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Onondagas & Cayugas in New York

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  • Onondagas & Cayugas in New York

    Speech of the Onondagas and Cayugas to the Two Governors of Virginia and New York
    "Brother Corlear -- Your Sachem (meaning the king) is a great Sachem, and we are but a small people: when the English came in first to Manhattan (New York) Aragiske (Virginia) and to Yakokranogary, (Maryland) they were then but a small people, and we were great then; because we found you a good people, we treated you kindly and gave you land; we hope therefore now that you are great and we small, you will protect us from the French. If you do not we shall lose all our hunting and beavers, the French will get all our beavers. The reason they are now angry with us, is because we carry our beaver to our brethren. We have put our lands and ourselves under the protection of the great Duke of York, the brother of your great Sachem who is likewise a great Sachem. We have annexed the Susquehanna River, which was won by the sword, to their government; and we desire it may be a branch of the great tree that grows in this place; the top of which reaches the sun, and its branches shelter us from the French and all other nations. Our fire burns in your houses, and your fire burns with us; we desire it may be so always. But we will not that any of the great Penn's people settle upon the Susquehanna River, for we have no other land for our children; our young men are soldiers, and when they are provoked they are like wolves in the woods, as you Sachem of Virginia, very well know. We have put ourselves under the great Sachem Charles, that lives on the other side of the great lake (the Atlantic Ocean;) we give these two white dressed deer skins to send to the great Sachem, that he may write on them, and put a great red seal to them, to confirm what we now do, and put the Susquehanna River and all the rest of our land under the great Duke of York, and give that land to none else. Our brethren, his people, have been like fathers to our wives and children, and have given us bread when we were in need of it; we will not therefore join ourselves
    [p. 292]
    or our and to any other government but this. We desire Corlear,[*] our governor, may send this our proposition to the great Sachem Charles who dwells on the other side of the great lake, with this belt of wampum, and this other small belt, to the Duke of York his brother, and we give you Corlear this beaver that you may send over the proposition.

    "You great man of Virginia, we let you know that the great Penn did speak to us here, in Corlear's house, by his agents, and desired to buy the Susquehanna River of us; but we would not hearken to him, for we had fastened it to this government.

    "We desire you therefore to bear witness of what we do now, and that we now confirm what we have done before; let your friend that lives on the other side of the great lake, know this, that we, being free people, though united to the English, and may give our land to the Sachem we like best; we give this beaver to remember what we say."

    On the arrival of the Senecas they addressed Lord Howard in the following manner:

    "We have heard and understood what mischief has been done in Virginia; we have it perfect as if it were on our finger's end. O Corlear! we thank you for having been our intercessor, so that the axe has not fallen on us; and you Assarigoa, Great Sachem of Virginia, we thank you for burying all evil in the pit. We are informod that the Mohawks, Oneydoes, Onondagas, and Cayugas, have buried them already. Now we that live remotest off, are come to do the same, and to include in the chain the Cahnowas your friends. We desire therefore that an axe on our part may be buried with one of Assarigoa's. O Corlear, O Corlear! we thank you for laying hold of one end of the axe; and we thank you, great Governor of Virginia, not only for throwing aside the axe, but more especially for you putting all evil from your heart. Now we have a new chain, a strong and a straight chain that can not be broken; the tree of peace is planted so firmly, that it cannot be removed; let us
    [p. 293]
    on both sides hold the chain fast. We understand what you said of the great Sachem that lives on the other side of the great water. You tell us that the Cahnowas will come hither to strengthen the chain; let them not make any excuse that they are old and feeble, or that their feet are sore. If the old Sachem cannot, let the young men come; we shall not fail to come hither, though we live farthest off, and then the new chain will be stronger and brighter. We understand that because of the mischief that has been done to the people and castles of Virginia and Maryland, we must not come to the heads of your rivers, nor near your plantations, but keep on the foot of the mountains, for there we lay down our arms as friends; we shall not be trusted for the fu ture, but looked on as robbers.

    "We agree, however, to the proposition, and shall wholly stay away from Virginia. And then we do no gratitude to Corlear, who has been at so great pains to persuade your great Governor of Virginia to forget what is past; you are wise in giving ear to Corlear's advice, for we shall now go a path which was never trod before. We have now done speaking to Corlear and the governor of Virginia, let the chain be for ever kept clear and bright by him, and we shall do the same.

    "The other nations from the Mohawk's country to the Cayugas have delivered up the Susquehanna River, and all the country to Corlear's government: we confirm what they have done by giving this belt."

    On another ocasion the Senecas replied to Lord Howard at Albany, when messengers had arrived from the governor of Canada with complaints against them, as follows:

    "We were sent for and are come, and have heard what you said to us, that Corlear has great complaint of us, both from Virginia and Canada; what they complain of from Canada may possibly be true, that some of our young men have taken some of their goods, but Younendio, the governor of Canada, is the cause of it. He not only permits his people to carry ammunition, guns, powder, lead, and axes, to the Ticebticebronoons, our enemies, but sends them thither
    [p. 294]
    on purpose; these guns which he sends, knock our beaver-hunters on the head, and our enemies carry the beaver to Canada, that we would have brought our brethren. Our beaver-hunters are soldiers, and could bear this no longer. They met some French in their way to our enemies, and very near them, carrying ammunition, which our men took from them. This is agreeable to our custom in wars; and we may therefore openly own it, though we know not whether it be practised by the Christians in such like cases.

    "When the governor of Canada speaks to us of the chain, he calls us children, and saith, I am your father, you must hold fast the chain, and I will do the same, I will protect you as a father doth his children. Is this protection, to speak thus with his lips, and at the same time to knock us on the head, by assisting our enemies with ammunition? He always says I am your father, and you are my children; and yet he is angry with his children, for taking these goods. But O Corlear! O Assarigoa, we must complain to you; you Corlear are a lord, and govern this country; is it just that our father is going to fight with us for these things, or is it well done? We rejoice when La Sal was sent over the great water; and when Perot was removed, because they had furnished our enemies with ammunition; but we are disappointed in our hopes, for we find our enemies are still supplied. Is this well done? Yea he often forbids us to make war on any of the nations with whom he trades; and at the same time furnishes them with all sorts of ammunition, to enable them to destroy us.

    "Thus far, in answer to the complaint, the governor of Canada has made of us to Corlear.

    "Corlear said to us, that satisfaction must be made to the French, for the mischief we have done them.

    "This he said before he had heard our answer. Now let him that has inspection over all our countries, on whom our eyes are fixed, let him, even Corlear, judge and determine If you say that it must be paid, we shall pay it but we cannot live without free beaver hunting. Corlear, hear what we say; we thank you for the duke's arms, which you have
    [p. 295]
    given us to put in our castles, as a defence to them. You command them. Have you wandered out of the way, as the governor of Canada says? We do not threaten him with war, as he threatens us. What shall we do? Shall we run away, or shall we sit still in our houses? What shall we do? We speak to him that governs and commands us

    "Now Corlear and Assarigoa, and all good people here present, remember what we have announced to the complaints of the Governor of Canada; yea, we wish that what we here said, may come to his ears."
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