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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
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Chapter II. — Susquehannocks, Nanticokes, and Conoys.

THE Chesapeake Bay appears to have derived its name from a tribe, which occupied Cape Henry and the surrounding country, now included in Princess Anne county, Virginia. From the geographical position of the bay, in a part of the Powhatanic territory, as well as the etymology of the word, its termination in peak being of the same import as beag, waters, the name is unquestionably of Algonquin derivation.

When, in 1608, Captain Smith made a voyage to the head of this bay, and entered the magnificent river which debouches into it, he found that the Susquehannocks, who were located on its western shores, comprised 600 warriors, which would denote a population of 3000 souls; and he was struck with admiration of their fine physical proportions and manly voices. At that time, twenty-three years had elapsed from the date of the first voyage to Virginia. Whether a change had taken place in their location, or the Virginia band had been but an outlying branch, cannot now be determined; but it is more than probable, that the Susquehanna river was their original residence.

Along the Eastern shores of the bay, from Cape Charles up, Smith mentions the location of the Accomacs and the Accohanocs, tribes who retained this general position during the greater part of colonial history; and who, certainly, down to the period of the Northampton massacre, when they became mingled with the negroes, were still, in part, represented. 113 Next in position, north, he places the Nanticokes, under the name of Tockwaghs, which may readily be inferred to apply to that tribe, when we learn that they were called Tawackguano by the Delawares. 114 Thence, in succession, the Ozimies, the Huokarawaocks, and the Wighcomocos, the latter of whom are called Wicomocos by Calvert.

The entire eastern shore, above Virginia, has, in later days, been regarded as the Nanticos or Conoy country, synonymous names for the same people. An adverse fate befell that scattered tribe. From the earliest dates, they were at variance with the Iroquois, whose war canoes swept down the Susquehanna, from their inaccessible fastnesses in Western New York. We learn, from a competent authority, 115 that the

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Nanticos were forced into a league with the Iroquois, who finally adopted them, holding out the flattering idea, and, perhaps, promise, of admitting the tribe into their confederacy; but if so, and there is evidence of it in a declaration, made in 1758, by Tokais, a Cayuga chief, 116 their fate was not unlike the stag who falls into the power of the anaconda. They helped to minister to the pride of the Iroquois, as did also the Tutelos from Virginia.

The Nanticokes and Conoys, 117 wearied with strife, abandoned their residences in lower Maryland, and moved up the Susquehanna, pursuing its western branches into the territories of their conquerors, the Iroquois. Eventually, they settled down beside fragmentary bands of Shawnees and Mohickanders, at Otsiningo, the present site of Binghampton, with whom they formed a league, in the hope of recovering their former position by this policy. This league was called the "Three Nations." 118 During the month of April, 1757, Owiligascho, or Peter Spelman, a German, who had resided seven years among the Shawnees, on one of the western branches of the Susquehanna, and married a Shawnee wife, arrived at Fort Johnson, where resided the Indian superintendent for the northern colonies, and reported that this new confederacy would visit him, in a short time, with a body of nearly two hundred men, and that they were now on the road, Their object was to smoke a friendly pipe with Sir William Johnson, after the manner of their fathers, and to offer him assistance in the war against the French. He presented two strings of wampum from the chiefs, as the credentials of his authority. 119

On the 19th of April following, these Indians arrived on the opposite bank of the river, which was then swelled by the spring flood. The chiefs, having crossed in canoes, were admitted to a council. The Shawnees were represented by Paxinosa, and fifty-two of his warriors ; the Mohickanders by Mammatsican, their king, with one hundred and forty-seven of his nation; and the Nanticokes by Hamightaghlawatawa, with eight of his people.

Having been addressed in favorable and congratulatory terms by Sir William, who explained to them the true position of the English, as contrasted with that of the French, respecting the Indians, two days subsequently the chiefs replied, accepting the offer of the chain of friendship, and promising to keep "fast hold of it, and not quit it, so long as the world endured." In this address, allusion is incidentally made to a belt sent the previous year, to the unfriendly Delaware and Ohio Indians, in the vicinity of Fort Du Quesne; and also, to a similar belt, sent to the Delaware chief Tediscund, residing at Tioga. 120 They formally apprize him of the league formed between the Nanticokes, Mohickanders, and Shawnees, of which he had been previously informed

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by Owiligascho, and, also, that they had concentrated at Otsiningo, on the Susquehanna, where messages are directed to be sent to them in future. 121

There is a trait of Indian shrewdness observable, at the conclusion of their reply to Sir William Johnson, in a curious allusion to an event which occurred while the Mohickanders still resided on the Hudson. "'Tis now nine years ago," 122 said the speaker, "that a misfortune happened near Reinbeck, in this province; a white man there, shot a young man, an Indian. There was a meeting held thereon, and Martinus Hoffman said, ‘Brothers, there are two methods of settling this accident; one according to the white people's customs, the other according to the Indians. Which of them will you choose? If you will go according to the Indian manner, the man who shot the Indian may yet live. If this man's life is spared, and, at any time hereafter, an Indian should kill a white man, and you desire it, his life shall also be spared.’ You told us, he added, two days ago, that when a man is dead, there is no bringing him to life again. We understand there are two Indians in jail, at Albany, accused of killing a white man. They are alive, and may live to be of service, and we beg you, as the chief of the Great King, our Father, that they may be released." 123

The alliance thus formed with the British government, in 1757, was unquestionably fostered, and remained unbroken, during the progress of the Revolution. The larger part of these Indians probably returned to Canada, with the Munsees and Delawares, where, it is known, numbers of the latter tribe were located. A few of them, however, who lingered within the precincts of New York, probably became absorbed in the Brothertons, comprising fragments of Algonquin tribes, who dropped their own dialects, and adopted the English language.

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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:
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