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Title: A Treatise on the Six-Nation Indians
Author: Mackenzie, J. B.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Treatise on the Six-Nation Indians" ***

Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions.

                          By J. B. MACKENZIE


                        (_Page 28--lines 7-9_.)

It has seemed to me that it was not quite ingenuous in myself to attribute
to the Indian writer in question (Rev. Peter Jones), the reflection on
his countrymen, obviously conveyed in my expression, "discovering in
him such in-dwelling monsters as revenge, mercilessness, implacability."

That writer's position, more fairly apprehended, is this: That, while
confessing these to be blots on the Indian nature, in the abstract,
he yet seeks to fasten them on _many_ whites as well.


                             A TREATISE
                               ON THE
                         SIX-NATION INDIANS
                         BY J. B. MACKENZIE


The little production presented in these pages was designed for, and
has been used as, a lecture; and I have wished to preserve, without
emendation, the form and character of the lecture, as it was delivered.

J. B. M.



As knowledge of the traditions, manners, and national traits of the
Indians, composing, originally, the six distinct and independent tribes
of the Mohawks, Tuscaroras, Onondagas, Senecas, Oneidas, and Cayugas;
tribes now merged in, and known as, the Six Nations, possibly, does
not extend beyond the immediate district in which they have effected a
lodgment, I have laid upon myself the task of tracing their history from
the date of their settlement in the County of Brant, entering, at the
same time, upon such accessory treatment as would seem to be naturally
suggested or embraced by the plan I have set before me. As the essay,
therefore, proposes to deal, mainly, with the contemporary history of
the Indian, little will be said of his accepted beliefs, at an earlier
epoch, or of the then current practices built upon, and enjoined by,
his traditionary faith. Frequent visits to the Indian's Reservation, on
the south bank of the Grand River, have put me in the way of acquiring
oral data, which shall subserve my intention; and I shall prosecute my
attempt with the greater hope of reaping a fair measure of success,
since I have fortified my position with gleanings (bearing, however,
solely on minor matters of fact) from some few published records,
which have to do with the history of the Indian, generally, and have
been the fruitful labour of authors of repute and standing, native
as well as white. Should the issue of failure attend upon my effort,
I shall be disposed to ascribe it to some not obscure reason
connected with literary style and execution, rather than to the fact
of there not having been adequate material at hand for the purpose.


The conditions which govern the Indian's occupation of his Reserve are,
probably, so well known, that any extended reference under this head
will be needless.

He ceded the whole of his land to the Government, this comprising,
originally, a tract which pursued the entire length of the Grand River,
and, accepting it as the radiating point, extended up from either side
of the river for a distance of six miles, to embrace an area of that
extent. The Government required the proprietary right to the land, in
the event of their either desiring to maintain public highways through
it themselves, or that they might be in a position to sanction, or
acquiesce in, its use or expropriation by Railway Corporations, for the
running of their roads; or for other national or general purposes. The
surrender on the part of the Indian was not, however, an absolute one,
there having been a reservation that he should have a Reservation, of
adequate extent, and the fruit of the tilling of which he should enjoy
as an inviolable privilege.

As regards the money-consideration for this land, the Government stand to
the Indian in the relation of Trustees, accounting for, and apportioning
to, him, through the agency of their officer and appointee, the Indian
Superintendent, at so much _per capita_ of the population, the
interest arising out of the investment of such money.

_Sales_ of lands among themselves are permissible; but these, for
the most part, narrow themselves down to cases where an Indian, with the
possession of a good lot, of fair extent, and with a reasonable clearing,
vested in him, leaves it, to pursue some calling, or follow some trade,
amongst the whites; and treats, perhaps, with some younger Indian, who,
disliking the pioneer work involved in taking up some uncultured place
for himself, and preferring to make settlement on the comparatively well
cultivated lot, buys it. The Government, also, allow the Indian, though
as a matter of sufferance, or, in other words, without bringing the law
to bear upon him for putting in practice what is, strictly speaking,
illegal, to _rent_ to a white the lot or lots on which he may be
located, and to receive the rent, without sacrifice or alienation of
his interest-money.

Continued non-residence entails upon the non-resident the forfeiture of
his interest.

The Indian is, of course, a minor in the eye of the law, a feature of
his estate, with the disabilities it involves, I shall dwell upon more
fully at a later stage.

Should the Indian intermarry with a white woman, the receipt of his
interest-allowance is not affected or disturbed thereby, the wife coming
in, as well, for the benefits of its bestowal; but should, on the other
hand, an Indian woman intermarry with a white man, such act compels,
as to herself, acceptance, in a capitalized sum, of her annuities for a
term of ten years, with their cessation thereafter; and entails upon the
possible issue of the union _absolute_ forfeiture of interest-money.
In any connection of the kind, however, that may be entered into, the
Indian woman is usually sage and provident enough to marry one, whose hold
upon worldly substance will secure her the domestic ease and comforts, of
which the non-receipt of her interest would tend to deprive her. Should
the eventuality arise of the Indian woman dying before her husband,
the latter must quit the place, which was hers only conditionally,
though the Indian Council will entertain a reasonable claim from him,
to be recouped for any possible outlay he may have made for improvements.

The Government confer upon the Indian the privilege of a resident medical
officer, who is paid by them, and whose duty it is to attend, without
expectation of fee or compensation of any kind, upon the sick. His
relation, however, to the Government is not so defined as to preclude
his acceptance of fees from whites resident on the Reserve, provided
the advice be sought at his office. The Government, probably, being
well aware of the stress of work under which their medical appointee
chronically labours, and appreciating the consequent unlikelihood of
this privilege being exercised to the prejudice of the Indian, have not,
as yet, shorn him of it.

Another privilege that the Indian enjoys, and which was granted to him by
enactment subsequent to that which assured to him his Reserve, is that
of transit at half-fare grates on the different railroads. This is a
right which he neither despises, nor, in any way, affects to despise,
since it meets, and is suited to, his common condition of slender and
straitened means. The moderate charge permits him to avail frequently
of the privilege at seasons (which comprehend, in truth, the greater
portion of the year) when the roads are almost unfit for travel, the
Indian, as a rule, going in for economy in locomotive exercise (so my
judgment decrees, though it has been claimed for him that, at an earlier
period of his history, walking was congenial to him) hailing and adopting
gladly the medium which obviates recourse to it.


The Indian Council has a province more important than that which our
Municipal Councils exercise. Its decisions as to disputes growing out
of real estate transactions, unless clearly wrong, have in them the
force of law.

The ordinary Council is a somewhat informal gathering as regards a
presiding officer or officers, and, also, in respect of that essential
feature of a quorum, for which similar bodies among ourselves hold out
so exactingly. The Chiefs of the tribes, who, alone, are privileged to
participate in discussions, can scarcely be looked upon in the light of
presidents of the meeting; nor can there be discovered in the privileges
or duties of any one of them the functions of a presiding officer.

The Chiefs of the Mohawks and Senecas, who sit on the left of the house,
initiate discussion on all questions. The debating is then transferred
to the opposite side of the house, where are seated the Chiefs of the
Tuscaroras, Oneidas, and Cayugas, and is carried on by these Chiefs. The
Chiefs of the Onondagas, who are called "Fire-Keepers" (of the origin
of the name "Fire-Keeper," I will treat further, anon) then speak
to the motion, or upon the measure, and, finally, decide everything;
and they are, in view of this power of finality of decision with all
questions, regarded as the most important Chiefs among the confederated
tribes. The decision of the "Fire-Keepers" does not, by any means,
always show concurrence in what may have been the _consensus_
of opinion expressed by previous speakers, very frequently, indeed,
embodying sentiments directly opposite to the weight of the judgment
with those speakers. As illustrating, more pointedly, the arbitrary
powers committed to these Chiefs, they may import into the debate a
fresh and hitherto unbroached line of discussion, and, following it,
may argue from a quite novel standpoint, and formulate a decision based
upon some utterly capricious leaning of their own. I have not been able
to learn whether the decision of these Chiefs, to be valid, requires to be
established by their unanimous voice, or simply by a majority of the body.

The reason or cogency of the system of debate followed in the Indian
Council has not seemed to me clearly demonstrable; nor is the cause for
the honour attaching to the Chiefs of the Mohawks and Senecas, and of
the Onondagas, respectively, of commencing and closing discussion, very
explicable. I believe, however, that the principle of kinship subsisting
between the tribes, the Chiefs of which are thus singled out for these
duties, governs, in some way, the practice adopted; and am led, also,
to imagine that exceptional functions, in other matters as well, vest
in these Chiefs; and that they enjoy, in general, precedence over the
Chiefs of the other tribes.

The Chiefs in Council take cognizance of the internal concerns,
and control and administer, generally, the internal affairs, of the
community. There are often special and extraordinary deliberations of the
body, which involve discussion upon points that transcend the operation
of the Indian Acts, and require the Government to be represented; and,
in these cases, the Indian Superintendent, whose presence is necessary
to confer validity on any measure passed, is the presiding officer.

As mention is made here of the Superintendent, or, as his title runs in
full, the Visiting Superintendent and Commissioner, it will be opportune
now to define his powers, so far as I understand them.

It may be said, in general, that he exercises supervisory power over
everything that concerns the well-being and interests of the Indian. By
the representations made by him to the Government in his reports (and by
those, of course, who hold the like office in other Indian districts)
has been initiated nearly every law, or amendment to a law, which the
pages of the Indian Acts disclose.

He will often watch (though in his commission no obligation, I believe,
rests upon him to do this) the trial of an Indian, where some one of the
graver crimes is involved, that he may, perchance, arrive at the impelling
cause for its perpetration. This may have had its origin, perhaps, in
the criminal's having over-indulged in drink, or in his having resigned
himself to some immoral bent; or it may have been connected, generally,
with some deluging of the community with immorality. If, haply, the
origin of the crime be traced, the Superintendent embodies in his report
a reccommendation looking to a change in the law, which shall tend to
suppress and control the evil. If there be indication that a particular
order of crime prevails, or that, unhappily, some new departure in its
melancholy category is being practised, it will, again, be his place to
represent the situation to the Government, to the end that a healthier
state of things may be brought about. He is authorized, in certain cases,
to make advances on an individual Indian's account, and, also, on the
general account, where some emergency affecting the entire tribe arises,
such as a failure of the crops, confronting the Indian with the serious,
and, but for this Governmental provision, insuperable, difficulty of
finding the outlay for seeding for the next season's operations.

It is customary for the Superintendent to attend important examinations
of the Indian schools, that he may have light upon the pupils' progress,
and may report accordingly.

Where an occurrence of unusual moment in the history of any of the
Churches takes place; the projecting, perhaps, of some fresh spiritual
campaign amongst the Indians; or one, marking some specially auspicious
event, he will often lend his presence, with the view to enlightenment
as to the spiritual state of his charges.

I have already said, that through the agency of the Superintendent, the
Indian receives his interest-money, and it may, perhaps, be interesting to
detail the manner in which this is usually drawn. The tribes are told off
for this purpose, and, I believe, certain other purposes, into a number
of bands; and a given day is set (or, perhaps, three or four days are
assigned) whereon the members of a particular band shall be privileged
to draw. If the drawing of the money be not marked by that expedition
which the plan is designed to secure, but rather suggests that there
are a number of stragglers yet to come forward to exercise their right,
the turn of another band comes, and so on, the straggling ones of each
band being treated with last.

It is usual for the head of each family to draw for himself and his
domestic circle.

The present incumbent of the Superintendent's office is a gentleman of
fine parts, and one who has striven, during a term of nearly twenty years,
with tact and ability, to conserve the interests of the Indian. Speaking
of tact, the Indian character exacts a large display of it from one whose
relation to him is such as that which the Superintendent occupies, his
overseer and, to a large extent, his mentor. There have been outcries
against his course in some matters, though these have been indulged in
only a small section; but the Indian chafes under direction, and is,
for the most part, a chronic grumbler; and his discontent frequently
finds expression in delegations to the Government, which, though they
_may_ be planned with the view of ventilating some grievance, are
more generally conceived of by him in the light of happy expedients
for giving play to his oratory, or for setting about to establish
his pretensions to eminence in that regard, in a somewhat exacting
quarter; or, mayhap, for conveying to the powers that be, by palpable
demonstration, the fact of his continued existence, and more, of his
continued _dissatisfied_ existence.

But to return to the Council. Where complaint of irregular dealing is
preferred by either party to a transfer or sale of real estate, it comes
within the scope of the Chief's powers to decree an equitable basis upon
which such transfer or sale shall henceforward be viewed, and carried
out. The jurisdiction of the Chiefs also ranges over such matters as
the considering of applications from members of the various tribes for
licensing the sale to whites of timber, stone, or other valuable deposit,
with which the property of such applicants may be enriched; and they
likewise treat with applications for relief from members of the tribes,
whom physical incapacity debars from earning living, or who have been
reduced to an abject state of poverty and indigence; and have authority
to supplement the interest-annuities of such, should they see fit,
with suitable amounts.

The silent adjudging of a question is something abhorrent to the genius
of the Indian, and is in reality unknown. Dishonouring thus the custom,
he can grandly repudiate the contemptuous epithet of "voting machine;"
so unsparingly directed against, and pitilessly fastening upon, certain
ignoble legislators among ourselves. The manner of proceeding that
obtained with the Ojibways was somewhat different from the practice I have
detailed, and I allude to it now, because the tribe of the Delawares,
who are now treated as an off-shoot of the Oneidas, and are merged with
their kin in the Six Nations, belonged originally to the Ojibways. With
them the decision was come to according to the opinions expressed by the
majority of the speakers--a plan resolving itself into the system of a
show of hands (or a show of _tongues_, which shall it be?) it having
been customary for all who proposed to pass upon a measure to speak as
well. The issue upheld by the greater number of hands shown, naturally,
as with us, succeeded. Where a measure, in the progress of discussion,
proved unpopular, it was dropped, an arrangment which should convey a
wise hint to certain bodies I wot of.

It will be readily gathered from what has been said, that the method of
voting, in order to establish what is the judgment of the greater number,
does not prevail with the Indian Councils.


As it is at his meetings of Council, and during the discussions that
are there provoked, that the Indian's powers of oratory come, for the
most part, into play, and secure their freest indulgence, that will
appropriately constitute my next head.

We are permitted to adjudge the manner and style of the Indian's oratory,
whether they be easy or strained; graceful or stiff; natural or affected;
and we may, likewise, discover, if his speech be flowing or hesitating;
but it is denied to us, of course, to appreciate in any degree, or to
appraise his utterances. I should say the Indian fulfils the largest
expectations of the most exacting critic, and the highest standard of
excellence the critic may prescribe, in all the branches of oratory that
may (with his province necessarily fettered) fitly engage his attention,
or be exposed to his hostile shafts.

The Indian has a marvellous control over facial expression, and this,
undeniably, has a powerful bearing upon true, effective, heart-moving
oratory. Though his _spoken_ language is to us as a sealed book,
his is a mobility of countenance that will translate into, and expound
by, a language shared by universal humanity, diverse mental emotions;
and assure, to the grasp of universal human ken, the import of those
emotions; that will express, in turn, fervor, pathos, humor; that,
to find its completest purpose of unerringly revealing each passion,
alternately, and for the nonce, swaying the human breast, will traverse,
as it were, and compass, and range over the entire gamut of human emotion.

The Indian's grace and aptness of gesture, also, in a measure, bespeak
and proclaim commanding oratory. The power, moreover, which with the
Indian resides in mere gesture, as a medium for disclosing and laying
bare the thoughts of his mind, is truly remarkable. Observe the Indian
interpreter in Court, while in the exercise of that branch of his duty
which requires that the evidence of an English-speaking witness or, at all
events, that portion of it which would seem to inculpate the prisoner at
the bar, or bear upon his crime, shall be given to him in his own tongue;
and, having been intent upon getting at the drift of the testimony, mark
how dexterously the interpreter brings gesture and action into play,
wherever the narration involves unusual incident or startling episode,
provoking their use! What a reality and vividness does he not throw, in
this way, into the whole thing! It records, truly, a triumph of mimetic
skill. Again, the opportune gesture used by the Indian in enforcing
his speaking must seem so patent, in the light of the after-revelation
by the interpreter, that we can scarcely err in confiding in it as
a valuable aid in adjudging his qualities of oratory. We are, often,
indeed, put in possession of the facts, in anticipation of the province
of the interpreter, who merely steps in, with his more perfect key, to
confirm our preconceived interpretation. It may be contended by some
gainsayer, that the Indian vocabulary, being so much less full and rich
than our own, gesture and action serve but to cover up dearth of words,
and are, in truth, well-nigh the sum of the Indian's oratory; a judgment
which, while, perhaps, conceding to the Indian honour as a pantomimist,
denies him eminence as a true orator. This may or may not be an aptly
taken objection, yet I have no hesitation in assigning the Indian high
artistic rank in these regards, and would fain, indeed, accept him as
a prime educator in this important branch of oratory.

The attention of his hearers, which an Indian speaker of recognized merit
arrests and sustains, also lends its weight to substantiate his claim,
to good oratory; unless, indeed, the discriminating faculties of the
hearers be greatly at fault, which would caution us not to esteem this
the guide to correct judgment in the matter that it usually forms.

The Indian enlivens his speaking with frequent humorisms, and has,
I should say, a finely-developed humorous side to his character; and,
if the zest his hearers extract from allusions of this nature be not
inordinate or extravagant, or do not favor a false or too indulgent
estimate, I would pronounce him an excessively entertaining, as well as
a vigorous, speaker.

There are in the Indian tongue no very complex, rules of grammar. This
being so, the Indian, pursuing the study of oratory, needs not to
undertake the mastery of unelastic and difficult rules, like those
which our own language comprehends; or to acquire correct models of
grammatical construction for his guidance; and, being fairly secure
against his accuracy in these regards being impeached by carping critics,
even among his own brethren, can better and more readily uphold a claim
to good oratory than one of ourselves, whose government in speaking, by
strict rules of grammar is essential, and whom ignorance or contempt of
those rules would betray into solecisms in its use, which would attract
unsparing criticism, and, indeed, be fatal to his pretensions in this


It will be interesting, perhaps, to notice the particulars, as to physical
conformation, in which the Indian differs from his white brother.

He maintains a higher average as to height, to fix which at five feet
ten would, I think, be a just estimate. It is rare, however, to find
him attain the exceptional stature, quite commonly observed with the
white, though, where he yields to the latter in this respect, there is
compensation for it in the way of greater breadth and compactness. There
are, of course, isolated cases, in which he is distinguished by as great
height as has ever been reached by ordinary man, and, in these instances,
I have never failed to notice that his form discloses almost faultless
proportions, the Indian being never ungainly or gaunt. I think, on the
whole, that I do no injustice to the white man, when I credit the Indian
with a better-knit frame than himself.

I am disposed to ascribe, in great measure, the evolving of the erect
form that the Indian, as a rule, possesses, to the custom in vogue of
the mother carrying her child strapped across the back, as well as to
the fact of her discouraging and interdicting any attempts at walking
on the part of the child, until the muscles shall have been so developed
as to justify such being made. To this practice, at least, I am safe in
attributing the rarity, if not the positive absence, with the Indian, of
that unhappy condition of bow-leggedness, of not too slight prevalence
with us, and which renders its victim often a butt for not very charitable
or approving comment.

The Indian is built more, perhaps, for fleetness than strength; and
his litheness and agility will come in, at another place, for their due
illustration, when treating of certain of his pastimes.

The Indian has a large head, high cheek bones, in general, large lips
and mouth; a contour of face inclining, on the whole, to undue breadth,
and lacking that pleasantly-rounded appearance so characteristic of the
white. He has usually a scant beard, his chin and cheeks seldom, if ever,
asserting that sturdy and bountiful growth of whisker and moustache, in
such esteem with adults among ourselves, and which they are so careful
to stimulate and insure. Indeed, it is said that the Indian holds rather
in contempt what we so complacently regard, and will often testify to
his scorn by plucking out the hairs which protrude, and would fain lend
themselves to his adornment.

The Indian, normally, has a stolid expression, redeemed slightly, perhaps,
by its exchange often for a lugubrious one. I should feel disposed to
predict for him the scoring of an immense success in the personation
of such characters as those of the melancholy Dane; or of Antonio,
in the Merchant of Venice, after the turn of the tide in his fortunes,
when the vengeful figure of the remorseless Shylock rests upon his life
to blight and to afflict it.

He is easily-moved to tears, though, perhaps, his facile transition from
the condition presented in the foregoing allusion, into a positively
lachrymose state, will be readily conceived of, without proclaiming
specially, the fact. He will maintain a mien, which shall consist
eminently with the atmosphere of the house of mourning; in truth, as an
efficient mourner, the Indian may be freely depended upon.

It is contended that the complexion of the Indian has had the tendency to
grow darker and darker, from his having inhabited smoky, bark wigwams,
and having held cleanliness in no very exceptional honor; and the
contention is sought to be made good by the citing of a case of a young,
fair-skinned boy, who, taking up with an Indian tribe, and adopting in
every particular their mode of life, developed by his seventieth year
a complexion as swarthy, and of as distinctively Indian a hue, as that
of any pure specimen of the race.

If we accept this as a sound view, which, however, carried to its logical
sequence, should have evolved, one would imagine, the negro out of the
Indian long are this, why may we not, in the way of argument, fairly and
legitimately provoked by the theory, look for and consider the converse
picture (now that the Indian lives in much the same manner as the ordinary
poor husbandman, and now that we have certainly no warrant for imputing
to him uncleanly habits) the gradual approach in his complexion to the
Anglo-Saxon type? If we entertain this counter-proposition, it will then
be a question between its operation, and his marriage with the white,
as to which explains the fact of the decline now of the dark complexion
with the Indian.

The custom of piercing the nose, and suspending nose-jewels therefrom,
has fallen into disrepute, the Indian, perhaps, having been brought to
view these as contributing, in a questionable way, to his adornment.

The Indian woman has a finer development, as a rule, than the white
woman. We may, in part, discover the cause for this in the prevalence
of the custom, already alluded to, of the mother carrying her offspring
on her back, which, with its not undue strain on the dorsal muscles,
no doubt, promotes and conserves muscular strength. The Indian woman
being commonly a wife and mother before a really full maturity has been
reached, or any absolute unyieldingness of form been contracted, the
figure yet admits of such-like beneficent processes being exerted upon it.
In making mention of this custom, and, in a certain way, paying it honor,
let me not be taken as wishing to precipitate a revolution in the accepted
modes, with refined-communities, of bringing up children. To a community,
however, like that of which we are treating, such plan is not ill-suited,
the Indian mother being secure against any very critical observation of
her acts, or of the fashion she adopts. Let the custom, then, continue,
as it can be shown, I think, to favour the production of a healthier
and stronger frame both in the mother and in the child. A good figure is
also insured to the Indian woman, from her contemning, perhaps at the bid
of necessity, arising from her poverty, though, I verily believe, from
a well-grounded conception of their deforming tendencies, the absurdly
irrational measures, which, adopted by many among ourselves to promote
symmetry, only bring about distortion.

The Indian has very symmetrical hands, and the variation in size,
in this respect, in the case of the two sexes, is often very slight,
and, sometimes, scarce to be traced. The compliment, in the case of the
man, has, and is meant to have, about it a quite appreciable tinge of
condemnation, as suggesting his self-compassionate recoiling from manual
exertion; and the explanation of the near approach in the formation of the
hand of the woman to that of the man, may be found in the delegating to
her, by the latter, in unstinted measure, and in merciless fashion, work
that should be his. It is rare, also, to find a really awkwardly shaped
foot in an Indian. The near conformity to a uniform size in the case of
the two sexes, which I have noticed as being peculiar with the hand,
may also be observed with the foot. I would sum up my considerations
here with the confident assertion that the examination of a number of
specimens of the hand or foot in an Indian, would demonstrate a range
in size positively immaterial.

The Indian woman keeps up, to a large extent, the practice of wearing
leggings and moccasins.

I should be disposed to think that the blood coursing through the Indian's
frame is of a richer consistency, and has, altogether, greater vitalizing
properties than that in ourselves, since on the severest day in winter
he will frequently scorn any covering beyond his shirt, and the nether
garments usually suggested by its mention, and, so apparelled, will not
recoil from the keenest blast.


The dignity of a chief comes to the holder through the principle of
hereditary succession, confined to, and operating only with, certain
families. In the cage of the death of one of these chiefs, the distinction
and powers he enjoyed devolve upon his kinsman, though not necessarily
upon the next of kin. The naming and appointing of a successor, and the
adjudicating upon the point as to whether he fulfils the qualifications
esteemed necessary to maintain the dignity of the chiefship, are confided
to the oldest woman of the tribe, thus deprived by death of one of
its heads. She has a certain latitude in choosing, and, so long as she
respects in the selection of her appointee, the principle of kinship
to the dead chief (whether this be proximate or remote is immaterial)
her appointment is approved and confirmed.

The chiefs are looked upon as the heads or fathers of the tribe,
and they rely, to a large extent, for their influence over the tribe,
upon their wisdom, and eminence generally in qualities that excite or
compel admiration or regard. In an earlier period of the history of the
Indian communities, when their forests were astir with the demon of war,
eligibility for the chiefship contemplated in the chief the conjoining
of bravery with wisdom, and these were the keynote to his power over his
people. He, by manifesting on occasion, these, desirable traits, had his
followers' confidence confirmed in his selection; upheld those followers'
and his own traditions; and often assured his tribe's pre-eminence. The
chief, in addition, by bringing these qualities to bear in any contact or
treaty with a hostile tribe, compelled in a sense the recognition by his
enemies of the prestige and power of his entire following. Hospitality
was also considered a desirable trait in the chief, who, while habitually
dispensing it himself, strove (having his endeavors distinctly seconded
by the advocacy of the duty enforced in the kindly precepts of the old
sages of the tribe) to dispose the minds of his followers to entertain
a perception of the happy results which would flow to themselves by
their being inured to its practice, the expanding of the heart, and the
offering of a vent to the unselfish side of their nature.

If the chief do not, in the main, conserve the qualities that are deemed
befitting in the holder of the chiefship; or if he originate any measure
which finds popular disfavour, his power with the people declines.

A number of the chiefs have supplementary functions, conferred upon
them by their brother dignitaries. There is, for example, one called
the Forest-Ranger, whose place it is to interpose for the effectual
prevention and checking of sales of timber to whites, by members of
the different tribes; or removal by whites of timber from the Reserve,
where a license, which suffers either to be done, has not been granted.
In cases where an Indian meditates, in a spirit of lofty contempt for
the license, any such illicit sale; or attempts to abet any such unlawful
removal, this functionary has authority to frustrate both objects.

The chief who, at present, fulfils these duties has not been permitted to
hold barren or dormant powers. In putting into effect that interference
which his office exacts of him, he has been more than once terribly
assaulted by whites, foiled in their plans, and exasperated by the agency
that had stepped in for the baffling of their ill-formed designs. On
one occasion, his death was all but brought about by a cruelly concerted
attack upon him.

Certain other chiefs are called Fire-keepers, though their functions
are not in any way suggested by their rather remarkable title. They are,
however, very important persons, and I have already, in treating of the
Indian's meetings of Council, touched upon their duty. I believe the
name Fire-keeper is retained from the circumstance that, in by-gone days,
when the council was an open-air affair, the lighting of the fire was the
initiatory step, and, taken in this way, therefore, the most important
step, in the proceedings.

Another chief is called Marshal, and it is incumbent upon him to
co-operate with the officers of the law in effecting the capture of any
suspected criminal or criminals, who may lie concealed, or be harbored,
on the Reserve. He is a duly qualified county constable, though his
services are not often in request, as the Chief of Police in Brantford,
whose place it is to direct the way in which crimes (committed, of
course, in the city) shall be ferreted out, or their authors tracked,
usually confides in his own staff to promote these desirable purposes,
from the fact of their accountability to him being well defined, whereas
the county constable yields no obedience to him.


It is often claimed for the Indian that, before the white man put him in
the way of a freer indulgence of his unhappy craving for drink, he was
as moral a being as one unrenewed by Divine grace could be expected to
be. Unfortunately, this statement involves no definition of what might be
considered moral, under the circumstances. Now, there will be disagreeing
estimates of what a moral character, upon which there has been no
descent of heavenly grace, or where grace has not supervened to essay its
recreation, or its moulding anew, should be; and there will also, I think,
be divergent views as to a code of morals to be practised which shall
comport with the exhibition of a _reasonably_ seemly morality. I
cannot, at least, concur in that definition of a moral character, upon
which no operation of Divine grace has been expended, for its raising or
its beautifying, which accepts that of the pagan Indian as its highest
expression; and, distinctly, hesitate to affirm that a high moral instinct
inheres in the Indian, or that such is permitted to dominate his mind;
and, when I find one of these very writers who claim for him a high
inborn morality, discovering in him such indwelling monsters as revenge,
mercilessness, implacability, the affirmation falters not the less upon
my tongue. That very many of the graver crimes laid at the Indian's
door, and the revolting heinousness of which the records of our courts
reveal; may be traced to his prescribing for himself, and practising,
a lax standard of morals, is a statement which it would be idle to
dispute. That the marriage tie exacts from him not the most onerous of
interpretations, and that the scriptural basis for a sound morality,
involved in the declaration, "and they twain shall be one flesh," not
seldom escapes, in his case, its full and due honoring, are, likewise,
affirmations not susceptible of being refuted. That, for instance, is
not a high notion of marital constancy (marital is scarcely the term,
for I am speaking now of the pagan, who rejects the idea of marriage,
though often, I confess, living happily and uninterruptedly with the woman
of his choice) which permits the summary disruption of the bond between
man and woman; nor is paternal responsibility rigorously defined by one,
who causes to cease, at will, his labor and care for, and support of,
his children, leaving the reassuring of these to those children contingent
upon the mother finding some one else to give them and herself a home.

To follow a lighter vein for a moment. The Police Magistrate at
Brantford, before whom many of these little domesticities come for
their due appreciation (for they disclose, often, elements of really
baffling complexity) not less than their ventilation and unravelling,
is an eminently peace-loving man, and quite an adept at patching up
such-like conjugal trifles. He will dispense from his tribunal sage
advice, and prescribe remedial measures, which shall have untold efficacy,
in dispelling mutual mistrust, restoring mutual confidence, and bringing
about a lasting re-union. He will interpose, like some potent magician,
to transform a discordant, recriminating, utterly unlovely couple, into
a pair of harmless, peaceable, love-consumed doves. There rises before
my mind a case for illustration. A couple lived on the Reserve, whose
domestic life had become so completely embittered that every vestige
of old-time happiness had fled. The agency of the Police Magistrate was
sought to decree terms of separation, as there was an adamantine resolve
on the part of each to no longer live with the other. Thus, in a frame
of mind altogether repelling the notion of conversion to gentler views,
or the idea of laudable endeavor, on the part of another, to instil
milder counsels, being availingly expended, they repaired to the Police
Magistrate's office. He, by invoking old recollections on either side,
and judiciously inviting them to a retrospection of their former mutual
courtesies, and early undimmed pleasures, gradually brought the would-be
sundered people to a wiser mind. I believe there have only been two or
three outbursts of domestic infelicity since.

Certain notions, bound up with the Indian's practice, in times now
happily passed away, of polygamy, may be construed into an advocacy
of the Deceased Wife's Sister's Bill, which engaged the attention of
Parliament last session, and bids fair to take up the time and thought of
our legislators, in sessions yet to come. The Indian usually sought to
marry two sisters, holding that the children of the one would be loved
and cared for more by the other than if the wives were not related. The
concurrent existence of both mothers is, of course, presumed here. The
question remains to be asked, would the children of the one sister,
were their mother dead, be as well loved and cared for by the surviving
sister, were she called upon to exercise the functions of a step-mother;
and would the children of the dead sister love the children of the living
sister, were they not viewed upon the same footing as those children?

That the Indian--the _Christian_ Indian--frequently contemns the
means unsparingly used, and the attempts and arguments put forth, by his
spiritual overseers, to restrain his immoral propensities, to bridle his
immoral instinct, and to ameliorate and elevate, generally, his moral
tone, I fear, will not be gainsaid. That very many, on the other hand,
practice a high morality, and set before themselves an exalted conception
of conjugal duty, and strive, with a full-hearted earnestness, to fulfil
that conception, none would-be so blind or so unjust as to deny.

There are some features in the Indian character to which unstinted praise
is due, and shall be rendered.

He is very hospitable; and (herein nobly conserving his traditions) it
is in no wise uncommon for him to resign the best of the rude comforts he
has, in the way of accommodation, to some belated one, and content himself
with the scantest of those scant comforts, impressing, at the same time,
with his native delicacy, the notion, that he courts, rather than shrinks
from, the almost penitential regime. Though one would naturally think,
that the scorn of material comforts, suggested here, and which many others
of his acts evince, would scarcely breed indolence in the Indian, yet this
is with him an almost unconquerable weakness. It is, indeed, so ingrained
within him, as to resist any attempt, on his own part, to excise it from
his economy; and as to defy extirpating or uprooting process sought to
be enforced by another. The Indian is, in truth, a supremely indolent
being, and testifying to an utter abandonment of himself to the power
of indolence over him, has often been known, when recourse solely to the
chase was permitted him for the filling of his larder, to delay his steps
to the forest, until the gnawing pangs of hunger should drive him there,
as offering him the only plan for their appeasing.

When I have said that the Indian is hospitable, I have said that he is
kind and considerate, for these are involved with the other. He has
much of native delicacy and politeness; and though, from deep-seated
prepossession, he denies the woman equal footing with himself; and,
though through misconception of woman's true purpose and mission in
the world, or through failing to apprehend that higher, greater, more
palpable helpfulness she brings to man (all these, because self-dictated,
self-enforced) he commits to her much of the drudgery, and imposes upon
her many of the heavy burdens, of life, the Indian is not wholly devoid
of chivalric instinct.

He is usually reticent in his manner with strangers, (but this is readily
explained by his imperfect command of English, and his reluctance to
expose his deficiency) though voluble to the last degree when he falls
in with his own people.

The Indian has been lauded and hymned by Longfellow and others as the
hunter _par excellence;_ but, to apply this to his present condition,
and look there for its truth, would be idle. The incitements to indulge
his taste for hunting are now so few, and of such slight potency, and the
opportunities for giving it play so narrowed down, and so rare, that the
pursuit of the chase has become well-nigh obsolete, and something to him
redolent only, as it were, with the breath of the past. As the Indian
is at present circumstanced and environed, he can beat up little or no
game, and his poverty frequently putting out of his reach the procuring
of the needful sporting gear, where he _does_ follow hunting, it
is pursued with much-weakened ardor, and often bootless issue. He is
moved now to its pursuit, solely with the hope of realizing a paltry
gain from the sale of the few prizes he may secure.

Though his reputation as a hunter has so mournfully declined, the Indian
is yet skilled in tracking rabbits, in the winter season, the youth,
particularly, finding this a pleasant diversion. I trust I do not invoke
the hasty ire of the sportsman if, in guilelessness of soul, I call this
hunting. This very circumscribing of the occasions, and inefficacy of
the motive powers, for engaging in hunting, will tend, it is hoped, to
correct the indolent habits that the Indian nurses, and the inveteracy
of which I have just dwelt upon, and emphasized; for it will not,
I think, be denied that his former full-hearted pursuit of the chase
(in submission, largely though it was, to imperious calls of nature), is
responsible, mainly, for the inherence of this unpleasing trait. Though,
of course, hunting in its very nature, enforces a certain activity, it
is an activity, so far as any beneficent impressing of the character is
concerned, void of wholesomeness, and barren of solid, lasting results;
and, viewed in this way, an activity really akin to indolence. With
the craving for hunting subdued, the Indian may take up, with less
distraction, and devote himself, to good advantage, to his farming,
and to industrial callings.

Want of energy and of steadiness of purpose are with the Indian
conspicuous weaknesses, and their bearing upon his farming operations
may be briefly noticed. He will not devote himself to his work in the
fields with that full-intentioned mind to put in an honest day's toil,
that the white man brings to his work, often being beguiled, by some
outside pleasure or amusement, into permitting his day's work to sustain
a break, which he laments afterwards in a melancholy refrain, of farming
operations behind, and domestic matters unhinged, generally. Though the
white has endeavored (and I the more gladly bear my witness to these
attempts at the redemption of the Indian from some of his weaknesses,
since the white has been so freely charged with ministering to his
appetite for drink, and to the evil side of his nature generally)
to infuse these qualities of energy and resolution into the Indian,
my observation has not yet discerned them in him. Though irresolute
himself, the Indian will not tolerate, but is sufficiently warm in his
disapprobation, of any unmanly surrender to weakness or vacillation on
the part of whites set in authority over him.

He imbibes freely (I fear the notion of a certain physiological process
is embraced by some minds, and that these words will be taken as curtly
enunciating the Indian's besetting weakness; but pray be not too eager
to dissever them from what is yet to come, as I protest that I am not
now wishing to revert to this sad failing). He imbibes freely--the
current fashions of the hour amongst whites. If raffling, for instance,
be held in honour as a method for expediting the sale of personal effects,
the Indian will adapt the practice to the disposal of every conceivable
chattel that he desires to get off his hands.


The Indian Law, it is well known, puts a restraint, not only upon
the purchase of liquor by the Indian, but upon its sale to him by the
liquor-seller, or its supply, indeed, in any way, by any one. It forbids,
as well, the introducing or harboring of it, in any shape, under any
plea, on the Reserve. The law, in this respect, frequently proves a dead
letter, since, where the Indian has not the assurance and hardihood to
boldly demand the liquor from the hotel-keeper, or where the latter,
imbued with a wholesome fear of the penalty for contravening the law,
refrains from giving it, the agency of degraded whites is readily
secured by the Indian, and, with their connivance, the unlawful object
compassed. Of course the white abettor in these cases risks trifling,
if any, publicity in the matter, and is inspired with the less fear of
detection. There are some few hotel-keepers who, though they more than
suspect the purpose to which the liquor these whites are demanding is
to be applied, permit rapacity to overpower righteous compunction or
scruple, and lend themselves, likewise, though indirectly, to the law's
infraction. Happily, the penalty is now so heavy ($300) that the evil is,
I think, being got under control.

The effect of drink on the Indian is: to dethrone his; reason; cloud,
even narcotize, his reasoning faculties; annul his self-control; confine
and fetter all the gentler, enkindle and set ablaze, all the baser,
emotions; of his nature, inciting him to acts lustful and bestial; and,
with direful transforming power, to make the man the fiend, to leave him,
in short, the mere sport of demoniac passion. It may be thought that
this is an overdrawn picture, and that, even if it were true, which
I aver that it is, to have withheld a part of its terribleness would
be the wiser course. I wish, however, in exposing all its frightful
features, to secure the pointing of a moral to all who lend themselves
to the draughting of such a picture, or, in any way, hold in favor the
draughts which lead to its draughting. Let not the Indian, then, resent
this picturing of him in such unpleasing and repugnant light, but let him
rather apply and use the lesson it is sought to teach, that it may turn
to his enduring advantage. Let him overmaster the enslaving passion; let
him foreswear the tempting indulgence; let him recoil from the envenomed
cup, which savors of the hellish breath and the ensnaring craft of the
Evil One, ever seeking to draw chains of Satanic forging about him. The
Indian will plead utter obliviousness of the _fracas_, following
some drunken bout, and during the progress of which the death-stroke has
been dealt to some unhappy brother. He will disavow all recollection of
the apparently systematic doing to death, when drunk, under circumstances
of the most revolting atrocity, of an unfortunate wife.

Though the proximate result of drink is with the Indian more alarming than
with the white, the ultimate evils and sorrows wrought by continued excess
in drink are, of course, identical in both cases: moral sensibilities
blunted; manhood degraded; mind wrecked; worldly substance dissipated;
health shattered; strength sapped; every mendacious and tortuous bent
of one's nature stimulated, and given free scope.


In its very nature this essay will partake largely of the element
of historical preciseness, and if it do not, I have so far failed to
gain my end. I have wished to introduce matter of a kind calculated to
relieve this, and to insure the escape of the essay from the charge of
a well-sustained dryness.

Of the humorous instinct of the Indian, as indulged toward his
fellow-Indian, I cannot speak with confidence; of the malign
operation upon myself of the same instinct, I can speak with somewhat
more exactness, and with somewhat saddening recollections. The cases,
indeed, where I have been exposed to the play of his humor exhibit him
in so superlatively complacent an aspect, and myself in so painfully
inglorious a one, that I refrain, nay shrink, from rehearsing the
discomposing circumstances. I should be pleased if I could call to mind
any instance which would convey some notion of the Indian's aptness in
this line, and yet not involve myself, but I cannot. I would say, in a
general way, that the Indian is a plausible being, and one needs to be
wary with him, and not too loth to suspect him of meditating some dire
practical joke, which shall issue in the utter confusion and discomfiture
of its victim, whilst its author shall appropriate the main comfort and
jubilation. Though the Indian, perhaps, does not conceive these in the
determinedly hostile spirit with which the Mohometan who seeks to compass
the Christian's undoing is credited, there is yet such striking accord
in the two cases, so far as exultant approval of the issue is concerned,
that I am disposed to look upon his creed in this respect as a modified
Mahometanism. I could relate many instances, affecting myself, where
trustfulness has incurred payment in this coin, but, having no desire
to stimulate the Indian's existing proneness to practical joking, I stay
my hand at further mention of the peculiarity.


The Indian has little hope of occupying a sphere, where the discipline
and cultivation of the mind shall be essential to the proper balancing
and developing of its powers, and shall render it equal to the collision
with other keen intellects. It would, therefore, be equally idle and
unprofitable to attempt to measure his mental capabilities, until we
shall have experience of his intellectuality, with proper stimulating
and inciting influences in play, or under circumstances, conducing,
generally, to mental strength and vigor, to note; and which we may employ
as a reliable basis for judgment; and it would be manifestly unfair
to argue weak mental calibre, or to presage small mental capacity in
the Indian, from his present deplorable state of inertness, a condition
which has been sadly impressed and confirmed by repressive legislation,
and of which that legislation, by practically denying him occupation of
improving fields of thought, and, indeed, scope for any enlarged mental
activity, seeks to decree the melancholy perpetuity.

In some of the few cases where supervenient aid has enabled him to
qualify for, and embrace, a profession, I have perceived a tendency
to subordinate its practice to the demands of some less exacting
calling, which has rendered nugatory any efficient mastery of the
profession. Memory is, undoubtedly, the Indian's strong point, and I can
myself testify to exhibitions of it, truly phenomenal. The interpreter
will placidly proceed to translate a long string of sentences, just
fallen from a speaker's lips, to engraft which upon our memory would be
a performance most trying and difficult; and to have their repetition.
even with a proximate adherence to the sense and the expressions used,
imposed upon us, in the peremptory fashion in which it is sprung upon
the interpreter, would carry the wildest dismay to our mind. Those
understanding the Indian tongue have frequently assured me that the
Indian, when interpreting, reproduces with minuteness, if he be granted,
of course, a certain latitude for differences of idiom, the speaker's
thought and expressions. It is said by one of his own writers that the
Indian is much more prone to follow the evil than the moral practices
of the white; and there can be no doubt, I think, that, if habitually
thrown with a corrupt community, or one where a low order of morality
should obtain, the acquisition of higher knowledge would tend to make
him better skilled in planning works of iniquity, than to give him
higher and purer tastes. Actual experience of the Indian, in one or two
cases, where there has been a more than common accession to his mental
accomplishments, rather gives color to the notion of the misdirection
of those accomplishments (even without the baneful white influence)
that has been hinted at.

I should think the Indian would, probably, even with proper discipline
to bear, lack powers of concentration, with the kindred faculty of being
able to direct the mind to the achieving or subserving of some one grand
purpose or aim, and would, likely, be deficient in other allied ways,
by which a gifted and powerful mind will be asserted; and would imagine,
on the whole, that there is slight ground for thinking him capable,
under the most favourable circumstances, of imperilling the eminence of
the white in respect of intellectual power and attainments.


Lacrosse, it is well-known, is the Indian's national game. The agile form
with which nature has gifted him, and which I have mentioned already as
one of his physical characteristics, brings an essential pre-requisite
for success or eminence to a game, where the laggard is at heavy discount.

Though a white team can often boast of two or three individual runners,
whose fleetness will outstrip the capacity of an equal number on the
side of the Indians, I think, perhaps, that it will be allowed that
the Indian team, as a rule, will comprehend the greater number of fleet
members. While the Indian, then, can scarcely be said to yield to the
white in this respect, he lacks obviously that mental quick-sightedness
which, with the latter, defines, as it were, intuitively, the exact
location on the field, of a friend, and, with unerring certitude,
calculates the degree of force that shall be needed to propel the ball,
and the precise direction its flight shall take, in order to insure
its reposing on the net of that friend. In the frequently recurring
_mêlees_, begotten of the struggle amongst a number of contestants
for the possession of the ball, the Indian exhibits, perhaps, in more
marked degree than the white, the qualities of stubborn doggedness,
and utter disregard of personal injury.

The worsting of the Indian by the white in the majority of competitions of
this kind is due to the latter submitting to be governed by system, and
to his recognizing a directing power in the captain. The Indian, on the
other hand, will not bend to such controlling influence, but chafes under
direction of any kind. He has good facilities for practice at this game,
and, I believe, really tries to excel in it, often, indeed, the expense of
duties, which imperatively call him elsewhere than to the lacrosse-field.

The Indian is a proficient canoeist, and will adventure himself
with confidence in a canoe of the frailest construction, which he
will guide in safety, and with surpassing skill. He will dispel the
fears of his disquieted and faithless fellow-voyager (for the motion
at times in canoeing is, unmistakably, perturbing and discomposing;
indeed, in this unsettling experience, the body is a frequent, if not
an inevitable, sharer) who, in view of his sublime disregard of danger,
will quickly re-assert the courage that had waned. If, however, there
be a second Indian in the canoe, he usually strives to counteract the
reassuring effect that the pilot's bearing has upon you. He stands up in
the bottom, and sways, to and fro, and, with fell and malignant intent
proceeds to evolve out of the canoe a more approved see-saw action than
_a priori_ and inherently attaches to that order of craft. On that
really "Grand" river, which was his sometime heritage, the Indian can
well improve his skill in this modest branch of nautical science.


The consciousness of unsatisfied pecuniary obligation does not, as a
rule, weigh heavily on the Indian mind, nor does it usually awaken,
or offer food for, burdensome reflection.

The Indian Act, which decrees his minority, disables him from entering
into a contract of any kind, though it scarcely needs any statement
from me to assure my hearers that the law does not secure, nor does the
majestic arm of that law exact, from him, the most rigid compliance.

The Indian will make and tender to a white creditor his promissory note
with a gleeful complacency. There are usually two elements contributing,
in perhaps equal degree, to produce in him this complacent frame of mind:
The first, that, for removing from his immediate consideration a debt,
he is adopting a temporizing expedient, which in no way vouches for,
and in no sense bespeaks, the ultimate payment of the debt; the other,
that his act records his sense of rebellion against a restrictive law,
ever welling up in his breast, and seeking such-like opportune vent for
its relief.

In trading with a merchant, who, appreciating the wiliness of his
customer, felt a natural concern about trading upon as safe a basis as
might be secured, it was, until quite recently, customary with the Indian
to anticipate his interest-money, in paying for his goods. That the
merchant might have a guarantee that previous instances of the setting
on foot of this plan in the individual Indian's case, had not effected
the entire appropriation or exhaustion of his allowance, or that in
the immediate transaction with him, the Indian's allowance would not be
exceeded, a chief of the particular tribe to which the Indian belonged,
who was assumed to keep track of the various amounts that at different
times impaired the interest-fund, signed an order for him to tender to
the merchant; and in order that the Superintendent might properly award
and pay the balance coming, these orders would go into his possession,
before he should proceed with the season's payments. Now, however, the
place and times at which interest payments are made, are not allowed to
be viewed by merchants and others as a collection depôt, or as occasions
on which their orders from Indians may be confirmed, or debts from those
Indians made good.

The merchant, foreseeing that a large proportion of the debts from Indians
that he books are not recoverable, will frequently--and I presume there
is nothing savoring of dubious dealing in the matter--add, perhaps,
thirty or forty per cent. to the usual retail price of the goods sold
to them, that the collection of some of the debts may, as it were,
offset the loss from those that are irrecoverable.

It is not pleasant to impugn the character of the Indian for uprightness
and probity, but that there is no conspicuous prevalence of these
qualities with him, I fear, can be sufficiently demonstrated. I am
disposed to ascribe this state of things, to a large extent, to the
operation of the Indian Law. If the Indian who buys, and does not pay,
and who never intends to pay, were not exempted from the salutary lesson
which the distraint, at suit of a creditor, upon his goods, teaches,
he would not seek to evade payment of his debts.

If, again, the Indian were not regarded as one "childlike," shall I say,
"and bland" (no! I must dissever these words from the otherwise apt
quotation, as, though this be to proclaim how immeasurably he has fallen,
and to dissipate cherished popular beliefs about him, I conceive him to
be bland, without being so decreed by the law) there would be a manifest
accession to his fund of self-respect. The idea of holding him a minor,
and as one who cannot be kept to his engagements is a mistake, and its
effect is only to stimulate the dishonest bent of his nature, prompting
him to take advantage of his white brother in every conceivable way,
where the latter's business relations with him are concerned.


The pagan, though not so alive to the serene beauties of the Christian
life, and not so attracted by the power, the promises, and the assurances
of the Christian religion, as to evince the one, and embrace the other, or
to make trial of the moral safeguards that its armoury supplies, would yet
so honour, one would think, the persuasive Christian influences, operating
around him and about him in so many benign and kindly ways, as to abandon
many of the practices that savour of the superstition of a by-gone age.
Though there has been a decline, if not a positive discontinuance, of
his traditionary worship of idols; though his adoration of the sun, of
certain of the birds of the air, and of the animal creation, is not now
blindly followed, and the invocation of these, for the supposed assuring
of success to various enterprises, is rarely put in effect, there is yet
preserved a relic of his old traditions, in the designs with which he
embellishes certain specimens of the handiwork, with which he oft vexes
the public eye. (I must really, though, pay my tribute of admiration
for the skilled workmanship many of these specimens disclose.) It is
common for him, when at work upon the elaborate carving in wood that he
practises, to engrave some hideous human figure, intended, obviously,
to represent an idol. Does it not excite wonder with us that such
refinements upon hideousness and repulsiveness could ever have provoked
the worship or adoration of any one?

One almost insuperable difficulty that the missionary experiences in his
attempts to instil religious principles into the Indian mind, is to get
him to entertain the theory that the human race sprang originally from
one pair. The pagan believes in the existence of a Supreme Being, though,
his idea of that Being's benignity and consideration relates solely to
an earthly oversight of him, and a concern for his daily wants. His
conception of future bliss is almost wholly sensual, and wrapped up
with the notion of an unrestrained indulgence of animal appetite, and
a whole-souled abandonment to feasting and dancing. His supreme view
of happiness is that he shall be, assigned happy hunting-grounds, which
shall be stocked with innumerable game, and where, equipped in perfection
for the chase, he shall ever be incited to its ceaseless pursuit.

Of course, such impressions, clogged and clouded as they are with
earthliness, have been dispelled in the cases of those, who have opened
their minds to the more desirable promises of the Gospel.

The Indian's expectation of attaining and enjoying a future state of
bliss, which shall transcend his mundane experience, is often present
to his mind. I remember once walking with rather measured gait along
one of the roads of the Reserve, bearing about me, it _may_ be,
the idea of supreme reflection, when an Indian stopped me, and asked
(though, as my eyes sought the ground at the time, I cannot conceive how
his attributing to me thoughts of celestial concernment could have been
suggested) if I were thinking of heaven. I should have been pleased to
own to my mind's being occupied at the time with heavenly meditations,
a confession not only worthy, if true, to have been indulged in, but one
having in it possibly force for him, as helping, perhaps, to confirm the
course of his thoughts in the only true and high and ennobling channel,
which his question would suggest as being their frequent, if not their
habitual, direction.

Truth, however, compelled me to admit the subserviency of my mind,
at the moment, to earthly thought.

The pagan Indian celebrates what he calls dances, which frequently,
if liquor can only be had, degenerate into mere drunken orgies. Here
the war-whoop, with its direful music, greets the ear, carrying terror
and dismay to the breasts of the uninitiated; and here the war-dance,
with all the accessories of paint and feathers, gets free indulgence.


A mode of life will be suggested by the individual's estate and
surroundings, and will, naturally, be accommodated to the exactions merely
of the society in which he moves. With the Indian, poverty shapes his
habits of life, and he bends to compulsion's decree in the matter. If
we consider his hypothetical translation to a higher sphere, the Indian
might develop and maintain a course of living which should not, in those
altered circumstances, discredit him.

As our notions of early Indian life are so associated with the wigwam,
a description of the manner and stages of its construction may be
interesting. Poles, twelve or fourteen feet long, are placed in the
ground, these meeting at the top, and leaving an opening through which
the smoke may escape. Over the poles are placed nets, made of flags,
or birch bark, and, sometimes, the skins of animals.

The Indian, in defining comfort, evidently does not mean soft beds and
generous covering. His couch, as often as not, is the bare floor, without
mattrass, or, indeed, aught that might be conceded to a weak impulse;
and his covering _nil_, as a rule, in summer, and a buffalo robe,
or some kindred substitute, in winter. He adopts very frugal fare,
doing high honour to maize, or Indian corn. Indeed, to the growth and
cultivation of this order of grain he appropriates the greater part of
his land.

In walking, the man usually goes before the woman, as he thinks it
undignified to walk alongside. Nothing like social intercourse ever goes
on between man and wife; and in their domestic experience they have no
little pursuits in common, such as cheer and brighten life with us.

The hut (for, in the majority of cases, it is really little better) that,
with excess of boldness, commingles its cramped, unpleasing outlines with
the forest's wealth of foliage; and has reared its unshapely structure on
the site of the historic wigwam, obliterating, in its ruthless, intrusive,
advent, that lingering relic of the picturesque aspect of Indian life--a
relic that, with its emblems and inner garniture of war, bids a scion
of the race indulge a prideful retrospect of his sometime grandeur,
and pristine might; that has power to invoke stirring recollections of
a momentous and a thrilling past; to re-animate and summon before him
the shadowy figures of his redoubtable sires, and re-enact their lofty
deeds: in view of which, there is wafted to him a breath, laden with
moving memories of that glorious age, when aught but pre-eminence was
foreign to his soul; when, though a rude and savage, he was yet a lordly,
being; when he owned the supremacy, brooked the dictation, of none;
when his existence was a round of joysome light-heartedness, and he,
a stranger to constraint--this habitation of the Indian, to my mind,
emphasizes his melancholy, and, perhaps, inevitable decadence, rather
than symbolizes his partnership with the white in the more palpable
pursuits of a practical, enlightened, and energetic age, or co-activity
with him on a theatre of enlarged and more vigorous action. It is in some
respects more comfortless than even was his experience under his primitive
style of living, and is usually composed of one room, answering all the
purposes of life--eating-room, bed-room, reception-room, principally,
however, for the snow and mud, which have been persuaded here to relax
their hold, after antecedent demonstration of their adhering qualities.


The Indian very frequently has the crime of perjury alleged against him,
though what is assumed to be perjury is usually demonstrated to have
nothing whatever of that element in it.

These imputations come about in this way: If the Indian, about to give
evidence, be declared to have a reasonable mastery of English, the Court,
sometimes rather hastily, I think, dispenses with the interpreter,
in order to save time. A question is put to a witness, who, though
not understanding it sufficiently to appreciate its full import and
bearing, yet protesting, in a self-sufficient spirit, that he does (for
the Indian likes to have imputed to him extensive knowledge of English)
returns an answer apart from the truth, and one which he really never
intended to give, and becomes, through the interpreter, committed to it
on the records.

Or, the allegation may arise after this fashion:--The interpreter,
having to master several different languages, will almost insensibly,
in the confusion of idioms, misinterpret what has been said. The
outrageous prevalence of this supposed perjury would of itself point to
an explanation of this kind, since, we cannot believe that the Indian
wishes to canonize untruthfulness.


The Indian's musical taste is conceded on all hands. He is a proficient
in the use of brass instruments, the Mohawk Brass Band always taking high
rank at band competitions. He has usually fine vocal power, and is in
great request as a chorister. He has a full repertory of plaintive airs,
the singing of which he generally reserves for occasions, resembling
much the "wakes" that obtain with Roman Catholics, where he watches over
night the body of some departed member of the tribe.


As an artist in wood-carving, the Indian, I should say, stands almost
without a rival. He will elaborate the most beautiful specimens in this
kind of work; though he generally directs his skill to the embellishing
of walking sticks and the like articles, which (their ornate appearance
alone precluding their practical use) the white only buys with the view
of preserving as ornaments. The Indian, therefore, would do well to
allow his skill in this line to take a wider range, since, by so doing,
he would not only bring about larger sales to enrich his not over-filled
money-chest, but he would also extend his fame as an artist. The pencil,
in the hand of the Indian, is often made to limn exquisite figures,
and to trace delightful landscape-work. I am confident that he would,
with appropriate training, cause his fame to be known in this line
also. The Indian woman is a marvellous adept at bead-work, though her
specimens disclose, usually, finer execution, than they do a tasteful
or faultless associating of colours.


The New England Company, an English Corporation have established, and
maintain, in addition to the Mohawk Institute, which is on unreserved
lands, a large number of schools for the education of the Indian youth. It
is a question whether these schools really secure the patronage that
the philanthropic spirit of their founders hoped for. The shyness of the
girls is so marked (a trait I have observed even among the adult women)
as to lead to a small attendance, of this element, at least, where the
teacher is a white young man--in truth, a very ultra-manifestation of
the peculiarity.

The Mohawk Institute contemplates the receiving of pupils who have
reached a certain standard of proficiency, their boarding, and their
education. It is an institution the aim of which is truly a noble one,
the throwing back upon the Reserve of educated young men and women, who
shall be qualified to go about life's work, fortified with knowledge,
to pave the way to success in any walk of life that may be chosen.
The Mohawk Institute has secured, in the person of its principal and
directing power, one who is imbued with the desire so to use its powerful
agency as to compass the maximum of good among the Indians.


The missionary demands notice as he, above all others, has left his
impress on the life and character of the Indian.

The Ven. Archdeacon Nelles may be regarded as the pioneer missionary to
the Indian. His work covers half a century, and, though, for some years,
he has not been an active worker amongst the Indians, a solicitude for
their welfare still actuates him. His province has been rather that of
general superintendence of the New England Company's servants, than one
involving much active mingling with the Indians. The association of his
name with that time-honoured and revered structure, the old Mohawk Church,
is his, grandest testimonial to his fruitful labour on the Reserve.

The Rev. Adam Eliot, whose widow still lives in the old missionary home,
was a man of a singularly gentle and lovable disposition. In his contact
with the Indian, the influence, if haply any could be exerted, was certain
to be on the side of the good. He was one who moved about the Reserve
with the savor of a quiet and godly life ever cleaving to him, a life,
radiating forth, as it were, to circle and embrace others in the folds
of its benign influence. He was tender, and unaffected in his piety. His
life and work have left their abiding mark on the Indian character.

The Rev. R. J. Roberts was the first missionary who was really a
constant resident on the Reserve, and this circumstance, no doubt,
assured in larger measure his usefulness. I believe him to have been
filled strongly with the missionary spirit, and with ardent zeal for the
furthering of his Master's cause. His poor health always handicapped him,
but I feel confident he leaves behind him, in the kind memories of many
of his charges, a monument of his work not to be despised.

The Rev. James Chance was one of the old English type of clergyman,
cheery, genial, and whole-souled. Had he planned nothing higher than the
infusing of some of his own geniality into the Indian nature; and, had his
missionary work effected nothing greater than this, his would have been
no unworthy part. As the spiritual husbandman, he strove so to break up
the fallow ground, that the harvest of souls might be the more bountiful.

I have not referred to the later or present occupants of the mission-field
amongst the Indians, as they were, or have been identified for so short a
time with them. I would also say, that it is from no denial to them of the
achieving of solid, lasting work, that I have not alluded to missionaries
outside of the Episcopal body. I have merely made such allusions here
as personal contact with the missionaries has enabled me to record.

It may be thought that any work which contemplates the chronicling of
the Indian's history, will be incomplete, which should fail to trace the
career of Thayandanagea, or Chief Joseph Brant; or which should, at least,
withhold reference to that mighty chieftain. Lest my making no mention
of Brant here might be taken as denying to him the possession of those
sublime qualities, which have formed the theme for so much of laudatory
writing, I make a passing allusion to his life, passing, because his acts
and career have engaged the ability and eloquence of so many writers of
repute for their due commemoration, that I cannot hope to say anything
that should cause further honour or glory to attach to his name.

Brant, above all others of his race, deserves an abiding place in the
memories of his countrymen, and he is entitled to be held in enduring
remembrance by us also.

In the war waged by Britain against the United States in 1812-15, he
allied himself, it is well known, with the British. He bridled license and
excess among his people, and strove to add lustre to the British arms,
by dissuading them from giving rein to any of those practices, nay, by
putting his stern interdict on all those practices, into which Indian
tribes are so prone to be betrayed, and to which they are frequently
incited by merciless chiefs. He posed, indeed, during the war as the
apostle of clemency, not as the upholder of the traditional cruelty of
the Indian.

He always displayed conspicuous bravery, and was the exponent, in his
own person, of that intense and unflinching loyalty, which I verily
believe to be bound up with the life of every Indian.

His loyalty was untainted with the slightest suspicion of treachery,
another vile characteristic from which he redeemed the Indian nature.

The position of Brant and of Sir Walter Scott, so far as each has
left living descendant to uphold his name, is almost analogous, and
marks a rather interesting coincidence. The male line in both families
is extinct. Sir Walter's blood runs now only in the daughter of his
grand-daughter: two daughters alone of a grand-daughter are living,
who own the blood of Brant.

Brant is buried in the graveyard of the old Mohawk Church, a building
instinct with memories of the departed might and prowess of the Indian.


Is it a wise or a politic thing in the Government to seek to brand the
Indian, in perpetuity, as a minor in the eye of the law? Repressing in
him anything like self-assertion, is not, to hold him such, fatal to his
self-respect? Does it not make him doubt his manhood entirely? Does it
really, save in the single respect of the restraining of his drinking,
conserve his true interests?

Is that a judicious law, which, while decreeing the Indian's disability
for making a contract with a white man, yet visits upon him no penalty
when he evades and contemns such law; which, guaranteeing to him
immunity for violating or dishonouring his engagement, prompts him to
cast about for some new and, haply, more admired expedient, whereby he
may circumvent and defraud his creditor? Is that an enviable position for
one to be placed in, who, ignorant of the disability I have mentioned,
and guileless enough to suppose, that an Indian, who has fair worldly
substance, when he gives a promissory note, means to pay it, and who, in
that belief, surrenders to him valuable property, only to find afterwards
that the debt is irrecoverable by legal process, and the chattels are
likewise, by moral, or any other effectual, process?

It will be said that the white should not be a party to a contract with
an Indian. Well, man is often trustful, and he does not always foresee
the disaster that his trustfulness shall incur. He frequently credits
his white fellow with an honourable instinct: why may he not, sometimes,
impute it to the Indian?

The law, so far as it involves the restraining of the Indian's drinking,
cannot be impeached: and in the application to the white of a similar
law lies the only solution of the temperance problem.


We cannot estimate the transforming power that his enfranchisement might
exert over the Indian character.

The Indian youth, who is now either a listless wanderer over the confines
of his Reserve; or who finds his highest occupation in putting in, now
and then, desultory work for some neighbouring farmer at harvest-time;
who looks even upon elementary education as useless, and as something
to be gone through, perforce, as a concession to his parents' wish, or
at those parents' bid, would, if enfranchisement were assured to him,
esteem it in its true light, as the first step to a higher training,
which should qualify him for enjoying offices or taking up callings,
from which he is now debarred, and in which, mayhap, he might achieve a
degree of honour and success which should operate, in an incalculable
way, as a stimulus to others of his race, to strive after and attain
the like station and dignity.

There can, I think, be no gainsaying of the view that the Indian, if he
were enfranchised, would avail much more generally than he does now,
of the excellent educational facilities which surround him. The very
consciousness, which would then be at work within him, of his eligibility
for filling any office of honour in the country, which enfranchisement
would confer, would minister to a worthy ambition, and would spur him
on to develop his powers of mind, and, viewing education as the one
grand mean for subserving this end, he would so use it and honour it,
as that he should not discredit his office, if, haply, he should be
chosen to fill one.


The present Indian legislation, in my judgment, operates in every way
to blight, to grind, and to oppress; blasts each roseate hope of an
ameliorated, a less abject, estate: quenches each swelling aspiration
after a higher and more tolerable destiny; withers each ennobling
aim, cancels each creditable effort that would assure its eventuation;
opposes each soul-stirring resolve to no longer rest under the galling,
gangrenous imputation of a partial manhood.

Though not authorised to speak for the Indian, I believe I express his
views, when I say that he cherishes an ardent wish for enfranchisement,
a right which should be conceded to him by the Legislature, though
it should be urged only by the silent, though not, therefore, the less
weighty and potent, appeal, of the unswerving devotion of his forefathers
to England's crown.

He desires, nay, fervently longs, to break free from his condition of
tutelage; to bring to the general Government the aid of his counsels,
feeble though such may seem, if we measure him by his present status; aid,
which, erstwhile, was not despised, but was, rather, a mighty bulwark of
the British crown; and pants for the occasion to assert, it may be on the
honour-scroll of the nation's fame, his descent from a vaunted ancestry.


It will be said, perhaps, that to harbor the idea of the Indian's
elevation, following, in any way, upon his closer assimilation with the
white; his divestiture of the badge of political serfdom, and deliverance
from even the suggestion of thraldom--all of which his enfranchisement
contemplates; or that these would assure, in greater degree, his national
weal, would be to indulge a wild chimera, which could but superinduce
the purest visionary picture of his condition under the operation
of the gift. Some might be found, as well, to discredit the notion
that there would supervene, on the consigning to the limbo of inutile
political systems of the disabling regime that now governs, an epoch,
which would witness the shaking off, by the heavy, phlegmatic red man of
the present, of his dull lethargy, with the casting behind him of former
inaction and unproductiveness; and his being moved to assert a healthy,
genuine, wholesome activity, to be directed to lofty or soulful purpose,
or expressed in high and honourable endeavour. And it might be set down
as a reasoning from the standpoint of an illusory optimism, to look for,
through any change in the Indian's political condition, the incoming of
an age, which should be distinguished by a hopeful and helpful accession
to his character of honesty, uprightness, and self-respect, or by their
conservation; or which should be the natal time for the benign rule
over him of contentment, charity, and sobriety, or for the dominance
of a seemly morality. That, likewise, might be deemed idle expectancy,
which would foresee, as a result of the changed order of things, now being
prospectively considered, a season in the Indian's experience, when should
be illustrated the greater sacredness of the marriage relation, and the
happy prevalence of full domestic inter-communion, harmony, and order;
or should be honored a more gracious definition of the woman's province,
with the license to her to embrace a kindlier lot than one decreeing for
her mere slavish labour; or project a mission, to see its fruit in the
softening and refining, and in the reviving of the slumbrous chivalry,
of the man, or to leave, mayhap, some beauteous impress on the race.

It may be maintained, indeed, that the withdrawal from the Indian of
the Government's protecting arm, and the recognition of his position,
as no longer that of a needy, grovelling annuitant, but as one of equal
footing with the white before the law, would--far from bringing blessings
in their train--promote, with other evils, a pernicious development,
with calamitous reaction upon him, of the aggrandizing instinct of
the white, who would lure and entrap him into every kind of disastrous
negotiation--its outcome, in truth, a very maelstrom of artful intrigue
and shameless rapacity, looking to the absorption of the Indian's land,
and of the few worldly possessions he now has. Nay, many would foresee
for the Indian, through the consummation of his enfranchisement, naught
but gloom and sorest plight. These would invest their picture with the
sombrest hues; and, making this assume, under their pessimist delineation,
blackest Tartarean aspect, would crown it with the exhibition of the
Indian, as one sunken, at the instance of the white, in extremest depths
of human sorrow; as plunged, engulphed, and detained in a horrible slough
of degradation and misery. Such would, in short, have an era opened up,
which should mark, at once, the exaltation of the white to a revolting
height of infamy, proclaiming the high carnival of unblushing trickery and
chicane; and should signalize the whelming of the Indian in the noxious
flood of the high-handed, unrighteous, and unprincipled practice of the
white, who would project for him, and through whose unholy machinations he
would be consigned to, a state of existence which should be the hideous
climax of physical and moral debasement.

Now I contend that the claim to ascendancy of the Indian over the white,
in respect of sagacity and cunning and craft, which this condition of
things presupposes, is not satisfactorily made out. And I can readily
conceive of the application of that astuteness, that distinguishes the
Indian in his present trading relations with the white, to the wider
field for its display, which would arise from the extended intercourse and
more frequent contact with the white, that would ensue upon the Indian's
enfranchisement; and of this astuteness operating as his efficient
shield against evil hap or worsting by the white in any coping of the
kind with him.

I do not deny, however, that there might be realization, in part, of
such painful spectacle, as has just been imagined, were enfranchisement,
_pure and simple,_ conferred upon the Indian; and I would distinctly
demur to being taken as an advocate of enfranchisement for him without
certain safeguards. Yet I honor a somewhat wide use of the term, and
discredit the system of individual election for the right (if I may
so call it)--which, I believe, obtains--with its vexatious exactions
as to mental and moral fitness, and the very objectionable feature,
to my mind, of laying upon the band, as a collective organization, the
obligation of assigning to the individual member seeking enfranchisement
so much land, thus imposing upon it, in effect, the onus of conferring
the land qualification. Let its consummation be approached gradually,
and with caution; and let a modified form of it, designed to meet
the Indian's peculiar situation, be recognized and enforced. Let the
enfranchisement be made a tentative thing; and let there be a provision
for the divestiture of the Indian of the right, in case disaster to him
should supervene upon its application.

I have spoken elsewhere of the _fact_ of the Indian's enfranchisement
prompting him, in view of the prospect of occupying various stations
of dignity in the country, which, through the extension to him of the
franchise, would be thrown open to him, to set a greater value upon
education, as qualifying him for enjoying and filling with credit these
stations. Perhaps, it would be the stricter view, and more apropos,
to regard the Indian's more thorough education as that which would lead
him to more readily perceive and better appreciate the full import and.
significance of enfranchisement; which would bring home to his mind a
clear apprehension of the duties and obligations it exacts, and enable
him, as well, to exercise the rights thereto pertaining with a wiser
foresight and greater intelligence.

Let a higher order of mental attainment than he now displays be insured,
by all means, and if possible, to the Indian; and, to this end, let
the authorities concerned invite, through the inducement of something
better than a mere bread-and-butter salary, the accession to the Reserve
of teachers, no one of whom it shall be possible for an Indian youth of
tender years to outstrip in knowledge; or shall be reduced to parrying,
as best as he can, the questionings of a pupil on points bearing upon
merely elementary education.

I would mention a prospective result of the Indian's enfranchisement,
which would suggest, forcibly, the desirability of, and the need for his
anticipatory instruction in the English language. He, unlike the German
or Frenchman, has never been able to maintain, indeed, has never had,
a literature; and I can scarcely conceive of his _tongue_ even
surviving the more general mingling with the white, which would be the
certain concomitant of enfranchisement, which, indeed, with its other
subverting tendencies, would seem to me to ordain its utter effacement.

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