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Legends, Traditions, and Laws of the Iroquois, or Six Nations, and History of the Tuscarora Indians


Whatever may be the theories on the subject of Indian civilization, I think it must be evident that the present position of the Tuscarora nation on their reservation, is extremely favorable for the attainment of that object. They can no longer live by the chase. It is not now with them as it was with the Indians on the Delaware, when William Penn said, “their pleasures feed them—hunting, fishing and fowling.” Surrounded by the white settlements, placed in the vicinity of cities and towns, they are obliged to apply to agriculture and other modes of labor, for the means of subsistence. They are now building good houses, planting orchards of various kinds of fruit, raising stock, etc.; they have horses and carriages. Artificial wants—the very pillars of civilization—are increasing upon them. These require exertion, call into action their mental faculties, force them to provide for coming exigencies, gradually tames down their wild nature, and prepares them for that subdued, but improved state, in which alone is to be found the highest point of cultivation, as well as the highest enjoyment intended for man in this probationary world.

If this experiment fails, we may, with melancholy, certainly look forward to a period when this futile branch of the human family shall be swept into oblivion, when the fine sounding names of the lofty mountains, the noble rivers, the splendid cataracts, the great inland seas and the silvery lakes will be the sole memorials of a race, that, only two or three centuries ago, covered the face of this vast continent.

On the other hand, if this experiment should succeed, it will open a door of hope for the preservation, or if we may use the term, physical salvation of this apparently doomed race. It may encourage the philanthrophist to stretch forth his hand for the protection of the yet remaining tribes beyond the Mississippi; and the child may already be born, who will live to behold that vast wilderness thickly dotted over with Indian communities, with towns, villages, farms and manufacturing hamlets. They may live to see the hoe and the spade take the place of the bow and the tomahawk; the lion and the lamb feeding together; the sword beaten into a plowshare, and the spear into a pruning hook.