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Stories of New Jersey
The Story Of A Peacemaker
An Indian Woman's Friendly Act. (Period, 1632.)

By Frank R. Stockton

Originally published in 1896
This Web version, edited by GET NJ, COPYRIGHT 2003

This method of making peace was pursued not only by idividuals, but by nations. Very often women had this important political duty thrust upon them, – a duty for which they were probably very well qualified, for it is seldom that the women of a nation desire war.

This national disposition in regard to peacemaking was once the occasion of a serious misfortune to the tribe of Lenni-Lenape. The tribes to the north, who bad formed themselves into a powerful body called the Five Nations, had long been jealous of their neighbors the Lenni-Lenape, and contrived a plan to humiliate them, and render them less important in the eyes of the Indian world. Being at war with some other tribes, these Five Nations came to the Lenni-Lenape and pretended to desire peace, but stated that this was too important a case to be managed by women. They declared that this was a great work, which should be &en only into the hands of a quiet, dignified, and honorable tribe, such as their great neighbors, and wed the Lenape to undertake negotiations for the cessation of hostilities.

As all this seemed reasonable enough, the Lenape were at last persuaded to become peacemakers, and, as might be supposed, they were entirely successful; but they suffered for their kindness and good feeling. Ever afterwards they were looked upon by other Indian tribes as no better than women. In Cooper's novels there are references to the fact that the noble Lenape were sneered at as peacemakers and squaws.

But we will now return to our guardian angel. It was after a visit of the Indians to the vessel of De Vries, that the peacemaking instinct took possession of the wife of one of the Indian chiefs; and quietly and stealthily, unperceived by her people, she managed to get on board the "Squirrel," when she informed the commander of the real object of his visitors, who had invited him to sail up Timber Creek. It was the desire of the Indians to destroy this company of white men; and the narrow stream where they wished to make the attempt was much better adapted for their purpose than the broad waters of the river.

Wishing to prevent an encounter in which the sturdy Dutchman would probably kill some of her countrymen before they themselves were destroyed, she had come to implore the whites not to run into the trap which had been set for them. She told them that the crew of an English shallop, which not long before had come to visit the place, probably from a ship afraid to venture higher up the river, had all been slaughtered, and that it was the jackets of these men that some of her countrymen were wearing.

Like a sensible man, De Vries paid attention to this story, and did not venture into Timber Creek. Whether or not he rewarded the good woman who came to warn him of his danger, is not known; but his account of the affair places her in the position of one worthy of a monument by the women of the State.

When the Indians came again to De Vries, he declared them that his Great Spirit, or "Maneto," had revealed their wicked purposes, and that he would not sail up the Timber Creek, nor would he allow one of them upon his vessel; and, having ordered them all on shore, he dropped some distance down the river.

This conduct doubtless inspired the Indians with great respect for the brave Dutchmen, and shortly afterwards the chiefs from nine different tribes came on board the "Squirrel" for the purpose of making a treaty of peace and commerce with the Dutch. All of these were now dressed in furs, which were their ordinary garments; but some of them were recognized as the same men who had formerly worn the jackets of the murdered English sailors. These, however, were not as cordial and friendly as any of the others, and there is no reason to suppose that they now intended treachery. The visitors sat down on the deck of the yacht, and held a regular council, and, with appropriate ceremonies, made presents of beaver skins to the whites, and solemnly concluded a treaty of friendship.

"History of New York." Brodhead.


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