A French-Seneca council

Celeron meets with Seneca leaders at Brokenstraw for two days

Times Observer photo by Josh Cotton The confluence of the Allegheny River – La Riviere Beautiful – and Conewango Creek.

Celeron’s journal gives great detail of the council with the Senecas at Buckaloons.

“The Indians of this place had formed the design of fleeing into the woods on the report which those had given them, who had described us in the Lake Chatakuin (Chautauqua), who had told them that we were a considerable force, and that, undoubtedly, it was our intention to destroy them. M. de Joncare found much difficulty in removing this impression, although they were Iroquois of the Five Nations; although he is in fact adopted by the nation and they have great confidence in him.

“As soon as I arrived the Chiefs assembled and came to my tent.”

Bonnecamps noted in his journal that they spoke to the Seneca son the morning of the 31st and “in the evening he (Celeron) received their reply, that everyone had been satisfied if one could believe it sincere; but we did not doubt that it was extorted by fear.”

Celeron’s journal then includes the full text of their opening speech to Celeron, Celeron’s reply and the statement from the French governor.

The Senecas statement: “My Father, we come to give testimony of the joy which we feel at seeing you arrived at our villages in good health. It is a long time since we have had the pleasure of seeing our Father in these territories, and the expedition of which we have been apprised for a month has caused much uneasiness and fear not only in our villages but in all those of the Beautiful River. Thou hast perceived it, my Father, and to reassure thy children, frightened and without courage, thou hast done well to send us our son Joncaire to tell us to be calm and to await in our villages the arrival, to hear the word of our father Onontio, which thou bringest us. The belts of wampum have entirely calmed our mind of all the fears which had seized on us; our bundles were prepared for fleeing, and we were like drunken people. All has passed away, and we have remained as thou wished it to hear what thou hast to tell us. We are delighted that our father Onontio has made the choice of thee to make his intentions known to us. It is not today that we know thee; thou didst govern us at Niagara, and thou knowest that we never did aught but thy will.”

Celeron’s response, per his journal: “I am delighted, my children, that the arrival of M. de Joncaire in your villages has calmed your minds, and has dispelled the fears which my expedition into this country has caused you. No doubt but it was occasioned by the sinister conduct of people who always occupy themselves in evil designs. What surprises me is, that those who have a right spirit, and who have always listened to the words of their father Onontio, have caused this fear. By these three belts of wampum I open your ears so that you may hear well what I have to say to you on the part of your father Onontio, and that I may also open your eyes to make you see clearly the advantages which your father wishes to procure you, if like sensible people you wish to avail yourselves of them. It is his word which I bring you here, and which I am going to bring to all the villages of the Beautiful River.”

The Marquis de la Galissionaire’s statement, delivered by Celeron: “My children, since I began to wage war with the English I have learned that this nation has seduced you, and that not content with corrupting your heart, they have profited of the time of my absence from this country to invade the territories which do not belong to them, and which are mine; a circumstance which has determined me to send M. de Celoron to you, to make known my intentions, which are, that I will not suffer the English in my territories; and I invite you, if you are my real children, to receive them no more into your villages. I cut off, then, by part of the country, and I announce to you that I will not suffer them there anymore. If you are attached to me, you will make them withdraw, and will send them home; by this means you will always be in peace in your villages. I will grant you for this all the aid you have a right to expect from a good father. Come to see me next spring; you will have reason to be pleased with the reception I will give you; I will abundantly furnish you with traders, if you desire it; I will even add officers to them, if that gives you pleasure, to lead you and to give you courage, so that you engage only in lawful business. The English have acted all the more wrongly in coming into these territories, as the Five Nations have forbidden them to remain beyond the mountains. Pay serious attention, my children, to the message which I send you. Listen to it well; follow it, it is the means of always seeing over your villages a beautiful and serene sky. I expect from you an answer worthy of my true children. You will see suitable marks which I have fixed along the Beautiful River, which will prove to the English that this land belongs to me, and that they cannot come into it without exposing themselves to be expelled from it. This time I desire to treat them with kindness, and if they are wise they will profit by my advice…. I am surprised, my children, to see raised in your village a cabin destined to receive English traders. If you look upon yourselves as my children you will not continue this work; far from it, you will destroy it, and will no longer receive the English at your homes.

The Seneca response:

“My father, we thank you for having opened our ears and our eyes to understand your speech, and see clearly that you speak to us as a good father. My father, we are very glad to speak today of business with you. Do not be surprised at our answers; we are people who have no knowledge of business, but who speak to you from the bottom of their heart. My father, you have appeared to us surprised at this that the English came for commerce upon our lands. It is true our old men forbade their entrance. You engage us to go up to Montreal next year so as to speak of business with Onontio and we appreciate these favors. We assure you that we are going to prepare for this during the winter, and that we will go next spring.

“My father, you have told us that you perceive that the English came to invade our lands, and that you have come to summon them to withdraw; that to the end you closed the way against them. We thank you for your undertaking, and we promise you no more to suffer them here. We are not a party capable of deciding entirely on the general sentiment of the Five Nations who inhabit this river. We await the decisions of the Chiefs of our villages, as also the villages lower down. For us, my father, we assure you that we will not receive the English into our two villages.

“My father, you have told us that some little birds had given you word that a house was being built for the English, and that if we suffered them to do so, they would shortly raise here

a considerable establishment for driving us away, because they would render themselves masters of our lands. You have invited us to discontinue this work. This is what we promise you, and this house which is almost finished, will serve only for a recreation place for the youth. We promise you also not to touch the arms of the King which you have planted on this river, and which will prove to the English that they have no right in this part of the country.

“My brothers, we are delighted to see you accompany our father on his voyage; you have told us that you have no other sentiments than those of Onontio. We invite you to follow the counsels which he desires to give you, and we have taken the resolution to do only his will. We thank you for what you have told us, and we will pay attention to it.”

The Times-Mirror article cited earlier notes that “the result of the council held by Joncaire was not satisfactory to the French. It was very evident there was a strong feeling among the Indians on the Allegheny in favor of the English.”

“The council over, I made presents to the Indians, which gave them great pleasure, and in return they assured me anew that they would never receive the English in their homes,” Celeron wrote, “and that they would go down next spring to see their father Onontio.”

According to Miller, the expedition continued down the Allegheny to the Ohio and up the Miami River. That is located in Southwestern Ohio. Miller reports they went “up that stream to Maumee and back to Montreal by way of Lake Erie.

“Celeron’s Expedition of 1749” notes that the expedition split on October 8, with part going to Detroit while Celeron went to Montreal.

“On October 19, Celerson arrived at Fort Niagara,” that source continues. “Because of bad weather, he remained there for three days. He left for Fort Frontenac on the 22nd. It took fourteen days of travel to reach Fort Frontenac, where he arrived on November 6. On November 10, he arrived in Montreal and stayed for two days, after which he left for Quebec. In Quebec, he reported to a new governor general – the Marquis de la Jonquiere. In this report, the final entry in his journal stated that the Indians nations of the Ohio Valley were badly disposed towards the French and very devoted to the English. He went on to say that he did not know how to bring them back under French influence.

“The journal ends, ‘Signed, Celeron.'”

The 1979 speech given by Helen Morrow at the Four Flags event in Warren notes that “English trappers and traders had learned of Celeron’s visit from the Seneca Indians at Buckaloons and hastened upriver to bring down the French flag and raise the Union Jack in its place, where, during the days of the French and Indian wars, it proclaimed the land along the Allegheny was British territory.

It remained British-claimed territory until those pesky colonists threw out the world’s premier military.

We call it the American Revolution.

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