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


In the first place, to women, in every well regulated society, should be committed the management of the families and the business connected with the household concerns, and they should be qualified to exercise a salutary influence within their appropriate sphere.

Secondly, as mothers they are responsible for the nursing and rearing of their children and for the proper sustenance of them in early life. They are also responsible for the habits of their children, including cleanliness and general propriety of behavior.

A sensible, judicious mother can greatly control her children in these matters; she can make them modest or impertinent, ingenuous or deceitful, fearful or intrepid. The germ of all these traits of character exist in childhood, and a mother can repress or strengthen them.

Thirdly, a mother is responsible for the principles her children may entertain in early life, and it is for her to say whether they shall be imbued with sentiments of honesty, industry and morality, or with those of a contrary character—fraud, idleness and dishonesty.

She is, to a very considerable extent responsible for the temper and disposition of her children. Constitutionally he may be irritable or revengeful, but she may correct or repress these passions and in their places instil better feelings.

Lastly, and above all, she is responsible for the religious education of her children. The beginning of wisdom is a reverence for our creator, and obedience to his requirings; and this is within the power of every good mother to inculcate and cherish in the hearts of her children; at the same time it is the most important duty she owes them, and their usefulness and character throughout life may depend upon her correct and faithful discharge of it.

If these be the appropriate duties and obligations of a mother, will it not be vain to expect that the Indian warrior will be qualified for that station, or that they will be in a condition to give a proper education to their children, or train them up in habits or principles that will render them intelligent and good citizens, whilst they themselves are left in ignorance, and while, instead of devoting their time and attention to his discharge of these high moral duties, they are held in a state of servile degradation and compelled to perform all the menial drudgeries of life?

Women are created by Providence equal to men in everything except mere physical strength. Generally, they have much more discretion, and certainly are far more virtuous. They were designed to exercise a conservative influence in society and should be placed in a position which would enable them to fulfill this-most important office; for history confirms the deeply interesting fact, that no people ever yet were elevated to the rank of civilization, while their females were held in a servile condition, and we are also admonished by experience, that no community can be virtuous and happy, which is not chastened by the controlling example of female delicacy and refinement.

These views are submitted to the consideration of the Tuscaroras, in the hope that they will receive their serious attention, and lead to the adoption of an improved and proper division of the employments, both of the men and women of the nation; especially to the extension of more care towards the suitable education of their females, and the consequent elevation of the Tuscarora women to their appropriate station and dignity, as the wives and rational companions of intelligent and educated husbands.

In my communications, I have not felt it my duty to call your attention to any particular forms or observances in relation to your religious obligations. I believe that God is a spirit, and true worship to Him can only be performed in spirit and in truth. I also believe that however diversified the human family may be in regard to the circumstances in which they may be placed, all stand equally before their creator, as objects of His care and personal regard; in His great mercy He visits us with remorse and sadness, when we have wilfully done what we know to be wrong, and which, if persisted in, might lead us to destruction; and it is He who fills our hearts with peace and consolation when we do that which we believe to be right. His goodness is not limited to any people or place nor, is that adoration which is due to Him confined within temples built with human hands, or restricted to any particular form; He is everywhere present and in every place; the incense of a pious, devoted heart, may acceptably be offered to Him in the rude homes of the red man.

The plants of the earth are not more directly under the influences of the natural light and warmth by which they are nourished, than is the immortal soul or spirit of man under the immediate care and sustaining support of the divine presence, which is always near and round about us; for it is in Him we live, and move, and have our existence.

Deeply impressed with the certainty of these truths, and fully believing He will never fail to lead in the paths of safety and peace, those who sincerely look to Him for instruction and faithfully follow His counsel, I recommend you, with myself, carefully to attend to His manifestations of light and truth upon our minds, which will never deceive nor mslead, but, if obeyed, wisely conduct us through the dangers of this life, and finally will prepare us for a happy admission into the realms of eternal rest.