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fragments; the son is arrayed against the father ; brother against brother ; families against families; tribes against tribes; and canton against canton. They are divided into factions, religious, political and personal ; Christian and Pagan, American and British; the followers of Cornplanter and SagouaHa; of Skonadoi and Capt. Peter. The minister of destruction is hovering over them, and before the passing away of the present generation, not a single Iroquois will be seen in this state.
It would be an unpardonable omission, not to mention, while treating on this subject, that there is every reason to believe, that previous to the occupancy of this country by the progenitors of the present nations of Indians, it was inhabited by a race of men much more populous, and much further advanced in civilization. The numerous remains of ancient fortifications, which are found in this country, commencing principally near the Onondaga River, and from thence spreading over the Military Tract, the Genessee country, and the lands of the Holland Land Company, over the territory adjoining the Ohio and its tributary streams, the country on Lake Erie, and extending even west of the Mississippi, demonstrate a population far exceeding that of the Indians when this country was first settled.
I have seen several of these works in the western parts of this state. There is a large one in the town of Onondaga; one in Pompey, and another in Manlius; one in Camillus, eight miles from Auburn; one in Scipio, six miles; another one mile ; and one, half a mile from that village. Between the Seneca and Cayuga Lakes there are several; three within a few miles of each other. Near the village of Canadaigue there are three. In a word, they are scattered all over that country. *
* On the subject of these ancient fortifications, see Charlevoix, vol. 1. b. 11. p. 533. Charlevoix, letter 23, vol. 3. p. 333. Ameri
These forts were, generally speaking, erected on the most commanding ground. The walls or breastworks were earthen. The ditches were on the exterior of the works. On some of the parapets, oak trees were to be seen, which, from the number of the concentric circles, must have been standing one hundred and fifty, two hundred and sixty, and three hundred years; and there were evident indications, not only that they had sprung up since the erection of those works, but that they were at least a second growth. The trenches were in some cases deep and wide, and in others shallow and narrow; and the breast works varied in altitude from three to eight feet. They sometimes had one, and sometimes two entrances, as was to be inferred from there being no ditch at those places. When the works were protected by a deep ravine, or a large stream of water, no ditch was to be seen. The areas of these forts varied from two to six acres; and the form was generally an irregular ellipsis; and in some of them fragments of earthen ware and pulverized substances, supposed to have been originally human bones, were to be found.
can Museum, vol. 6. p. 29. 233. Massachusetts Historical CollecLions, vol. 3. p. 23; Massachusetts Historical Collections, vol. 4. p. 101.
107. Imlay's Kentucky, p. 379. Herriot's Canada, p. 14 to 26. Belkaap's American Biography, vol. 1. p. 194-196. History of Virginia, anonymous, published in London, 1722, p. 149. Carver's Travels, p. 37. Volney's United States, p. 486. Barton's Medical and Physical Journal, vol. 1. part 1. p. 97. Ibid, part. 2. p. 80. Ibid. vol. 2. part 1. p. 187. Adair's Indians, p. 377. New-York Magazine, Japuary, 1793, p. 23. Michaux's Travels to the Westward of the Alleghany Mountains in 1802, vol. 1. Columbian Magazine for 1787, vol. 1. No. 9. Shultz's Inland Voy. age, vol. 1. p. 146. American Philosophical Transactions, vol. 8.
Medical Repository, 3d Hexade, vol. 2. No. 2. p. 146, Rogers' Concise Account of North America, p. 247. Harris's Tour io 1803 into the State of Ohio, p. 149, &c. Hubbard's Narrative of the Indian Wars in New England, p. 32. 106. Williamson on the Climate, &c. of America, p. 189.
These fortifications, thus diffused over the interior of our country, have been generally considered as surpassing the skill, patience and industry of the Indian race; and various hypotheses have been advanced to prove them of European origin.
An American writer of no inconsiderable repute pronounced some years ago, that the two forts at the confluence of the Muskingum and Ohio rivers, one covering forty and the other twenty acres, were erected by Ferdinand de Soto, who landed with one thousand men in Florida in 1539, and penetrated a considerable distance into the interior of the country. He allotted the large fort for the use of the Spanish army; and after being extremely puzzled how to dispose of the small one in its vicinity, he at last assigned it to the swine, that generally, as he says, attended the Spaniards in those days; being in his opinion very necessary, in order to prevent them from becoming estrays, and to protect them from the depredations of the Indians.
When two ancient forts, one containing six and the other three acres, were found near Lexington in Kentucky, another theory was propounded, and it was supposed that they were erected by the descendants of the Welch colony, who are said to have migrated under the auspices of Madoc to this country, in the twelfth century; that they formerly inhabited Kentucky ; but being attacked by the Indians, were forced to take refuge near the sources of the Missouri.
Another suggestion has been made, that the French, in their
expeditions from Canada to the Mississipi, were the authors of these works: but the most numerous are to be found in the territory of the Senecas, whose hostility to the French was such, that they were not allowed for a long time to have any footing among them.* The fort at Nia
* Colden, vol. 1. p. 61.
gara was obtained from them, by the intrigues and eloquence of Joncaire, an adopted child of the nation.*
Louis Dennie, a Frenchman, aged upward of seventy, and who has been settled and married among the confederates for more than half a century, told me that according to the traditions of the ancient Indians, these forts were erected by an army of Spaniards, who were the first Europeans ever seen by them; the French the next; then the Dutch ; and finally the English: that his army first appeared at Oswego in great force, and penetrated though the interior of the country, searching for the precious metals; that they continued there two years, and went down the Ohio.
Some of the Senecas told Mr. Kirkland the missionary, that those in their territory were raised by their ancestors in their wars with the western Indians, three, four or five hundred years ago. All the cantons have traditions, that their ancestors came originally from the west; and the Senecas say that theirs first settled in the country of the Creeks. The early histories mention, that the Iroquois first inhabited on the north side of the great lakes; that they were driven to their present territory in a war with the Algonkins or Adirondacks, from whence they expelled the Satanas. If these accounts are correct, the ancestors of the Senecas did not, in all probability, occupy their present territory, at the time they allege.
I believe we may confidently pronounce, that all the hypotheses which attribute those works to Europeans, are incorrect and fanciful: Ist. On account of the present number of the works. 2d. On account of their antiquity; having, from every appearance, been erected a long time before the dis
* Charlevoix, vol. 3. letter 15. p. 227.
covery of America: and finally, their form and manner are totally variant from European fortifications, either in ancient or modern times.
It is equally clear that they were not the work of the Indians. Until the Senecas, who are renowned for their national vanity, had seen the attention of the Americans attracted to these erections, and had invented the fabulous account of which I have spoken, the Indians of the present day did not pretend to know any thing about their origin. They were beyond the reach of all their traditions, and were lost in the abyss of unexplored antiquity.
The erection of such prodigious works must have been the result of labour, far beyond the patience and perseverance of our Indians; and the form and materials are entirely different from those which they are known to make. These earthen walls, it is supposed, will retain their original form much longer than those constructed with brick and stone. They have, undoubtedly, been greatly diminished by the washing away of the earth, the filling up of the interior, and the accumulation of fresh soil; yet their firmness and solidity indicate them to be the work of some remote age. Add to this, that the Indians have never practised the mode of fortifying by intrenchments. Their villages or castles were protected by palisades; which afforded a sufficient defence against Indian weapons.
When Cartier went to Hochelaga, now Montreal, in 1535, he discovered a town of the Iroquois, or Hurons, containing about fifty huts. It was encompassed with three lines of palisadoes, through which was one entrance, well secured with stakes and bars. On the inside was a rampart of timber, to which were ascents by ladders; and heaps of stones were laid in proper places to cast at an enemy.
Charlevoix and other writers agree, in representing the Indian fortresses as fabricated with