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as if it had never been made,' and if he persists, we will absolutely leave him.”
While the conference was going on at Albany, Decanesora and his fellow deputies arrived at the castle of the Praying Indians, near the falls above Montreal. Thence they were conducted, by the superior of the Jesuits, to Quebec. They had their audience of the Governor of Canada with great solemnity, in the presence of all the ecclesiastics and officers of distinction, and of the most considerable Indians then in the place. Every day, while they remained, they were entertained at the governor's table, or at those of the principal citizens. On the other side, it is said of the veteran Decanesora, that shrewdly accom.modating his coat to his company, he made himself still more personable than usual, by the aid of a splendid arrangement which might have done credit to a modern ambassador. He was clothed in scarlet, trimmed with gold; and his reverend locks were covered with a laced beaver-hat, which had been given him by Colonel Fletcher a few months before. Neither ceremony nor decoration, however, nor even good dinners, mitigated the old orator's firmness.
“ Father!"*—he said to the governor, after mentioning the objects of the deputation—"If we do not conclude a peace now, it will be your fault. We have already taken the hatchet out of the hands of the River Indians (Hudson's river) whom we incited to the war. But we must tell you, that you are a bad man. You are inconstant. You are not to be trusted. We have had war together a long time. Still, though you occasioned the war, we never hated the house of Oghuesse (the Montreal gentleman.) Let him undertake the toilsome journey to Onondaga. If he will come, he shall be welcome.
Father!"-he continued—“We are now speaking of peace, and therefore I must speak a word to the Praying Indians, and first to those of Cahnawaga (chiefly Mohawks.) You know our customs and manners. Therefore make Yonondio acquainted with them. Assist in the good work of peace. As for you,” (addressing a party of Pray. ing Indians, most of whom had once been Onondagas,) “ you are worse than the French themselves. You deserted from us, and sided with our enemies to destroy us. Make some amends now by forwarding peace.” He then resumed his address to the governor.
“You have almost eaten us up. Our best men are killed in this bloody war. But we forget what is past. Before this we once threw the hatchet into the river of Kaihohage, but you fished it up, and treacherously surprised our people at Cadaraqui. After that you sent to us to have our prisoners restored. Then the hatchet was thrown up to the sky, but you kept a string fastened to the helve, and pulled it down, and fell upon our people again. This we revenged to some
* " A term used in mere courtesy, and because the governor chose to call the Indians bis children." So a sachem explained it to one of the New York Governors, that it “ signified nothing."
† Near Oswego, on Lake Ontario, where the treaty with M. De la Barre was negotiated.
purpose, by the destruction of your people and houses in the island of Montreal.
“ Now we are come to cover the blood from our sight, which has been shed by both sides during this long war. “ Yonondio!-We have been at war a long time.
We now give you a medicine to drive away all ill thoughts from your heart, to purge it and make it clean, and restore it to its former state.
“ Yonondio!—We will not permit any settlement at Cadaraqui. You have had your fire there thrice extinguished. We will not consent to your building that fort ; but the passage through the river shall be free and clear. We make the sun clean, and drive away all clouds and darkness, that we may see the light without interruption.
“Yonondio!-We have taken many prisoners from one another, during the war. The prisoners we took have been delivered, according to our custom, to the families that have lost any in the war. They no longer belong to the public. They may give them back if they please. Your people may do the same. We have brought back two prisoners, and restore them to you.
In the course of his reply to this speech, the governor observed that he should not make peace with Cayenguirago. But Decanesora, nobly and fearlessly true to every engagement as to his own honor, promptly declared that he never would agree to a peace for the confederates, except on condition of a truce for the English. “All the country,” said he, “will look upon me as a traitor; I can treat with you no longer.” And undoubtedly, anxious as he was to effect the object of his embassy, he would have returned home disappointed, had not the governor, after a discussion of three days, finally yielded, by agreeing to undertake no enterprise against New York during the summer. Another difficulty arose upon the governor's insisting on having hostages left with him, which the sachem would not consent to. The matter was adjusted by the voluntary proposal of two Indians in his company to remain.
After the return of the deputation to the country of the Five Nations, a conference was held at Albany between a new disputation on their part, and the Governor of New York. The latter, well knowing how much the neighboring colonies were interested in the result of the French negotiation, invited several of them to send representatives, which they accordingly did. Among those present were the Governor of New Jersey, and five commissioners from Massachusetts and Connecticut. On the other hand, Decanesora and Sadekanatie both attended in the name of the Five Nations. The former gave an exact account of every thing which passed at Quebec. The latter,—who seems rather to have coveted opportunities of declaring the freest sentiments in the freest manner, which his colleague indeed never declined,-opened the conference with a long speech upon the history of the English and Indian intercourse; how the league had begun, and had been enlarged and strengthened ; and finally-what was the
chief aim of his argument-how other colonies, as he said, had thrust their arms into the chain, but had given little or no assistance against the common enemy. There was some cause for this complaint, and the orator was resolved that he would not be misunderstood when he stated it. “Our brother Cayenguirago's arms,” he continued, " and our own are stiff, and tired with holding fast the chain. Our neighbors sit still and smoke at their ease. The fat is melted from our flesh, and fallen on them. They grow fat while we grow lean.”
“ This chain made us the enemy of the French. If all had held as fast as Cayenguirago, it would have been a terror to them. If we would all heartily join, and take the hatchet in hand, our enemy would soon be destroyed. We should forever after live in peace and ease. Do but your parts, (probably addressing the commissioners,) and thunder itself cannot break the chain.”
Thus closely did the orators, who were in other words the statesmen of the Five Nations, investigate the conduct alike of their enemies and their allies, and thus freely and fearlessly did they in all cases express themselves as they felt. Characters of every description came under their cognizance. Manæuvres and machinations, political and personal, were brought to bear upon them on all sides. The French emissary plied them at one turn, and the English pedlar at the next; and they talked and traded with either or both, as the case might be, with the same indolent, imperturbable gravity. Each party went away, perhaps, chuckling over the case with which he had imposed upon savage simplicity, and flattering himself that their opinion of his honesty was at least adequate to his opinion of his shrewdness. But the event proved otherwise,
Decanesora Once said to Major Schuyler, in reply to the latter's suggestion of fraud on the part of a Jesuit messenger of the French, “We know that the priest favors his own nation. But it is not in his power to alter our affection to our brethren. We wish you would bury all the misunderstandings you have conceived on his account,-and we likewise wish you gave less credit to the RUM-CARRIERS than you do.” This was a palpable hit, truly, and a deserved one. And thus, generally, were the barbarian orators, after all, upon the safe side. Nothing daunted their spirit ; nothing deceived their sagacity.
ACCOUNT OF THE OTTAWAS-THEIR FIRST CHIEF-SACHEM KNOWN TO THE
ENGLISH, PONTIAC-HE SAVES DETROIT FROM AN ARMY OF INDIANS.
Having arrived regularly, according to the order observed in this work, at the commencement of the eighteenth century, we shall now turn our attention to a section of the continent hitherto mostly unno. ticed, but which at that period began to be the theatre of important events, and to be illustrated by at least one character comparable to any in the whole compass of Indian annals. We refer to the vicinity of the Northern Lakes, to the numerous and powerful tribes resident in that region, and particularly to Pontiac.
It has been stated by respectable authority, that this celebrated individual was a member of the tribe of Sacs, or Saukies; but there appears to us no sufficient reason for disputing the almost universal opinion which makes him an Ottawa. That tribe, when the commerce of the early French colonists of Canada first began to extend itself to the Upper Lakes, was found in their vicinity, in connection with two others, the Chippewas and the Pottawatamies. All three are supposed to have been originally a scion of the Algonquin stock,—that being the general name of the nation, which, in Champlain's time, was settled along the north banks of the St. Lawrence, between Quebec and Lake St.
Peters. According to their own traditions, preserved to this day, the three tribes, (as they afterwards became,) in their flight or emigration, went together from the East, as far as Lake Huron. A separation afterwards took place, the result of which was, that the Ottawas, being most inclined to agriculture, remained near what has since been Michilimackinac, while their companions preferred venturing to still more distant regions of the North and West.
Detroit was founded by the French in July, 1701, and from that time the Ottawas began to give frequent manifestations of a spirit which finally made them, respectively, an ally or an enemy of the first importance to the different civilised parties with whom they held intercourse. Only three years after the French settled in their vicinity, several of their chiefs were induced to visit the English at Albany. The almost inevitable consequence of the interview was, that they returned home with a firm persuasion that the French intended to subdue them. They attempted to fire the town, therefore, in one instance; and about the same time, a war-party, on their return from a successful expedition against the Iroquois-whom they were bold enough to attack in their own country-paraded in front of the Detroit fortress, and offered battle. After some hard fighting, they were defeated and driven off.
But the French have always effected more among the Indians in peace than in war, and thus it was with the Ottawas ; for, from the date of the skirmish just mentioned, they were almost uniformly among the best friends and even protectors of the colony. “When the French arrived at these falls,” said a Chippewa chief at a council held but a few years since, “ they came and kissed us. They called us children, and we found them fathers. We lived like brethren in the same lodge,' &c.* Such was the impression made also upon the Ottawas ; and we accordingly find them, in conjunction with the Chippewas, aiding the French on all occasions, until the latter surrendered the jurisdiction of the Canadas to the English. Several hundred of their warriors distinguished themselves at the disastrous defeat of Braddock.