SENECA CHIEF AND ORATORY ACE -
SAGOYEWATHA, AKA RED JACKET
We Never Quarrel About Religion
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Red Jacket's We Never Quarrel About
It follows the full text transcript of
Red Jacket's We Never Quarrel About Religion
speech, delivered at a Council of the Chiefs, Territory of
the Six Nations, Upper New York State - Summer of 1805.
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
Brother, this council fire was kindled by you.
It was at your request that we came together at
this time. We have listened with 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, you say you want an answer to your talk
before you leave this place. It is right you
should have one, as you are a great distance
from home, and we do not wish to detain you. But
we will first look back a little, and tell you
what our fathers have told us, and what we have
heard from the white people.
Brother, listen to what we say. There was a time
when our fathers owned this great island. [The
term used by the Indians when speaking of this
continent] Their seats extended from the rising
to the setting sun. The Great Spirit had made it
for the Indians. He had created the buffalo, the
deer, and other animals for food. He had 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
this he had done for his red children because he
loved them. If we had some disputes about our
hunting ground, they were generally settled
without the shedding of much 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 amongst us. We gave
them corn and meat; they gave us poison in
return. [Spirituous liquors]
The white people had now found our country.
Tidings were carried back, and more came amongst
us. Yet we did not fear them. They called us
brothers. We believed them and gave them a
larger seat. At length their numbers had greatly
increased. They wanted more land. They wanted
our country. Our eyes were opened, and our minds
Wars took place.
Indians were hired to fight against Indians, and
many of our people were destroyed. They also
brought strong liquors among us. They were
strong and powerful, and have slain thousands.
Brother, our seats were once large, and yours
were very 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 this religion which you white
people teach, we shall be unhappy hereafter. You
say that you are right, that 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 it to us, and not only to us,
but why did he not give to our forefathers the
knowledge of that book, with the means of
understanding it rightly? We only know what you
tell us about it. How shall we know when to
believe, being so often deceived by the white
Brother, you say there is but one way to worship
and serve the Great Spirit. If there is but one
religion why do you white people differ so much
about it? Why are you not all agreed, as you can
all read the book?
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, the Great Spirit has made us all, but
he has made a great difference between his white
and red children. He has given us different
complexions, and different customs. To you He
has given the arts. To these He has not opened
our eyes. We know these things to be true. Since
He has made so great a difference between us in
other things, why may we not conclude that He
has given us a different religion according to
our understanding? The Great Spirit does right.
He knows what is best for is children. We are
Brother, we do not wish to destroy your
religion, or take it from you. We only want to
enjoy our own.
Brother, you say you have not come to get our
land or our money, but to enlighten our minds. I
will now tell you that I have been at your
meetings, and saw you collect money from the
meeting. I cannot tell what this money was
intended for, but suppose it was for your
minister, and if we should conform to your way
of thinking, perhaps you may want some from us.
Brother, we are told that you have been
preaching to the white people in this place.
These people are our neighbors. We are
acquainted with them. We will wait a little
while, and see what effect your preaching has on
them. If we find it does them good, makes them
honest, and less disposed to cheat Indians, we
will then consider again of what you have said.
Brother, you have now heard our answer to your
talk, and this is all we have to say at present.
As we are going to part, we will come and take
you by the hand, and hope the Great Spirit will
protect you on your journey, and return you in
safety to your friends.