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Delaware Barons and Lords of the Forest

 

  Native American Nations | Traditions of the Seneca                   

The Delaware took possession of the ancient seat of power, Tuscarawas, and used it as their capital, conjointly with such Seneca as remained in the valley. Afterward the Delaware capital was removed down to Gekelemnkpechuk, near the present New Comerstown, and from there to Goshockgunk.

The chiefs, Beaver, White Eyes, Pipe, Custaloga, Netawatwes, and others, had their hamlets, or "country seats," stationed along the river and its branches, within a day's call of the ancient capital; they nevertheless were frequenters thereat, and with Shingask, alias Bockingahelas, as chief ruler at the capital, they there concerted war and peace measures, so far as the same affected the three tribes designated Turtle, Turkey, and Wolf tribes, as well. as the subordinated warriors of other tribes owing fealty to the Delaware.

Each chief, having a town, had also his hunting and fishing grounds, and to which he and his retainers repaired in the game and fishing seasons to enjoy life free from care. They also had their annual hunts, when all the clans joined and ranged in common, in pursuit of pleasure, concentrating at a given place or stream, and dividing the product according to rank and station, and it is worthy of remembrance that before the white man came into the valley, these barons and lords of the American forest, were but little behind the Scottish, Irish, and English gentry of coincident time in Europe, iii all the essentials of dignity, self-respect, and honor, as they understood the terms.

Heckewelder was at the "Tuscarawas capital," in 1762, and has preserved their manners and customs, of which a portion are here given.

Indian Food and Cookery - 1762

Heckewelder says at that time their principal food consisted of game, fish, corn, potatoes, beans, pumpkins, cucumbers, squashes, melons, cabbages, and turnips, roots of plants, fruits, nuts, and berries.

They, take but two meals a day. The hunters or fishermen never go out in the middle of the day, except it be cloudy. Their custom is to go out on an empty stomach as a stimulant to exertion in shooting game or catching fish.

They make a pottage of corn, dry pumpkins, beans, and chestnuts, and fresh or dried meats, pounded, all sweetened with maple sugar or molasses, and well boiled. They also make a good dish of pounded corn. and chestnuts, shellbarks and hickory nut kernels, boiled, covering the pots with large pumpkin, cabbage, or other leaves.

They make excellent preserves from cranberries and crab apples, with maple sugar.

Their bread is of two kinds; one made of green, and the other of dry corn. If dry, it is sifted after pounding, kneaded, shaped into cakes six inches in diameter, one inch thick, and baked on clean dry ashes, of dry oak barks. If green, it is mashed, put in broad green corn blades, filled in with a ladle, well wrapped up and baked in ashes.

They make warrior's bread by parching corn, sifting it, pounding into flour, and mixing sugar. A table-spoonful with cold or boiling water is a meal, as it swells in the stomach, and if more than two spoonsful is taken, it is dangerous. Its lightness enables the warrior to go on long journeys and carry his bread with him. Their meat is eaten boiled in pots, or roasted on wooden spits or coals.

Indian Dress and Ornaments at the Capital

The Indians make beaver and raccoon-skin blankets. Also frocks, shirts, petticoats, leggings, and shoes of deer, bear and other skins. If cold, the. fur is placed next to the body; if warm, outside.

With the large rib bones of the elk and buffalo they shave the hair off such skins as they dressed, which was done as clean as with a knife. They also made blankets of feathers of the turkey and goose, which the women arranged interwoven together with thread or twine made from the rind of the wild hemp and nettles.

The dress of the men consists of blankets, plain or ruffled shirts, leggings and moccasins (moxens). The women make petticoats of cloth, red, blue, or black, when it can be had of traders; they adorn with ribbons, beads, silver broaches, arm spangles, round buckles, little thimble-like bells around the ankles to make a noise and attract attention. They paint with vermillion, but not so as to offend their husbands; the loose women and prostitutes paint their faces deeply scarlet.

The men paint their thighs, legs, breasts, and faces, and to appear well, spend some times a whole day in decorating themselves for a night frolic. They pluck out their beards and hair on the head (except a tuft, on the crown) with tweezers made of muscle shells, or brass wire. The Indians would all be bearded like white men were it not for their pulling out custom.

This site includes some historical materials that may imply negative stereotypes reflecting the culture or language of a particular period or place. These items are presented as part of the historical record and should not be interpreted to mean that the WebMasters in any way endorse the stereotypes implied.

Ohio Annals; Dayton, Ohio, 1876

Traditions of the Seneca

 

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