AN INDIAN’S SPEECH
From J. Marvin Hunter’s Frontier Times Magazine, July, 1927
Justice C. H. Crownhart
(Red Jacket was chief of the Wolf clan, Seneca nation based in western New York).
The Indian's philosophy of his religion, compared with the white man's religion, is well stated in a speech of Indian Red Jacket to the Missionary Cram which follows:
"Friend and Brother: It was the will of the Great Spirit that we should meet together this day. He orders all things and has given us a fine day for our council. He has taken His garment from before the sun and has caused it to shine with brightness upon us, our eyes are opened that we see clearly; and our ears are unstopped that we have been able to hear distinctly the words you have spoken. For all these favors we thank the Great Spirit and Him only"
“Brother, this council fire was kindled by you. It was at your request that we come together at this time. We have listened with attention to what you have said. You requested us to speak our minds freely. This gives us great joy: for we now consider that we stand upright before you and can speak what we think. All have heard your voice and all speak to you as one man. Our minds are agreed.
"Brother, first, we will look back a little and tell you what your fathers have told us and what we have heard
"Brother, listen to what we say. There was a time when our forefathers owned this great island. Their seats extended from the rising sun to the setting sun. The Great Spirit had made it for the use of the Indians. "
But an evil day came upon us. Your forefathers crossed the great water and landed on this island. Their numbers were small. They found friends and not enemies. They told us they had fled from their own country for fear of wicked men and had come here to enjoy their religion. They asked for a small seat. We took pity on them, granted their request, and they sat down among us. We gave them corn and meat; they gave us poison in return. They called us brothers. We believed them and gave them a larger seat. At length their number had greatly increased. They wanted more land: they wanted our country. Our eyes were opened and our minds became uneasy. Wars took place. Indians were hired to fight against Indian, and many of our people were destroyed.
"Brother, continue to listen. You say that you are sent to instruct us how to worship the Great Spirit agreeably to His mind; and, if we do not take hold of the religion which you white people teach, we shall be unhappy hereafter.
"Brother, you say that there is but one way to worship and serve the Great Spirit. If there is but one religion, why do white people differ so much about it? Why not all agree as you can all read the book.
"Brother, we can not understand these things. We are told that your religion was given to your forefathers and has been handed down from father to son. We also have a religion which was given to our forefathers and has been handed down to us, their children. We worship in their way. It teaches us to be thankful for all the favors we receive, to love each other, and to be united. We never quarrel about religion.
"Brother, the Great Spirit has made us all, but He has made a great difference between His white and His red children. He has given us different complexions and different customs. To you He has given the arts. To these He has not opened our eyes. We know these things to be true. Since He has made so great a difference between us in other things, why may we not conclude that He has given us a different religion according to our understanding? The Great Spirit does right. He knows what is best for His children,
"Brother, we are told that you have been preaching to the white people in their place. These people are our neighbors. We are acquainted with them. We will wait a little while and see what effect your preaching has upon them. If we find it does them good makes them honest, and less disposed to cheat Indians, we will then consider again all that you have said,"
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