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Related by Emily Tallchief, his great great granddaughter


Now these stories are true and came to Solomon Obail from Cornplanter, and Solomon, my father, told me.

"The Cornplanter reservation Senecas often traveled by canoes down the Allegany river to Pittsburgh. On a certain occasion Cornplanter went with a party of canoeists down the Allegany to Pittsburgh. While on his journey one of the paddlers sang Woine'owi as he paddled. Now as he sang the party was startled by a voice that called from the cliff above, 'Halt ye!' The paddler grounded the canoe and Cornplanter went ashore, where, ascending the cliff, he found a number of Indians gathered about a tree to which a white man was, bound. 'So now Cornplanter,' said the chief of the band, 'I have called you to kill this man. You may now do as you please with him and we will be satisfied.' Cornplanter drew forth his long hunting knife and feeling of its sharp edge said 'So I may do as I wish. Truly then I shall do so.' So saying he rushed toward the man with upraised knife and brought it down with a flourish. The man was not injured but instead stepped out from the tree free, for Cornplanter's knife had severed the thongs. 'Now,' said Cornplanter, after some conversation with the man, 'I will hire a guide to take this man back to

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his home in Philadelphia.' A warrior accepted the commission and guided the prisoner safely back to his home where he found him to be a man of prominence, a chief among his people."

"So I say this," added Mrs Tallchief, "to show that my grandfather was a good man, just and kind. Because of these qualities he became influential."


Now during the war of the thirteen fires against the king of Great Britain, we, the Iroquois, were loyal to our old allies, the British. We fought for them, but, alas for us they were beaten. Now Washington, the great leader of the thirteen fires, was determined to punish us for our part in the war, for he did not realize that we were but keeping our treaties with the British when we fought. So Washington said, 'Depart from among us and go to the west far from the white people.' But Cornplanter said, 'Not so. We are determined not to move. We have long lived here and intend to continue in our own territory as long, as we are able to hold it.' 'Not so,' answered Washington, 'you fought against us and therefore you must move on to the west and if you refuse we shall compel you.' 'Then,' answered Cornplanter, 'we will resist you by force of arms. If you win we will have to go, otherwise we will remain where we now are.'

"Cornplanter returned from Washington to his people and spread the news. Quickly it traveled among all the Indians to the South, the east and the west. All were very angry and said, 'We will fight. When the white man tries to move us as they please it is time that we moved a few white men.' Then the western Indians began to massacre the settlers. The news came to Washington. 'It is a mistake to-encourage another Indian war,' he said and then sent for Cornplanter. 'I want to settle our difficulties,' said he, ' and I wish peace. I do not wish war, therefore you, Cornplanter, must pacify your people.' 'I care not to meddle further with matters,' said Cornplanter. 'But you must go,' insisted Washington, 'you are the only man who can restore peace and good will.' Thus it was that Cornplanter accepted the commission. He returned home and collecting a party of chiefs sent abroad declarations of peace. The delegation went through Sandusky into the farther west. There Cornplanter called a council and said, 'We must be peaceful with the white men and cease tormenting them.' Now the tribe was a very fierce one and was very angry that Cornplanter

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advised peace. They mixed poison with the food which they served the delegation and a number died. Cornplanter also was made severely ill. Then Cornplanter became very angry and calling a council said, 'You have acted with treachery. Now I cease to plead. I now command that you let the white people live in peace. Do not kill another one. If you do I will bring the whole Five Nations against you and with a great army of white men will kill every one of you. The Senecas are the greatest nation of all nations and whatever they plan they do. We are always successful and always victorious in sport, debate or battle. So beware.' Now the western Indians councilled among themselves and said, 'We must hastily agree for if the Senecas come against us we surely will be defeated.'"


"Gaiänt'wakê?, the great chief, once went to Philadelphia.

"'How do your people procure food?' asked a white man, a Quaker.

"'We are hunters,' answered the chief.

"'Have you not observed our great fields of corn and grain?' asked the white man, ' and did you know that we never have famines as you do? Why do your people not cultivate gardens of size and till large fields of grain?'

"'My people used to do so,' said the chief, 'and not many years ago when they dwelt in the valley of the Genesee. Now I think that I will encourage this practice again.'

"This conversation so impressed the chief that when he returned he spoke of the matter before the councils and exhorted people in private to plant more and hunt less. Because of this he received the name of The Planter, but the whites called him Cornplanter."

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