Saint Croix Courier, St. Stephen, NB
April 14, 1892
GLIMPSES OF THE PAST
Contributions to the History of Charlotte County and the Border Towns.
XII THE GREAT FIRE COUNCIL AND THE TREATY OF PEACE.
[From Sopiel Selmas reading of the Wampum,1 as translated by Lewy Mitchell.2]
This treaty made between the Six3 and Seven Nations4 of Indians and the Abenakies, the People of the Northern Lights.
Before the treaty of peace, these Indians, Abenakies and Six Nations are bitter enemies. They fight every time they meet. Many cruel battles are fought and many prisoners tortured.
When they fought their last battle, some of the wise men of both parties viewed the battle field, and saw the number of killed and wounded; and said among themselves, This work of cruelties must be stopped at once, and something must be done. So they notify the head chiefs of the tribes, and the great chief of the Iroquois calls for a general meeting.
This meeting took place somewhere near what is now known as the St. Lawrence river.5 Every tribe above mentioned send their smartest and wisest men to attend the general Indian conference. When they all reached their destination, the meeting was called, choosing seven of the smartest and wisest Indians to make the treaty of peace.
The wigwam they entered called Wigwam of Silence; they going in at early morn, when the sun rises, and not leaving it until the sun sets. During all these long hours, not a word was spoken or even whispered; but they formed their ideas in their hearts.
This Wigwam of Silence lasted seven days; and on the eighth day, they going again, not only seven, but many other representatives of the various tribes; and each of the seven wisest men made speeches, saying, This work of cruelties and torture shall no longer continue, because its going to destroy our people; and if the white people begin to come, if we fight among ourselves, they can destroy us much easier.
About this time the Indians began to know the Great Spirit, their Creator. They knew Him by the teachings of white men. Then they knew they were doing wrong. They heard the Great Spirit made great light that enlightens the whole world-religion. So the Indians, guided by this light, can see their way; and when they meet they know each other and make friends. The war hatchet shall be forever buried as long as they see the rising and setting of the sun.
All the Indian tribes inscribed on the wampum are strongly united together in a wigwam, strongly protected by larkalosnhign or strong fence. This wigwam of protection is situated in Conowaga; and the chief of that wigwam is called by the Indians Knikigan, our Parent or Master. He is the authorized chief to use ebis, the rod, to punish his children if they do not mind him.
Since the Indians made the treaty of peace, not a single battle has been fought; but remain good friends to this day.
Every village of each tribe has one of the lights, (religion;) and they established the Great Council Fire, or the greater light, in this place, where they meet every seven years.6 This place is situated on the river St. Lawrence, now called Cognowaga.
1Wampum reading is the reciting of traditional records which the wampum commemorates.-Mrs. Brown.
2Sopiel is Po-too-us-win, or keeper of the wampum, of the Passamaquoddies; Lewy was at one time their representative in the Maine state legislature. The words and forms of expression, and also the spelling of proper names, are those of the translator. (It must be remembered that he is writing in what is to him a foreign language.) The confusion of tenses is characteristic of Indian-English.
3The Six Nations of the Iroquois confederacy-Mowhawks [sic], Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, Senecas and Tuscaroras-who were removed to British territory after the close of the Revolutionary war.
4The Seven Nations of Canada. By this term several settlements of domiciliated Indians . . . have been known. The seven villages, it is said, originally consisted of an Iroquois, an Algonquin, and a Nipesing branch at the lake of Two Mountains, an Iriquois [sic] branch at Caughnawaga, near Montreal, and another at Oswegatchie, a colony of Hurons at Lorette, and of Abenaquies, at St. François. The St. Regis mission, formed about the time of the breaking up of that at Oswegatchie, took the place of the latter.-State census of N. Y. Indians, 1855.
5The following letter, a copy of which Sopiel also has in his keeping, seems to fix the date of this meeting:-
Caughnawaga, Nov. 27th, 1870.
In general Council being present the chiefs of Caughnawaga and our brother Captain Sapiel Selmore of Passamaquoddy. This document will especially testify that we Chiefs and Warriors even our women and children in giving our heartfelt thanks for the kind and sociableness on your behalf Brothers of Passamaquoddy towards us in answer to your worthy Captain and delegate we in return give our most warm thanks Giving you all our right hands throughout all your nations and tribes Sympathizing your welfare for the future. In answer also to the Wampum which you have sent to us in return therefore we send to you ours Specifing our treaty which took place A D 1810 Through all nations and tribes of Indians from the East and from the West from the North and the South Wherein our Chiefs from every Nation and tribe were present Therefore we should bind the Good doings of our ancestors in this treaty of Peace The English and American Generals were present. Having all the Indians of Wars incurring between them And No Boundary line should Exist between us Indians Brothers Not any Duties of taxes be levied upon us. Now with regard to our Brethren The Six nations Indians who proposes to hold a meeting three years from hence for the purpose of making a Law for our protection combining with the Laws of the Dominion of Canada this Convention to be held with the Six Nations and the Seven Nations of Indians Due notification will be sent throughout all our nations and tribe of Indians when the time will be on hand so as to be ready to attend to the said Convention &c
Written in General Council at Caughauga giving all our right Hands with our good wishes through all tribes of Indians Brethren
FRANCIS A. DIOUME
JOSEPH K. PHILLIPS
6The Passamaquoddies call this council Na-gee
maq a sa-ka-ga k'chee Squadec, the council or conference of
the Great Five; and the contributions and representatives sent by
each tribe are figuratively spoken of as the fuel to keep this
fire burning night and day during the time of meeting. The
meetings have taken place oftener than once in seven years.-Mrs.