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Beyond Penn's Treaty

Sketch of the Manners, Customs, Religion and Government of the Seneca Indians in 1800

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Absurd as this practice appears, in many cases it is said to have had
a beneficial effect, by restoring perspiration, working on the imagina-
tion, and rousing the indisposed person to a salutary exertion.

Their idea is, that they drive away the evil spirit by this procedure.

Their skill in painting and hieroglyphics is somewhat extraordinary.

In their travelling excursions, they frequently describe on the bark
of trees, by certain emblems or characters which they understand, the
time they have been from home, the number of persons in company,
the ensign of the tribe they belong to, the course they are going, and
the number of deer or other animals they have killed.

They are also very ingenious in their idea of the geography of the
country with which they are acquainted, and readily trace on a map
the particular waters they have traversed, pointing out their bearings
and courses.

Their reckoning of time is by moons and winters, and the length of
their journey is computed by the number of days it takes to travel it.

They also divide the day into certain parts, such as morning, noon,
and evening; and in speaking of the time of day, point to the sun's
place in the firmament. In speaking of sun-set, they say, Onah Gagh-
qua, (the sun is gone.)

Their ideas are very confused with regard to astronomy, and they
have mean conceptions of the rotundity of the earth.

They cannot conceive that a person travelling in a direct line could
ever come back to the same place again, or that men can walk on the
opposite side of the globe to them. They, like some of the ancients,
rather favour the idea of the earth being an extended plain, and not
understanding the principles of gravitation and attraction, they believe
that if the world turned round, the water would unquestionably fall
off from it.

Their ancient notion respecting thunder was, and still has considera-
ble place among them, that a being whom they call Eno, sent from the
Great Spirit, and inhabiting the southern mountains, was in the prac-
tice of discharging a short gun which he employed in that way, and
sometimes striking the trees to show his great strength and power.
They supposed him to live on large snakes and wild beasts, and that he
was always a friend to the Indians, though he sometimes killed white

They believe that Eno sends down a stone bolt about one inch in
diameter, and seven or eight in length, with which he splits trees, &c.
and when they are so fortunate as to procure this bolt, they entertain
an opinion that constant success will attend all their undertakings while
they possess it. They also believe that fire taken from a tree burning
by lightning and kindled in their houses, is an antidote against fatal