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The favorite " national game" is "ball " (o-ta-da-jish-qua-age), of great antiquity, and the origin of the modern game of " lacrosse ". Pontiac's stratagem, by which his disguised warriors sent their ball inside the fort at Detroit to excuse an entrance, has given it memorial interest. Representatives of the four brother tribes or clans, the Wolf, Bear, Beaver, and Turtle, are matched against their cousins, the corresponding brothers, the Deer, Snipe, Heron, and Hawk. Victory falls to the credit of the nation represented instead of to the players. Two poles are set into each end of the grounds, at a distance of from 1 to 3 rods, and the contest is for competing parties of 5 or 7 to carry the ball through its own gate a designated number of times. 5 or 7 counts make a game, and 9 games are allowed if, after playing 8, the game be tied. The play begins in the center, and neither party is allowed to touch the ball with hand or foot. Managers are pledged to honorable umpire duty. Betting was systematically regulated formerly, and the friends of players were kept on opposite sides of the field to avoid possible collision during the wild shouts and demonstrations which followed victory. Suitable diet and training were then more systematically required, as in preparation for a foot race.

The game of javelin (gi-geh-da-ga-na-ga-o) is played by throwing a javelin of hickory or maple at a ring, either stationary or in motion, and is still a favorite spring and autumn game. Snow-snake (ga-wa-sa) is still popular, and consists in sending a long shaft of hickory, with a round head slightly turned up and pointed with lead, swiftly over the snow in an undulating course to the distance of 300 yards, and even a quarter of a mile. Archery continues in favor, and the "deer button" or "peach stone" is a fireside game for winter evening sport. It is a game of chance, with a pool to draw from, each person receiving 5 at first and playing until he loses. The shaking of the buttons, stones, or beans, which are marked and have different values, is on the principle of throwing dice, and hours are often taken to decide a game. Blindman's buff is another house game in high favor.

These qualifying social elements are a maturing counterpoise to the fading influence of the pagan dance, which is already taking on the shape of an innocent masquerade, stripped of immoral and offensive associations. At Newtown, the pagan settlement near the eastern line of Cattaraugus, where no white man's games were permitted, George Wilson has introduced a billiard table. He is a Grand Army man and sufficiently popular to secure its introduction, notwithstanding the prejudice against admitting any amusements not having the sanction of their fathers. All games are now public, without any attempt at secrecy or mystery, and decently conducted. With the Saint Regis Indians games are few, that of lacrosse being most prominent. Occasionally shows or public performances take place, and even attempts at stage performances have their turn; but while this, which savors more of French than Indian precedent, is enjoyed, the people are deficient in the musical taste which distinguishes members of the other nations of the league, especially the Senecas.



Statistics very inadequately convey exact ideas respecting marriage customs and family relations among the Indians of the Six Nations. Relating to Indian or pagan marriage, using the term "pagan" in the Indian sense, the Indian divorce, separation, or "putting away" has been a matter of choice, not necessarily mutual, but at the will of the dissatisfied party. The chiefs have sanctioned it and practiced it, as well as the people, and to a considerable extent still uphold the custom. The laws of New York forbid its exercise, but the extension to the peacemaker courts of the power to legalize separation and divorce is but feebly and often wrongly exercised. The discussion before the New York general assembly and the visitation and report by the legislative committee have already done much to consolidate the convictions of the educated men of the Six Nations that the election of able men as peacemakers has become vital to their prosperity, if not the only barrier to a sweeping interference by the white people with all internal Indian affairs. The tendency of congressional legislation to abolish all tribal relations, regardless of treaties as old as the republic, has added its influence to strengthen the progressive party among the Indians of New York.

The standing method of report by Indian agents has been to accept the Indian heads of Indian families as husband and wife and enumerate them as "married", and many western tribes have formal ceremonies of instituting this relation; but among the Six Nations of New York marriage, separation, and divorce have no ascertainable ceremony except as performed by ministers of the gospel or the Indian judges or peacemakers. The pagan party expressly regard marriage by a minister as treason to their system and absolutely wicked. Some of them do not hesitate to say that they " put away their wives " even as Moses directed a Hebrew separation. The schedules of enumeration of the New York Indians have so generally followed the Indians' own declaration, in the absence of any other detailed proof, that the tables must necessarily be qualified. Thus, at Onondaga, a list was furnished of more than 60 persons who sustained the relation of husband and wife without any ceremony whatever, and most of these had held the same relation to several parties without other law than choice for the change.

At Tonawanda the most careful inquiry of responsible Indians, who knew every family upon the reservation, revealed only, as a certainty, 26 legal marriages. At Allegany and Cattaraugus the question, " How many wives have you"? or "How many wives have you had"? was met with laughter or evasion, rendering an accurate record impossible. . Divorces, unless a struggle for property be involved, are rare in the peacemaker courts. The records of the peacemaker courts were examined, and in one case a transcript was taken. Its process, the service, return, and trial compared very favorably with that of a country justice of the peace. One trial, where all the proceedings, including the part taken by the Indian counsel in the conduct of the case, was without legal error. At Tuscarora there is no pagan organization and only one family called pagan, and yet there were those of whom no evidence of legal divorce before entering upon a second marriage relation could be secured. That there are pagans who are thoroughly loyal to home ties is certain, but they will neither expose nor prosecute their derelict neighbors. The statutes of New York in this respect are practically inoperative, and those who openly deprecate the fact only make enemies.

As a matter of history, while a change of wife was permissible among the Iroquois, polygamy was forbidden. In case of family discord, it was the duty of the mothers of the couple, if possible, to secure peace. Marriage itself was a matter of arrangement and not of choice, and at an early period a simple ceremony, like the interchange of presents, consummated the agreement made between the parents. "Except at the season of councils or of religious festivals ", writes Morgan, " the sexes rarely met, and sociality in such cases was limited ". As the children always follow the tribe of the mother the nationality of offspring was never lost; hence it is, that on every reservation there are families wholly different in nationality from the family head. The children of an Indian woman having a white husband have rights, but the children of a white woman having an Indian husband have no rights. Either husband or wife controls his or her property at present, each independent of the other. The custody of the children is absolutely that of the mother, and upon her falls the burden of their support when deserted by the father. Neither the civilized nor canon law controls the degrees of consanguinity among the Iroquois, so that the Indians in giving their lists often reported nephews and nieces as sons and daughters. As the purpose of the Iroquois system was to merge the collateral in the lineal line through a strictly female course the sisters of the maternal grandmother were equally grandmothers, the mother and her sisters were equally mothers, and the children of a mother's sister were equally brothers and sisters. Thus, while under the civil law the degrees of relationship became lost through collaterals, the principle of the Iroquois system was to multiply the nearer family ties, and this shaped the basis both of their civil and political systems. 54

The establishment of christian churches among the Indians involved a christian marriage ceremony, but this had restraining force with the Indian only as he became a christian at heart and conscientiously canceled every obligation and margin of license that marked the old system. A backsliding or relapsing Indian at once threw off at will his marriage obligation as a void act; hence, Rev. Mr. Fancher, at Onondaga, kept no record of the marriages of Indians, reducing, unconsciously on his part, the marriage ceremony to a seeming farce. During the recent religious interest on the Cattaraugus reservation, the most difficult question to solve, when application was made for admission to the church, was how to dispose of successive family relations previously sustained to several parties still living. There is at present no peacemaker court among the Onondagas, and the chiefs practically recognize the pagan custom to be in force. This confused condition of affairs even led Bishop Huntington to marry two Indians who had long cohabited as husband and wife, but who had otherwise deported themselves correctly, without a rigid test of their previous relations to others; and now the eldest daughter of the male who had been once married by a clergyman to a wife still living is neighbor to the former husband of her father's present wife. The bishop was at a Iohs how to act in this case. The effect of this state of things is to paralyze christian effort and harden the Indian against every dawning sentiment that might win him to a pur.T and better life, and to instill into the minds of Indian youth the conviction that they are independent of all moral restraint and moral duty. It also exposes those who would modestly and honestly prefer the proprieties of civilized society to contamination by vampire white people, who hover about the borders of reservations to ruin a dependent people, in defiance of those sentiments of honor which the Iroquois, in the days of their proudest military achievements, rarely ignored, even when dealing with captives of their spear and bow.

The enumeration under the Eleventh Census and the enjoined inquiry into every phase of Indian life brings to the front the fact that, " to save the Indian, he must be saved from himself as well as saved from the aggressions of the white people ".


Among the Indians the home has as many varied phases as among the white people. Comfort and want, cleanliness and dirt, good order and confusion, neatness and slovenliness furnish like contrasts. Neither extremes are more common than among white communities where a corresponding number of people are unable to read and write. On the maps which accompany this report every house, cabin, hovel, or shanty is noted, and the family schedules give the value of each dwelling and its household effects, ranging from totals of $25 to $2,500 and upward. The property tables in this report show a basis for comparing those of varied valuations with those of civilized society generally, showing that even the single-room cabin, with scant blanket screens or those not divided at all, are more common among immigrants at the extreme west than among these Indians.

A grouping of the special schedules of Cattaraugus presents the following suggestive exhibit, independent of the value of lands, crops, and implements:

Honses of value of §25 and less 26

Houses of value more than $25 and less than $100 130

Houses of value more than $100 and less than $300 110

Houses of value more than $300 and less than $500 47

Houses of value more than $500 and less than $1,000 41

Houses of value more than $1,000 and less than $2,000 11

Houses of value more than $2,000 4

Total 369

Household effects present a still more significant idea as to modes and styles of living:

Household effects in value $25 or less 59

Household effects in value more than $25 and less than $100 217

Household effects in valne more than $100 and less than $300 80

Household effects in value more than $300 and less than $500 9

Household effects in value more than $500 4

Total 369

This ratio applies to the other reservations, with perhaps a better class of household effects at Tuscarora. The usual furnishing of the home consists of a second-hand stove, plain bedsteads, tables, utensils, crockery, home-made quilts, muslin curtains, a few cheap chairs or benches, and other absolute essentials. The comfort and appearance of the homes depend naturally upon the pecuniary resources, taste, education, and religious associations of the occupants, and a comparison of an equal number of homes of the same grade at Tuscarora with those of any other reservation would show to the credit of the former. It is no reflection upon the equally kind entertainers among the pagan party to say that, with rare exceptions, the home reflects the political (Indian or christian) character of its inmates. The rule already applied to neighborhoods and roads is as conclusive here; but the refined home of Mrs. Caroline Mountpleasant at Tuscarora affords no better example of home comfort than the 1-story 3-roomed house of Mary Bempleton, who attends as faithfully to her 150 chickens in the barnyard as she does to her household duties. In the smallest, poorest shanty of Tuscarora, with bed, stove, bench, some shelves for dishes, and suspended strings of corn all around, lives Eliza Green, caring for her grandson and the household needs. Here the broom, which the humble Indian housewife stands outside the door as a signal "not at home" for want of lock, is not wanting. On a small donation, the cheerful "thank you; I'll get nails with that to patch my roof", savored of domestic cheer to be remembered and honored.

This report exacts definite ideas of the Indian condition in all its phases, and the data of special schedules can only be illustrated by reference to some homes of all grades, the better class as well as the most repulsive. The houses of Thomas Kennedy and Chester Lay, of Cattaraugus, with modern comforts and the best of good home living, contrast with the quaint slab shanty of old Mary Jack, who is innocent of anything better; yet the two little windows let in light and the cabin is not absolutely filthy. In one calftn, somewhat larger than the one occupied by Mary Jack, on the bluff overlooking Cherry Hollow, aud said to be the "poorest affair on all the reservation ", a bedstead, stove, crockery, shelves, and a bench, which answered for seats or table, comprised the furniture. The bed was occupied by visitors, but on the bench, kicking their feet and playing together, were 5 Indian children, whose good shoes, neat clothing, and clean faces showed that somebody had carefully prepared them for this neighborly visit. The house of Bill Hill, in a ravine near the foot of Onondaga reservation, is one of the poorest; but it can, on the frontier at least, be called decent. The log house of genial, accommodating, witty Bill Isaacs, who lives in one room with his aged mother, and who was confirmed by Bishop Huntington on a recent Sabbath, furnished an interior view of very forbidding features, and yet it, in its wilderness of articles of clothing, corn, potatoes, flour sacks, and old traps of half a century's accumulation, is the abode of an affectionate son and a noble soul. Indian like, he takes things easy. He " agreed to light the schoolhouse fire for 3 cents a day, but didn't get it, and guessed he could stand it". Clapping his hands, with a merry twinke of his eye, he added: "I don't care much; I'll get paid some time" (pointing upward). He has a curious coat of many pieces aud all conceivable colors, such as the " first Isaac's wife made for Joseph once ". He is known as " Buffalo Bill ", and " runs chores" for everybody, aud the rector of the church of the Good Shepherd says: "I trust my house with Billy every time *'. Politically he "wants everybody to own his own land, to have the children made to go to school, to have chiefs account for public money, to stop their spending it on pagan dances and heathen 'tomfoolery ', and for everybody to pick up and get citizenship as soon as they know enough; don't care how soon it comes—next week, if a good chance comes ". Buffalo Bill, who is thus philosophical, and so good natured as to offend no one, has the courage of his convictions, knows the wants of his people, and daily sows good seed in a soil ready for immediate development.

Names are freely given in this report for the purpose of opening to any inquirer the same avenues of information

which prompt its statements. Access to nearly a thousand homes, meeting with never-failing politeness, however

inquisitive or intrusive the interrogation might seem, among those speaking several different languages, and

surprised in every phase of home or farm life, with only now and then a warning of the visit, furnished evidence

that the good-natured and simple welcome came from real kindness of heart. No apologies were made, as a general

rule, for want of neatness or order, and, with the exception of one pig and occasionally a dog, no beast or fowl shared

the home with the family. Old Eliza Parker, of Tonawanda, surrounded with a family of 9, including grandchildren,

threatened a rough reception. The house was a type of aggravated disorder. Old shoes of many shapes and sizes,

onions, potatoes, corn, and an indescribable collection of worthless things lay in the corners aud under the tumbled

beds. The old woman suspected there was a plot to get hold of her land, and she put a stake in the stove to make a

firebrand for defense of her rights; but her face relaxed its fierceness at last, and her loud declamations, as well

as wild gestures, subsided. With all the resultant disorder from want of closets, and with strings along the walls,

instead of nails, to suspend everything that can be hung up, it is a very rare thing to find a place that can be called

really filthy. There are such places, but continental life, as well as frontier life, has similar exhibitions to disgust a

visitor. In such cases deferred washing of bedding, clothing, floors, and dishes is too suggestive for description to

do justice to the abomination.


All the Six Nations Indians wear the same kind of clothing as the white people and "fix up" for church, festivals, picnics, and holidays, indulging especially in good boots and shoes. At the "green-corn dance ", at Cold Spring, Allegany reservation, the majority of young men wore congress ties or gaiters. The head shawl is still common, but at more than 30 assemblies "store bonnets" or home-made imitations appeared. Sewing machines are much used.

The old women among the pagans still wear the beaded leggings, as the "pantalet" was worn by the white women and girls in New England some 50 years ago. Old Martha Hemlock and her husband Joseph, of Cattaraugus, are about 80 years of age, and are representatives of the oldest pagan type. The woman, notwithstanding her age, quickly finished a beautiful basket, hammered loose a sample bark from a soaked black-ash limb for another lot of splints, put up her corn-husk sieve, and afterward appeared in "full regalia", as if about to act a chief part in a "thanksgiving dance ". A cape over her bright, clean, and stiffly starched calico dress bore closely uniting rows of silver brooches, 12 deep on the back. From the throat to the bottom hem in front similar silver brooches, mostly of eagles' heads, in pairs, widened out, until the bottom cross-row numbered 16. Each brooch, well hammered out and punched through in somewhat artistic openings, had been made long years ago from quarter and half dollar pieces and Canadian shillings, and was the representative of so much money, the cape being valued, with a front lapel, at $75. At Mary Wilson's, on the Tonawanda reservation, old Jo-geh-ho, a Canadian Cayuga woman, 83 years old, who "had danced her last green-corn dance", reluctantly, and as if with some misgivings as to duty, parted with a pair of leggings which she had used on solemn occasions " for nearly 60 years ". The white beads, yellow from age, arranged in bands and loops, were still in good order, and the cloth, although threadbare from age and use, was neither ragged nor torn.

Sick were found in many households, but they seemed to take for granted that they could not be expected to have "things nice" about them, and the patient sufferers from consumption, wherever found, left no heart for criticism; nor are the sympathies of the Six Nations Indians often withheld or coldly manifested toward those in sorrow. During 8 months of daily contact with families and individuals, never forbidden access to house or council hall, church or school, not an occasion was found for considering dress as immodestly worn or too scantily provided. Poor and often ragged and soiled clothing is the consequence of their "bunched" family living, their small quarters, and their infrequent use of water; but their attitude, deportment, dress, surroundings, and internal accommodations, or want of accommodations, do not reflect the conditions which belong to the ''hotbed of filth and vice", as some have imagined. This conviction is not impressed upon the mind by enthusiastic missionaries, who, in their sympathy, see the signs of a swift regeneration of the ignorant Indian, but by comparison with Indians of other tribes, with the lower orders of society in other countries, and by contact with white people in America.


More than one-third of the small houses have but one room. And yet a log or " block house ", as many are called, is not of necessity a mere cabin, nor rude within. Some are two stories, and some have frame additions or framed upper story. Daniel Printup, of Tuscarora, and Philip Fatty, of Allegany (a veteran of the Nineteenth Connecticut regiment, and sometimes an attorney for his people), have enlarged their log accommodations by framed additions, and in 30 two-storied houses, already erected or in progress, a special regard has been had for a company room, or parlor, which is often furnished with a carpet and sometimes with a musical instrument.

Among the Onondaga homes 10 organs and 1 piano were found, at Allegany the same number, and at Cattaraugus 10 organs and 1 melodeon; in all, 30 organs, 2 pianos, and 1 melodeon distributed among these Indian families. Elias Johnson, of Tuscarora, author of "Legends, traditions and laws of the Iroquois, or Six Nations, and history of the Tuscarora Indians ", and several other heads of families have small but well-selected libraries, and many a parlor has its pictures and table albums. The Indian parlor is not a " spare room ", rarely used, but more often borrows heat from the kitchen stove, and is a true parlor or place for talking when work is over.


The Indian is not an early riser nor an epicure. The antecedents of the hunting period, which involved one substantial meal each day and long absences from home, with only dried meat or parched corn for lunch, still hold their place with those of the poorer class. Scarcity of fuel largely restricts its use to the kitchen stove, as was the case not many years ago in New England, when meals were eaten where cooked, and the only other room having a fire was the familiar "family keeping room ". With the poorer Indian families, and especially among the older pagans, cracked corn, skinned-corn hominy, corn bread, dried corn, succotash, beans, and squash are in common use. Old-time tea of wild spice or the sassafras root is now supplanted by the common tea and coffee. Pork is the principal meat, but chickens and eggs are plentiful. The old mortar, with its double-headed pounder, is still in use. The corn is first hulled by boiling in ashes and water, then pounded to a powder, strained through basket sieves, and boiled or baked with dried currants to give it flavor, and is both palatable and nutritious. Three kinds of corn are raised by the Senecas, the red, the white, and the white flint, ripening progressively, so that their graded growing corn has the appearance of careless instead of systematic planting. The red corn is esteemed most highly for hominy, the white for charring or roasting, and the white flint for flour. When stripped from the stalk the husks are braided and strung by twenties, and hung up for future use. "Strings of corn " are measured for about as many half bushels of shelled corn. Besides these primitive kinds of food, one finds choice varieties of cake, as well as simple gingerbread, in many households for festive occasions, though, for the pagan dance, boiled hominy and beans, sometimes with pork, supply the meal. A few shelves often take the place of a pantry, where the plates are stood on edge, as in earlier times among the white people. The kitchen is in many cases all there is of the house, often uninviting enough, but always more than half civilized in its appointments, and generally with a sufficiency of food; but, whether well or poorly supplied, hospitality is gracious and hearty.

The Saint Regis people are certainly poor, but there is little destitution or suffering. The aged are treated with respect, and national pride in their ancestry and history finds expression whenever interested inquiry is made

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