Chief Red Jacket was a member of the Seneca Tribe
and the dominant spokesman for the Six Nations
. He gave an amazing speech before the Christian missionaries in Seneca Falls
New York in reply to appeals to the Indians to be baptized and take one more step towards integration into the American community. (Text of which to follow). His tribal name was Otetiani but was better known as Red Jacket because of his penchant for wearing a scarlet coat given to him by British Troops - He was also rumored to have been a friend of General George Washington
Text of Chief Red Jackets speech, given in 1805 in Seneca Falls, NY. to a group of Christian missionaries
"Friend and Brother: It was the will of the Great Spirit that we should meet together this day. He orders all things and has given us a fine day for our council. He has taken His garment from before the sun and caused it to shine with brightness upon us. Our eyes are opened that we see clearly; our ears are unstopped that we have been able to hear distinctly the words you have spoken. For all these favors we thank the Great Spirit, and Him only."
"Brother, this council fire was kindled by you. It was at your request that we came together at this time. We have listened to attention to what you have said. You requested us to speak our minds freely. this gives us great joy; for now we consider that we stand upright before you and can speak what we think. All have heard your voice and all speak to you now as one man. Our minds are agreed......."
"Brother, listen to what we say. There was a time when our forefathers owned this great island. Their seats extended from the rising sun to the setting sun. The Great Spirit has made if for the use of Indians. He has created the buffalo, the deer, and other animals for food. He has made the bear and the beaver. Their skins served us for clothing. He had scattered them over the country and taught us how to take them. He had caused the earth to produce corn for bread. All of He had done for His children because He loved them. If we had some disputes about our hunting ground they were generally settled without the shedding of blood."
" But an evil day came upon us. Your forefathers crossed the great water and landed on this island. Their numbers were small. They found friends and not enemies. They told us they had fled from their own country for fear of wicked men and had come here to enjoy their religion. They asked for a small seat. We took pity on them, granted their request, and they sat down among us. We gave them corn and meat; they gave us poison in return."
"Brother, our seats were once large and yous were small. You have now become a great people, and we have scarcely a place left to spread our blankets. You have got our country, but are not satisfied; you want to force your religion upon us."
"Brother, continue to listen. you say that you are sent to instruct us how to worship the Great Spirit agreeably to His mind; and. if we do not take hold of the religion which you white people teach we shall be unhappy hereafter. You say that you are right and we are lost. How do we know this to be true? We understand that your religion is written in a Book. If it was intended for us, as well as you, why has not the Great Spirit given to us, and not only us, but why did He not give our forefathers the knowledge of that Book, with the mean of understanding it rightly? We know only what you tell us about it. How shall we know when to believe, being so often deceived by the white people."
"Brother, we do not understand these things. We are told that your religion was given to your forefathers and has been handed down from father to son. We also have a religion which was given to our forefathers, and has been handed down to us, their children. We worship in that way. It teaches us to be thankful for all the favors we receive, to love each other, and to be united. We never quarrel about religion....."
"Brother, we do not wish to destroy your religion or take it from you. We only want to enjoy our own."
Editorial Comment by borgo - With very simple words and in a very simple style -Chief Red Jacket conveyed his message that I think should last for the ages...