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Indians. I respectfully recommend to your favourable considerations, the objects suggested by them; and as I understand that there is now a bill before you, relative to the ferry at Black Rock, it may be deemed proper by you to consider one of the requests of the Senecas in connexion with the other provisions contained in that bill.
DE WITT CLINTON. Albany, 11th February, 1820.
Minutes of a Conference between his Excellency De
Witt Clinton, and Pollard and Capt. Strong, the Representatives of the Sachem Chiefs of the Seneca Nation, February 7, 1820.
SPEECH OF THE INDIAN REPRESENTATIVES. Brother ! I am happy to find you enjoying good health, at the great council fire, in Albany. Although our number is small now before you, yet we come not without authority. We are authorized and instructed to make these communications. We come in company with an agent of the United States. What we do, was agreed upon in a council of the Seneca Nation, before we left home.
Brother !-Last summer, when you were at Buffalo, you will recollect that we had an interview with you, and stated our grievances. We had heard bad accounts before, concerning our reservations. You then stated to us, that you were not prepared to give us an answer to our request, and that you would prefer receiving a delegation from us, in Albany, at the commencement of the winter. We now come. We intended to have come sooner ; but the United States' agent having agreed to come with us, and he having been detained at Canandaigu, in making his report, we have been prevented.
Brother !-Our principal object is, to obtain a full and fair statement of you, concerning our reservation. Reports are in circulation, that we have no rights.
We want a statement under your hands, what we have, and what we have not. We want to know whether we can go on with our improvements, whether we are safe from the claims of those who have pre-emption rights; or, whether we are to be swept away, and robbed and plundered of our own.
Brother !-You can but recollect the treaty between Governor George Clinton, and the Seneca Nation. The treaty embraced a conveyance from us to the people, of a strip of land, of one mile, on the straights of Niagara. The treaty contained a condition that we should enjoy the free privilege of passing the ferry at Black Rock, without paying toll. This right was confined to the Seneca Nation. The enjoyment of this privilege is interrupted. The man who has the care of the ferry, cannot discriminate and determine what Indians have a right to pass toll free. The Six Nations wish to pass toll-free. They are now prevented, and oftentimes have no money to pay. They want a general right. The lease of the ferry expires soon. In consequence of the late war, the papers concerning the before-mentioned treaty, are lost. We now ask a copy of that treaty on parchment.
Brother !-Upon our domains at Buffalo, there are , many depredations. We want a commissioner or an attorney appointed to settle our difficulties with the protector of our interests, and as a pacificator in all disputes which we may have.
Brother !-We last summer informed you of our wishes to receive instruction, and to hear the preaching of the gospel. We solicit aid,
that we may
instruct our children, build a small edifice in which we can have religious worship; We solicit aid 100, that will encourage in us a better knowledge of agriculture.
Brother ! We have been defrauded in the sale of our reservation on Genesee river. The land called
Bayard's reservation, was purchased by Oliver Phelps, and no equivalent has ever been realized by
Have we any remedy? Brother !-One thing more : We wish to speak of the Cattaraugus reservation. We have the right of serriage on one side of the river. A man, by the name of Mack, deprives us of this right. Have we any remedy?
Brother !-We have been brief. We hope to be understood. We ask answers to our solicitations as soon as they can be given. We depart in the spirit of peace, and may the Great Spirit bless you.
Brethren !--You desire to know the full extent of your rights in your reservations. This request is reasonable You have an absolute and uncontrolled right to those lands, to all that they contain, and to all that they can produce. To prevent a recurrence of frauds, which have too often been practised by our people on our Red brethren, our laws have ordained, that no sale of Indian land shall be valid, without the sanction of the government. In your case, the right, of purchasing the lands of your nation, was granted by the state of New-York to the state of Massachusetts ; Massachusetts conveyed the right to Phelps and Gorham; and afterwards to Robert Morris ; Robert Morris again sold it to the Holland land company, and the Holland land company have transferred it to David A. Ogden and his associates. All the right that Ogden and his company have, is the right of purchasing your reservations, when you think it ex. pedient to sell them ; that is, they can buy your
lands, but no other persons can. You may retain them as long as you please, and you may sell them to Ogden as soon as you please. You are the owners of these lands in the same way that your brethren, the Oneidas, are of their reservations. They are all that is left of what the Great Spirit gave to your ancestors. No man shall deprive you of them, without your consent. This state will protect you in the full enjoyment of your property. We are strong-we are willing to shield you from oppression. The Great Spirit looks down on the conduct of mankind, and will punish us, if we pernit the remnant of the Indian nations, which is with us, to be injured. We feel for you, brethren : we shall watch over your interests; we know tbat in a future world we shall be called upon to answer for our conduct to our fellow creatures.
I am pleased to hear of your attention to agriculture, education, and religion. Without agriculture, you will suffer for want of food or clothing : without education, you will be in a state of mental darkness : and without religion, you cannot expect happiness in this world nor in the world to come.
Brethren,-Your suggestions about the appointment of an attorney, to guard you against the intrusions and trespasses of the whites; about the free passage of the Indians over the ferry at Black Rock ; about the ferriage on your side of Cattaraugus reservation; and about the erection of a house of worship and education, will be transmitted to the great council, who will, I am persuaded, grant these requests.
Brethren,- I recommend to you to refrain from those vices which have nearly exterminated all our red brethren. Cultivate sobriety aud justice, and may the Great Spirit look down upon you with eyes of mercy!
DE WITT CLINTON,
Albaniy, 9th February, 1820.
I know not what effect the succeeding document may have on my readers, but to me it is deeply afsecting; and furnishes a triumphant proof of the genius of these extraordinary people for eloquence. It is worthy of remark that the interpreter himself was unable to write, though a better evidence than this of the genuineness of the memorial, as proceeding from the unprompted Indians, may, I think, be found in the character of the language. The style is primitive; the short sentences teem with power; a serene majesty is spread over the entire composition; and the pathos searches and melts the very soul. It bears a considerable resemblance, in my opinion, to the inspired writings, and could not have been supplied to the Indians by any white scribe ; nor could its peculiar characteristics have been superinduced by the art of the translator. At least such is my belief.
TO riis ExcELLENCY DE WITT CLINTON, Esq. GoVERNOR OF THE STATE OF New-YORK,
FEB. 14, 1818.
Father,We learn from your talk delivered at the great council fire in Albany, your opinion of the condition and prospects of your red children.
Father,-We feel that the hand of our God has long been heavy on his red children. For our sins he has brought us low, and caused us to melt away before our white brothers, as snow before the fire. His ways are perfect; he regardeth not the complexion of man. God is terrible in judgment. All men ought to fear before him. He putteth down and buildeth up, and none can resist him.
Father - The Lord of the whole earth is strong ; this is our confidence. He hath power to build up as well as to pull down. Will he keep his anger for ever ? Will he pursue to destruction the workmanship of his own hand, and strike off a race of men