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Cultural Influence


Week before last, we talked about Santa Claus. (Here’s the Link to this post). Last week I showcased candy canes. Here’s a link to that post (put in link to this post). Because this is Christmas Eve, I am finishing this short series by sharing some more Christmas traditions.

December 25th for Jesus Birthday

Dixie-Stampede-Nativity

The idea that the choice of December 25 for Christ’s date of birth does not come from Pagan holiday traditions as many people believe. A major pagan holiday was celebrated around the winter solstice called Saturnalia. However, Saturnalia wasn’t on December 25th. It ran from December 17-23. Another festival happened on New Year’s Day which started back in 153 B.C.

Celebrating Christ’s birth on December 25th started in A.D. 204 with the writings of Hippolytus of Rome. He figured the date by guessing that Jesus death March 25th which had been the accepted date of Jesus’ death since 200 A.D. In addition, according to Jewish Talmudic tradition, all righteous men died on the same day they were conceived, and Jesus’ conception must have occurred around March 25th. Based on this assumption, by counting the days, nine months after conception would be December 25.

The Three Wisemen Visiting the Stable

The wisemen were mystical priests and astrologists. These men saw something in the starts that they needed to check out. It is highly unlikely that these men arrived at the manger, but rather they came some time later. Based on the Biblical accounts, these men came to the ‘house where the child was.” This could have happened any time after Jesus was born. Herod asked the men when they saw the star in the sky and then asked them to show him where the child was so that he too could worship the child. When the wisemen didn’t return to Herod, Herod sent men to kill every boy child in Bethlehem under the age of two.

In addition, it was unlikely only three of these men showed up. They likely came by caravan. The reason we say three wisemen is because of the three gifts that were given—gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Shepherds and Angels

According to the Bible, angels told shepherds in the field that the Messiah had been born.

Holly

Legend says that one of the earliest connections of Holly with Christmas occurred back when early Roman Christians adopted holly as a sacred plant. They believed that the wood for the cross was made of holly wood and the crown of thorns was holly leaves with white berries stained red by Christ’s blood.

The Christmas Tree

Long before the advent of Christianity, plants and trees that remained green all year had a special meaning for people in the winter. Just as people today decorate their homes during the festive season with pine, spruce, and fir trees, ancient peoples hung evergreen boughs over their doors and windows. In many countries it was believed that evergreens would keep away witches, ghosts, evil spirits, and illness.

Christmas Tree Lights

The tradition of lighting the darkness goes back to the Yule, a midwinter festival celebrated by Norsemen. The festival boasted nights of feasting, drinking Yule, the Norse god Odin’s sacrificial beer and watching the fire leap around the Yule log burning in the home hearth.

The lighting of the Yule log spread throughout Europe. Many believed the log’s flame summoned the sun’s return and drove away evil spirits. Over time Christianity adopted this tradition and the light from the Yule log came to represent Jesus as Light in the darkness.

Santa Claus

Santa Claus is based on St. Nicholas, born around 280 AD in what is now Turkey. Nicholas was known for helping the poor. By 1600, he was a popular saint, especially in Holland, where he was known as Sinter Klaas. By 1800, Dutch emigrants had introduced him to the United States, later helped by the writer Washington Irving passing on their stories about him, and by Clement Clarke Moore’s 1822 poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas”.

Reindeer

Reindeer are deer species found in the Arctic regions and are well-adapted to living in cold and under rugged conditions, thus a perfect animal symbol to use during the winter season — the season most associated with Christmas. But other than that, reindeer came to be popular in contemporary Christmas lore because of the poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” which was written by Clement Moore, and the song “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Moore’s poem, also known as “The Night Before Christmas,” talks of Santa Claus and his little sleigh, driven by eight flying reindeer. Moore’s poem was published annually during the Christmas season.

Mistletoe

The tradition of hanging it in the house goes back to the times of the ancient Druids. It is supposed to possess mystical powers which bring good luck to the household and wards off evil spirits. It was also used as a sign of love and friendship in Norse mythology and that’s where the custom of kissing under mistletoe originated.

The name mistletoe comes from two Anglo Saxon words ‘Mistel’ (which means dung) and ‘tan’ (which means) twig or stick! So you could translate Mistletoe as ‘bird dung on a stick’! This name came from the fact that mistletoe spread on trees from bird feces to bird feces.

During medieval times, people believed that mistletoe had magical powers. This plant could ward off evil spirits and the devil. It was used in ceremonies and burnt once Christmas was over.

When the first Christians came to Western Europe, some tried to ban mistletoe as a decoration in churches. York Minster Church in the UK used to hold a special Mistletoe Service in the winter, where wrong doers in the city of York could be pardoned.

Mistletoe was also hung on the old English decoration the Kissing Bough.

The custom of kissing under Mistletoe comes from England. The original custom was that a berry was picked from the sprig of Mistletoe before the person could be kissed and when all the berries had gone, there could be no more kissing!

Gifts for Christmas

One of the main reasons we have the custom of giving and receiving presents at Christmas, is to remind us of the presents given to Jesus by the Wise Men: Frankincense, Gold and Myrrh.

Frankincense was a perfume used in Jewish worship and, as a gift, it showed that people would worship Jesus.

Gold was associated with Kings and Christians believe that Jesus is the King of Kings.

Myrrh was a perfume that was put on dead bodies to make them smell nice and, as a gift, it showed that Jesus would suffer and die.

Christmas itself is really about a big present that God gave the world about 2000 years ago -Our Lord Jesus!

Merry Christmas!


Did you know that the candy cane has had a long history?

candy canesThe classic peppermint flavor of the candy cane has been around for 600 years, but the original candy canes didn’t have the now iconic hook but were just straight sticks. In 1640, a German choirmaster decided to change things up by curving the shape to look more like a shepherd’s staff, resulting in the candy cane shape we all know and love today.
About this same time, Christmas trees became popular Christmas decorations and candy canes were part of those decorations. If your family is like my family, there’s a good chance that you have candy canes on your own tree today. (We put up our tree on Thanksgiving weekend.) That hook in the candy cane makes it easy to hang those candy canes on the tree.

The candy cane was first introduced to America in 1847 by a German-Swedish immigrant named August Imgard.

One legend suggests that an Indiana-based candy-maker shaped the peppermint stick into a “J” shape to represent Jesus, with the white stripe symbolizing the purity of his birth and the red stripe later added to acknowledge the blood he shed on the cross. This origin claim has been debunked, because white candy and peppermint sticks existed in Germany since the 1600s. It may be possible though that this Indiana-based candy-maker attached this symbols to the candy cane to make a deeper connection with the holiday season.

Since candy canes were originally made by hand, they were sold out of local candy shops. It wasn’t until the 1950s a Catholic priest named Gregory Keller invented a machine that could make candy canes that curve automatically. Once automated, candy canes became a popular Christmas confection. Every year, 1.76 billion candy canes are sold and ninety percent of them are sold between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
In 2012, Geneva pastry chef Alain Roby broke his third Guinness World Record by creating the world’s longest candy cane. This candy cane was 51 feet long. The previous record had been 38 feet.

Though other flavors do exist, the most popular flavor is remains peppermint flavored ones with red stripes on white.

Do you have candy canes around your house this holiday season?


MandanSince I did Black History Month during February, I thought that it was only right that I should also commemorate Native Americans this month. This week, I am sharing what I learned about the Mandan while I was researching for The Locket Saga.

In my upcoming book Two Rivers (Book VII of the Locket Saga), my fictional character, Isaac Thorton, joined the Lewis and Clark expedition as far as the Mandan tribe where they spent the entire winter of 1804-1805 before going west into uncharted territory.

Mandan Origins

The English name Mandan is derived from the French-Canadian explorer Pierre Gaultier, Sieur de la Verendrye, who in 1738 heard it as Mantannes from his Assiniboine guides, which call the Mandan Mayádąna. He had previously heard the earth lodge peoples referred to by the Cree as Ouachipouennes, “the Sioux who go underground”.
The Mandan referred to themselves as Numakaki (Nųmą́khų́·ki) (or Rųwą́ʔka·ki) (“many men, people”) was inclusive and not limited to a specific village. This name was used before the smallpox epidemic of 1837-1838. Nueta (Nų́ʔetaa), the name used after this epidemic (“ourselves, our people”) was originally the name of Mandan villagers living on the west bank of the Missouri River. The name Mi-ah´ta-nē recorded by Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden in 1862 reportedly means “people on the river bank”, but this may be a folk etymology.

The Mandan language belongs to the Siouan language family. It was first thought to be closely related to the languages of the Hidatsa and the Crow. However, since the Mandan language has been in contact with Hidatsa and Crow for many years, the exact relationship between Mandan and other Siouan languages (including Hidatsa and Crow) has been obscured. For this reason, linguists classify Mandan as a separate branch of the Sioux. Mandan has two main dialects: Nuptare and Nuetare. Only the Nuptare variety survived into the 20th century, and all speakers were bilingual in Hidatsa.

The exact origins and early history of the Mandan is unknown. Early linguists believed the Mandan language may have been closely related to the language of the Ho-Chunk or Winnebago people of present-day Wisconsin. This idea might be confirmed in their oral history, which refers to having come from an eastern location near a lake.

Ethnologists and scholars studying the Mandan subscribe to the theory that, like other Sioux people (possibly including the Hidatsa), they originated in the mid-Mississippi River and the Ohio River valleys in present-day Ohio. If this was the case, the Mandan would have migrated north into the Missouri River Valley and its tributary the Heart River in present-day North Dakota where Europeans first encountered the historical tribe. This migration might have occurred possibly as early as the 7th century but probably between 1000 CE and the 13th century, after they started cultivating maize during a period of a major climate change where warmer, wetter conditions favored their agricultural production.

After they arrived on the banks of the Heart River, the Mandan constructed several villages, the largest of which were at the mouth of the river. Archeological evidence and ground imaging radar reveals changes in the defensive boundaries of these villages over time. The people built new ditches and palisades circumscribing smaller areas as their populations declined.

The Double Ditch Village was located on the east bank of the Missouri River, north of present-day Bismarck. Rupture Mandan occupied it for nearly 300 years. Today the site has depressions showing evidence of their lodges and smaller ones where they created cache pits to store dehydrated corn. The name comes from two defensive trenches built outside the area of the lodges. Construction of the fortifications here and at other locations along the Missouri has been found to have correlated to periods of drought, when they raided other villages for food.

At some point, the Hidatsa people also moved into the area. They too spoke a Siouan language. Mandan tradition states that the Hidatsa were a nomadic tribe until the Mandan taught them to build stationary villages and cultivate agriculture. The Hidatsa maintained a friendship with the Mandan and constructed villages north of them on the Knife River.

Later the Pawnee and Arikara moved from the Republican River north along the Missouri River. They were Caddoan language speakers, and the Arikara were often early competitors with the Mandan, although both grew crops. They built a settlement known as Crow Creek village on a bluff above the Missouri.

The Mandan all practiced extensive farming, which was carried out by the women and included drying and processing corn. The Mandan traded crops and other goods were traded from the Pacific Northwest to the Tennessee River, Florida, the Gulf Coast, and the Atlantic Seaboard.

The bands did not often move along the river until the late 18th century, after their populations plummeted due to smallpox and other epidemics.

European Encounter

The Koatiouak, mentioned in a 1736 letter by Jesuit Jean-Pierre Aulneau, are identified as Mandans. The first European known to visit the Mandan was the French Canadian trader Sieur de la Verendrye in 1738. The Mandan carried him into their well-fortified village. He learned that about 15,000 Mandan lived in nine well-fortified villages along the Heart River. According to Vérendrye, the Mandan were a large, powerful, prosperous nation who could dictate trade on their own terms.They traded with other Native Americans both from the north and the south, and from downriver.

Mandan acquired their horses from the Apache to the south. They used them both for transportation, to carry packs and pull travois, and for hunting. The horses helped the Mandan expand their hunting territory on to the Plains. Their encounter with the French in the 18th century created a trading link between the French and Native Americans. The Mandan served as middlemen in the trade in furs, horses, guns, crops and buffalo products. Spanish merchants and officials in St. Louis (after France had ceded its territory west of the Mississippi River to Spain in 1763) explored the Missouri and strengthened relations with the Mandan.

The French wanted to discourage trade with the English and the Americans, but the Mandan carried on open trade with all competitors. They would not be limited by the Europeans. French traders in St. Louis sought to establish direct overland communication between Santa Fé and their city; the fur trading Chouteau brothers gained a Spanish monopoly on trade with Santa Fe.

A smallpox epidemic broke out in Mexico City in 1779/1780. It slowly spread northward through the Spanish empire, by trade and warfare, and reached the northern plains in 1781. The Comanche and Shoshone had become infected and carried the disease throughout their territory. Other warring and trading peoples also became infected. The Mandan lost so many people that the number of clans was reduced from thirteen to seven; three clan names from villages west of the Missouri were lost altogether. They eventually moved northward about 25 miles, and consolidated into two villages, one on each side of the river, as they rebuilt following the epidemic. Also affected by smallpox, the Hidatsa people joined them for defense. Through and after the epidemic, Lakota Sioux and Crow warriors raided them.

In 1796, Welsh explorer John Evans visited the Mandan. He hoped to find proof that their language contained Welsh words. Evans had arrived in St. Louis two years prior, and after being imprisoned for a year, Spanish authorities hired him to lead an expedition to chart the upper Missouri. Evans spent the winter of 1796–97 with the Mandan but found no evidence of any Welsh influence. British and French Canadians from the north carried out more than twenty fur-trading expeditions down to the Hidatsa and Mandan villages in the years 1794 to 1800.

The Mandan and their language received much attention from European Americans, in part because their lighter skin color caused speculation they were of European origin. In the 1830s, Prince Maximilian of Wied spent more time recording Mandan over all other Siouan languages and prepared a comparison list of Mandan and Welsh words. (He thought that the Mandan may have been displaced Welsh.) The theory of the Mandan/Welsh connection, was also supported by George Catlin, but researchers have found no evidence of such ancestry.

Visited by Lewis and Clark Expedition

By 1804 when Lewis and Clark visited the tribe, the number of Mandan had been greatly reduced by smallpox epidemics and warring bands of Assiniboine, Lakota and Arikara. The nine villages had consolidated into two villages in the 1780s, one on each side of the Missouri, but they continued their famous hospitality, and the Lewis and Clark expedition stopped near their villages for the winter because of it. In honor of their hosts, the expedition dubbed the settlement they constructed Fort Mandan. Here, Lewis and Clark first met Sacagawea, a captive Shoshone woman. Sacagawea accompanied the expedition as it traveled west, assisting them with information and translating skills as they journeyed toward the Pacific Ocean.

Upon their return to the Mandan villages, Lewis and Clark took the Mandan Chief Sheheke (Coyote or Big White) with them to Washington to meet with President Thomas Jefferson. He returned to the upper Missouri. He had survived the smallpox epidemic of 1781, but in 1812 he was killed in a battle with Hidatsa.

In 1825 the Mandan signed a peace treaty with the leaders of the Atkinson-O’Fallon Expedition. The treaty required that the Mandan recognize the supremacy of the United States, admit that they reside on United States territory, and relinquish all control and regulation of trade to the United States. The Mandan and the United States Army never met in open warfare.

Why did some Mandan have Bluish Eyes and Lighter Skin?

18th-century reports about characteristics of Mandan lodges, religion and occasional physical features among tribal members, such as blue and grey eyes along with lighter hair coloring, stirred speculation about the possibility of pre-Columbian European contact. Catlin believed the Mandan were the “Welsh Indians” of folklore, descendants of Prince Madoc and his followers who emigrated to America from Wales in about 1170. This view was popular at the time but has been dismissed as not true.

Hjalmar Holand had proposed that interbreeding with Norse survivors might explain the “blond” Indians among the Mandan on the Upper Missouri River. In a multidisciplinary study of the Kensington Runestone, anthropologist Alice Beck Kehoe dismissed, as “tangential” to the Runestone issue, this and other historical references suggesting pre-Columbian contacts with ‘outsiders’, such as the Hochunk (Winnebago) story about an ancestral hero “Red Horn” and his encounter with “red-haired giants”. Archaeologist Ken Feder has stated that none of the material evidence that would be expected from a Viking presence in and travel through the American Midwest exists.

The Locket Saga

The Locket Saga 5 books

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Chief CornplanterA few years ago, I met a young man was a descendant of Cornplanter. His family had moved from the tribal lands to the nearby Seneca reservation probably for economic reasons. He gave me a CD of his people’s music. It was beautiful. It is sad that our culture had almost wiped their culture from this country.

Another memory that I have related to this chief is that I remember back when I was a teenager at the nursing home next door where I sometimes worked, one of the residents had been one of the people who helped move a graveyard off land that would be at the bottom of the lake above what was to be Kinzua Dam in Warren County, Pennsylvania. Later I learned that this had been land that was promised to the descendants of Chief Cornplanter. If they lived on the land, it would always be reserved for them. The last member of the Cornplanter Tribe left the land sometime before the US government whisked in and took possession of the area and flooded the area and built the dam for electricity production.

Cornplanter’s Early Years

Cornplanter was born sometime between 1732 and 1746, in the village of Conewaugus on the Genesee River in New York, the son of a Seneca woman and a Dutch trader named John Abeel (O’Bail). Lewis Henry Morgan erroneously states that it was Cornplanter’s mother who was white rather than his father. This is important because the Seneca, like other Iroquois people, are matrilineal. This means that tribal membership comes to individuals through their mothers. Cornplanter had two half siblings who were born to his mother and a Seneca father: a brother, Handsome Lake, the Seneca prophet; and a sister who became the mother of Governor Blacksnake, the Seneca political leader. Little is known about Cornplanter during his early years, although many scholars contend that he was a warrior during the French and Indian War at the defeat of Edward Braddock in 1755 while he was in his early teens. One letter to the governor of Pennsylvania noted that Cornplanter, while playing with the other Indian boys, noticed that his skin color was lighter than that of the other boys, whereupon his mother told him of his white father who lived in Albany. As a prospective bridegroom, he visited his father who treated him kindly, but gave him nothing in the way of either material goods or expected information, particularly regarding the coming rebellion of the colonists against the British. This rebellion played a major role in Cornplanter’s life.

This Role during the Revolutionary War

Cornplanter played a major role in Iroquois Confederacy politics before and during the American Revolution and the subsequent political adaptation of the Seneca to the new government of the United States. The Iroquois Confederacy began as an alliance of five northern Iroquoian-speaking tribes: the Mohawk, Onondaga, Oneida, Cayuga, and Seneca. This alliance was formed to harness the strength of these five groups in fighting common enemies as well as to foster economic cooperation among them. The confederacy was governed by the Grand Council of Fifty Chiefs.

This governing body had cardinal rules which stated that any decision made required a unanimous vote of the chiefs especially decisions regarding war. In the Revolution, the Mohawk were firmly behind the British, but the Seneca hoped for neutrality. Cornplanter and his half-brother Handsome Lake were among the leaders of the Seneca. However, Cornplanter was obliged to support his fellow clansman Joseph Brant, a Mohawk captain who supported the British and he was obligated to fight with the British against the Americans. Other members of the federation, like the Oneida and the Tuscarora remained neutral and refused to get in the middle of the fight.

Despite his original misgivings about entering the war on the side of the British, Cornplanter served as a commander for the Seneca throughout the war.

During the Battle of Canajoharie, located in the Mohawk Valley, during August of 1780. Cornplanter recognized his father, John Abeel, among the captive survivors after his men attacked and burned a village. Though Cornplanter felt slighted by his father for not having send a wedding gift, Cornplanter still respected him as a kinsman and apologize for burning his house. He also offered his father the option of returning to Seneca country with him or being released immediately. Abeel chose to be released, and, at Cornplanter’s request, the council of leaders allowed his freedom.

After the Revolution

Even before the end of the war, Americans started planning to remove the Indians from their lands and punish them for their aid to the British by destroying the political importance of the confederacy and looked at the monetary gain they would get for confiscating and selling Indian land. When General George Washington ordered an invasion of the Iroquois homeland to punish them for their role in the revolution, Cornplanter sent an urgent message in July of 1779, saying: “Father. You have said that we are in your hand and that by closing it you could crush us to nothing. Are you determined to crush us? If you are, tell us so that those of our nation who have become your children and have determined to die so, may know what to do. But before you determine on a measure so unjust, look up to God who made us as well as you. We hope He will not permit you to destroy the whole of our nation.”

Cornplanter tried to reconcile the Seneca with the Americans, but failed. He attended the treaty council held at Fort Stanwix (1784) between the Iroquois and the United States. This treaty ceded large tracts of Indian land to the new government. Because he tried to make peace between the Seneca and the Americas and because the tribe lost great tracts of land, Cornplanter became unpopular with the Seneca. Although he was not a signer of the treaty, Cornplanter agreed to the Fort Harmar Treaty (1789), ceded another great tract of land to the United States, and this only worsened his position with the tribe.
During this period of treaty-making, arguments arose over which of the newly formed states would encompass Indian territories. Robert Morris, an early colonial and American financier, purchased a right, called a right of pre-emption” from the state of Massachusetts. He eventually decided to sell this right of pre-emption to the Holland Land Company, agreeing in the bargain to extinguish Indian claim to the land by buying the land from the Indians. Finances ultimately kept him from accomplishing this, but he still attempted to extinguish Indian claim to the land through political channels. He met with Cornplanter in Philadelphia in August of 1797 to begin preliminary discussions of this issue, which led to full-scale negotiations between Morris and the Seneca at Genesee, New York. The Seneca rejected all of Morris’s offers and Red Jacket eventually proclaimed negotiations to be at an end. The Seneca finally agreed to cede the land and signed a treaty in September of 1797.

The Land Grant

In 1795 the Pennsylvania Commonwealth awarded him in fee simple 1,500 acres of land in western Pennsylvania. Cornplanter directed the survey of this land into three strategic and valuable tracts and a patent was issued in 1796. He eventually lost two of the tracts, those at Oil City and Richland. The third tract he kept, encompassing about 750 acres along the Allegany River including the site of the old Seneca town Jenuchshadago and two islands in that river. He was awarded a yearly pension by the U.S. government because of the 1797 treaty, which he collected for some time. An additional tract of land given to Cornplanter is in what is now Marietta, Ohio, and Cornplanter’s heirs continue to claim that the US government defrauded from them.

Cornplanter  raised horses and cattle and maintained his own political community. According to O. Turner in Pioneer History of the Holland Purchase of Western New York, Cornplanter later quarreled with Handsome Lake over some of the religious teachings which Handsome Lake had introduced to the Seneca.

Cornplanter eventually became a Christian, and invited Quakers to build a school on his land grant. However, he became disillusioned with the white man’s effects on Seneca culture and he publicly destroyed the formal regalia and various awards that he had received from the president of the United States. He died on February 18, 1836, in Jenuchshadago at about one hundred years old.

Kinzua Dam

Kinzua Dam

Cornplanter’s last direct heir and great-great-great-grandson, Jesse Cornplanter, an artist, died in 1957. By the 1960s, Cornplanter’s indirect descendants had already moved to Salamanca, New York.

Construction of Kinzua Dam condemned 10,000 acres of the Allegheny Reservation including  the land granted to Cornplanter in the Treaty of Canandaigua. The Seneca lost a considerable number of acres of fertile farmland and forced 600 Seneca from their community within the reservation. Because he claimed the immediate need for flood control,  President John F. Kennedy denied the Seneca’s request to halt construction.

In Pennsylvania, the government condemned most of the historic Cornplanter Tract,  made by the state legislature to Cornplanter after the Revolutionary War to him and his heirs “forever”. This area included a historic cemetery that contained Cornplanter’s remains as well as three hundred descendants and followers and a state memorial monument erected in 1866.

The state exhumed and reinterred these remains in a new cemetery, located west of the north central Pennsylvania town of Bradford, about 100 yards from the New York state line. “The cemetery contains remains of white residents of Corydon, a town submerged by the reservoir. By 2009 Seneca observers and whites pleaded with the State Corps of Engineers to protect the area when they saw erosion on the bluff where the cemetery  was located. Other remains were relocated to a cemetery in Steamburg.

The Locket Saga

The Locket Saga 5 books

Read the books of The Locket Saga
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When I was in Northwestern Pennsylvania, I had the privilege of meeting members of the Eighth Pennsylvania Re-enactors. The original Eighth Pennsylvania’s leadership where the ones who signed the treaty with the Lenape.

When I was researching my book A Coward’s Solace, I discovered that the first American treaty with the Indians were between the Lenape or Delaware I decided to share this story this week as my focus for Native American History Month. I wrote about it at the end of my book A Coward’s Solace.

The Treaty with the Delaware, signed on September 17, 1778, at Fort Pitt (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), was the first formal written treaty between the new United States of America and any Native Americans. This treaty gave the United States permission to travel through Delaware territory and required the Delaware to allow American troops whatever aid they required in their war against Britain, including warrior support. What the Delaware and our story’s naïve protagonists did not know was that the United States planned an attack on the British fort at Detroit, and Lenape friendship was essential for that campaign’s success.

In exchange for the Delaware support, the United States promised to provide clothing, utensils, and weapons. They offered to build a fort in Delaware country with the promise that fort would provide safety for their women, elderly, and children while the warriors fought any common enemy. Although it was not specifically stated in the written treaty, the American Government assumed that along with their French allies, the Delaware would become active participants with the Americans against the British.

The Delaware, on the other hand, assumed, like their treaties with other Native American tribes, that the agreement simply allowed the Continental troops free passage through Delaware country and the building of a protective fort for defending white settlers. However, the American government wanted the Delaware to do much more. The United States intended to use the fort for offensive campaigns and wrote into the treaty that the Delaware would attack their native neighbors. This way, the Delaware would be responsible for controlling the other native tribes so that the Continental and militia troops could focus on subduing British forces.

The treaty recognized the Delaware as a sovereign nation, guaranteeing territorial rights, even encouraging the other Ohio Country Native American tribes who were friendly to the United States to form a state. A member of Delaware leadership would represent the Delaware state in Congress. This measure had little chance of success, and some experts believe that the authors of the treaty were dishonest and deceitful. Others believe that the Delaware chief White Eyes proposed the measure. The Delaware state was to become the fourteenth state of the United States. In any case, neither the United States nor the Delaware acted upon this measure.

Delaware Grievances

Before a year passed, the Delaware Indians expressed grievances with the treaty. A Delaware delegation visited Philadelphia in 1779 to voice their dissatisfaction to the Continental Congress, but nothing changed and peace between the United States and the Delaware Indians dissolved.

Of the members who signed the treaty on September 17, 1778, White Eyes, the tribe’s most outspoken ally of the United States, died in mysteriously. Initially the official army report stated that White Eyes died of smallpox on an expedition to attack Detroit, but upon farther investigation, an officer killed him in “friendly fire”. The stated reason for the cover-up was an attempt to keep the Delaware from seeking revenge for his death.
The Pipe had tried to stay neutral throughout the American Revolution even after General Edward Hand killed his mother, brother, and several of his children during a military campaign in 1778. Because Hand did not know the difference between the Native American tribes, he mistook the neutral Lenape for the Shawnee who allied with the British, so he attacked hoping to reduce Indian threats against settlers in the Ohio Country. When Pipe and other Lenape leaders protested the US interpretation of the treaty, General Lachlan McIntosh demanded that Lenape warriors assist the Americans in capturing Fort Detroit. If they refused, he would exterminate them. Pipe and other leaders left the Fort Pitt area and relocated to the Walhonding River near what is now Coshocton, Ohio.

Many Lenape joined the war against the Americans. In response, Colonel Daniel Brodhead led an expedition out of Fort Pitt on April 19, 1781, which destroyed Coshocton. Surviving residents fled to the north. The soldiers left the Lenape at the Moravian mission villages unmolested because they were Christianized and considered non-combatants.

Due to indiscriminate American attacks against the Lenape during the war, chiefs of several clans switched to ally with the British. After being pushed out as principal chief, the Pipe led an American attack on a major Lenape town, and then retreated to Fort Pitt. After the war, he converted to Christianity at a Moravian mission in Salem, Ohio, where he took the Christian name of “William Henry.”

The Lenape after the American Revolution

Pipe’s neutrality ended in 1781 when Colonel Daniel Brodhead attacked and destroyed Pipe’s village. He moved his people to the Tymochtee Creek near the Sandusky River. This village became known as Pipe’s Town. Captain Pipe spent the rest of the American Revolution resisting American expansion into the Ohio Country. He helped defeat the Crawford Expedition in 1782 headed by William Crawford, and Crawford was ritually tortured and then killed. After the Revolution, Pipe continued resistance efforts against white settlements in what the US called the Northwest Territory.
Over time, Pipe realized the futility of his attempts to defeat the Americans. so he negotiated treaties with the government. These treaties did nothing to limit the number of settlers who moved onto lands the American government reserved for the Lenape. Time after time, the Lenape moved only to be moved again when settlers wanted to settle on Lenape lands.
In 1812, the Lenape moved west again and the government moved them yet again in 1821. No one knows exactly where Chief Pipe died. Some say that he died in 1818 near Orestes; others say somewhere in Canada. His son also called Captain Pipe signed many treaties and moved with the tribe to Kansas.
Today, the tribe is organized west of the Mississippi. They have an official newspaper based out of Bartlesville, Oklahoma. The Delaware Indian News is the official publication of the Delaware Tribe of Indians. It is published by the Delaware Tribe and mailed free to tribal members. Check it out here http://delawaretribe.org/delaware-indian-news/

The Locket Saga

The Locket Saga 5 books
Read the books of The Locket Saga
In print at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/cygnetbrown
On Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B076ZSK5PB/ref=series_rw_dp_sw


skeleton in chains

I mentioned in one of my earlier posts that I have been doing some research in a book called the History of Erie County, Pennsylvania (written in 1884) one of the things that I found interesting was idea that before the Native Americans lived in the area, there had been another group of people who lived in North America.

The Erie County Connection

According to The History of Erie county, there had been many indications that proved conclusively that the county had once been peopled by these giants. When the railroad link of the Erie and Pittsburgh Railroad from the Lake Shore road to the dock at Erie was being built, the workers dug into a great mass of bones at the crossing of the public road which ran by the rolling mill. From the way the bones were thrown together, the workers surmised that a terrible battle had taken place in the area.

The skulls had been flattened, and the foreheads were seldom more than an inch wide. The bodies were in a sitting posture, and there were no traces that garments, weapons or ornaments had been buried with them.

Because of superstitious ideas among the workers, none of the skeletons were preserved, the entire collection was thrown into an embankment down the road. Later, when the Philadelphia and Erie road passed through the Warfel farm was widened, another deposit of bones was dug up and disposed of as they had done previously. Among the skeletons was a giant who was buried among smaller skeletons. One was probably his wife. The arm and leg bones of this native American Goliath were about one-half longer than those of the tallest man’ among the workers. The giant’s skull was immensely large. The lower jawbone easily slipped over his face and the whiskers of a full-faced man, and the teeth were in a perfect state of preservation. Another skeleton was dug up in Conneaut Township some years ago was equally remarkable in its dimensions. As in the other instance, a comparison was made with the largest man in the neighborhood, and the jawbone readily covered his face, while the lower bone of the leg was nearly a foot longer than his. This indicated that the man must have been eight to ten feet tall. The bones of another flat head turned up in the same township in 1882 with a huge skull. Relics of a former time have been gathered in that area. Among them was a brass watch that was as big as a common saucer.

In 1820, on the land of Doctors Clark and Dickenson, they found an ancient graveyard. Doctor Albert Thayer dug up some of the bones, and he indicated that it was a race of beings of immense side.

Giants Found Elsewhere

Many other places in the world have indicated the same idea that there at one time giants who lived in these various parts of the world. The Bible even mentions these people among them were the Anakin and the Nephilim. We also have the well-known story of Goliath who was of similar height of the skeletons found in these accounts from Erie County. Perhaps other connection exists.


Little Africa 1

Not much left to see, but in the early 1800s this was the location of what became known as “Little Africa”.

In my research for the Locket Saga, I have found numerous amazing historical accounts of African Americans in America’s early history. In honor of Black History Month, this month, I have been sharing some of the accounts that I found from our history and how they relate to the Locket Saga series. This week’s subject is different because I discovered something that had been right under my nose since I was a little child, but of which I had never heard of until recently.

The Underground Railroad

little africa 5.jpg
Of course, I learned in grade school that the Underground Railroad was a network of secret routes and safe houses used by 19th-century enslaved people of African descent in the United States in efforts to escape to free states and Canada with the aid of abolitionists and allies who were sympathetic to their cause. The term is also applied to the abolitionists, both black and white, free and enslaved, who aided the fugitives. There is evidence that some of my ancestors may have been a part of this underground railroad or at least knew of it because just a few miles from where I grew up there had been an African American community still known by the locals as “Little Africa”.

End of the Rails: Little Africa

little africa 2
I learned about this place a few years ago, when my brother and I were having a conversation and he brought up the name “Little Africa”. I asked him what it was, and he told me that it was on Jackson Hill which was less than ten miles from where I grew up.
I learned that this was a community of free and escaped blacks. All I could learn from history was that this community was established in Spring Creek Township, Warren County, in Northwestern Pennsylvania prior to the Civil War where fugitive slaves were welcomed on their journey to freedom on the Underground Railroad.
Before 1850, African Americans who had escaped freely lived in that community where they built homes and established crops, not only to eat, but to sell in the market place. However, it makes sense that there are few written accounts of this place. The locals and the escaped slaves wanted to keep it secret so that slave hunters would not be able to locate the fugitives. After The Fugitive Act became law in 1850, that all changed. African Americans could no longer live anywhere in the United States without fear of being sent to southern plantations. Even Free blacks were often kidnapped, their papers destroyed, and sent south to unscrupulous slave traders.

little africa 3
Because of this new law, African Americans fled across the border into Canada because the British government (which Canada was a territory) outlawed slavery. The community was abandoned as a permanent settlement, but the story of “Little Africa” did not end there.
The blacks who crossed the border, continued to help other slaves escape north by maintaining “Little Africa” as a place of refuge. Former slaves who escaped north in the spring would plant crops that the slaves in the summer would cultivate and the slaves of the autumn months would then harvest. This provided slaves who went through there in the winter and those of the following year with sustenance.

Special thanks to Jan Bemis and Diane Miller for the photographs they took on their Facebook group “Wanderlost”!

Read the books of The Locket Saga

Though the Little Africa story is not currently part of The Locket Saga, I do plan to include Little Africa in a future book in the series. It will take me a while to write that book, but if you get started on the rest of the series now, maybe it will be published by the time you get to that book in the series.

The Locket Saga 5 books
In print at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/cygnetbrown
On Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B076ZSK5PB/ref=series_rw_dp_sw

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