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The Oneida Indians Address Governor Turnbull

In this address to Jonathan Trumbull, the Governor of the Colony of Connecticut who sided with the Revolutionary cause, the chief of the Oneida Indians declares his tribe's intention to remain neutral in the impending conflict. The Oneidas express their dismay at the prospect of war between the "two brothers of one blood," and request that the colonial authorities decline to involve neighboring tribes in their dispute with the British, citing Indian unity: "Let us Indians be all of one mind" The reality turned out quite differently, with Native Americans fighting on both sides of the conflict in divisive and shifting allegiances.

"As my younger brothers of the New-England Indians, who have settled in our vicinity, are now going down to visit their friends, and to move up parts of their families that were left behind—with this belt by them, I open the road wide, clearing it of all obstacles, that they may visit their friends and return to their settlements here in peace.

"Now we more immediately address you, our brother, the governor, and the chiefs of New-England.

"BROTHERS-We have heard of the unhappy differences and great contention between you and Old England. We wonder greatly, and are troubled in our minds.

"BROTHERS-Possess your minds in peace respecting us Indians. We cannot intermeddle in this dispute between two brothers. The quarrel seems to be unnatural. You are two brothers of one blood. We are unwilling to join on either side in such a contest, for we bear an equal affection to both you Old and New England. Should the great King of England apply to us for aid, we shall deny him; if the colonies apply, we shall refuse. The present situation of you two brothers is new and strange to us. We Indians cannot find, nor recollect in the traditions of our ancestors, the like case, or a similar instance.

"BROTHERS-For these reasons possess your minds in peace, and take no umbrage that we Indians refuse joining in the contest. We are for peace.

"BROTHERS-As we have declared for peace, we desire you will not apply to our Indian brethren in New-England for their assistance. Let us Indians be all of one mind, and live with one another; and you white people settle your own disputes between yourselves."

Source | William L. Stone, Border Wars of the American Revolution (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1843); from http://www.threerivershms.com/borderwarsch3.htm
Creator | Solomon Ahhaunnauwaumut
Item Type | Speech
Cite This document | Solomon Ahhaunnauwaumut, “The Oneida Indians Address Governor Turnbull,” HERB: Resources for Teachers, accessed June 19, 2019, https://herb.ashp.cuny.edu/items/show/1250.

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