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Canassatiego's Speech July 1742

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  • Canassatiego's Speech July 1742

    Canassatiego's Speech
    At a council held in Philadelphia, July, 1742, attended by sundry chiefs from the Six Nations, the Delawares and Folk Indians he thus spoke:

    "Brethren, the Governor and Council, -- the other day you informed us of the misbehaviour of our cousins, the Delawares, with respect to their continuing to claim and refusing to remove from some land on the river Delaware, notwithstanding their ancestors had sold it by deed, under their hands and seals to the proprietors for a valuable consideration upwards of fifty years ago, and that notwithstanding that they themselves had also not many years ago, after a long and full examination ratified that deed of their ancestors, and gave a fresh one under their hands and seals; and then you requested us to remove them, enforcing your request with a string of wampum. Afterwards we laid on the table our own letters of Conrad Weiser, some of our cousins' letters, and the several writings to prove the charge against our cousins, with a draft of the land in dispute. We now tell you we have perused all these several papers. We see with our own eyes that they have been a very unruly people, and are altogether in the wrong in their dealings with you.

    "We have concluded to remove them, and oblige them to
    go over the river Delaware, and quit all claim to any lands on this side for the future, since they have received pay for them, and it is gone through their guts long ago. To confirm to you that we will see your request executed, we lay down this string of wampum in return for yours."

    Then turning to the Delawares, holding a belt of wampum in his hand, he spoke to them as follows:

    "Cousins, -- Let the belt of wampum serve to chastise you. You ought to be taken by the hair of the head and shaken severely, till you recover your senses and become sober. You don't know what ground you stand on, nor what you are doing. Our brother Onas's[*] cause is very just and plain, and his intentions are to preserve friendship; on the other hand, your cause is bad, your heart far from being upright; and you are maliciously bent to break the chain of friendship with our brother Onas and his people. We have seen with our eyes a deed signed by nine of our ancestors about fifty years ago, for this very land, and a release signed not many years since by some of yourselves and chiefs now living, to the number of fifteen or upwards. But how come you to take upon you, to sell land at all? We conquered you, we made women of you; you know you are women, and can no more sell land than women; nor is it fit you should have the power of selling land, since you would abuse it. This land that you claim has gone through your guts. You have been furnished with clothes, meat, and drink, by the goods paid for it, and now you want it again like children as you are. But what matters? You sell land in the dark. Did you ever tell us that you had sold them land? Did we ever receive any part, even the value of a pipe shank from you for it? You have told us a blind story, that you sent a messenger to us, to inform us of the sale; but he never came among us, nor we never heard any thing about it: this is acting in the dark, and very different from the conduct our Six Nations observe in the sale of lands;
    [p. 297]
    on such occasions they give public notice, and invite all the Indians of the united nations, and give them all a share of the presents they receive for their lands. This is the behaviour of the wise nations. But we find you are none of our blood; you act a distant part, not only in this but in other matters; your ears are even open to slanderous reports about our brethren; you receive them with as much greediness as lewd women receive the embraces of bad men; and for all these reasons we charge you to remove instantly. We don't give you the liberty to think about it. You are women, take the advice of a wise man, and remove immediately. You may remove to the other side of the Delaware, where you came from; but we do not know whether, considering how you have demeaned yourselves, you will be permitted to live there, or whether you have not swallowed that land down your throats, as well as the land on this side. We therefore assign you two places, to go either to Uzoman or Shamokin; you may go to either of these places, and then we shall have you more under our eye, and shall see how you behave; don't deliberate, but remove away and take the belt of wampum. After our just reproof, and absolute order to depart from the land, you are now to take notice of what we have further to say to you.

    "This string of wampum serves to forbid you, your children, and grandchildren to the latest posterity, for ever, meddling in land affairs; neither you, nor any who shall descend from you, are ever hereafter to presume to sell any land; for which purpose you are to preserve this string, in memory of what your uncles have this day given you in charge. We have some other business to transact with our brothers; and therefore depart the council, and consider what has been said to you."

    Canassatiego then spoke to the Council:

    "Brethren, -- We called at our old friend James Logan, in our way to the city, and to our grief we found him hid in the bushes, and retired through infirmities from public business; we pressed him to leave his retirement, and prevail ed with him to assist once more on our account at your councils.
    We hope, notwithstanding his age and the effect of a fit of sickness, which we understand has hurt his constitution, that he may yet continue a long time to assist the provinces with his counsels. He is a wise man and a fast friend to the Indians; and we desire when his soul goes to God, you may choose in his room just such another person, of the same prudence and ability in counselling, and of the same tender disposition and affection for the Indians. In testimony of our gratitude for all his services, and because he was so good as to leave his country-house, and follow us to town, and be at the trouble in this his advanced age to attend the council, we present him with this bundle of skins.

    Brethren, -- It is always our way at the conclusion of a treaty to desire you will use you endeavours with the traders, that they may sell their goods cheaper, and give us better price for our deer skins. Whenever any particular sort of Indian goods is scarce, they constantly make us pay the dearer on that account. We must now use the same argument with them. Our deer are killed in such quantities, and our hunting countries growing less every day, by the settlement of white people, that game is now difficult to find, and we must go a great way in quest of it; they therefore ought to give us a better price for our skins, and we desire you would speak to them to do so. We have been stinted in the article of rum in town, we desire you will open the rum bottle, and give to us in greater abundance on the road; to enforce this request, we present you a bundle of skins.

    Brethren, -- When we first came to you houses, we found them clean and in order, but we have staid so long as to dirty them, which is to be imputed to our different way of living from the white people; and therefore, as we cannot but have been disagreeable to you on this account, we present you with some skins to make your houses clean, and put them in the same condition they were in when we came among you.

    Brethren, -- The business of the Five Nations is of great consequence, and requires a skilful, honest person to go between us; one in whom both you and me can place confidence.
    We esteem our present interpreter to be such a person, equally faithful in the interpretation of whatever is said to him by either of us, equally allied to both; he is of our nation, and a member of our council, as well as of yours.

    When we adopted him, we divided him in two equal parts; one we kept for ourselves, and one we left for you. He had a great deal of trouble with us, wore out his shoes in our messages, and dirtied his clothes by being among us; so that he has become as nasty as an Indian. In return for these services we recommend him to your generosity; and on our own behalf we give him five skins to buy him clothes and shoes.

    Brethren, -- We have still one favour to ask; one treaty and all we have to say about public business is now over, and to-morrow we design to leave you. We hope, as you have given us plenty of good provisions whilst in the town, that you will continue your goodness so far as to supply us on the road. And we likewise desire you will provide us with wagons to carry our goods to the place where they are to be conveyed by water.

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