on the Religion of the
White Man and the Red
Friend and Brother: It was the will
of the Great Spirit that we should meet together this day. He orders all
things and has given us a fine day for our council. He has taken His garment
from before the sun and caused it to shine with brightness upon us. Our
eyes are opened that we see clearly; our ears are unstopped that we have
been able to hear distinctly the words you have spoken. For all these favors
we thank the great Spirit, and Him only.
Brother, this council fire was kindled by you. It was at your request that
we came together at this time. We have listened with attention to what
you have said. You requested us to speak our minds freely. This gives us
great joy; for we now consider that we stand upright before you and can
speak what we think. All have heard your voice and all speak to you now
as one man. Our minds are agreed.
Brother, you say you want an answer to your talk before you leave this
place. It is right you should have one, as you are a great distance from
home and we do not wish to detain you. But first we will look back a little
and tell you what our fathers have told us and what we have heard from
the white people.
Brother, listen to what we say. There was a time when our forefathers owned
this great island. Their seats extended from the rising to the setting
sun. The Great Spirit had made it fro the use of Indians. He ahd created
the buffalo, the deer, and other animals for food. He had made the bear
and the beaver. Their skins served us for clothing. He had scattered them
over the country and taught us how to take them. he had caused the earth
to produce corn for bread. All this He had done for His red children because
He loved them. If we had some disputes about our hunting-ground they were
generally settled without the shedding of much blood.
But an evil day came upon us. Your forefathers crossed the great water
and landed on this island. Their numbers were small. They found friends
and not enemies. They told us they had fled from their own country for
fear of wicked men and had come here to enjoy their religion. They asked
for a small seat. We took pity on them, granted their request, and they
sat down among us. We gave them corn and meat; they gave us poison in return.
The white people, brother, had now found our country. Tidings were carried
back and more came among us. Yet we did not fear them. We took them to
be friends. They called us brothers. We believed them and gave them a larger
seat. At length their numbers had greatly increased. They wanted more land;
they wanted our country. Our eyes were opened and our minds became uneasy.
Wars took place. Indians were hired to fight against Indians, and many
of our people were destroyed. They also brought strong liquor among us.
It was strong and powerful, and has slain thousands.
Brother, our seats were once large and yours were small. You have now become
a great people, and we have scarcely a place left to spread our blankets.
You have got our country, but are not satisfied; you want ot force your
religion upon us.
Brother, continue to listen. You say that you are sent to instruct us how
to worship the Great Spirit agreeably to His mind; and, if we do not take
hold of the religion which you white people teach we shall be unhappy hereafter.
You say that you are right and we are lost. How do we know this to be true?
We understand that your religion is written in a Book. If it was intended
for us, as well as you, why has not the Great Spirit given to us, and not
only to us, but why did He not give to our forefathers the knowledge of
that Book, with the means of understanding it rightly. We only know what
you tell us about it. How shall we know when to believe, being so often
deceived by the white people?
Brother, you say there is but one way
to worship and serve the Great Spirit. If there is but one religion, why
do you white people differ so much about it? Why not all agree, as you
can all read the Book?
Brother, we do not understand these things. We are told that your religion
was given to your forefathers and has been handed down from father to son.
We also have a religion which was given to our forefathers and has been
handed down to us, their children. We worship in that way. It teaches us
to be tankful for all the favors we receive, to love each other, and to
be united. We never quarrel about religion.
Brother, the Great Spirit has made us all, but He has made a great difference
between His white and His red children. He has given us different complexions
and different customs. To you He has given the arts. To these He has not
opened our eyes. We know these things to be true. Since He has made so
great a difference between us in other things, why may we not conclude
that he has given us a different religion according to our understanding?
The Great Spirit does right. He knows what is best for His children; we
Brother, we do not wish to destroy your religion or take it from you. We
only want to enjoy our own.
Brother, you say you have not come to get our land or our money, but to
enlighten our minds. I will now tell you that I have been at your meetings
and saw you collect money from the meeting. I can not tell what this money
was intended for, but suppose that it was for you minister; and, if we
should conform to your way of thinking, perhaps you may want some from
Brother, we are told that you have been preaching to the white people in
this place. These people are our neighbors. We are acquainted with them.
We will wait a little while and see what effect your preaching has upon
them. If we find it does them good, makes them honest, and less disposed
to cheat Indians, we will then consider again of what you have said.
Brother, you have now heard our answer to your talk, and this is all we
have to say at present. As we are going to part, we will come and take
you by the hand, and hope the Great Spirit will protect you on your journey
and return you safe to your friends.
RED JACKET--Seneca Tribe
Red Jacket, a noted Seneca warrior and statesman, was
strongly opposed to the attempts by the settlers to force their
culture on his tribe. He aided the British during the
Revolutionary War and an officer rewarded him with a red jacket,
which was the source of his name. Red Jacket served as the
spokesman for the Iroquois Confederacy, which included the
Seneca, in dealings with the American government after the war.
He encouraged his tribe to live in peace with the White settlers,
and met with President Washington in 1792 to discuss mutual
cooperation between the Native American tribes and the large
influx of settlers into their lands.
When asked what he had done to distinguish himself as a
warrior among the Seneca, Red Jacket said: "A warrior? I am an
orator! I was born an orator!"
Red Jacket gave a warning to those who succeeded him
shortly before his death in 1830:
I am about to leave you, and when I am gone and my
warning shall no longer be heard or regarded, the
craft and avarice of the White man will prevail. Many
winters I have breasted the storm, but I am an aged
tree, and can stand no longer. My leaves are fallen,
my branches are withered, and I am shaken by every
breeze. Soon my aged trunk will be prostrated, and
the foot of the exulting foe of the Indian may be
placed upon it with safety; for I leave none who will
be able to avenge such an injury. Think not I mourn
for myself. I go to join the spirits of my fathers,
where age cannot come; but my heart fails when I think
of my people, who are soon to be scattered and