Conference Between Governor Burnet and the Indians Summary

  • Last updated on November 10, 2022

Propositions made by His Excellency William Burnet Esqr Captain General & Governor in Chief of the Provinces of New York, New Jerseys & Territories thereon depending in America & Vice Admiral of the same &c to the five Nations to wit the Mohogs, Oneydes Onondages, Cayauges & Sinnekees in Albany 27 day of August 1722

Father

We are glad to see our in Health and that he is come to see us. We are come pursuant to your commands to hear what you are pleased to require of us, we rejoice to hear that the Great King of Great Britain both think of us & remember such a mean people as we are to renew the Covenant Chain with us.

We are come now to renew the Covenant Chain that has been of old between the Christians of this Government & us, At first it was a Tye with our hands joined together, but afterwards we were joined by a Covenant Chain which we now brighten & make clear & clean, so yt it can never be broken, Give a Belt of Wampum.

We now renewed & brightend the Covenant Chain, but since a Chain is apt to rust, if it be not oiled or greased we will grease it with Beavers grease or Fatt yt the smell thereof will endure for a whole year, do give 2 Beaver Skins.

Father

We look upon you as a great Tree under whose Branches we desire to shelter, and if there should happen any sudden Tempest or Thunder Shower we hope we shall be admitted to take shelter under yt great Tree & be shadowed by the leaves thereof, that no drops may fall on us but yt we may live in Peace and safety, Give a Belt of Wampum.

We take you as a loving & tender Father & beg leave to inform you that some of our people that have been out a hunting to ye Eastward have been taken Prisoners by ye English of New England, but since his Excellency our Fathers arrival here, we have recd intelligence that they are released. We know not whether that account be true but hope & wish it may be so, Gave 3 Beavers.

Father

As you have been an affectionate & loving Father to us your Children, so we hope if any mischeif should befall us, you will resent it & protect your children, and not suffer them to be injured we will not be rash to attempt any thing or too credulous to beleive any stories but first acquaint your Excellcy our Father & follow your advice & obey your orders, Give 3 Beavers.

Father

We are sensible that you are much in the right, that Rum does a great deal of Harm, we approve of all that you said on that Point, but the matter is this, When our people come from Hunting to the Town or Plantations and acquaint the Traders & People that we want Powder and Shot & Clothing, they first give us a large cup of Rum, and after we get the Taste of it crave for more so that in fine all the Beaver & Peltry we have hunted goes for drink, and we are left destitute either of Clothing or Ammunition, Therefore we desire our Father to order the Tap or Crane to be shut & to prohibit ye selling of Rum, for as long as the Christians will sell Rum, our People will drink it, do give 3 Beavers.

Father

We acknowledge that our Father is very much in the right to tell us that we squander away our Indian Corn which should subsist our Wives & Children but one great cause of it is yt many of our People are obliged to hire Land of the Christians at a very dear Rate, to give half the Corn for Rent & the other half they are tempted by Rum to sell, & so the Corn goes, yt ye Poor women & children are left to shift as well as they can, do give 3 Beavers.

(Ampamit Speaker.)

Father

We have no more Land the Christians when they buy a small spot of Land of us, ask us if we have no more Land & when we say yes they enquire the name of the Land & take in a greater Bounds than was intended to be sold them & the Indians not understanding what is writ in the Deed or Bill of Sale sign it and are so deprived of Part of their Lands — Give 3 Beavers.

Father

In former days when the Christians came to settle this Country they came with a ship & desired to fasten their Cable to the Hills near Hosak above Albany, which we readily granted & ever since we have lived in Friendship & Amity together, which we hope will continue so long as Sun & Moon endure, Gave 3 Beavers.

His Excellency told the River Indians that he was well satisfied with their renewing the Covenant Chain & charged them to keep it inviolable to all the Subjects in North America & assured them if they behaved themselves well & did no injuries to the Christians, they needed not fear any harm done to them & if they suffered any Damage by any private Person they should complain & justice should be done to them as well as to the Christians.

The Governor sees that they look better & are better cloathed than the other Indians that do not live among the Christians & therefore that they do well to stay among them He beleives they live better since the Christians bought & improved their Lands than they did before for then the Land lay waste & unimproved. His Excellency orderd them to divide the Presents that shall now be given them One half for the Indians that live above Albany & the other half for those that live below Albany.

A true Copy, examind Pr

PHILIP LIVINGSTON, Secy

for the Indian Affairs

Brother Corlaer

You have made Proposals to us yesterday which we will now answer as well as we are able you told us that this has been a great & solemn meeting, which we own having been made with Your Exellcy the Governors of Virginia & Pensilvania & we acknowledge that if these Treaties now concluded, be well observed by both parties it will be a great Happiness to our children & Childrens Children as for our parts we are resolved to keep & maintain whatever has been concluded now, & stipulated between us all & shall imprint it on our Posterity to be by them kept inviolable for ever.

Brother Corlaer

We will answer the Principal Heads of your Propositions made to us yesterday you renewed the Covenant Chain in Conjunction with the two other Governors of Virginia & Pensilvania, in ye behalf of all the English Colonies of North America all which we do in like manner in the behalf of the five Nations & do resolve to keep and maintain the same for ever and if there be any spots or Stains thereon or any Rust come upon it [we do now wipe off the same and brighten it that] it may be clear and lasting to all future ages.

Brother Corlaer

When the Christians first came to this Country our Ancestors fastened the ship that brought them behind a Great Mountain with a Chain in order to secure the same which mountain lyes behind the Sinnekees Country, so that the one end of the Chain, being fastened there and the other end at ye Ship, if any body would steal away & molest this ship the chain will jingle & make a noise & so alarm all the 5 Nations who are bound to defend this ship & this is the foundation & original of the Covenant Chain among the 5 Nations, which our ancestors made, which was to preserve this ship from any harm, gave a Belt of Wampum.

Brother Corlaer

You acquainted us yesterday how villanously & barbarously the Eastern Indians had fallen upon our Brethren the English of New England & murdered ye people for which we are much concerned and sorrowfull and according as you require in your Proposition we have pitchd upon an Indian of each nation to go to Boston & so to be conducted to the Eastward & acquaint those Indians with what indignation we heard of their base Treatment of our Brethren & command them to beg peace of the English of New England and since we have not a Belt to give in return for that Belt you gave us upon this Proposition, we intend to make use of that Belt you gave us yesterday to the Eastern Indians when we communicate to them our Intentions that we can not look unconcerned when our Brethren of New England receive such barbarous Treatment.

Brother Corlaer

You told us yesterday that we were not to go to Canada or have any correspondence with them, but those that would go thither, they might stay there for altogether, and not return to deceive and corrupt the 5 Nations, but we remember it has been recommended to us formerly to have Peace & amity with all People, even the farr Indians that are in Friendship with the French & to draw them to come & Trade in this Government and accordingly we have followed that advice & the French being in Alliance with the English & in Peace we hope it may not be of any ill consequence if at any time some of our People went thither to retain that good understanding yt is among us. As long as none goes thither to betray their country nor their Allies, since it is Common & the Practice every where when Nations are in Peace & Amity with one another to go & visit each other for if we should wholly refrain from going thither, would it not be of bad consequence to us some time or other therefore we hope it will not be ill taken if sometimes some of our People should go thither.

Brother Corlaer

As to your Excellency’s Proposals yesterday relating to the severe Law made prohibiting the sending Indian goods to Canada, & what encouragement is given to any person whatever who should discover the same, in answer to which we say, that we will not concern ourselves any ways in yt affair. We are peaceable People & inclined to Peace & if we should intermeddle in any such matter, we should but create ourselves a great many enemies & therefore desire to be excused.

As to the Proposition relating to our People coming in such great numbers here, when any publick affairs are to be transacted, we own it is of bad consequence, as we find by experience, by mischeif done by our ungovernable young men, both in Town & Country & therefore we accept very kindly & approve of what you propose of sending no more in the whole but 60 or 70 Persons or such a number as the Messenger shall acquaint us withall, when he comes to call down the 5 Nations to treat here at Albany & thereupon, gave a Belt of Wampum.

Lastly say Brother Corlaer

We have told you at large the first settlement of the Christians here & how at first we traded together & afterwards made the Covenant Chain & how cheap we had goods at first & how much dearer we pay for the same sort of Goods now & moreover that the Powder is not only dear but bad yt we cannot kill the Peltry with [it] which is the Christians Dammage as well as ours — We have heard that our Great King George is a very good Man & our friend and sends that which is good but we are afraid that our Brethren the Christians that live here do abuse us when they Trade with us, hope there ay be some method found out to prevent it.

His Excellency the Governor made them a short Answer viz.

Brethren

There is occasion to answer some things that you have said to me tho’ the most Part is what I like very well.

The reason why I have advised you against trading with the French is because they cheat you always & take advantages in time of Peace in order to weaken you by advising you to warr against the English Indians, that when a war breaks out you may be an easy prey to them.

It is the Handlers or Traders that furnish you with Goods, and if they give you too little the Government can’t help it, but you know that the French are still harder upon you, and sell goods much dearer & if you don’t stop the Path to Canada as I advised you it is your own faults that Goods are not cheaper for if that Trade be stopped there will be more goods to be sold to you and at more reasonable Rates.

I insist upon it that those who go to Canada do not come hither or receive any part of my Presents to you for ye future. . . .

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