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in that direction. Tenacity of old treaty rights, however unsuited to their present relations with the surrounding white people, is characteristic of nearly everybody, as if neither time nor conditions had changed.
The French element binds the Saint Regis Indians closely to the observance of the christian forms and ceremonies, so that legal marriage, baptism of children, and burial of the dead are well recognized modes of procedure. The social life is informal, and the home life is quite regular, with an air of contented simplicity. All family obligations are well maintained, and the humble homes, the co-operative industry of the children, the rarity of separations, and the number of large households are in harmony.
Among the Saint Regis Indians a curious marriage custom exists, that of having 3 successive suppers or entertainments after the ceremony. The first is at the house of the bride, the second at the house of the bridegroom, and the third at the residence of some convenient friend of both. A procession, bearing utensils, provisions, and all the accessories of a social party, is one of the features. Another custom observed among the Saint Regis Indians bears resemblance to the " dead feast" among the pagans of the other nations, viz, that of night entertainments at the house of a deceased person until after the funeral, much like the "wake " which is almost universal among the white people in the vicinity of Hogansburg, and combines watching the dead body with both social entertainment and religious service.
The predominant thought during the enumeration of this people was that of one immense family, as, indeed, they consider themselves. This sentiment is strengthened by the fact that the invisible boundary which both separates and unites 1,170 American and 1,180 Canadian Saint Regis Indians is practically a bond of sympathy, multiplying the social amenities or visits, and cheering their otherwise lonely and isolated lives. The river Indians also contribute their share in these interchanges of visits.
The large diffusion of French blood and the equally universal relationship of most of the representative men and families to the Tarbells, Cooks, Gareaus, Torrances, Grays, and Birons (Beros) blend the families more closely than upon any other reservation, not excepting even that of Cornplanter, where all directly inherit from one family head.
TEMPERANCE AND MORALS.
A temperance society has been in active operation for 60 years, and its annual meeting was held on the Onondaga reservation during 1890. A special car brought the Seneca delegates from Cattaraugus at reduced rates, accompanied by one of the Indian bands, but the attendance from the other reservations was unusually small. Speeches, music, and the usual incidents on such occasions had place in the exercises.
The Tuscaroras and Onondagas have comfortable audience rooms, that of the latter, at Onondaga Castle, being known as "Temperance Hall", and is occupied by Ko-ni-shi-o-ni lodge No. 77, I. O. G. T.; motto, " Our world ".
No stranger on a casual visit to the Six Nations could avoid the conviction that the white men and women who skirt the reservations, wherever a convenient crossroad will assure the easy temptation for the Indian to drink himself drunk, are more deadly enemies of the red man than arc all the pagan rites and dances on their most ancient calendar. Old Allen Mohawk, who has suffered himself in earlier times, but now, with agony and tears, pleads in behalf of his sons for some rescue from the power of these cold-blooded destroyers of Indian homes, is only one of hundreds who cry for help. No poverty, untidiness, or want of civilized comforts was so piteous as the silent appeals of this people for deliverance, and there is an actual, persistent claim that only through outside legislation can saving relief come.
During the census year 3 fatal accidents on the railroad track near Tuscarora, 1 at Tonawanda, and 1 on the Allegany reservation were the result of this remorseless traffic of the white people. The village of Carroll ton, on the last-named reservation, is a "drunkard-manufacturing center", with but little to illustrate civilization in the other lines of business. Nearly 50 saloons or their equivalents at Salamanca make it almost a "banner town" for its ratio of saloon facilities to each hundred inhabitants. Almost daily interviews for nearly 2 months with the 2 policemen failed to elicit any definite information as to the parties who sold strong drink to the Indians. Verbal requests and written inquiries equally failed to elicit from Hudson Ansley, the official state attorney of the Seneca nation, any reply as to " offenses committed by or against Indians, or the number of whisky sellers prosecuted", or any facts whatever. The otherwise business aspect of this important railroad center is conspicuously marred by the prevalence of this traffic. A combination in 1890 levied even upon druggists a tax to limit the sale of whisky within the corporation bounds, but the druggists might have added dignity to their calling and character to the town by obligating themselves, under penalty of exposure and punishment, not to sell to Indians at all. The suggestion was favored by some but not by the majority, although suspension of such sales to Indians would not have materially affected the receipts of these places.
The sweeping denunciation of the Allegany Indians as a nation of drunkards is slanderous. In proportion to numbers the visible signs are not greatly to their discredit.
There are intelligent Indians who know the habits and tendencies of every other Indian on the reservation, Mrs. Blinkey, clerk of the Indian Baptist church, explained the backsliding of 5 church members to flow from the drinking habit, and others equally interested to give honest testimony, specifically went over the entire list of Indian names and defined the peculiarities of each in this respect. As compared with white people who daily exhibit this habit before the public the Indians, who habitually drink to excess when they visit the town, are not many in number. One argument in favor of giving citizenship to the Indian was repeatedly and seriously urged, that then "he could come boldly to the counter and get his drink under legal sanction". The Indian rarely betrays his entertainer. Ingenious ruses, in form of package or hiding place for exchanging money for a bottle of spirits, often obscure the transaction. Public sentiment is pained by the presence of drunken Indians, but public sentiment, aroused at last, has not fully concluded that the religious, educational, and social atmosphere is polluted by the large liberty which the liquor traffic now enjoys. The corporation of Salamanca can stop this wrong to its Indian landlord if it wishes to do so. It is cruel, degrading, and inexcusable not to do so. There is law enough as well as occasion, when the people are ready. The best property owners and business men, who know that a great development is within their immediate reach, have commenced the work for the sake of both Indians and white people alike; but the apple-growing counties in apple years will brook no legislation against the cider traffic, neither will they permit the product of their mills to occupy its natural level with the product of the still.
On every reservation the demand is made, " Give us some protecting law "! Even the hiring of Indian labor is coupled with a partial equivalent in cider pay. Mr. Poodry, of Tonawanda, thus illustrates his own experience: "We have hard work to hire sometimes, unless we give them liquor. One year plenty of men passed my house, but wouldn't hire. I got mad. Next year I put 6 barrels of hard cider in my house cellar, putting in enough strong whisky to keep it on edge, and when some men came along I got them. One day 2 lay drunk the whole afternoon. That did not pay. Then the children got hold of it. I couldn't stand that, and have bought none since".
Irregular habits and employment on the farm or other labor expose the Indian to easy temptation, and the border dealers, who wholly depend upon Indian patronage for their own support, not only quickly absorb the pittance annuities, but as promptly secure written orders, practical liens, upon the amounts due a year in advance.
The United States Indian agents have for 25 years made annual reports upon this destructive use of hard cider, but these statements of the agents seem to be taken as innocently as if they only said "the Indian is addicted to basket making", and no action follows by the authorities. Not the least evil that results from the inability of state legislation to reach this wrong is the reaction against active temperance movements which had matured, greatly to the credit of the Indian, and were full of hope for the future.
On February 19, 1830, a temperance society was formed at Tuscarora, and had as its chief founders the late William aud John Mountpleasant, men of wisdom, piety, patriotism, and progress. Ou March 1,1832, a general temperance society was formed at Cattaraugus. On the 27th of January, 1833, the Tuscarora society was reorganized. Almost immediately afterward the National or United Temperance Society added the following article to its constitution, viz: "In the temperance assemblies the following subjects are to be lectured upon: temperance, industry, education, and moral reform ". A temperance cornet band was organized, and at a grand reunion on the 19th of October, 1876, 4 consolidated bands, with 50 instruments, rendered music, and the entire assembly sang, in the Indian language, "O, for a thousand tongues to sing my dear Redeemer's praise". The society also took on a new name, " The Six Nations Temperance Society of the United States and Canada", which it still retains. Waves of blessing swept over the people of the Six Nations as this organization developed. Some of those who figured actively then have fallen back to paganism and some have renewed old habits, but the organization still survives.
Oppressed by assaults from without, and in the family relation and religious experience divided and confused as to dut3T, there abides among this people a passive sense of helpless isolation and a longing for guidance and support, with a distrustfulness of the white people, while impotent to protect themselves.
The statistics which only concern vice and immorality in a sensual sense are not conclusive tests of Indian life and character; neither can public opinion be accepted as a rule if the morals of the people of the Six Nations are to be solely judged by the difference between their marriage custom and that of the surrounding white people. The first official census of the Six Nations can not be shaped by previously conceived notions as to their morals, but must develop its own facts as gathered directly from Indian homes, thus supplying an independent basis of judgment.
The history of the Six Nations is not that of a licentious people, for while the natural pursuits of war and the chase produced strong and athletic men, who looked with contempt upon the labor of tilling the soil, it is not true that the idle intervals spent in their villages or homes were given up to sensual pleasure. This has been the testimony of the most reliable writers upon the life of the native American from the days of the first narrative of Captain John Smith to the present time. Even the young people of neighboring cabins in those days were not social in a society sense. Morgan has already been cited to show that even at their public dances the ceremonies, which were formal, were not immoral. Two historic facts have direct bearing upon the question: first that no race on the earth was more jealous of outside infringement upon the rights of the family circle than some tribes of the red man. His exercise of authority at home might be harsh and the exacted service might be severe, but violators of that home could expect no mercy; second, that the hard physical service of the women, coupled with a hereditary recognized responsibility for the transmission of the pure blood of their mothers to future generations, left neither time nor inclination for dalliance with impure surroundings. As a result of these two related facts, it can be truthfully asserted that until the advent of the white man and his appliances of spirits and money, a prostitute woman, in the modern sense of that term, was as greatly abhorred by the Seneca Indians as a cowardly man; even more so, for the coward was turned over to the women to share their drudgery, but an erring woman was held to have sacrificed the glory of her maternity and dishonored her people.
These facts had their bearing upon the development of the Six Nations when they began their companionship with the white people. The machinery of their social and political systems, as heretofore developed, had special regard for the purity of their line of descent and the limitation of all alliances which could deteriorate the stock or impair the legitimate succession. Coupled with these fundamental laws of their social and political life is another fact, that while a conquering band might adopt prisoners, the laws of the Iroquois were opposed to personal slavery, and even the penalty of defeat in resisting an invading force was not the surrender of the female prisoners to the victorrs lust. The more thoroughly the history of such alleged practices is examined the more vague becomes the evidence of their use.