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on whose rugged face time seems to have written in wrinkles the story of the vicissitudes of his race. Scarcely less conspicuous in the assemblage was Thomas Jemison, an old man of almost gigantic stature, and of venerable physiognomy, in whom it was difficult to realize a son of the babe carried by the "White Woman," in her weary tramp of six hundred miles from Ohio to the Genesee. Among the other Senecas who may be mentioned were Nicholson H. Parker, William and Jesse Tallchief, William Blacksnake, James Shongo, and George Jones.
ghany reservation. The father of James Shongo, known as "Colonel Shongo," is reputed to have been the leader of the Senecas in the memorable expedition to Wyoming. He was a man of herculean size and strength, and stories are still told of his fierce and terrible aspect and more than stentorian voice. George Jones deserves mention from the fact that his grandfather, an old sachem named " Tommy Jemmy," or "Long Horn," was executioner in what is doubtless the last authenticated case of the capital punishment of
The first named is a brother of the wellknown General Ely S. Parker, who was a member of General Grant's staff during the late war. Like his brother, Mr. Parker has received an English education, enabling him to act as interpreter for his people of the Cattaraugus reservation. The Tallchiefs are grandsons of an amiable sachem of the same name who figured largely in the early history of the Genesee country. Blacksnake is a grandson of old "Governor Blacksnake," a well-known chief who died a few years ago, upward of a century old, on the Alle
witchcraft in this country. The execution took place at Buffalo Creek, May 2, 1821, and so outraged the sense of the whites that the sachem was seized and arraigned for murder. His defense was undertaken by Red Jacket, who mercilessly satirized the court for its incredulity on the subject of witchcraft. "Go to Salem!" thundered the orator, "and look at the records of your own government. Your black-coats declared this doctrine from the pulpit; your judges pronounced it from the bench, and sanctioned it with the formalities of
Brothers I will first say a few words. We have come as representatives of the Seneca nation to participate in the ceremonies of the day. In this ancient council-house, before its removal to this spot, our fathers, sachems and chiefs, often met to deliberate on matters of moment to our people in the village of Ga-o-yah-de-o [Caneadea]. We are here to rake over the ashes on its hearth, that we may find perchance a single spark with which to rekindle the fire, and cause the smoke again to rise above this roof, as in days that are past. The smoke is curling upward, and the memories of the past are enwreathed with it.
Brothers: When the confederacy of the Iroquois was formed, a smoke was raised which ascended so high that all the nations saw it and trembled. This league was formed, it may be, long before the kingdom of Great Britain had any political existence.
Our fathers of the Ho-de-no-sawn-e [Long House] were once a powerful nation. They lorded it over a vast territory, comprising the whole of the state of New York. Their power was felt from the Hudson to the banks of the Mississippi, and from the great basins of sweet water in the north to the bitter waters of the Mexican Gulf. We have wasted away to a remnant of what we once were. But, though feeble in numbers, the Iroquois are represented here. We have delegates from the Mohawks, who were the keepers of the eastern door of the long house, and of the Senecas, who were the guardians of the western door. When the big guns of General Sullivan were heard in this valley, we were one people.
But the tribes of the Iroquois are scattered, and will soon be seen no more.
Brothers: We are holding council, perhaps for the last time, in Jenishëu. This beautiful territory was once our own. The bones of our fathers are strewn thickly under its sod. But all this land has gone from their grasp for ever. The fate and the sorrows of my people should force a sigh from the stoutest heart.
Brothers: We came here to perform a ceremony, but I cannot make it such. My heart says that this is not a play or a pageant. It is a solemn reality to me, and not a mockery of days that are past and can never return. Neh-hoh-this is all.
Thomas Jemison [Sho-son-do-wan], the grandson of the White Captive, spoke next. His is a thoroughly Indian heart; but the drop or two of alien blood that trickled into it so strangely out of far-away generations of canny, land-loving Scotch, visibly tinges some of the words of his Indian speech. He said:
Brothers: I am an old man, and well remember when our people lived in this valley. I was born in a wigwam on the banks of this river. I well remember my grandmother, "The White Woman," of whom you have all heard. I remember when our people were rich in lands and respected by the whites. Our fathers knew not the value of these lands, and parted with them for a trifle. The craft of the white man prevailed over their ignorance and simplicity. We have lost a rich inheritance; but it is vain to regret the past. Let us make the most of what little is left to us.
The last speaker spoke of the former power of our people. They used to live in long bark houses, divided into different compartments, and giving shelter often to five or six families. These families were frequently connected by ties of blood. When the confederacy was formed, which the French called the Iroquois and the English the Five Nations, our New York Indians called themselves Ho-de-no-sawn-e, or People of the Long House. It was the duty of the Mohawks to guard the eastern door against the approach of enemies, and the Senecas were to guard the west. The principal sachem of the Senecas is entitled Don-e-ho-ga-wa, the door-keeper. Between these two nations sat the Oneidas, Onondagas and Cayugas, making the Five Nations. After their expulsion from North Carolina, our brothers, the Tuscaroras, knocked at the door of the Long House and we gave them shelter. We adopted them as one of our Own family and thenceforward were known as the Six Nations.
I regret that our fathers should have given away their country, acre by acre, and left us in our present state; but they did it in their ignorance. They knew not the value of the soil, and little imagined that the white people would cover the land as thickly as the trees from ocean to ocean.
Brothers: these are painful thoughts. It is pain- | certain other than Indian social influences of ful to think that in the course of two generations there will not be an Iroquois of unmixed blood within the bounds of our state; that our race is doomed, and that our language and history will soon perish from the thoughts of men. But it is the will of the Great Spirit, and doubtless it is well.
the occasion. As it was, he was the last of the Indians to enter the council-house, and took his seat in their circle with ill-concealed reluctance. So stood the ancient feud of Seneca and Mohawk till old Cornplanter rose and spoke as follows:
Such is now the unvarying burden of Seneca eloquence. It is the voice of a moribund nation in the agonies of dissolution; but with all its faculties alive and stung to a bitter consciousness of its state and fate. Let no one imagine that the death of a nation may be painless. To the last member that survives, the politic bequeathes its concentrated capacity to feel and suffer. The tragedy of Poland, at which the whole world has wept, is not more real than that which has its secret scene in the heart of the Seneca Indian to-day.
Brothers I will also say a few words. In olden times, on occasions of this kind, after lighting the council-fire, our fathers would first congratulate each other on their safe arrival and their escape from all the perils of the journey from their widely sepa
rated homes to the scene of the council. In the
This status of fraternal estrangement had not been forgotten by the representatives of either people, when they met, after sixty Indeed years of separation, at Glen Iris. their meeting, such as incidentally took place previous to the council, had been of the stiffest and coldest character, the bearing of the Mohawk chief being especially haughty and reserved. He had consented to attend, it afterward transpired, only at the earnest solicitation of his sister, and in deference to
Ga-no-nyok (speech of welcome) the orator would wipe the sweat from the brows of the guests and
pluck the thorns from their moccasins. Next, and Spirit for their preservation and safety. Imitating
most important, thanks would be offered to the Great
the example of our fathers, while we felicitate ourselves on our safe arrival here and our presence on this happy occasion, we, too, give thanks to the Good Spirit who has kept us until this moment.
Brothers: It is true, as has been said by the speakers who preceded me, that our fathers formed and The confederacy established a mighty nation. of the Iroquois was a power felt in the remotest regions of this continent before the advent of the pale-face, and long after the pale men came and began to grow numerous and powerful, the friendship of the Iroquois was courted as Dutch and English and French struggled for supremacy. Our fathers were warriors, and were not idle spectators of the contest. They poured out their blood like water for the En
I pass over other of the orations to give the substance of that of old Cornplanter [Ho-way-no-ah]. Delivered with much evident feeling, it was the most characteristic of all, and it embodies an incident of unique significance and interest. It will be remembered that, during our Revolutionary war, the Mohawks, who with other nations of the league had been the powerful allies of Great Britain, emigrated to Canada and thenceforth remained under the British pro-glish, and the French were driven from this great tection. The Senecas, on the other hand, although also faithful throughout the struggle to England, their ancient ally against the French, at its close cheerfully transferred their allegiance to the government at Washington. Thus, at the breaking out of the war of 1812, the two principal nations of the Iroquois found themselves on opposing sides. For a short time the Senecas maintained an uneasy neutrality, but ere long the Mohawks were formally declared enemies and outcasts from the ancient confederacy, and the two kindred peoples subsequently met each other more than once on the field of battle.
island. Our fathers loved their nation and were
Brothers: When the war of the Revolution was ended, our Great Father, General Washington, said
that he would forget that we had been enemies, and
would allow us to repossess the country we had so long called our own. Our brothers the Mohawks
chose, however, to cast their lot with the British, and followed the flag of that people to the Grand River, in Canada, where they have ever since sat under its folds. Our ancient confederacy was broken by this divided allegiance. In the last war with England the Mohawks met us as foes on the warpath. For seventy-five years their place has been vacant at our council-fires. They left us when we were strong, a nation of warriors, and they left us in anger.
Brothers: We are now poor and weak. There are none who fear us or court our influence. We are reduced to a handful, and have scarce a place to spread our blankets in the vast territory owned by our fathers. But in our poverty and desolation our long-estranged brothers, the Mohawks, have come back to us. The vacant seats are filled again,
greater intervals than is permissible in English oratory. It should be noticed also that, from beginning to end, an oration in Seneca is delivered with open lips, for the language, in common with the other dialects of the Iroquois, has no labials. The fact, perhaps, may point its remote origin in, or kinship with, the speech of some people accustomed to disable the lips by loading them with cumbrous ornaments. And even this crude guess may surely suggest the importance of securing, before it shall be too late, some written record of this and all other of the still existing Indian tongues. Who shall say what precious facts a comparative study of these languages might not yield to science, or what secrets of the mysterious past of our continent the philologist might not thereby uncover to history?
A few of the ubiquitous race of the paleface gathered through the fallen leaves to listen to the voices of the Seneca councilors, and after the latter had ended and smoked a silent pipe of peace, the former came to gether in brief council after their fashion. An ex-president of the federation that has superseded that of the Iroquois, the late Millard Fillmore, was appropriately chosen chairman, and William C. Bryant, secretary of the Historical Society of Buffalo, was made secretary of the conventicle. The latter gentleman, thoroughly versed in Indian lore, recalled to his white hearers some of the memories on which the Seneca orators had already dwelt, and to similar purpose W. H. C. Hosmer, well known as the bard of the Genesee valley and its Indian legends, read a poem. Then Mr. Letchworth rehearsed briefly the story of the old council-house and its restoration, and, lastly, Mr. Orlando Allen, one of the early settlers of Buffalo, opened a budget of interesting personal reminiscences touching the prominent characters, both Indian and white, of our border annals. How narrow is the interval which divides the present from that rough and troublous past, was almost startlingly brought to mind when Mr. Allen, turning at the beginning of his address to the Indian portion of his auditory, delivered to them a fluent speech in their own tongue. The speaker seemed scarcely to have passed the prime of life, and yet the frontier village of his youth, in the every-day traffic of which he learned the Seneca speech, is now the third city of the Empire State-the eleventh of the Union.*
* Mr. Allen, as well as ex-President Fillmore and Colonel Kerr, has since died. The same is
Thus, in fine, the scattered children of the Ho-de-no-sawn-e came back to look once more at the homes of their fathers in the Beautiful Valley. Almost two genera- . tions before, they had gone out, a people still numerous and strong, from what had been the scene of their happiest history.. It seemed but a phantom of the old nation that came back to revisit its ancient haunts and bid them a last farewell. But around the ancient council-house, at least, the memory of the exiles will be kept green. The dust of Mary Jemison, borne back from the neglected grave near Buffalo by loving hands of descendants and friends, now rests in the soil of the valley she loved so well, and the white stone of her tomb, reared but a few paces from the council-house, with it will form an enduring monument of the early history of the Genesee country. Some trees, also, brought from her former grave and set around the old building, will cast upon the place a memorial shade. One, planted by the granddaughter of Brant, the Mohawk, stands guard at the eastern door; another, planted by the descendant of Red Jacket, keeps watch at the door of the west. In the branches of a third, set in the soil by the hands of her grandson, the wind, perhaps, will sometimes seem to whisper the name of the White Captive of the Senecas.
AFTER THE COUNCIL.
THE fire sinks low, the drifting smoke
Gone, too, the dusky ghosts whose feet
The squirrel and the bird.
The story of the past is told,
But thou, O Valley, sweet and lone! Glen of the Rainbow! thou shalt hold
Its romance as thine own.
Thoughts of thine ancient forest prime
Shall sometimes haunt thy summer dreams, And shape to low poetic rhyme, The music of thy streams.
When Indian Summer flings her cloak
The blue smoke of their fires once more
true of the beautiful, amiable and accomplished Mrs. Osborn, Brant's granddaughter.