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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 III. — The Indian Tribes, North and South, Slowly Arrive at an Apparently General Conclusion, that they Possess the Power to Crush the Colonies.

AT the time of the settlement of Georgia, not only had all the colonies of the crown of Great Britain been established, but every element, both foreign and domestic, necessary to their future expansion, had been introduced. Thus, the power and energies developed subsequently in the States of Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, Iowa, California, Minnesota, and Oregon, as, also, in New England, of Vermont and Maine, were then all shadowed forth in the future. These States did not spring into existence until decades of years subsequently; but when they did culminate and put forth strength, they eliminated no new principles for adoption by the Indian tribes within their respective boundaries. As colony after colony was incorporated, the Indians were unceasingly urged to imitate the usages and manners, of European society, to practise the duties of men, to abandon the uncertain pursuit of the chase, to renounce the seductions of indulgence, and to turn a deaf ear to the doleful rites and enchantments of the soothsayers, jossakeeds, and jugglers. There was one exception on their part, to their lack of vigor in that typical appreciation, required by no small part of the early teachings of the ecclesiastics in the colonies; and that was the symbolical religion introduced by the Catholic communities, founded by Spain and France. The use of signs and symbols was quite in accordance with the ideas of the natives, who regarded the sun and moon as the symbols of the Deity, and represented person and passions by types of birds and animals, which included the entire range of species in the great classes of animated nature. But subsequent observers have been unable to discover that any very permanent moral impressions, as to personal accountability, were made on the Indian minds.

The French peasantry, who were in constant intercourse with the Indians, did not, themselves, profess or practice a very high standard of morality, and were, therefore,

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the more acceptable to the natives, whose customs, manners, and opinions, they at once adopted. They never ridiculed their religious rites, and freely selected their wives from the tribes among whom they pursued their vocation, as boatmen, "merchant voyageurs," and runners to collect credits in the fur trade.

The courier du bois and the Indians resembled each other in a thousand little notions, regarding tastes, food, and dress. The Frenchman did not think the wigwam a dirty or a disgusting place; he went to gaze with complacency at the Indians'
wabeno and medicine dances. He was not sure that necromancy and spirit worship were altogether wrong; readily learned the Indian language; fabricated canoes of the finest pattern; became a perfect adept in these arts; and soon acquired a reputation, superior to the Indians, for navigating these light and beautiful vessels. He smoked the nicotiana, the Indian's most sacred weed, as they socially travelled together; and the native, under the guidance of his bourgeois, chanted one of the Frenchman's gay songs with the liveliest emotion. In his social chats he represented the "Grande Monarque" as superior to all sovereigns, and contrasted the relative power of the kings of England and France, with a partiality that placed the latter above all comparison. To interest and affect the Indian, conversation must be plain, simple, and adapted to his comprehension; and in these characteristics no class of persons have ever surpassed, or even equalled, the French.

The social teachings and manners of the French, so opposite to those of the English, furnish a true means of estimating the relative positions held by the two leading races of Europe who were so long opposed to each other on this continent, and are in some measure an apology for the Indian. They are believed, also, to have exerted a strong influence on the course of the Indians, in the great contest against the Anglo-Saxon race. Another apology may be made for the part which the Indians took in the wars so long existing between the European races. It would have required strong presence of mind and great forecast, to have resisted the influences and seductions which, from time to time, induced them to enter the field as auxiliaries, first on this side, then on the opposite. Those who could exert the strongest powers of persuasion, and most deeply interest the savages, were most sure of their services. It was the dark age of Indian history. The Indian was not the only one who lacked moral powers; the uncouth frontiers-man, as well as the mere buyer and seller of beaver and musk-rat, were not overstocked with it. Had the aborigines always been taught that, between nation and nation, as between man and man, duplicity was wrong; finesse and trickery, contemptible; deception, dishonorable; and treachery, abominable; there might have been better results. With him, war was a passion; he loved to see blood flow. But when he warred for others, he did so for nothing: a dupe at the outset, he was doubly a dupe at the close.

He embarked in these foreign contests with an entire blindness to his true interests,

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fighting not for himself, but for others. Whether Louis or George prevailed, was not the true question. Others could laugh, but he suffered, whichever party succeeded. Take up his melancholy history for the half century we have under review, nay, for a whole century, and there are too many evidences that he played the part of a tool, a drunkard, or a madman. There was no battle in which he was engaged as a flank auxiliary, in which he did not lose men; but, for every one killed in action, he lost ten by camp diseases, by hardships, and by the unskilful medical treatment of his muskikinines. 239 "Will these paltry presents pay," said the venerable Wabisha, "for the lives we have lost in battle, and for our warriors who died on the road?" 240

The Yamasees and the Tuscaroras in the South were not the only tribes which, about the beginning of the seventeenth century, evinced a spirit of hostility, and commenced a series of massacres, and a war of extermination against the whites. Partial as the Indians were to the French, there were two nations whom the latter could not control. These were the Iroquois, and the Outagamies, or Foxes.

Who the Outagamies were is not known, and their early history is a blank. It has been inferred, from their language, that they were Algonquins, who used the Lenno Lenapi pronunciation, in which an l is substituted for n, giving to their speech a more liquid flow. They appear, at an early day, to have been ejected from, or forsaken by, the Algonquin family and political organization. Their traditions refer to a primitive residence at the site of Cataraqui, where, it may be supposed, they formed an intimacy with the Iroquois; and, if so, that they were one of the vengeful instruments of those immense piles of bones, and gigantic ossuaries, spread over the interior of Upper Canada. 241

In 1712, this tribe, swayed probably by the Iroquois influence, attempted to destroy Detroit, and, as in all similar cases, their movements were secret, and the attack sudden. There were then but twenty soldiers in the fort. Under various pretences they gathered in that vicinity; but the plot was revealed in time to save the fort. The assault was made on the 13th of May, but, on the same day, the commandant was greeted by the voices of a numerous party of friendly Wyandots, Ottowas, and Pottawattamies, who routed the assailants. The Outagamies then retreated to an entrenched camp, near at hand, but, becoming finally straitened for food and water, they were forced to sally out and take possession of a house nearer the fort, whence they discharged a most destructive shower of lighted arrows, which set fire to the houses within the works. Eventually defeated, they retired to a peninsula jutting out into Lake St. Clair, where they repelled a furious assault of the French and their savage

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allies. After several days' preparation, during which artillery was brought from the fort, their position was stormed, very many killed, and the rest forced to flee to the upper lakes, and locate themselves on Fox river, flowing into Green Bay. Here the sequel of their history fully accords with the account given by the French, of their cunning and perfidious character. They harassed traders at all the portages leading to the Mississippi river, and spread war and alarm in all directions, as far as Lake Superior; but, being at length besieged by the French commander, De Louvigney, with a competent force, at a selected position, since called, on account of this event, Butte des Morts, or Hill of the Dead, they were overcome, and suffered immense slaughter, after which, the survivors fled to the banks of the Wisconsin. They were nearly destroyed, and received no further notice in our Indian history, until within the nineteenth century.

In 1712, at the time of the Fox assault on the fort of Detroit, the Iroquois nation comprised five tribes, or cantons; namely, the Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas. The same year they were joined by the Tuscaroras from North Carolina, making the sixth canton. The latter, once a powerful tribe, had been nearly annihilated by the North Carolina forces, assisted by a chivalrous body of men under Colonel Barnwell of South Carolina. The accession of the Tuscaroras, however it might have pleased the cantonal government, could have added but little to the efficiency of a people, who had, from the earliest times, been the terror of the Indian tribes. Colden informs us that the Iroquois cantons had first attained power by their confederation, 242 their wisdom in council, their policy in the adoption of conquered tribes, and their superior bravery in war. 243 Governor Clinton tells us that their acquisition of power was much facilitated by their advantageous location in western New York, in a region abounding in game, of unsurpassed fertility of soil, and situated at the head of many large and leading streams, down which they could suddenly make their forays, after the successful execution of which they might return by land. 244

All the tribes in an east and west line, between Lake Champlain, the Connecticut, and the Illinois, acknowledged the supremacy of the Iroquois. North and south their sway extended from the mouths of the Hudson, the Delaware, and the Susquehanna, to the great lakes; thence, northwardly to the Ontawis, or Grand river, of Canada, to Michilimackinac, and to the entrance of Lake Superior. In 1608, under the name of Masawomacks, they were the terror of the Powhatanic tribe of Virginia; as Mingoes, they spread their dominion over Ohio; and, as Nado-wassies, they were the foes of all the Algonquin, or Adirondack races. At periods anterior to the arrival of

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the colonists, they had prevailed over the once proud and powerful Lenno Lenapi, and placed them sub jugo. They threatened the very existence of Canada. Tribes, whom they could not subject to their stern policy, were exterminated by the club and the tomahawk.

It became a part of the policy of all the colonies to conciliate such a people; consequently, they were in fact parties to all important Indian treaties formed during the period of our early history, and, until the colonies finally assumed their independence. In every negotiation involving the question of boundaries, or the termination of a war, the first demand was, What will the Iroquois do? They still, in reality, held the balance of power.

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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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