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Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe.. History of the Indian Tribes of the United States: Their Present Condition and Prospects, and a Sketch of Their Ancient Status. Volume 6. . Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co, 1857. [format: book; image], [genre: government document; report]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=schoolcraft6.html


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Chapter II. — Change of Position of the Iroquois. Cessions of Territory by them to the State of New York. Treaty of Canandaigua.

THE treaty of Versailles having ignored the national existence of the Indians, they were compelled to negotiate directly with the Republic. The Iroquois. or Six Nations, who had been the most determined enemies of the Americans, made the first treaty in which the question of territory was mooted, which was concluded and signed at Fort Stanwix, October 22, 1784, in presence of the commissioners, Oliver Wolcott, Richard Butler, and Arthur Lee. By the terms of this instrument they ceded a strip of land, beginning at the mouth of Oyonwaye creek on Lake Ontario, four miles south of the Niagara portage path, and running southerly to the mouth of the Tehosaroro, or Buffalo creek, thence to the Pennsylvania line, and along its north and south boundary, to the Ohio river, They relinquished any claim by right of conquest, to the Indian country west of that boundary. Their right of property in the territory situate in the State of New York, eastward of the Oyonwaye line, embracing the fertile region of western New York, remained unaffected, and the territory of the Oneidas was guaranteed to them. By this treaty, the tribes who had fought against the colonies covenanted to deliver up all prisoners, white and black, taken during the war; and as a guaranty that this should be done, six chiefs were held as hostages. This treaty was finally confirmed by all the Iroquois sachems in a council held by General St. Clair, at Fort Harmer, on the Ohio, January 9, 1789. 418

New York had been the arena of the entire Iroquois development. According to the earliest traditions, 419 they entered it in trans-historical times, by way of the Oswego river, and assumed separate names and tribal distinctions after their geographical dispersion over it. Their confederation, under the title of Akquinashioni, is by far the most interesting problem in the history of the Vesperic 420 groups of the North American tribes. This combination enabled them to attain the prominent position, as military tribes, which they held when the country was discovered. By it they had maintained

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the integrity of their territory against the persevering attempts of the French, after the settlement of Canada, to encroach upon their rights; and hence they united the more readily with the English in the Revolutionary struggle.

It is here necessary to notice the treaties concluded with the State of New York by the Iroquois, as communicated by General George Clinton. 421 The revolutionary war, having, in effect, dissolved the confederation, left the sovereignty of the individual States intact, therefore, to New York alone could cessions of territory be rightfully made. These cessions began shortly after the negotiation of the initial national treaty at Fort Stanwix, in 1784. On the 28th of June, 1785, at a convocation of the chiefs and sachems, held at Herkimer, the Oneidas and Tuscaroras, in consideration of the payment in hand of a sum of money and goods, ceded a tract of land on the New York side of the Susquehanna river, including Unadilla. 422

At a council, held with the Onondaga sachems, by George Clinton, Esq., and his associate commissioners, September 12th, 1788, the Onondaga tribe ceded all their lands within the State, making such reservations as covered their castle and residences. By a separate article of this treaty, they ceded to the State the salt spring tract. Large payments were made in coin and goods, and a perpetual annuity of $500 in silver granted.

By the terms of a treaty, concluded with the Oneida sachems, at Fort Stanwix, before the same commissioner, September 22d, 1788, the Oneidas ceded all their lands within the State, with the exception of ample reservations for their own use, and the right to lease part of the same. Five thousand dollars, in money, goods, and provisions were then paid to them, and a perpetual annuity of $600 granted. 423

This treaty with the Oneidas contained an important provision, sanctioning the arrangements previously made by them in behalf of the expatriated Indians of New England, and others of the Algonquin group, who had been allowed to settle on their lands. The title to a tract of land, two miles in breadth, and three in length, in the Oriskany valley, was confirmed to the tribes which assumed the name of Brothertons, and were under the care of Rev. Samson Occum. 424 Another tract, six miles square, located in the Oneida creek valley, was confirmed to the Mohicans of the Housatonic, bearing the name of Stockbridges, who were under the charge of the Rev. Mr. Sargeant.

On the 25th of February, 1789, the Cayuga sachems assembled at Albany, and ceded all their lands within the State, with the exception of one hundred square miles, exclusive of the area of Cayuga lake, a reserve of a fishing site at Scayes, and one mile square at Cayuga ferry. One mile square was granted to the Cayuga chief, Oojaugenta, or Fish Carrier. Two limited annuities, amounting to $500 and $625, respectively, and a permanent annuity of $500, were granted by the State. 425

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Evidence exists 426 that these agreements to pay the tribes, in coin, goods, and provisions, were scrupulously complied with, and have been continued to the present day; every attention and respect having been manifested by New York for the habits and wants of the Indians, who have, likewise, received special gratuities. These transactions constituted the first practical lesson in civil polity, and the details of public business, which the Iroquois received. The respect paid to their sachems; the care and accuracy with which the titles of the respective tribes to their lands were inquired into; and the good faith with which the State at all times fulfilled its engagements, rendering and requiring even-handed justice, formed an example which was not lost on a people, celebrated, from early days, for their political position and influence. Civil life was regarded by them with greater respect than heretofore, and its influence caused them to act with a stricter sense of responsibility than they had done in past times.

Hitherto, their chiefs and sachems had, as independent representatives of free and proud tribes, visited the social districts of eastern and southern New York, either for political or commercial purposes, without paying much regard to a state of society which did not suit their preconceived ideas. But, from this period, the aspect of things changed. They resided exclusively on small reservations, which were soon surrounded by farmers, merchants, manufacturers, mechanics, and professional men, who presented to them, daily and hourly, an example of the beneficial effects of thrift, and demonstrated that only the idle and vicious lagged behind in the general race to the goal of prosperity. Private rights were strictly protected, and those over whom the aegis of the law was extended were taxed for its support. The debtor had his choice, either to meet his obligations, or be placed in durance until his creditor was satisfied. There was but one rule and one law for all. Little attention was given to the Indians. Wise in their own conceits, regarding proficiency and excellence in the arts of war and hunting as the limit of all attainments, they hated education, deemed voluntary labor as equivalent to slavery, and despised morality, as well as the teachings of the gospel. If such a people rapidly disappeared, the magistrates felt but little or no sympathy for their fate; the merchants merely sold them what they could pay for, and the majority of the citizens, who remembered their cruel and treacherous conduct during the Revolution, were glad to see them pass away, and give place to a superior race.

The public functionaries of the State Government, however, regarded their condition from a higher point of view. They were deemed an unfortunate, yet not criminal people, who had been misled, but could not be condemned, for lacking political or moral wisdom. Their title to the territories was undisputed, and was freely, as well as fully, acknowledged and respected by all. Another aspect of the position of the Iroquois after the Revolution might likewise be presented. That contest had produced a disastrous effect on them; having, by means of its continual alarms and excitements,

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diverted their attention for an extended period from their usual pursuits. They had so long waylaid the farmer at his plow, and the planter in his field, that their cornfields were, in retaliation, devastated, their orchards felled to the ground, their villages burned, and themselves often reduced to extreme poverty and destitution. The State authorities, however, interfered in their behalf, and, under the treaties just mentioned, rescued them from want, by the payment to them of annuities in money and goods.

The General Government also took this view, and a commissioner of high standing 427 was appointed to meet the tribes, during the autumn of 1794, at Canandaigua, in western New York. This convocation was numerously attended by all the tribes who had been actors in the war (except the Mohawks), including the Stockbridges. The noted Oneida chief, Skenandoa, attended, with a delegation of his people. The war chief, Little Beard, or Sequidongquee, marked for his cruelties during Sullivan's campaign, represented the Genesee Senecas. 428 The celebrated orator, Assoggoyawauthau, or
Red Jacket, first distinguished himself at this council. Honayawus, or Farmer's Brother, represented the central Niagara Indians, and Kiantwauka, or the Cornplanter, those of the upper Alleghany. The Tuscaroras sent the Indian annalist, Nicolas Cusic; the Housatonics, Hendric Aupumut.

The treaty was concluded, November 11, 429 and recognised the principles of all prior treaties. It provided for the payment of a gratuity of $10,000 in money and goods, which were delivered on the ground. A permanent annuity of $4500, payable in coin, clothes, cattle, implements of husbandry, and in the services of artificers, was likewise stipulated for. All the attendant circumstances of this convocation were imposing, and its results auspicious, being marked by the development of a kindly feeling for the Union by the Indians.

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Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe.. History of the Indian Tribes of the United States: Their Present Condition and Prospects, and a Sketch of Their Ancient Status. Volume 6. . Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co, 1857. [format: book; image], [genre: government document; report]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=schoolcraft6.html
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