תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

a

from that happy place, all of which I hoped that they would one day understand ; that on the present occasion, I should insist on one only, which they might easily comprebend—that of prophecies recorded in that holy book, which we know to have been accomplished long after their utterance. I spoke of the predictions relative to a happy period, fast approaching, and so near at hand that some of their children would probably live to witness it, when their white brethren would cease from injustice and all iniquity, when the poor Indians and all the heathen tribes of the earth would understand the word of God, and would receive it with gladness; when all men would forsake their wicked ways, love the truth, love God, and love one another. In the close of my address I exhorted them to repentance, to faith in the declarations of the Great Spirit, as handed to us in the Bible, and to frequent and earnest prayer that their minds might be enlightened to understand, and their hearts influenced to love the good and straight path which leads to heaven.

After a short consultation among the chiefs, Wendungguhtah arose, and with a mild and pleasant voice addressed me in the following manner, as represented by the interpreter : “ Brother, we thank you for coming to see us.

We thank the Great Spirit that he has given you health and strength to come and talk to us about the words of God. We will thank the Great Spirit to preserve your health, and to prosper you in going to the other villages of your red brethren.

“Brother, we have been told nearly the same things which you have now told us, by men of different societies. We have considered them much. We fully understand every thing you have told us, and we shall take it into deeper consideration than we have ever done before.

“ Brother, there are good and bad among us. Some are a long time in taking hold of the gospel. We hope all will one day take hold of it. Brother, we understand that you are going to Tonnewanta. Many chiefs are now assembled there in council ; some of ours, some from Buffalo, some from Alleghany, some from Genneseo, some from Cayuga, some from Oneida ; and they are all met together upon the same business you are on. It will be a good time for you to go to Tonnewanta.-We pray the Great Spirit to give you strength to talk to your red brethren at Tonnewanta. You could not have come and talked to us if the Great Spirit had not given you strength."

Johnson said that he could recollect the whole of my address, and at some convenient time, when the Munsees should be together, he would repeat it to them in their own tongue. After shaking hands with all the Indians, according to custom on such occasions, I took my leave and proceeded on the business of my mission to other places.

On the 14th of July I arrived at Mr. Hyde's, in the first village of the Buffalo Indians, and repaired to the cabin of Captain Billy, one of the aged chiefs, and stated to him my wish to preach to his peo

.

ple. He thanked the Great Spirit for giving me health and strength to come and see my red brethren once more. We agreed upon the following Sabbath for addressing the Indians of this place, and Captain Billy promised to see them informed of the meeting. I told him that, in the meantime, I was going to Tonnewanta. He then said that he prayed the Great Spirit to give me health and strength to visit Tonnewanta, and to return to them in safety.

I reached the council-house in Tonnewanta, Thursday noon the 16th of July, and communicated to the chiefs the object of my visit. They thanked me for the notice taken of them, and said that they would inform me, next morning, when it would be in their power to give me a hearing. At the time appointed, they stated that they were glad to see me there, and that they should be glad to bave me preach to them as soon as they could get through the business of ihe council; but as this was very abundant, they could not then set the day when they should be ready to attend to me, I was obliged to be with the Buffalo Indians on the following Sabbath, by an appointment, for a breach of which, no trifling excuse would atope.

I regret exceedingly that I could not have had opportunity to preach the gospel to such a multitude of chiefs, and their people assembled from different villages. If any day could have been fixed for an audience, I would willingly bave fulfilled my engagement to the Buffalo Indians and returned (33 miles) to Tonnewanta; but the limits of my time, the uncertainty as to the period of closing the council, and the wide field I had to traverse, precluded me the privilege and the honour. Several of the Indians expressed their desire to Mr. Harvey, one of the interpreters present, that the chiefs would postpone the business of the council, so as to give me opportunity to address them on the subject of religion ; but it would have been an inexcusable breach of decorum for me to have attempted such a thing without the sanction of the chiefs. It is the custom at such councils to attend to all Indian business first, and then to any they may have with white people. The chiefs are expected to repeat all the speeches made, and to give an accurate account of all the transactions in council, on their return to their respective habitations. They have no method of recording any thing except in the tablet of their memory. If the regular routine were to be interrupted, it would be more difficult for them to retain the multitudinous matters, which it is expected will not be obliterated from their minds till fully reported.

I spent two days in Tonnewanta, and was gratified in having, for the first time, an opportunity to witness the mode of conducting an aboriginal council.

The council-house is 50 feet long and 20 wide. On each side of it is a platform, a little more than a foot high, and four feet wide, covered with surs, which furnishes a convenient place for sitting or sleeping. A rail across the centre separates the males from the females, who are constant attendants, and diligently listen to whatever is said in council. Nigh each end of the building was a council

a

fire, over which large kettles of soup were hanging. The apertures in the roof convey away the smoke, so that it seldom annoys. The chiefs and others, as many as could be accommodated, in their appropriate grotesque habiliments, seated on the platform, smoking calumets of various forms, sizes, and materials, hung upon the lips of the orators, who successively arose and unwittingly displayed the charms of native eloquence.

During the recess of the council, the young men had several kinds of amusements, one of which was running. --Fifteen or twenty of them ran eight miles in three quarters of an hour. In the evening there was a peace dance in the council house. Fifty, perbaps, performed the slow but violent and singular movements around the council fires, bowing respectfully towards the big soup kettles, as they passed them, then looking upwards and thanking the Great Spirit for giving them food to eat. With all the violence of their movements, their step did not carry them forward faster than the Jews cross the synagogue in the ceremony of carrying the pentateuch from the ark to the desk. Had the venerable Boudinot, author of the Star in the West, been present, he probably would have felt some confirmation of his ideas as to the Israelitish extraction of the Indians, especially in seeing the leader with a little implement in his hand like the riamunm of the synagogue, singing, with a loud and clear voice, yo-he-wauh', and the same word responded in an eighth lower at every repetition, by all the Indians, in exact time, as they performed their circumgirations. They know not the meaning of this word, which seems to be the Hebrew incommunicable name, with some aboriginal license in the pronunciation.

I at length ascertained what Wendungguhtah meant when he said that many chiefs were met in council upon the same business I was on. The great object of this council was to receive the moral instructions formerly received from G88'-kül-ke-wa'-nd Kön-ně-di'-e-i, the prophet, as he was called, Kiendtwohke's half brother, who died about three years ago. The Indians appear now to think much of those instructions, and feel desirous of having them recalled to mind and re-delivered to the rising generation. Many long speeches were made, in which the lessons inculcated by the prophet were recounted, and their importance was urged by various, persuasive, energetic, and eloquent appeals.

John Sky, a Tonnewanta chief, delivered a speech which I judged nearly three hours in length. Monsieur Poudre, grandson of one of Montcalm's generals, who had been taken in infancy and brought up by the Indians, was sitting by me. He was sensibly touched with the charms of aboriginal eloquence, or the weight of the matter under consideration; he involuntarily gave frequent exclamations, showing that he felt what was offered, a part of which he interpreted to me, and from which it appears that this chief recapituJated the moral truths delivered by the prophet, and in enforcing them, said much upon the obligation of parents to set a good example before their children. At length, having exhausted his sub

jectin pourtraying the evils of drunkenness, lying, stealing, cheating, and other pernicious practices, he said to his auditors—“ You must not do any thing bad ; you must not say any thing bad, you must not think any thing bad; for the Great Spirit knows your thoughts

, as well as your words and actions. This is what the prophet taught us : you know it: and this is according to the Word of God!" In short, he gave an excellent moral sermon. Its length, however, was greater than would be acceptable in some christian assemblies; yet not a few seemed to hang from the beginning to the end with fond attention on the mouth of the speaker. It must nevertheless, be added, that some showed as great a listlessness as we occasionally notice in some christian congregations; and a few threw themselves back upon the platform and fell asleep while the orator was thundering in peals of eloquence on the destructive effects of vice.

Ki-čt-t='-e-7, a Buffalo chief, made a short speech in council, representing the advantages of always fulfilling one's engagements ; adding, that, eighteen years since, he formed a resolution never to break a promise, if he could possibly avoid it; that he had ever since made it a point of conscience to fulfil the duties of that resolution, and that he had found the comfort of so doing. He closed his address by earnestly recommending it to his brethren to follow his example.

At one time the attention of the tawny multitude was much arrested by the relation of a dream. Kd-s2-d-děs'-tah, a slim, tall Indian, stood stooping forward, his eyes fixed on the ground, with a grave and solemn countenance, as if something lay heavy on his mind, and stated, “I have had a dream, which in my sleep, I was directed to relate in council ; I dreamed that the sun in the firmament spoke to me. He told me to go to the Indians and tell them that the Great Spirit is very angry with them for their wicked ways. Tell them they must repent of their wicked ways and forsake them, or the judgments of the Great Spirit will come upon them. If they do not repent and forsake their wicked ways, this year, when the corn is in the cub, there will be a storm which will lay all their corn flat upon the ground and destroy it, and next winter there will be such a rain as they never saw before. The flood will be so great as to bury their houses in the water."

Ka-si-a-des-tah came to these poor unenlightened Indians, like Jonah to the Ninevites, calling them to repentance. He did not however come in the character of a prophet, be simply related his singular dream; yet appeared to feel as if it should be regarded like a communication from the Great Spirit.

On the Sabbath, 19th July, I met with the Indians, agreeably to appointment, at the first Buffalo village-Billy, Pollard, Young King, Twenty Canoes, and other chiefs were present. Red Jacket and several more were still at Tongewanta. Of Indians and

squaws, from all parts of the reservation, there was a much larger collection than when I visited them last autumn. There were many more than could be accommodated in the council-house, where we assembled together.

a

[ocr errors]

Perhaps it is not generally known that if two or three chiefs and a few others only are present, the object of addressing all in the settlement is answered, because every public address delivered is repeated over and over to their people as they' collect together, from cabin to cabin, for some days after. No congregation of white people is to be found, where a discourse on any religious subject! is better remembered or so fully repeated for the satisfaction and benefit of those who had not an opportunity to hear. What is spoken intelligibly to half a dozen is repeated not unfrequently to hundreds

I had an able interpreter in Thomas Armstrong. After singing, Mr. Hyde read the Lord's Prayer, in Seneca, which he has recently translated. This was probably the first time these Indians had heard it in their native tongue. I previously stated to them that their friend would repeat to them, in their language, this prayer, which was taught by Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world.

In my address, after praying, and singing again, I spoke of the work of regeneration ; representing that all, whoever become the true friends of God, pass this wonderful change. I spoke of its glorious effects upon the temper, views, wishes, and disposition of all who experience this work of grace. I spoke of the plan of salvation by Jesus Christ; of the necessity of repentance; representing that it implies, if genuine, not only a deep and heartfelt sorrow for sin, but a forsaking of that hateful thing, so that it shall no more have a reigning influence; of the bible, the commands, promises, and threatenings contained in that sacred volume; of the ten commandments, how they were delivered to the children of Israel amid the thunderings and the quakings of the mount; of the purport of those commandments, with a brief explanation. I exhorted them to listen to the momentous truths of the word of God, and closed my ad. dress, expressing the hope that, with the aid of their good friend, (Mr. Hyde,) they would before long be made more fully acquainted with the precious instructions of the gospel, to the comfort, joy, and salvation of their immortal souls.

It was almost sunset when the exercises were over. Pollard made a short address. His first sentence, delivered with a solemn countenance, was interpreted in these words : We thank the great Spirit that we are brought so near to the close of another day in health and strength.

How many do we find, who have lived amid the full blaze of the light of the gospel, and never tender such a tribute of gratitude to the Giver of all good, as, upon this interesting occasion, dropped from the mouth of this poor heathen. There is reason to suppose that Pollard, like cornplanter, only needs to understand the gospel, to embrace it with all his heart. He said, some time since, that he is always thinking of the Great Spirit, and that he daily offers him his prayers.

After the above expression of thanksgiving to Almighty God, Pollard, in the naine of the chiefs, thanked me for coming again to

a

« הקודםהמשך »