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Stories of New Jersey
How Scheyichbi Really Became New Jersey
(Period, 1609- 1758)

By Frank R. Stockton

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

At this conference there was a notable exhibition of Indian etiquette. The governor had called the Minisinks, a tribe of the Delawares, to meet him; and they had informed the Mingoians, who, with some other northern tribes, were then gathered together at the grand council fire at the forks of the Delaware, where is now Easton. This was done, because at that time the Mingoians considered themselves superior to the Delawares, from whom proper respect was due.

One of the chiefs from the council fire was sent down to represent the Mingoians. After some speeches were made, he told the white governor that the Minisinks, being Delawares, were women, and were not able of themselves to make treaties, therefore he had come down to look into the matter. As his people were then holding a grand council fire at the forks of the Delaware, they did not wish to put it out and build another council fire on this side of the Delaware. The reason which he gave for this was figurative and Indian-like.

He stated that the river roared and thundered, and made a great deal of noise; and, if the council were held on this side, the distant Indian nations who dwelt to the west of the Delaware could not hear what was said at the council, and therefore it would be unfair to them to hold it on this side of the river. He concluded with a cordial invitation to the governor and his party to meet the Indians at their own council fire.

About a month afterward, the governor, with some members of the Legislature, and other white people from New Jersey and Pennsylvania, met over five hundred Indians at the forks of the Delaware in grand council. Some of the speeches on this occasion were very interesting. A chief of the United Nations, speaking for the Delawares, who, having made themselves women by becoming peacemakers, had no right to speak for themselves, addressed the council as follows:-

"Brethren, we now remove the hatchet out of your heads, that was struck into it by our cousins the Delawares. It was a French hatchet they unfortunately made use of, by the instigation of the French. We take it out of your heads, and bury it underground, where it shall always rest, and never be taken up again. Our cousins the Delawares have assured us they will never think of war against their brethren the English any more, but will employ their thoughts about peace and cultivating friendship with them, and never suffer enmity against them to enter into their minds again."

Another chief said : "Brethren, I speak in behalf of the younger nations, – those who are confederated with the Six Nations, the Cayugas, Oneidas, Tuscaroras, Tutaloes, Nanticokes, and Conoys. A road has been made from our country to this council fire, that we might treat about. friendship; and as we came down the road, we saw, that, by some misfortune or other, blood has lately been spilt on it. Now, we make the road wider and clearer. We take the blood away out of it, and likewise out of the council chamber, which nay have been stained. We wash it all away, and desire it may not be seen any more, and we take the ratchet out of your heads."

The governor of New Jersey also addressed this council, particularly urging them to require the Indians who had taken away prisoners to return these unfortunate people to their homes. In answer to this, one of the great chiefs of the United Nations made a speech to the Minisinks and the Delawares, in which he gave them a good scolding for not having returned these prisoners before ; for it seemed that they had promised to do so.

The council continued several days; and the Minisinks promised faithfully that they would search all the towns in their territory for prisoners, and return them to their own people. This matter having been settled, Governor Bernard made a formal proposition to buy all the lands which the Indians still retained in New Jersey; and, after a good deal of consultation, the chiefs of the United Nations advised the Minisinks and Delawares to accept the terms which were offered. After much talk, it was done, the necessary papers were signed, and the State of New Jersey was formally bought from its Indian owners.

After this great matter had been settled, the tract of land which was to be set apart for the occupation of the Indians of the State, south of the Raritan River, in Burlington County, was purchased. It consisted of three thousand acres, which reached to the seacoast. There was plenty of fishing on it, and there were wild lands and forests, in which game abounded. Here the Indians could live as they pleased after their old-fashioned fashions, and never need fear disturbance by white men. Here they removed, and here they did live, apparently perfectly satisfied; and after this there were no further Indian troubles in New Jersey.


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