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Our Tuscarora Neighbors
(Part six)

They had espoused the cause the Colonies against Great Britain whereupon Indian allies of the British raided the Tuscarora towns in the Genesee valley and destroyed their crops.

More than half a century had elapsed since these people had made their home within the bounds of New York State. Now they were again homeless. About the close of the Revolution, a company of them settled at Johnson's landing, four miles east of the mouth of the Niagara, From this neighborhood two families made their way to the northeastern limits of the present reservation in Niagara County, a place where there was a fine stream with walnut and butternut trees; and here they wintered. Others joined them, with the tacit consent of the Senecas who claimed all this region as their own domain. This was the beginning of the present Tuscarora reservation. (Elias Johnson the Tuscarora historian tells the story in his "Legions traditions and Law of the Iroquois" etc. Lockport 1881)

At the treaty of 1797, at Geneseo, between the Seneca and Robert Morris, for the United States, the Tuscaroras complained that they had received nothing for giving up the lands granted them among the Oneidas. The justice of their cause was admitted, and there were set aside for them at this time two square miles-1,280 acres covering their settlement on the ridge east of Lewiston. To this the Seneca Nation added a square mile. In 1800 a delegation went to North Carolina to try and collect payment for lands formerly occupied by their people. The details of The undertaking cannot be entered upon here. Suffice to say, it was measurably successful; so that by 1802, with the aid or the North Carolina Legislature, the former Tuscarora lands were leased yielding $13,722. With this sum the Secretary of the Treasury bought from the Holland Land Company, for the Tuscarora, 4,329 acres adjoining the Three square miles already occupied; thus making the entire reservation in Niagara County, 6,249 acres; and here the Tuscaroras still abide, less than 500 souls. (for recent statistics of population, etc., the reader is referred to government census reports. In 1890 they numbered 439 In 1910, 382.).'

It was at the time of the North Carolina leases, that the last considerable migration of these people occurred. In 1820 some 70, out of a population of about 300, left the Niagara reservation, and settled with Mohawks and other Indians on the Grand River in Canada.

The actual migration of the Tuscarora, then, as we have shown, from North Carolina to New York State, occurred at various times from 1712 to 1802 Now began a series of efforts to dispossess them in New York State and remove them to various places in the West. Into the intricate history of these attempts it is not here designed to enter. About 1818 it was proposed to purchase lands in the neigh-borhood of Green Bay, Wisconsin, held by the Menomonees and Winnebagoes, and transfer to them certain New York tribes, the Tuscarora among them. The scheme came to naught. Later, their removal to the Indian Territory was undertaken, and in May, 1846, about 40 were induced to embark on a lake Erie steamboat Some 200 Tuscarora, Senecas and others, finally reached the promised land of the Indian Territory. Within a year, a third of them had died from privation and disease. The Government, how-ever benevolent its designs, had failed in giving proper care to its incapable wards; and the misconduct of agents turned the attempt into a cruel and fatal fiasco, the story of which may be traced in treaties and memorials through many years.

A brighter chapter in Tuscarora history is the record of missionary work amongst them. Some progress they have made in agriculture, in education. They still have prospective revenues from unexpired leases in North Carolina. They live for the most part in comfort, and are a shining example for trustworthiness, thrift and morality among all of our Indian neighbors of Western New York.

Something of the foregoing historical sketch, its author attempted to give at the picnic in the maple grove and by way of a farewell word he added-recalling the fashion of ancient days:

''Brothers, I have spoken. If I had strings and belts. of wampum, as your ancestors would have had, I would have given them to you, as I spoke, to confirm my words. You must imagine that I have done so; and now I give a very large belt, with the pipe woven in it to keep the chain of friendship bright and shinning".

End of part six.

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