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Chester C. Lay (Ho-do-eh-ji-ah, Bearing the Earth), his predecessor, a man of good manners, education, and large experience (a proficient, as well as an instructor in instrumental music), stands among the foremost of the progressive men of his people. Thomas Kennedy and Theodore Jimerson are strong progressive men. Two professional attorneys, A. Sims Logan and Noah Twoguns, have great capacity to advance the interests of their people as soon as the consideration of fees shall allow opportunities in that direction. Harrison Halftown, the deputy clerk, and for nearly his whole life identified with the public concerns of the nation, has good judgment as well as experience, and will slowly but firmly follow that course which makes for the prosperity and peace of his people.
At present very grave matters agitate the Seneca nation. The present council is considered by many as being incompetent to manage public affairs. Wholesome laws are not enforced. Necessary legislation is neglected. The purchase of a “road machine”, too late for autumn use, was a spasmodic attempt to do some work upon the mail route between Versailles and Lawton. Suspicion of federal and state legislation and reluctance to admit any wedge of reform that may endanger old-time rites and customs prevent all consistent legislation to meet the most essential conditions to real prosperity and development. The late winter session of the council witnessed such crude and fickle action respecting encroachments by the Rochester and Salamanca railroad authorities upon their lands near Red House station that they threw away, through penny-wise pride, an occasion for replenishing their exhausted treasury and conciliating their neighbors without injury to themselves. A strong undercurrent is in motion to elect a council in the spring of 1891 which shall be invulnerable to bribery, have a sufficient knowledge of the English language to read and understand the legislation of the federal and state governments, and so adjust their relations to the leasehold estates at Salamanca and other corporations in Allegany as to neither do nor suffer wrong.
THE TUSCARORA INDIANS were admitted to the Iroquois league on the ground of a common generic origin, retaining their own hereditary chiefs, but without enlarging the original framework of the confederacy. They had authority to be represented and enjoy a nominal equality in the councils. They are styled “sons", and in turn use the term "fathers” in their official relations with the league. No authority exists by which they can be disturbed by the league in the management of their own affairs. The prevalent opinion to the contrary is an error. In the Revolutionary war and in the war of 1812 they were faithful to the white people, and in the war of the rebellion furnished a reasonable contingent of volunteers to the union cause.
Vacancies among the chiefs are filled by the women of the clans entitled to the appointment. Here, as among the Onondaga and Tonawanda bands, the ruling chiefs arrogate and occasionally exercise the power of displacing chiefs by formal deposition, or make the place so uncomfortable as to force a resignation. It is a stretch of prerogative to exercise this power except for a cause that would require a substantial impeachment, but there is no method of redress, and the Indian dislike to bother about local legislation, even in their own behalf, represses organized effort to find a remedy.
The laws are few; the income is small; the people as a rule are orderly, peaceable, and accommodating; so that society moves along evenly but sluggishly, with rare infringement upon personal rights or disturbance of the public peace. The crossroads are poor, because the nation is poor, and, though not destitute, public funds are inadequate to pay for their repair. There is not sufficient constraining or sanctioning power in the governing body to enforce “working the roads”. Fences, however, are well maintained under regulations well enforced by the governing chiefs. The distinction of sachem chiefs is retained by the governing chiefs as a title, but no practical difference in authority is recognized.
The government during the census year was constituted as follows, those marked with a * being unable to read or write:
Thomas Williams (Beaver), president, sachem, age 36 ; Luther W. Jack (Wolf), clerk, sachem, 31 ; Daniel Printup (Beaver), treasurer, warrior, 50; Phillip T. Johnson (Sand Turtle), warrior chief, 30; Simon A. Thompson (Wolf), warrior chief, 55 ; William J. Johnson (Turtle), sachem, 32; Grant Mountpleasant (Turtle), warrior chief, 22 ; Marcus Peter (Beaver), sachem, 42 ; Nicholas Cusick (Beaver), warrior chiet, 30; Isaac Patterson (Sand Piper), Snipe, sachen, 54 ; George Williams (Sand Piper), Snipe, warrior chief, 24 ; *James Bembleton (Bear), warrior chief, 60 ; Jefferson Chew (Beaver), warrior chief, 22 ; *James Bembleton, sr. (Eel), warrior chief, 62.
THE SAINT REGIS INDIANS formed part of the Seven Nations of Canada. In 1852 their numbers were 1,100, or nearly the present number of the American Saint Regis Indians. By a provision of the first constitution of New York, adopted April 26, 1777, no purchases or contracts for the sale of lands by the Indians since the 14th day of October, 1775, were to be valid unless made with the consent of the legislature. Among the documents in the possession of the nation at the present time none are more prized than the treaty made May 4, 1797, exemplified, signed, and sealed by John Jay, governor, February 28, 1800. Three of the most noted parties to that treaty, viz, Te-har-ag-wan-e-gen (Thomas Williams), A-tia-to-ha-ron-gwam (Colonel Louis Cook), and William Gray, who was made captive in his boyhood and adopted by the Indians, are still represented among the families enumerated upon the schedules. Thomas Williams was third in descent from Rev. Thomas Williams, of Deerfield, Massachusetts. Louis Cook was captured with his parents, his father being a colored man, at Saratoga, in 1775. He raised and commanded a regiment on the colonial side, and on August 1, 1775, was entertained by Washington at Cambridge, Massachusetts. On the following day he was received by the general court of the commonwealth, and John Winthrop, chairman of a special committee to confer with this Caughnawaga, or Saint Regis chief, made a report as to the successful terms of friendship then established. Sparks' Life of Washington and the American State Papers are generous in their recognition of the services of Cook and the Saint Regis Indians at that period, and the history of the war of 1812 is equally creditable to their loyalty to the United States. No student or observer of their gradual advance in civilization should overlook or slight their antecedent history in a patient development of their future.
By an act of the legislature passed March 26, 1802, William Gray, Louis Cook, and Loren Tarbell, chiefs, were also appointed trustees on behalf of the Saint Regis Indians to lease the ferry over the Saint Regis river, with authority to apply the rents and profits for the support of a school and such other purposes as such trustees should judge most conducive to the interests of said tribe. The same act provided for future annual elections of similar trustees by a majority of adults of the age of 21 years, at a town meeting, on the first Tuesday of each May thereafter. This system is still in force.
The powers, functions, and responsibilities of these trustees are hardly more than nominal in practical effect. The peculiar credit which the Six Nations attach to all preserved treaties, however old or superseded, developed during the census year a new departure in the Saint Regis plan of self-government. The old or pagan element among the Onondagas, supported by Chief Daniel La Forte, Thomas Williams, keeper of the wampum, and others, maintained that their rights to lands in Kansas and similar rights rested upon treaties made between the Six Nations (exactly six) and the United States, and at a general council, held in 1888, the Saint Regis Indians were formally recognized as the successors of the Mohawks, thus restoring the original five, while, with the Tuscaroras, maintaining six. The theory was that an apparent lapse from the six in number would in some way work to their prejudice. The same element at once proposed the revival of the old government by chiefs, which had become obsolete among the Saint Regis Indians. A meeting was held, even among the Cattaraugus Senecas, with the deliberate purpose to ignore or abandon their civilized, legal organization as the Seneca nation and return to former systems. The impracticability of such a retrograde movement did not silence the advocates of chiefship for the Saint Regis Indians. The election through families, after the old method, of 9 chiefs and 9 alternate or vice chiefs was held, and these were duly installed in office by a general council, representing all the other nations. Practically and legally they have no power whatever. Two of them, Joseph Wood and Joseph Bero (Biron), are still trustees under the law of 1802.
By tacit understanding the Indians avail themselves of the New York courts in issues of law or fact so far as applicable, and submit their conduct to ordinary legal process and civil supervision, so that they have, in fact, no organic institution that antagonizes civilized methods. The distinctions by tribe or clan have almost disappeared, those of the Wolf, Turtle, Bear, and Plover only remaining. Thomas Ransom, the third trustee, retains in his possession the old treaties and other national archives, while the people, ignorant of the reasons for any change, vibrate between the support of the two systems, neither of which has much real value. The small rentals of land are of little importance in the administration of affairs, and the more intelligent of the prosperous Indians distinctly understand that the elected chiefs have no special authority until recognized by the state of New York as legal successors of the trustees. Either system is that of a consulting, supervising, representative committee of the Saint Regis Indians, and little more.
The following is a list of the chiefs, those marked with a * being unable to read or write:
*Peter Tarbell (Ta-ra-ke-te, Hat-rim, or Neck-protection), great grandson of Peter Tarbell, the eldest of the Groton captives ; Joseph Wood (So-se-sa-ro-ne-sa-re-ken, Snow Crust), Heron clan ; *Peter Herring (Te-ra-non-ra-no-ron-sau, Deerhouse), Turtle clan ; *Alexander Solomon (A-rek-sis-o-ri-hon-ni, He is to Blame), Turtle clan ; Angus White, chief and clerk (En-ni-as-ni-ka-un-ta-a, Small Sticks of Wood), Snipe clan ; Charles White (Sa-ro-tha-ne-wa-ne-ken, Two Hide Together), Wolf clan ; also, Joseph Bero, John White, and Frank Terance. Alternate or vice chiefs are Joseph Cook, *Matthew Benedict, *Paul Swamp, *John B. Tarbell, *Philip Wood, and * Alexander Jacob (two vacancies).
Angus White is an intelligent business man of excellent character and gracious address, thoroughly competent for his position.
There is a pending question among the Saint Regis Indians, which may require settlement by both the state and federal governments, respecting their intercourse with their Canadian brethren. Even the census enumeration is affected by its issues. The early treaties, which disregarded the artificial line of separation of these Indians and allowed them free transit over the line with their effects, are confronted by a modern customs regulation, which often works hardship and needless expense. The contingency of their purchasing horses beyond the line and introducing them for personal use, while really intending to sell them at a profit greater than the duty, is not to be ignored; but such cases must be rare, and the peculiarly located families near the line, who worship together, farm together, and live as people do in the adjoining wards of a city, is a question which seems to call for a special adjustment to the actual facts.
Meanwhile the development of the basket industry and the ready market at Hogansburg, where a single resident firm bought during the year, as their books show, in excess of $20,000, have attracted the Canadian Saint