RED JACKET'S SPEECH took place in Buffalo, NY, on 23 June 1796 during a 3-day council with MOSES CLEAVELAND to negotiate a formal settlement of Indian claims to the WESTERN RESERVE. In a treaty signed at Ft. Stanwix in 1784, the Six Nations (Iroquois) had yielded to the U.S. claim to their lands west of the western boundary of Pennsylvania, but the Indians continued to voice certain nominal claims to this land, which included much of the Western Reserve. To facilitate the opening of these lands for settlement, the proprietors of the CONNECTICUT LAND CO. thought it prudent to conciliate the Indians. Moses Cleaveland, while enroute to the Western Reserve in 1796, met with the principal chiefs of the Six Nations and with representatives from western tribes outside Skinner's Tavern in Buffalo. After 2 days of feasting and drinking, serious negotiations began on the third day. Red Jacket (ca. 1751-1830), orator of the Six Nations and a sachem of the Senecas, delivered his speech through an interpreter, defending his people's values and customs against the intrusion of white civilization. It was recorded by JOHN MILTON HOLLY, a member of Cleaveland's party.
You white people make a great parade about religion, you say you have a book of laws and rules which was given you by the Great Spirit, but is this true? Was it written by his own hand and given to you? No, says he, it was written by your own people. They do it to deceive you. Their whole wishes center here (pointing to his pocket), all they want is the money. . . He says white people tell them, they wish to come and live among them as brothers, and learn them agriculture. So they bring on implements of husbandry and presents, tell them good stories, and all appears honest. But when they are gone all appears as a dream. Our land is taken from us, and still we don't know how to farm it.
The council ended with the Six Nations' acquiescing to white settlement of their land in the Western Reserve. According to SETH PEASE, the eastern Indians received 2 beef cattle and 100 gallons of whiskey from Cleaveland. The western Indian representatives received goods worth 500 pounds in New York currency and provisions to help them home.