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1638.] IROQUOIS AND HURON. 437 depths of the forests and the passes of the hills. The invaders were not always successful. A bloody rebuff and a sharp retaliation now and then requited them. Thus, in 1638, a war-party of a hundred Iroquois met in the forest a band of three hundred Huron and Algonquin warriors. They might have retreated, and the greater number were for doing so; but Ononkwaya, an Oneida chief, refused. "Look!" he said, "the sky is clear; the Sun beholds us. If there were clouds to hide our shame from his sight, we might fly; but, as it is, we must fight while we can." They stood their ground for a time, but were soon overborne. Four or five escaped; but the rest were surrounded, and killed or taken. This year, Fortune smiled on the Hurons; and they took, in all, more than a hundred prisoners, who were distributed among their various towns, to be burned. These scenes, with them, occurred always in the night; and it was held to be of the last importance that the torture should be protracted from sunset till dawn. The too valiant Ononkwaya was among the victims. Even in death he took his revenge; for it was thought an augury of disaster to the victors, if no cry of pain could be extorted from the sufferer, and on the present occasion he displayed an unflinching courage, rare even among Indian warriors. His execution took place at the town of Teanaustaye", called St. Joseph by the Jesuits. The Fathers could not save his life, but, what was more to the purpose, they baptized him. On the scaffold where he was burned, he wrought himself into a fury which seemed to render him insensible to pain. Thinking him nearly spent, his tormentors scalped him, when, to their amazement, he leaped up, snatched the brands that had been the instruments of his torture, drove the screeching crowd from the scaffold, and held them all at bay, while they pelted him from below with sticks, stones, and showers of live coals. At length he made a false step and fell to the ground, when they seized him and threw him into the fire. He instantly leaped out, covered with blood, cinders, and ashes, and rushed upon them, with a blazing brand in each hand. The crowd gave way before him, and he ran towards the town, as if to set it on fire. They threw a pole across his way, which tripped him and flung him headlong to the earth; on which they all fell upon him, cut off his hands and feet, and again threw him into the fire. He rolled himself out, and crawled forward on his elbows and knees, glaring upon them with such unutterable ferocity that they recoiled once more, till, seeing that he was helpless, they threw themselves upon him and cut off his head.1 When the Iroquois could not win by force, they were sometimes more successful with treachery. In the summer of 1645, two war-parties of the hostile nations met in the forest. The Hurons bore themselves so well that they had nearly gained the day,
l Lalemant, Relation des Hurons, 1639, 68. It was this chief whose severed hand was thrown to the Jesuits. See ante, 229.
DIPLOMACY AND WAR. 439 when the Iroquois called for a parley, displayed a great number of wampum-belts, and said that they wished to treat for peace. The Hurons had the folly to consent. The chiefs on both sides sat down to a council, during which the Iroquois, seizing a favorable moment, fell upon their dupes and routed them completely, killing and capturing a considerable number.1 The large frontier town of St. Joseph was well fortified with palisades, on which, at intervals, were wooden watch-towers. On an evening of this same summer of 1645, the Iroquois approached the place in force; and the young Huron warriors, mounting their palisades, sang their war-songs all night, with the utmost power of their lungs, in order that the enemy, knowing them to be on their guard, might be deterred from an attack. The night was dark, and the hideous dissonance resounded far and wide; yet, regardless of the din, two Iroquois crept close to the palisade, where they lay motionless till near dawn. By this time the last song had died away, and the tired singers had left their posts or fallen asleep. One of the Iroquois, with the silence and agility of a wild-cat, climbed to the top of a watchtower, where he found two slumbering Hurons, brained one of them with his hatchet, and threw the other down to his comrade, who quickly despoiled him of his life and his scalp. Then, with the reeking 1 Ragueneau, Relation ties Hurons, 1040, 55.
trophies of their exploit, the adventurers rejoined their countrymen in the forest. The Hurons planned a counter-stroke; and three of them, after a journey of twenty days, reached the great town of the Senecas. They entered it at midnight, and found, as usual, no guard; but the doors of the houses were made fast. They cut a hole in the bark side of one of them, crept in, stirred the fading embers to give them light, chose each his man, tomahawked him, scalped him, and escaped in the confusion.1 Despite such petty triumphs, the Hurons felt themselves on the verge of ruin. Pestilence and war had wasted them away, and left but a skeleton of their former strength. In their distress, they cast about them for succor, and, remembering an ancient friendship with a kindred nation, the Andastes, they sent an embassy to ask of them aid in war or intervention to obtain peace. This powerful people dwelt, as has been shown, on the river Susquehanna.2 The way was long, even in a direct line; but the Iroquois lay 1 Ragueneau, Relation des Hurons, 1646, 55, 56.
1 See Introduction, 36. The Susquehannocks of Smith, clearly the same people, are placed, in his map, on the east side of the Susquehanna, some twenty miles from its mouth. He speaks of them as great enemies of the Massawomekes (Mohawks). No other savage people so boldly resisted the Iroquois; but the story in Hazard's Annals of Pennsylvania, that a hundred of them beat off sixteen hundred Senecas, is disproved by the fact that the Senecas, in their best estate, never had so many warriors. The miserable remnant of the Andastes, called Conestogas, were massacred by the Paxton Boys, in 1763. See "Conspiracy of Pontiac." Compare Historical Magazine, ii. 294.
1647.J THE HURON EMBASSY. 441 between, and a wide circuit was necessary to avoid them. A Christian chief, whom the Jesuits had named Charles, together with four Christian and four heathen Hurons, bearing wampum-belts and gifts from the council, departed on this embassy on the thirteenth of April, 1647, and reached the great town of the Andastes early in June. It contained, as the Jesuits were told, no less than thirteen hundred warriors. The council assembled, and the chief ambassador addressed them: —"We come from the Land of Souls, where all is gloom, dismay, and desolation. Our fields are covered with blood; our houses are filled only with the dead; and we ourselves have but life enough to beg our friends to take pity on a people who are drawing near their end."1 Then he presented the wampum-belts and other gifts, saying that they were the voice of a dying country. The Andastes, who had a mortal quarrel with the Mohawks, and who had before promised to aid the Hurons in case of need, returned a favorable answer, but were disposed to try the virtue of diplomacy rather than the tomahawk. After a series of coun
1 "II leur dit qu'il venoit du pays des Ames, oil la guerre et la terreur des ennemis auoit tout desolé, oil les campagnes n'estoient couuertes que de sang, où les cabanes n'estoient remplies que de cadaures, et qu'il ne leur restoit a eux-mesmes de vie, sinon autant qu'ils en auoient eu besoin pour venir dire a leurs amis, qu'ils eussent pitie d'vn pays qui tiroit a sa fin." — Ragueneau, Relation des Hurons, 1048, 58.