and, therefore, should
have nothing; and we went away wondering..

We hear that a crooked tongue said that war put an end to all treaties.
It may he so. We do not understand such things. It seems to us that it
can't pay ifor land. It can't make wrong right. We do not believe that
this is your law. But, if it be, we would ask whether the State of New
York made the war with the Cayuga Naffion? We had supposed it was
made by the United States with Great Britain. If when that was made,
the State of New York owed people in England borrowed money, would it
not have paid it, when the war was over? If it would, why should it not
pay the poor Cayugas for their land?

We hear, too, that the crooked tongue said that the Cayuga Nation
had received great gifts of land and goods, and therefore the few Cayugas
who live apart from their Nation ought to have the money. Suppose the
Cayugas had never sold th^ir land, and a part of them had received big
presents from the United States, would New York have given the whole
of the land to those who got no presents? Is it the business of the State
to make the Indians equal in property? But the tongue is nothing but
tongue. It is owned by a poor head, if not by a bad heart. Listen: The
Great Spirit has said that no man shall take, what is another's. How can
it be just to take one man's land or money and give it to another? You
have very, very rich men and very poor men among you. If you owe
money to a rich man do you pay it to a poor man?

But the tongue is false. We are not rich in presents. The Cayuga
who speaks vsrith two tongues is probably richer than any of our Nation;
and we have many poor among us whose hearts would be glad by a share
of the payment.

Listen — We are poor Indians and may not make a pleasant talk. Wp
can only speak right out ; but we do not mean to say anything that would
offend you. We have no such thing in our hearts. We look up to you as
very far above us, but men talk with the stars. If we complain more
warmly than we ought, it is our ignorance, and you will not therefore reject
our prayers.

Listen — The Cayuga Nation is just. The money that comes to it,
comes to it for its people, and is always divided among them. Those who
are not with us at the time are not forgotten, but get their shares. Those
Cayugas who choose to live elsewhere than with the Nation may come and
get their fair proportion, or we will leave it with you to be paid to them.
As for the past they have had the whole, but have not grown rich upon it.
Let compensation be made for the two years since the Nation made it.=i
claims, and let the rest go.

May the Great Spirit smile upon you and bless your Councils.

Delegates from the Cayuga Nation. Canada West.

Signed in presence of
M. I. Stkonq.




In the matter of that portion "]
Of the Cayuga Nation of Indians W Feb. 24th, 1883.
Residing in Canada. J


That portion of the Cayuga Nation of Indians residing in the prov-
ince of Ontario, Dominion of Canada, by their attorney, James C; Strong,
of Buffalo, N.Y., would respectfully represent upon information and belief
to the Honorable the State Board of Audit of the State of New York, the
following facts, upon which they base the claims hereinafter set forth.

1st. That they are a portion of the Cayuga Nation of Indians who
formerly resided in the State of New York, and with whom the said State
made sundry treaties, in-cluding those of February 25, 1789. July 27, and
May 30. 1807.

2nd. That shortly after the revolutionary war, to wit: On the 26th
day of February, 1789, the State of New York entered into a treaty with
the ' Cayuga Nation of Indians,' at Albany, by which treaty the Cayugas
ceded to the State large and valuable tracts of land.

This cession, however, did not include all the lands owned by them,
for they reserved large tracts to themselves and their posterity, for their
own use and cultivation.

Under this treaty, the State paid goods, and a sum of money, and
provided in the treaty that the balance of the purchase should be paid
them by an annuity of $500. The treaty provides that ' the sum of $500
shall be paid annually to the Cayugas and their posterity forever, on the
1st day of June in every year, in silver.'

3rd. That on the 22nd day of June, 1790, the treaty of 1789 was con-
firmed at Fort Stanwix, and the State paid the Cayugas the remainder of
the cash it agreed to pay under that treaty, to wit, $1,000.

4th. That on the 27th of July, 1795, a grand Council of the Cayuga
Nation was held at Cayuga Ferry, at which was gathered all the chiefs,
warriors and headmen of the nation, as well those residing within the
State, as those residing out of it — for some of the Cayugas, quite a large
number, were then residing in Canada, and were especially called by the
State to meet their brethren residing in the United States, to make the
great treaty of 1795 — and the Canadian band, your Petitioners' immediate
ancestors, came and joined in said treaty.

A solemn treaty was there entered into, by which the Cayugas sold all
the land they owned within the limits of the State, except a tract of two
miles square, and another of one mile square, 'with the mine within the
same,' and another tract of land one mile square at ' Cannogai.' This


last named tract was for the individual liead chief, ' 0-ja-gegh-ti,' or iu
English, ' Fish Carrier,' and was specially reserved to him, and his pos-
terity forever.

The State as compensation for the lands ceded by this last treaty,
paid the Cayugas the sum of $1,800, ready money, and by said treaty
solemnly agreed ' to pay to the said Cayuga Nation,' ' the annuity of $1,800,
to be paid on the first day of June next, and annually forever thereafter, at
Canandaghqua, Ontario Ooomty, N.T.'

The $500 annuity under the treaty of 1789, and this $1,800 annuity
were consolidated by this treaty, and it was agreed that the future an-
nuity should be $2,300, and that the receipt for it should be signed in
duplicate by the chiefs, one on the back of the ' counterpart ' or duplicate
treaty in the hands of the Cayugas, and the other should be recorded in
the clerk's office of Ontario County.

The payments of this $2,300 annuity were duly made by the State,
and were endorsed on the back of the duplicate treaty as agreed upon, up
to June 12, 1809, that being the date of the last endorsement on the treaty.
The duplicate treaty is now in the possession of said attorney, it having
been given him by the chief, ' 0-ja-gegh-ti,' or ' Fish Carrier,' the head
chief of the Cayugas now residing in Canada, at the time of his appoint-
ment by said Cayugas as their attorney.

5th. That this chief, ' 0-ja-gegh-ti,' or ' Fish Carrier,' is the direct
successor of ' 0-ja-gegh-ti,' or ' Fish Carrier,' who was the head chief of
the whole nation for the Cayugas at the time above mentioned treaties
were made, and is acknowledged by the Canadian portion, to be the head
chief of the Nation, to whom, among other things, has descended the care
and possession of the duplicate treaty.

6th. That the Canadian branch have always included full three-fourths
of the entire nation, and now numbers about eight hundred and fifty while
the portion in the United States now number one hundred and seventy-six.

7th. That on the 30th day of May, 1807, another treaty was made be-
tween the State and the Cayugas, by which they ceded to the State all the
lands reserved by them in the treaty of 1795 except the one one mile square
that had been reserved and set apart to the head chief, ' 0-ja-gegh-ti,' or
'Fish Carrier.'

This extinguished the title of the Cayugas to every foot of land they
owned in the State, except the one mile square reserved to the chief, ' Fish
Carrier,' and his posterity.

For this purchase the State paid in full at the time, adding nothing
to the annuity. The sale under this treaty left the Cayugas homeless in
the State of New Tork.

8th. Between June 12, 1809, and June 1, 1810, '0-ja-gegh-ti,' or
' Fish Carrier,' and all the remaining Sachems or- chiefs, warriors and
head men, and many of the tribe (making with those already residing in
Canada, more than three-fourths of the entire nation), left the IJnited
States and moved over into Canada, taking up their residence in thnt
country, and have remained there ever since; never having joined in, or
been parties to, any treaties or pretended treaties that have been made
between the State and the small bands of the Cayuga Nation remaining
in the United States, and they aver that the portion who remained- in
the United States were but a small portion of the nation, and had not


with them the chiefs or the head men, except such as they might elect
themselves, to rule over themselves only, and that they had no right or
authority to make any treaties with the State that would in any manner
hind the nation or your Petitioners.

That the pretended chiefs among the portion remaining in the United
States were merely self-constituted, after the real chiefs had moved over
to Canada, and possessed no authority, except over the small band that
elected them.

9th. That some of the Cayugas who remained in the United States
moved to near Sandusky^^ Ohio, and as the payment of the annuity at
' Canandaghqua,' N.T., as provided in the treaty of 1795, was inconvenient
to them, on February 28, 1829, they made a pretended treaty with the
State, changing the manner of payment of their share of the $2,300, in
that afterwards it was to be paid upon a draft signed by four of the pre-
tended chiefs, and that draft sent to them, to relieve them from coming to
' Canandaghqua ' for their money. This pretended treaty was made with
the Sandusky band only, and the State agreed to and afterwards did
so pay what was claimed to be their share, to them. Your Petitioners
think that an agreement made with a small band of the nation cannot
and ought not to be called a treaty with the nation, as these documents
pretend to be.

This pretended treaty was signed by ' Tall Chief,' ' George Curley
Eye,' 'Capt. Smith,' ' Capt. Goodhunt,' 'William King,' and 'Cayuga
George,' who pretended to be the chiefs. And your Petitioners aver that
neither they or either of them were the chiefs of the nation.

10th. That on the 8th of September, 1831, another so-called treaty was
made between the United States Cayugas and the State.

This paper avers that the portion of the nation living near Sundusky,
Ohio, were about to move West of the Mississippi Kiver, and the State in
this so-called treaty agrees to divide the $2,300, and give the ' Casoiga
Tribes of Indians ' who should emigrate to the State of Missouri $l,Y0O '
and to those remaining on the Seneca Reservation, near the village ' of
Buffalo, $600.'

11th. That on April 27th, 184G, a power of attorney is given by the
Cayugas residing in Western New York, to one ' Dr. Peter Wilson.' This
power of attorney assumes to give him full power to transact all business
with the State in behalf of ' The Cayuga Nation of Indians,' even to the
making of treaties, and under and by virtue of it, lie makes a so-called
treaty with the State, in which it is provided that the portion of the
annuity to be paid to the Cayugas in this State, shall be paid to the U. S.
Sub. Agent at Buffalo, N.Y. The Sandusky band had nothing to do with
this ' treaty.'

This so-called treaty was of short duration.

12th. That on July 2, 1846, another so-called treaty was made between
the Stalte and 'the Cayuga Nation of Indians,' in which it was provided
that the jwrtion of the annuity coming to the New York band should be
paid at the Cattaraugus Reservation.

The Sandusky band did not join in this. . A very singular provision
was incorporated into this so-called treaty. It provides, ' that all former
treaties are hereby annulled.' If this so-called treaty had been of any bind-
ing force or validity, it would by its terms annul the treaties under and
by virtue of which the annuities were paid.


This document was signed by ' Joseph Isaacs,' ' Jack Wheelbarrow,'
' Peter Wilson,' and Joseph L. Peters,' who pretended to be the chiefs.

13th. That the portion of the Cayugas remaining in the United States
had no recognized head or chief is evident from the fact that to the above
so-called treaty a remonstrance was sent signed by ' James Turkey',
' Charles Cooper,' ' Joseph Turkey,' ' Gardiner York,' ' James Crow,' ' David
Crow,' Jonathan Bun,' ' John White Boy,' ' Richard Jameson,' ' Robert
Lucas,' 'Joseph Buctoes,' 'Polly Crow,' 'Polly John,' 'Harry Crow,'
' Abbey Snow,' ' Susan John,' ' Phebe Seneca,' ' Sally Jameson,' ' Caroline
Wheelbarrow,' and ' Smith Wheelbarrow.'

Such a thing as a remonstrance, signed by men and women, against the
management of National affairs by their chiefs was never before heard of
(even though it sold all their lands), and would be something unthought
of, had there been any recognized chief or Sachem.

It shows plainly that those who pretended to act such were merely
self-constituted, and had no real power or authority.

14th. That in the early part of 1849, your Petitioners sent a memorial
and petition to the Legislature of the State of New York, in and by which
they protested against the wrong the State was doing them and petitioned
to stop paying all the annuity to the bands in the United States, and to
pay the Petitioners their rightful share of it.

This memorial was referred by the Legislature to the Commissioners
of the Land Office, who made a report upon it, favourable to your Peti-
tioners, but the report was never acted upon by the Legislature.

15th. That, the Cayugas who .emigrated west of the Mississippi River
nearly all died. Twenty-five returned to the State of New York in 184Y,
and by the census of 1849, made to the War Department at Washington,
D.C., only five Cayugas returned as residing west of the Mississippi

16th. That your Petitioners aver they have never joined in any of
the so-called ' treaties ' since the one of May 30, 1807, neither have they
ever authorized any one to join for them, nor have they in any manner
consented to the making of said so-called treaties, nor were they ever
notified of the intended making of them, or any of them, nor have they in
any manner ceded, discharged or released their rights or claims under the
treaties of 1Y89 and 1795.

17th. That your Petitioners aver they are not ciitizens or residents of
the State of New York, or of the United States, and that they were never
citizens of either, neither did' they ever owe allegiance to either, and that
they left the United States prior to the war between the United States and
Great Britain, commonly called ' the war of 1812,' and took up their resi-
dence in Canada, and that they have resided there ever since.

That they were entitled to and possessed as absolute right their share
of the annuity under said treaties of 1789 and- 1795, prior to said war.

18th. That your Petitioners are one of the 'tribes or nations of
Indians ' included in the treaty made between Great Britain and the United
SItates, at Ghent, December 24, 1814.

19th. That since June 12, 1809, your Petitioners have not received one
dollar of the annuity that the State of New York solemnly contracted and
agreed to pay them, under and by virtue of the treaties of 1789 and 1795.

That said money so agreed to be paid by the State, is not a gift or
gratuity, but is in payment for large and exceedingly valuable tracts of


land owned by yonr Petilfcioners, as tenants in common with their brethren,
and that the State has received full value for the moneys claimed due your

20th. That it was known to the State of New York, that aU ithe chiefs
and headmen, together with full three-fourths of the entire Cayuga Nation,
removed from said State into Canada, prior to the war of 1812, and all
payments of the annuity that have been made to the remnant of said nation
remaining in the United States, since June 12, 1809, have been made with
a knowledge of that fact.

21st. That your Petitioners are poor and unable to go to any expense,
unless successful in their claim; and they therefore ask your Honourable
Board to hear and determine the legal questions involved, upon the docu-
mentary evidence that will be produced by their attorney; and in case
such questions are decided in favor of your Petitioners, they will appear
before you and make the proper proof as to the amount or share of said
annuity to which they have been, and still are entitled.

Tour Petitioners therefore claim : —

1st. That the State of New York is indebted to them for the amount of
their share of said annuity of $2,300 from the 1st day of June, 1810, with
interest thereon, at and after the rate of six per cent per annum, from
that date until the date of its payment; amounting at the time of filing
this claim to the '■um of $448,000.

2nd. If the first claim is denied, then your Petitioners claim that the
State of New York is indebted to them for the amount of their share of
said annuity from the first day of June, 1849, with interest thereon as

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