20 January 2016

The Lost Erie Nation: Not so lost after all

Very few nations, tribes, bands, or peoples of American Indians have been as legended and mythologized, and caught the fancy of both their fellow Native American First Nations and anthropologists throughout the Western world, as have the confederacy of tribes most commonly known, at least in the USA, as the Erie.  The best graphic evidence we have comes from the Jesuit missionaries of New France in the seventeenth century, and even that is but second and third hand.  Only one firsthand account, of an English trader out of Jamestown in 1632 who met some of their representatives among the Massawomeck, exists.  Much of the information we have is cartographical or archaeological.

The most mention the Erie usually get is that a war started between them and the Five Nations Iroquois in 1653 during the Beaver Wars, and by 1656 it was all over and done with and the Erie were no more.  The problem is that those “facts” contain only a smidgen of truth.  Yes, the Erie were conquered and subjugated in the seventeenth century, except for those who left the region, but it was not in 1656 that all of those remaining in the north were conquered or had surrendered; in fact, the war itself lasted until 1664 and the last Erie did not surrender until 1682.  But even then that was not the last of them.

The name of the Erie

The Erieronon, to use the Huron suffix, or Eriehaga, to use the Iroquois suffix, are called by a large variety of names in the Jesuit Relations of 1610-1791 and in related documents of New France from the period, including maps.  Variations include Enrielhonan, Rhiierrhonnon, and Enrie, as well as Rigueronnon, Riquehronnon, Erieckrenois, and Eriegoneckkak, the latter group also versions of the name of the leading tribe of the confederacy which the Virginian trader among the Massawomeck, Edward Fleet, mangled into Hereckeenes.

The French usually called them ‘Nation du Chat’ or ‘Nation des Chats’, a translation into French of the meaning of their name in Huron and other languages, ‘people of the long-tails’, about which there is a debate over whether this refers to raccoons or cougars, with solid evidence on both sides.

More properly, the Huron referred to them as the Yenresh, which would be Yenreshronon with the suffix, meaning ‘long-tailed’ or ‘long-tailed people’.  The Tuscarora name for them was Kenyrak.  The Onondaga name for the raccoon, ‘tsho-eragak’, may be related.  The Seneca, physically their closest neighbors among the Five Nations, called them the Gwageoneh.  The Mohawk called them the Arrigahaga, ‘people of Arrigha’, their chief town.  As a whole, the Five (later Six) Nations Iroquois also referred to them as the “Otkons”, or “bad spirits”.

Another name, possibly Onondaga, was Onnontioga.  The name occurs only in the Jesuit Relations discussing the peoples of the town among the Seneca made entirely of assimilated persons named Gandougaraé, where the Black Robes had their Mission of Sainte-Michel.  The other two peoples inhabiting the town were the Huron and the Chonnonton (Neutrals), and since it is known positively from elsewhere in the Relations and other sources that Erie made up a large portion of the population, the Onnontioga can be none other than they.

The Dutch referred to them as the Black Minqua, their approximation of the Algonquian term, ‘Minqua’ deriving from ‘Mengwe’, the name by which they and most Algonquian-speakers called the Iroquoian-speakers, meaning literally “without penis”.  No one can say Indians don’t have a sense of humor.  The Lenape called them Alligewi or Talligewi.  Their nearer Algonquian neighbors the Ottawa called them the Olighin.

Other names or versions of names for the Erie are Erigas, Erighek, Achawi, Kauneastekaroneah, Squakihaw, Tchoueregak, and Kahgwageono.  Sometime during the eighteenth century, their Seneca name, Gwageoneh, had metamorphosed into Kahkwa, and it is under that name that much of the legending and mythologizing took place.  The Tuscarora artist David Cusik is the source for the name Squakihaw, while Mohawk historian John Norton is the first literary source for the name Kahkwa.

The Seneca stories about their war with the Kahkwas which filled up much of their popular tales in the nineteenth century gave the impression to some scholars that here was a tribe previously unheard of whose nature was just waiting to be discovered.  This mistake continues even today, as a couple of recent publications have made a distinction between the Kahkwa and the Erie, in spite of the fact that the first person to write of the “Kahkwa”, John Norton, said quite explicitly that the Kahkwa were the same as the Erie.  Henry Schoolcraft picked up on this, but many others who have written on the Erie or the Kahwah have missed it completely.

“Kahkwa”, or the earlier version “Gwageoneh”, is the only way Seneca-language speakers can approximate the more common name as used by the French, since the language lacks the letter “R”.  Interestingly, Norton also called them the “Rad-irakeai-ka”, and wrote that they lived in the town of “Kaghkwague”.

The Erie probably shared the same autonym as the Huron and the Petun:  Wendat.  The Black Robes (the Huron nickname for the Jesuits) wrote that the language of the Erie was nearly identical to Huron, and the Huron did not call them “Attawandaron”, meaning, colloquially speaking, “those people who talk funny”, as they did the Chonnonton (aka “Neutral Nation”) to their west and the Massawomeck to their southeast beyond the Erie.  ‘Attawandaron’ signifies an Iroquoian language but a separate dialect, while ‘Akwanake’ signifies a speaker of an entirely different language altogether.  For instance, the Huron called all Algonquian-speakers Akwanake, and the Cherokee as well, though the reason for that are another story.

Names on the landscape

The example which stands out most is the second of the Great Lakes from the east, Lake Erie, which the French called both Lac du Chat and Lac de Chonty, both references to the Erie.  For English speakers, and some French speakers, the more common early name was Lake Okswego, apparently the Huron name.  One more that appears on some late seventeenth century French maps is Lac Teiocharontiong, another native name; Jolliet called it Lac Teiocharontiong des Erie, making clear which was meant.

Less obvious are the Allegheny River, the Allegheny Mountains, and the Allegheny Plateua, all deriving from Alligewi or Talligewi, the Lenape name for the Erie and/or the Cherokee.  My contention for several years has been that the two are one in the same. 

In the early decades of the eighteenth century, there was likewise a town of Allegheny across the Ohio River and slightly upstream from Shannopin’s Town of the Lenape.  It stood at the site of the later American town of Allegheny, Pennsylvania, which existed from 1788 until 1907, when it was annexed by the growing city of Pittsburgh.

What is now called the Allegheny River was considered the upper part of the great Ohio River In earlier centuries.  In fact, when the Lenape called the Ohio the Alligewi-sipu or Talligewi-hanna, they meant the whole length from the headwaters of the Allegheny.  Same for the Ottawa, who called it Olighin-sipu, a name which makes the transition from the Algonquian-language names for the Erie, Alligewi and Olighin, to Allegheny, even easier to see.  Ohio, by the way, was the Seneca name for the whole river.  An early name for the river among the colonists of the British provinces referencing the Erie was Black Mingo River.

At one time, the Lenape referred to the entire region which the Erie occupied as “Alligewinek”, or ‘place of the Alligewi.

To this day, the Seneca name for Eighteen Mile Creek that enters Lake Erie at Hamburg, the location of the Kleis Site, is “Koghquaga”, a reference to the Kahkwa.

Their territory

Many sources claim that their territory spread from Niagara River around the southern shores of Lake Erie to Sandusky Bay in the west and to the southeast to the Ohio River.  One historian even claimed the Erie occupied the Ohio River from Beaver Creek to the Wabash River, which would be the western border of Indiana.  Some have even claimed the Erie were the people who built the Fort Ancient Culture in southern Ohio.

The archaeological record does not support any of those contentions.  Archaeologically, the Erie sites are identified as the Ripley Focus of the Iroquois Aspect of the Northeastern Phase of the Woodland Pattern.  The sites belonging to the Ripley Focus stretch from East Aurora, NY southwest to Erie, PA, and some believe that sites within Buffalo, NY may be included as well.  While realizing that the confederacy’s territory would not have been confined to their towns and farming plots, it would still be but a fraction of the larger claims.  The probable true boundaries of the territory of the Erie were the lake on the north, the Genesee River on the east, the Allegheny River on the south, and the Grand and Mahong Rivers on the west.

Five major terminal sites have been discovered at distances of between twenty and twenty-five miles from each other, indicating a separate polity or tribe but sharing enough characteristics to signify belonging to a larger body as well.  Each of these protohistorical sites contains European trade goods, is palisaded, and quite large.  Within proximity to each are three to five earlier sites suggesting that within each group a single body of people migrated from one to the other.  The terminal sites show no sign of several dependent villages as had been the case with earlier stages, mirroring the tribes of the Five Nations in centralizing population for defense.

From east to west, the five known terminal sites, as identified by anthropologists Marian White and William Enghlebert, are the Bead Hill Site in East Aurora, NY; the Kleis Site in Hamburg, NY; the Silverheels-Highbanks Site near Irvine on the Cattaraugus Creek Reservation; the Ripley Site in Ripley, NY; and the East 28th Street Site in Erie, PA.  On maps of the late 17th century, Erie tribes are shown on the Allegheny and upper Ohio River, reflecting the move of the latter three inland reported by the Jesuits in 1635.

Extrapolating from period maps and contemporary accounts, we can connect the individual tribes with the five archaeological sites thus, from east to west: (1) the Atrakwaeronon were in East Aurora, NY; (2) the Arrigahaga were in Hamburg, NY; (3) the Kentaientonga were near Irving, NY; (4) the Oniasontke were in Ripley, NY; and (5) the Takoulguehronnon were in Erie, PN.

I should note that with the exception of the group at the Hamburg site (the Arrigahaga, as Rakouagega), the map of Franquelin from 1684 shows the tribes considerably inland from the terminal sites of the Ripley Focus.  Rather than at those, Franquelin shows the Kentaientonga, the Oniasontke, and, perhaps, the Takoulguehronnon (possibly) as Casa on the Allegheny-Upper Ohio River; neither the Atrakwaeronon nor their town of Atrakwae are shown at all.  This fits with the report in the Jesuit Relations that the Erie had been forced inland by trouble with their enemies to the west in about the year 1635.

There may very well be other, even larger sites as well that have not been discovered; only recently, within the past decade or so, town sites in Huron territory have been found large enough to support the French figures of a Huron population of thirty thousand at the beginning of the colonial era.  The same holds true for satellite village sites connected to the central fortified towns at the five terminal sites; the Franquelin map of 1684 shows “19 v. detruits” for the Ganientonga, one of the tribes of the Erie confederacy, meaning sixteen to eighteen dependent villages in addition to the one to three large palisaded towns. 

Some nineteenth century accounts claim for the Erie “twelve towns and twenty-eight villages”, but here they are confused with the Chonnonton, the autonym for the confederacy and proto-chiefdom commonly known to Americans as the Neutral Nation.

Constituent subtribes

Of these there were five, then six: (1) Arrigahaga; (2) Kentaientonga; (3) Oniasontke; (4) Atrakwaeronon; (5) Takoulguehronnon (probably).

When encountered by the French and until the destruction of their seat in 1654, the leading tribe were the Arrigahaga (Erigaronon), centered on the town of Rigue, or Arrigha, and maybe limited to it.  Several of the names from contemporary accounts and maps use names to refer to the entire Erie people which more specifically refer to the people of this town: Riquehronnon, Rakouagega, Kakouagoga, Rigueronnon, Erieckrenois, Erigas, and Eriegoneckkak. 

The Arrighahaga are the “Kahkwa” proper; Kahkwa, or Gwageoneh, derives from the Seneca language, which has no letter “R”, nor a letter “L” for that matter, and therefore cannot say “Arrigha” or “Rigue”.  The earliest cartographical evidence of this name lies written on the 1680 Bernou map, which shows “Kakouagoga” as a “nation detruite” approximately where Hamburg or Buffalo lie now.  The next appearance is on the 1688 Franquelin map, located in what appears to be a more southerly spot at the southeast corner of the lake in the form “Rakouagega”; later maps use Bernou’s form.

The second tribe were the Kentaientonga, or in other forms, Gentaguega, Gentaguetehronnon, Gentaientonga, and Kentayentonga.  The one time the name of their central town or village is mentioned, it is given as “Gentaienton”.  The only time they appear on a map, Franquelin in 1688, they are located on the Allegheny River, though this may not be accurate, and they are listed as formerly having had nineteen villages, which probably is accurate.

The third tribe were the Oniasontke, also written Honniasont and Honniasontkeronon, meaning, ‘people of the place of crook-necked squashes’.  They first appear on the Franquelin map of 1688 on the Allegheny or Ohio River downstream from the Kentaientonga, with the notation, “2 vill destruits”, and they are mentioned in Abbe Galinee’s journal in 1669.  But their original home was adjacent to Lake Chataqua, which was earlier known as Lake Oniasont.

The fourth tribe were the Atrakwaeronon, under which name they appear in the Jesuit Relation for 1652, which gives the name of their main town as “Atrakwae”.  On the anonymous map of “Nouvelle France” dated 1641 (probably created by Bourdon), the tribe appears as the “Akhrakvaetonon”, which according to anthropologist John Steckley, last remaining speaker of the Huron language, means ‘people of the east’.  They appear elsewhere under the name versions Akhrakuaeronon and Ohreokouaehronon.

The fifth tribe were the Takoulguehronnon, whose sole appearance is in a list of nations conquered by the Five Nations Iroquois in the Jesuit Relation of 1656, preceding the “Gentaguetehronnon”, one of the forms of Kentaientonga.  Its position in the list between towns of the Chonnonton and Gentaguetehronnon makes that ambiguous.  The 1862 work, A Description of the Province and City of New York, gives the name of their town as “Takoulgue”.  Anthropolgists Steckley and James Pendergast believe that the Takoulguehronnon were the same as the Atrakwaeronon, so it is clear they both believe the group to be an Erie subtribe, but the two names bear little if any resemblance.

Culture of the Erie confederacy

The Erie shared a many features of a common culture with the western Iroquois tribes and confederations: Huron, Petun, Chonnonton, Wenro, and possibly Chondake and Massawomeck.  The statements of the Black Robes that the Erie spoke an identical language to that spoken by the Huron and Petun plus the fact that the Huron did not call them Attawandaron as they did the Chonnonton and the Massawomeck tells us their language was essentially Huron.

We know from various contemporary annals and journals that the Erie were led by a female chief, though probably not one holding the fanciful titles given her by the Iroquois.  The same was likely true for each of the constituent tribes.  The office would have been on the “white” or peace side of the leadership structure; as far as well can tell, the leaders in the field of war were all men.  Each town  and perhaps dependent village would have been self-governing, with decisions made by the larger group by concensus.

As for their religion, they probably gave homage to a number of spirits of varying degrees of significance, and believed in an overall force that gave life to all living things.  This the western Iroquois shared with their eastern neighbors.  Among the Huron and Petun, and probably among the Erie also, this force was called Orenda or Iarenda; among the Mohawk and Cayuga it was called Orenna or Karenna; among the Oneida it was Olenna or Kalenna; among the Onondaga and the Seneca, it was called Oenna or Gaenna.

The Orenda compares to the Nu of the Kapampangan people of the Philippines, the Mana of the Polynesians and Melanesians, the Wakonda of Siouan-speakers, the Manitou of Algonquian-speakers (though these also use the word manitou in other ways), and the Kami of Japanese aboriginals known as the Ainu.  The Huron have other words for ‘spirit’, ‘ghost’, ‘god’, and ‘soul’; the Orenda is a separate concept from any of those.

They were unique among North American Indians for using poison-tipped arrows to great effectiveness during war, and perhaps hunting.

Like most other Native Americans, they tortured select prisoners for several hours or even days before burning them to death, adopting the rest or using them as slaves for a time, which was usually followed by adoption.  Like their fellow Iroquioans, they also probably partook in ritual cannibalism, especially of honored enemies.  Given the status in which they clearly held women, the Erie followed the practice of the Huron of avoiding the torture and burning of women which the Chonnonton and Five Nations Iroquois engaged in.

While previously each of their constituent tribes had lived in scattered villages with a large fortified town as their center of society, by the early seventeenth century, certainly by the fourth decade, most of the tribes had converged within themselves into a single larger densely palisaded town, with perhaps small hamlets outside the walls.  This was almost certainly true for the easternmost subdivisions of the confederacy.  The earlier pattern, however, may have held at least for the Kentaientonga, if Franquelin’s comment is correct.

In the decades before the Beaver Wars began in earnest, the Erie were allied militarily with the Chonnonton confederacy and with the Wenro, and also with the Mississauga.  Upon the entrance of the Europeans onto the scene, they forged trade relationships with the English of Virginia through the Massawomeck and the Dutch through the Andaste (Susquehannock).  

With the advent of New Sweden (whose records refer to them as “Black Minquas”) in 1638, the Erie switched to them as direct trade partners.  Their military alliance with the Chonnonton collapsed in 1648, probably because of rivalry over trade with New Sweden.  Swedish authorities report war between the “Arrigahaga” and the Andaste in 1653 disrupting the beaver trade.

The Erie-Iroquois War

While warfare between the Huron and the Iroquois had been carried out for decades, the Iroquois began a war of conquest and assimilation and the other confederacy in the year 1647.  Two years later, in 1649, their attacks became so relentless that the Huron remaining burned their own towns and dispersed, seeking refuge with the Petun, the Chonnonton, and the Erie. 

Later that year, they destroyed the chief town of the Petun.  The next year the Petun, with the Huron and Wenro refugees among them, headed west to Mackinac Island along with the Otawa.

In the fall of 1650, the Iroquois began another war of conquest and assimilation, this time against the formerly more powerful Chonnonton confederacy, composed of ten tribes.  The Chonnonton were weakened because their leader, the Tsouharissen, had died without a successor in 1646, and because they had been carrying out an active war against the Asistagueronon (the Sauk, the Fox,  the Mascouten, and the Potamotami collectively) to their west since 1635. 

In the spring of 1651, the Iroquois destroyed the prominent Chonnonton town of Kandoucho and the seat of the confederacy, Andachkhroh, and the confederacy collapses.  Some fled west while some surrendered, but a large body remained free and allies with the Andaste (Susquehannock) to continue fighting.  The Antouaronon tribe of confederacy, meanwhile, relocated to the southern shores of Lake Erie just west of the eponymous confederacy.  The others, the ones who continued fighting, eventually surrendered to the League.

The war between the Erie and the Iroquois did not start in 1653, when the Erie attacked the Seneca, but in 1651, when the western Iroquois (Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga) attacked Atrakwae that winter. The attempt to capture the town of the Atrakwaeronon, ended in a significant defeat for the would-be conquerors.  When they tried again in the summer of 1652 with the eastern Iroquois (Mohawk, Oneida) with them, they were successful, destroying the town and claiming to take a thousand prisoners.

Why the rest of the Erie attacked the Seneca in 1653 when they were reportedly already at war with the Andaste may have been as simple as realizing they were the next conquest after the fall of the Huron, the Petun, and the Chonnonton.  The Seneca sent their women, their old, and their young to live with the Onondaga in the center of the League.  

Besides their poison-tipped arrows, which the Erie archers could fire at a rate of eight to ten compared to time it took for a single shot of the Iroquois with the Dutch supplied arquebuses.  The Erie had these too, but not as much access to shot and powder as their antagonists from the east.

That the Erie were a large people adept at war is proven by the fact that the Onondaga, the central tribe geographically and politically, representing all the Five Nations, sought an audience with the French asking their assistance in the war against the Erie, which was apparently not going very well in 1654.

The central town of the Riquehronnon and seat of the Erie confederacy, Arrigha or Rique, fell, along with all the tribe’s satellite villages, later in 1654.  The Iroquois destroyed Gentaienton, the central town of the Kentaientonga, in 1655.

In the midst of all this, according to military engineer for New Sweden Peter Lindestrom, a force of two to three hundred English attacked one of the towns of the “Black Minquas” and suffered a devastating defeat which saw fifteen men taken prisoner and tortured to death horribly.  Of course, since his journal was not published until 1691, he could be erroneously recounting the Battle of Bloody Run in 1656.  But the fact the Lindestrom refers to the invaders as Black Minqua helps confirm the identity and origin of the “Richahecrians”.

The Erie-Iroquois War did not end in 1656, despite the commentary of some of the Jesuits in letters and in Relations (a “relation” was an annual report to the head of the Jesuit Society’s missions in New France back in Paris).  

Eight hundred “Honniasont” took up residence with the Andaste in 1662 to aid them in their war with the western Iroquois and their allies.  Ethnologist John R. Swanton is the source for the designation of this group as Honniasont; his sources are probably from Pennsylvania.  Willhelmus Beekman, governor of the Colony of Swedes (Delaware) for New Netherlands (which conquered New Sweden in 1655), in reporting the same information refers to them as “Black Minquas”. 

The Jesuit Relation of 1664 describes the report from the Iroquois of the supposed final defeat of the Erie that year.

When La Salle journeyed down the Ohio River in 1669, the Seneca warned he and his party about the dangers from the Shawnee and the

The map of Virginia published in 1673 by Augustine Hermann contains a notation in the upper right corner about the 
“Black Mincquas” having been destroyed by the Andaste and the Seneca.

The expedition party of Marquette and Joliet down the Ohio River in the summer of 1673 encountered a group of Wendat-speaking Iroquoians below the Shawnee and the Wabash River.  Marquette spoke with them in the language he called Huron, but Wendat was the common language of the Huron, Petun, and Erie.  These people were most likely Oniasontke given their location, though some distance farther west than they had previously been recorded.

In the Relation of 1682, the Jesuits recount that a group of “Nation des Chats” numbering some six hundred persons surrender to the Iroquois near Virginia.  A report to the governor of Maryland about this in 1681 apparently referring to the same group calls them “Black Mingoes”, and says they were being pursued and attacked by “Southern Indians”, possibly Yuchi.

Some of the Erie were adopted and assimilated (except for those who were tortured, burned, and eaten), but the majority of those who surrendered lived in communities with other surrenderees like those in the town of Gandougarae in Seneca territory.

The Richahecrians

Swedish sources, specifically Peter Lindestrom, relate a battle between English soldiers from Virginia and the “Black Minquas” in which fifteen Virginians were taken captive then tortured and burned to death.  This took place in the year 1654 or 1655.  Lindestrom was the chief military engineer for New Sweden in those years, and he wrote a journal of his time there.  However, since this was not published until 1681, the account could be an embellishment based on stories of the about to be discussed.

In March 1656, the Virginia House of Burgesses ordered Col. Edward Hill to gather a hundred colonial rangers and a hundred native warriors from the Pamunkey and Chickahominy nations under Wyanoke (Eno) leader Totopotomy (a weromance of the Powhatan confederacy) to deal with a group of six to seven hundred “northern Indians”, later identified as “Richahecrians”, who had settled near the Falls of the James (Richmond).

The site where the Richahecrian had settled was downriver from the towns of the Monacan and had formerly been the site of the town named Shocquohocan (also called Powhatan), seat of Parahunt, werowance of the Powhatan tribe and son of Wahunseneca, paramount chief of the whole Powhatan Confederacy (better known as Powhatan).  Virginia’s Fort Charles later stood there from 1645 to about 1649.

Upon arrival at the site of the newcomers’ settlement, the force from Virginia found them inside a well-built fort.  Five of their leaders came out to parlay under a flag of truce, which resulted in the Battle of Bloody Run, a serious defeat for the Virginians, who lost Totopotomy and nearly all their native allies and many colonial rangers.

In December of that year, Col. Hill was cashiered and ordered to pay the costs of making peace with the Richahecrian.  The latter, however, had by then vacated the region.  Strangely, though, the governor also ordered that Hill be paid for his expenses of the failed expedition.

James Lederer later identified the enemy as Nahyssan and Manahoac (“Mahocks”) and placed the battle at the confluence of Pamunkey River and Totopotomoy Creek, but this clearly conflicts with colonial records at the time of the battle.

Due to the timing of their arrival and the close similarity of the names Richahecrian and Riquehronnon, as well as the near certainty that they spoke a variation of an Iroquoian language, it is fairly certain that the new arrivals in Virginia were refugee Erie, or perhaps a composite group led by refugee Erie.  

As to where they went after the battle, they later appear as the Rickahockan in Virginia explorer James Lederer’s account of his second expedition into the interior in 1670.  The map published with his account of his journeys into the interior published in 1672, The Discoveries of John Lederer, shows “The Rickahockans” just west of the Appalachian Mountains in approximatly the vicinity of the New River Valley.

Fate of the Erie

Joined by other northern refugees, picking up others along the way, and assimilating the remnants of the Mississippian survivors in the areas they settled, the Richahechrian-Rickohockan were initially identified on maps as three separate groups: the Tchalaka, the Kituwagi, and the Taligui.  After a few decades, they were known as the Cheraqui/Cherekay/Cherokee.

Several sources report the origins of the Cherokee in the north.  Some of those and others report the Cherokee establishing towns in the Upper Allegheny-Ohio Valley, in the late eighteenth century, trying to gain, or regain, a foothold in the north.  According to Bishop Johannes Ettwein of the Moravian Brethren, the war between the Lenape and the Cherokee over this territory began in 1698, and that by 1710-1715 they had driven them out with the help of the Iroquois; Mooney gives the date as 1708. 

This incursion can easily be understood as a desire to return to their home territory, or at least near it, on the part of the Cherokee, who were formerly Erie and Huron and Chonnonton (and Shawnee and Powhatan, according to the Moravian Brethren).  It also explains the willingness of the core Iroquois, the “old stock”, to release its firm grasp on its dependents and allow the Lenape, Shawnee, and Mingo (descendants of Erie, Huron, and Chonnonton living among them) to settle what is now western Pennsylvania.

The Franquelin map of 1682 shows the Oniasontke about a small lake from which a tributary flows into the Ohio called Lac Oniasont, which is now known as Lake Chatauqua.  Dr. Smith’s map of 1720 shows them as “Oniasonke or Nation du Chat” on the Ohio River, and  they continued to appear on maps in that vicinity as late as 1772.  They most likely became part of the Mingo.

The group of 1682 surrenderees described above may have formed the community depicted on maps of the early 18th century as the “Tionontatecaga” who gave their name to the Guyandotte Valley and its river.  Their descendants may have been the inhabitants of the native town noted in Tygarts Valley in 1754 and gave the name Mingo Flats to the current Mingo, West Virginia.  

The population of that town became the core of Crow’s Town on the Ohio River (now Mingo Bottom, Steubenville, OH) during the French and Indian War.  The town spread across the river to Follansbee, WV, occupying both sides until the Treaty of Fort Stanwix restricted them to the right bank of the river.  Its population, known to Americans as Mingo along with other Iroquoian-speakers (including a sizable number of Erie descendants) who had earlier moved into what is now western Pennsylvania, migrated to the Ohio Country in 1774.

Descendants of the Erie survive today among the Six Nations, the Seven Nations of Canada, the Seneca-Cayuga Nation in Oklahoma, the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, and in the three tribes of the Cherokee (Eastern Band, Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, and Keetoowah Band).  The Seneca-Cayuga descend from the Seneca of Sandusky who were actually Mingo, later joined by two separate groups of Cayuga.  The Eastern Shawnee descend from the Mixed Band of Seneca and Shawnee formerly on the Scioto River, the “Seneca” portion actually being Mingo.

* * * * *

Timeline of the Erie people in historical sources

1632 – While trading among the Massawomeck, Edward Fleet of Virginia encounters a group of “Hereckeenes”, who have with them two of the axes brought to Quebec by David Kirke when Canada was briefly in possession of the English, 1629-1632.

1635-1640 – Several epidemics sweep across the Great Lakes region, killing half to two-thirds of the population of different tribes.

1635 – After troubles with the Kickapoo, (their “enemies to east” as one Jesuit writer put it), the Erie are forced to move east.

Also this year, the Seneca attack and drive from their homes the trading partners with the English and probably allies the Massawomeck, whom the Seneca call the Cohnowaronon.

1638 – The Chonnonton and the Wenro have a falling out, resulting in the latter taking refuge with the Huron and the former establishing a few villages east of the Niagara River.

1648 – The alliance between the Erie and the Chonnonton collapses, possibly over tension due to territorial enchroachment by the latter.

1649 - After the Iroquois destroy the mission towns St. Ignace and St. Louis following years of brutal warfare, the Huron burn the remaining fifteen and leave their area, the Attignawantan  joining with the Petun while the Tahonaenrat join the Chonnonton.  The Ataronchronon flee to sanctuary at Christian Island, and the next year move north of Quebec to Wendake.

The Petun are conquered later that year.  Some of the conjoined tribe migrate to Michigan then on to Wisconsin to become the Wyandotte, some are assimilated, the rest flee to sanctuary with the Chonnonton and the Erie.

1651 – The western Iroquois (Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga) begin their campaign against the Atra’kwae subtribe of the Erie confederacy.  Their first effort in the winter of 1651-1652 ends in a large defeat for the attackers.

1652 – In the summer, the western Iroquois are joined by the eastern Iroquois (Oneida, Mohawk) in a new campaign against the Atra’kwae in which the reverse the defeat of the previous winter, later claiming to have returned home with a thousand prisoners.

1653 – The formerly great Chonnonton Confederacy ceases to exist after the destruction of several of its towns, with many of its people taking refuge among their Erie allies while others join the Huron-Petun to the west.  The Tahonaenrat Huron as a whole surrender to the Iroquois and are allowed their own village in Seneca territory, named Gandougarae, where they are joined by those Chonnonton who surrendered rather than be captured.

The Erie confederacy begins a war with the League of the Iroquois with an attack on the Seneca.

Governor Printz of New Sweden reports to his Chancellor that the beaver trade is disrupted because of the outbreak of a war with the Arrigahaga (Erie) and the Susquehanna (Andaste), who are now apparently military as well as trade allies.

1654 – The Iroquois destroy the seat of the Erie confederacy, Arrigha (Rique).

Later in the year, a large tribe with 700 warriors settles on the falls of the James River above Jamestown, whom the other natives refer to as “Richahecrians”.

1655 – A delegation from the Onondaga representing all the Iroquois arrives in Quebec petitioning the French for troops to help protect them from the Erie.

The Iroquois destroy the Erie town of Gentaienton as the climax of an invasion led by a war chief named Achlongeras.

1656 – In the past two years, the Iroquois have broken the power of the Erie and destroyed them as a force in the Great Lakes region, though sporadic resistance continues.

Colonial Rangers from Jamestown, supported by a force of Pamunkey, attack the Richahecrian (Riqueronon, aka Erie) village warriors in the vicinity of Richmond, Virginia, and are soundly defeated in the Battle of Bloody Run.

1662 – The Andaste (Susquehannock) inform the Dutch they are expecting 800 “Honniasont” warriors (plus their families) to take up residence and aid them in their war with the Iroquois, and Hermann’s 1670 map shows them on the right bank of the Susquehanna River.

1664 – Final defeat of the Erie (according to the Iroquois), who then are assimilated into the Five Nations or dispersed, some joining their Erie and Huron cousins who earlier migrated southeast to the “country of the Muscogui” (according to the Seneca).

1667 – Catherine Gandeaktena, an Erie-born Oneida adoptee married to  François-Xavier Tonsahoten, a Huron likewise adopted, founds Saint-François-Xavier mission at Prairie-de-la-Magdelaine (moved in 1717 to Caughnawaga).  Most of those who gather thence in the coming decades are former Huron, Petun, Chonnonton, and Erie.

1669 – La Salle’s envoy Abbe Gallinee is told to expect villages of Honniasontkeronon (Oniasontke) and Chaouanon (Shawnee) on the Ohio River “above the falls”, i.e. above what is now Louisville.

1670 – The German trader James Lederer encounters the “Rickahockan” in the mountains in the west of what later becomes North Carolina when he travels from Virginia to Catawba territory near the newly-established colony of Carolina.

1682 – Some six hundred men, women, and children of the “Nation of the Chats” (Erie) surrender to the Seneca near Virginia.

1684 – French cartographer Jean-Baptiste-Louis Franquelin produces a map of the new territory of La Louisiane based on information gleaned directly from La Salle showing Tchalaka, Katowagi, and Taligui on the upper Kaskinampo (Tennessee) River in the Cherokee Country.

1688 - Franquelin produces another map of La Louisiane showing the following towns in the same area as earlier: Tchalak, Tamghi, Cattoughi.

Late 1680s-early 1690s – Cherokee begin cautiously migrating north back to the now deserted Allegheny-Upper Ohio Valley from which they came, centering on the town of Allegheny at the site of the later American city (part of Pittsburgh since 1907), though apparently settling more than one place.

1698 – A group of the Lenape settle on Beaver Creek and begin to drive the Cherokee out of the Ohio Valley.

1705 – Nicholas de Fer publishes a map of La Louisiane with the towns Tchalak, Tatighi, and Katoughi in the upper Kaskinampo River.

1708 – According to ethnologist James Mooney, Bishop Ettwein, the Lenape, and the Cherokee themselves, the last town of the “Cherokee” in the Upper Ohio Valley is destroyed and its people driven off this year.

* * * * *
The Erie on colonial maps

The first map to show the Erie (“Enrie – Nation du Chat”) was the Bourdon “Nouvelle France” map of 1641, which also shows the “Akhrakvaetonon” (Atrakwaeronon). 
The Bisseau map of 1642 was based largely on Champlain’s maps of New France, with the added legend “les gen du Chat” somewhat south of “Lac d’Erie”. 

The Sanson map of 1650 shows “N. du Chat” on the southeast of Lake Erie.  The Sanson map of 1656 shows them as “Eriechronons ou N. du Chat”, which maps by him and his firm follow into the 18th century, showing “Eriechronons” sometimes followed by “ou Nation du Chat”, as well as those who copy him such as Hofmann, Jaillot, and Van der Aa. 

The Bressani map of 1657 shows the “Erie populi” some distance downriver along what is the Allegheny or the upper Ohio River.  The Crexius map of 1660 shows the Erie southwest of Lake Erie as “Natio Feleum” (Nation of Cats).

The Erie turn up again as “Nation du Chat qui cultiver la terre” (Nation of the Cat that cultivates the earth) on the Du Val map of 1677, a slight revision of the earlier maps of Champlain and those who copied him, which places them far inland.

The Bernou map of the Great Lakes 1680 shows “Atiragherwega (Atrakwaeronon) nation detruit” on the west end of Lake Ontario.  The “Kakouagoga (Arrighahaga) nation detruit” are shown on the northeast shore of Lake Erie.  The “Les Oniansontkeronons” (Oniasontke) are shown next to Lake Chatauaqua (“Lac Oniasont”) as a still existing group.  Oddly, Lake Chatauqua and the stream issuing from it, Chadakoin River, are depicted on the left side of the Allegheny River (called Ohio River here), while in actuality they lie on the right side.  This is an anomaly that continues on maps which depict the Oniasontke during the rest of the century.

The Franquelin map of 1682 shows the “Kennenuentonga” (Kentaientonga), the “Oncassontke” (Oniasontke), and the Casa (poss. Takoulguehronnon) on the “Ohio als Mosopelearts als Olighin-sipi”.  The Franquelin map of 1684 shows the “Ragouagega” (Arrighahaga) on the eastern shore of Lake Erie and on the right bank of the “Ohio ats Mosopeleacipi ats Olighin” it shows “Kentaientonga 19 V detruit”, “Oniassontke 2 V detruit”, and “Casa 1 V detruit”.  The Minet map of 1685 shows the “Kensaintonca” and the “Oniasonce”.  

The “Kakouagoga” appear again on the Lea map of 1685 and the Coronelli maps of North America of 1688, 1689, and 1695.  On the Coronelli map of western Canada, they appear as “Kakouagoga nation destruite”. 

On the Hennepin maps of 1697 and 1704, the Erie appear as “Erieckrenois” but on his map of 1698 they are “Eriechronons”. 

On the Coxe maps (1702, 1705, 1722) they are simply “Eries”, depicted directly south of the center of Lake Erie.  The Lahotan map of 1703 places the “Errieronons” on the southwest shore of “Lac Errie ou de Conti”.

The legend “Oniasontke Nation du Chat detruite” appears on the De l’Isle maps beginning in 1703, and they continue to appear thus on his later maps and those who copy his information such as Homann (1710, 1712, 1715), Senex & Maxwell (1710), and Schenk (1710).  Moll’s maps show the Oniasontke with no other description.  De Fer’s map of  1715 shows only “Nation du Chat detruit”.

The Homann map of “Virginia, Marylandia, et Carolina” in 1715 shows two groups of the “Eriechronons”.  The largest group sits on the central south side of a lake, while the other, in much smaller print, lies on what is probably meant to represent the Sandusky River.

The Covens & Mortier map of 1718 shows “Nation du Chat” with the subscript “Elle a ete detruite par les Iroquois”, which the De Fer map of that year also shows. 

The Chatelain map of 1719 gives “Nation du Chat detruite”, while the Coronelli map of that year shows “Nation du Chat, eaecisa at Iroquois”.  The Homann map of 1720 has “Nation du Chat detruit par les Iroquois”.  The Senex map of 1721 shows “Nation du Chat” with the subscript “It was destroyed by the Iroquois”.

Direct references to the Erie and/or their subtribe the Oniasontke continue to appear on maps during the 18th century through at least the Phelippeaux map of 1779.

The “Tionontatecaga” who appear on maps in the vicinity of the Guyandotte Valley beginning with the De l’Isle chart of the Mississippi Basin of 1701 probably refers to the group of the “Nation des Chats” who surrendered to the Iroquois “near Virginia” in 1682 (likely from the Oniasontke, perhaps others with them).  They clearly remained in the area long enough to leave their name on the Guyandotte River and its valley, the name Tionontatecaga being Mohawk for the composite Wyandot and probably the later Mingo as well.


Here follow excerpts from several old sources of material relating directly to the Erie under one name or another.  The first and largest set comes from the Jesuit Relations, contemporary or near contemporary accounts of the Erie and their troubles with the Iroquois.  I have highlighted name references in bold letters.  Anything in brackets and italicized are my own notations.

I began with the Relations because, while second and third hand, the accounts are much less fanciful than some of the stories that cropped up in the nineteenth century, especially of the “Kahkwa” on the part of the Seneca and the “Talligewi” on the part of the Lenape.  I have included the other stories to show how far from accurate folklore and historians and anthropologists with little hard information and too much imagination can stray.

Erie and related tribes in Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents, 1610-1791

* * * * *

Volume 8 (1635), Chapter 4

I am rejoiced to find that this language is common to some twelve other Nations, all settled and numerous; these are, the Conkhandeenrhonons [Chondake], Khionontaterrhonons [Petun], Atiouandaronks [Neutrals], Sonontoerrhonons [Seneca], Onontaerrhonons [Onondaga], Oüioenrhonons [Cayuga], Onoiochrhonons [Oneida], Agnierrhonons [Mohawk], Andastoerrhonons [Andaste, or Susquehannock], Scahentoarrhonons [Carantowan], Rhiierrhonons [Erie], and Ahouenrochrhonons [Wenro].  

The Hurons are friends of all these people, except the Sonontoerrhonons, Onontaerrhonons, Oüioenrhonons, Onoiochrhonons, and Agnierrhonons, all of whom we comprise under the name Hiroquois [Iroquois].  But they have already made peace with the Sonontoerrhonons [Seneca], since they were defeated by them a year past in the spring.

Volume 18 (1640), Chapter 10

Continuing to ascend this great river from the Sault St. Louis, we find to the south very flourishing nations, all sedentary and very numerous, —such as the Agneehrono [Mohawk], the Oneiochronon [Oneida], the Onontaehronon [Onondaga], the Konkhandeenhronon [Chondake, later n. of Lake Erie], the Oniouenhronon [Cayuga], the Andastoehronon [Andaste], the Sonontouehronon [Seneca], the Andoouanchronon [Ataronchronon, a Huron subtribe], the Kontareahronon [Huron subtribe], the Ouendat [Wendat], the Khionontatehronon [Petun or Tionontati], the Oherokouaehronon [Chonnonton subtribe], the Aondironon [Chonnonton subtribe], the Ongmarahronon [Onguiarahronon, or Niagara, a Chonnonton subtribe], the Akhrakuaeronon [Atrakwae],  the Oneronon [Wenro], the Ehressaronon [Aouechissaronon, later n. of Lake Erie], the Attiouendaronk [Chonnonton], the Eriehronon [Erie], the Totontaratonhronon [‘Otter People’, band of Algonkin, later part of the Ataronchronon subtribe of the Huron], the Ahriottaehronon [Ariatoeronon  later n. of Lake Erie], the Oscouarahronon [Pawichtigouek; an Ojibwe group], the Huattoehronon [Sauk], the Skenchiohronon [Fox], the Attistaehronon [Potawatami], the Ontarahronon [Kickapoo], the Aoueatsiouaenhronon [Winnebago], the Attochingochronon [a band of Ojibwe], the Attiouendarankhronon [Chonnonton].

Volume 21 (1641), Chapter 8

From the first village of the Neutral Nation which one finds on arriving there from this place, and continuing to travel South or Southeast, it is about four days’ journey to the entrance of the so celebrated river of that nation, into the Ontario or Lake St. Louis.  On this side of that river, —and not beyond it, as a certain chart indicates, —are the greater part of the villages of the Neutral Nation.  There are three or four beyond, ranging from east to west, towards the Nation of the Cat, or Erieehronons.

This Stream or River is that through which our great lake of the Hurons, or fresh-water Sea, empties; it flows first into the lake of Erie, or of the Nation of the Cat, and at the end of that lake, it enters into the territory of the Neutral Nation, and takes the name of Onguiaahra, until it empties into the Ontario or lake of saint Louys, whence finally emerges the river that passes before Quebek, called the St. Lawrence...

Some years ago, through fear of their enemies, there took refuge in this village [Khioetoa of the Neutrals] a certain strange Nation, who had dwelt beyond the Erie or Cat Nation, called Awenrehronon [Wenro]; and they seemed to have come into these quarters only to enjoy the good fortune of this visit, and to have been led by the providence of the good Shepherd, that they might hear his voice therein….

Volume 21 (1641-1642), Footnote 11 (1890’s)

What is written in this footnote is wholly by the editor of the Jesuit Relations in the 1890’s, Ruben Gold Thwaites rather than by the Jesuit Fathers, except for my insertions in brackets.

Concerning the Eries, or Cat Nation, see vol. viii., note 34. p. 302, Parkman [American historian Francis Parkman] (Jesuits, p. xlvi [1882]) thinks that this tribe were the Carantouans of Champlain [Pioneers of Francis in the New World, p. 377].  He also says of the Neutrals (p. xliv, note 3): “They, and not the Eries, were the Kahkwas of Seneca tradition.”  This statement gives the scope of a considerable controversy among antiquarians as to the identity of the Kahkwas.  Marshall agrees with Parkman; he says (Niagara Frontier, p, 6, note): “The latter [Eries] lived south of the western end of Lake Erie until they were destroyed by the Iroquois, in 1655.  The Kahkwas were exterminated by them as early as 1651.  On Coronelli’s map, published in 1688.  One of the villages of the latter, called ‘Kakouagoga, a destroyed nation,’ is located at or near the site of Buffalo. ”

Several other writers take the opposite ground, arguing that the Eries were the Kahkwas. Morgan says (League of the Iroquois, p. 337) that the Eries were known to the Iroquois by the name Gä-quä-ga´-o-no (o-no signifying merely “the people at”); that” they were an offshoot of the Iroquois stock, and spoke a dialect of their language.”  He adds: “It is a singular fact that the Neuter Nation, who dwelt on the banks of the Niagara river, and who were expelled by the Iroquois about the year 1643, were known among them as the je-go´-sä-sa, or Cat Nation.  The word signifies ‘a wild cat;’ and, from being the name of a woman of great influence among them, it came to be the name of the nation.”  Cf. Schoolcraft, Notes on the Iroquois (N. Y., 1846), pp. 176-179, 221; another’s speech (Systems of Consanguinity, p. 152).  Indeed, he suggests that the Gakwas or Eries, are supposed to have been a subdivision of the Senecas (Indian Miscellanies, p. 227).  The term Attiwandaronk —signifying ‘those who speak a somewhat different language’ —was applied to the Neuters by the Hurons, and vice versa; and this name would be equally applicable to the Eries, from either a Huron or Seneca standpoint.  Considering also their other appellation, ‘the Cat Nation,’ it is certainly a curious coincidence, if nothing more, that the Neuters, too, were known to the Iroquois as je-go´-sä-sa, ‘the Cat Nation.’ ”

 It is desirable here to consider what animal is meant by chat sauvage, the “wild cat” so often mentioned by early writers, especially in connection with the Erie tribe.  Some suppose it to be the common American wild cat, Lynx rufus, or possibly the Canadian lynx, Lynx Canadensis. J. G. Henderson, in a paper read before the Amer. Asso. for Adv. of Science, at its meeting of 1880, takes issue with this idea, saying: “These two species of lynx were not differentiated by the early French explorers, who classed both as wolves, under the appellation loup cervier; while they gave to the raccoon the name chat sauvage.  Sagard clearly distinguishes these animals (Canada, Tross ea., pp. 679, 680), as loups cerviers (lynxes), named by the Hurons Toutsitoute; common wolves, Anatisqua; and ‘a species of leopard, or wild cat, that they call Tiron.’  He adds: ‘In this vast extent of land there is a country that we surname “the Nation of the Cat,” on account of these cats, —small wolves or leopards which are found in their country, which furnish their robes.  These cats are hardly larger than foxes; but they have fur closely resembling that of the common wolf, for I myself was deceived in choosing between them.’”  This view is corroborated by Clapin (Dict. Canad.-Français), who defines chat lotor, but generally known to scientists as Procyon lotor, belonging to Procyonidæ, a group coördinate with Usidæ).

We may here note another animal sometimes called “wild cat” —-Mustela pennanti, of the Mustelidæ, another group of the great Arctoid order; it is commonly known as “fisher,” “black cat,” “black fox,” or “pekan.”  This last name is a Canadian-French word, and was used as early as 1684, for it occurs in a document of that date, “Memoir touching the expenses incurred by Sieur de Lasalle at Fort Frontenac,” —a translation of which is given in N.Y. Colon. Docs., vol. ix., pp. 216-221, sauvage as the raton of France (raccoon, —given by Littré as Ursus

Volume 33 (1648), Chapter 1

This lake, called Erie, was formerly inhabited on its southern shores by certain tribes whom we call the Nation of the Cat; they have been compelled to retire far inland to escape their enemies, who are farther to the west.  These people of the Cat Nation have a number of stationary villages, for they till the soil, and speak the same language as our Hurons…

Volume 37 (1652), Journal of the Jesuit Fathers

On the 5th [of June], we arrived, about eight o'clock, at Three Rivers.  Toward evening a soldier, named de Beaumont, having entered a very short distance into the woods for hunting, went so far astray that he was lost for three days.  The fugitives brought back the news: that, toward the end of the winter, a band of Iroquois had gone up to the whitefish tribe, and had dealt a considerable blow; that another band had gone up to the Païsans, and had captured 25 Algonquins [Algonkin tribe]; that the Onnontaeronnons [Onondaga] had defeated a number of Hurons, toward the end of the last summer, in the isle Ahwen'do¸e, where they had gone to seek Sunflowers; that the Iroquois, having gone during the winter in full force against the Atra'kwae'ronnons or Andasto¸e'ronnons, had had the worst of it.

On the 3rd [of July], Father Menard baptized the two Iroquois, Pierre and François Aontarisa'ti, who were burned the next day.  Aontarisati was given for an Algonquin named Otsinnenko; Ta'akenrat, for Torata'ti, a Huron.  As for news of the enemies:  The capture of Atra’kwae by the Iroquois nations, to the number of a thousand.  They have carried off 5 or 6 hundred,—chiefly men.  The Annie’ronnons [Mohawk] lost, in this expedition, ten men; the other cantons, some 20, some 30,—all together, 130.  One band has been to Ekaentouton, where they have made a capture.  Another has made a capture at Askikwannhe.

Volume 41 (1654), Chapter 3

Our young men will wage no more warfare with the French; but, as they are too warlike to abandon that pursuit, you are to understand that we are going to wage a war against the Ehriehronnons (the Cat Nation), and this very summer we shall lead an army thither.  The earth is trembling yonder, and here all is quiet.

Volume 41 (1654), Chapter 4

They informed us that a fresh war had broken out against them, and thrown them all into a state of alarm; that the Ehriehronnons were arming against them (these we call the Cat Nation, because of the prodigious number of wildcats in their country, two or three times as large as our domestic cats, but of a handsome and valuable fur).  They informed us that a village of Sonnontoehronnon [Seneca] Iroquois had been already taken and set on fire at their first approach; that that same nation had pursued one of their own armies which was returning victorious from the direction of the great lake of the Hurons, and that an entire company of eighty picked men, which formed the rear-guard, had been completely cut to pieces; that one of their greatest captains, Annenraes by name, had been captured and led away captive by some skirmishers of that nation,—who, in order to deal this blow, had come almost to the gates of their village.  They declared, in a word, that all the four nations of the upper Iroquois were on fire; that they were leaguing together, and arming to repulse this enemy; and that all this compelled them earnestly to seek for peace with us, even though they might not have had any such thoughts before.

This news taught us that God, by diverting the arms and forces of our enemies elsewhere, was aiding us in a most unexpected manner.

The Cat Nation is very populous, having been reinforced by some Hurons, who scattered in all directions when their country was laid waste, and who now have stirred up this war which is filling the Iroquois with alarm.  Two thousand men are reckoned upon, well skilled in war, although they have no firearms.  Notwithstanding this, they fight like Frenchmen, bravely sustaining the first discharge of the Iroquois, who are armed with our muskets, and then falling upon them with a hailstorm of poisoned arrows, which they discharge eight or ten times before a musket can be reloaded.

Volume 41 (1654), Chapter 6

On the 9th, toward noon, there comes a direful report of the murder of three of their [the Iroquois] hunters at the hands of the Cat Nation, a day's journey from here.  That means that war is kindled in that direction.

Volume 41 (1654), Chapter 7

…The purpose of the eighth, ninth, tenth, and eleventh presents was to give to each of these four Iroquois nations a hatchet, to be used in the new war in which they were engaged with the Cat Nation

Finally, with the nineteenth present, I wiped away the tears of all the young warriors, caused by the death of their great captain Annneneraes, who had been taken captive by the Cat Nation not long before…

Another captain, of the nation of the Onneiocronnons [Oneida] arose. 'Onnontio,' said he, addressing Monsieur de Lauson, our absent governor, 'Onnontio, thou art the support of the earth; thy spirit is a spirit of peace, and thy words soften the most rebellious hearts.'  After other praises, which he uttered in a tone animated with affection and respect, he displayed four large collars, with which to thank Onnontio for encouraging them to make a spirited fight against their new enemies of the Cat Nation, and for exhorting them never to wage war again with the French.  'Thy voice, Onnontio,' said he, 'is wonderful, for it produces in my heart, at the same time, two wholly opposite emotions.  Thou givest me courage to fight, and thou softenest my heart with thoughts of peace.  Thou art both peaceable and yet very warlike,—beneficent to those thou lovest, and terrible to thy enemies. We all wish thee to love us, and we shall love the French for thy sake.'…

The 14th. A young captain, chief of a levy of eighteen hundred men who were to set out as soon as possible to prosecute the war against the Cat Nation, begged me urgently for baptism…

That is not all; even the Iroquois who are the farthest away, who are called the Sonnontoeronnons [Seneca], also came to Kebec to declare that they desired peace.  This is an act of prudence on their part, for they are molested by a nation whom our French have called the Cat Nation, and they did not wish to have so many enemies on their hands at the same time...

Volume 42 (1656), Preface

…Soon after Le Moyne's departure on the above errand, an Onondaga deputation, "representing all the upper Iroquois Nations," arrives at Québec to confirm the peace.  At the ensuing council, the envoys give twenty-four presents to Onontio and his allies.  They ask for a French colony in their country, and for Christian teachers; also for French soldiers to aid them against their enemies, the Eries.  After careful consideration, it is decided to send back Dablon and Chaumonot with these envoys (as we have already seen in Doc. LXXXVII., Vol. XLI.). The greater part of this .relation is devoted to an account of their embassy to Onondaga, as recounted in the journal thereof kept by Father Dablon…

A child of ten years, captured from the Eries, with whom the Iroquois are at war, is burnt to death; but the Father succeeds in secretly baptizing this boy before his death. His torment lasts "only two hours, because of his youth; and not a tear or a cry escaped him from amid the flames…

The ceremonies which are annually performed by these savages in preparation for war are also described. This is followed by an explanation of their reasons for attacking the Erie tribe.  A captive taken from those enemies is brought to Onondaga, and burned to death at a slow fire…

Volume 42 (1655), Chapter 2

..They [Onondaga] further asked for French soldiers, to defend their villages against the inroads of the Cat Nation, with whom they are at open war. That was their fifteenth present…

The twenty-second present assured us that the four upper Iroquois nations had but one heart and one mind in their sincere desire for peace.  After that, they asked for weapons against the Cat Nation

Volume 42 (1655), Chapter 3

No less sad was his account of the death of that famous Marthe Gohatio, whose piety is so well known.  It was God's will to try her very severely.  Having gone to war last year, our narrator said, against the Cat Nation, in company with the Onontaheronons [Onondaga], upon taking and sacking a village, he found the good René‚ Sondiouanen among the dead, and his daughter among the prisoners, together with this Marthe of whom we are speaking.  It was an occasion for mutual encouragement to keep their promise to God and to die in the profession of the faith.  Poor Marthe, who, because of a swollen knee, and a little child, whom she had much difficulty in carrying, was hardly able to keep pace with the victors, was cruelly burnt on the way.  Two of her children escaped, indeed, from the Onontaheronons [Onondaga]; but they have never been heard of.  It is pitiful to hear these poor people tell about their servitude.  Many were killed, even by those who had given them their lives,—only a slight disobedience or an illness being necessary to provoke a hatchet-stroke on the head…

Volume 42 (1655), Chapter 5

On the 12th, a prisoner from the Cat Nation was brought in, to bear the brunt of these people's rage, no quarter being now given between the two tribes.  He was a child of nine or ten years, and was to be burnt in a short time, which made the Father resolve to attempt the rescue of his soul from the fires of hell, not being able to save his body.  But, the hatred of these barbarians being so excessive that they are unwilling that their enemies should be happy even in the other world, it required adroitness to instruct and baptize this poor unfortunate in secret.  The Father, accordingly, after seeing and speaking with him, feigned thirst and was given some water.  In drinking, he purposely allowed some drops to run into his handkerchief,—one was enough to open heaven's gates,—and baptized the boy before he was burnt.  He was only two hours in torment, because of his youth; but he displayed such fortitude that not a tear or a cry escaped him from amid the flames.

Volume 42 (1655), Chapter 6

In the afternoon, when the Father had retired to a neighboring wood, in order to say his prayers in quiet, four Iroquois women went in quest of him for the purpose of being instructed; and, before evening, nine of them did the same, among whom was the sister of the chief of all the captains.  Although some of the men already make public profession of prayer, yet they are more bashful,—as they admitted on that very evening, when, coming in great number to our cabin, and hearing the Father speak for two hours without wearying them, they confessed that they indeed believed at heart, but dared not yet declare themselves.  They added that what made them believe was partly their last victory over the Cat Nation, their enemies, when they were only twelve hundred against three or four thousand; and, as they had promised, before the battle to embrace the faith if they returned victorious, they could not now retract after so successful a triumph. This speech ended, the father made them all pray to God; and one of the deputies had the prayer repeated to him several times, that he might learn it by heart.

Volume 42 (1655), Chapter 7

The fourth and last present was little in comparison with the preceding, its purpose being merely to inform the Father that the kettle of the war against the Cat Nation was over the fire; that hostilities would be opened toward spring; and that the Huron ambassadors would be dismissed the next day, with an escort of fifteen of the country's leading men.

Volume 42 (1655), Chapter 8

The father was sent for, but too late, to confer this sacrament upon a poor captive girl of the Cat Nation, who was cruelly murdered by order of her mistress, whom she displeased by her occasional obstinacy.  On the twenty-seventh of December, her mistress took a notion to get rid of her; therefore, without much deliberation, she commissioned a young man to kill her.  Taking his hatchet, he followed this poor victim on her way to the woods; but he changed his mind, and came back to do the deed in the sight of all. Accordingly, he allowed her to return, and, when she was at the entrance to the village, struck her on the head with his hatchet, felling her to the ground, apparently dead.  Yet, she was not mortally wounded, and was therefore carried into a neighboring cabin to have her wound dressed.  When, however, the murderer was taunted with his want of skill in head-splitting, he returned, snatched his prey from those who held her, dragged her away, and gave her more blows which killed her.  This murder did not startle the children playing nearby, or even divert them from their game, so accustomed are they to the sight of these poor captives' blood.  Toward evening, the murderer, or someone else, went crying aloud through the streets and cabins, that such and such a person had been put to death; whereupon all began to make a noise with their feet and hands, while some beat with sticks the bark of their cabins, to frighten the soul of the departed and drive it far away.

Volume 42 (1656), Chapter 9

Scarcely had our Satyr and Megeras passed out of our sight, when a woman, armed with an arquebus which she had obtained through her dream, rushed into our cabin. She was shouting, howling, and singing, saying that she was going to war against the Cat Nation, that she would fight them, and bring back some prisoners—with a thousand imprecations and curses on herself, if what she had dreamed should not take place.

Volume 42 (1656), Chapter 10

TOWARD the end of the month of January we witnessed the ceremony performed every winter in preparation for war, to which they incite one another in two ways.

First, the war-kettle, as they call it, is hung over the fire in autumn, that each of the allies may put therein some choice bit to cook all Winter; that is, that they may participate in the intended enterprise.  When the kettle had boiled until the month of February, many hunters being present from Sonnontouan [Seneca capital] and Oiogoen [Oneida capital], they held the war-feast, which lasted several nights.  They sang, danced, and made countless grimaces, as a public announcement of their determination never to draw back in this fight, and to die in all sorts of torment rather than yield.  With this declaration, they threw live coals and hot ashes at one another, exchanged heavy blows, and burned one another, to see if any were likely to fear the enemy's fires.  One must bear it all, on this occasion, and submit to be roasted by his best friends, without showing a sign of pain; otherwise, he would be disgraced and branded as a coward.

The father was invited to put something into the kettle to make it better, and he told them that he intended to do so; then, adapting himself to their ways, he said that the French would put some gunpowder under it, which pleased them greatly.

The other ceremony that they perform every winter, to gain courage for fighting, regards the drugs used in dressing wounds.  For this, all the village sorcerers or jugglers, the physicians of the country, assemble, to give strength to their drugs, and, by the ceremony performed, to impart to them a virtue entirely distinct from that derived from the soil.

The chief sorcerer takes his place in the middle of the group, surrounded by a great crowd.  Then, raising his voice, he says that he is about to impart to the drugs or roots in his pouch the power of curing all kinds of wounds.  Thereupon, he begins to sing at the top of his voice, the other sorcerers responding and repeating the same song, until the desired virtue has been infused into the roots.  To prove this, he does two things.  First, he bites his lips, drawing blood and letting it run down his chin; then, in plain sight of all, he applies his drug to his lips, adroitly sucking up the flowing blood; and the people, seeing the bleeding checked, applaud loudly, as if the drug had indeed quickly cured the wound.

And, to show that his remedies not only restore the sick to health, but also raise the dead to life, he causes to come out of his pouch a little dead squirrel, which he holds by a cunning attachment to the end of the tail.  He places it on his arm; all see that it is dead; then he applies his drugs, and, pulling the string as slyly as possible, he makes it return to his pouch, apparently revived before the spectators' eyes producing it again, he makes it move, as the jugglers of France move their puppets.  In that large assembly, there is scarcely a person who does not show his admiration for the virtue of the herbs which work so mighty a miracle.  After this great prodigy, the master sorcerer parades through all the streets, followed by a great crowd, singing at the top of his voice, and showing off his simples.  Now, all this is done to make the young g warriors fearless of wounds in battle, since they possess so sovereign a remedy.  It is not in America alone that people seem to take pleasure in being deceived, but in Europe also.

If these juggleries do not produce an impression upon the mind, they at least caused an admirable display of courage last year, in the engagement which occurred with the Cat Nation.  The reason for that new war follows. 

Volume 42 (1655-1656), Chapter 11, [The Capture of Rique]

THE Cat Nation had sent thirty ambassadors to Sonnontouan [Seneca capital], to confirm the peace between them; but it happened, by some unexpected accident, that a Sonnontouahronnon [Seneca] was killed by a man of the Cat Nation.  This murder so incensed the Sonnontouahronnons [Seneca], that they put to death the ambassadors in their hands, except five who escaped.  Hence, war was kindled between these two nations, and each strove to capture and burn more prisoners than its opponent.  Two Onnontagehronnons [Onondaga], among others, were captured by the men of the Cat Nation; one of them escaped, and the other, a man of rank, was taken home by the enemy to be burnt.  But he pleaded his cause so well, that he was given to the sister of one of the thirty ambassadors who had been put to death.  She was absent from the village at the time; but the prisoner was nevertheless clothed in fine garments, and feasting and good cheer prevailed, the man being all but assured that he would be sent back to his own country.  When she to whom he had been given returned, she was told that her dead brother was to be restored to life, that she must prepare to regale him well, and then to give him a gracious dismissal.  She, however began to weep, and declared that she would never dry her tears until her brother's death was avenged.  The elders showed her the gravity of the situation, which was likely to involve them in a new war; but she would not yield.  Finally, they were compelled to give up the wretched man to her, to do with him as she pleased.  All this occurred while he was still joyfully feasting.  Without a word, he was taken from the feast and conducted to this cruel woman's cabin.  Upon entering, he was surprised at being stripped of his clothes.  Then he saw that his life was lost, and he cried out, before dying, that an entire people would be burned in his person, and that his death would be cruelly avenged.  His words proved true; for, no sooner had the news reached Onnontagué [Onondaga capital]‚ than twelve hundred determined men started forth to exact satisfaction for this affront.

We have already observed that the Cat Nation is so called from the large number of wildcats, of great size and beauty, in their country.  The climate is temperate, neither ice nor snow being seen in the winter; while in summer it is said that grain and fruit are harvested in abundance, and are of unusual size and excellence.

Our warriors entered that country, remote though it was from Onnontagué [Onondaga capital]‚ before they were perceived.  Their arrival spread such a panic, that villages and dwellings were abandoned to the mercy of the conqueror,—who, after burning everything, started in pursuit of the fugitives.  The latter numbered from two to three thousand combatants, besides women and children. Finding themselves closely followed, they resolved, after five days' flight, to build a fort of wood and there await the enemy, who numbered only twelve hundred.  Accordingly, they entrenched themselves as well as they could.  The enemy drew near, the two head chiefs showing themselves in French costume, in order to frighten their opponents by the novelty of this attire.  One of the two, who had been baptized by Father Le Moine and was very well instructed, gently urged the besieged to capitulate, telling them that they would be destroyed if they allowed an assault. "The Master of Life fights for us " said he; "you will be ruined if you resist him."  "Who is this Master of our lives?" was the haughty reply of the besieged.  "We acknowledge none but our arms and hatchets."  Thereupon, the assault was made and the palisade attacked on all sides; but the defense was as spirited as the attack, and the combat was a long one, great courage being displayed on both sides.  The besieging party made every effort to carry the place by storm, but in vain; they were killed as fast as they advanced.  They hit on the plan of using their canoes as shields; and, bearing these before them as protection, they reached the foot of the entrenchment.  But it remained to scale the large stakes, or tree-trunks, of which it was built.  Again they resorted to their canoes, using them as ladders for surmounting that stanch palisade.  Their boldness so astonished the besieged that, being already at the end of their munitions of war,—with which, especially with powder, they had been but poorly provided,—they resolved to flee. This was their ruin; for, after most of the first fugitives had been killed, the others were surrounded by the Onnontaguehronnons [Onondaga], who entered the fort and there wrought such carnage among the women and children, that blood was knee-deep in certain places.  Those who had escaped, wishing to retrieve their honor, after recovering their courage a little, returned, to the number of three hundred, to take the enemy by surprise while he was retiring and off his guard.  The plan was good, but it was ill executed; for, frightened at the first cry of the Onnontaguehronnons [Onondaga], they were entirely defeated.  The victors did not escape heavy losses,—so great, indeed, that they were forced to remain two months in the enemy's country, burying their dead and caring for their wounded. 

Volume 42 (1655-1656), Chapter 12

He also, with the present offered in his name, wiped away the blood still remaining on their persons from their latest engagement with the Cat Nation

…Toward evening of the same day, three soldiers of this village arrived with three scalps, taken from some people of another language than that of these Regions, and of a country far distant from here.  They also brought home two young men of the Cat Nation, well formed, well dressed, strong, and between twenty and thirty years of age.  Whether because the Onnontaguehronnons [Onondaga] had not taken them in regular warfare, or because they, in despair of escaping had given themselves up voluntarily, they thought that they ought not to be treated as captives; and, indeed, upon their arrival, they were assigned to two of the most honorable families, to take the place of two deceased members.  The younger and handsomer one, a nephew of the other, was given to the greatest warrior of the country, named Aharihon, a Captain famous for his warlike exploits, but as arrogant and bloodthirsty as he is brave, as will presently appear.

One of his brothers having been recently killed by the Cat Nation, he was replaced by this newly-adopted man.  The cruel captain held his brother in such high esteem that he had already made him a sacrifice of forty men,—causing them to be burned, since he did not believe that there was any one worthy to occupy his place.  When, accordingly, this young man was given him as a substitute for the deceased, he presented to him four dogs, upon which to hold his feast of adoption.  In the middle of the feast, while he was rejoicing and singing to entertain the guests, Aharihon arose, and told the company that this man too must die in atonement for his brother's death.  The poor lad was astounded at this, and turned toward the door to make his escape, but was stopped by two men who had orders to burn him.  On the fourteenth of February, in the evening, they began with his feet, intending to roast him, at a slow fire, as far up as the waist, during the greater part of the night.  After midnight, they were to let him rally his strength and sleep a little until daybreak, when they were to finish this fatal tragedy.  In his torture, the poor man made the whole village resound with his cries and groans.  It was fearful to hear him shrieking in the dead of night.  He shed great tears, contrary to the usual custom, the victim commonly glorying to be burned limb by limb, and opening his lips only to sing; but, as this one had not expected death, he wept and cried in a way that touched even these barbarians.  One of Aharihon's relatives was so moved with pity, that he advised ending the sufferer's torments by plunging a knife into his breast—which would have been a deed of mercy, had the stab been mortal. However, they were induced to continue the burning without interruption, so that before day he ended both his sufferings and his life…

…On the twenty-fourth, while the Honnaouaroria—of which we spoke above, in connection with dreams—was being held, there arrived three warriors, returning, after more than a year's absence, from the war against the Cat Nation.  One of them announced, on his arrival, that he had a matter of very great importance to communicate to the elders.  These having assembled, he told them that, while seeking the enemy, he met a tortoise of incredible size; and, some time after, he saw a demon in the guise of a little dwarf, who is said to have already appeared to others.  They call him Taronhiaouagui, which means " he who holds up the Sky.  This dwarf or demon spoke as follows: "I am he who holds up the sky, and the guardian of the earth; I preserve men, and give victories to warriors.  I have made you masters of the earth and victors over so many nations; I made you conquer the Hurons, the Tobacco Nation [Petun], the Ahondihronnons [Chonnonton subtribe], Atiraguenrek [Chonnonton subtribe], Atiaonrek [Chonnonton subtribe], Takoulguehronnons [Erie subtribe], and Gentaguetehronnons [Erie subtribe]; in short, I have made you what you are; and, if you wish me to continue my protection over you, hear my words, and execute my orders.

Volume 44 (1657), Chapter 20

For our Iroquois have discovered, beyond the Cat Nation, other and numerous nations who speak the Algonquin language. There are more than thirty villages whose inhabitants have never had any knowledge of Europeans; they still use only stone hatchets and knives, and the other things that these savages used before they began to trade with the French...

…Consequently, as soon as they [the Onondaga] saw the Cat Nation, of whom they stood in fear, subdued by their arms and by the forces of the Sonnontoueronnons [Seneca], their allies, they would have laid violent hands on all the French at Onnontagué [Onondaga capital], had they not intended to use them as a bait to attract some of the Hurons, whom they purposed to murder, as they have done.  And if, at that time, regard for some of their own number who had remained at Kebec had not stayed their hands, the road from Onnontagué [Onondaga capital] would have served as a tomb for the French as well as for the Hurons, as will be shown hereafter.  From that time our people, having discovered their conspiracy and recognized that their own death was resolved upon, took thought about making their retreat, as will be related in the following letter.

Volume 45 (1660)

…The Onneioutheronnons [Oneida] have not a hundred warriors; the Onnontagehronnons [Onondaga] and Oiogoenhronons [Cayuga] have three hundred each, and the Sonontwaehronons [Seneca], who are the farthest removed from us and the most populous, have not more than a thousand combatants.  If anyone should compute the number of pure-blooded Iroquois, he would have difficulty in finding more than twelve hundred of them in all the five Nations, since these are, for the most part, only aggregations of different tribes whom they have conquered,—as the Hurons; the Tionnontatehronnons, otherwise called the Tobacco Nation; the Atiwendaronk, called the Neutrals when they were still independent; the Riquehronnons, who are the Cat Nation; the Ontwagannhas, or Fire Nation; the Trakwaehronnons, and others,—who, utter Foreigners although they are, form without doubt the largest and best part of the Iroquois….

…The Agnieronnons [Mohawks] especially have always excelled in this kind of warfare, and sometimes even in that which demands courage only.  They defeated two thousand men of the Cat Nation in the latter's own intrenchments; and, although they were only seven hundred in number, they nevertheless climbed the enemy's palisade, employing against it a counter-palisade which they used, in place of shields and ladders, to scale the fortress, receiving the hail of shot that fell on them from every direction…

Those [Huron] left from the wreck who could flee, scattered in every direction, like an army defeated and pursued by the victor…Some sought an asylum with the Fire Nation and the Cat Nation; while one whole village even threw itself upon the mercy of the Sonnontwaehronnons [Seneca], one of the five Iroquois nations, and was well received by them,—having since then preserved its identity, in the form of a village apart from those of the Iroquois.  Here the Hurons live in Huron style, and the old Christians retain what they can of Christianity…

Volume 47 (1661), Chapter 6

More than four hundred leagues from here, in our vast forests, the angels have seen and admired a poor fugitive Church seeking some asylum after the Hurons’ destruction, in which it had lost everything but the faith. A good old man was the shepherd of this wandering flock, and he led it a long distance, through many great forests, to some infidel peoples called Rigueronnons, who seemed, from their remote situation, to be out of the Iroquois’ reach.

Volume 50 (1666), Chapter 2

But the effects of these poor Hurons’ zeal are felt even beyond the territories of the Iroquois.  We have learned that in the country of the Rigueronnons, more than 500 leagues distant from Quebec, a Huron preacher has spread the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and begun the founding of a church which already appears to be flourishing — so well disposed do the people there seem toward the gospel.  This fervent Christian, who is 60 years old, assembles the faithful of his nation every Sunday, and exhorts them to virtue, instructs them in our mysteries, and makes them recite all their prayers, in the same manner he formerly saw observed by the Jesuits at the time of his conversion.  He even induces them also to offer frequent acts of contrition; and in this way, as far as he can, he enables them to supply the want of confession.

Volume 54 (1670), Letter from Father Fremin

As for me, on the twenty-seventh of September, 1669, I entered the Village named Gandougaraé, where I was received with all the marks of public joy. For a long time I had been expected there with impatience.

This Village is composed of the remnants of three different Nations which were formerly overthrown by the Iroquois, obliged to surrender at the discretion of the conqueror, and to come and settle in his country. The first Nation is called Onnontioga, the second the Neutrals, and the third the Hurons.  The first two have seen scarcely any Europeans, nor have they ever heard of the true God. As for the third, it is a sort of conglomerate of several Villages of the Hurons, all of whom were instructed in the Faith, and a number baptized by our Fathers,  before that flourishing Nation was overthrown by the arms of the Iroquois.

Volume 57 (1672), Chapter 7

The Neutrals and the Onnontioga, two nations who form part of this village [of St. Michael, aka Gandourage], have at last followed the example of the Hurons, and now generally come to prayers as do the latter.

Volume 58 (1672), Mission of Saint François Xavier des Prés, near Montreal

On seeing these new believers gathered last autumn in the fold of Jesus Christ, it was very pleasant for us to count in a single nascent mission as many as twenty-two nations, several of whom speak entirely different tongues, while the others differ only in their idioms.  These were seen, mingled together; Outouagannha [Shawnee, or a band of them], Gentagega [Erie, or one of their subtirbes], Montagnais Algonquins [Innu], Nipissiriniens [Nipissing], Hurons, Iroquois, Loups, Mahingans [Mohegan] or Socokis [Sokoki, a Abenaki subtribe], and other nations, no less opposed to one another through ancient feuds than through diversity of language.

Volume 61 (1679), Of the Iroquois Missions, Section 3

God having permitted that Gentaienton, a village of the Chat Nation, should be taken and sacked by the Iroquois, Gandeaktena, which is the name of the one of whom we are speaking, was taken into slavery together with her mother and brought to Onniout [capital of the Oneida].  There the misfortyne of her country proved the blessing of our captive; and her slavery was the cause of her preparing herself to receive through baptism the liberty of the children of God.  The innocency in which she had lived, even before intending to become a Christian, seemed to have prepared her to receive this grace; and it is an astonishing fact that, in the midst of the extreme Corruption of the Iroquois, she was able, before being illumined by the light of the gospel, to keep herself from participating in their debaucheries, although she was their slave.

Some years after her coming to Onneiout, Father Bruyas also came thither to preach the gospel. On the day after his arrivai, he made known in public the reason of his coming.  Our slave was at once inwardly influenced (inspired) by God, and so keenly affected with the desire of paradise and the fear of hell, that she immediately resolved to spare no pains in acquiring the one and avoiding the other.  She showed no less constancy in the prosecution of her purpose than promptitude in forming it; and although she encountered great obstacles, there was none that she did not succeed in overcoming.  Her extreme modesty, which would not permit her to visit the father all alone; the refusal of all whom she asked to bear her company; the determination, sulden and unexpected, of her husband to take her with him to the war; the work assigned to her by the woman whose slave she was, — that of going to the fishery, after her husband had sent her back from the expedition, — served only to bring to view the power of the spirit by which she was urged forward.  This spirit, rendering her careful to seek the favorable opportunity of corresponding to the divine inspiration, prevailed upon her to embrace at last what the providence of God rather than chance placed in her way.  For, on her return from the fishery, she met one of her companions who was on her way to the prayers.  She went with her; and on arriving at the cabin of the father, she repeated the prayers.  The father noticed her, and judged from her modest countenance that there was something about this young woman that was quite out of the common; this determined him to address to her some words of encouragement in private.  From that time she never failed to come to pray to God in the chapel.  She learned in a very short time the prayers, and the mysteries of our faith; but, reflecting on the corrupt morals and licentiousness of the Iroquois, and wisely concluding that she would experience much difficulty in securing her salvation if she lived among them, she resolved to leave them and come to live with the French.  She commended the matter to God, and spoke of her plan to her mother; to her father-in-law, and to her husband, after his return from the war.  She won them all over, as well as certain others of her neighbors, and came’ with them to Monseigneur the bishop of Canada, who, after they had been instructed, baptized them all.  These blessed successes with which God .had’ accompanied the conversion of our Catherine — for that is the name she received at baptism — and that little band of persons whom she had attracted to the faith, and the train of events, made it apparent that he had from that time appointed her, and was directing her, to become instrumental in the salvation of many Iroquois; for he, gave her the thought of going, to dwell at La Prairie de la Magdelaine, where, two months ago, a settlement had been started. She went there, in fact, together with those with whom she had been baptized, — 12 in number, — and gave the first impulse to the mission which is now so flourishing.

No advance was made in these small beginnings for 2 or 3 years; but, at length they attained much renown, especially among the Iroquois nations, so that more than 200 Iroquois have come since that time to establish themselves at La Prairie de la Magdelaine, in order to live there as good Christians.  And it is a surprising thing that God should have willed that they should spare the life of Catherine in order that, afterward, she might obtain for them eternal salvation, and that thus their slave might become their instructress in the faith.  She was that indeed, net only at the outset of her conversion, but all the remainder of her life, through the rare examples of virtue which she furnished to them.

She had divided, after the example of St. Anne, her earthly goods into three equal parts, of which she devoted one to the church, another to the poor, and the 3rd to the support of her family. Never did Father Fremin propose to her a work of charity, when he was not obliged to prescribe to her the quantity and quality of what she was to give, as she was always disposed to give the best of what she had, and in a quantity which was even excessive.  Her cabin was the refuge of the poor and the discontented; and as soon as any one came into it, all feelings of discontent were dispersed.  She was so chaste that no one dared utter an unbecoming word in her presence, unless to see her blush. Her zeal was shown in the conversion of her husband and his relatives; while the large number of Iroquois Christians who are at La Prairie de la Magdelaine could affirm that she was the instrument of their conversion also.  As she had a great desire of attaining to a high sanctity, she had strongly persuaded herself that, in order to accomplish so noble a purpose, it was necessary to do what the missionaries did.  So she tried to imitate them in everything, Instructing and catechizing not only those who are settled at La Prairie de la Magdelaine, but also those who pass that way.  These in a single summer repair thither to the number of 7 or 800, and toward them she never failed to exercise charity as regards their sustenance.  The sweetness of her disposition was extreme, and her husband was the first to feel its effects.  She had so, won him that, from a savage haughty and barbarous to the last degree, she had made a man of wonderful gentleness, and an excellent Christian.  She never gave cause for complaint to anyone.  When her zeal once made her say to an Iroquois woman, an Infidel, that she would be burned Forever, since she would not listen to what was being said to her for her salvation, Catherine, when she perceived that this remark had irritated her, immediately went to her, and asked pardon for having given her cause for angry feeling.

She was foremost in the exercises of devotion which are practiced in the mission of La Prairie; and it was she, also, who began the practice of them.  She originated, as well, the assemblage called “the Holy Family,” which, being composed of the persons most notable for their fervor, is now the stay of the mission.  She had an extraordinary devotion to the Blessed Virgin, and the devotion that she bore to her amounted to Incredible tenderness.  That loving Mother of God did not fail to recompense this by the signal favors that she granted to her, for it was enough that Catherine should ask her for anything, to obtain it, as she often experienced, — not only when she besought favors for herself, but even when she prayed for others.

She had a great detachment from creatures, which she made apparent when they brought to her a false report of the death of her husband.  She immediately said: “Now that I am free, I make the resolution to give half of all that I possess to the poor, and the other half to the Church of the Blessed Virgin.  It is sufficient for me to have enough to clothe myself; for my food, the providence of God will make provision.”  And she would have done it, had she not been advised to the contrary.

Her husband having returned safely to his home, she told him that one ought not to wait for death to detach oneself from creatures; that she still had a girdle and bracelets of porcelain, which take the place of pearls and diamonds among savages; that he himself had a large collar of the same material, with which he decked himself out when he went to war; that he ought to make an offering to God of all these ornaments, in order that he might no longer have any attachment save to God alone, she easily persuaded him to do what she desired.  This was why they both presented themselves before the Blessed Sacrament, Catherine saying the following prayer and her husband repeating it: “My God,” she said, “four years ago, I gave to you my body and soul, and the greater portion of my goods.  Here is what remains to me: I present it to you with all my heart.  What should I now ask of you after having given you my all, unless it be that, from this moment, you take me myself, to place me near you?”  It was a presentiment that she had of her death , — or, rather, a request that she made to die.  Father Fremin, reflecting on this action, said to another, in whose company he was, that without doubt God had heard this virtuous woman. Indeed, on the following day she fell sick, which filled her with joy, in the hope of soon seeing her desires fulfilled.  As she was much beloved, all came immediately in a crowd to see her; but as all knew her Inclinations, they, in place of conversing with her, passed the time of their visit in prayers, and particularly in reciting the beads, which was kept up all day, and often through a good part of the night.  Her husband, who sat at her bedside, fulfilled the duties of him who prepares a patient for death.  Eight days passed thus in continual exercises of piety, which served her as a preparation for receiving the last sacraments.  God gave her at the same time so vehement a desire of possessing him, that, when the father had made her repeat a short prayer which asked for health, she said to him: “It has been impossible for me to say from the heart what I have just uttered with the lips.  Why ask to remain on earth, since God is calling me to heaven ?”

As soon as she had received the Sacraments, she lost her mind and became delirious, remaining so 8 Days, — during which time she did nothing but pray, appearing to have no use of her reason except: when one spoke to her of God.

When her recovery was entirely given up, her husband gave a feast to his friends, at which he made them this address: “Formerly,” he said to them, “before we were Christians, we made use of superstitions in order to cure our sick people; and their maladies threw us into the utmost distress.  Now that we pray, we invoke the name of Jesus Christ for their cure; if they die, we comfort ourselves in the hope of seeing them again in heaven.  Let us say, then, our beads for her who is in agony, before beginning our feast.”

After 8 days of delirium, or rather 8 days of unceasing prayer, she fell into a kind of sweet sleep, in which she remained 9 days without taking anything and without stirring; at the close of that period she expired very peacefully.

The custom of savages is to give all the belongings of the dead to their relatives and friends, that they may bewail the deceased.  But the husband of Catherine, in his capacity of chief captain, assembled the council of the old men, and told them that they ought not to adhere to their ancient customs, which brought no advantage to their dead; that, for his own part, his thought was to array the body of the dead one with the very best of what she possessed, since she would, some day, rise again; and to distribute the remainder of what had belonged to her as alms among the poor.  This thought was acted upon by each one, and it has become a law, which they have since minutely observed.

He immediately arrayed, therefore, the body of his wife in her best apparel; and distributed among the poor all that remained of her little furniture, bidding them pray for the departed one: the whole amounted to fully 300 livres, which is a good deal for a savage.

The burial was attended by all the savages of the mission, and by many Frenchmen, who all spoke highly of the virtues of Catherine, as of a person whom they assuredly believed to be in the bliss of heaven.  And Father Fremin, who knew her very thoroughly, bears evidence that she died in baptismal innocence, and adds that she had reached so exalted a state of virtue, and particularly so wonderful a purity of heart, that he thought nothing remained for which she would have to make atonement in the other life.

Volume 62, Letter of Father Jean de Lamberville, 25 August 1682

Six hundred men, women, and children of the Nation of the Chats [Eries], near Virginia, surrendered voluntarily, for fear that they might be compelled to do so by force.

* * * * *

- Thwaites, Ruben Gold, ed.  The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents: Travels and Explorations of the Jesuit Missionaries in New France, 1610—1791.  (Cleveland: Burrows Brothers, 1896-1901).

Governor John Printz of New Sweden to Chancellor Oxensjerna, 26 April 1653

* * * * *

The English trade, from which we used to obtain a good support, is at an end, on account of the war with Holland; while the fur-trade yields no profit, particularly now that hostilities have broken out between the Arrigahaga and Susquehanna Indians, from whom the beavers were procured.  The Hollanders have quit all their places on the river except Fort Casimir, where they have settled about twenty-six families.  To attempt anything against them with our present resources, however, would be of no avail.  More people must be sent over from Sweden, or all the money and labor hitherto expended on this undertaking, so well begun, is wasted.  We have always been on peaceful terms with the natives so long as our cargoes lasted, but whenever these gave out their friendship has cooled: for which reason, as well as for the sustenance of our colonists, we have been compelled to purchase a small cargo, by drawing a bill to be paid in Holland, which we expect to discharge by bartering half of the goods for tobacco.

* * * * *

- Keen, Gregory.  “New Sweden, or the Swedes on the Delaware”.  Narrative and Critical History of America, Volume IV, Justin Winsor, ed., pp 469-470.  (Cambridge: Riverside Press, 1884).

From the journal of Abbe Galinee, companion to La Salle, 1669

* * * * *

These people whilst here had stayed a long time at M. de la Salle’s, and had told him so many marvels of the River Ohio, with which they said they were thoroughly acquainted, that they inflamed in him more than ever the desire to see it.  They told him that this river took its rise
three days’ journey from Seneca, that after a month’s travel one came upon the Honniasontkeronons [Oniasontke] and the Chiouanons [Shawnee] and that, after passing the latter, and a great cataract or waterfall that there is in this river, one found the Outagame [Fox] and the country of the Iskousogos [Mascouten], and finally a country so abundant in roebucks and wild cattle that they were as thick as the woods, and so great a number of tribes that there could not be more.

* * * * *

- Jameson, J. Franklin.  “The Journey of Doller and Galinee, by Galinee”.  Original Narratives of Early American History, Volume 16: Early Narratives of the Northwest, 1634-1699, pp. 170-171.  (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1917).

French explorer Robert La Salle, on tribes defeated by the Iroquois, 22 August 1682

* * * * *

In a letter to Louis de Buade de Frontenac, Governor of New France, La Salle including the following among many other remarks:

…Before the destruction of the Illinois, and of the Kentaientonga [Erie], and Ganeiensaga [Conoy], whom the Iroquois defeated a year since, of the Chaouanons [Shawnee], Ouabachi [Wabash], Tistontaraetonga [Petun], Gandostogega [Conestoga], Mosopelea [Ofo], Sounikaeronons [unknown], Ochitagonga [Huron], with whom they have been contesting for several years, they dared not hunt in these parts so infested by so many enemies who had the same fear of the Iroquois, and little habit of profiting by the skins of these animals, having commerce with the English but very rarely, because they could not without great labor, time and risk...

* * * * *

- Dunn, Jacob Piat, ed.  Indiana and Indianans: A History of Aboriginal and Territorial Indiana and the Century of Statehood, Volume I, pp. 52-53.  (Chicago and New York: American Historical Society, 1919).

Major John Norton, Mohawk citizen and adopted son of Six Nations grand chief Joseph Brandt, on the Eriez and Kahkwague, 1816

* * * * *

After this the Five Nations turned their arms against the Rad-irakeai-ka, who inhabit the shores of Lake Erie, probably the same people which the Europeans call Eriez.  One of their villages bore the name of Kahkwague, and the stream on which it was situated [Eightmile Creek] is about fifteen miles west of Buffalo Creek, and yet bears its name.

The cause of this war was that these people had killed some of the Ondawaga [Seneca], for which they refused to make reparation: these afterwards went to take satisfaction and received a defeat, when they called to their assistance the other four bands, and their uniting force attacking them, demolished their villages, killed most of the men who bore arms and distributed the youth, women, and children among their tribes and families.

* * * * *

On the east bank of the Niagara River, at the commencement of the “carrying place”, stood a village, the people of which spoke nearly the same language with the confederate bands.  A female chieftain [Kakonghsaksea, or ‘Wild Cat’] was at the head of them.  They had never been engaged in war with the Five Nations, and had always received their armies or war parties with great hospitality, but the latter, having suspected they had sent information of their movements to the enemy, determined to adopt by force the people of this village into the number of the Five Nations.

For this purpose, a body of warriors was assembled from all Five Fires.  They, proceeding to this village of Teyotchirheo [modern Buffalo], the inhabitants of which, not suspecting their intention, received them with their wonted hospitality.  The next morning, when the warriors had formed into a body, apparently with an intention of continuing on their route, the chief of the Onniyouthaga, or Oneida, called out, “My paddle is broken”.  This was the signal for the assault.  The inhabitants were immediately surrounded and taken prisoner without any loss of blood on either side.  They were afterwards adopted throughout the different families of the Five Nations.

* * * * *

It is related of the Caghkwague [Kahkwa] villages prior to their final destruction that having gained some advantages over the Ondowaga, a cessation of hostilities had taken place, when the latter, suspecting them of evil designs, sent two men to the village of Tegotchirheon instructed to pry into their intentions.  On arriving there, to prevent suspicion, they pretended to have been hunting, and that their intention in coming was to buy tobacco, having expended the stock they had brought from home.

At this village they learned that the principal parts had gone to Cahgkwague to be present at a festival held there.  They took their departure as if to return to the hunting ground, but as soon as they were out of sight of the village, they changed course and took a direction for Teyoghseroro, or Buffalo Creek, which they reached in the afternoon, and found the village almost destitute of inhabitants.  They were informed that they were also gone to Caghkwague to the feast.  After leaving the village, without being perceived, they took a course for the place, and arrived there after dark.

They remained in the lobby of the townhouse, where they saw all the people assembled.  After a little time, they heard the chief recapitulate in a speech the result of their deliberations.  It was resolved to invade the country of the Ondowaga in five days.  He concluded by exhorting the warriors to be ready to set out at the time appointed, that no delay should be made lest the Five Nations, who were sharp-sighted, might discern their intentions and prepare themselves accordingly to frustrate the enterprise.

The spies, on this discovery, hastened to their village, and gave necessary information to the chiefs, who immediately dispatched runners to the Cayugwas [Cayuga], requesting them to assemble their warriors and hasten to their assistance.  They forwarded the same intelligence to the Onontagues [Onondaga], and from these the warlike summons passed to the bands of Onniyout [Oneida] and Kanyenke [Mohawk].

On receiving the message, the warriors of different bands immediately seized their arms and sang the song of war.  They proceeded to the frontier without delay.  When they arrived at the village of the Ondowaga, they met the scouts with intelligence of the approach of the enemy, who told them that they had left them making a bridge across the Geneseo River, about half a day’s journey from where they awaited them.  The chiefs then sent a party of active warriors to pass in the rear of the enemy, and after he had crossed the bridge, and there cut the posts which supported it, almost through, so that with the additional weight of many people they might break, and the whole fall into the water.

On the summit of a hill, the warriors of the five Nottowegui [Iroquois] bands were ranged in expectation of the fight.  The invading enemy approached, when within the arrows’ flight the war shout was given, the arrows flew, and the warriors rushed forward with the club and spear.  The battle raged with equal fury on both sides, and many a valiant warrior fell. 

At last, those who had been dispatched to weaken the supporters of the bridge shewed themselves in the rear of the enemy, and attacked those a little eloigned from the main body.  This turned the fortune of the day, till then dubious, in favor of the Five Nations.  The warriors of Caghkwague were thrown into confusion and routed with great slaughter.  They retreated, and when crowded on the bridge, the posts broke through, and all that were on it thrown into the water.  This accident redoubled the confusion, and many were killed by the arrows of the victorious bands, and others were overtaken in the river.

The vanquished, on undertaking the expedition, had felt so assured of an easy contest that they brought with them moccasins of different sizes to put on the children whom they expected to lead back captives.  Shortly after this, the Five Nations attacked them in turn, and entirely overcame them.

* * * * *

- Klink, Karl, and James Talman, ed.  The Journal of Major John Norton, 1816, pp. 206, 210-211, 219-221.  (Toronto: Champlain Society, 1970).

Moravian missionary John Heckwelder on the Talligewi, 1819

* * * * *

The Lenni Lenape (according to the traditions handed down to them by their ancestors) resided many hundred years ago, in a very distant country in the western part of the American continent. For some reason, which I do not find accounted for, they determined on migrating to the eastward, and accordingly set out together in a body.  After a very long journey, and many nights encampments by the way, they at length arrived on the Namsesi Sipu, where they fell in with the Mengwe, who had likewise emigrated from a distant country, and had struck upon this river
somewhat higher up. Their object was the same with that of the Delaware; they were proceeding on to the eastward, until they should find a country that pleased them.  The spies which the Lenape had sent forward for the purpose of reconnoitering, had long before their arrival discovered that the country east of the Mississippi was inhabited by a very powerful nation, who
had many large towns built on the great rivers flowing through their land. Those people (as I was told) called themselves Talligeu or Talligewi. Colonel John Gibson, 1 however, a gentle man who has a thorough knowledge of the Indians, and speaks several of their languages, is of opinion that they were not called Talligewi, but Alligewi, and it would seem that he is right, from the traces of their name which still remain in the country, the Allegheny river and mountains having indubitably been named after them. The Delawares still call the former Alligewi Sipu, the River of the Alligewi. We have adopted, I know not for what reason, its Iroquois name, Ohio, which the French had literally translated into La Belle Riviere, The Beautiful River. A branch of it, however, still retains the ancient name Allegheny.

Many wonderful things are told of this famous people. They are said to have been remarkably tall and stout, and there is a tradition that there were giants among them, people of a much larger size than the tallest of the Lenape. It is related that they had built to themselves regular fortifications or entrenchments, from whence they would sally out, but were generally repulsed. I have seen many of the fortifications said to have been built by them, two of which, in particular, were remarkable. One of them was near the mouth of the river Huron, which empties itself into the Lake St. Clair, on the north side of that lake, at the distance of about 20 miles N. E. of Detroit. This spot of ground was, in the year 1786, owned and occupied by a Mr. Tucker. The other works, properly entrenchments, being walls or banks of earth regularly thrown up, with a deep ditch on the outside, were on the Huron river, east of the Sandusky, about six or eight miles from Lake Erie. Outside of the gateways of each of these two entrenchments, which lay within a mile of each other, were a number of large flat mounds, in which, the Indian pilot said, were buried hundreds of the slain Talligewi, whom I shall hereafter with Colonel Gibson call Alligeiui. Of these entrenchments, Mr. Abraham Steiner, who was with me at the time when I saw them, gave a very accurate description, which was published at Philadelphia, in 1789 or 1790, in some periodical work the name of which I cannot at present remember. When the Lenape arrived on the banks of the Mississippi, they sent a message to the Alligewi to request permission to settle themselves in their neighbourhood. This was refused them, but they obtained leave to pass through the country and seek a settlement farther to the eastward. They accordingly began to cross the Namsesi Sipu, when the Alligewi, seeing that their numbers were so very great, and in fact they consisted of many thousands, made a furious attack on those who had
crossed, threatening them all with destruction, if they dared to persist in coming over to their side of the river. Fired at the treachery of these people, and the great loss of men they had sustained, and besides, not being prepared for a conflict, the Lenape consulted on what was to be done; whether to retreat in the best manner they could, or try their strength, and let the enemy see that they were not cowards, but men, and too high-minded to suffer themselves to be driven off before they had made a trial of their strength, and were convinced that the enemy was too powerful for them. The Mengwe, who had hitherto been satisfied with being spectators from a distance, offered to join them, on condition that, after conquering the country, they should be entitled to share it with them; their proposal was accepted, and the resolution was taken by the two nations, to conquer or die.

Having thus united their forces, the Lenape and Mengwe declared war against the Alligewi, and great battles were fought, in which many warriors fell on both sides. The enemy fortified their large towns and erected fortifications, especially on large rivers, and near lakes, where they were successively attacked and sometimes stormed by the allies. An engagement took place in which hundreds fell, who were afterwards buried in holes or laid together in heaps and covered over with earth.  No quarter was given, so that the Alligewi, at last, finding that their destruction was inevitable if they persisted in their obstinacy, abandoned the country to the conquerors, and fled down the Mississippi river, from whence they never returned. The war which was carried on with this nation, lasted many years, during which the Lenape lost a great number of their warriors, while the Mengwe would always hang back in the rear, leaving them to face the enemy. In the end, the conquerors divided the country between themselves; the Mengwe made choice of the lands in the vicinity of the great lakes, and on their tributary streams, and the Lenape took possession of the country to the south. For a long period of time, some say many hundred years, the two nations resided peaceably in this country, and increased very fast; some of their most enterprising huntsmen and warriors crossed the great swamps, 1 and falling on streams running to the eastward, followed them down to the great Bay River, thence into the Bay itself, which we call Chesapeake.

* * * * *

- Heckwelder, John.  Account of the History, Manners, and Customs of the Indian Nations who once inhabited Pennsylvania and the Neighboring States, pp. 47-50.  (Philadelphia: Lippincott’s Press, 1881) [originally published in 1819]

Tuscarora artist David Cusik on the Squawkihaw and the Erians, 1828

* * * * *

About this time the Te-hoo-nea-nyo-hent, or Senecas was at war with the Squawkihows, a powerful tribe passed the banks of the Genesee river; after various engagements the Senecas sent an army to scourge the enemy, but were repulsed with a severe loss; the melancholy intelligence was soon conveyed to Onondaga and informed the king of their defeat ; a powerful army of the allies were soon directed against the Squawkihows; after a long siege the principal fort was
surrendered without discretion, and the chief was taken prisoner, put to death, the war terminated, however a remnant of the Squawkihows were allowed to remain in the country and became vassals to the five nations after the conquest.  The government ordered the Senecas to settle the country and to build forts on the Genesee river as to keep Squaukihaws in subjection, for fearing in time they might create a rebellion.  The Senecas now possessed along the bank of the Great Lake, now Ontario, to the creek called Kenaukarent, now Oak Orchard, the bank of the river Onyakarra, now Niagara, possessed by Twakanhah, [Misissaugers.]

* * * * *

About this time the Kanneastokaroneah or Erians sprung from the Senecas, and became numerous and powerful nation, occupying the country lying between the Genesee and Niagara Rivers.  It was supposed that the national sovereignity was confirmed by the Senate of the Five Nations.  A Queen, named Yagowanea, resided at the fort Kauhanauka,(said Ttiscarora.) She had an influence among the people, and extended her authority over twelve forts of the country.  A treaty of peace was concluded between her and the Twakanhah, (Messissaugers.)  After a time dissentions broke out between the Five Nations and the Messissaugers, and soon commenced hostilities ; but the war was regulated under her control.  The Queen lived outside the fort in a long house, which was called a Peace House.  She entertained the two parties who were at war with each other: indeed, she was called the mother of the Nations.  Each nation sent her a belt of wampum as a mark of respect, but where the Five Nations were engaged in the warfare she admitted two Canandaigua warriors into her house; and just as they began to smoke the pipe of peace a small party of the Messissaugers too came into the house.  She betrayed her visitors — she advised the Messissaugers to kill the warriors, which was soon executed ; the Messissaugers soon retired.  The Queen was informed that the two warriors of Canandaigua had been over the river and killed a young prince of the Messissaugers: this offence was too great to pass without condemning the murderers; the reason she gave them up.  She immediately went and consulted the chieftain of the band, stationed at Kanhaitauneekay, east of Onondaga village, Buffalo reservation, and from thence repaired to f ort Kauquatkay, situated on the Lake Erie, the residence of the Kaunaquavouhar, a chief commander of the Erian forces.  She dispatched two
runners to assemble the people at Kanquatkay: the Queen too sends an embassy to form an alliance with the Naywaunaukauraunah, a savage tribe, encamped on the lake Erie, to unite against the Five Nations.  During the absence of the Queen from the fort Kauhanauka, a woman went privately and took a canoe and proceeded on the lake Ontario, towards Canandaigua, as fast as possible ; she left the canoe at some place and went through the woods, and came late in the evening at Canandaigua, a fortified town, and immediately informed the Governor, Shorihowanc, that the Erians were making preparations to destroy the people living on the east side of Genesee river.  The woman gave direction how to send the spies: the governor rose in the morning and sent out two fast runners to the fort Kauhanauka, to ascertain the matter; the two spies came to an old cornfield south of the fort, where they met some boys hunting squirrels; the spies made inquiries and received all necessary information respecting the Erian's Council at Kauquatkay, and went home as fast as possible.  The Governor Sorihowane, obtained the news. The business was so in haste that it was impossible to procure any aid from the allies.  He collected the warriors from the neighboring forts, amounting to fifteen hundred besides the women and the old men.  The governor separated the people into three divisions; first the men, between thirty and fifty years of age; second division, the men were from twenty to thirty years of age; third division, were women and old men. — The Governor had commanded the leaders to be in good courage and use all the means in their power to defeat the enemy. After parading the divisions they marched towards the Genesee River; the army halted at the fort Kawnesats, situated on a small lake east of Genesee.  The governor had sent runners to observe the motions of the enemy.  The women and old men were to remain at fort to cook and provide provisions for the people.  The runners came in and announced that the Erians had crossed the Genesee river; the divisions immediately proceeded and laid an ambush on both side the path; the first division was in front to .commence the action at the advance of the enemy.  With a stratagem a certain warrior was dressed with a bear skin, and was seated on the path a little distance from the front of the division, meanwhile the enemy came up and saw the bear sitting at ease; the enemy chase it, which brought them in the midst of the division; at once burst a most hideous yell, followed with a rattling of war clubs.  After a severe contest the first division was compelled to retreat, but the assistance of the second company came up and the battle was renewed.  At last the Erians fled from the field, leaving six hundred warriors slain.  The enemy hurried to cross the Genesee river; the Governor declined to chase the enemy, but returned to Canandaigua.  About this time the King of the Five Nations had ordered the great war chief Shoribowane, (a Mohawk,) to march directly with an army of five thousand warriors to aid the Governor of Canandaigua against the Erians, to attack the fort Kauquatkay, endeavor to extinguish the council fire of the
enemy, which was becoming dangerous to the neighboring nations; but unfortunately during the seige a shower of arrows was flying from the fort, the great war Chief Shorihowane was killed and his body conveyed back to Genesee and was buried in a solemn manner ; but however, the seige continued for several days.  The Queen sued for peace, — the army immediately ceased
from hostilities and left the Erians entire possession of the country.

* * * * *

- Cusik, David.  David Cusick’s Sketches of Ancient History of the Six Nations, pp. 23-24, 39-41.  (Lockport: Cooley & Lathrop, Printers, 1825).

BIA ethnologist Henry Schoolcraft on the Eries, 1853

* * * * *

Recent research denotes that the word Catawba is not of much antiquity, and cannot be relied on as a guide or clue in the investigation of their early history. It appears to have been bestowed, before the middle of the 17th century, by some tribe speaking the Algonquin language, in which the final syllables, awba, mean male.  The Catawbas possessed, from the earliest notices, a fixed character for indomitable courage and consummate art in forest life.

By an apparently authentic manuscript memoir of their traditions, in the official archives of South Carolina, a copy of which is herewith submitted, they are stated to be a northern tribe, having been driven, about 1650, under a very perilous state of their affairs, from the line of the great lakes, by their inveterate enemies, the Connewangoes.

Connewango river enters the Alleghany river on the north, from the Great Valley, and is the ultimate outlet of Chatauque lake, through which an important ancient line of Indian portages existed to lake Erie.  It draws its waters within seven miles of the southern borders of that lake. The Indians who occupied it were Seneca Iroquois, and bore, it appears from this tradition, the local appellation of Connewangoes.  The Connewango is a copious stream, and is one of the true sources of the Ohio.  The descendants of this branch of Senecas, who also occupied the Olean fork, constitute the modern band of Corn-planter, and still live near Warren, on the Alleghany, others at Teonegono, or Coldspring, on the reserve of the Senecas, secured by the treaty of 1842.

The date given in the Carolina tradition, to the flight of the Catawbas from the north, coincides, within five years, with the last war and defeat of the Eries, agreeably to Le Moine.  This war broke out afresh in 1653.  In that war, the intrepid missionary to the Iroquois whom I have named, visited the Onondaga country.  On the 9th of that month, agreeably to his journal, his ears were startled by a dismal wail, which the Iroquois set up for the loss of three men, who had been killed by the Eries, "about a day's journey from the latter;" i. e. Onondaga.  They had also takenprisoner, and put to death, a great chief, called Annencraos.

In a formal address, which he subsequently makes to the Iroquois, on his mission to their country, and the French policy generally, he consoles them, in the Indian figurative language, for the loss of the Seneca chief taken by the Eries; and with the symbolic gift of a tomahawk to each of four cantons, he approves the renewal of the war by their cantons against the Eries, and concludes his address by urging them never to lie in wait, on the lakes, for any nation of the Algonquin or Huron stocks, while on their journey to the capital of New France.

It is clear that this renewal of the war against the Erie or Cat Nation, was agreeable to the French.  The latter never had any mission among them, and they were regarded as their enemies. Charlevoix places their final defeat and expulsion in 1655, only three years after the renewal of the war named by Le Moine.  The tradition that they encountered the adverse influence of the French, in being driven south — that is, the power of the French Indians, so called — is a feature coincident with facts otherwise obtained.

That the Eries should send forays into the Iroquois country, east of the Genesee river, such as that mentioned by Le Moine, favors the idea that their residence was not remote.  When Le Salle arrived on the Niagara river, in the beginning of 1679, twenty-seven years after Le Moine's trip to Onondaga, the Senecas occupied the entire southern banks of Niagara river, and the shores of Lake Erie, as high, at least, as the portage through the Chatauque and Connewango.  The Attionandarons, or Neuter nation, were then unknown; and the destruction of the Eries was a tradition.  Both tribes had fallen before the rising Iroquois power. The Neutral nation is not by any means to be confounded with the Eries, the latter of whom made forays, under their
connivance, deep into western New York. But it is manifest that they were a cognate people.  Cusic, in his Tuscarora pamphlet, places the Neutral nation, at an early day, on the Niagara ridge, and declares distinctly, that the neutrality which distinguished them for years, was at length violated, which brought upon them the ire of the Iroquois.

It is stated by the French missionaries, that the principal village of this nation was taken in 1651, when the tribe was destroyed, those who were not killed in battle being either incorporated with the Senecas, or dispersed.

Ila-sa-no-au-da, an educated Seneca chief, and a person well acquainted with the Iroquois history, in a communication, a part of which is hereto appended, is inclined to believe that the Cat tribe must have been the same as the Neuter nation; they only, however, spoke a kindred dialect, and concurred in a policy, at first kept secret, but afterwards being revealed, brought the whole power of the Iroquois on their backs, leading to their extirpation.  From all authorities, the two tribes at least spoke a kindred dialect, namely, a dialect of the Wyandot branch of the Iroquois.  It is fair to infer that they were closely affiliated.  If so, the territory of the Neuter nation offered a point of treacherous concealment for the egress of occasional small marauding parties, who crossed the Genesee, in their secret and isolated inroads, in the manner mentioned by Le Moine, in 1653.  The discovery of this treachery, by the reigning chieftainess, at the old stronghold of Kinuka, on the Niagara ridge, is distinctly stated by Cusic.  It led to their downfall. Their treachery brought down the immediate vengeance of the Iroquois, who attacked and carried their chief position.  The war against them was finished in two years, that is, by 1655, when, it is inferible, the survivors joined the Eries, on the sources of the Alleghany, and in the Ohio valley.  Here, however, they were pursued by the conquering Iroquois, who, the very next year, (1656,) began their war against the Eries, or, as the Iroquois called them, Attionandarons.  It is perceived, from the missionary relations, that this war with the Eries was ended in two years; so that by a vigorous prosecution of hostilities with these two cousin-bands, for four
years, or by another authority (which dates the taking of the queen's hold at Kinuka, in 1651), six years, they had conquered and subdued these two tribes.  So completely had their destruction and dispersion been effected, that neither the Neuter nation nor the Eries appear to have had a place in Indian history since, at least by these names.

But a more serious war, with a more considerable and also remotely affiliated people, now arose. The Andastes, or Guandostagues, occupied the area lying immediately west from the residence of the Neuter nation, between the Niagara river and Buffalo creek, extending west to the heads of the Alleghany. 

They were, it is believed, called Kahquas by the Senecas.  It is inferible from Cusic, and from the French missionary authors, that the Andastes or Kahquas, who were of remote kindred blood, sympathised in the destruction of the Eries and Attiondarons, and gave them secret aid in the war.  The Iroquois now turned upon them with the uplifted tomahawk.  A bloody and long-continued war ensued, which was not terminated till 1672—full sixteen years from its commencement—when they also were subdued and expelled from the southern shore of lake Erie.  There is no evidence now, but old ditches and embankments, and antiquarian relics, to show that these tribes had ever inhabited the country.

The Iroquois, who, by expelling the Neutral nation, and another tribe, the Mississagies, from the Ontario borders, had spread west of the Genesee, now extended their residence up the southern shore of lake Erie, from Deoseawa to the sources of the Alleghany, and to the Cuyahoga and Sandusky bay and river; the latter of which was, as we are informed by Lewis Evans, subsequently assigned to the Quaghtogies or Wyandots.

The war with the Andastes or Kahquas was of such a character that Iroquois tradition distinctly retains its memory.  It was so marked a triumph of Iroquois bravery, that eighty years have still left some of its leading incidents fresh in the minds of the Senecas.  When I visited the Iroquois cantons in 1845, to take their census, under the authority of the legislature of New York, I called the attention of the Senecas at Tonawanda, and on the Buffalo creek, and at Catteragas, and Alleghany reservations, to this subject.  It was from them that I learned that the people with whom their ancestors fought, and who so stoutly resisted their arms in the ancient homestead of the Andastes, were called by them Kahquas.

Agreeably to the traditions of Hayekdiokun or Black-snake,1 important battles were fought on the Deosewa or Buffalo, and on the Eighteen-mile creeks, at both of which the Kahquas were defeated.  They showed me some of the monuments of these defeats.  The survivors fled, and were pursued to the Alleghany, called by them Ohio, where they took shelter on an island, and partly through a finesse of the Senecas, were again defeated, and finally fled down the Alleghany river, and have never since appeared.

It is precisely at this point that the Carolina tradition of the Catawbas picks up the history of that enigmatical people, who exist as an anomaly in the southern Indian philology.  Admitting their flight through the Alleghany river, from lake Erie, under the name denoted, and the vindiction with which they were pursued by the Connewango Senecas, as events which are satisfactorily established by concurrent Indian tradition, it only remains to determine whether the Catawbas are descendants of the Attionandarons or Neuters, the Eries or Cat nation, or the Andastes or Kahquas.  The tradition of the year 1650, in the Carolina MSS., best agrees, in its general import, with the era of the subjugation of the Neuter nation of Niagara, and of the Eries of lake Erie.  By one authority, the assault of the main citadel of the Neuters took place in 1651, and all the authorities coincide in fixing on 1655 as the termination of the war with the last tribe.  The war with the Kahquas began the next year; but their expulsion did not occur until the lapse of some sixteen or seventeen years.  In the mean time, the remnants of the two first conquered nations fled, as this document states, at first to Virginia and finally to the Carolinas.

That the Eries lived in the Ohio Valley before their final defeat, is quite certain.  Mr. Jefferson, in his notices of the Indian tribes of the south, not only affirms this tradition, but couples it with the assertion that they spoke a language cognate with the Iroquois, and its affiliated branch, the Monacan, or Tuscarora.

Lewis Evans published his celebrated map of the British colonies in 1755, just a century after the reputed expulsion of the Eries. In his analysis preceding it, he describes the Eries as having inhabited the Ohio and its branches, by certain boundaries, from which they had been expelled by the Senecas and their western allies.  In this destructive contest, a part of the tribe were either extirpated, or incorporated in the Seneca tribe, or driven, indefinitely, westward.

The name of Catawbas, or Cuttawas, appears to have originated here.  The map contains a line called " the common path to the Cuttawa country," which starts on the bank of the Ohio, opposite the mouth of the Scioto river, and runs to the head of the Kentucky river, which was an important point in all the early Indian migrations.  This line denotes the ancient war-path between the northern and southern Indians.

It is perceived, from a survey of our Indian history, that the Iroquois language had, at the remotest era, elements remaining in some of the tribes occupying the slopes and summits of the southern Alleghanies or Appalachians. Of these, Mr. Jefferson enumerates all the Monacan dialects.  The Tuscaroras, Nottoways, Tuteloes, Meherrics, Chowans, and Wyanokes, were included in this class.  Nottowa, or Nadowa, is the Algonquin term for an Iroquois; and it may be conjectured that these elements of tribal developments were left behind in the original Iroquois migrations to the north.

The Tuscaroras were received into the Iroquois confederacy, after their ill-judged and most untoward rebellion against North Carolina, in 1712.  The Tuteloes and Meherrics were subsequently received and allotted lands with the Cayugas.  The Nottoways remained in Virginia. From a vocabulary of their language, which Mr. Jefferson transmitted to Mr. Duponceau, the latter immediately determined that it belonged to the Iroquois stock.

From a comparison of the Catawba language with the Woccoa, as recorded by Lawson, it is seen to be a dialect of that stock. Lawson, who travelled in 1700, from Charleston, South Carolina, to Pamlico Sound, by an interior route, mentions among the Indian tribes he found, the Kadapaws, a word in which we may probably recognize the modern cognomen of Catawba.  This was more than half a century after the date of the defeat of the Eries and Attionandarons.  In a subsequent part of his journey, he states an instance of the undying vengeance with which the Senecas and Oneidas followed these fragments of tribes into this remote quarter.

With these preliminary remarks, the Carolina manuscript, to which attention has been directed, will be the better understood.

* * * * *

- Schoolcraft, Henry.  “Observations on the History of the Ancient Eries”.  Historical and Statistical Information Respecting the History, Condition, and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States, Part III, pp. 197-203.  (Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo, and Company, 1853).

BIA ethnologist Henry Schoolcraft on the Erie, 1854

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Of the tribes who have figured in American history, and who have left their names on the territory, the fate of none has excited a deeper interest than that of the Eries; and they are perpetually brought to remembrance by the noble lake which bears their name.  Charlevoix informs us that they were exterminated in 1655.  Other authorities place the event in 1653.  The territory occupied by them, agreeably to these authors, was the celebrated valley of the Niagara river.  On its south banks their limits extended nearly from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie, with an indefinite breadth towards the Genesee river.  But on its northern margin, they were found spreading to a certain, but not great distance up Lake Erie, and eastwardly along the northern
head-waters of Lake Ontario.  According to the most moderate computation, they had twelve thousand souls, and four thousand fighting-men.  They are stated to have had twenty-eight villages, and twelve large towns or forts.  The country they possessed is described as eminently fertile, yielding the usual articles of Indian production ; and it abounded in all the game of its latitudes.  They were under the government of a queen called Yagowanea,' otherwise called by the French and Senecas, Gegosasa. In 1626, in the outset of the great effort made by New France to civilize and Christianize the Indians, the Eries were visited, and the peculiarity for which they are most celebrated was first brought to notice.

This peculiarity was the fact of their neutrality between fierce and powerful contending nations. Hence they were called by the French the Neutral Nation.  They spoke a dialect of the Iroquois.  By one authority, this is declared to be a dialect of the Huron type of this language, by another, the particular relationship is stated to be Seneca.  The neutrality spoken of was established between these two fraternal warring parties and their respective allies, namely, the Wyandots and Five Nations.

The settlement of Canada by the French, produced a split in the great Iroquois family; the Wyandots adhering to the Gallic side, and the Five Nations to the Dutch and English.  In this feud of the Iroquois, the Algonquin tribes, (or, as they were called by the confederates, Adirondacks, who were at war with them aforetime, were glad to make allies of the French and Wyandots.  Between these, the Eries occupied a geographical position on the banks of the Niagara.  They had already, from propinquity and habits, formed a close alliance with an Algonquin tribe on the west and north of Lake Ontario, called Mississaugies. They were nearly related to both the Wyandots and Five Nations.  Neutrality was their only salvation.  It was a delicate position, and required great wisdom to preserve it. Neuter nations, when the period
for action arrives, are apt to offend both sides.  It was certainly so with the Eries.  They finally offended both Wyandots and Iroquois; but it was the latter who turned upon them, with great fury and power, and in a short and sanguinary war, extinguished their nationality.

The cause and events of this war are left in obscurity by the French missionary authors, to whom we are so much indebted for facts in the early epoch of our Indian history in the northern hemisphere.  It appears, from researches and quotations which are made in the sequel to these remarks, that the Eries were visited as early as 1626, by the two missionaries, Sagard and De la Roche d' Ally on, who earnestly sought to open and consolidate Christian relations with them ; but they encountered extraordinary obstacles, and on one occasion a beating, from a misrepresentation of their motives by the Wyandots, who were fearful that such intercourse would lead to a trade with the French of Quebec and Montreal — a trade which they now eminently enjoyed, through the ancient and roundabout way of the great channels of the Ontawa and French rivers, to their advanced position in Lake Huron.  Owing to this opposition, Sagard withdrew all his efforts, and confined them exclusively to the Wyandots, among whom he labored, and, in the end, suffered at the stake.

Owing to these causes the affairs of the Eries were not subject to the cognizance of the French missionaries, and when, at the distance of many years later in the century, the way was in some measure opened to their access mto the Iroquois country, they found the Niagara valley in the possession of the Onundawaga or Senecas, and the tradition was then fresh that they, the Eries, had been expelled in a bloody war, and exterminated.  We have given the traditionary date of this event from the great historian of New France, in a preceding page.  It was the enterprise of La Salle that first opened the great lakes to commerce, and by its prestige and consequences, ecclesiastical and commercial, caused geography to recognize the Mississippi river.  Sufficient time had elapsed in the new epoch of missionary enterprise in New France, from 1655 to
1678, to cast a dreamy interest over the story of the extinction of the Eries; and their fate and fortunes have ever since continued to be the theme of historic sympathy and regret.

The veil that conceals their history is lifted in a curious, ill-digested, and obscure pamphlet of Indian traditions, by a semi-educated Tuscarora, which was printed in the ancient country of the Iroquois in western New York, in 1825.  According to this account, the war was caused by an act of perfidy.  Yogowanea, the queen of the Eries, was, in some respects, another Zenobia.  She is called the Mother of Nations.  She was placed at the head of the nation, having twelve strongholds, or forts, under command.  Her wampum and peace-pipe were held sacred.  The central point of power was at a place called Kienuka on the Niagara Ridge, and not remote from the present village of Tuscarora.  Protected by the sanctity of her character and office, as keeper of the symbolic house of peace, she had a contiguous edifice, where she received messengers and ambassadors from the Five Nations, Wyandots, Mississagies, and others.  It is evident that her authority extended not only to the foot of Lake Erie, where the strongest fort, called Kaukathay, was seated, but across the Niagara river and along the head of Lake Ontario, where an outrage occurred, which she caused summarily to be punished, which led, indeed, to the fatal breach of the peace, and had the instant effect to forfeit her character for neutrality.  The circumstances were these — Two Cauandaigua (Seneca) warriors had been received, and began to smoke the peace-pipe, when a deputation of Mississagies, from the north of the Niagara, were announced.  They informed her that the two warriors had just returned from the assassination of the son
of their principal chief.  They demanded the right of blood, and this demand was yielded, contrary to the sanctity of the refuge which they had sought. The visitors were betrayed and executed by the Mississagies.  Intelligence of this violation of her office spread in every direction. The Iroquois tribes, who were the aggrieved party, flew instantly to arms.  She dispatched messengers to explain her position to Onondaga; to Kaquatka (the modern Buffalo), where the principal commander of the Eries resided; she also sent messengers to form an alliance with a powerful savage tribe, called Waranakarana (probably Andastes), who were encamped on the banks of Lake Erie.  She went herself to Kaquatka.  She raised a very large force, which proceeded rapidly towards the Genesee river.

In the mean time, she had no sooner left her quarters near Kienuka, than a woman slipped off quietly, taking a canoe along the shores of Lake Ontario, and informed the Canandaigua chiefs of the murder of their warriors.  Shorikowani, the leading ruler, despatched two fast runners as spies, to proceed to Kienuka, to ascertain the facts.  On coming near the fort, they encountered some boys in an old corn-field shooting squirrels, and easily obtained from them the facts, without exciting suspicion.  Not waiting for aid from the Cayugas, Onondagas and other confederates, he immediately marched, in hot haste, with a force of fifteen hundred fighting-men, to attack the Eries at Kaquatka.  The warriors proceeded in two divisions, led by different chiefs, the old men and women following with supplies.  The bravest leaders were placed in command. Shorikowani led the whole, and had taken the precaution to send runners ahead, to
observe the motions of the enemy. When he had reached a small lake east of the Genesee river, which is believed to be Geneseo, the army halted at a fort called Hawnesats.  At this place the runners returned, and announced that the Eries had crossed the Genesee river with a large force. Shorikowani immediately planned an ambush on each side of the path.  The first division, or young men, was directed to bring on the attack.  As a decoy, a man was dressed in a bear-skin and directed to sit in the path, and when pursued to lead the enemy into the ambush. The plan succeeded, and brought them into the midst of the crouching Senecas, who set up a most horrible yell.  Yet they were defeated, after a severe contest, and forced to flee.  Shorikowani's second division now came up and renewed the fight.  Both parties fought with great desperation and obstinacy.  At length the Eries gave way and fled, but they gave a proof of their valor by leaving six hundred slain warriors on the field.  They hurried to the Genesee and recrossed it.  The leader of the Senecas was content not to press so desperate a foe, and returned to Canandaigua.

When the force of the Onondagas and other southern tribes came up to engage in this contest against the Eries, they mustered five thousand men. It was placed under the command of Shorikowani, a Mohawk.  With this body, flushed with the victory of Geneseo, he crossed the Genesee river, and pushed on to attack the strong-hold of the Eries at Kaquatka, determined to extinguish their council-fire.  But the place made a brave defence.  The Eries hurled their arrows from the fort in such showers, that its capture seemed improbable.  In this attack, the great chief Shorikowani was killed by an arrow.  This disheartened the besiegers much. They carried back the body of the chief, and buried it, with great state and solemnity, at Canandaigua. Meantime, the siege was continued several days. In the end, the Queen sued for peace, which was granted ; whereupon hostilities ceased, and the Eries were left in full possession of the country.

Thus terminated the first war with the Eries.  How long, or permanently, the peace made on raising the siege of Kaquatka, was kept, is unknown.  There is an authority for dating the first outbreak in 1634.  The Eries had shown themselves capable of presenting a bold front, and to be effective combatants with the dart and club; expert in action, and subtle in council. In addition to their own forces, it has been seen that the queen, Yogowanea, had engaged savage auxiliaries. There are notices to show that they pushed their detached forays and scalping-parties as far south as Onondaga.

La Moine informs us that in 1653, the war of the Iroquois with the Eries had newly broken out.  But it is seen, by reference to a prior author, that the Senecas for the first time attacked them, under the name of Attenonderonk, in 1647, when they took with great slaughter the town of Aondironons.  This town appears to have been in the present area of Canada, north-east of the Niagara; and the onset of the Senecas was so severe, that, owing also to the outbreak of a pestilence, they migrated across the Niagara into the territory of (what is now) New York.  If we apprehend rightly the date of Yogowanea's perfidy, and the true era of the rending of the bands
of neutrality of the Erie tribe, sixteen years had now elapsed since the great battle of Geneseo, and little less since the unsuccessful siege of Kaquatka.  This was not a comparatively long period of struggling hostility between two powers who were still on an equipoise as to strength and numbers, who both occupied a country of exuberant fertility, abounding with all the resources of aboriginal prosperity, and who were indeed, at best, with a few removes of affiliation, of the very same blood and language.  They were on a par in bravery, subtlety, and forest wisdom, and the same in their military and tribal organization; governed by popular will, ready at an instant, marching without baggage, and hazarding all for the glory of warlike renown.  This contest of Iroquois with Erie, was indeed like “Greek meeting Greek”.  For as yet, it must be remembered that the Iroquois, whose confederacy was not very ancient, had not prevailed
against their two greatest foes, namely, the Algonquins and the Satanas.  This is expressly stated by the most respectable historian of the Five Nations, who declares that it was the triumph of the confederates over the latter nation, that first inspired them with courage to attack successfully the Adirondacks.  But it is certainly a misapprehension, in the vocabulary of words and names which precedes his work, to give "Shaonous" as the equivalent of Satanas (devils). By the term Satana, the Dutch, whose trade, at the era, extended as high as Onondaga or the Genesee, described, doubtless, the fierce and subtle Eries, whose deeds were rife on the breath of rumor.  The French denoted them as the Cat Nation, but also used this term at the same time, as the equivalent for Erie.  Breboeuf uses the terms Erieehonons and Chats, as equivalents.  These authorities leave no uncertainty on the subject.  Besides this, the Shawanees, who were also called, at an after period. Chats by the French, and are so called at this day, were in 1653 still living on the Savannah river, in Georgia, and engaged in desperate wars with the Cherokees.

Of the final war, which overwhelmed the Eries, and, in Indian phrase, put out their council-fire among the nations, I made inquiries, while engaged in taking the State census of the Iroquois, in 1845.  Within ten years of two centuries had passed since that striking catastrophe; yet I found tradition, contrary to my expectation, to be alive and even active on the subject.  The Senecas called them Gwageoneh, and placed the turning battles on Buffalo and Eighteen-Mile Creek.'

Warfare, with the Indian tribes, is ever conducted by stratagem and ambush.  There is, it is believed, but a single instance in American history, in which they have boldly marched to battle against a European force.  Tradition represents their war with the Eries as having been preceded by feats of running and athletic sports, which had a sanguinary issue.  The Eries secretly mustered their force, and marched towards the Seneca country. In this movement they were discovered by a hunting-party of the Senecas, which had ventured west of the Genesee.  The alarm was immediately spread, and the Senecas mustered a large force to meet the invaders. The battle occurred Avest of the Genesee.  The Iroquois divided their warriors into two bodies, and made a fierce attack with their principal body, which, after a severe conflict, was driven back.  They were, after falling back some distance, supported by a second body, called the young men, who turned the tide of battle against the Eries.  Many were killed, in the hard contest, on both sides — many prisoners taken.  The Senecas claim to have fought this battle with the Gawagensea alone, and without aid from the southern cantons.  It is true that the Senecas always mustered the largest body of fighting-men; but all authorities concur in describing this war of extermination as the result of the whole force of the Iroquois confederacy, who, after a long protracted contest, carried their power completely west of the Genesee, and occupied the country, by conquest, up to the banks of the Niagara.  We are told that this final conquest
was effected in two years after the renewal of the war, and that it terminated in 1655.  That it was the result of many battles, in a region of large extent, lying on both sides of the Niagara river, is evident.  It appears from Breboeuf, writing in 1647, that only four Erie towns were, at that date, on the south side of the Niagara — that the Eries and Petuns, or Tobacco Indians, who were Wyandots, had been pursued and slaughtered mercilessly in West Canada — a fact which is confirmed by the large amount of human bones which are found through that district of country.  The result of the war might still have been doubtful against a people who were once estimated at twelve thousand fighting-men, had it not been for a pestilence which prevailed in the country north of the Niagara, which swept off greater numbers than even the club or arrow.

Seneca tradition affirms, that after the defeat of the most westerly bodies of the Eries, on the shores of Lake Erie, the survivors fled to the Alleghany river, called Ohio by them, down which they fled.  Some of the French missionary authors distinctly affirm, that portions of them were incorporated with the Iroquois, and that they constituted an increment in the Iroquois missions, and founded that of La Prairie, near the city of Quebec.  Their council-fire was, agreeably to the threat of the Onondaga council, put out.  Their name was obliterated from the number of tribes.  The places where they once dwelt knew them no more.  The once sacred peace lodge of Yogowanea was demolished. Niagara ceased to pour its echoes through their lands, to animate them to heroic deeds; and they have left no monument to carry their name to distant ages, but the sonorous epithet of Lake Erie.

The ensuing observations and researches among the folios of the ancient missionary authors, are the result of careful studies.   While they present a record of bygone exertions for the advancement and temporary exaltation of a race of men who appear destined to fade away before the firmer and progressive descendants of European stocks, they supply a chain of testimony which was before incomplete, that the long lost Neuter Nation of the French missionary fathers was the Eries, whose history and fortunes we have sketched.  It is not inconsistent with this view, that some fragmentary portions of the tribe, unwilling to submit to so severe a fate, fled to
distant regions in the west and south, as denoted by Evans  and Jefferson.  But it is to be added, that wherever they went, they were followed with the undying hatred of the Iroquois; and their name and lineage as a tribe are lost.

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- Schoolcraft, Henry.  “A Sketch of the History of the Ancient Eries”.  Historical and Statistical Information Respecting the History, Condition, and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States, Part V, pp. 197-203.  (Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo, and Company, 1854).

BAE ethnologist Henry Schoolcraft on the Alleghans, 1855

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The oldest tribe of the United States, of which there is a distinct tradition, were the Alleghans.  The term is perpetuated in the principal chain of mountains traversing the country.  This tribe, at an antique period, had the seat of their power in the Ohio valley and its confluent streams, which were the sites of their numerous towns and villages.  They appear originally to have borne the name of Alii, or Alleg, and hence the names of Talligewi and Allegewi. (Trans. Am. Phi. Soc., Vol. I.).  By adding to the radical of this word the particle hany or ghany, meaning river, they described the principal scene of their residence—namely, the Alleghany, or River of the Alleghans, now called Ohio. The word Ohio is of Iroquois origin, and of a far later period; having been bestowed by them after their conquest of the country, in alliance with the Lenapees, or ancient Delawares. (Phi. Trans.)  The term was applied to the entire river, from its confluence with the Mississippi, to its origin in the broad spurs of the Alleghanies, in New York and Pennsylvania; and the designation, to its sources, is still continued in use by that people. (Notes on the Iroquois.)  The transparency and brightness of the waters of the Alleghany river, and the liveliness and force of its current, correspond strikingly with those of the Ohio, attesting the discrimination and propriety of the original designation; while the Monongahela, its southern fork, is a still, dark, and turbid stream.

The French, when they came to behold the Ohio river, and to admire the enchanting vistas presented by its banks, as scene after scene opened up to them, like the scrolls of a beautiful panorama, literally translated the Iroquois name, and called it La Belle Riviere.  To contend for the possession of this country, blessed with a fertile soil, genial climate, and a much-prized fauna and natural productions, had been the cause of great aboriginal wars, ages before Columbus turned his prow towards the new world. From the traditions of the Lenapees, given to the Moravian missionaries, while the lamp of their traditionary history still threw out its flickering but enlivening flames, the Alleghans had been a strong and mighty people, capable of great exertions and doing wonders.  There were giants among them.  The Lenapees came from the
west: on reaching the Mississippi, they found the Alleghans occupying its eastern borders.  They also found the Iroquois, whom they call uncle, seated north of them.  A long war ensued, in which these two prime stocks were allied.  To defend themselves, the Alleghans surrounded their villages with intrenchments, and built fortifications. (Phi. Trans., p. 30.)  This relation is sustained, and enlarged, in some particulars, by Iroquois tradition.  (Cusic's History, vide Appendix 1.)  By it, the combination of the northern against the southern tribes, is made to appear more extensive, and the power possessed by the latter, in building forts and compelling
labor, is considered as very strong. Agreeably to both the traditions quoted, the Alleghan confederacy was finally defeated, and driven down the Mississippi.

We scan the plains of Troy and Marathon, to descry vestiges of events recorded by history.  Balbec is visited to wonder at its broken columns, and decipher its mutilated inscriptions.  The valley of the Euphrates has been ransacked, in modern days, to discover vestiges of Babylon and Nineveh. There are indeed no mutilated columns or inscriptions to guide the antiquarian in his researches.  But there are a species of archaeological vestiges, which carry historical proofs of the state of arts and manners of the tribes, who have left their rude vestiges beside the banks of
the Ohio and the Mississippi. These vestiges sufficiently tell the story of the people who once dwelt here, and are as well adapted to show their arts and condition, as the ruins of civilized nations do theirs.  A pipe of the lapis ollaris, or of serpentine — an awl, fish-hook, or needle of bone — a knife or dart of obsidian or flint — a discoidal stone, to be used in athletic amusements — a medal of sea-shell — a gorget of mica — an arm-band of native copper — a tumulus raised over the dead — a mound of sacrifice to the sun — a simple circumvallation, or a confused assemblage of ditches, mounds, and lines, around a village—a ring-fort on a hill—or, in fine, a terraced platform of earth to sustain the sacred residence of the Indian priest and ogema — these must be deemed evidences which accurately restore, to the mind of the inquirer, the arts of their authors.  They answer, I am inclined to think, the oft-made inquiry—who erected these earth-works ?  If the Alleghans built altars to the sun, on which they offered the pipes which had been used in burning the incense of the nicotiana—if they raised mounds and mausolea to the distinguished dead — if they fortified their positions to resist sudden attacks—if they worked, by a rude process of mining, as we see on Lake Superior, prominent veins of native copper, and exchanged the products for the obsidian of Mexico or the Rocky mountains, the sea-shells of the West Indies, or the glittering mica of distant regions, as their tumuli indicate — there appears
nothing wonderful in it. The only wonder is, that, with such vigor of character, as the traditions denote, they had not done more in arts and refinements. It is not to the rude hunter and nomadic tribes, confined in position, and without industry, that we are to attribute these relies.  Horde after horde doubtless passed in, from the west and south-west, during a long lapse of centuries.  It is the natural effort of the wild and unmitigated tribes of barbarians, to destroy the beginnings of civilization among their fellows, if they cannot share them. It is not, at least, to such hordes that we can ascribe the vestiges and monuments of the Ohio and Mississippi valleys, or of the
borders of the Great Lakes.  There are evidences of antique labors in the alluvial plains and valleys of the Scioto, Miami, and Muskingum, the Wabash, Kaskaskia, Cahokia, and Illinois, denoting that the ancient Alleghans, and their allies and confederates, cultivated the soil, and were semi-agriculturists. These evidences have been traced, at late periods, to the fertile table-lands of Indiana and Michigan.  The tribes lived in fixed towns, cultivating extensive fields of the zea-maize ; and also, as denoted by recent discoveries (Plates 6, 7, Vol. I.), of some species of beans, vines, and esculents.  They were, in truth, the mound-builders.

* * * * *

- Schoolcraft, Henry.  “Alleghans”.  Historical and Statistical Information Respecting the History, Condition, and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States, Part IV, pp. 133-135.  (Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo, and Company, 1855).

Historian John Gilmary Shea on the Erie, 1862

* * * * *

…At the same time Onondagas came to Montreal, as the Eries were waging a harassing war on the western cantons.  Peace was accordingly made in May 1653. In pursuance of this peace a part of the Hurons on Isle Orleans removed to Onondaga, and the Jesuit missionaries began their labors in the Iroquois cantons.  The menacing attitude of the Eries and Susquehaunas induced them to invite a French colony, and Dupuis, in 1655, began a settlement at Onondaga which proved but of short duration.  The Iroquois invaded the Erie territory with a large force led by Achiongeras, and after an obstinate fight took Gentaienton, a considerable town, slaughtering an immense number.  A few subsequent campaigns caused the Erie name to disappear.  The Onnoutiogas, Aliondi, Atiragenratka, Gentaguega, Atiaonrek, and Takoulgue were also subdued about this time or shortly before.  When the overthrow of these various tribes left them nought to fear, the Iroquois plotted the destruction of the French colony of St. Mary's at Onondaga, and the destruction of the missionaries who had begun to labor in the various tribes, and the French escaped only by stratagem in 1658…

* * * * *

- Shea, John Gilmary.  “Note 29, Page 66”.  A Description of the City and Province of New York, pp. 287-288.  (New York: William Gowans, 1862).

Author Charles McKnight on “The Destruction of the Erie Tribe of Indians”, 1875

* * * * *

The Eries were famed as the most powerful and warlike of all the Indian tribes.  They resided at the foot of the great lake of the same name, at a place called Tu-shu-way, now the opulent city of Buffalo.

When the Eries heard of the close confederation formed between the Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagos, Cayugas and Senecas, which went under the name of the Five Nations, they imagined it must be for some mischievous purpose.  Although confident of their superiority
over any one of the tribes inhabiting the countries within the bounds of their knowledge, they dreaded the power of such combined forces.  In order to satisfy themselves regarding the character, disposition and power of those they considered their natural enemies, the Erie
resorted to the following means.

They sent a friendly message to the Seneca, who were their next western neighhors and styled the Wardens of the Threshold of the Long House, inviting them to select one hundred of their most active and athletic young men to play a game of ball against the same number to be selected by the Eries, for a wager which should be considered worthy of the occasion and the character of the great nation in whose behalf the offer was made.

The message was received and entertained in the most respectful manner.  A council of the Five Nations was called, and the proposition fully discussed and a messenger in due time dispatched with the decision of the council, respectfully declining the challenge.  This emboldened the proud and warlike Eries, and the next year the offer was renewed, and, after being again considered, was again finally declined.  This was far from satisfying the proud Lords of the Lake, and the challenge was renewed a third time.  The young braves of the Iroquois now became greatly excited.  They clamored for the acceptance of the audacious dare, and, finally, the wise councils which had hitherto prevailed at last gave way and the challenge was accepted.

Nothing could exceed the enthusiasm with which each tribe sent forth its chosen champions for the contest.  The only difficulty seemed to be to make a selection where all were so worthy.  After much defi, one hundred of the flower of all the tribes were finally designated, and the day for their departure was fixed.  An experienced chief was chosen as the leader of the party, whose orders the young men were strictly enjoined to obey.  A grand council was called, and in the presence of the assembled multitude the party was charged in the most solemn manner to observe a pacific course of conduct towards their competitors and the nation whose guests they were about to become and to allow no provocation, however great, to be resented by an act of aggression on their part, but in all respects to acquit themselves worthy the representatives of a great and powerful people, anxious to cultivate peace and friend- ship with their neighbors.

Under these solemn injunctions, the party took up its long wilderness march for Tu-shu-way.  When the chosen band had arrived near their their destination, a messenger was sent forward to notify the Eries of their arrival and the next day was set apart for their entree. 

The graceful and athletic forms, the tableful yet not cumbrous drear, the noble, dignified bearing of their chief, and, more than all, the modest demeanor of the young warriors of the Iroquois party won the admiration of all beholders. They brought no arms. Each one bore a bat, used to throw or strike a ball, tastefully ornamented, being a hickory stick about five feet long, bent round at one end and a deer-thong netting woven across the bow.

After a day of repose and refreshment all things were arranged for the contest.  The Chief of the Iroquois brought forward and deposited upon the ground, a large pile of elegantly-wrought belts of wampum, costly robes, silver and copper bands, beautifully ornamented moccasins and other articles of great value in the eyes of the swarthy sons of the forest, as the stake and wager on the part of his people.  They were abundantly matched by the Eries with stakes of equal value— article by article, tied together and again deposited on the pile.

The game began and although contested with desperation and marvelous skill by the Eries, was finally won by the Iroquois, who bore off the prizes in triumph.  Thus ended the first day.

The Iroquois having now accomplished the object of their visit, prepared to take their leave, but the Chief of the Eries, addressing himself to their leader, said their young men, though fairly beaten in the game of ball, would not be satisfied unless they could have, also, a foot race, and proposed to match ten of their number against ten of the Iroquois party, which was finally assented to by the Iroquois, who were again victorious. .

The Kaukwaus, who resided on the Eighteen Mile Creek, being present as the friends and allies of the Eries, now invited the Iroquois to visit them before their return home and thither the whole party repaired.  The Chief of the Eries, as a last trial of the courage and prowess of his guests, proposed to select ten men, to be matched with a like number from the Iroquois, to wrestle, and that each victor should dispatch his adversary on the spot by braining him with a tomahawk and bearing off the scalp as a trophy.

This savage proposition was not pleasing to the Iroquois; they, however, concluded to accept the challenge with a determination, should they be victorious, not to execute the bloody part of the proposition. The champions were accordingly chosen.  A Seneca was the first to step into the ring, who threw his adversary amid the shouts of the excited multitude.  The victor, however, stepped aside and declined to slay the victim lying passive at his feet.  As quick as thought, however, the Chief of the Eries cast his tomahawk and at a single blow scattered the brains of the vanquished warrior over the sod.  His body was dragged out of the way and another champion of the Eries presented himself, who was as quickly thrown by his adversary and as quickly dispatched by the infuriated Chief of the Eries.  A third met the same fate.

The Chief of the Iroquois seeing now the terrible excitement that agitated the swaying assemblage, quietly gave the signal for retiring.

This visit and astounding victory of the Iroquois only served to increase the alarm and jealousy of the Eries and to profoundly convince them that they had most powerful and formidable rivals to contend with. It was no part of their policy to cultivate friendship with tribes growing daily stronger by union.  They knew of no better mode of securing peace by themselves but by exterminating all who might oppose them, and concluded that their only chance of success against this growing confederation would be to attack each tribe singly.

They were far more than a match with any one of the confederate tribes.  Should they wait to be invaded and cope with the whole united force of their adversaries, or should they make a sudden and secret movement and destroy them in detail?  The question was urgent and the decision was prompt, and a powerful war party was organized to attack first the Senecas, residing at the foot of the lake of the same name.

It happened that at this time there resided among the Eries a Seneca woman, who in early life had been taken prisoner and had married an Erie brave.  He had died and left her a widow without children, a stranger in a strange land.  Seeing the terrific preparation for a bloody onslaught upon her kindred and friends, she formed the resolution of at once apprising them of their danger.  At the first nightfall, therefore, taking the course of the Niagara River, she traveled all night, and early next morning reached the shores of Ontario.  Jumping into a canoe which she found fastened to a tree, she boldly pushed out into the open lake and coasted along to the mouth of' the Oswego, where was located a village of her nation.  She directed her steps to the lodge of the third chief and disclosed her fateful news.  She was secreted by this chief, and fleet runners were at once dispatched to all the tribes, summoning them to meet in grand council at Onondago.  When all were assembled the chief arose and in the most solemn manner rehearsed a vision, in which he said a beautiful bird had appeared to him and asserted that a great war party of the Eries was preparing to descend upon them, and that nothing could save them but an immediate rally of all their warriors to meet the foe before he could be able to strike.

This solemn announcement was heard in breathless silence.  When the chief had sat down there arose one fierce yell of rage and madness, and the earth fairly trembled as the mighty mass stamped upon the ground with fury, brandishing on high their war clubs and tomahawks.  No time was to be lost.  A body of five thousand warriors was speedily organized and, also, a corps of reserve, consisting of one thousand young men who had never yet been in battle.   The bravest and most experinced chiefs from all the tribes were placed in command; the spies immediately set out in search of the hated foe, and the whole body stealthily took up its line of march in the direction of the expected attack.

For several days they continued to advance.  They had scarcely, however, reached the foot of the Cun-an-da-gua Lake, when their scouts brought back news of the advance of the Eries, who had already crossed the Ce-nis-se-u (Gensee) River in great force.  The Eries had not the slightest intimation of the approach of their foes.  They relied upon the secrecy and celerity of their movements to surprise and subdue the Senecas almost without resistance.

The two parties met at a point about half way from Canandagua Lake and the Genesee River, and it was just at the outlet of the little Lake Honeoye that the struggle took place.  This small stream alone divided the two hostile arrays.  The entire strength of the Confederates was not in view of the Eries.  The reserve force of young men did not appear at all, being carefully kept concealed.

Nothing could resist the fierceness and impetuosity of the Eries at the first view of their hated foes.  They rushed through the intervening  stream and fell upon them with shrill yells and incredible fury.  The undaunted courage and desperate valor of the Iroquois could not avail
against such a terrible and irresistible onslaught and the first ranks were compelled to yield ground.  The entire force, the Iroquois reserve only excepted, now became engaged.  The shock of battle was terrible!  Hand to hand, foot to foot, they struggled long and desperately.  No
quarter was asked or given on either side.

As the fight thickened and became more obstinate and destructive, the Eries, for the first time, appeared sensible of their true situation.  What they had long feared had now become a terrible reality.  Their enemies had combined for their destruction and they now found themselves engaged in a desperate struggle not only for the glory, but for the very existence of their nation.

Too late to falter now!  They were proud and valorous and knew how to conquer, but not to yield.  The combat grew from that instant more bloody and obstinate.  The Iroquois feeling strong in numbers: fired with zeal and ambition; acting for the first time in concert and led
on by their bravest and mightiest chiefs, felt themselves to be invincible.  Though staggered at first by the fierce and repeated rushes of their opponents, they manfully rallied and returned yell for yell and blow for blow.

And now the awful din of battle rises higher and higher.  The war club, the tomahawk, the scalping knife do terrible deeds of death and havoc.  During the very hottest of this savage and bloody battle, the corps of reserve of one thousand eager and wrathful young Iroquois were secretly led across the stream and placed in ambush in the rear of the Eries.

Seven times had the brave and heroic Eries been driven across the crimson stream, and as often regained their ground and now when exhausted and hardest pressed by the appalling and unequal contest, the shrill, blood-curdling cries of the Iroquois’ reserve are heard in their startled ears.  Unblenched; disdaining to yield but ready to die, they turn to confront this fresh and formidable foe.  In vain!  In vain!  What could valor, however heroic, avail against this fresh swarm whose
onset was so terrible and irresistible.  The battle was lost and all that remained was to meet the death they courted like true warriors.  Hundreds were cut down and trampled over.  Only a comparative few of the Eries escaped to carry the sad news of their utter overthrow to their
wives, old men and children.  But the victors gave them no rest but pursued with the fierceness and tenacity of savage sleuth-hounds.  Few were left to tell the tale of disaster.

Tradition adds that many years after a powerful war party of the descendants of the Eries, who had fled beyond the Mississippi, ascended the Ohio and Allegheny and made a last desperate assault upon their hereditary foes, the Senecas, at Tu-shu-way.  A great battle was again fought, but with a like result.  The Eries were not alone defeated, but were slain to a man.  The places that once knew them, now knew them no more, and nothing at this late day but the name of Erie remains to tell that such a nation ever existed.

We find among the records of the Jesuit Missions another episode of this international contest which, although known but too few, is yet full of romantic interest.  Twelve years before the date of the great battle at the foot of Honeoye, the Jesuit missionaries were at work among the
Iroquois, but with scarcely any appreciable results.  When the news of the advance of the Eries was blazoned abroad among the tribes, Father Moyne was zealously serving at Onondago, where was stationed the Long Hook of the Five Nations.  Of those who gathered at the call of the council to meet the invasion, was an influential chief, Achiongeras by name.  On the eve of his departure he called on the faithful priest—pictured to him the perils he was about to encounter, wished to put himself under the protection of the Great Spirit and was finally baptized.  The converted chief, with the dews of baptism yet damp upon his brow, then started, at the head of his savage legion, on the war path.

The opposing forces came together, as we have related, with a dreadful shock.  When the lines of the Iroquois were slowly retreating before the victorious Eries, Achiongeras, whose intrepid bearing had made him conspicuous in the fight, suddenly paused amid the deadly conflict and beckoned to the braves who supported him.  They gathered about him at the signal.  Dropping upon his knee, the Christian convert lifted his crimsoned hands towards heaven, the group of encircling savages imitating the action, when with a solemn vow they unitedly plighted their faith in the God of prayer if He would only give them aid in this crisis of their peril.  The vow was honored from above.  Animated afresh, the wavering band regained its footing, won back its lost ground and paused not until the field was won.

Achiongeras and his followers were true to their pledge.  After the return of the victors a general council was called, when, by solemn decree, Christianity was proclaimed in the capital of the confederacy.  The French were invited over from Canada to plant a Mission.  Fathers Menard, Dablon, Broar, and Boursier, attended by a numerous escort of savages, launched their fleet of canoes at Quebec, ascended the St. Lawrence, the banner of the Cross waving its silken folds at the head, and amid the roar of cannon and the ringing cheers of waiting multitudes, landed, after a tedious but prosperous voyage, on the shores of Onondago, and soon after erected a house of worship; and so was founded the great central Mission of St. Mary, which, for a long time, grew and prospered, having its branch missions among the other four nations of the confederacy.

* * * * *

- McKnight, Charles.  On Our Western Border in Early Pioneer Days, pp. 7-13.  (Chicago: Education Company, 1902). [First published in 1875]

Educator Abraham L. Guss on the Utchowig, Chats, Eries, etc., 1883

* * * * *

This position seems to be demonstrated by the identification of Utchowig at the head of the upper West Branch, with the Eries, or Nation of the Chat, as the French called them.  Smith, in speaking of the Virginia animals, says:  “Utchunquoyes is like a wild-cat.  Purchas, in his “Pilgrimes,” says: “There is also a beast they call Vetchunquoyes, in the form of a wild cat.”  Strachey says the Utchoonggwai is a wild beast bigger than a cat and spotted black under the belly as a lynx.  

Ut-chun-quoy, or, perhaps, -quog, which equals –wog or –wig, is near enough Ut-cho-wig to be regarded as almost certainly the same word.  They are much more early alike than many other spellings now regarded as identical. 

Gen. John S. Clark maintains that the word “Chat,” as applied by Canadian traders and missionaries, did not refer to the wild-cat, but to the raccoon, and that there are reasons for believing that this Erie, or Cat, or Raccoon nation, which the armed Five Nations obliterated in 1655, at one time came from the Susquehanna, and probably even from the Chesapeake bay, and were even then known as the Raccoon People

The early Virginia writers, however, seem to distinguish between the wild-cats and what they variously term—rahaugheumsraugroughcuns, (True Relation,) arocouns, (True Declaration, 1610,) arougheuns, (Pilgrimage,) raroweums, (Gen. His.,) rakowns, (Whittaker,) racones, (Humor,) arrahcounes, and which are said to be “much like a badger, but living on trees like a squirrel.” 

On the other hand, Father Sagard describes the chat in a manner that leaves little doubt that the Erie chat was a raccoon, and that is the animal after whom they were named.  He says; “Nation of the Chat, * * * and it is my opinion that this name has been given them on account of these chats, small wolves or leopards, which are found in their country, of which they make clothing, trimmed and ornamented with the animals’ tails sewed around the edges and on the back.”  In Montanus, 1671, p. 130, we have an illustration of this tail ornamentation.  It is not material to our argument as to whether eragahjegosasa, chat, are to be translated raccoon or wild-cat. 

It would be perfectly natural, even if the Susquehannocks describes the distant town by an Iroquois term, that the two Tockwock interpreters would give it to Smith in Nanticoke or Powhatan; and, considering the adverse circumstances of the conference and the dialectical variations, Smith did well in giving Ut-cho-wig for Raccoon or Chat town; and there can be no reasonable doubt that they are “the Nation du Chat or Eriech-ronons” of the Jesuit Relations of 1641, and whose habitations may well be inferred, in 1646, by the statement that in approaching the Erie country from the east “there is a thick, oily, stagnant water, which takes fire like brandy.” 

In Smith’s day it would seem that they were yet upon the heads of the West Branch.  That Smith’s towns are not to be confined by the scale to the narrow limits of the lower river, as has been hitherto supposed, is greatly strengthened by the manner in which he has laid down on his map the three towns of the Atquanachukes from information gained at this same interview, which name is, no doubt, a descriptive title of the Delawares.  “Chickahokin” is certainly Chikohoacki or Chihokies, one of the name of the Unamis or Turtle tribe, and their locations is properly in the State of Delaware.  The Macocks may be the Minsis—the location, on the west side of a river, which, as Smith heard it spoken of, he has no doubt intended for the Delaware River, points clearly to the Minnisinks, above the Delaware Water Gap, as the council-house of that tribe.  The word is given by Smith as meaning a “Pompeon like a muske millen.” 

Heckewelder also gives it as meaning boxes made of the inner bark of elm and birch, used to pack maple sugar for transportation.  The title of “pumpkin eaters” may have been a Tockwock term of derision. 

In a Dutch reproduction of Smith’s map, in Montanus, 1671, this Delaware River is more distinctly marked, and the bay, at its mouth, is clearly delineated.  There can be no question as to the river and location here intended.  Beyond this river, and near the unexplored ocean, is the Atquanachuk town itself, and we find this name given on several Dutch maps for many subsequent years.  They are located well up in New Jersey, near New York, and were evidently Delawares.  DeLaet, in 1624, says: “The people who dwell about this bay [New York] are called Aquamachugues.” 

The Italian map of 1632 gives them as “Aguana Chugues.” 

William Strachey, in his book, calls them the Ac-quan-ac-huks.  Smith expressly says of the Susquehannocks: “Many descriptions and discourses they made us of Atquanachuk,” signifying that they “are on the ocean sea.”  Here we see how he got his information by which he located these distant people, and by analogy we must place the other towns far up the Susquehanna.  Hence we cannot agree that most of Smith’s towns “were in the present Lancaster County.”  Nothing, in a manner, is further known of these towns—at least not under these names.  It has been claimed that all these names of Susquehanna towns are Iroquois, of the Susquehannock dialect, but those making this claim have not deciphered their significations, and it seems most natural and probable that they came to Smith translated into Powhatan or Tockwock.  Names which the interpreters understood they would be as likely to translate as any other words; and they did understand those names as well as any other words they translated.

The Atquanachuk names were received at the same time, through the same medium, from the same natives, and they are not Iroquois.  We have, therefore, clear proof that they did translate these, and why not, then, the others?  Again, the Algonquin word for place, region land, country, is ohkeauke, in Delaware hacki, in Smith’s book and map ockeockack, etc.  This terminal evidently closes most of the names in both lists.  Some, or all, of Smith’s names are given on other maps, for more than half a century, but only as copied after Smith.  On subsequent maps, such as the Popple, where many undoubted Susquehanna Iroquois names do occur, none of Smith’s names are given.

We regret that we must leave much of interest connected with this subject in the uncertainly which surrounds it, provoked at the great loss of that information which an intelligent pen, at that period, might have given us in a few minutes.  We will pay our respects hereafter to the interior defunct tribes, and to the chief town, Connadago or Fort, which Smith says they had palisaded to defend themselves against their mortal enemies, the Massawomakes.

* * * * *

- Guss, Abraham.  Early Indian History on the Susquehanna, pp. 6-9.  (Harrisburg: Lane s. Hart, Printer, 1883).

Dr. William Beauchamp on the Erie, 1886

* * * * *

The Senecas had a conspicuous place in the Iroquois league, though the last to enter it, forming the west door, as the Mohawks were the east.  On the Dutch maps of 1614 and 1616, the Mohawks and the Senecas are alone designated, and for 50 years more the Dutch hardly mentioned any but these.  That they were kindred to the Eries is conceded. In 1615 Champlain spoke of the Iroquois and the Entouhonoronons, whom some have thought the Senecas.  In the explanation of his map it is said that “The Iroquois and the Antouhonorons make war together against other nations except the Neutral nation.”  They had fifteen strong villages, too many for the Senecas, unless the Eries were included.  That the Senecas differed from the other Iroquois in religious observances, totems and clans, habits of life and other things is very clear.  A marked distinction appears in their language and they were not very brotherly to the rest.  Long after the League was formed they were sometimes at swords points with the Mohawks, and the French
Mohawks did not hesitate to go against the Senecas, when they refused to fight against the other nations.

There is good reason for thinking them part of the Massawomekes of Captain John Smith's narrative.  Early writers made these any part of the Five Nations, but later students, to identify them, as in the case of the Entouhonorons, with both Eries and Senecas, these being firm friends until 1653.  Captain John Smith met these fierce enemies of Powhatan in their bark canoes on Chesapeake bay in 1608.  The general description is that of an Iroquois war party, though the name of course is Algonquin.  That he did not understand their language makes this almost certain.  He bought some of their weapons and increased his reputation by showing these, the Virginia tribes supposing he had taken them by force.  But a Maryland trader went to the Massawomekes in 1632, and there remains no doubt that this name included the Eries and the Senecas, then or previously allied.  They had palisades of great trees about their villages with galleries at the top.

* * * * *

- Beauchamp, Dr. William.  “The Origin and Early Life of the New York Iroquois”.  Address to the Oneida Historical Society, 29 March 1886.

Historian Mary Rose Holden on the Neutrals and the Eries, 1900

* * * * *

The occupants of the shores of this lake by the ancient and extinct tribe of the Eries, who were once the acknowledged pacificators of the neighboring Indians, and who preceded the Iroquois in warlike and civic power within that basin, gives a melancholy interest to whatever in the existing archaeological remains of the country, serves to restore the memory of their power.

They appear to have been in the plentitude of pre-eminence and of a civilized strength and influence at the period of the first discoveries of the French in the beginning of the seventeenth century.  The Wyandot-Hurons at that time had not been disturbed from the possession of their ancient territories on the shores and valley of the St. Lawrence.  The Eries seem to possess unique claim to remembrance, which cannot be urged by any other American tribe—a claim still older than the days of Hiawatha, viz.: that of kindling the Council Fires of Peace for all the tribes of the continent.

According to the French Missionaries, the Eries were at the head of the singular league known as the Neutral Nations.  Their territory extended from the extreme west to the eastern shores of Lake Erie, including the Niagara valley, and of whom the Kau-Kuas, of Seneca fame and tradition, were manifestly only one of the powers.  The dispersion of the Eries, according to European writers, took place in 1656 ; according to Cusick that event occurred at the time of Cabot.

The following facts are well authenticated: The Neutres kept their neutrality until 1634; they had 36 villages in 1641 and a garrison of 4,000 warriors, with a total population of 12,000.  The first breach of the Covenant was followed by a truce for nine years.

Their history, rise, spread and power and final fall is involved in a degree of obscurity which is all the more stimulating from the few gleams of tradition given.  There is no doubt that the Institution of the Pipe of Peace Council must have been subject to a very delicate exercise of authority, and which was also often fluctuating in its power, it was finally overthrown by some indiscreet act.  The power to light this pacific fire is represented as having been held by a woman, and after its final extinction in the area of western New York, it was equally clear that hereafter it began to flicker.  It was finally put out in terrible bloodshed by the increasing and conquering Five Nations.  The fate of the Eries has excited deep interest, and they are still brought to mind by the noble lake and its noted outlet the Falls of Niagara, the lake which still bears their once distinguished name.

They possessed twelve large forts, which were similar to the cities of refuge of the children of Israel.  The country was noted for its fertility, game of every kind abounded, and fruits of sunny France flourished in the open air.  The Eries were regarded as the Pacificators or Peace Councillors of the many tribes and confederacies which waged war so furiously one with another north, south, east and west of them. In the year 1626 they were ruled by Queen Yag-owanea,
"Mother of Nations."

She was called "Gegosasa" by the French and Senecas.  They spoke a dialect of the old Huron-Iroquois race, in morale and religious belief, that of living under a Theocracy, they also agreed with these Romans of the New world.  The Eries occupied geographically a significant position, their territory lay intermediate between all contending parties—red and white—the various Indian confederacies, as well as the rival European powers in the race for supremacy on the continent.  They had already from propinquity and from a certain community of habit, and in spite of their supposed perfectly established neutrality between the powers, been drawn into a secret friendship with the Mississagies who dwelt on the west and north of Lake Ontario. Totemic ties of consanguinity, as well as the sacred trust of Kindler of the Peace Fires of the continent, should have kept Gegosasa true to her guardianship and faithful to her vows of virginity, trust and Vows which required greater wisdom than this last Queen of her dynasty possessed.

The first war was caused by an act of perfidy, and from the account given by David Cusick, Yagowanea, was in some respects another Zenobia.  But Yagowanea sacrificed an empire of neutrality to the passion of love she entertained towards a Mississaga Chief.  There is a good deal of evidence given among many nations of this continent that the order of Vestal Virgins was a recognized one among the N. A. Indians.  This summer, 1899, while visiting Medad, I heard the following tale, scarcely yet has time elapsed to dignify it into tradition :

When the vicinity of Medad was first being searched for relics, some delvers in their diggings on a knoll overlooking the weird waters and their surroundings, came across a solitary grave which held the skeleton of a woman—what was left of her mouldering cerements and the crumbling bones exposed to the open air were all that remained of a woman of rank.  By what token, or by whom first whispered, it is not known, but 'tis said, "through loss of her virtue, this woman was buried in a lonely grave, her remains not being thought worthy of burial in the communion ' pit,' of family, tribe, or race."

According to Horatio Hale, "It is likely that the Eries separated from the parent stock earlier than the Iroquois, and that they were thus enabled for a time to avoid becoming embroiled in the quarrel between the two great divisions of the race."  Of this we are certain, that they were the first to turn their steps southward, cross the Canawaga (St. Lawrence), then turn their faces westward, and follow the setting sun, finally settling down in the rich fields and fruit lands of the central peninsula of Canaiderada, the country of "big lakes and rivers."  Father de La Roche, a Recollect, passed the winter of 1626 with the Neutre, Erigh, or Cat Nations—the first Frenchman who came in contact with the important neutral confederacy occupying the present Niagara escarpment.  Most of the villages were on the west side of the Niagara river, their country being
the ordinary, neutral passage way between the Iroquois and the Hurons—sworn enemies.  On all early maps the Erie cities of refuge, situated on Lakes Erie or Ontario, were at some distance from both lake and river, they were found some miles away from the water in order that they might not be surprised from sudden attack.

Father de La Roche, in his first attempt to Christianize the Indians, notes the peculiarity which distinguished the Eries from all the other nations of America—the astounding peculiarity of neutrality between fierce and ever contending nations.  They spoke a dialect of Iroquois in the western, and in the northern cantons the dialect was of the Huron type, while on the banks of the Niagara a very close relationship existed with the Seneca speech.

This is the only confederacy which we read of in America, which was governed by a woman.  According to David Cusick in his history of the Five Nations, first published in 1825, the final destruction of the Eries was caused by an act of perfidy.  The wampum and peace pipe of the Mother of Nations was held sacred; all who sought the shelter of her lodge were considered safe from their pursuers until such time as the question in dispute should be discussed by representative chiefs from the nations representing the litigants, the Queen, through virtue of her office, rendering judgment on the case, a verdict from which there was no appeal.

The central point of her authority was a place called Kieuka [Kienuka], on the Niagara Ridge and not very far from the present village of Tuscarora.  Protected by the sanctity of her office, a reputation which seems to give evidence of the truth of the assertion which has been made that the order of 'Vestal Virgins was a recognized one among the N. A. Indians, she had a council house and a contiguous building, where she received messengers and ambassadors from the
Five Nations, the Wyandot (Huron), Mississagies and others. Her lands extended to the foot of Lake Erie and along the head of Lake Ontario.  Near the "head of the lake" (Ontario), an outrage occurred, which she caused summarily to be punished, and which led to the fatal breach of neutrality.  The Seneca warriors had been received and had begun to smoke the pipe of peace when a deputation of Mississagies were announced.  These latter informed the queen that the two men before her had just returned from assassinating their noted chief, the queen's lover.  They demanded the right of blood, and this demand was instantly granted, though in violation of the sanctity of her lodge as a place of refuge. The Senecas were put to horrible death by the Mississagies.  Intelligence of this breach of procedure in the queen's office spread in every direction.  The Iroquois, the aggrieved party, flew to arms.  The Queen, when her frenzy of grief had time to calm, realized what in her temporary oblivion of all around her she had jeopardised for herself and people—she knew what awaited her at the hands of the Iroquois—but the warlike instincts of her forefathers rose to the occasion.  She at once dispatched messengers to Onondaga to explain her position and to modern Buffalo, her chief garrisoned city.  She also appealed to the War-an-ak-arana (Andastes), who were encamped then on the banks of Lake Erie to come to her assistance.  She went herself to Buffalo and at the head of a very large force of warriors proceeded rapidly towards the Genesee river where the first engagement took place. She was met by fifteen hundred Senecas under Shorikowana, a most noted Seneca warrior.  The two parties met about midway between Canandaigua lake and the Genesee river, and near the outlet of two small lakes, near the foot of one called Hon-ey-oye, the battle was fought.

When the two parties came in sight of each other, the outlet of the lake only intervened between them. The entire force of the Iroquois was not in view of the Eries. The reserve corps of one thousand young men had not been allowed to advance in view of the foe.  At sight of their opposing force on the opposite side of the stream, the Eries impetuously rushed through the water and fell on the enemy with tremendous fury. 

Notwithstanding the undaunted courage and bravery of the Iroquois they could not withstand such a terrible onslaught, they were compelled to yield the ground on the bank of the stream.  The whole force of the Iroquois, except the corps of reserve, now became engage; they fought hand to hand and foot to foot; the battle raged horribly, no quarter was asked or given on either side.  As the fight thickened and became more and more desperate, the Eries for the first time became sensible of their true position.  What they had long feared had become a fearful reality.  Their enemies had combined together for their destruction, and they now found themselves engaged suddenly and unexpectedly in a fearful struggle, which involved not only their high prestige as arbitrators of America, and also as the glorious custodians of the National Pipe of Peace, but the fate of their national existence now hung on the issues of the day.  They were intensely proud, the word of their Queen, "Mother of Nations," had from immemorial time been unquestioned law—a power felt and a superiority acknowledged by all the surrounding tribes. All these considerations flashed upon the minds of the bold Eries, and nerved every arm with almost supernatural strength and power.

On the other hand, the united forces of the once weaker tribes, but seventy years joined together as a league and confederacy by Hiawatha, and made strong in their union, fired by a spirit of emulation and excited to the highest pitch among the warriors of the different tribes brought for the first time to act in concert; inspired with zeal and confidence by the counsels of the wisest chiefs, and led on by the most experienced warriors of all the united tribes, the Five Nations were invincible.  Though staggered at the first desperate onslaught of the Eries, the Iroquois soon rallied and made a stand, and now the din of battle rises higher and higher, the war club, the tomahawk and the scalping knife, wielded by herculean arms, do terrible deeds of battle and death.  During the hottest of the con fight, which was fierce and long, the corps of reserve, amounting to one thousand young men, were, by a skilful movement under their experienced chief and leader, placed in rear of the Eries on the opposite side of the stream in ambush.  The Eries had been driven seven times across the stream and as often regained their ground, but the eighth time at a given signal from their leader, the corps of reserve in ambush rushed upon the almost exhausted Eries with a tremendous yell.

Shorikowana, the Seneca war chief, was, fortunately for the Eries, killed by an arrow, when Gegosasa proposed terms of peace, which were accepted, and the remnant of her warriors, bearing with them their wounded and as many of the dead bodies of their leaders as they could find, returned to Buffalo.  This first war ended in 1634.  Upon her return home Gegosasa found internal affairs in a terrible condition.  The campaign from which she had just returned proved
n the long run the destruction of the neutral Confederacy.  Prophets and Seers in this crucial hour foretold the downfall of Indian supremacy on the continent, dreams were dreamt, visions were seen, woe and the crying of women filled the land, for now the glory and prominence given to the women of old Canada was lost forever, henceforth woman would be degraded, and in her humiliation walk with downcast eyes and in humbleness of spirit until the hour of her redemption sounded.

Distracted by these prophecies and their implied reproaches on her conduct, self-accusations swiftly followed in their train.  The stings of an aroused conscience now rent her soul.  Where once quarrels and disputes had been settled by peaceful council and arbitration, feuds and seditions ruled, her reign as arbitrator was ended, her influence and claims to be regarded as the judge of her people's rightsand wrongs were openly jeered at and derided, her wishes once
law were set at naught and disregarded.

"Were these really truths which were daily being hurled at her as she endeavored to resume her old home life?"

"Had she indeed been the first to set the law of antiquity at defiance?  Was it not owing to her failure in preserving the laws governing totemic, joined to the violation of her vows of virginity, that had brought on such disastrous results?"

These and similar questions tortured her soul with the spirit of despair, but at last her courageous spirit whispered hope, "All is not lost," and she vowed yet again that if repentance and atonement could wipe out her bitter shame, that on her part should be done.  She determined to make a last appeal to the neutre nations to rally to her standard, beacon fires were lit, and her runners sent forth to summon a grand council.  She there confessed her sorrow and bitter repentance, and appealed to the noted chivalrous spirit of her audience for volunteers to aid her in recuperating their losses. Accompanied by her vestals, noted women, counsellors and the chief warriors who still remained loyal to her, she retired to Buffalo.  The flower of the nation left her after the first war, those still faithful and believing with their dethroned Queen that "all was not lost" for them, numbered fifteen hundred warriors; these left the disaffected in possession of the central and western towns of the peninsula and gathered themselves around their Queen at Teosah-wa (Buffalo).

The Secessionists were composed of bands of young warriors under no united leadership; each clan, under its own elected chief, strove for the mastery over the others in hopes of winning ultimate supremacy.

Adventurous hunters and builders of canoes joined their ranks.  The flint arrow makers had followed the queen.  Physically both parties of the divided Neutre Nations were the finest body of men on the continent.

This faction having thrown to the winds the most sacred traditions of their forefathers now gave free indulgence to their worst passions.  As through the act of their queen failure and loss of prestige had fallen upon them, the sex which had hitherto been so venerated and chivalrously held in their estimation and conduct, should thereafter be degraded and made to suffer.  As a nation they had lost standing and rule among nations through the weakness of a woman; the law regarding restitution governing their national procedure should now, proportionately, be put into effect regarding women.  In the tribal communal respect and veneration was paid to women among all North American Indians, in respect to prisoners who were tortured to death women were not to be subjected to the agonies of fire.  This law was now broken.  The revolted Neutrals not only caused female captives taken in their raids but also of their own women whom they knew or suspected still sympathized with Gegosasa to undergo the atrocious torture of fire, but delighted with fiendish revelry in their suffering death cries.

The richness and fertility of their soil—the abundance of vegetables, fruit and game to be found without almost any exertion—left the duty of providing entirely to the women.  Now that the men felt free from any tribal or national obligations to lead respectable lives, they gave themselves up to the enjoyment of every animal instinct.  Luxury and self-indulgence has ruined more than one nation which, unchecked by moral law, rendered no homage to, or destroyed the spiritual nature of woman.

Decadence rapidly followed this new mode of life.  A generation of sloth, gluttony and licentiousness of the most depraved character, with now and again as a bloody pastime, rousing themselves to perpetrate cowardly and ferocious raids against weaker tribes of the Algonkin race living to the west of them, brought on swift retribution.

The Mascoutins or "Fire Nations," the people who worked the ancient copper mines of Lake Superior, dwelt on the west side of the river Detroit.  It was on these people that the Neutral Secessionists, aided by the Ottawas, now warred. (June, 1642).  At the head of the largest combined force of warriors they could muster, they marched against the Fire or little prairie people.  They attacked a fortified fort, garrisoned by nine hundred warriors, who bravely sustained the attack, but after a s1ege of nine days the Mascoutins were forced to surrender.  A large number were killed during the siege, four hundred were taken prisoners, four hundred women and children shared the same fate and after having tortured the prisoners, burned the women, gouged the eyes and girdled the lips of the old men of the country, they abandoned their unfortunate victims in their helpless misery to a tragic existence and death.

When the Iroquois heard of these atrocities they met to the number of 1500 men, crossed Gegosasa's diminished territory and in rapid succession, entered village after village of the Secessionists.  The greatest consternation ensued, villages were abandoned and the inmates pursued by the conquering Romans of the new world.  After being hotly pressed and pursued by the Iroquois, over 2000 warriors, besides women and children were destroyed. Famine and plague destroyed this remnant of the Neutral Nation. The central and western country was devastated.

The Iroquois returned home, taking with them prisoners reserved for adoption or fire.

Meanwhile at Buffalo, Gegosasa still held sway as Queen of the Eries. The Kaw-Kaws, the largest tribe of her old Confederation, remained loyal to her.  Their lands stretched from eighteen mile creek (Jordan), along the north shore of Lake Ontario.  Near the "head of the lake" on the north-west of Burlington Bay, was stationed their village of Medad, built on the hill overlooking the small lake of the same name.

The ruins of this village visited by the early explorers and Jesuit Fathers, are still to be seen surrounded by much of their primitive beauty and natural loveliness.  The spell of nature overshadowing the weird surroundings is cast in a minor key ; the basin or crater of some long extinct volcano whose formation justifies the belief, forms the small, but ancient lake. The basin is placed away up on the hills, behind the valley of the bay, and. by hard measurement, bottom is not struck until a depth of nearly eighty feet.  All around the lake basin is a marsh or bog land, so soft in places that in spring time a pole may be thrust down into it to almost any depth.  Lake Medad and its immediate vicinity was in a past age of the world's history one of the great gathering places for Indian peoples of Ontario, they loved the spot, and not only loved and lived, but buried their dead there.

At the first council which the queen held after the Genese en gagement, the Eries decided to employ their time of truce in training their youth in every possible warlike exercise, in order to make themselves ready when the opportunity offered to retrieve their lost position with the Iroquois.  Still confident in their superiority over any one of the tribes inhabiting countries within the bounds of their knowledge, they trusted in what they believed to be their own inherent greatness, to re-assert themselves eventually with the Five Nations.  No protest was therefore made when deputies sent from Onondaga requested "right of way" over her possessions when the Iroquois set out to revenge the Mascoutin butcheries.  Gegosasa still nursed her projects for the future, and present peace must be had at all hazards.  There also remained little doubt in her mind of the results of an encounter between the warriors of the Great League of the United Households, and her own undisciplined, debased old Covenanters. Better far that those who had oncecalled her "mother," should meet their deserved punishment from the flail of the Iroquois, than that she should be forced to enter into matricidal war.

The overwhelming success of the Iroquois campaign, taught the Eries that this new confederation of tribes, any one of which might be almost an equal match for her people and of whose personal prowess they had witnessed on the Chinisseo, a prowess and fame heightened by the masterful manner in which the rebellious Neutrals had been swept out of existence, inspired Gegosasa, her councilors and warriors with most anxious forebodings.  To cope collectively with them, seemed to be now an impossible feat.  The only hope of the Eries, therefore, lay in being able, by a series of subtle strategic surprises, to destroy the Five Nations in detail.

It was the year of 1655, that the Eries sent a friendly message to the Senecas, who were their nearest neighbors, inviting them to select one hundred of their most noted athletes to play a game of ball against the same number to be selected by the Eries, for a wager that should be considered worthy the occasion and the character of the nation, in whose behalf the offer had been made.  Now hitherto, the Eries had been the acknowledged champion athletes of the continent ; in all hand and foot struggles they were unequalled.

The message was received and entertained in the most respectful manner.  A council of the Five Nations was called and the proposition fully discussed, and a messenger dispatched with the decision of the council respectfully declining the challenge.

This emboldened the Eries, and the next year the offer was renewed, and after being again considered, again formally declined.

This was far from satisfying the proud lords of "The Great Lake," and the challenge was renewed the third time.  The blood of the young Iroquois could not be restrained.  They importuned the old men to allow them to accept the challenge, and the wise councils which had so far prevailed at last gave way, and the challenge was accepted.

Nothing could exceed the enthusiasm with which each tribe sent forward its chosen champions for the contest.  The only difficulty seemed to be to make a selection where all were so worthy.  After much delay, one hundred of the flower of all the Five Nations were fixed.  An experienced chief was chosen as the leader of the party, whose orders the young men were strictly enjoined to obey.  A grand council was held at Onondaga, and in the presence of the assembled multitude, the party was charged in the most solemn manner, to observe a pacific course of conduct towards their competitors and the nation whose guests they were about to become, and to allow no provocation, however great, to be resented by any act of aggression on their part, but in all respects to acquit themselves in a manner worthy the representatives of a great and powerful people, anxious to cultivate peace and friendship with their neighbors according to the teachings of Hiawatha.  The party then took up its line of march to Teosahwa.  When the chosen band had arrived in the vicinity of the point of their destination, a messenger was sent forward to notify the Eries of their arrival, and the next day was to be set apart for their grand entree. The elegant and athletic forms, the tasteful yet not cumbrous dress, the dignified, noble bearing of their chief, and more than all, the modest demeanor of the young warriors of the Iroquois party, won the admiration of all beholders.  They brought no arms.  Each one bore a bat, used to throw or strike the ball, tastefully ornamented, being a hickory stick about five feet long, bent over at the end, and a thong netting woven into the bow.

After a day of refreshment, all things were ready for the contest.  The chief of the Iroquois brought forward and deposited upon the ground a large pile of costly belts of wampum, beautifully ornamented moccasins, rich beaver robes, and other articles of great value in the eyes of the Indians, as the stake and wager on the part of his people.  These were carefully matched, article by article, by the chief of the Eries— were won by the Iroquois, who bore off their
prize in triumph.  Thus ended the day.

The Iroquois having now accomplished the object of their visit, proposed to take their leave, but the chief of the Eries, addressing himself to the leader, said, their young men, though fairly beaten in the game of ball, would not be satisfied unless they could have a foot race, and proposed to match ten of their number against an equal number of the Iroquois party, which was assented to, and the Iroquois were again victorious.

The Kaw-Kaws, who resided at twenty-mile creek (Jordan) being present as friends of the Eries and umpires of the games, invited the Iroquois to visit them before they returned home, and thither the whole company repaired.  The chief of the Eries evidently dissatisfied with the result of the several contests already decided, as a last and final test of the courage and prowess of his guests, proposed to select twelve men to be matched by the same number to be selected from the Iroquois party to wrestle, and that the victor should dispatch his adversary on the spot by braining him with a tomahawk, bearing off his scalp as a trophy. This proposal was not at all agreeable to the Iroquois.  They, however, agreed to accept the challenge with the determination—should they again be victorious—not to execute the bloody part of the proposal. The champions were accordingly chosen.  A Seneca was the first to step into the ring, and threw his adversary among the ringing shouts of the multitude.  He stepped back and declined to execute his victim who lay passive at his feet.  As quick as thought, the chief of the Eries seized the tomahawk and with a single blow scattered the brains of his vanquished warrior over the ground.  His body was dragged out of the way and another champion of the Eries presented himself.  He was as quickly thrown by his more skilful and powerful antagonist of the Iroquois party, and as quickly despatched by the infuriated chief of the Eries.  A third met the same fate. The chief of the Iroquois seeing the terrible excitement which agitated the multitude, gave a signal to retreat.  Every man obeyed, and in a moment they were out of sight.  In two hours they arrived at Buffalo, gathered up the trophies of their victories and were on their way home.

The visit of the hundred athletes of the Iroquois and its terrible results only served to inflame the jealousy of the Eries, and to convince them that they had powerful enemies to contend with.  It was no part of their new policy to strengthen their power by cultivating friendly, or rather equal alliance, with any of their neighbors— they struggled to regain their ancient position as Arbitrators of the continent—the "Island"—as warriors, they must prove themselves "superior to all men."  As a league, the Five Nations could not be dealt with, they must be destroyed in detail.

With this view, a powerful war party was immediately organized to attack the Senecas.  It happened at that time that there resided among the Eries a Seneca woman, who during the first war had been taken captive and been married to an Erie, he died and left her a widow without children, a stranger among strangers, and now sadly alone, her heart and thoughts naturally turned with longing towards her old home.

Apprehending the terrible note of preparation for a bloody onslaught upon her kindred and friends, she formed the resolution of apprising them of their danger.  As soon as night set in she started on her journey, travelled all night, and early next morning reached the "head of the lake," where she found a canoe fastened to a tree, she boldly jumped in and pushed out into the open lake.  Coasting down the south shore of the lake she arrived at Oswego river in the night she was near to the town of Hon-ey-oye. 

She directed her way to the house of the head chief and gave him her information.  She was immediately secreted by the chief, and runners were despatched to all the tribes summoning them to grand council.  When they were convened, the chief arose, and in the most solemn manner, told the audience that a bird had appeared to him in a vision of the night, and that a great war party of the Eries was preparing to make a secret and sudden descent upon them to destroy them, that nothing could save them but an immediate rally of all the warriors of the Five Nations to meet the enemy before they had time to strike the meditated blow. These solemn announcements were heard in breathless silence.  When the chief sat down there was one yell of menacing madness, and the earth fairly shook when the mass of frenzied Iroquois stamping the ground with fury, and brandishing high in the air war clubs, demanded to be led against the invaders.  No time was to be lost, delay might prove fatal.

A body of five thousand warriors was formed, with a corps of reserve of one thousand young men who had never seen battle.  The bravest chiefs from all the tribes were put in command, spies sent out in search of the enemy, the whole body taking up a line of march in the direction from whence they expected an attack. 

Meanwhile, Erie scouts brought word to Buffalo of the approach of an armed force.  Gegosasa, with over two thousand warriors besides women and children, took refuge within the palisaded fort or fortifications.  This fortress, at present Buffalo, stood on a fine plain, and was surrounded by a high wall, formed of huge trunks of trees driven into the ground side by side, and wedged together.  These were crossed within and without by smaller and longer pieces bound to them by bands made of split trees and wild vines.  The whole was plastered with a kind of mortar, made of clay and straw stamped together, which filled every chink and crevice in the woodwork, so that it appeared as if smoothed with a trowel.  Throughout its whole surface, the wall was pierced at the height of a man with loopholes, whence arrows might be discharged at any enemy, and at every fifty paces it was surmounted by a tower, capable of holding seven or eight fighting men.  Whole villages were build of reeds and straw.  These forts were built in quadrangle form and palisaded.  The four sides were each four hundred paces in length from side to side, two other palisades divided it into separate parts.

As the Iroquois approached Te-osah-wa, two of the best chiefs disguised themselves in French military costume to frighten the Eries, and lead them to believe that the wonderful pale faces were with them.  These advancing within hearing distance of the fort advise the Eries to surrender.  "The MASTER OF LIFE fights for us," said one of the disguised chiefs. "Who is this Master of Life of whom you speak ?" replied Gegosasa. "We know of no Master save our right arms and our hatchets."  The assault commenced, the palisades were attacked on all sides, the Iroquois using every exertion to carry the Fort by storm without success, their warriors being killed as fast as they approached.  At length they resorted to stratagem, they converted their canoes into shields, and advancing under the protection thus afforded, they succeeded in reaching the foot of the entrenchment, using the canoes for ladders, they climbed the palisades in face of the enemy, who, having exhausted their munitions, stood at last within their own fortifications "at bay" before the foe.  Gegosasa, and one thousand of her warriors, disdaining to fly, and to afford, by a temporary resistance, time for as many as possible of her people to escape, now engaged in a terrible hand to hand and foot to foot engagement, the canoes gave passage way for continual reinforcements of Iroquois.

Intimidated by the boldness of the invaders, hundreds of the Eries fled Gegosasa and her women were secretly led from the fort, guarded by the Queen's body guard.  An indiscriminate slaughter of men, fleeing women and children now took place.  The blood of the victims ran as water.  The vanquished Queen and a remnant of three hundred fugitive Eries collected together and recruited their energies, they retraced their steps in hopes of surprising the enemy on his way home from the pursuit of their fleeing brethren.  The plan was well conceived, but failed in execution, Gegosasa and her noble "three hundred" were surrounded, taken prisoners and led captives to Onandaga, the Queen to await trial for her act of betrayal of the Sacred Trust, as custodian of the National Pipe of peace.  Her judges were chosen representatives from the Nations which at one time had ceased war at her command, and whose ambassadors had at her Council House at Kieuka, on the Niagara ridge, yielded their will to the utterances of a " Mother of Nations." 

The council fires of the Iroquois Confederacy accepted the judgment of the Onondagas, the senate of the Nations, which was, that the Erie Confederacy should be wiped out of remembrance, and their name obliterated from the number of the tribes of the Huron-Iroquois race.  The memory of such a dynasty as that of Yagowanea, "'Mother of Nations" was to be buried fathoms deep in the waters bearing their name, the Sacred Lodge of Gegosasa demolished and the Order of Vestal Virgins dispersed, the towns of Refuge covered up or reduced to ashes.
The confederacy of Neutrality, instituted in the days of "Antiquity" by the ceremonial of the Pipe of Peace, was left with no monument to carry their name save the name of the waters of Erie.

The embarrassments of the wounded and so many captives had detained the Iroquois nearly two months in the country of the Neutrals.  The Niagara Peninsula hereafter was annexed as "Hunting Grounds" to the territory of the Iroquoise.  The rapids of Niagara which for ages have rushed through forest walls and rocky flats, haunted by the rattle-snake, are still hurrying with impetuous speed over rough and stony bed to yield their quota of "smoke" to the ever rising heaven ward incense of Niagara "in memoriam" of the broken covenant of the "peace and good will towards men," which once ruled over the Council fires of Central Canaiderada.

The legend is told among the Chippawa tribe, that before Nature sleeps, she clothes herself in royal robes of purple, scarlet and gold in all the glorious mystery of the Indian summer.  At that season (October) the Chippawa came to Niagara to make their annual sacrifice to "The Spirit," which dwelt behind the rocks.  They chose a victim from the loveliest of their Vestals—the one chosen by lot was sent forth in a newly made white birch canoe, clothed in a tunic of swans' skins, over which fell as a mantle the glory of a woman, her long hair, ornamented with wreaths of flowers, around her neck were hung strings of white Wampum —the sign manual of her people that this particular maiden was the victim chosen by the tribe.  From the Chippawa shore she was sped forth on the seething rapids above the Falls, an offering to the Mighty Being, who also would draw to himself over the cataract, twelve for the one withheld, before as many moons should wax and wane.  One autumn, the lot of sacrifice fell upon an aged sachem's only child, the sole comfort of his old age.  He opened not his mouth, and was dumb under the doom of the
choice, but to live without her he could not.

When she was far out on the seething treacherous waters, the canoe of the unhappy father shot like an arrow from the bank to join with his child in death. Thus father and daughter met again at the moment the terrible "smoking caldron below arched over with innumerable irridescent
rainbows claimed the double sacrifice.

"Ye say they all have passed away,
That noble race and brave.
That their light canoes have vanished
From off the crested wave.
That 'mid the forest where they roved,
There rings no hunter's song shout
But their name is on our waters.
And ye cannot wash it out."

* * * * *

- Holden, Mary Rose.  “The Neutrals.  The Eries”.  Journals and Proceedings of the Hamilton Scientific Association, Number XVI, pp. 44-60.  (Hamilton: Spectator Printing Company, 1900).

BAE ethnologist James Mooney on the Talligewi, 1900

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The most ancient tradition concerning the Cherokee appears to be the Delaware tradition of the expulsion of the Talligewi from the North as first noted by the missionary Heckewelder in 1819, and published more fully by Brinton in the Walam Olum in 1885. According to the first account, the Delawares, advancing from the west, found their further progress opposed by a powerful people called Alligewi or Talligewi, occupying the country upon a river which Heckewelder thinks identical with the Mississippi, but which the sequel shows was more probably the Upper Ohio. They were said to have regularly built earthen fortifications, in which they defended themselves so well that at last the Delawares were obliged to seek the assistance of the "Mengwe," or Iroquois, with the result that after a warfare extending over many years the Alligewi finally received a crushing defeat, the survivors fleeing down the river and abandoning the country to the invaders, who thereupon parceled it out amongst themselves, the "Mengwe" choosing the portion about the Great Lakes while the Delawares took possession of that to the south and east. The missionary adds that the Allegheny (and Ohio) River was still called by the Delawares the Alligewi Sipu, or river of the Alligewi. This would seem to indicate it as the true river of the tradition. He speaks also of remarkable earthworks seen by him in 1789 in the neighborhood of Lake Erie, which were said by the Indians to have been built by the extirpated tribe as defensive fortifications in the course of this war. Near two of these, in the vicinity of Sandusky, he was shown mounds under which it was said some hundreds of the slain Talligewi were buried.

As is usual in such traditions, the Alligewi were said to have been of giant stature, far exceeding their conquorers in size.

In the Walam Olum, which is, it is asserted, a metrical translation of an ancient hieroglyphic bark record discovered in 1820, the main tradition is given in practically the same way, with an appendix which follows the fortunes of the defeated tribe up to the beginning of the historic period, thus completing the chain of evidence.

In the Walam Olum also we find the Delawares advancing from the west or northwest until they come to "Fish River"--the same which Heckewelder makes the Mississippi. On the other side, we are told, "The Talligewi possessed the East."  The Delaware chief "desired the eastern land," and some of his people go on, but are killed by the Talligewi.  The Delawares decide upon war and call in the help of their northern friends, the "Talamatan," i. e., the Wyandot and other allied Iroquoian Tribes. A war ensues which continues through the terms of four successive chiefs, when victory declares for the invaders, and "all the Talega go south."  The country is then divided, the Talamatan taking the northern portion, while the Delawares "stay south of the lakes." The chronicle proceeds to tell how, after eleven more chiefs have ruled, the Nanticoke and Shawano separate from the parent tribe and remove to the south. Six other chiefs follow in succession until we come to the seventh, who "went to the Talega Mountains." By this time the Delawares have reached the ocean. Other chiefs succeed, after whom "the Easterners and the Wolves"--probably the Mahican or Wappinger and the Munsee--move off to the northeast. At last, after six more chiefs, "the whites came on the eastern sea," by which is probably meant the landing of the Dutch on Manhattan in 1609. We may consider this a tally date, approximating the beginning of the seventeenth century. Two more chiefs rule, and of the second we are told that "He fought at the south; he fought in the land of the Talega and Koweta," and again the fourth chief after the coming of the whites "went to the Talega." We have thus a traditional record of a war of conquest carried on against the Talligewi by four successive chiefs, and a succession of about twenty-five chiefs between the final expulsion of that tribe and the appearance of the whites, in which interval the Nanticoke, Shawano, Mahican, and Munsee branched off from the parent tribe of the Delawares. Without venturing to entangle ourselves in the devious maze of Indian chronology, it is sufficient to note that all this implies a very long period of time--so long, in fact, that during it several new tribes, each of which in time developed a distinct dialect, branch off from the main Lenapé stem. It is distinctly stated that all the Talega went south after their final defeat; and from later references we find that they took refuge in the mountain country in the neighborhood of the Koweta (the Creeks), and that Delaware war parties were still making raids upon both these tribes long after the first appearance of the whites.

Although at first glance it might be thought that the name Talligewi is but a corruption of Tsalagi, a closer study leads to the opinion that is a true Delaware word, in all probability connected with waloh or walok, signifying a cave or hole (Zeisberger), whence we find in the Walam Olum the word oligonunk rendered as "at the place of caves." It would thus be an exact Delaware rendering of the same name, "people of the cave country," by which, as we have seen, the Cherokee were commonly known among the tribes. Whatever may be the origin of the name itself, there can be no reasonable doubt as to its application. "Name, location, and legends combine to identify the Cherokees or Tsalaki with the Tallike; and this is as much evidence as we can expect to produce in such researches."

The Wyandot confirm the Delaware story and fix the identification of the expelled tribe. According to their tradition, as narrated in 1802, the ancient fortifications in the Ohio Valley had been erected in the course of a long war between themselves and the Cherokee, which resulted finally in the defeat of the latter.

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As Brinton well says: "No name in the Lenape' legends has given rise to more extensive discussion than this." On Colden's map in his "History of the Five Nations," 1727, we find the "Alleghens" indicated upon Allegheny river. Heckewelder, who recorded the Delaware tradition in 1819, says: "Those people, as I was told, called themselves Talligeu or Talligewi. Colonel John Gibson, however, a gentleman who has a thorough knowledge of the Indians, and speaks several of their languages, is of the opinion that they were not called Talligewi, but Alligewi; and it would seem that he is right from the traces of their name which still remain in the country, the Allegheny river and mountains having indubitably been named after them.  The Delawares still call the former Alligewi Sipu (the river of the Alligewi) — Indian Nations, p. 48, ed. 1876. Loskiel, writing on the authority of Zeisberger, says that the Delawares knew the whole country drained by the Ohio under the name of Alligewinengk, meaning "the land in which they arrived from distant places, " basing his interpretation upon an etymology compounded from talli or alli, there, icku, to that place, and ewak, they go, with a locative final. Ettwein, another Moravian
writer, says the Delawares called "the western country" Alligewenork, meaning a warpath, and called the river Alligewi Sipo.  This definition would make the word come from palliton or alliton, to fight, to make war, ewak, they go, and a locative, i. e., "they go there to fight." Trumbull, an authority on Algonquian languages, derives the river name from u’ulik, good, best, hanne, rapid stream, and sipu, river, of which rendering its Iroquois name, Ohio, is nearly an equivalent.  Rafinesque renders Talligewi as "there found," from talli, there, and some other root, not given (Brinton, Walam Olum, pp. 229-230, 1885).

It must be noted that the names Ohio and Alligewi (or Allegheny) were not applied by the Indians, as with us, to different parts of the same river, but to the whole stream, or at least the greater portion of it from its head downward.  Although Brinton sees no necessary connection between the river name and the traditional tribal name, the statement of Heckewelder, generally a competent authority on Delaware matters, makes them identical.

In the traditional tribal name, Talligewi or Alligewi, wi is an assertive verbal suffix, so that the form properly means " he is a Tallige," or "they are Tallige."  This comes very near to Tsa'lagi', the name by which the Cherokee call themselves, and it may have been an early corruption of that name.  In Zeisberger' s Delaware dictionary, however, we find wuloh or walok, signifying a cave or hole, while in the "Walam Olum" we have oligonunk rendered "at the place of caves," the region being further described as a buffalo land on a pleasant plain, where the Lenape', advancing seaward from a less abundant northern region, at last found food (Walam Olum, pp. 194-195).  Unfortunately, like other aboriginal productions of its kind among the northern tribes, the Lenape chronicle is suggestive rather than complete and connected.  With more light it may be that seeming discrepancies would disappear and we should find at last that the Cherokee, in ancient times as in the historic period, were always the southern vanguard of the Iroquoian race, always primarily a mountain people, but with their flank resting upon the Ohio and its great tributaries, following the trend of the Blue ridge and the Cumberland as they slowly gave way before the pressure from the north until they were finally cut off from the parent stock by the wedge of Algonquian invasion, but always, whether in the north or in the south, keeping their distinctive title among the tribes as the "people of the cave country."

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- Mooney, James.  Myths of the Cherokee, pp. 17-19, 182-183.  (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1900).

BAE ethnologist J.N.B. Hewitt on the Erie, 1907

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Erie (Huron Yenresh , ' it is long-tailed' , referring to the eastern puma or panther; Tuscarora, Kenyraks, 'lion', a modern use, Gallicised into Eri and Ri, whence the locatives Erie, Rigue, and JRiqnc, 'at the place of the panther', are derived.  Compare the forms Erieehronon, Eriechronon, and Riqueronon of the Jesuit Relations, signifying 'people of the panther'.  It is probable that in Iroquois the puma and the wild-cat originally had generically the same name and that the defining term has remained as the name of the puma or panther) .  

A populous sedentary Iroquoian tribe, inhabiting in the 17th century the territory extending s. from L. Erie probably to Ohio r., e. to the lands of the Conestoga along the e. watershed of Allegheny r. and to those of the Seneca along the line of the w. watershed of Genesee r., and x. to those of the Neutral Nation, probably on a line running eastward from the head of Niagara r. (for the Jesuit Relation for 1640-41 says that the territory of the Erie and their allies joined that of the Neutral Nation at the end of L. Erie), and w, to the w. watershed of L. Erie and Miami r, to Ohio r.  Their lands probably adjoined those of the Neutral Nation w. of L, Erie.

The Jesuit Relation for 1653, speaking of L. Erie, says that it "was at one time inhabited toward the s. by certain peoples whom we call the Cat Nation; but they were forced to proceed farther inland in order to escape their enemies whom they have toward the w."  In this eastward movement of the Erie is probably found an explanation of the emigration of the Awenrehronon
( Wenrohronon) to the Huron country in 1639 from the e. border of the lands of the Neutral Nation, although the reason there given is that they had for some unknown reason ruptured their relations with the Neutral Nation, with whom, it is stated, they had been allied, and that, consequently, losing the powerful support of the populous Neutral Nation, the Wenrohronon, were left a prey to their enemies, the Iroquois.  But the earlier Jesuit Relation (for 1640-41), referring undoubtedly to this people, says that a certain strange nation, the Awenrehronon, dwelt beyond the Cat Nation, thus placing them at this time e. of the Erie and apparently separate from the Neutral Nation; so that at that time the Wenrohronon may have been either entirely independent or else confederated with the Erie.

Historically little is definitely known of the Erie and their political and social organization, but it maybe inferred to have been similar to that of the Hurons.  The Jesuit Relations give only a few glimpses of them while describing their last wars with the Iroquois confederation; tradition, however, records the probable fact that the Erie had had many previous wars with, these hostile tribes.  From the Relations mentioned it is learned that the Erie had many sedentary towns and villages, that they were constituted of several divisions, and that they cultivated the soil and spoke a language resembling that of the Hurons, although it is not stated which of the four or five Huron dialects, usually called "Wendat " (Wyandot) by themselves, was meant.  From the same source it is possible to make a rough estimate of the population of the Erie at the period of this final war.  At the taking of the Erie town of Rique in 1654 it is claimed that the defenders numbered between 3,000 and 4,000 combatants, exclusive of women and children; but as it is not likely that all the warriors of the tribe were present, 14,500 would probably be a conservative estimate of the population of the Erie at this period.

The Jesuit Relation for 1655-56 (chap, xi) gives the occasion of the final struggle.  Thirty ambassadors of the Cat Nation had been delegated, as was customary, to Sonontouan, the Seneca capital, to renew the existing peace.  But through the misfortune of an accident one of the men of the Cat Nation killed a Seneca.  This act so incensed the Seneca that they massacred all except 5 of the ambassadors in their hands.  These acts kindled the final war between the Erie and the confederated tribes of the Iroquois, especially the Seneca, Cayuga, Oneida, and Onondaga, called by the French the 'upper four tribes', or 'les Iroquis superieurs'.  It is further learned from the Jesuit Relation for 1654 that on the political destruction of their country some Hurons sought asylum among the Erie, and that it was they who were actively fomenting the war that was then striking terror among the Iroquois tribes.  

The Erie were reputed brave and warlike, employing only bows and poisoned arrows, although the Jesuit Relation for 1656 declares that they were unable to defend one of their palisades against the Iroquois on account of the failure of their munitions, especially powder, which would indicate that they used firearms.  It is also said that they "fight like Frenchmen, bravely sustaining the first charge of the Iroquois, who are armed with our muskets, and then falling upon them with a hailstorm of poisoned arrows," discharging 8 or 10 before a musket could be reloaded.  Following the rupture of amicable relations between the Erie and the Iroquois tribes in 1653, the former assaulted and burned a Seneca town, pursued an Iroquois war party returning from the region of the great lakes, and cut to pieces its rear guard of 80 picked men, while the Erie scouts had come to the very gates of one of the Iroquois palisaded towns and seized and carried into captivity Annenraes (Annencraos), "one of the greatest cap- tains. ' '  All this roused the Iroquois tribes, which raised 1,800 men to chastise the Erie for these losses.  

A young chief, one of the two leaders of this levy, was converted by Father Simon Le Moine, who chanced to be in the country at the time, and was baptized.  These two chiefs dressed as Frenchmen, in order to frighten the Erie by the novelty of their garments.  When this army of invaders had surrounded one "of the Erie strongholds, the converted chief gently asked the besieged to surrender, lest they be destroyed should they permit an assault, telling them: "The Master of Life fights for us; you will be ruined if you resist him." " Who is this Master of our lives?" the Erie defiantly replied. ' ' We acknowledge none but our arms and hatchets." No quarter was asked or given on either side in this war.

After a stubborn resistance the Erie palisade was carried, and the Onondaga "entered the fort and there wrought such carnage among the women and children that blood was knee-deep in certain places."  This was at the town of Rique, which was defended by between 3,000 and 4,000 combatants, exclusive of women and children, and was assailed by about 1,800 Iroquois. This devastating war lasted until about the close of 1656, when the Erie power was broken and the people were destroyed or dispersed or led into captivity.  Six hundred surrendered at one time and were led to the Iroquois country to be adopted as one of the constituent people of the Iroquois tribes.   The victory at Rique was won at a great loss to the Iroquois, who were compelled to remain in the enemy's country two months to care for the wounded and to bury the dead.

Only two of the Erie villages are known by name — Rique and Gentaienton.  A portion of the so-called Seneca now living in Indian Ter. are probably descendants of Erie refugees. (j. n. b. it. )

Cat Indians.— Smith quoted bv Proud, Peim.. ii, 300. 1798.
Cat Nation.— Cusic {ca. 1824) quoted bv Schoolcraft, Ind. Tribes, vi, 148, 1857.
Ehriehronnons.— Jes. Rel. for 1654. 9, 1858. Brians.- Macauley, N. Y., ll. 180. 1829.
Erieckronois.— Hennepin, New Discov., map, 1698.
Erieehronons. — Jes. Rel. for 1641, 71. 1858.
Eriehronon.— Jes. Rel. for 1640, 35, 1858.
Enelhonons.— Schoolcraft, Ind. Tribes, iv, 207, 1854.
Erieronons. — Rafinesque, introd. Marshall, Ky., i, 36, 1824.
Eries.— Jefferys, Fr. Doms., I, 103, 1760.
Eriez.— Esnauts and Rapilly, map, 1777.
Erigas. — Evans (1646?) quoted by Barton, New Views, Ixv, 1798.
Errieronons. — Lahontan, New Voy., I, 217, 1703.
Eves. — McKenney and Hall, Ind. Tribes, iir, 79, 1854 (misprint).
Gahkwas.— Ruttenber, Tribes Hudson R., 52, 1872.
Ga-qua'-ga-o-no.— Morgan, League Iroq., 41, 1851.
Heries.— Browne in Beach, Ind. Misc., 110,1877.
Irrironnons. — Day. Penn.,309, 1843.
Irrironons.— Harvey quoted by Day, ibid., 311.
Kah-Kwah.— Gale, Upper Miss., 37, 1867.
Kahquas.— Schoolcraft, Ind. Tribes, iii, 290, 1853 (Seneca name).
Kakwas. — Schoolcraft, Ind. Tribes, II, 344, 1852.
Nation des Chats.— Jes. Rel. for 1660, 7, 1858.
Nation du Chat.— Jes. Rel. for 1641, 71, 1858.
Pungelika.— Rafinesque, Am. Nat., I, 138, 1836 ('lynx-like': Delaware name).
Rhiierrhonons. — Jes. Rel. for 1635, 33, 1858 (probably their Huron name).
Rigneronnons. — Jes. Rel. for 1661, 29, 1858 (misprint).
Rigueronnons. — Jes. Rel. for 1666. 3, 1858.
Riquehronnons.— Jes. Rel. for 1660, 7, 1858.

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- Hewitt, J.N.B.  “Erie”.  Handbook of Indians North of Mexico, Frederick Webb Hodge, ed., Vol. I, A-M, pp. 430-432.  (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1907).

Frederick Houghton on the Eries and the Kahkwahs, 1908

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The Eries.

Our knowledge of the occupation of the Niagara Frontier by the Eries is based upon history and tradition.  Excepting possible traders who left no record of their visits, no European seems to have visited their country.  What little we know of them came through the Jesuit missionaries, who received their information from their Neutral and Seneca charges. 

The Erie nation is first mentioned by Father Ragueneau.  In his relation of 1647 he says: "This lake called Erie was formerly inhabited by certain tribes whom we call the Nation of the Cat; they have been compelled to retire far inland to escape their enemies who are farther to the west. These people of the Cat Nation have a number of stationary villages".

By the French, this Erie Nation was called also "Eri", and their country Erie, Rigue and Rique. With the ending "ronon" meaning "nation" we find it spelled Rhierrhonon, Eriechronon, and Errieronon. Cusick calls the nation "Kauneastokaroneah or Erians".  The Hurons called them "Yenresh".  The Iroquois called them "Otkon".

The Eries belonged to the Huron-Iroquois family and spoke a Huron dialect.  They lived like their kindred, in stationary villages.  They were harassed by enemies on their western frontier and in the first half of the 17th century they had already abandoned their homes on the shores of Lake Erie and had moved inland.  They were brave and warlike, and though they had no fire arms they for some time successfully resisted the Senecas.  They were at last vanquished by the Iroquois, and their people killed, scattered or carried captive to the Iroquois towns.

Their manner of living can only be inferred from the remains that they have left.  The refuse heaps and graves of a village site once inhabited by the Eries, situated on the shore of Lake Erie throw much light upon their customs. 

This village was located upon a bluff on the edge of Lake Erie, in the present town of Ripley, N. Y.  It was excavated by Mr. Arthur C. Parker, State Archaeologist. It was palisaded, and had been inhabited for a longtime. Its inhabitants were just emerging from the Stone Age, for of the many articles found there, but very few showed the influence of the European trader.  Their tools and weapons were made of stone, bone andantler.  Their kettles were still of clay of their own manufacture. 

In character their artifacts resembled those of the Neutrals and the Senecas. They buried their dead in individual graves, and with the bodies they placed kettles of food, pipes, and the weapons and tools which had belonged to them in life.  In all things they resembled the others of the Iroquoian family to the east and north of them.

The war with the Senecas that resulted in the destruction of the Erie Nation began in 1654.  Owing to the fact that Jesuit missionaries were at that time established in the villages of the Senecas and others of the Five Nations, a detailed record of that war remains.

The first news of the war reached the Jesuits at Quebec in 1654, when a "fleet of Tobacco Indians" informed them that the Ehriehronnons were arming against the Iroquois.  "These we call the Cat Nation because of the prodigious number of wildcats in their country".  They further informed them that the Eries had already captured a village of the "Sonnontoehronnon Iroquois" and had set it on fire, and that a party of Eries had pursued a war-party of Senecas which was returning victorious from the direction of "the great lake of the Hurons", had cutoff eighty men and had come almost to the gates of the Seneca villages.  A celebrated Onondaga chief, Annenraes, whose supposed death in 1647 had indirectly brought about the Neutral War, was captured by the Eries and carried to their country.

The Eries were reported by the Jesuits as being very populous at that time, having been reinforced by Huron refugees.  They had no fire-arms but fought bravely with poisoned arrows.  They were war-like by nature and proved themselves in the fighting that followed, no mean antagonists.  The Senecas appreciated their strength and sent against them a force of no fewer
than eighteen hundred men.  The other Iroquois evidently became uneasy, for in September of 1655 they asked the French for arms to fight against the Eries.

After the first hostilities which resulted in the defeat of the Seneca war-party and the capture of Annenraes, the Eries thought it possible to make terms.  Accordingly thirty ambassadors were sent to the Senecas with instructions to arrange a peace. While these ambassadors were in the Seneca villages, a fight took place between two parties of Eries and Senecas who were hunting at a distance from the country of either.  The Senecas were defeated and some of their party were killed.  The news of the fight reached the Seneca villages just at the time that the Erie ambassadors were there.  The infuriated Senecas at once killed all the ambassadors except five, who escaped and fled to their own country.

The Eries still believed that an amicable settlement could be reached.  Their prisoner, Annenraes, was yet in their hands and they thought that by sparing his life, the Senecas could still be appeased.  Accordingly it was suggested that, instead of burning him after their custom, a sister of one of the murdered ambassadors should adopt him and thus save his life.  She was absent from the village at the time this suggestion was made, but everyone took it for granted that to save her nation she would gladly consent.  Annenraes was accordingly prepared for the expected adoption.  Fine robes were put upon him, and every attention was lavished upon him.  During these preparations the bereaved sister returned and to the dismay of the councillors she flatly refused to adopt the prisoner and demanded what was her right, the life of Annenraes. Expostulation was in vain.  Nothing could move her.  Accordingly his robes were torn off and the fire made ready.  A final appeal was made in vain, the fire was set and Annenraes died in the flames. W him died the Erie nation.

When the news of the death of Annenraes reached Sonnontouan, preparations were made at once to avenge it.  A strong army pushed westward by the Lake route to the Erie country.  They found the entire strength of the Erie warriors behind the palisades of the strongly fortified town of Rique well armed and eager for battle.  After the usual negotiations in which it is said that the Eries were offered a place in the Iroquois Confederacy if they would surrender, the Senecas attacked.  Under cover of their canoes which they used as giant shields, they reached the base of the palisades.  Then using the braces of the canoes as ladders they swarmed over the wall.  The hand to hand fight that followed was one of the fiercest that even the seasoned Seneca veterans had ever participated in.  Knee-deep in blood they fought until the last Eries were killed or captured.  That night the forests were lit up by a thousand fires at every one of which an Erie burned.  The women and children were dragged home to the Seneca villages there to repopulate the country.  The Erie nation was no more.

The Kahkwahs.

Our knowledge of the occupation of the Niagara Frontier by a nation called the Kahkwahs is based upon very slight evidence.  So slight and indefinite is it, that their identity, though the subject of much controversy, has never been established.

On a map made by Franquelin in 1684 the name "Kakouagoga" is place I at the southeastern extremity of Lake Erie on the second stream falling into the lake. North of the lake the Neuters are named, and the name "Atiraguenrega" another name for the Neuters is marked on the west bank of the Niagara.

On a map made by P. Coronelli in 1688 there is marked at a point east of the foot of Lake Erie, which is here much distorted, the conventional sign for an Indian village or tribe, and the legend, "Kakougaga, Nation destruite". Beneath this is the legend "Nation du Loup". Both of these legends seem to be embraced by the legend, "Les Cine nation" which extends eastward from the lake.  "Atiragenrega" a name for the Neuters is placed at the head of Lake Ontario.

On a map made by the same man the next year, 1689, the legend "Kakouagoga, Nation destruite" occurs at the same place, but Nation du Loup is omitted.

On another map made in the same year, 1689, Coronelli marks the legend "Kakougoga des Iroquois".  On this map it is placed halfway between Lake Erie and ' Sonnontouan".  On all three maps the legend "Les Cine Nations" is so placed south of Lake Erie that it seems to have been intended to include both "Kakouagoga" and "Nation du Loup".

The Seneca name for Eighteen Mile Creek, a stream emptying into Lake Erie about eighteen miles west of Buffalo, was "Cah-gwah-geh", meaning "where the Gah-gwehs live".  In a treaty, dated 1797 this creek was called ' 'Koghquaga" and a later treaty in 1802 it was written Koghquawga.

The name "Kah-kwah" is a Seneca word meaning "eye swelled like a cat".  There seems to be sufficient ground for saying that the name was applied to a nation by the Senecas, and that this people whoever they were, lived along Lake Erie, near Eighteen Mile Creek. Coronelli, who never visited America must have obtained his knowledge from someone who had received it from Senecas.

Who the people were we can only conjecture.

Mr. Schoolcraft thinks that they were Eries.  Later, however, he contradicted himself, for he says elsewhere "Kahkwahs, a people who are generally, but erroneously supposed to be the same as the Eries". Mr. Parkman says that they were the Neutrals. Marshall thinks they were Neutrals.  Mr. Henderson thinks it quite probable that the name was applied to both Neutrals and Eries.

Mr. Morgan suggests that "the Gah-kwahs or Eries" are supposed to have been a subdivision of the Senecas.

A study of the maps throws little light upon the question of the identity of these Kah-kwahs.  The occurrence of the name "Kakouagoga" on a map made in 1684 is peculiar if these people were either Neutrals or Eries. Both these nations were located on the maps of Sanson in 1656 and of Creuxius in 1660; but neither of these locates the nation "Kakouagoga".  Franquelin noted it in 1684, thirty-two years after the Neutrals were destroyed and twenty-eight years after the Eries were destroyed.  He must have received this name through the Senecas, for it is a Seneca word.  He does not state that the nation had been destroyed, but neither does he say that the Neuters were destroyed.  His mention of the Neutrals makes it seem entirely probably that he, at any rate, did not consider them to be Neutrals.

Coronelli's maps are interesting.  He marks "Kakouagoga" "destruite".  He places the legend well to southeast of the foot of Lake Erie, and adds the interesting information, "Nation du Loup".  That this applies to "Kakouagaga" seems possible, for he has made for the "Nation du Loup" no conventional village sign, such as he makes for other nations.  Under the name "Atiragenrega", he locates the Neuters in the Niagara Peninsula, but does not locate the Eries; so, evidently, he does not mean the Neuters by "Kakouagoga".  The "Nation du Loup" is of interest; the "Loups" or "Wolves" were the Munsees, a branch of the Delawares, a nation subject to the Iroquois. It may be only a coincidence that a village of captive Delawares existed on Cattaraugus Creek, as late at least as 1804.

In his later map of 1689, Coronelli does not mention "Nation du Loup", but retains "Kakouagoga''.  In one map of1689 he places below the legend "Kakouagoga" the words "des

The name for Lake Erie, "Terocharontiong" is taken from a map by an unknown hand made in 1673.

The maps really establish a few facts, namely, that on the second large stream south of the foot of Lake Erie was a nation or village "Kakouagoga" which had been destroyed, and which was not Neutral.  The stream was probably Cattaraugus Creek.  The name was in all probability applied by the Senecas to the Erie village or villages on Cattaraugus Creek. Eighteen Mile Creek was probably the eastern frontier of these Eries, and the Seneca name can easily be attributed to the fact that any travelling Seneca party, headed west, leaving the main trail at Buffalo Creek, and following the natural thoroughfare along the shore of Lake Erie would enter Erie territory at that creek.

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- Houghton, Frederick.  “Indian Occupancy of the Niagara Frontier”.  Bulletin of the Buffalo Society of Natural Science, Volume IX, Number 3, pp. 298-304.  (Buffalo: Press of Reinecke and Zesch, 1909).

Archaeologist Arthur C. Parker on the Erie, 1922

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The general type of the artifacts discovered in the course of the excavations, especially the types of the pottery, closely resemble Iroquoian forms.  In particular they resemble the Erian.  The fact that pieces of iron and copper were found in graves and ash pits proves that the former inhabitants of the site had contact, direct or indirect, with Europeans.  That few objects of European metal were found and no glass beads, save a fragment of one, indicates that the people acquired them from a single trader or by trade from other Indians.  This latter conclusion in the light of evidence seems the more probable.  If the inhabitants of the site had contact, direct or indirect, with the whites, then we may look for historical records by which to identify them. 

In the Jesuit Relations are found many references to a people who inhabited the region of which the Ripley site forms a part.  These people are variously called Eries, Eriegoneckkak, Eriehronnons, Erieč, Riquehronnons, Rhiier, Nation du Chat, Cat Nation, Rhiierrhonnons, etc. etc.  Besides the accounts by the Jesuits there are several maps which place the Erie Indians in this territory, notably the maps of Sanson of 1656, of Creuxius of 1660, of LaHontan of 1690, and of Hennepin of 1698.  From these records and maps we may define the territory of the Eries as the region bordering the southern shore of Lake Erie between the region of the Neutrals on the eastern end of Lake Erie east to the western banks of the Genesee, westward to the western watershed of Lake Erie and the Miami river and southward to the Ohio river…

… The Erie belonged to the Huron-Iroquois linguistic stock, as is patent from a review of the records. William M. Beauchamp, the distinguished authority on New York archeology, suggests that the Erie were the parent stock of the Huron-Iroquois family and further suggests that the Seneca were derived from them, possibly within historic times…

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- Parker, Arthur C.  “The Ripley Erie Site”.  Archaeological History of New York, pp. 271-272, 273.  (Albany: University of the State of New York, 1922

BAE anthropologist John R. Swanton on the Erie, 1952

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Erie. Meaning in Iroquois, “long tail,” and referring to the panther, from which circumstance they are often referred to as the Cat Nation.  Also called:  Gaquagaono, by L. H. Morgau (1851).

Connection.- The Erie belonged to the Iroquoian linguistic family.

Location.- All of northern Ohio, except possibly the northwestern corner, and in portions of northwestern Pennsylvania and western New York. In the southeastern part of the State they perhaps reached the Ohio River. (See also Indiana, New York, and Pennsylvania.)

Subdivisions and Villages

The names of but two villages are known, Gentaienton and Rique.  There are supposed to have been several subdivisions, but their names have not been preserved.

History.- Little is known of this tribe until the final struggle which resulted in its destruction as a nation at the hands of the Iroquois and the incorporation of most of the remnants among the conquerors.  The war lasted from 1653 to 1656 and seems to have been unusually bloody, the victory of the Iroquois having been determined probably by the fact that they possessed firearms.  Some of the so-called Seneca of Oklahoma may be descended from Erie refugees.

Population.- Hewitt (1907) considers 14,500 a conservative estimate of Erie population at the time of the last war, but Mooney (1928) allows only 4,000.

Connection in which they have become noted.- The historical prominence of the Erie tribe itself is confined to the war in which it was destroyed. Its claim to present remembrance arises from the adoption of the name for one of the Great Lakes; for an important city in Pennsylvania upon its shores; counties in New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania; places in Weld County, Colo.; Whiteside County, Ill.; Neosho County, Kans.; Monroe County, Mich.; Cass County, N. Dak.; Loudon County, Tenn.; Erieside in Lake County, Ohio; and Erieville in Madison County, N. Y., and some smaller settlements; also an important railroad.

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- Swanton, John R.  Indian Tribes of North America, pp. 230-231.  (Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1952).


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* Mooney, James.  Myths of the Cherokee, p. 378.  (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1900).
* Parker, Arthur C.  “The Archaeological History of New York”.  New York State Museum Bulletin, Nos. 235 and 236.  (Albany: University of the State of New York, 1920).

* Parker, Arthur C.  “Éxcavations in an Erie Indian Village and Burial Site at Ripley, Chataqua Co., N.Y.”  New York State Museum Bulletin, No. 117.  (Albany: University of the State of New York, 1907).

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* Wonderley, Anthony Wayne.  At the Font of the Marvelous: Exploring Oral Narrative and Mythic Imagery of the Iroquois and Their Neighbors.  (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2009).

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