Collection: Notes on the Iroquois

The County Clerk and the wolf-scalp

A Seneca hunter killed a wolf just within the bounds of Cattaraugus County, close to the Pennsylvania line, and took the scalp to Meadville, Pennsylvania, for the bounty. Being questioned where the animal was killed, he honestly told the officer that he had come across it and shot it, as near as he could tell, within the territory of New York, very near the state and county lines. On this, the clerk told him that it would be contrary to law to pay him the bounty. “That is a bad law!” replied the red man. ” Why V said the

Iroquois Forays into the Country of the Cherokees and Catawbas

Nothing is more distinct or better settled in the existing traditions of the Iroquois, than their wars with some of the southern tribes, particularly the Cherokees. I found this subject first alluded to among the Oneidas, who were hotly engaged in this southern war; after wards among the Onondagas, the Senecas of Tonawanda, the Tuscaroras, and with still increasing particularity, among the Senecas of Buffalo, Cattaraugus, and Teonigono. But I was never able to fix the era of its commencement, or to find an adequate cause for it. It seems almost incredible that a war of this kind should have been

Iroquois Indians and Witchcraft

The belief in witchcraft prevailed extensively among the North American tribes. It is known that even in modern times, it was one of the principal means used by the Shawnee prophet to rid himself of his opponents, and that the venerable Shawnee chief Tarhe and others were sacrificed to this diabolical spirit. Among the Iroquois the belief was universal, and its effects upon their prosperity and population, if tradition is to be credited, were at times appalling. The theory of the popular belief, as it existed in the several cantons, was this. The witches and wizards constituted a secret association, which

Who were the Eries?

Louis Hennepin, who was a Recollect, remarks in the original Amsterdam edition of his travels of 1698, that Canada was first discovered by the Spanish, alluding doubtless to the voyage of Cortereal and that it received its first missionaries under the French, from the order of Recollects. These pioneers of the cross, according to this author, made themselves very acceptable to the Hurons or Wyandots, who occupied the banks of the St. Lawrence, and who informed them that the Iroquois pushed their war parties beyond Virginia and New-Sweden, and other parts remote from their cantons. They went, he says, in

War with the Kah Kwahs

Some inquiries have been made in a prior paper, on the strong probabilities of this people, being identical with the Ererions or Eries. While this question is one that appears to be within the grasp of modern inquiry, and may be resumed at leisure, the war itself, with the people whom they call Kah-Kwahs, and we Eries is a matter of popular tradition, and is alluded to with so many details, that its termination may be supposed to have been an event of not the most ancient date. Some of these reminiscences having found their way into the newspapers during the

Vocabulary of the Tuscarora

Vocabulary of the Tuscarora 1 God, Ya wuhn ne yuh. 2 Devil, Oo na sa roo nuh. 3 Man, Ehn kweh. 4 Woman, Hah wuhn nuh. 5 Boy, Kun chu kweh’r. 6 Girl, Ya te ah cha yeuh. 7 Child, Kats ah. 8 Father (my), E ah kre ehn. 9 Mother (my), E a nuh. 10 Husband (my), E na yah keah wuhn te kehn rea nuhn. 11 Wife (my), (The same word as for my husband.) 12 Son (his), Trah wuhn ruh, nuh nuhn, a ne hah. 13 Daughter (his), Tra wuhn ruh, nuhn, kah-nuhn nuhn. 14 Brother (my),

Traditions of their Wars with Monsters, Giants and Supernatural Phenomena

It is proposed to narrate a few passages of their early wars with monsters and giants, the two prominent objects in the foreground of their traditions. If it be thought, in perusing them, that mythology and superstition mingle too freely with real events or actions, to which the mind makes no exception, that is a matter upon which we have nothing to offer. Let it rather be considered as a proof of the authenticity of the narrative for certainly there could be no stronger-indication of a contrary character, than to find the Indian narrator relating a clear, consistent chain of

The Graveyard Serpent and Corn Giant

Seneca tradition states that they formerly lived on the Chippewa River, near Niagara Falls, Canada. One year, while thus located, they were visited by a calamitous sickness, and their corn was blighted. Their prophet dreamt, one night, that a great serpent laid tinder the Tillage, with his head to the graveyard, and that it devoured all the bodies buried. This gave a most offensive breath, which was the cause of the sickness. He also dreamt that there was a great giant under the cornfield, who ate up the corn. When he revealed these dreams to the chiefs, they determined to

St. Regis Colony, or Band

This community is an off-shoot of the Iroquois stock, but not a member of the confederacy. It originated in the efforts commenced about the middle of the 17th century, by the Roman Catholic church of France, to draw the Iroquois into communion with that church. It was, however, but a part of the public policy, which originated in the reign of Louis XV., to colonize the Iroquois country, and wrest it from the power of the British crown. When this effort failed, replete as it was with wars, intrigues and embassies, battles and massacres, which make it the heroic age of

Red Jacket and the Wyandot Claim to Supremacy

At a great council of the western tribes, assembled near Detroit, prior to the late war, the celebrated Seneca orator, Red Jacket, was present, when the question of the right of the Wyandots to light the council fire, was brought up. This claim he strenuously resisted, and administered a rebuke to this nation in the following terms: “Have the Quatoghies forgotten themselves? Or do they suppose we have forgotten them? Who gave you the right in the west or east, to light the general council fire? You must have fallen asleep, and dreamt that the Six Nations were dead! Who