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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 I. — New Netherlands Surrendered to the English, and Named New York.


Whilst a foreign power held sway over the entire territory bordering New England on the west and south, facilities were offered for the escape of Indian marauders into that province; and the impression prevailed, whether well or ill founded, cannot be determined, that such persons received countenance from the Dutch authorities, or, at least, that the Indians under their jurisdiction, received and sheltered the aboriginal fugitives. 180 But this state of affairs ceased, after the province was taken by the English, in 1664, twenty years after the close of the Pequot war. The British flag then waved in triumph from the utmost boundaries of New England to those of Florida. It was an unquestionable fact that, when the Pequot war terminated, in 1644, many of this indomitable tribe, after escaping from the massacre at Fairfield, sought shelter in the territory of the Mohawks. Some individuals of it, also, as well as of the Nanticokes, appear to have been incorporated with the Scoharie band of the Mohawks; but, by far the greater number, were permitted to locate themselves on a branch of the North river, called Scaghticoke, 181 in a valley equally as fertile as it was beautiful, which was granted to them by the authorities of Albany. 182 These

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fugitives, among whom were some other fragments of the sea-coast Algonquins, never resumed their original tribal appellation, but settled down under the government of the Iroquois cantons, who sheltered the remnants of the despoiled and conquered tribes. Delegates from these Indians attended some of the Mohawk councils, but they retained none of their former independent character, and were not much respected. Some years after the establishment of the English supremacy in New York, the entire Scaghticoke band precipitately fled, and located themselves under the protection of the French, at Missisqui bay, on the northern waters of Lake Champlain. To this course they were impelled by one or other of several reasons; either because less countenance was shown them by the New York authorities, on account of the repeated complaints of the Connecticut colonists; or that the whites infringed too much on the land assigned them; or that the Canadian authorities, who were in communication, and sympathy with them, exercised a persuasive influence; or, it is more probable, that they feared the New Yorkers were about to avenge the wrongs inflicted on the Connecticut settlers.

At the period when the English and Celtic elements of population were introduced into New York, there were, as there had been previously, but two Indian powers contending for the sovereignty in this colony, the Algonquin and the Iroquois. 183 The Algonquins, divided into numerous bands, under local names, had, from an early date, occupied the valley of the Hudson, below the site of Albany; and the right bank of that river, as high up, at least, as the influx of the Wallkill, was occupied by the second totemic class of the Lenno Lenapees, 184 who bore the name of Munsees, the various tribes of which, known as the Raritans, Sanhikans, &c., covered the entire surface of New Jersey. On the right banks of the Hudson were the Mohicans proper, known under the tribal appellations of Wappengers, Tappensees, and Wequa-esgecks, and other bands of the Westchester Algonquins. These latter extended their possessions into the boundaries of Connecticut. The Manhattans were the band residing on the island of the same name, and the Long Island tribes, descriptively called Sewan-akies, 185 or shell-land bands, were known by the generic name of Metoacs. Nearly every prominent bay, island, or channel, of which the great bay of New York is the recipient, possessed its local name, derived often from that of a tribe, and often from geographical features.

In the middle and western parts of the State, between the Tawasentha valley of Albany county, and the Niagara river, resided the Iroquois, consisting of the five tribes of the Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas, who, after the formation of their confederacy, filled by far the most important position in the history of the North American, or, to be more precise, Vesperic 186 Indians. According to some authorities, this league had been formed but a short time anterior to the discovery of

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the Hudson river. 187 Others, among whom is the Indian annalist, Cusic, whose chronology is not, however, reliable, aver that the date of the confederacy is far more ancient. 188 From all accounts, during the first half century after the settlement of Virginia, the Algonquins were the most numerous in population along the sea coasts, and for more than a century and a half, in the interior. This numerical supremacy continued until the European population, crossing the Alleghenies, passed the great lake basins, and scattered freely over the Mississippi Valley. Agreeably to Colden, 189 the supremacy of the Algonquins had, in more ancient times, been acknowledged, not only as hunters and warriors, but also in manners and arts. This early development, however, had evidently declined before the foot of the white man trod these shores; and it is certain that, so far as it related to policy and warlike achievements, it had passed away before the era of the Dutch, and long before the English became identified with New York history. These assertions are deducible from the fact, that the Algonquins, both of the Hudson and of the Delaware rivers, had been conquered by the Iroquois, and were then in a state of vassalage to that confederacy, either paying tribute, or deprived of the sovereign right of ceding lands. 190 When the latter power was attempted to be exercised, some forty years after the advent of Penn, the unmercifully severe and contemptuous rebuke, and insolence, of Canissatego may be cited, to show that the power of their club and tomahawk was ready to enforce their ancient potency. 191

About ten years previous to the conquest of New York by the English, say in 1653, the Seneca Iroquois, with the aid of the other tribes of the league, began a war against the Eries, as well as against the neuter nation of the Niagara river, and their allies, the Andastes of the Erie shore. When Le Moyne first visited Onondaga in 1655, this war against the Eries was then in progress. Cusic denominates them the Cat Nation, meaning the wild-cat, as the domestic animal was probably unknown. They were evidently affiliated in language with themselves. No one can peruse the writings of the missionary fathers, and not perceive this. The following account of the origin of this war against the Neuter Nation, is furnished by Cusic: Delegates from a northern nation, with whom the
Iroquois were at war, having been received by the Eries, Yagowanea, the female ruler of the tribe, at Kienuka, on the Niagara Ridge, betrayed the Seneca deputation to their concealed enemies from the north, by whom they were killed. As they claimed to hold a neutral position towards the belligerant tribes, the inevitable result of this treachery was, that the Iroquois indignantly flew to arms.

The early French writers call this tribe the Neuter Nation, owing to their apparently pacific character. This name, however, is not derived from the Indian, and has only served to mystify modern inquirers, as no such nation of neuters can be found in any position, except solely in the area occupied by the Eries, on the Niagara. The name

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by which the Senecas designate the Eries, is Kahqua. The Andastes occupied the shores of Lake Erie. As previously denoted, they were Susquehannocks.

The war, fiery, short, and bloody, resulted in the overthrow of the Eries and their allies, and produced their subsequent incorporation into other tribes, or expulsion from the country. From this time, the tribal name of Erie, as, in a prior case, with the Pequots, disappears from history. Mr. Evans, in his map and memoir, published at Philadelphia, in 1755, avers that the refugee Eries took shelter in the Ohio valley, whence they eventually crossed the Onosiota, 192 or Alleghany chain, to rejoin kindred tribes. Mr. Jefferson repeats this fact in his Notes on Virginia, in 1780. The evidence that these fugitive Eries are the brave and indomitable people known to us as Catabas, has been elsewhere produced. 193

To conciliate the Iroquois, who were thus rapidly raising themselves to a position of power and influence among the Indians of the colonies, became immediately a measure of English policy, and to secure this result, the most wise and prudent steps were taken. The fur trade, which had been established upon a firm and satisfactory basis by the Dutch, was continued; and the bonds of friendship with the Iroquois cemented by an offensive and defensive alliance. Their enemies became the enemies of the English, and the friends of the former the friends of the latter. Thus, the Iroquois were constituted the defenders of the territory of western New York, against the French. If the latter could succeed in driving them from, or acquiring their forests, western New York would be added to New France; if they failed, it was a gem in the British crown. Who can read the details of an hundred years' sanguinary contests, without perceiving that it was the undying vigilance, the unerring accuracy of their geographical knowledge of the wilderness, and the manly bravery of the Iroquois, which, up to the year 1775, preserved western New York to the English crown.

The annexed map, Plate VII., published at Amsterdam, in 1659, denotes the position of the several tribes, who occupied Manhatania, on the transfer of the Dutch authority in New York to the English.

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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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