The real name of Chief Shicellamy (or Shikellamy)
was Ongwaterohiathe, meaning 'it has caused the sky to be bright
for us', sometimes rendered as 'our enlightener'. This famous
Oneida chief has also been called Swataney.
When a tribe was conquered by the Six Nations, a
deputy or vice -gerent was sent by the Iroquois or Six Nation
Council to watch over the tribe. Shicellamy was such a deputy, sent
by the Great Federal Council of the Six Nations 'Onondaga' in 1728
to watch over the Delaware, Shawnee, and the other tribes in the
Susquehanna river valley in what is now the state of Pennsylvania.
This chief was highly respected, by not only the
Six Nations, but by the white colonial folk as well. He was always
known as being friendly towards the settlers and on many occasions
treated them with great kindness.
He never drank the white man's 'firewater' because,
as he once said, 'I never wish to be a fool'. He tried to prevent
the sale of this accursed drink to those Indians who were under his
trust. One of his first acts as vice-gerent was to send word to the
colonial officials that unless they stopped peddling rum amongst his
people, friendly relations between the Six Nations and the colony of
Pennsylvania would cease. This ultimatum to the Pennsylvania
government was delivered in 1731.
Due to the harm that peddlers of strong alcoholic
drinks were causing among their people, many Indians were moving
west to the Ohio Valley where the French were trying to alienate
them from English interests. The English had reason to fear friendly
relations between the Six Nations and the French. Shicellamy was asked
by the English to go to Onondaga and invite the Six Nation Chiefs to
visit Philadelphia, the object being to secure the friendship and
alliance of the Six Nations in case of a war with France and also
to try to get the Ohio Indians to return to the Susquehanna country
to act as a bulwark against the enemy.
Though they mistrusted the English, three of the Six
Nations sent delegates to the council of '1732'. At Philadelphia the
English were very concerned and uneasy about whether the Six Nations
were their friends or whether they would favour the French. They were
put at ease by one of the speakers of the confederacy who informed them
that the governor of (then-French) Canada, Charles de la Boische de
Beauharnois, had met them in council, as the English had suspected,
and had told them that he intended to make war upon the English colonies
and wished the Six Nations to remain neutral.
Following the making of this request, the answer from
the Iroquois speaker to the French governor was as follows:
"Onondiio [their name for the French
governor], you are very proud! You are not wise to make war with
Corlear (the English governor of New York), and to propose neutrality
"Corlear is our brother. He came to us when
he was little and a child. We suckled him at our breasts. We have
nursed him and taken care of him until he is grown-up to be a man,
He is our brother and of the same blood. He and we have but one ear
to hear with, one eye to see with and one mouth to speak with.
"We will not forsake him nor see any man
make war upon him without assisting. We shall join him and, if we
fight with you, we may have our father, Onondiio, to bury in the
ground. We would not have you force us to do this but be wise and
live in peace."
Pennsylvanian Colonial Records Vol. 3
A contemporary sketch of an unidentified tribe of Delaware
Indians, although the mass of European influences - especially
in terms of dress - suggest that it is from a slightly later
period in time than the early 1700s