iroquois

4

John Simon, after John Verelst

Four Indian Kings

England (1710)

Mezzotint on Paper

National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.

When Sir Francis Nicholson, career soldier and former governor of Virginia and Maryland, went to England in February, 1710, to plead the New England case for invasion of Quebec, he was accompanied by four “Indian Kings” with various degrees of connection to the Iroquois confederacy who traveled with him as a kind of diplomatic entourage. They were not the first Indians to visit Britain, but the “Four Indian Kings” were the first to be presented as possessing the authority of rulers in a European sense, and whose purposes were clearly diplomatic.

  It was not very easy to recruit Iroquois leaders for the trip.  The confederacy council was dominated by neutralists who wanted to avoid the dangers of too-close alignment with either France or Great Britain, so there was little hope of finding volunteers among leading Indian sachems.  Instead, the colonial organizers found supporters where they could and shamelessly falsified their credentials to make them “kings."  The Indian "kings” immediately found a place in the imaginative life of Great Britain—they were feted and painted and stared at and memorialized in a variety of ways that created long-lasting, popular images of the event.

1. Sa Ga Yeath Qua Pieth Tow, King of the Maquas

Sa Ga Yeath, also called Brant, was a pro-English Mohawk with no formal claim to a leadership position.

2. Etow Oh Koam, King of the River Nation

One of the “kings,” also called Nicholas, was not an Iroquois at all.  The River Nation was another name for the Mahicans, who were under the influence of the Mohawks, but not part of the confederacy.  Etow Oh Koam may have been important later, but in 1710 was without status.

3. Ho Nee Yeath Taw No Row, King of the Generethgarich

Ho Nee Yeath, also called John, was another pro-English Mohawk with no formal claim to leadership status.  “Generethgarich” is apparently a reference to Canajoharie, a western Mohawk town in what is now New York State.

4. Tee Yee Neen Ho Ga Row, Emperor of the Six Nations

Only one of the “kings” could possibly be described as a sachem, and that would be a stretch.  Theyanoguin, whose Christian name was Hendrick, belonged to the council of the Mohawk tribe, but not to that of the Iroquois confederacy as a whole.  Even among the Mohawks he was still, at the age of thirty, a minor figure and hardly an “Emperor.”

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“FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (please forward): Individuals from Six Nations and their allies have interrupted work on a section of Enbridge’s Line 9 pipeline. The work stoppage began around 10am this morning. Individuals involved asked workers to leave, asserting that the land is Haudenosaunee territory guaranteed under the Haldimand deed, and that Enbridge’s workers were present without consent or consultation. 

“Meaningful consultation isn’t just providing information and going ahead without discussion – it’s giving the opportunity to say no and having a willingness to accommodate.” says Missy Elliot.

“Enbridge left a voice message on a machine with one person. That’s not meaningful – it’s not even consultation.” Emilie Corbeau, there in support of Six Nations points out. 

Those involved intend to host an action camp, filling the time with teach-ins about Six Nations history, indigenous solidarity and skill shares centering on direct action.

The group states that they’ve tried the other processes available to them and here out of necessity. “We’ve tried pursuing avenues with the NEB, the township and the Grand River Conservation Authority. Our concerns were dismissed. What other choice do we have if we want to protect our land, water and children?” Missy Elliot of Six Nations asks.

Under bill C-45 the section of the Grand River adjacent to the Enbridge work site and pipeline is no longer protected. Approximately half a million people rely on drinking water provided by the Grand River.

“This isn’t just about line 9 – or Northern Gateway, Energy East or Keystone XL. This is about pipelines – all of them.” Daniell Boissineau, of Turtle Clan, asserts. “This is about the tarsands and how destructive they are to expand, extract and transport.”

“This is a continental concern. It’s not just a Six Nations issue or an indigenous issue. We share the responsibility to protect our land and water as human beings.” Elliot states.”

Queen Aliquippa

Art by Caitlin (tumblr, etsy, facebook)

Multiple European and European-American sources reference Aliquippa, a Seneca leader in the area south of present-day Pittsburgh.  Her year of birth has been estimated anywhere from the early 1670s to the early 1700s.  She was the leader of a group of Minga Senecas who moved to Ohio Territory in the mid-1700s.  At the time, Ohio Territory stretched across present-day Ohio into northwestern West Virginia, western Pennsylvania, and eastern Indiana.

Aliquippa and her son Kanuksusy were well known to the colonial government of Pennsylvania.  Colonial official Conrad Weiser visited Aliquippa twice in 1748 writing, “We dined in a Seneka Town, where an old Seneka Woman Reigns with great Authority.”  Kanuksusy addressed the Pennsylvania Council as a representative of the Six Nations of the Iroquois for the first time in 1747.   In 1753, he was included on a colonial list of Iroquois officials. 

Aliquippa was a staunch ally of the British during the lead up to the French and Indian War.  In 1749, the French explorer Celeron de Bienville wrote “She is entirely devoted to the English.”  In 1754, she travelled to Fort Necessity where she was a guest of George Washington.  After the British defeat at the Battle of Fort Necessity, Aliquippa moved her people east to Aughwick Creek. She died there of natural causes on December 23, 1754.  Kanuksusy continued to work with the British colonial government until his death from smallpox in November 1756.

It is good to have one real American here
—  General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House, when he found out that one of the high-ranking Union officers he was surrendering to was Seneca. Ely Samuel Parker – a lawyer, engineer, diplomat and one of Grant’s top aides – was not just present during the solemn meeting, he is the one who drafted the terms of surrender. Parker replied: “Sir, we are all Americans.” This was not the only notable thing about Ely Parker. He was the highest-ranking Native American officer during the American Civil War. At age fourteen, the Council of Chiefs for the Tonawanda Seneca Nation appointed him to translate dealings with the state because of his English. He studied to become a lawyer, but was not licensed to practice law because of his heritage. So Parker studied engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy. He later met Grant in Galena, Ill., where Grant worked as a clerk in his father’s general store. When the Civil War broke out, Ely Parker volunteered, and because he was an engineer, he was commissioned as a captain. Parker was reunited with Grant at Vicksburg, and the following year Grant appointed Parker his official military secretary, and Parker drafted all of the general’s legal papers. Including the surrender terms at Appomattox Court House.

Jigonhsasee

Art by Z Akhmetova (tumblr)

The Haudenosaunee or Iroquois Confederacy united the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and Seneca nations.  The exact date on which the Haudenosaunee was founded is unknown, but is believed to be somewhere between 1100 and 1600.  The sixth and final nation of the Haudenosaunee, the Tuscarora, joined in 1722.

The Haudenosaunee was the brainchild of two men, Dekanawida (The Great Peacemaker) and Hiawatha, who brought the Great Law of Peace to the squabbling Iroquoian nations.  They were joined by Jigonhsasee, a woman known for her ability to use hospitality to settle disputes between tribes.  Dekanawida persuaded her to support the idea of a confederacy of nations and gave her the responsibility of selecting men to sit on the peace council.  Dekanawida called Jigonhsasee “Mother of Nations.”  Throughout the history of the Haudenosaunee women have retained the right to elect and recall men to the council, as well as the right to veto a declaration of war.