Header img
Beyond Penn's Treaty

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

Page out of 32

disorders. This they keep burning for a certain time, and then ex-
tinguish it, and kindle another fire in it, stead. In times of drought,
they frequently go to a tree that has been lately struck with lightning,
and kindle a fire at the root, in the smoke whereof ascending, they of-
fer up a petition to Eno, praying him to send rain; and circumstances
of this ort frequently occur a little previous to rain coming, which
greatly tends to keep up this superstitious idea among them. These
notions, however, are rather declining among the Senecas


These Indians, in general, (their young people excepted,) were un-
happily the victims of great intemperance, when they could obtain
strong liquors; and most of the evils that afflict them might be traced
to that source. This article of strong drink was sometimes carried
among them by white traders, who also furnished them with abundance
of silver trinkets, beads, and the like ornaments adapted to their taste.

The Indian themselves were also in the practice of trading to the
frontier settlements of white people, and exchanging their skins, furs,
and other merchandise, for liquor, which they often brought home to
their villages, and sold out by retail. This kept many of them conti-
nually in a state of intoxication, while they could obtain the liquor,
and many scenes of human wretchedness were the fatal consequences
thus produced. Their aged women, in particular, were conspicuous
sufferers by this evil, and were often seen lying beside the paths, over-
come by it.