Three Rivers
History From America's Most Famous Valleys

Border Wars

by Elizabeth Eggleston Seelye
Assisted by Edward Eggleston
New York
Dodd, Mead and Company, Publishers, 1879.



MEANTIME tribe after tribe had fallen under the tomahawk of the relentless Five Nations. An Indian tribe known as the Neutral Nation, because they had taken no part in the wars of the Hurons and Iroquois, nevertheless quickly went the road of the former nation under the furious attacks of the conquerors. The Neutral Nation deserve no sympathy, for they, on their part, had just been engaged in an equally destructive and barbarous war upon a more western neighbor, the Nation of Fire. At the outbreak of the Erie and Iroquois war, which, as usual in Indian wars, began by an act of treachery upon one side, followed by revenge from the other, an Onondaga chief was captured by the Eries.

He managed to show them their own rashness in entering into a war with the confederacy, and coaxed them to conciliate their powerful neighbors by saving his life. This the Eries agreed to do, and, according to custom, the chief was presented to an Erie woman in place of her brother who had been murdered by the Iroquois. The woman was absent at the time. The adopted chief was feasted and entertained ; but when the woman returned she refused to accept the new brother assigned her, and demanded that he should be burnt in revenge for the death of her relative. Indian custom was inexorable: the chief suffered death. To the last he warned the Eries that in burning him they were burning their nation. His prophecy proved true. The Iroquois stormed the Erie stronghold, carried their elm-bark canoes for shields, and, placed against the palisades, climbed up the cross-pieces of the canoes and scaled the walls. They did not cease until they had obliterated the Eries.

For twenty-five years the Five Nations now fought the Andaste Indians, another nation of their own language. The Andaste war was a most stubborn one, but it resulted in the ruin of this tribe also. The Iroquois themselves suffered terribly from this constant warfare. If it had not been for the numbers of prisoners whom they adopted and converted into Iroquois, the Five Nations would also have destroyed themselves as a powerful Indian nation. " But," said an Iroquois orator, " our young men are too warlike to stay at home."

They made at one time a terrible raid upon the Illinois Indians. When the young warriors of the Five Nations lacked other employment, they would attack even the Indians of the south, and the wandering tribes of the great Algonquin family were a constant prey to their cruel war-parties.

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