Indian Time - A Voice from the Eastern Door

Governor Denny's Invitation Belt


Barry Montour holding Governor Denny's Invitation Belt.

Reprinted from Wampum Belts of the Iroquois by Tehanetorens

This wampum belt was sent by Governor Denny of the Pennsylvania Province to the Indians, especially the Delaware and Shawnee People of the Ohio Region, to attend a peace and alliance council at Philadelphia. The Governor was very anxious to secure the fighting ability of Indians to use against the French who, the same as the English, had their eyes on the rich Ohio Region. During the wars in Europe between the French and the English, these two nations spared no effort to get different Indian nations in America to fight against their rivals in the "New World." Both the French and the English desired the fur trade of the Iroquois and other Indian nations.

Both the French and English cast greedy eyes on the lands of the Indians. Both claimed the Iroquois Country as their own. The Iroquois never admitted that either the French or the English had any claim over them or their country. The following is part of a speech of the Iroquois spokesman to Governor Fletcher of Albany concerning this: "You say that we are subjects to the King of England and the Duke of York. We say that we are brethren, and take care of ourselves." When English representatives tried to prevent the Iroquois from meeting with the French, the Iroquois speaker informed the

English thus:

"The privilege of meeting in general council when we please is a privilege we always have enjoyed. No former governor of the name of Corlear (name of every governor of the Province of New York) ever obstructed this privilege. We planted a Tree of Peace in this place with them. Its roots and branches extend as far as Virginia and New England, and we have reposed with pleasure under its shade. Brother, let us keep to that first tree, and let us be united and unanimous. Such prohibition of our assemblies will be of ill consequences, and occasion differences between us."

Needless to say, New York Colony was wise to see that they had better agree with the Onondaga speaker and let the matter rest if they valued their own safety and the protection of the Iroquois against the French.

All English governors encouraged the Iroquois and their followers to attack the French and their allies. The French likewise encouraged the Hurons, Eries, Susquehannocks, and other Indian nations to attack the English and the Iroquois. The unfortunate Iroquois, whose Confederacy had been formed to bring about peace among all people, tried in vain to get the French and the English to cease warfare and invited them to take shelter beneath their Tree of Peace. Their efforts were wasted. Indian peoples living between these two rival white colonies realized that they were being used as tools, and in all of the wars between the warlike Europeans, they-the Indian-were the main ones to suffer. Both sides made many promises to the Indians for their aid, promises which neither European nation kept after the war was over and the aid of the Indians was no longer needed.

Governor Denny's belt was one of many such belts sent to Indians asking for their aid in fighting rival white colonies.


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