245 years ago today, the Oneida Indians came to a decision regarding their suffering brethren in New England. Almost a year and several letters, trips, and conversations after the March 13, 1773 meeting in Mohegan to discuss removal, Joseph Johnson (Mohegan/Brothertown), accompanied by Elijah Waumpy(Tunxis/Brothertown), walked to New York to speak with the Oneida in person. After giving them an account of the state of the New England Natives, the Oneida responded to Johnson over the course of the next 4 days. Dartmouth College’s Rauner Library holds the original written record of this reply. Below, please find a personal transcription of this document.
Haunoanrohaure Jan 21st 1774.
An answer which the Onoida Indians gave to the speech of Joseph Johnson who spake in the name of his New England brethren at Haunoaurohaure. The first answer given on Fryday January 21st 1774. Brethren, we received you in the name of your seven towns or seven tribes in New England. Brethren, we rejoice that it hath pleased God in his own due time to allow us an opportunity to assemble ourselves together in order to converse together so as we might know your state and circumstances in New England and so as you might know our minds concerning you our brothers. Brethren, we are glad that we have heard how the case stands on your side and we receive you and your words very humbly and we are glad that we have heard so much of your minds and brethren, we shall consider of all your words and give you an answer when we shall be ready and brethren as it is an affair of great importance and as it requires time for consideration we hope that ye will not be uneasy or be in too great a hurry to return but wait patiently and brethren perhaps in twenty days you will receive an answer from us your brothers. Brethren we would ask you a question. We desire to know how many have a mind to come up in these parts to live or how many horses there is in a town or how many families. This is all that we have to say at present.
The Second answer given on Saturday towards evening January 22 1774
Well brethren, harken unto us this day we have assembled ourselves together again to consult together a little about the affairs of this world. But tomorrow is the Lord’s Day which he hath made and set apart for his own service. Brethren, we rejoice in the goodness of God who hath preserved us all our life-time and hath brought us to see the light of this day in peace. And we rejoice that God is allowing us this opportunity of assembling ourselves together this once more and we are glad that we have suffered to see the faces of each other in comfort and as we are short sighted creatures we are sensible that we stand in need of God’s help. We desire that God would direct us and lead us in such conclusion as will be most pleasing to Him concerning this affair which has been laid before us for our consideration and now
And now brethren, we the Chiefs and Lords of this place also warriors and all in this assembly are about to give you an answer concerning the affair which you laid before the Council yesterday. Brethren, we understand all that you said yesterday. But we are somewhat forgetfull, our memories can’t retain for a long time what we hear and although we cant remember every word, yet very likely the principle or the substance of your speech is rooted in our understanding and considering parts (next word is mostly missing; edge of paper removed) that is rooted and fixed in our hearts. We well remember what you said concerning the English and we are sorry to hear the low circumstances into which ye are involved in owing to the ignorance of your forefathers. We are glad to hear of your proceedings hitherto. We remember that you said you acquainted Sir William Johnson of the state and circumstances that you were in. Also we remember that you said that Sir William was pleased with the design and advised you in the affair and gave you encouragement. Brethren, Sir William also acquainted us of your desires or intentions of removing to this part of the country. (small word; uncertain of what it says).. as soon as we was informed of your circumstances we took the message that Sir William Johnson sent to us on your behalf under our considerations and brethren we were all glad our great men, Lords, Warriors, and young men, yea even women and children rejoice to hear that ye were disposed to come and settle these parts. Brethren, perhaps it was the Lord that stirred your minds this way. May be it is His will and pleasure that ye should come up here and live side of us, your brethren. Brethren, we that are in this Council profess to be good and religious men so ye may put confidence in us or believe what we say unto you. Be of good courage brethren, the Lord of this place would have you to be of firm minds; be not discouraged for all the inhabitants of this place are very glad that ye are come to this town and we all rejoice to hear from you at this time that your brethren in New England are still disposed to come up in these parts to live and now brethren, we receive you into our body as it were. Now we may say we have one head, one heart, and one blood. Now brethren our lives are mixed together and let us have one Ruler even God our Maker who dwells in Heaven above who is the father of us all. Brethren, we are sensible that the devil is never idle but is ever busy. And if the evil spirit stirs up any nation whatsoever or person against you and
And causes your blood to be spilt we shall take it as if it was done unto us; or as if they spilt the blood from our own bodies. And we shall be ever ready to defend you and help you or even be ready to protect you according to our abilities. And now brethren as we expect that ye will come and live side of us in short time, we would tell you as brothers our principle, or custom in these parts. Brethren, two things, we six united nations do follow. The first and chief is religion or to follow the directions given to us in God’s Word. The second is to concur with the unchristianized nations so far as will promote peace and tranquility in our land. Brethren, this we ought to do, that religion might grow and flourish in these parts. And brethren we shall expect that ye will assist us in advising us concerning the affairs that may be brought under our consideration when ye shall live side of us your brothers. And brethren it is hoped that we both shall be disposed ever to help one another in case of necessity, as long as we shall live together. As for us brethren, we have already resolved to endeavor to do all things as becometh brothers and as much as in us lies with justice and equity so long as we shall sit together. And now brethren, here is your elder brothers the Tuckaroras, we say your elder brothers because they came here before you and because they came from a greater distance. These your older brothers will live next to your or side of you and they are an understanding people. Yea we are ready to say that they are become wiser than us Onoidas in considering of affairs of great importance. Brethren, you see that these Tuskaroras are now white headed by reason of age and with these our brothers we have sat together in peace from our infancy. Well brethren, we hope that it will be so with us when we come to set down together. We hope that we shall live together in peace until we see each other white headed. Brethren your ears must not be open to hear flying stories and you must not let prejudice arise in your hearts too quick. The is the way or custom likewise of us six united nations not to regard any evil minded person or persons who are contrary to peace. Brethren, we look upon you as upon a sixth (?) brother. We will tell you of all your elder brothers the Onoidas, Kiyougas, Nanticuks, Tuskaroras, Todelehonas* these five are your elder brothers. But as for the Mohawks, Onondaugas, and the Senecas they are our fathers and they are your fathers. Brethren, in the spring we shall expect you here again then we will show you a place to settle on. Brethren, here is your silver pipe and it shall be done with according to orders. This much we have to say at present. Accept our words tho it is but little that we have said. Brethren, we say this once more that we are all very glad to see you in our town and now brethren, we the Chiefs and …of the place also Warriors and young men give our kind respect and sincere love to our brethren in New England that live in those seven towns that are disposed to come this way. We say we give our love to the old men, your Councilers and teachers (?) and to all the young men, also we give our love to all the women old and young and to all children. Brethren, very likely several of our Chiefs will accompany you as far as to Sir William Johnson’s, and there brothers we will confirm all our words and rectify our mistakes if we have made any. There alone is the place to have all things done will, done strong, done sure (?). So brethren, this is the end of our answer.
The Third Answer given on Monday January 24th 1774 at Haunoaurohouse.
Brethren, since we have received you as brothers, we shall not confine you or pen you up to ten miles square. We have much land at our disposal and you need not fear but that you shall have land sufficient for you and for your children after you. We would have you to fix your minds here and here alone and when you come to live up here, we desire that ye would not harken to the invitations of other nations who may invite you to go further back. Brethren, we say let your minds be at ease, be not troubled but come and settle down in peace and live in peace forever. Brothers, we understand that ye purpose to go homeward tomorrow, but brothers don’t take it hard. We think that ye must continue with us two days longer. The reason is this. Some of the Chiefs or heads of the Six Nations are coming up from Sir Williams with a speech from his Honor and we think that it will not be handsome or that it would not be so well for us to met them in the woods. We think that it would be best for us to see them here in this Council house. Also we think that it would be (very proper?) for you to be here when Sir William’s speech will be delivered as it is concerning you and your New England brethren. This is all that we have to say at present.
End of letter-no signature
THANK YOU, ONEIDA NATION!!
*It seems this would be the Tutelo Tribe. https://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/tutelo-tribe.htm