Wyandotte and Seneca Indians of Oklahoma

 

Wyandotte

     The Wyandotte belonged to the great Huron family of Indians whose ancient home was in the vicinity of the Michigan lakes. They were on friendly terms with their neighbors, the Potowatomi tribe, but at different times were in trouble with the ambitious Iroquois.

     As early as 1649 they were driven out of their homes by the Iroquois and settled in Wisconsin.' Dissatisfaction arose among them, and like many other-tribes, they were divided into bands or factions which were scattered over the country, some going to Canada and others to Michigan.

     By treaty of 1815 they were given a tract of land in Northern Ohio and Southern Michigan, but in 1842 they disposed of their possessions there and settled in the present County of Wyandotte, State of Kansas. By treaty of 1867 they were located on their present reservation in Northeastern Oklahoma, immediately south of the Ottawa, Shawnee and Modoc. They were 481 in number when they settled here and their reservation contained 29,942 acres, all of which has been allotted.

Seneca

     The Seneca Indians were originally a branch of the great Iroquois confederacy which, according to the hand book of American Indians issued by the Bureau of Ethnology, from which much of this tribal history is gleaned, were first located in Western New York and constituted the largest of the five divisions of the Iroquois confederacy. They were involved in most of the numerous wars waged by the Iroquois in colonial days and their ranks were fast depleted by family quarrels and divisions. In 1817 they were granted a large tract of land in Northern Ohio, near Sandusky, which they retained until 1831, when they were induced to exchange it for a tract in Kansas. In 1867, by treaty they were located on their present reservation immediately adjoining the Wyandotte on the south. Their land lies in the southeastern part of Ottawa County and includes a strip off the northern end of Delaware County. It consists of 41,813 acres which has been allotted to 481 individual members of the tribe.

     The restrictions have been removed from all the members of these little tribes and each adult Indian is permitted to lease, sell, or use his land as he may choose. Their farms have been fairly well developed and improved, about one-third of them being still occupied by the original allottees, the remaining two-thirds, having been sold or leased to white men. The federal relations of these small tribes have, for many years past, been under the control of what has been known as the "Quapaw Agency," located near the Town of Wyandotte. Here, too, an excellent boarding school has been maintained,. in which many an Indian boy and girl has been given a good common school education. For a number of years during one of the most critical periods in the history of these tribes, this agency and school were ably supervised by Mr. Horace B. Durant, now a lawyer in Miami.

     The religious welfare of these Indians has been well nourished by the missionaries, who at different times have labored among them.

The religious society of Friends or Quakers has been active among them, almost from the beginning of their settlement in this corner of the state. Of the missionaries, Asa C. Tuttle and Emeline, his wife, were among the first to preach to and teach the Indians. They came to the Territory soon after the Indians began to settle here and made many converts among them.

     Dr. C. W. Kirk, a missionary from Indiana, came in 1878 and labored faithfully for several years.

     Henry Thorndike was another missionary who labored faithfully and successfully among these Indians for several years.

     But among all of these missionaries, probably Jeremiah Hubbard, "Uncle Jerry" as he was familiarly called, was best known. He came to the Quapaw agency in 1879 and for forty years thereafter he devoted his time and energy to teaching and preaching among the Indians. He was a friend to the whites as well as the Indians and his advice was frequently sought on business as well as religious matters.

     During his forty years of faithful service he officiated at several hundred marriage ceremonies, oftentimes traveling on foot or in his little buggy to perform such services without any thought of fees.

     Eight years ago, "Uncle Jerry" wrote an interesting little book entitled "Forty Years Among the Indians," in which he gives an interesting account of his work among these little Indian tribes.

     Concerning his little book, one of his friends writes:
     "It would be a hard matter for a person to read the pages of this book and not discover in it the simple story of a life that gave all its best and asked nothing in return, the secret of its strength of hold upon the lives and hearts of the people with whom he has come in contact for forty long years is herein detailed.

"To do as the savage did; to sleep in his tents; to eat his food; endure the hardships of the winter's blasts and the summer's drouths; to toil night and day in an effort to bring to the lives of an unenlightened race the light of a better way, of a sublime hope; the turning of darkness into day,, for benighted minds, and do it all so cheerfully day by day, shows a strength of character which can not but excite the admiration of, and be an inspiration to any person who may have the good fortune to read, these lines.

     "And, as you grasp his hand and look into his eyes-steady eyes-sincere eyes, you ask yourself the question, what is the force, the inspiration back of this man?

     "What gives him this power to win the hearts of children and men?

     "Take the pains to turn to page three of this book and there read your answer, for besides his God who gives him grace, is the wife, Mary G. Hubbard, the sublime queen of motherhood, the dauntless inspiration of manhood."

Ottawa County

Source: Muskogee and Northeastern Oklahoma, 1922

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