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the headman to shield him from the dust while presiding at the council are well preserved. The first group, from left to right, represents a convention of the Six Nations at the adoption of the Tuscaroras into the league; the second, the Five Nations, upon 7 strands, illustrates a treaty with 7 Canadian tribes before the year 1600; the third signifies the guarded approach of strangers to the councils of the Five Nations; the fourth represents a treaty when but 4 of the Six Nations were represented, and the fifth embodies the pledge of 7 Canadian “christianized” nations to abandon their crooked ways and keep an honest peace. Above this group is another, claiming to bear date about 1608, when Champlain joined the Algonquins against the Iroquois. The second group includes, also in the center, the official memorial of the organization of the Iroquois confederacy, relating back to about the middle of the sixteenth century, and immediately over that of 1608, suspended between the "turtle rattles”, which were used at the feather dance at Cattaraugus January 21, 1891, is a ragged wampum of unknown antiquity. Above, and containing the general group, is the wampum memorial of the first treaty made by Washington on behalf of the 13 original states and the president of the Six Nations at the national capital.
GOVERNMENT AND EXISTING CONDITION OF THE RESERVATIONS. To give a clear view of the government and present condition of the reservations, they will be noticed in the order already adopted.
THE ONONDAGA NATION is governed by 27 chiefs, all but 2 being of the pagan party ; 2, however, are sons of christian ministers, and others professed for a time to be christians, but quietly rejoined old associations. Albert Cusick, lay reader in the church of the Good Shepherd, held the office of to-do-da-ho (president) at one time, but was deposed on account of his religion. Those who have thus resumed their former political and social relations are among the most persistent in opposing a change. Daniel La Forte, a genial man in his own house, and once active in church work, is one of this number. It is nevertheless true that many of the most influential, whose property is gaining in value, and whose business gradually increases their dependence upon the white people for a market and like benefits, realize that their own interests would be more secure under some recognized code of law for the government of the nation.
The ruling chiefs, chosen by the females of the families represented, as in very ancient times, are practically in office for life. In case of a vacancy the successor chosen may be under age. In the rules and regulations formulated in 1882 for something like representative government it was provided that minor chiefs should not vote in any matters affecting the finances of the nation. Provision was made for a president or chairman, clerk, treasurer, marshal, 3 peacemakers, or judges, 1 school trustee, 1 pathmaster, and 2 poormasters. A wise provision as to wills, dowers, and the settlement of estates in conformity with the laws of New York, another abolishing the customs and usages of the Onondaga Indians relating to marriage and providing that where parties had cohabited as husband and wife for 5 years the relations should be held to be settled, and another legalizing and authorizing the peacemakers and ministers of the gospel to solemnize marriage found place in the constitution reported on the 3d of May, 1882. A just provision respecting the disposition of lands in severalty was declared to be dependent upon a three-fourths vote of the males and a three-fourths vote of the mothers of the nation. The record states that on the 6th day of May said rules and regulations were adopted at a meeting called for the purpose. A full list of officers was elected, as follows: Daniel La Forte, chairman; Jaris Pierce, clerk; Orris Farmer, treasurer ; Cornelius Johnson, marshal; Jimerson L. Johnson, Wilson Johnson, and John White, peacemakers; Simon Scanandoah, pathmaster; Joseph Isaacs, school trustee, and Baptist Thomas and Wilson Reuben, poormasters.
On the 13th of May a resolution was adopted "requesting the president to announce to the people to observe Sunday, to put a stop to Sabbath breaking, such as playing ball and other nuisances, and give it to be understood that the Onondaga Indians as a nation are to become Sunday observers and do all they can to suppress Sabbath breaking”. On the 18th of May an appealed land case was decided. On the 30th money was appropriated to send a messenger to the Tonawanda and Cattaraugus families to invite them to come and worship the Great Spirit at Onondaga. On the 13th of June a method for compelling men to work the roads was discussed. On the 28th of September an appropriation was made of $50 to defray the expenses of certain Indians who were desirous of attending pagan ceremonies to be held at Tonawanda for the worship of the Great Spirit. On October 28 the appointment of delegates to meet commissioners appointed by the state of New York to examine into the condition of the Onondaga Indians, and also an appropriation of money for a school site were discussed. On the 16th of November it appeared that charges and complaints had been made by the christian portion of the tribe against the chiefs, and a committee was appointed to canvass every house to see if the people were still in sympathy with the chiefs and favorable to the continuance of tribal relations and the enforcement of the treaty of 1788, made at Fort Stanwix, against the leasing of the lands. On the 1st of December B. E. Cusler addressed the chiefs, claiming that " the deplorable condition of the Oneidas and Cayugas was the condition which awaited the Onondagas if they met the state upon the proposition to divide their lands in severalty”. A committee, however, was appointed to wait upon the commissioners and state under oath that they had never seen any immoralities or indecencies at their
public places. On the 12th of December a resolution was adopted that " we will not tolerate a change of our laws, nor sign any papers that will tend to our destruction as chiefs or break up our tribal relations". On the 18th of January, 1883, a delegate was appointed to visit Washington and press the nation's claim to Kansas lands, but an appropriation was voted down. On the 3d of February attention was called to the fact that " chiefs would not attend the meetings ”, and a quorum was rarely present. A motion to allow chiefs who would not attend business meetings to resign was carried. A motion to do away with the rules and regulations adopted May 3, 1882, was lost by a vote of 5 in the negative and 3 in the affirmative, 7 being a quorum. On the 13th of February, 1883, an amendment as to quorums (a bare quorum, 7, being present) was proposed, and the rule was so changed that any number present, after due notice of time and place for a proposed meeting, should constitute a quorum, a majority being authorized to appropriate moneys and transact national business. On the 8th of March, after the usual “word of thanks to the Great Spirit” as “ opening ceremonies”, the matter of nullifying existing leases was considered. April 3, 4 being present, an appropriation was made to publish a refutation of charges made at Albany against the nation and to defeat the McCarty bill. On April 28 a suggestion was made to give to the christian party a seat among the council chiefs, to prevent the destruction of the tribe as a nation. On the 1st of May occurred the annual election of officers under the constitution of May 3, 1882, and the presentation of the treasurer's report of receipts of rents of farms and quarries ($515) and disbursements ($512). No mention of the chiefs present appears on the record. The record of a meeting held August 3, 1883, and the last meeting until April, 1887, closed with the decision that “ through the proper ceremonies of a dead feast” the question of title to land then at issue had been settled.
A MOVEMENT FORWARD. On the 26th day of April, 1887, a public meeting of the Onondaga people was held at the council house, at which the old rules and regulations were substantially revived, with the following solemn preamble :
DECLARATION of the Onondaga nation of Indians, changing their form of government and adopting a constitutional charter.
We, the people of the Onondaga nation of Indians, by virtue of the right inherent in every people, trusting in the justice and necessity of our undertaking, and humbly invoking the blessing of the God of nations upon our efforts to improve our civil condition and to secure to our nation the administration of equitable and wholesome laws, do hereby abolish, abrogate, and annul our form of government by chiefs, because it has failed to answer the purpose for which all government should be created. It affords no security in the enjoyment of property. It makes no provision for the poor, but leaves the destitute to perish. It leaves the people dependent on foreign aid for means of education. It has no judiciary nor executive department. It is an irresponsible, self-constituted aristocracy. Its powers are absolute and unlimited in assigning away people's rights, but indefinite and not exercised in making municipal regulations for their benefit or protection. We can not enumerate the evils of a system so defective, nor calculate its overwhelming weight on the progress of improvement; but to remedy these defects we claim and establish the following constitution or charter, and implore the governments of the United States and the state of New York to aid in providing us with laws under which progress shall be possible.
Provision was made for a governing body of 12 councilors, two-thirds of which body should constitute a quorum, requiring, however, two-thirds of the entire number to appropriate public money.
On the first Tuesday of May, 1887, the following officers and councilors were elected: For president, Daniel La Forte (a chief), and for clerk, Orris Farmer. The christian element controlled the meeting. The councilors consisted of Joshua Pierce, Baptist Thomas, John Johnson, John White, Jaris Pierce, Wilson Jacobs, Wilson Reuben, Chris. John Smith, Charles Green, Moses Smith, William Johnson, and Thomas Webster. Josiah Jacobs, Jaris Pierce, and Peter George were elected peacemakers.
At a succeeding meeting, on May 10, President La Forte called upon Joshua Pierce to “open the meeting with prayer”.
On the 20th of May a meeting was called to fill vacancies occasioned by the resignations of Daniel La Forte, Orris Farmer, Thomas Webster, John Johnson, and Baptist Thomas. The final meeting of record was held on the 21st of July, 1887, the organization falling to pieces for want of support. A meeting of 10 chiefs was held at the house of Daniel La Forte February 14, 1888," for the settlement of the Hawley Hill estate”. No other meetings are recorded until one more very decided effort was made to introduce a responsible civilized form of government.
THE STRUGGLE RENEWED. On the 15th of October, 1889, at a meeting of chiefs, which was held at the council house, when 11 chiefs, viz, George Lyon, Charles Lyon, Baptist Thomas, Thomas Webster, John Hill, William Hill, Andrew Gibson, Peter George, Asa Wheelbarrow, John Thomas, and George Vanevery, were present, the question was discussed of “hiring a chairman, clerk, and treasurer to take charge of meetings and national business”. “As no meetings had been held, nobody took any interest in the affairs of the nation, and something must be done”. Objection was made to such “a traffic of the offices”. With Peter George as chairman and Jaris Pierce as secretary, it was voted 5 to 4 to readopt the constitution of 1882.
"On account of the great importance of the question, so few being present”, a committee of 3, viz, George Vanevery, Jaris Pierce, and John Thomas, was appointed to draft and report a new constitution, and it was also ordered that “notice be given to all of the people of the tribe to be present at the time of the report and election of officers, assigned for the 21st day of October, 1889".
The proceedings of that meeting were as follows:
Chiefs present : Thomas Webster, George Vanevery, Andrew Gibson, Charles Lyon, William Lyon, Hewlett Jacobs, George Lyon, Jacob Bigbear, Peter George, John Thomas, Wilson Reuben, Baptist Thomas, Daniel La Forte, John R. Farmer, and Jacob Scanandoah.
Charles Lyon made the welcome remarks appropriate to the opening services, after which Peter George was chosen chairman of the meeting and Jaris Pierce secretary.
A motion by Baptist Thomas that “we now listen to the committee on constitution" was carried.
The constitution reads as follows:
October 21, 1889. SECTION 1. It shall be lawful for the chiefs of the Onondaga tribe of Indians to select annually a president, clerk, and treasurer from among their number, or from the headmen or warriors of the tribe, as president, clerk, and treasurer, whose term of office shall be for one year. The first election under this charter shall be held on the 21st day of October, one thousand eight hundred and eighty-nine, and every year thereafter, to be held annually at their council house for that purpose, at one o'clock in the afternoon of that day. A plurality of all the votes cast at such election shall be sufficient to elect a candidate.
SECTION 2. There shall be a book provided, to be called " The register of election" and a certificate of the election of any officer under this act shall be entered in such register and be signed by the presiding officer and clerk of such meeting, and shall be evidence of such election.
SECTION 3. The chiefs of said Onondaga tribe of Indians, their names, shall be enrolled in the book of records kept by the clerk. Fourteen of their number shall constitute a quorum, and shall be competent for the transaction of national business. Two-thirds of their number voting for any resolution shall be deemed carried, but to all bills for the appropriation of any moneys the assent of twelve of the chiefs in council shall be necessary.
SECTION 4. It shall be the duty of the president to call a meeting of the chiefs from time to time and to preside at all of the meetings of chiefs, etc.
SECTION 5. It shall be the duty of the clerk to keep the records and minutes of the proceedings of the council, and issue warrants on the treasurer for moneys appropriated by the chiefs in council, and he shall be their secretary,
SECTION 6. The treasurer-elect shall, within five days after his election, issue bond or security to the nation to the amount of $1,000, to the satisfaction of the president and clerk of the nation, for the faithful performance of the duties of his office as a treasurer of the nation. The treasurer-elect, after giving security aforesaid, may receive all moneys belonging to the nation. He shall not pay out any of said moneys except upon the warrant of the president and clerk of the nation. At the expiration of his office he sball deliver up his books, papers, and vouchers to his successor, or to the chiefs in council assembled. His books shall always be opened for the inspection of the nation,
Baptist Thomas moved that the constitution be adopted. Voted and carried.
JARIS PIERCE, Secretary. It would be almost impossible for any community of white persons, whether of a high or low social grade, whether educated or ignorant, to live in peace under the loose restraints which the Six Nations call their governmental system, and yet there are very few disorders, few crimes, and petty offenses against person or property are very infrequent. Pride in the old systems of the confederacy and in the traditions and memories of early times have much to do with the involuntary respect paid to the chiefs, sachems, or councilors, who are officially recognized as their government by the respective nations; but natural indolence or indifference to the future, provided the immediate present be tolerable, has its effect, and suspicion that the white people urge citizenship upon them for the purpose of a more ready control of their lands prevents decided action toward citizenship
At all the reservations in New York, except the Tuscarora, the executive control is in the hands of the pagan party, and a majority of the population thus ruled is also pagan. This element is more largely political than religious, although the old men and women are, by long habit and abject ignorance, firmly set against a change. Just at present any hearty accord with the rapidly maturing wishes of the progressive party would be regarded as treason to the nation, but even this objection to any change is largely controlled by the settled conviction that the offices could not in that event be controlled, as at present. The fact is that the governing officials will not account to the people for the management of public affairs, and there is no concentrated effort thus far to compel such accounting.
At a meeting held December 2, 1889, Chiefs Charles Lyon, George Vanevery, William Lyon, George Lyon, Baptist Thomas, James Thomas, Abbott Jones, William Hill, John Hill, Wilson Reuben, Peter George, John R. Farmer, Asa Wheelbarrow, Hewlett Jacobs, Jacob Bigbear, Enoch Scanandoah, and Jacob Scanandoah were present. The president and treasurer elected on the adoption of the constitution having declined to act, Baptist Thomas was elected president and Wilson Reuben treasurer. The constitution was also signed by all of the above named except William and George Lyon. It was also signed by William Isaacs, John White, Thomas R. Farmer, William Johnson, Daniel Hill, Benjamin Isaacs, and Frank Johnson, “ headmen and warriors". The quorum basis was changed so that a majority present at a called meeting could transact business, but the assent of 12 chiefs was required to appropriate moneys. "A committee was appointed to examine into existing leases and report at a future meeting”.
On the 9th of December real business was transacted, and a clear business report was made of individual leases, rentals of land as well as of quarries, propositions for cutting timber, etc. At an adjourned meeting, held December 16, only 10 were present at the opening exercises. Mr. T. D. Green, state agent, who was present, understanding that there was a difference of opinion as to the new rules and regulations, thought it best to take a vote. Meanwhile other chiefs were called in, so that all but George Crow, James Thomas, and Hewlett Jacobs were present. The