Andrew P. Price, Appalachia, Canada, Cayuga, Chillicothe, Cumberland River, Dekanawida, Five Nations, Great Lakes, Greenbrier Valley, Hiawatha, history, Iroquois, Jackson River, James Fenimore Cooper, Kanawha River, Lancaster, Logan Banner, London, Marlinton, Mingo Flats, Mohawk, New York, Ohio, Oneida, Onondago, Ototarha, Pennsylvania, Revolutionary War, Rio Grande River, Seneca, Seneca Trail, Shawnee, St. Lawrence River, Tennessee, Tuscarora, Virginia, Warrior's Road, West Virginia, Winchester
From the Logan Banner of Logan, WV, comes this bit of history about the Iroqouis and West Virginia dated October 7, 1927:
West Virginia Part of Iroquois Domain
Confederation of Five Nations, Pledged to Peace, Endured For Two Centuries — Hiawatha One of Founders — Vast Indian Drama Told By Andrew P. Price, “Sage of Marlinton.”
You keep hearing of the Shawnees who overran this country prior to the Revolutionary War, and you keep hearing of them to the east and then to the west. You know that when 72 men went from this (Greenbrier) valley to fight them at the mouth of Kanawha, that they were living in Chillicothe.
The mystery of the Shawnee being to the east and then to the west is explained as follows:
When the whites first began to record history the Shawnees were far to the south and were split into two tribes. One lived on the Atlantic seaboard, around Savannah, and the other west of the mountains in the Tennessee country. They were forced north by their enemies and they were sometime after that found with towns at Winchester, in the valley of Virginia, and Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and in other places in Pennsylvania, while those from the Cumberland basin in Tennessee came north into Ohio. The eastern tribe moved first and no doubt the communicating road between the settlements at Winchester and eastern Pennsylvania traversed West Virginia. They would have to cross Seneca Trail, or Warrior’s Road, and the military town of Mingo Flats lay in their line of travel and that is the occasion of the corrupting of that place and making the garrison traitor to the Five Nations.
The whole of the Appalachia Range of mountains was owned, policed and controlled by the Iroquois or Five Nations. This was the highest type of Indian north of the Rio Grande. For centuries they held a commanding position, their country extending from the mouth of the St. Lawrence river, west on both sides to the Great Lakes and turning there took all the mountain country as far south as Georgia, and they had at least 50 towns along the way from north to south. History deals more with the Mohawks around New York, but the westernmost part in which we live was occupied and kept by the Senecas. The list of the Iroquois or Five Nations: Mohawk, Oneida, Onondago, Cayuga and Seneca. When the Tuscaroras came in in 1726 they were called the Six Nations.
Government Older Than Ours
This conference lasted for more than two centuries and was perhaps the most notable government ever set up by savages. They are the Indians that James Fennimore Cooper wrote about and they are entitled to every bit of praise that he gives them. They had a council that was noted for its dignity, faith, and ability. The kinds of Europe sent ambassadors to that council for many generations which made treaties, and it was well known in the London of that day as the American Congress is now. The Nations early agreed with the whites to allow the Europeans to settle and thrive on the Atlantic seaboard and they, the Five Nations, kept the mountains and western part of their countries.
Probably the first fraud practiced on the Five Nations was the Greenbrier Colony grant of 100,000 acres on waters that flowed into the Ohio, and this was held up for more than 30 years and only matured after the colonies had gained their independence. It is evident that it was first granted on the mistake of fact, that is, that the Greenbrier, like the Jackson River, flowed into the Atlantic.
Hiawatha an Organizer
The formation of the Five Nations was accomplished about the history the year 1750 and was the work of two Indians of great fame, Dekanawida and Hiawatha. The name of Hiawatha is famous by reason of Longfellow’s poem, but it does not contain a single fact of the history of Hiawatha. The two Indians posed as medicine men and magicians and spent their lives to bring about the league to promote peace and to end war. At the time they commenced their work, war was the religion of the tribes. Hiawatha was a Mohawk, and at times the Mohawks were cannibals. The two Indians traveled from council to council, proposing the scheme of the league to promote peace, and it was debated on the council fires, and it encountered the most bitter opposition. The name of the tyrant Ototarha comes down in history as the most formidable opponent to the peace makers.
The first success they had was to make it unlawful to prosecute family feuds and murders generally. For every murder the killer was required to pay the family of the dead man ten strings of wampum, as the value of a human life. Later the law was amended to require the payment of an additional ten strings of wampum, on the construction that the first payment was compensatory, and the second string to take the place of the life of the murderer which was forfeited under the old law to the blood kin of the slain man.
In time the confederation was formed. First by the Mohawk, Cayuga and Oneida. Then the Onondaga came in and last, the Senecas came in with reservations, and plenty of them. The Senecas refused to disband their armies and were thereupon made the police force of the Iroquois nations, and kept to themselves the department of war and foreign affairs. They gave up murder and cannibalism but clung to their military life.
The league got along pretty well until the introduction of fire-water and gunpowder. After that it was hard to keep the peace. The end of the league of the Iroquois came when they joined the British to fight the colonists. They came out of the Revolutionary War, doomed, and most of the survivors moved into Canada, though some are still to be found on the reservations in the State of New York.