Willard E Yager.

The Onéota. The red man as soldier, containing a brief but true relation of the memorable struggle with the Skániatarát-Haga or people-from-beyond-the-Greatwater online

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him a force some three or four times that which the
tribes could muster, he advanced to the Maumee — -build-
ing Fort Defiance at the junction of the Auglaize.

After two years of patient preparation, well protected
against any possible disaster by a chain of forts and gar-
risons running all the way to Cincinnati, Wayne was at
length in position to act. For the eastern and southern
portions of Ohio, he offered the Indians "a quantity of
goods to the value of $20,000," with half the amount —
in goods — "henceforward every year forever." 2 This
they might take, and peace; or he would wrest from
them what he could, by force and arms. 3

Most of the Indians, weary of the long war — which,
well fought as it had been and destructive to the enemy,
had availed so little to stem the vast invasion — were for
bowing to the inevitable and accepting Wayne's pro-
posal. Said Mishikinaqua, in council:

Twice we have beaten the enemy, under separate com-
manders. We cannot expect the same good fortune always
to attend us. The Americans are now led by a chief who
never sleeps. The night and the day are alike to him. Dur-
ing all the time that he has been marching upon our vil-
lages, we have never been able to surprise him. Think well
of it. Something whispers to me that it would be prudent
to listen to his offers of peace. 4

Whether, or not, the "whisper" reached their ears as
well, Blue Jacket and other chiefs of influence were

1. — Dr. V 80. 2. — Treaty of Greenville. 3. — Dr. V. 81,
note. 4. — v. Th. II. 257-8.



still for resistance. They taunted the Turtle with cow-
ardice, and stung to the quick, he joined them.

How many were the intractables and their followers,
it is impossible to say. Ash puts the final rally at three
hundred. More or less, it was over these that Wayne,
on the 20th of August, 1794, near the falls of the Mau-
mee — almost under the walls of the British fort still
maintained there — won the battle of Fallen-Timbers,
"the greatest victory ever gained over the Northwest

The American loss in killed and wounded was one
hundred and thirty to forty. The loss of the tribes the
early chroniclers pretend not even to "estimate" — con-
tenting themselves with vague words, such as "carnage"
and "horrible havoc." Safe to say, it was not great —
the Shawnee, who bore the brunt, being returned a
decade later at fifteen hundred, as many as in 1783 or
1793. 1

However, the success of Wayne, such as it was, brought
the signature of a treaty — at Fort Greenville, a year
later — its terms, be it noted, "the same as were offered
before the battle." 2


Long as the war ending with the treaty of Greenville,
was the peace that followed.

Mishikinaqua never again bore arms against the
White man. Satisfied that further resistance could
avail nothing, he studied the stranger ways and soon
manifested a decided taste for civilized life, expressing
the belief that in its acceptance lay the sole hope of his
race. 3

Again and again he visited the capital of the Seven-

teen-Fires — where his strong intellect, his shrewd wit,

1. — Handb. II. 537. 2. — Dr. V. 81, note. 3. — Voln. 465.



his kindness and courtesy, won the attention and sincere
esteem of men such as Volney, the French philosopher,
;in<l the renowned Kosciusko. 1 Humane in war as he was
Wave, in peace, his generous soul was stirred to its depths
by the manifold evils brought upon his people through
strong drink.

The legislature of Kentucky, on his forcible represen-
tation, passed a law forbidding Ihe sale of liquor to
Indiana Tliat of Ohio, to its lasting disgrace, ignored
his plea for prohibition — here, as elsewhere commonly,
the Border deliberately filling its pockets in the misery
of a race. 1 ' The "iniquity of slavery," which later was
lo arouse "the conscience" of a people by such means be-
come • wealthy enough to support a conscience, strikes
one as hardly more heinous.

This noled chief — his mind, assuredly, "of no com-
mon order," as Parkrnan remarked concerning the Ojib-
wa Minavavana — died at Fort Wayne, in the summer
of 1812, where he was buried with the, honors of war.
His illness was of brief duration; and death came to
him, as he had insisted it should, in the free air and on
the bosom of mother Earth — after "the old way." He
met it with the noble, patience which we are wont to term
Christian, but which was quite as characteristic of these
admirable Pagans — firm in their belief that a happy im-
mortality awaited him who had been brave, just and un-

By the members of his tribe, the Miami, Mishiki-
naqua's disposition to accept the new ways was viewed
for long with a jealous eye. In the end, most of them
came to his way of thinking.

So, too, the Delawares — to whom the last injunction
of the famous Buckringahelas had been, reliance on the
friendship of the Soventeen-Fires. 8 And so, likewise,

1. — Dr. V. 77-9, Th. II. 267-9. 2. — Th, II. 265-6. 3, —
Th. II. 179-80.


the Wyandot — the "elder brothers" 1 — who — of the his-
toric Iroquoian stock — had, though few in number, at-
tained by sheer force of character and intellect an in-
fluence in Ohio, and the region about the head of Lake
Erie, as great as that wielded of yore in the League by
the Onondaga. 2

Quite other, in the impending ruin of their world, was
the attitude, for the most part, of the indomitable Shaw-
nee. Once the peace-loving vassals of the Iroquois, they
had been tempered in long and bitter experience to proud
independence and a power in arms redoubtable as any
the Swannak encountered.

For them, "the old path." But Blue Jacket, their
long-time leader, though on the battlefield he had no
superior, was neither orator nor statesman. Further, he
drew to the limit of years.

With the wise and generous approval of the aging
chieftain, came into prominence, at this juncture, among
the Shawnee, a man uniting all titles to distinction and
influence — one who would have been remarkable among
any people in such a crisis — Tecumseh, He-that-Springs.

It was Tecumseh whom Trumbull described as "the
most extraordinary Indian in United States history"
— albeit Harrison rated as high, or higher, the "ven-
erable" Tarlieh, the Crane, of the Wyandot — whose
friendship he held an "honor." The decision, as in
many another case, would turn perhaps on the judge —
the question is of interest, chiefly, as illustrating the
plenitude of Red genius. 3

ISTo love for the Swannak and their ways had Tecum-
seh — and with reason.

When he was a child they had slain his father, in the
battle at the mouth of the Kanawha. Later, on the Ten-
nessee, they had killed an elder brother who filled the

1. — Th. II. 212, 217, 219. 2. — lb. 211; Handb. I. 589. 3. —
v. Handb. II. 694, 714.



father's place. Later still, another brother had fallen
— at his very side, as together they faced the Blacksnake.

Then, when the battle of the Timbers was fought — it
was not yet half a generation — had the Forest people
owned all the land, to the Ohio — their villages on the
twin Miamis. Far flowed Miami-of-the-River now, the
great Miami, through a land all Wapsit — all the white
man's. From the village on the Wabash where now
dwelt Tecumseh and his people, it was farther to the
field where his father fell than to the Mississippi.

ISTearly all this vast interval filled as by some strange
magic, with the swarming foe, 1 and now — more
truculent, more insatiable than ever — they clamored
anew for land — still land. "We shall be pushed into the
lakes," said the chief to Harrison. 2

All this had Tecumseh and his people seen, and more
— the world-old forest swept away, their hunting de-
stroyed, their children corrupted, their women de-
bauched, their friends and kinsmen wounded and miser-
ably slain — without cause.

And though the Blacksnake, taking the Great Spirit
to witness by the pipe, had promised with much writing
that the Red men should be fully protected in the "quiet
enjoyment" of all lands not ceded — that any doing them
violence should be surrendered for punishment — not one
White ruffian had been brought to justice, nor "one
only" of the "many persons" who had "committed
murder on their people." 3

Trust the Seventeen-Fires ? Even the Blacksnake —
a warrior ! — had proved false. One and all, the Wap-
sit were hypocrites and knaves — as long ago the fathers
had discerned. 4 For Buckongahelas and his final words,
dying he was no longer the wise counselor, who, twenty
years earlier, had warned the foolish Praying Indians

1.— Hale 230. 2. — Th. II. 233. 3.— See Harv. 127; Th.
II. 230-31. 4. — Th. II. 183.



of Gnadenhuetten that Swaimak ruled the Long Knives
— and that therefore no trust could be placed in them

"They would make slaves of us, if they could," he
had said then; "since they cannot enslave, they kill us.
They are not like the Red men, who are enemies in war
but in peace are friends. They take the Indian by th^
hand and at the same moment destroy him." 1

A soldier from very early years, Tecumseh was more
— a thinker. From Harmar's overthrow, and before, he
had marked the skill and valor of the "men first in the
land." But what availed the skill and courage of a
tribe — or of two, or three, or five — against this countless
host, like the leaves of the forest for number and as con-
stantly renewed ?

The Wapsit had no tribes. Though of varying
features, of differently colored eyes and hair — a mixed
people 2 — all acted together. Why should not all In-
dians? "Nor would he give rest to his feet," he de-
clared, "until he had united all Red men in defense of
the soil." 3

Again, the Swannak must come no farther — the
boundary made with the Blacksnake must remain in-
violate. But how maintain the boundary, if tribes, even
parts of tribes, might validly sign away lands within it ?

All had fought for the lands. "The Great Spirit had
made them the property of all." Then all, concluded
this keen reasoner, must join for any valid sale.*

The political conceptions of Tecumseh have been
likened to those of Philip or of Pontiac. But there is
a wide difference between a confederation, temporary or
permanent, and amalgamation.

The Iroquois league was a permanent federation and
potentially a nation. But nationality must have come
by evolution. For said the Iroquois to subject Dela-

1. — Heckw. 81. 2. — Heckw. 187. 3. — Dr. V. 123. 4 —
Th. II. 231-3.



wares at Philadelphia, 1742: "You can no more sell
land than can women." 1 Nor did the Delawares, nor
any other conquered tribe, have any voice in the affairs
of the League.

Ultimately Delawares and Iroquois might have be-
come one people, as Saxons and Normans. But Tecum-
seh's plans succeeding, a Bed nation had sprung forth-
with into being — a single sovereignty to replace a score
of petty groups, independent each group however trifling.

It was the thought of a Cavour or a Bismarck.

And the fine courage, the unshakable resolution ! Gov.
Harrison had threatened that, the Indians opposing the
seizure of their lands, "swarms of hunting-shirt men"
should pour forth "thick as mosquitoes on the shores of
the Wabash." Said a Wyandot, urging submission:

Let me tell you, should you defeat the American army,
you have not done. Another will come; and if you defeat
that, still another — one like the waves of the Greatwater,
overwhelming and sweeping you from the face of the earth. 2

But the patriot who haughtily told the governor that
"the Sun was his father, the Earth his mother," was "de-
termined to defend the lands." He and his people "had
retreated far enough" — they "would go no farther."
They did not want war, they did not intend to strike the
first blow; but needs be, they would "die like men." 3


Remarkable as the political conceptions of Tecumseh
was the energy with which he sought to realize them —
giving indeed "no rest to his feet," in journeys that
ranged from beyond the Mississippi to Florida; and
urging everywhere with native eloquence and logic un-
trained but powerful, the consolidation and united

1.— Cold. II. 106. 2.— Th. II. 207, 219. 3.— Dr. V. 123;
Th. II. 236, 239, 233, 213.




action, against a supreme and common danger, of the
warring tribes that for centuries had maintained a proud
but ineffective autonomy. 1

Blue Jacket is said to have accompanied and aided the
Shawnee statesman in his earlier efforts. 2 But death
must soon have claimed him.

Of greater service to the new political doctrine was a
moral and religious movement which somewhat earlier
had been inaugurated by Tenskwatawa, the Open-Door.

Curiously, "the Prophet," as Tenskwatawa is known
in history, was a brother of Tecumseh. Genius was a
family trait.

Modern nations, to preserve their sovereignty, estab-
lish and sedulously maintain not merely armies and
navies but primary industries.

Pontiac was perhaps the first Red man clearly to per-
ceive that in the struggle for liberty and the land, his
race was at woeful disadvantage because little by little
it had come to rely largely upon the invader for tools,
weapons and even food. "You ask me to fight the
Whites," said Waneta, in a council of the Sioux, 1862.
"You are unreasonable. First, I have no powder and
lead. Second, I cannot live without the Whites." 3

Doubtless Pontiac, in his great endeavor of a century
earlier to combine the tribes against the English, had
been met with the same argument. And he knew well
that such deplorable dependence was of recent origin.
As much knew all Red men of intelligence. Said
Canassatego at Lancaster, Pa., in the summer of 1744:

Some of the young men of the English would every
now and then tell us that we should have perished, had they
not come into the country and furnished us with strouds
[coarse woolen goods] and hatchets and guns and other
things necessary for the support of life. But we always gave
them to understand that we lived before they came amongst
us; and as well, or better, if we may believe what our fore-

1.— Handb. II 714; Th. II. 223. 2.— Dr. V. 123. 3.—
Heard 161.



fathers have told us. We had then room enough, and plenty
of deer, which were easily caught. And though we had not
knives, hatchets or guns such as we have now, yet we had
knives of stone and hatchets of stone and bows and arrows,
and those served our uses as well as English things do now.l

To restore the independence of his race, Pontiac urged
''the necessity of dispensing altogether with European
commodities." The Red man must return to the ancient
way. 2

Similar was the teaching of Tenskwatawa. Let there
be no more commerce with the alien ! Let the fur mantle
replace the trader's blanket — firesticks, the steel. Let
no man more touch the accursed firewater. Let there be
no marriage with the stranger. 3

Pontiac gave to his injunctions a religious sanction.
They followed the will of the Great Spirit, as communi-
cated to a Delaware. Let them be obeyed, and divine
favor would be restored to the Red man, in happiness
and prosperity. 4

More direct was the sanction of Tenskwatawa. He
was himself the voice of the Great Spirit. He had been
"taken up to the spirit world," 5 and there had received
his message. The proof was, that he had been granted
power to stay death — whether by sickness or on the bat-

It was in 1805 that the Prophet announced his mis-
sion. The following summer he foretold, it is said, an
eclipse of the sun. Thereafter, his authority well estab-
lished, his doctrines spread widely, and with rapidity.
John Tanner, among the Northwest Indians at this
time, says they were received in some measure by "the
remotest Ojibwa." The Open-Door himself visited the
Creeks, in the summer of 1811 ; in the main the work
was carried on by converts. In this latter way, it reached
even to the Seminole. 6

1. Cold. II. 140. 2. — Dr. V. 51. 3. — Handb. II. 730;

Th. II. 188. 4. — Consp. I. 204, 207. 5. — Handb. II. 729. 6.—
vid. Dr. V. 128; Handb. II. 730; Th. II. 195.



Tenskwatawa told Harrison that he had no other in-
tention than "to introduce among the Indians those
good principles of religion which the White people pro-
fess." 1 But he taught with emphasis that the Red men
all were brethren, and that intertribal strife must cease
— which, with the unity of feeling resulting from the re-
ligion he had made common to many tribes, greatly as-
sisted Tecumseh's schemes of amalgamation; as, in the
determination of the chief to maintain the Greenville
boundary, did the Prophet's doctrine of non-intercourse.

We have already seen that the Delawares in the main,
as most of the Miami and a majority of the Wyandot,
were opposed to the course of Tecmnseh. Still less did
they recognize the religious pretensions and teachings of
the Prophet. Indeed, in the tribes generally those in
authority looked askance on the brothers — as a rule.
Power and station were threatened.

But opposition was guarded. Offensive in resistance,
several chiefs lost their lives on various pretexts.

The following of the brothers had become formidable.
Beside the greater part of the Shawnee, most of the
Potawatomi, of the Kickapoo and of the Ottawa were
with them — as many also of the Ojibwa, 2 the Sauk and
the Winnebago ; some few of the Delawares and Wyan-
dot ; and more of the Miami.

At Tippecanoe, Place-of-Buffalofish, in present In-
diana — on the west bank of the Wabash, at the con-
fluence of a stream which still bears the name — the
Prophet had fixed his residence. Around him had
gathered upward of a thousand converts, drawn from
many tribes — some three to four hundred able war-

Here, too, Tecumseh made headquarters. In the
spring of 1811, he informed Gov. Harrison that having

1. — Th. II. 204. 2. — Chippewa.



"succeeded in combining the Northern tribes, he was
about visiting the South, for the purpose of completing
the scheme." 1


The Southern tour, though adding nothing to the in-
cipient Red state, was not without result. ISTo doubt
the rising of the Creeks, on the surrender of Detroit,
the following year, was largely the result of Tecumseh's
representations at this time. 2

Even the Chocta, firm friends of the Seventeen-Fires
from the day of the Revolution, were well nigh per-
suaded — in a great council held on the Tombigbee, near
present Columbus, Mississippi.

In the end, a peace-loving people and already well on
the road to civilization, 3 they were led by the celebrated
Apushamataha — who, like Tarheh the Wyandot, be-
lieved successful war impossible — to stand by the old
bond. Later, they even took part against their neighbors
the Creeks — in the desperate struggle of that brave peo-
ple for liberty — joining the army of the Swannak with
no less than seven hundred warriors, who proved but too
effective. 4

Thus faithful to the Government, in due time did the
Chocta receive their reward — the treaty of 1820 which
solemnly pledged to them their ancient heritage, being
cynically violated, some few years later, in a brutal
and shameless expatriation.

Cushman, who frequently visited the great camp at
Hebron, where they were assembled for the long and
perilous journey, tells of the piteous wail of the women,
mourning night after night for the land of the fathers
and their ravished graves. 5

1. Th. II. 23 5 2. — Dr. IV. 55. 3. — Cush. 116. 4.—

Cush. 307, 317, 323. 5.— lb. 114, 116, 177.



The Chocta had never borne arms against the
oppressor. In his defense, they had shed their best
blood. On his gratitude, his honor, his justice and his
humanity, they had staked their all. And here was
the end ! The defiant Creeks fared better — holding their
lands for longer.

For the Cherokee, busy under devoted missionaries
and teachers in building their remarkable advancement,
they had given no heed to Tecumseh and the Prophet.
Some few aided against the Creeks. But for the most
part, they by then had abandoned the warpath for the
ways of peace.

The expulsion of this kindly and unoffending people
— an act which President Monroe had declared would
be not less "revolting to humanity" than "utterly un-
justifiable" 1 — took place in the winter of 1838-9. They
were then sixteen thousand or more. Nearly one-fourth
— some four thousand — perished miserably in the haz-
ardous journey, far from the old land they held so dear,
to which these poor people were shamefully driven by a
tyranny and cruelty comparable only with the blackest
of Spain's in the Netherlands. 2

It is by facts such as this, and a hundred others —
many of which must needs be noted in a review even so
brief as the present — that the reader comes to understand
that "disgust, melancholy and horror," which the story
of European settlement in America aroused in the soul
of the generous Eaynol.

Pertinent becomes the inquiry whether men like
Philip, Pontiac, Thayendanega, 3 Black Hawk, Chief
Gall — knights and heroes, every one — whether warriors
of savage type even, such as the fierce H iokatoo — who
though treating with constant "tenderness" his frail
White wife Mary Jemison, slew women and children

1. — Dr. IV. 112. 2. — See, p. 36; Handb. I. 247. 3. — Iro-
quois name of Brant.



nevertheless at Cherry Valley — were not in truth the
saviors of their race.

Utterly ignorant of the means used by the Christian
to despoil the Pagan; sedulously maintained in such
ignorance by the ex-parte record called History — "false
and fawning as a courtesan," as wrote Dumas — -the
reader has thrilled with horror, perhaps, at some lurid
and exaggerated picture of Indian "massacre."

But in the expulsion of the Cherokee was more of
deliberate cruelty than in all the frontier warfare of the
Seneca ; in the pillage and long starvation of the Sioux
— cause of the first frantic appeal to arms, 1862 — were
done to a lingering death, perchance as many poor
mothers, with their babes, as later were to perish sav-
agely, though with more mercy, under the tomahawk.

At the close of the long war between the French and
the Iroquois, a delegation from Onondaga, coming to
Montreal, were received with salvo of cannon. The In-
dians allies of the French passed the grim comment that
fear made Onontio 2 "show more respect to his enemies
than love could make him do to his friends." 3

In a debate in the House of Representatives a few
years since, it was conceded that of the many tribes
dwelling in California at the time of the American oc-
cupation, only those who fought the invaders have now
any land. Such as "trusted the Government" — by far
the larger number — robbed bit by bit of their all, wander
to-day, having received no penny of compensation, in
pitiful beggary and degradation. 4

One may well ask whether TTncas would have had the
friendship of the Puritan, but for the proud hostility of
Sassacus ; whether Skenando would have been recognized

1. — Heard. 42, 47, 51, 344; Taopi VI. 60. 2. — Iroquois
name for the governor of Canada. 3. — Cold. I. 262. 4. — v.
N. Y. Mail, Dec. 27, 1904.



as "the White man's friend," but for the fierce enmity
of such as Hiokatoo ; whether Apiishamataha would have
been buried in the Congressional cemetery, whether Tar-
heh would have seemed great and venerable to Harrison,
but for the noble defense of the Eed land by Tecumseh.

Philip fell, and his "mangled body" was quartered
and "hung upon four trees." 1 Pontiac was forced to a
reluctant peace, and was assassinated. Tecumseh was
slain, and strips of skin were cut from his body "as

Yet from the blood of these, and heroes like them,
sprang the hard-won rights of a race.

Only as a bitter and humiliating experience, running
over more than two and a half centuries, made it clear,
in the end, to the most obstinate that "the animal vul-
garly known as the Indian" was sufficiently "fiendish"
and "venomous" to defend himself — valiantly and with
surpassing ability, in an endless Thermopylae — using at
need, as Suffolk claimed was Christian England's right,
all means that "God and nature" had supplied — did

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Online LibraryWillard E YagerThe Onéota. The red man as soldier, containing a brief but true relation of the memorable struggle with the Skániatarát-Haga or people-from-beyond-the-Greatwater → online text (page 7 of 10)