Parker, Col. Ely Samuel

Parker, Col. Ely Samuel

Male 1828 - 1895  (67 years)

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  • Name Parker, Ely Samuel 
    • Donehogehweh
    Title Col. 
    Born 1828  Indian Falls, Genesee County, New York, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Gender Male 
    Died 31 Aug 1895  Fairfield, Fairfield County, Connecticut, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Buried Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo, Erie County, New York, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    Person ID I51858  Sackett
    Last Modified 29 Dec 2018 

    Father Parker, William Jonoesdona,   b. 1793, Allegany County, New York, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 24 Apr 1864, Alabama, Genesee County, New York, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 71 years) 
    Mother Johnson, Elizabeth Gaontgunttwius,   b. 1787, New York, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 23 Feb 1862, Alabama, Genesee County, New York, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 75 years) 
    +1. Parker, Col. Ely Samuel,   b. 1828, Indian Falls, Genesee County, New York, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 31 Aug 1895, Fairfield, Fairfield County, Connecticut, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 67 years)
    Family ID F19615  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Orton Sackett, Minnie,   b. Dec 1847, Pennsylvania, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 27 Mar 1932, Wayland, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 84 years) 
    Married 24 Dec 1867  Washington, District of Columbia, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  [3
    • The "Real Story" Behind the Marriage of Ely S. Parker and Minnie Orton Sackett

      On December 13, 1867, a Washington D.C. newspaper reported that "Col. Ely S. Parker, Chief of the Six Nations, is to be married on Thursday next to a pale faced daughter of the late Col. Sackett. The friends of Col. P. will congratulate him, and wish him success in his new relation."

      There are no hard facts, only speculation about how, when, and where Ely and Minnie first met. It is known that in 1864, Minnie's mother Anna visited General Grant's headquarters to ascertain the whereabouts of her husband, a Union soldier who had been wounded in a Civil War battle (she later learned Colonel William Sackett had died). It is also known that Anna and Minnie were prominent members of Washington D.C.'s social elite; Minnie was said to be one of that city's more beautiful belles, tall, slim and vivacious, with brilliant eyes and dark brown hair. She could have met Ely at one of many soirees hosted at the Sackett home, but apparently few knew of the liaison, for the announcement of their betrothal stunned the city.

      "It was a big surprise to everyone. He was a 39-year-old bachelor, and the announcement was that he would marry this 18-year-old socialite, who was white. Minnie's father had been killed in the war, and because she had no one to give her away, General Grant was going to do the honors; quite an affair!"

      William Armstrong
      Parker Biographer

      Minnie's wedding gown was the creation of Madame Demorest's salon on Pennsylvania Avenue, and Ely Parker borrowed a military sash from General Grant to embellish his wedding suit. The nuptials were scheduled for Tuesday, December 17, at the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany, and although hundreds showed up to watch, Ely Parker wasn't one of them. The would-be bride was said to be in tears and her mother in a passion, and news of the scandal quickly spread to national newspapers.

      From The New York Times 12/18/1867:

      The city is startled tonight with a thousand conflicting rumors regarding the disappearance of Col. ELY PARKER, of General GRANT's staff, who was to have been married this morning at 10:30 o'clock to MISS MINNIE SACKETT, of this city. It seems that Col. PARKER had made every preparation for the event, even to the issuing of reception cards for his friends in New York at the Metropolitan Hotel, and at his residence in Washington after his return from the expected bridal tour. He had purchased his wedding suit, and on Saturday evening went to General GRANT's house, where he borrowed from Mrs. GRANT one of the General's military sashes to wear at the wedding. After remaining an hour or two, at 8:30 he bid the family goodnight, since which time he has not been seen in the city. At the appointed hour this morning the bride's mother, who is a widow, General GRANT and staff, and a large number of friends and distinguished guests were assembled at the Church of the Epiphany. The bride was in readiness, and General GRANT was prepared to give her away in accordance with the arrangements made at Col. PARKER's request. The groomsman, however, failed to make his appearance. His fellow-officers of the staff had arranged to make the bride an elegant present, and other friends were ready to make appropriate wedding gifts. The scene which ensued when it became known that Col. PARKER could not be found, can be faintly imagined, but the pen fails to describe it fitly. Messengers were dispatched to the usual resorts of the missing one, and when the report came that all search was in vain, the audience quietly dispersed with many heartfelt prayers for the lady so cruelly deserted. All search to-day has proved fruitless, but up to a late hour to-night no tidings of Col. PARKER have been received. Meantime there are rumors current that he was seen in Baltimore this morning; that his body had been found under the ice in the Potomac, and, again, that he was married to another person in Buffalo this day. Miss SACKETT's friends are doing everything in their power to console her terrible affliction, and express a hope that the mystery may yet be cleared up in a satisfactory manner. The sympathy of the entire community is enlisted in the lady's behalf."

      "There were all kinds of reports in the newspapers about what happened to this poor man. Parker's sister Carrie even telegramed from New York State asking, "Has anything been heard from my brother?" Then two days later he turned up, and the story that he has was that one of the New York Indians had met him before the wedding, and invited him in for a drink, and when Ely woke up, the fellow told him that he (Ely) was sick, and gave him some medicine. But in fact his friend drugged him. One of the traditional teachings of Handsome Lake (19th century Haudenosaunee prophet) was that there should not be intermarriages with other races. So it's conceivable that someone in fact opposed this marriage."

      William Armstrong
      Parker Biographer

      Parker's Civil War compatriots had a different theory. Horace Porter wrote that, "Parker has disgraced us more than usual. He was to have been married to Miss Minnie Sackett?but instead of appearing, he went on his habitual four days drunk?" Another friend asked if anyone had yet "caught and bottled up the Indians that captured Parker?"

      "Well, he came back, he never really apologized or explained, except I assume, to Minnie, and maybe Minnie's mother. They rescheduled the wedding. It was going to be again, at the Episcopal Church in Washington D.C. Tremendous interest now, some 3-thousand people gathered, saw the decorations going up, but when the people asked, the church attendants said, oh no, we're decorating for mass tomorrow, that marriage took place last night. It was done privately, Grant did give Minnie away, then she and Ely left for New York City and Rochester for a honeymoon."

      William Armstrong
      Parker Biographer

      "They were a happy couple, but they never escaped social scrutiny in Washington. Ely and Minnie were the subject of all kinds of gossip; one woman was even quoted to have said that the only thing that came out of their marriage was the fact that they had yet to produce an "half breeds." Society really objected to this interracial marriage, and Minnie at one time responded by saying that she was deeply in love with Ely. She didn't marry him because he was an Indian, in fact she didn't really like Indians."

      Jare Cardinal
      Rochester Museum & Science Center
     1. Parker, Maud Theresa,   b. 1878, Fairfield, Fairfield County, Connecticut, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Unknown
    Last Modified 29 Dec 2018 
    Family ID F19613  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 1828 - Indian Falls, Genesee County, New York, USA Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarried - 24 Dec 1867 - Washington, District of Columbia, USA Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsChild - Parker, Maud Theresa - 1878 - Fairfield, Fairfield County, Connecticut, USA Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 31 Aug 1895 - Fairfield, Fairfield County, Connecticut, USA Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsBuried - - Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo, Erie County, New York, USA Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 
    Pin Legend Address Cemetery Street/Feature Village/Neighborhood/Community Township/Parish City County/Shire State/Province Country Region Not Set

  • Photos 5 Photos

  • Notes 
    • A Warrior in Two Worlds: The life of Ely Parker

      Ely Parker was a Seneca chief, a legal scholar, an engineer, a Civil War hero, and a Cabinet-level commissioner -- all by the age of 40. At first glance, his story appears to be one of success and triumph.

      Yet Parker died in poverty far from the land of his birth. In later life he was estranged from his people and dismissed by political leaders he once considered friends. Today, American history remembers him as a mere footnote, and inside the Seneca community, he is a controversial figure -- considered a hero by some, branded a traitor by others.

      This web site offers insight into Ely Parker -- the human being -- and his accomplishments, which reach an almost mythical level. In the timeline below (starting with "A Time of Crisis") you can explore Parker's thoughts, his youthful dreams, his front-line battle experiences with General Grant during the Civil War, and the reflections and regrets of his final years.

      The PBS documentary Warrior in Two Worlds was produced by WXXI Public Broadcasting Council in Rochester, New York, in collaboration with the Rochester Museum & Science Center. The program is also a co-presentation with Native American Public Telecommunications. Major funding for this site was provided by the Lennox Foundation of Dallas, Texas.

      Except as noted, the notes below are from PBS.

    • Ely Parker Biography

      4/4/00 A Time of Crisis
      Ely Parker was born in 1828, during a jouncing, 30-mile buckboard ride as his parents sped home to their Tonawanda Reservation in western New York. Elizabeth and William Parker called their new son Ha-sa-no-an-da, translated from Seneca to "Leading Name" and they would raise him within in the traditions of the once-dominant League of the Haudenosaunee (also known as Six Nations or Iroquois). But the 18th and 19th centuries brought rapid change that would define Ha-sa-no-an-da's early years. As white settlements pressed in on Tonawanda, Elizabeth Parker sent her son to a Baptist Mission school where he could get a mainstream education. There, Ha-sa-no-an-da gained a new identity; he adopted the first name of the school's minister and began calling himself Ely Parker.

      Ely's "white world" education became paramount when crisis struck Tonawanda: the 1838 and subsequent 1842 Treaties of Buffalo Creek threatened to remove the Senecas to Kansas. As elders planned state and federal appeals, a series of fateful events would place Ely in a leadership role. The first was a brush with English soldiers who mocked Ely's broken attempts at English. The proud young Seneca vowed never to be mocked again, and in 1842 began attending Yates Academy where he mastered the English language in all its forms. Seneca elders had been watching the 14-year-old's progress, and appointed him as their translator, scribe, and interpreter for crucial correspondence and meetings with government leaders.

      The Open Door
      Lewis Henry Morgan wanted to "sound the war whoop," when he spotted Ely Parker in 1844, and that chance meeting would lead to a six year partnership, one of the more influential in Parker's life. His documentation of Haudenosaunee culture was critical to Morgan's anthropological studies. In return, Morgan supported the Seneca's assimilation, arranging his admittance into the elite, white, Cayuga Academy. Ely's reception was hostile, but schoolmate challenges only served to build his self-confidence. He was ready for a new test -- in the arena of national politics.

      In 1846, Parker went to Washington, D.C. as the Senecas' "voice" in their fight for the Tonawanda reservation. For a year he lobbied at the White House and Capitol, but his efforts ended in a stunning defeat. Despite promises of support, a Senate Committee voted against the Tonawanda petition.

      As the Senecas took their campaign to the courts, Parker pursued his personal ambitions. For a time he studied law, but he was derailed by racist New York State policies. Then in 1850, Lewis Henry Morgan found him a position as a civil engineer. That job brought Ely Parker to Rochester, New York, for the expansion of the Erie Canal. His experiences there pulled him further into the white mainstream, and Rochester became the setting for major achievements in his life. In 1851, Parker was promoted in engineering, celebrated the publication of League of the Ho-de-no-sau-nee or Iroquois, and was installed as a Sachem of the Six Nations Confederacy. Six years later, Do-ne-ho-ga-wa (Parker's new given name, translated as "Open Door") established his greatest legacy when he led treaty negotiations that allowed the Tonawanda Senecas to buy back about two-thirds of their reservation land.

      The next decade marked another turning point for Ely Parker. In 1857 he moved to Galena, Illinois, to supervise construction of a federal customshouse. He was 29 years old, a man in his prime, who would establish a national reputation for his engineering skills. While in Galena, he happened to meet Ulysses S. Grant, who in 1860 was an ex-Army officer languishing as a clerk in his father's store. The bond they forged changed Parker's life. In 1863 he joined the "great captain" in the Civil War, rising to the post of Military Secretary. In the waning hours of that war, Parker left his indelible mark on American history during the surrender at Appomattox.

    • Hero or Traitor?
      Ely Parker's meteoric rise in white society did not end with the Civil War. In 1865, he followed General Grant to Washington, D.C., and carved out a new place for himself in American history. As expanding white settlement escalated the so-called Indian Wars in the west, Parker became a spokesman for the "great-grandfather in Washington" and a key consultant on Indian policies.

      Yet as his political power increased in the nation's capital, so did criticism from the Tonawanda Senecas. They accused him of neglect, and his 1867 marriage to a white socialite named Minnie Orton Sackett did little to bridge a widening cultural chasm. Ely Parker was in metamorphosis; he was rejecting Haudenosaunee tradition and aligning himself with white America.

      Parker's attitudinal shift became part of national policy in 1869 when President Ulysses S. Grant appointed him Commissioner of Indian Affairs. He was the first American Indian to hold that office, and became the administrator of the Peace Policy that was a hallmark of Grant's administration. Parker's support for military force was controversial, but within a year the Indian Wars were reduced to sporadic outbreaks.

      Despite early successes, Parker's term as Commissioner was brief, his fall from grace orchestrated by a political foe who accused him of misconduct. An 1871 Congressional committee cleared him of all charges of fraud, but the Commissioner was stripped of his powers. In August 1871 Parker resigned his post, leaving politics and Washington forever.

      Ely and Minnie moved on to Fairfield, Connecticut, where they started a new life in a story-book setting. Parker became a businessman, with daily commutes to New York City where he made fortunes on Wall Street. But within five years, the fortunes he made were lost. 1876 found the former Indian Commissioner at loose ends, with few doors of opportunity left open.

    • The Circle is Complete

      The Tonanwanda Parkers shared an attitude toward adversity: "Spend no time mourning the failures of the past. Tears make a bitter throat. Look ahead, there is more work to do." With his Wall Street fortunes lost, Ely Parker simply moved on. He tried to reenter engineering, but found his skills were out of date. "The profession ran away from me," Parker wrote. "Young men were wanted for their activity, and the old men were discarded."

      In 1876, Parker finally found a steady job as a desk clerk with the New York City Police Department. It was his final career, one with little responsibility and very modest pay, but while in New York Parker joined veterans' organizations and for a time revived his career as a public speaker. When Minnie Parker gave birth to the couple's only child, Maud, in 1878, Ely became a devoted father.

      Then another woman entered Parker's life: a poet and student of the Haudenosaunee named Harriet Maxwell Converse. Their deep friendship and Converse's gentle questions revived Parker's interest in his traditional culture. He began to question his life's path, and to assess the price of walking in two worlds. Although he regretted many of his actions, Do-Ne-Ho-Ga-Wa-'s spirit was rekindled.

      Parker spent his last years on earth battling kidney disease, diabetes, and a serious of strokes. In 1895, he went to bed early and died in his sleep.

      The Haudenosaunee see all of life as a circle, and in death, Ely Parker returned to his beginnings. In 1897 his body was re-interred in Seneca homelands in western New York, next to the grave of the Seneca orator Red Jacket. And with that, the last element of his mother's prophetic dream was fulfilled. The circle was complete.

    • Ely Parker was born in 1828, during a jouncing, 30-mile buckboard ride as his parents sped home to their Tonawanda Reservation in western New York. Elizabeth and William Parker called their new son Ha-sa-no-an-da, translated from Seneca to "Leading Name," and they would raise him within the traditions of the once-dominant League of the Haudenosaunee (also known as Haudenosawnee or Iroquois). But the 18th and 19th centuries brought rapid change that would define Ha-sa-no-an-da's early years. As white settlements pressed in on Tonawanda, Elizabeth Parker sent her son to a Baptist Mission school where he could get a mainstream education. There, Ha-sa-no-an-da gained a new identity; he adopted the first name of the school's minister and began calling himself Ely Parker.

      Ely's "white world" education became paramount when crisis struck Tonawanda: the 1838 and subsequent 1842 Treaties of Buffalo Creek threatened to remove the Senecas to Kansas. As elders planned state and federal appeals, a series of fateful events would place Ely in a leadership role. The first was a brush with English soldiers who mocked Ely's broken attempts at English. The proud young Seneca vowed never to be mocked again, and in 1842 began attending Yates Academy where he mastered the English language in all its forms. Seneca elders had been watching the 14-year-old's progress, and appointed him as their translator, scribe, and interpreter for crucial correspondence and meetings with government leaders.

    • Ely Parker at Yates Academy

      In the fall of 1842, Ely Parker was admitted as a tuition-free student at Yates Academy, an advanced school some 20 miles from his home in western New York State. He was the only American Indian among the school's 114 "ladies" and 118 "gentlemen," and his classes were demanding. A list of his purchases included an Ainsworth Dictionary, works by Cicero and Virgil, and a Greek Reader, in addition to a book on "Greek Grammar." It is interesting that he inscribed his receipt with the following quote, "Real glory springs from the silent conquests of ourselves."

      Ely Parker attended Cayuga Academy for almost three years, from age 14 to 17. During that time, he earned his classmates' respect - and apparently became the focus for much speculation and gossip. The following account, written by a former Yates student, reveals fascinating details of Parker's life (and racist 19th century attitudes).

      EDITOR BUFFALO EXPRESS: - In the year 1845, I completed my last term of school at Yates Academy, N.Y., where Ely Parker was then a student. Eventually he became chief of the Six Nations. His was a noble, commanding form, tall, erect, broad-shouldered, and his straight, coal-black hair, high cheekbones and copper-colored complexion plainly told his origin. His genial affability won the respect of both teachers and schoolmates. No young man in school could compete with him in oratory.

      When it was announced that Parker was to address the school, the house was filled to its capacity and necks craned, eager to catch every word that came from his deep, full voice, which penetrated to the furthest corner of the spacious schoolroom. He was truly a prodigy, springing from such a slow, indolent race.

      Although Parker possessed many traits that were commendable, he showed a lack of discretion by falling in love with one of his fairest schoolmates, who, strange to say, seemed to reciprocate his feelings, allowing him to be her escort from lectures and evening meetings. This caused quite a stir, furnishing food for gossiping ones. In time it was rumored that Parker was to take the young lady in question for a drive on the Fourth of July. Some credited the story, while others thought she, belonging to one of the most aristocratic families, would not disgrace her and her friends by rising out with an Indian. The Fourth of July came, when many were on the alert to know if the rumor was really true.

      Verandas were filled with people and even the street corners, when in a measure their curiosity was rewarded as Parker went by with a grand livery and a Negro driver. It was not long ere the splendid rig came rolling by, and sure enough, Mary was sitting at the side of Parker and the darky driver in front. The young lady soon went abroad for a long vacation.

      Parker now lies in a Buffalo cemetery.

      Rochester, NY, March 24, 1915

    • Ely's Encounter with the English Soldiers

      The 1838 Buffalo Creek Treaty devastated the Tonawanda Senecas. Their chiefs had not signed the pact, and few of them wanted to leave their homelands for an unknown fate in Kansas. Ely Parker was then only 10 years old, but he heard his friends, his family, and clanspeople talking about the crisis, about their fears of death and loss of culture. The young man's reaction to the crisis is telling - he wanted to escape from the tumult at Tonawanda.

      "Later in his life, Ely Parker stated that he wanted to get away. He didn't like the frustration and didn't like the confusion. He wanted to escape the crisis at Tonawanda, but he didn't want to escape who he was. So he asked his parent's permission to go up to the Six Nations reservation in Canada - the Haudenosaunee culture was still strong there. Because they were in Canada, the people and their lands were exempt from U.S. policies of Indian removal.

      He also had family there, and his parents agreed, and a good friend went with him who promised to teach Ely more of traditional woodcraft and hunting, as well as Haudenosaunee oral traditions. He was 10 years old when he left, and he stayed about two or three years, learning from his friend and from the Six Nations elders. But also while he was there, he earned an allowance of sorts by getting small jobs, mainly driving horses to military posts. During one of those journeys, near Hamilton, Ontario, he met two or three British soldiers who spent their time mocking him because of his appearance and because of his broken English. Ely Parker, later in his life, described to his nephew Arthur Parker, that that was a turning point in his life. He didn't like being mocked, and he was bound and determined from that point on that he was going to learn the English language - not only so he could speak it, but so that he could become the best at writing and speaking."

      Jare Cardinal
      Rochester Museum & Science Center

    • Parker Family Tree

      Ely S. Parker was the fourth child of William and Elizabeth Johnson Parker, respected members of the Tonawanda (Seneca) community and themselves descendants of people well known in Seneca history. The Rochester Museum & Science Center web site provides short biographies of 18 relatives, including Ely's brothers and sisters, his parents, and ancestors who served as diplomats, chiefs, and war leaders during the 1700s. (See "Additional Resources" for a link.)

      Elizabeth Parker In his biography of Ely Parker, Arthur C. Parker notes that Ely's mother, Elizabeth Johnson (c. 1787 - 1862), was a descendant of a Neutral Nation captive. Parker family tradition also states that she was in direct line of the Wolf Clan family that carried the title Ye-go-wa-neh, or "Mother of Nations." One of the Neutral women who also held that title, Ji-gon-sa-se, advised the Peacemaker and Hiawatha in the formation of the Great Law.

      Elizabeth inherited both names and the responsibilities associated with them. Some of those duties included naming chiefs and headmen who would represent the Wolf Clan in domestic and external matters. Elizabeth was also related to Jimmy Johnson (1774 - 1856), Red Jacket (c. 1758 - 1830), Blacksnake (c. 1749 - 1859), Handsome Lake (1735 - 1815), Cornplanter (1742 - 1836) and Guyasutha (c. 1700 - c. 1798), all of whom were active participants in Seneca diplomatic, political, and military affairs.

      William Parker William Parker (c. 1793 - 1864), Ely's father, was a member of the Seneca's Turtle Clan. Born at the Allegany Reservation in the community of Cold Spring, he moved to Tonawanda with his parents and brothers in 1809. His mother selected land near the falls of Tonawanda Creek; there the family built a one-story cabin and a sawmill. Later, the Parker family lost this part of their land to the Ogden Land Company. At the onset of the War of 1812, William Parker was the first Seneca warrior to enlist and fight for the United States, under the leadership of Little Billy and Farmer's Brother. Though he was wounded severely in the shoulder, he continued to fight for the remainder of the war. Parker was the nephew of Young King (1760 - 1835), a Christian who supported the sale of Seneca lands to the Ogden Land Company. His grandfather, Old King or Disappearing Smoke (c. 1699 - c. 1800) was one of the most influential Seneca chiefs of the 18th century.

      William and Elizabeth Johnson Parker had seven children, six of whom grew to adulthood. All were active participants in Lewis Henry Morgan's work to document Seneca traditions and collect materials that reflected those traditions. Morgan published that research in his book, League of the Iroquois, in 1851. Colored lithographs of their children Caroline and Levi, who are dressed in traditional outfits, illustrate the book.

      This information about William and Elizabeth Parker was made available by generous permission of the Rochester Museum & Science Center.

    • Lewis Henry Morgan's Influence on Ely Parker

      Lewis Henry Morgan was born in Aurora, New York in 1818. When Ely Parker met him in 1844, he was a practicing attorney who spent his off-hours pursuing his real passion - the Haudenosaunee. Morgan had founded a fraternal club called "The Grand Order of the Iroquois," whose members celebrated Indian culture in costumed ceremonies and song.
      Lewis Henry Morgan
      Lewis Henry Morgan
      Morgan's ultimate goal was to have his organization's structure exactly mirror that of the Six Nations Confederacy. So, in 1844, he went to Albany, New York, on a research mission, and that's when he spotted Ely Parker in a bookstore. "To sound the war whoop and seize the youth might have been dangerous," Morgan later recalled, "but to let him pass without a parley would have been inexcusable."

      "Morgan had found a treasure. Not only could Parker speak and read English, but he was well educated in the traditional culture of the Haudenosaunee. So he goes back with Ely to Tonawanda and takes his notebooks and fills them with information about traditions and the government. And he gets the entire Parker family involved in gathering cultural articles. Now, there was an urgency to Morgan's work, because he really believed that Indian Nations were disappearing in the United States."

      Jare Cardinal
      Rochester Museum & Science Center

      "Morgan's position is certainly to record the culture before it disappears. And to use the Parkers and the vast network of kin that they can call on, to record as much of this culture in its traditional forms as can possibly be put down on paper. Morgan believed these people in their traditional form could not survive. They are going to melt into the population, and in that sense, they are a dying race."

      Stephen Saunders Webb, Ph.D.
      Maxwell School, Syracuse University

      So began a six-year partnership between Ely Parker and Lewis Henry Morgan, but it involved more than an exchange of physical objects for study. Morgan was a proponent of the mainstream concept of assimilation, the idea that Indians would have to become "civilized, Christianized, and humanized" to be able to survive. He reinforced that concept with Ely Parker, and simultaneously opened new doors to mainstream opportunities.

      "Morgan was awed by Ely's intelligence, his abilities, and I think he felt that Ely would be wasted at Tonawanda. Ely, on the other hand, meets someone who is a mentor to him, who helps expose him to the outside world to a greater degree than he ever would if he stayed back at Tonawanda. Here is someone who is a lawyer, who gets around in white society. Someone who has the ear of powerful politicians in New York States, someone who can get him into elite places of learning. Ely starts meeting and talking with Morgan's close circle, and I think he starts to believe more and more that the way for the future is maybe to move away from some of those traditional things, and be part of the future. And to do that you have to give up certain things.

      So he starts believing that the Senecas, their culture, their traditions, were disappearing. And the only way to save it was for Ely to help Morgan document it. He was going to have to give it to the white people for safekeeping."

      Jare Cardinal
      Rochester Museum & Science Center

      Through interaction with Morgan and his intellectual circle, Parker was exposed to the idea that there were "superior" and "inferior" races. In 1877, Morgan would coalesce his theories in Ancient Society, which classified the cultures of the world into progressive stages of "savagery, barbarism, and civilization." That book would gain the attention of Marx and Engels, who interpreted its evolutionary doctrine as support to their materialistic theory of history.

      The depth of Morgan's philosophical influence on Parker is immeasurable, but he was an instrumental figure in Ely's elite education at Cayuga Academy, and his later career as a civil engineer. There is also a physical legacy of their six years of research on Haudenosaunee culture: a collection of artifacts which can be viewed at the Rochester(NY) Museum & Science Center in New York, and writings which were published in The League of the Ho-de-no-sau-nee or Iroquois, which is considered a landmark study in American anthropology.

      This information about Lewis Henry Morgan was made available by generous permission of the Rochester Museum & Science Center.

    • Cayuga Academy and a Fine Frock Coat

      Cayuga Academy was Lewis Henry Morgan's alma mater - an elite school in western New York with a sizeable library as well as the "latest" scientific equipment. Ely Parker began classes there in 1845, and found the new setting idyllic. The Academy was near the shores of Cayuga Lake, and he spent many hours exploring the surrounding forested hills. He didn't have to worry about tuition either; his education was funded by a "Federal Civilization" grant. A list of his expenses for the fall semester included $5.00 for "Donnegan's Greek Lexicon"; but his other purchases revealing his desire to fit into his white, well-to-do environment - he spent $22.00 for a "fine frock coat," and another $4.50 for a pair of "J. Kinney boots." Perhaps Morgan's influence is seen here, in the perception that "clothes make the man."

      Despite the makeover, fellow students greeted Ely with hostility; some of that due to his newcomer status, some because he was an Indian. In a letter to a friend, Ely described numerous fistfights: "Once or twice I have been severely abused. But I returned blow for blow with savage ferocity. Whether I gained the upper hand of my antagonist I leave the public to decide. For mind you, these quarrels were public. Bad business, but it could not be helped."

      Ely was also tested in numerous school debates, yet he would pass each one, rising to become the Academy's leading orator. The following is a transcription of "The Civilized Life" (courtesy American Philosophical Society).

      The "Civilized Life"
      "If the savage life is more conducive to happiness than the civilized, why has Mr. Parker abandoned that life, and is now studying to acquire the knowledge of the arts and sciences, which prevails among the civilized people and for that purpose is attending this academy and expects some time or other to enter to higher seminary of learning. The door is open for him, why does he not go back immediately!" was a question indirectly put to me in last evening's debate.

      I rejoice than in this land of religious light and freedom I can express and maintain my opinions. It is said that we are accountable beings, but I rejoice that I am accountable to no human tribunal for my beliefs and opinions. We will attribute no wrong motive to the gentleman whose wisdom propounded this question, but we will suppose that it originated from the fact, that in the debate I advocated the supremacy of the happiness of the savage in his wild state, in the deep, dense forests, to that of the civilized in all his refinement, pomp and power. We shall answer the question not merely for the gratification of the gentlemen who propounded it, but also for those hearing, who may have been equally in a mystery as the whys and wherefores of the case.

      I am one of the remnants of that race of beings generally denominated savages, and in the debate last evening, savages seem to have been found no where else that in the Indian of America. That being the understanding, it was generally concluded from my color, that I was of savage descent. This I will not deny. My kindred are Indians. My Fathers reposing in yonder wilderness grave, they too were Indians. I have lived among my people the greater part of my life and I have studied closely their manners, customs, beliefs and modes of thinking. I have seen that the happiness of savages consists in the gratification of his desires. Their appetites are few and not being social affectations, and the pains they use to cultivate this among themselves is great. Their happiness consists in the exercise of their physical and mental powers. Their happiness consists in their temperate habits and the great benedictions of health and ease. Their happiness consists in the prompt discharge of their duties and responsibilities, which are comparatively few to those of the civilized.

      The seemingly entire want of responsibility among them never engenders depressed spirits or a melancholy and gloomy countenance. Their duties being easily discharged never produces uneasiness or unhappiness. Special laws are unnecessary for the restraint of their actions, for in their intercourse with one another, their actions are dictated by right reason, common politeness and civility. Their happiness consists in the contemplation of the Great Attributes, the mighty works and the well-guided providences of the Great Spirit. In roaming through the dense, pathless forests of the earth, in his walk over mountains and through valleys, as he paddles the light canoe in the beautiful streams or on the silvery bosom of the lake, "with a propriety that none can fell, he calls all, the beauteous scenery his own, and with an unpresumptuous eye, he looks up to the clean blue sky and says the Great Spirit made them all."

      The savages walk through nature's vast temple and studio to collect wisdom. In the fall of the leaf and the stately oak, he learns the mortality of man. He sees the Great Spirit in the strong hurricane - he hears His whispers in the gentle Zephyrs of evening - he studies them in the thunder cloud, and views Him as he darts through the heavens in his electrical cars and humbly bows with reverence to his loud callings from the skies, as did the children of Israel to the thunderings of his voice upon Mt. Sinai. Their happiness consists in the contemplation of the red man's heaven - where all is pleasant and where the avarice of the white man will never reach them. Their happiness consists in their virtue, and their virtue consists in their bravery, friendship or hatred, universal benevolence and hospitality, and a strict adherence to truth and duty, and a high regard of word and authority. I have not exaggerated the savage in any respect, but have merely shown in what his happiness consists and which I know from my knowledge of them to be true, and which happiness I know they enjoy. This it was my privilege to enjoy. But it was rumored in my ears that the civilized life was able to provide more happiness than the savage. I left that happiness which I enjoyed to seek more. I have frequented your halls of learning, to see where it may be found. Thus far, I have not been able to find it; in as pure a state as it exists among the savages. I have read of civilized men possessing great wealth and riches of civilized acquiring distinctions and greatness, of civilized acquiring power almost unlimited in its extent, and of new learning and erudite wisdom, but I have never read of happiness existing among them.

      Then to answer the question which was indirectly propounded by the gentleman we only say we are seeking for that happiness, which you say exists among the civilized and not the savages. We have not yet found it - we have plainly told you so. You ask why we go through a higher seminary of learning - the answer, to find that happiness which you say exists in the cultivation of the liberal arts and sciences and the powers of the mind. If then, we do not find it, we shall resume the blanket, the tomahawk and scalping knife, and vermin savage life in all its wildness, and then you may justly say, "Do what you will, and Indian will still be an Indian."

      Ely S. Parker
      Cayuga, 1845

      Melancholy Decay of the Indian
      This is another speech written by Ely Parker in 1845 at Cayuga Academy. The theme is familiar: the impact of white settlement upon Native nations. However, it is interesting to note that Parker refers to the nations as "they" and to white society and himself as "we."

      "Neither the government nor the people of the United States have any wish to conceal from themselves, nor from the world, that there is upon the frontiers, a wretched forlorn people, looking up to them for support and protection, and proposing strong claims upon their justice and humanity. These people received our forefathers with a spirit of friendship; aided them how to endure privations and hardships; and taught them how to provide for many of the wants with which they were surrounded. The Indians were then strong and we were weak, and without looking at the change that has occurred in any spirit of morbid affectation, but with a feeling of an age accustomed to observe great mutations in the fortunes of nations and of individuals, we may express our regret that they have lost so much of what we have gained.

      The forests that afforded them food and security, where were their cradles, their homes and their graves, have disappeared, or are disappearing before the progress of civilization. We have extinguished their council fires, and ploughed up the bones of their fathers. Their population has diminished with lamentable rapidity. Those tribes that remain like the lone columns of a temple, exhibit but the sad relics of their former strength; and many others live only in the names that have reached us through the earlier accounts of travelers and historians. The causes which have produced this physical desolation are yet in constant and active operation, and threaten to leave us at no distant day without any proof of Indian sufferings, from the Atlantic to the immense desert that slopes along the base of the Rocky Mountains. Nor can we console ourselves with the reflection that their physical condition has been counterbalanced by any melioration in their moral condition. We have taught them neither how to live nor how to die. They are equally stationary in their manners, habits and opinions, in everything but their numbers and happiness, and though existing for more than six generations in contact with a civilized people they owe to them no one valuable improvement in the arts, nor a single principle who can restrain their passions or give hope to despondence, motion to exertion, or confidence to virtue."

      Ely S. Parker
      Cayuga, 1845

      National Faith
      This is an essay written by Ely Parker in 1847 at Cayuga Academy. It reveals both strong "Christianizing" influences in his life as well as an extraordinary command of the English language - at this point, Parker had only 5 years of formal schooling.

      "The Bible tells us that God does his pleasure in heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. If it is true that not a sparrow falls to the ground without his cognizance, it requires no reasoning to infer that the events of nations connected with their moral interest is subject to the scrutinizing of him who say to kings and ruler, "You shall give an account of you stewardship." If nations and individuals are blessed of God in proportion to their adherence to truth and duty, them surely the prosperity of a nation depends in a great degree upon its recognition of Divine providence, and also on the manner with which it has been received. We shall see this exemplified in the records of history. Nations have arisen and fallen, kingdoms have arisen out of political chaos, flourished and gloried in their power, but they are now moldering into their original element. Cities have also arisen as by a magic power, but they have decayed with their builders. It is not only essential that nations should recognize the hand of the Almighty in their prosperity, but that they should strictly observe his commandments in every vicissitude. The constituted authorities should extend this principle of moral obligation to the people, since the people individually constitute the nation and make up the general character of the body politic. In contemplating the past, individuals have felt a pang of anguish, when the awful thought rushes into the mind that mighty nations have been and are not; that they once exerted an untold influence in the lower world, but are now going to give place to a people more worthy than they; that they once had a living name, but are lost in obscurity; that they once stood high in national grandeur, but are now resting if not in utter forgetfulness, in a degradation more cheerless than blank oblivion. When all this passes through the reflecting mind, the inquiry arises, how is it that after having attained to honor, fame and renown, they are allowed to be brought low? As we proceed with the subject this question will be solved.

      Since, as has been observed, individuals constitute this nation, there must be personal duties discharged in order that the general character of the nation as a moral community be vindicated. By nature, men have lost sight of divine laws, forgotten that mandate of high heaven, and thus followed those paths which lead into ignorance and debasement, and involved themselves in unnatural and extravagant vices. Enlightened nations, however, have continually before them those laws which check those immoral and dissolute habits. The Bible, the only written document containing the will and requisitions of God both to individuals and to nations, is everywhere spread. Wheresoever then, this will is made known the Creator requires that it should be observed. Nor is the command given in the spirit of despotism which legislates only for one's self, but is enjoined and promulgated as the eternal rule of equity and is enforced by the most dreadful sanctions, that a vindictive God could append to compel men to do justly and love mercy. Nations recognizing the same moral laws which govern individuals became happy and prosperous. If there is a tendency to profligacy and indolence in the discharge of business relating to the welfare of the people, or if perplexities embarrass them, they have only to resort to the record books of the Great Law Giver, whose divine pages are full of the testimonials of national afflictions and chastisements as the result of a violated faith and of national sins.

      Since the fall, man has arrogated too much of that glory which belongs to God alone. If he has prospered the language of his heart has been, "See this great Babylon that I have built with my own hand." To such a degree of insolence was this carried that it soon repented God that he had made man. His wrath was exhibited in the destruction of the world by the flood of his vengeance; and Tyre and Babylon and Egypt and Nineveh fell in succession, victims to a just national retribution. Nor was Jerusalem, the City of God, spared when their sins arose like a cloud of death and shut out all the sunlight of God's approbation. If it were necessary, Greece and Rome and Carthage of ancient days, Spain and Turkey of modern times, might be discussed as instances of national degeneracy, punished with national overthrow and decline. But God's hand in controlling the destinies of nations is not seen in their destruction alone. His mercy in rewarding goodness is a signal as his wrath against transgression. For by tracing the progress of every nation we find that national virtue, like individual morality, is blessed, and departure from the laws of equity, visited with vengeance.

      These concise views give us a clue to the future, and enable us to predict with certainty the destiny of modern nations. And though now they may be unequalled in every respect, if judgement and justice are absent from their national council, their seal is fixed. The England that now challenges the admiration of the world will one day meet a day of retribution. Where does not her power extend? The sun rises in her dominions and still sets in the empire. But how came she by her vast power and limitless wealth? Let her monuments of national pride, laid in the blood of the Hindostan and Asiatic answer. Her silken livery was extorted by the oppression of an unjust commerce, and her manufactures are based on extortion. But her foundations are already giving way, and the day is not far distant when the fabric of her government will become a ruined desolation. The canker of discord is already gnawing at the vitals of her empire and the earthquake of disunion rocking her citadels, and England will learn at the expense of her glory that God is just to mark iniquity. America, our America, is too, in the hands of God. And no wonder that the immortal Thomas Jefferson, in view of her national sins, said, "When I remember God is just, I tremble for my country." It is true, religion and learning and liberty have here their home, but the principles of justice have governed neither the nation nor the people. If you ask, "how so," let the burdened sons of Africa answer. They are calling upon God to remember their oppression. He hears them cry and sooner of later the tempest of his wrath will come and tear your national escutcheon in shreds. Nor is this all. The voice of a once powerful people, owners of the soil upon which the monuments of America's glory are reared, is crying to the Great Spirit to revenge their wrongs. The southern slave has no pledge of your national fidelity, nor broken treaties to show, not father's grave desecrated, but how is it with these children of the wilderness! I have seen the tears of the red man, wrung out by the agony of violated patriotism. It is not pleasant task for me to reproach you, but my own nation is now veiled in sorrow by the perfidy of the white man. Do you love your lands, your homes, your kindred? So does the Indian. But this injustice is no new story. Philip and Tecumseh and Osceola, the mighty dead of Indian name will live in their gore forever, and no atonement can bleach their blood out of the ensign of your country. We know many of you would have it otherwise, and as expiation would offer the Indian, Christianity for Paganism. But if he rejects it, at whose hands will the blood of his should be required? Oh America, I fear that there are yet days of darkness in reserve for thee and that they hallowed name may yet be recorded with that of Babylon. Remember then America, that righteousness exalted a Nation, but sin is a reproach to any nation!"

    • Seven Generations - the Role of Chief

      "If you ask me what is the most important thing that I have learned about being a Haudenosaunee, it's the idea that we are connected to a community, but a community that transcends time.

      We're connected to the first Indians who walked on this earth, the very first ones, however long ago that was. But we're also connected to those Indians who aren't even born yet, who are going to walk this earth. And our job in the middle is to bridge that gap. You take the inheritance from the past, you add to it, your ideas and your thinking, and you bundle it up and shoot it to the future. And there is a different kind of responsibility. That is not just about me, my pride and my ego, it's about all that other stuff. We inherit a duty, we inherit a responsibility. And that's pretty well drummed into our heads. Don't just come here expecting to benefit. You come here to work hard so that the future can enjoy that benefit."

      Rick Hill Sr. (Tuscarora)
      Chair, Haudenosaunee Stabding Committee on NAGPRA

      The Seventh Generation philosophy is integral to Haudenosaunee life. It intensifies the bond of community, promotes stability, and provides concrete values with which each person can test his or her everyday actions. Although the Haudenosaunee practice ancient traditions, their culture is not frozen in the past. Their ability to adapt to dramatic change and survive on their own terms is historically proven, but they are equally focused on the security of future generations.

      "The Peacemaker taught us about the Seven Generations. He said, when you sit in council for the welfare of the people, you must not think of yourself or of your family, not even of your generation. He said, make your decisions on behalf of the seven generations coming, so that they may enjoy what you have today."

      Oren Lyons (Seneca)
      Faithkeeper, Onondaga Nation

      "We really do see ourselves as part of a community, the immediate community, the Native American community, but part of your nation and the Confederacy. And if you have been given responsibilities within that structure, you must really attend to those responsibilities. You start to think in terms of the people who come after me. Those faces that are coming from beneath the earth that are yet unborn, is the way we refer to that. They are going to need the same things that we have found here, they would like the earth to be as it is now, or a little better.

      Everything that we have now is the result of our ancestors who handed forth to us our language, the preservation of the land, our way of life and the songs and dances. So now we will maintain those and carry those on for future generations."

      G. Peter Jemison
      Faithkeeper, Cattaraugus Reservation
      Seneca Nation

      The Haudenosaunee say that their chiefs "hold the law, the people and the religion in the palm of their hand, and it is their sacred trust and duty to assure the safety of all that for the generations to come."

      In American society, the term "chief" is evocative of the concepts of "executive," "power," and perhaps "control," but that is not true within Haudenosaunee culture. Their chiefs are called "Hoyaneh" meaning "Caretakers of the Peace." Traditionally they are male leaders chosen to be the "voice" of their clan in council meetings. Each nation and each clan within the Confederacy may have a different number of chiefs, but all of the Hoyaneh have the same power and authority. Despite long-standing misconceptions, there is no such thing as a "head" chief or "head" Sachem in Haudenosaunee culture.

      A Haudenosaunee chief is still condoled or installed in ancient tradition, and must accept his duties for the rest of his life. Those responsibilities have not changed since Ely Parker received his instructions in 1851: "The thickness of your skin shall be seven spans - which is to say that you shall be proof against anger, offensive actions and criticism. Your heart shall be filled with peace and good will and your mind filled with a yearning for the welfare of the people of the Confederacy. With endless patience you shall carry out your duty and your firmness shall be tempered with tenderness for your people. Neither anger nor fury shall find lodgment in your mind and all your actions and words shall be marked with calm deliberation."

    • Parker in Washington

      In 1846, the Tonawanda Senecas sent Ely Parker to Washington as their spokesman. Seneca Chiefs John Blacksmith and Isaac Shanks accompanied him, but the 18-year-old would be their voice. Their goal was to get President James Polk to support a repeal of the 1842 Buffalo Creek Treaty, which threatened to take away their homelands.

      The White House, Washington, D.C.
      The White House, Washington D.C.
      Their first meeting in the White House did not go well. Polk was evasive and sent their petition on to the Senate where it sat for weeks. After some time, the Chiefs went home, advising Ely to stay and patiently wait for the Senate to act. He refused to wait, and in May took it upon himself to return to the White House and request another meeting with President Polk. His success and growing confidence is evident in the following 1846 letter to his brother Spencer.

      "Washington City, June 8, 1846

      To Spencer H. Cone

      Dear Brother:

      It is with peculiar emotions that I have taken my pen to write a few lines to you. I am now in the city of Washington and have been for nearly two months. I have been delegated by the Tonawanda Band of Senecas to come here and ask the Senate to relieve them from them unjust operations of the Treaty of 1842. I first stated my business to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs and then to the President. I have taken the old ground, that we were not parties to either the Treaty of 1838 or that of 1842 and that consequently, it would be unjust to enforce it against us. This position is at once admitted by the Executive Department to be right and equitable, but they say the Treaty is made, and as Executive Officer, "we cannot go behind the face of a Treaty and pronounce it fraudulent or unjust, but right or wrong, we hold ourselves bound to execute all laws and Treaties to which the U.S. are a party." This of course placed me in a very peculiar position at first; I immediately applied to the President to suspend the execution of the Treaty and to lay the whole matter before the Senate of the United States where we could have a hearing. This was granted, and he sent our memorial to the Senate with a Special message, recommending the subject to their careful consideration. It is there yet, and I am waiting for their final action before I return home. I shall make a tremendous effort to unhinge that Treaty, at least so far as the Tonawandas are concerned. I do not believe in having the Indians drove from one place to another, as they have been by the rascally white race, and if the Senate, after a full hearing upon our side, conclude that we at Tonawanda are bound by that Treaty, it would be but adding another stigma to her ill-gotten glory.

      Although the United States has made great professions of beneficence to the Indians, yet they cannot allow a few who wish to have permanent homes upon the lands that are already cultivated and highly improved, to live peaceably and undisturbed by miserable land suckers. An application was made more than a year ago by the Ogden Company to the U.S. Government to send on troops and force us into compliance of the stipulations and contracts of the Treaty. This was promptly and justly refused them. Since the first day of April, at which time the Indian's day of grace expired, another application has been made by the Company for assistance of the troops to put them in possession of the Tonawanda lands. I was here, and defeated the project, and now the President has assured me that we fear nothing from him until the Senate has made a final action in the premises. So much is good. The Company, finding that there was no disposition on the part of the General Government to put the Treaty into force against the obstinate Indians, went and put their men on the improved lands of the Indians, and they went to work to put in crops. The Indians immediately ordered these white rascals off, and put crops into the lands. Upon that, the Company sued 8 or 10 Indians for trespass. (Trespass upon whose lands?) They went to court and the Indians beat the Company, upon which the Company withdrew all the suits they had entered against the Indians.

      All this has happened within the last month. Thus you see how we at Tonawanda are yet fighting for our lands. It may be all in vain, this I am not willing to hope, for it is my sincere wish to see the Indians firmly planted upon their own soil. If we have to leave our lands, I look forward to other result than death - the destruction of the Senecas as a nation. We are already so divided that to unite again is impossible. A letter from home a few days ago informed me of a start of a body of Senecas to their homes in the West. Numbers variously estimated at from 100 to 300. Good luck to them. Though I do not suppose that half of them will survive a year after they have reached their new homes. I don't know how much you are kept informed of the proceedings of the Indians in New York, but I will tell you a little more. The Buffalos (Senecas at Buffalo Creek) have all left their reservation. Most of them gone to Cattaraugus and some to Tonawanda.

      It is said that those who went to Cattaraugus are doing well and I know many who are not doing at all. It was a hard time for many of them when they left, for they were driven out by the agents of the Company - not all of them, but those who remained when their time expired. Those at Tonawanda care no more for the Company's agents than they do for their dogs. They are all working their farms as though they never intend to leave. Many of the Tonawanda Indians have died, but others have come into their places. Again last winter several froze to death and some were burnt to death. The verdict of the former must of course have been that they died from the freezing of the great abundance of water in them, and of course the latter, the Indian verdict might be, the drinking of too much "fire water."" John M. Mason died at Tonawanda about two months ago. Disease, bilious fever. The last information got from home - all the family well as usual, that is, in good health. You have probably heard of the death of Solomon, our youngest brother, last fall. His disease was dropsy of the brain. His death was miserable. He lay insensible and without a mouthful of food, or a drop of water or medicine to cool his burning tongue for more than a week before he died. It was wholly impossible to make him eat, or to pour anything down his throat in the shape of sustenance, so that when his spirit left him, he was a mere skeleton.

      There are in this city, a large number of Cherokees. From the, I learned where a letter would find you, and I have scribbled a few lines to send you hoping that when they reach you, they may find you safe and well. I have continued to attend school until I came here. I cannot tell whether I shall go anymore. If I do not, I should like to visit the west this summer, and if I could get a profitable berth anywhere, I don't know but I would stay. I have been ready to enter college for more than a year, but means have been wanting, and I have been scudding from one place to another till I am here."

      Transcribed with permission from the American Philosophical Society
      Another of Parker's 1846 letters reveals growing criticism of his actions from Tonawanda residents. Parker's response is cutting and highly confident.

      "You say Stephen talks much about my being much too young to attend to matters of such import. I do not envy his misery, the mere knowledge of the fact that a little boy has superceded him in wisdom and power, although he is old enough to be my grandfather. Poor man! He strains to swallow a great gnat! His operations remind me so very much of the fight between the giant Goliath, and the boy David. The giant relied on his great strength, size and age, and looked down with contempt upon the little, insignificant David. And yet the little boy killed the giant?..Oh children! Children! How have you forgotten our wise counsels? Why have you not preserved that unanimity which we always recommend and which is the only life and hope of the poor Indian?"

      Congress adjourned in 1846 without debating the Tonawandas' case, and Ely returned home. But he would be sent back to Washington weeks later when the Senecas learned the fate of Haudenosaunee who had voluntarily removed to Kansas. Within six months, nearly a third of them had died from disease, exposure to the elements, or lack of supplies. This letter to Ely from his brother Levi is testament to the fear that gripped Tonawanda.

      "There is nothing stirring new at present about the law - we shall stick to the last minute if we can because we do not want to go to the west. You say that they that have moved there this spring died off fast, and if we should go too we would die. It must be mean country. It is an outrageous thing for the Indians to be driven from their homes and go to new country. If the whites will keep driving us from our home we will all die and who will mourn for us - there will not be one."

      Levi Parker
      October, 1846

      Ely Parker arrived in Washington on New Year's Day, 1847. He kept a diary of nearly every event that followed: of brushes with racism, and his lobby efforts in Congress. Parker was alone in the Capitol. The Tonawandas' attorney, William Brown, was out of town.

      "There are many periods in the history of a man's life, the circumstances of which, were they recorded, would afford pleasant themes for reflection and instruction. We know that the pathway of life is bedecked not merely with roses, but strewn with thorns and briars. It is therefore a delicious and a desirable treat, when the pathway of life is verging to the brink of eternity, to turn back the leaves of our life and as it were, to live our days and years over again, and evermore to inhale the fragrance of those roses long since lost in the mazes of the past. Our declining years will thus be made happy and easy, for experience will have taught us how to avoid the poisonous weeds and the wily brambles. Nor should a man record his thoughts, actions and purposes for the sake merely of self-legacy to speculate upon, but for improvement. For if our memory serves us, we read that for every good thought and action whether good or evil, he is to give a strict account to God his maker, hence speculation and theory should be abandoned and man should feel it a duty he owes to himself to keep a record of his thoughts and actions to see what account they render to his maker, to see whether they speak well or evil of him, and if well he has only to persevere in his course, or if evil, he should take to heart the necessity of a reformation in himself, always making it his primary rule, that to know himself is his first duty. If faithful to himself, he will soon learn his great depravity and he will not seek to enlarge upon the weaknesses and miseries of human nature by laying open the deficits of his fellow man, for the discoveries of his self examination will have sufficiently disgusted him to deter him from a general condemnation upon human nature. Those persons only are found engaged in fault finding and disseminating misery as cheap manufacture, who know not themselves or their God; for the very course they pursue is evidence enough that they take no time for self examination and reflections upon the duties they justly owe to mankind and their responsibilities to God their Maker.

      When we reflect also upon the many changes to which mankind are subject, the various circumstances under which they are forced to act, and the great truth that the "fashion of this world passeth away," we feel somehow inclined to prescribe upon ourselves the duty of devoting some of our time daily to reflection and recording a few of our thoughts and actions whatever they may be. Though our sun has risen amidst clouds, presenting but dark prospects for a prosperous voyage upon the great sea of life, and though the moon of reflection now blushingly hides her serene countenance behind the clouds of adversity and misfortune, we hope that our Author, the Great Spirit, the God of the red man, may disperse these gloomy clouds, and that as the Sun of life begins to verge to the brink of eternity, it may grow brighter and brighter, descending calmly and serenely into that abyss from which no mortal ever returns. With these reflections, we commence our work with the New Year 1847, and though we may fail in our attempt, for it is said that man is a frail being and subject to err, yet we subscribe ourselves."

      Ha-sa-no-an-da of the Six Nations
      January 1st, 1847
      January 1st, 1847 Hotel Baltimore
      "This morning found the day has opened very pleasantly. The year 1847 has indeed opened with fine prospects of happy time. I was very much annoyed in my sleep last evening by the firing of all sizes of guns in honor of the New Year. It is said that Friday is an unlucky day, but I did not find it to be so at this particular time. A couple of friends and myself proceeded to the Railroad and took passage for Washington."

      Washington January 1st, 1847
      "Gadship Hotel - Arrived in city at about 11 o'clock and being determined to enjoy the day after the fashion of the fashionable, we ascertained that the President's Mansion would be opened for the reception of Company at 12 o'clock precisely. We at the same time were informed that many other houses would be opened, admitting all person to enjoy the hospitalities. Our only recourse there was to make a visit to as many places as we could conveniently without discommoding ourselves.

      I had barely time to arrange when the appointed hour came. A.K. Ashard, Captain Martin, House Door Keeper, Members of Congress and myself then proceeded together to visit the White House and to pay our respects to the honored of our county.

      Going through the streets, I formed that this indeed was a holy day for all classes. The slaves even had their liberty from Christmas and New Year and in facts they are the only days in the year they may call their own. From the appearances in the street, the crowded pass of human beings and the rolling of carriages, it did really seem as though the whole city had been literally turned out of doors. Most of the citizens and strangers (for there were many) were all directing their steps towards the President's Mansion. We could perceive that among the vast crowd were many beauties of the fairer sex.

      But more hereafter, we finally succeed in reaching White House, without any natural accident. The crowd was indeed immense. It seemed to have been gathering all day. Entering the portico we saw that the crowd was so great, the going in necessarily being attended by somebody's going out, that it had become a matter of necessity that one of the windows should be opened to permit persons to pass out of. We do not mean to say however - that the ladies were obliged to pass out of the window, but only single gentlemen, or gentlemen who didn't happen to have a lady leaning upon his arm.

      With the tide of the crowd we however succeeded on gaining admittance into the great hall or anteroom of the President's Mansion. We paraded about from room to room, noticing all the splendor and magnificence that had been so lavishly bestowed upon the inner apartments, and at the same time greatly admiring the hundreds of beauties that had flocked thither in all their finery; their silks, fine laces and their jewelry. We must say however, in deference to ourselves, that we were much annoyed by the inquiring gazes of the populace, who were wondering whether I might be a foreigner or an Indian brave come hither to inspect his property. It was even whispered among the crowd to guess who I might be. But close inspection and my native costume soon showed them that it was a savage brave, who thus had the audacity and impudence to mingle with the nobility.

      We finally came around into the reception room of the President, who stood in the center of the room shaking hands with little children from about 6 years old and upwards. We soon advanced in front of his Majesty and looking up, he instantly recognized me, and very familiarly and courteously offered his hand, while I responded and wished him a "very happy New Year", for which he kindly returned his thanks. Passing on, as he could spend but little time with any one individual, the crowd being so great and so eager to shake hands with him. By Private Secretary J. Walker, I was introduced to Mrs. Polk who arose and politely returned the salutation. Beside her stood Mrs. Walker in crimson colored velvet dress, with a white bejeweled turban upon her head, also her niece and another relative. Soon after, I met Captain Small, a Scotsman, who informed me that Mr. McFarland had committed suicide by hanging himself in Fredrickstown, VA. Sad news but nothing else could be expected from a diseased mind.

      In a few minutes we were climbing out of the window, and shortly found ourselves enjoying the fresh breezes of the Potomac. We agreed to make a call upon Mrs. Ex-President Madison (Dolley Madison,) whose mansion stood only about a stone's cast from the great White House. Upon arrival at the door, we found no less crowd than the President himself was honored with, and the fact that it was so, was honorable to the American people. She being the constant partner of Madison during his long and glorious career in the service of his country. And it is said of her, and I doubt but its truth and justice, that no Lady was ever more accomplished and qualified to grace and adorn the inner walls of the National House than she. And although she is nearly eighty years of age, when entering, we were most agreeably surprised to find her so young looking, so healthy and so cheerful.

      She was exceeding graceful and affable in her manners toward us. I was introduced to her by a member of Congress from Pennsylvania. I must confess that I was highly delighted of having the honor to shake hands with her. One of our company observed to her " I wish you a thousand happy New Year, if you desire them." Her reply, characteristic of her amiable qualities was, "I wish they may be in heaven." and may they be for indeed, she is too good, amiable and lovely for this world, the scene of misery and woe. From there we proceeded to the residence of Col. Major Seaton, who treated us with great respect and regard. He kindly led an introduced me to his wife, then taking us into another room, when a rich drink was prepared of which he made us partake freely, drinking to one another's health. Happy New Year !!! Then the day passed and in our reflection, we really think and believe that many whom we saw today, although clad in liveries of gold, had put on a countenance of cheerfulness, who in fact were miserable in the extreme and had sought company to drive away their mad and solitudiness thoughts. Our knowledge of human nature made us believe from looks that betrayed too well their inmost thoughts that our supposition was but too well founded. Truly how depraved man is."

      Saturday, January 2nd -
      Nothing unusual occurred this day save that it was a very fine May day. Went up to the Capitol and listened to some nonsensical speeches made by care for nobody members of Congress. In entering the rotunda of the Capitol, the object first meeting my vision is the representation of the landing of the Pilgrims in 1620 upon the barren shores of New England. They are represented as in a starving condition, and being about to land, an Indian has come forward proffering them provision of his county. Who now of the descendants of those illustrious pilgrims, will give one morsel to the dying and starving Indian? Whether by a pilgrim or not, he has been sent, when in actual new, from the irons of those whom he once protected, as a worthless dog. Turning around we are met by another representation in plaster paris of William Penn and the Indians entering into an alliance. What virtue is there now in Indian treaties? The Quakers, although professing to be the unwavering friends of the Indians, have they not taken an active part in the principle of killing the Indians by some way without shedding blood, thus keeping a clear conscience. Methinks Indians are right when they say that letters lie more than the head. Turning round a little more, we observe another representation, that of the young and beautiful Pocahontas saving Captain Smith at the risk of her own life. Who now among the descendents of those whom she saved will risk his or her life for an Indian? No one. Sooner would they him hanged like a Mexican traitor than risk the hair on their heads and save him. How ungrateful is man to his fellow man.

      Turning still more around we find another and a last representation, intended no doubt as a climax of the whole scene, that of Colonel Boone the hero of Kentucky in a mortal contact with an Indian. Both are struggling for life. But Boone has already killed one Indian and has trampled upon his mangled body. Such is the fate of the poor red man. His contest with the whites is hopeless. Yet he is not permitted to live even in peace, nor or his last moments given him by his insulting foe to make his peace with his God. Humbly we ask, whether justice will always sleep and will not the oppressed go free?

      Sunday January 3rd 1847
      Another beautiful and warm May day. I proposed this morning to have attended church, but entering the entry and seeing that the Sexton had no disposition to show me to a seat, I proposed to find a seat myself, but when opening the door, he stepped up and says to me, "You must not go up stairs." I said nothing, but turned and went out thinking to myself, if such was to be my treatment in a house devoted to the worship of God, I had rather be somewhere else. I hastened to the Capitol where I knew my privileges and rights would be as much respected as any one else. I found the house quite full. Listened to the preaching of a Methodist, one of the Chaplains to Congress. He preached an excellent practical sermon, from words bearing import similar to "who now will know the Lord." The remainder of the day I remained in my room.

      Tuesday January 5th
      Called upon Mr. Sevier and inquired about the Tonawanda matters. He stated that the case had not been referred to the Indian Committee, that he had been sick and could not attend to it. Very glad that I had come, and hoped that I would attend to it myself now. Stated Mr. Bagly was Chairman and must see him. Did not see him before Senate went into session. Part of the day I spent in the Congressional library, and then returned home.

      Wednesday January 6th/47
      This morning I saw Mr. Dix and requested him to speak to Mr. Bagly as he was not there in his seat and have the Tonawanda case referred to the proper committee. But it seems that Bagly knew nothing of the case, and Mr. Dix motioning, I went down and showed him the papers. Convinced with the care of the Tonawanda Band of Indians from the file of the Senate to refer them to the Indian Committee which motion was agreed to.

      Thursday January 7th/47
      Wrote to the Tonawanda Indians informing them of my safe arrival here and progress with the business. Wrote also to R.B. Warren. Nothing unusual occurs. Snowed some. Mr. Brown has not yet arrived.

      Friday January 8th/47
      This day was extremely cold, the wind blowing from the north. To me it seemed unnaturally cold for the place, indeed it seemed very much like some of our northern coldest days. Nothing unusual however occurred to me, save this evening I witnessed a rather tragical scene, which was a fire breaking out in Jackson's Hall. It is said that this hall, the most splendid in the city, was built wholly of the winnings from the President's last election. It happened this evening however to be the celebration of the glorious victory of Andrew Jackson at New Orleans. About 11 o'clock, just about the time when the performances of the evening were at the highest pitch, when all was gay and lively in the dance, and when the wine was passed merrily around, each drinking his good will to his neighbor, the alarm of fire in Jackson's Hall was cried through the city. Volumes of smoke were already rising densely from the lower apartments

      Saturday January 9th 1847
      Cold winter day again - wind from the northwest. Went up to the Capitol this forenoon and became acquainted with Mr. Martin, a member of Congress. Also with Colonel Hopkins of Virginia. Both of them are very interesting men. Feeling a deep interest in the prosperity of the Indian race, and apprising me of the benevolent disposition of the federal government towards the ill-fated fortune the human family, they made many inquiries of me concerning them. I related to them in brief our condition, and that we no longer lived by the chase, but had become totally agricultural and lived in that wholly. That we preferred that mode of living, it giving us more solid happiness and comfort that did our custom of supporting ourselves by the chase. But at the same time we were not allowed to have our own way, and strong efforts were being made to drive us from our lands, into the western wilderness among uncivilized savages, where we did not wish to go and where we could not expect to live long.

      They promised to assist me in having fair play in the Senate, and that they would do what they could to assist me. Mr. Martin promised to introduce me to as many Senators as I had not become acquainted with. This interview gave me much encouragement. It told me that the poor Indians had yet a few friends who would stand by him. The Great Spirit may yet see justice done to the poor remnants of his children. His wisdom may yet be exercised in the bosom of the legislature of this great American republic, and be placed the means in his hands to save us from utter destruction and extermination.

      Sunday January 10th 1847
      Today I again attended church at the Capitol. Heard the words of the Apostle Paul as recorded in Hebrews, where he says, "How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?" The house was very full, and if I may be allowed, I will also include the singing, which had a powerful effect in reviving my drooping spirits. It brought to recollection happy events of the past, and my mind reverted hastily to the music of my native woods. I was so taken up in the idea of pleasing music, that at times I fancied to myself that I heard the tones of the angelic harp, sending forth its melodious music from the heavenly choir. But I am diverging. The tenor of the discourse was to impress us with the fact that we are all sinners and had revolted against the Government of Jehovah, and that in order for us to enjoy "happiness with Him in heaven", it was essentially and positively necessary that we should be purified and sanctified by the grace and holy blood of Jesus Christ. That without his mediational influence it was utterly impossible and hopeless to receive the favor and smiles of our Father which art in heaven. Man, he said, had lived in rebellion for thousands of years, before the birth of the Savior was announced by the angels of heaven. That this Savior lived to redeem men from his evil ways, that he was taken and condemned, crucified, buried and rose again the third day, and ascended to the regions above to seat himself upon the right hand of his Father until he should make his enemies his footstools. That Paul when he, with his powerful mind, had examined the mysteries of religion, and had been permitted to view, not with natural eyes, the wonders of heaven, he was led to testify to the fact that it was not in the power of man to conceive, and that ear had never heard the glory that awaits the faithful believers of the religion of Jesus Christ. John also when exiled on the island of Patmos, says that being in the Spirit upon the Lord's day, the veil that separates him from eternity and mortal vision from beholding heavenly splendor, was at once as if it were made transparent, and he saw many things, and among them a great white throne, upon which sat the Savior of the world, with upon his body the marks of recent slaughter, that about him stood four and twenty elders, and innumerable number of angels, who sang, "Thou are worthy to be called the Lamb of God for Thou hast redeemed us by thy blood." How then shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? Let every one bear it in mind. Let every one read it in the sun beam, in the moon and stars, and then answer how he can escape.

      The Tonawanda petition to repeal the 1842 Treaty of Buffalo Creek was finally debated in the Senate in the winter of 1847. Ely Parker told the Seneca delegations that he had promises of support for every Senator but one, Daniel Webster. When the vote was taken however, the Tonawanda petition was defeated. The Committee's decision was as follows:

      "The committee are of the opinion That? to annul or set aside an Indian treaty would not only tend strongly to unsettle the whole of our Indian policy, but would open a field of interminable difficulty, embarrassment, and expense. They therefore recommend the adoption of the following resolution: Resolved, That the prayer of the petitioners ought not to be granted."

      February 19, 1847
      29th Congress, 2nd Session
      U.S. Senate
    • Ely Parker's Implementation of the Peace Policy

      As U.S. Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Ely Parker would steer and coordinate the government's relations with over 300,000 American Indians. His first report as Commissioner was filed in 1869. It is a detailed exploration of the Peace Policy -- a plan organized by Parker which would become the hallmark of President Grant's administration.

      1869 Report - U.S. Commissioner of Indian Affairs
      "The question is still one of the deepest interests, what shall be done for the amelioration and civilization of the race? For a long period in the past, great and commendable efforts were made by the government to accomplish these desirable ends, but the success was never commensurate with the means employed. Of late years a change of policy was seen to be required, as the cause of failure, the difficulties to be encountered, and the best means of overcoming them, became better understood.

      The measures to which we are indebted for an improved condition of affairs are the concentration of the Indians upon suitable reservations, and the supplying them with means for engaging in agricultural and mechanical pursuits for their education and moral training. As a result, the clouds of ignorance and superstition in which many of these people were so long enveloped, have disappeared, and the light of Christian civilization seems to have dawned upon their moral darkness, and opened upon a brighter future.

      Much, however, remains to be done for the multitude yet in their savage state, and I can but earnestly invite the serious consideration of those whose duty it is to legislate in their behalf, to the justice and importance of promptly fulfilling all treaty obligations and the wisdom of placing at the disposal of the department adequate funds for the purpose, and investing it with powers to adopt the requisite measures for the settlement of all tribes, when practicable, upon tracts of land to be set apart for their use and economy. I recommend that in addition to the reservations already established, there be others provided for the wild and roving tribes of New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada; also for the more peaceable bands in the southern part of California. These tribes, excepting the Navahos in the Territory of New Mexico, who under the Treaty of 1868, have a home in the western part of the Territory to which they have been removed, have no treaty relations with the government, and if placed upon reservations, it will be necessary that Congress, by appropriating legislation, provide for their wants, until they become capable of taking care of themselves.

      In the other Territories, as also in Oregon and the northern part of California, the existing reservations are sufficient to accommodate all the Indians within their bounds; indeed, the number might with advantage be reduced; but in Montana there is urgent need for the setting apart, permanently suitable tracts for the Blackfeet and other tribes, who claims large portions of that Territory and are parties to treaties entered into with them last year by Commissioner W. J. Cullen, which were submitted to the United States Senate, but have not been finally acted upon by that body. Should the treaties be ratified, the required reservations will be secured, greatly to the benefit of both Indians and citizens.

      Before entering upon a resume of affairs of the respective superintendencies of agencies for the past year, I will here briefly notice several matters of interest which in their bearing upon the management of our Indian relations, are likely to work out judging from what has been the effect so far, the most beneficial results.

      Under an act of Congress approved April 10, 1868, two million dollars were appointed to enable the President to maintain peace among and with various tribes, bands and parties of Indians; to promote their civilization; bring them, when practicable, upon reservations, and to relieve their necessities, and encourage their efforts at self support. The Executive is also authorized to organize a Board of Commissioners, to consist of not more than ten persons, selected from among men eminent for their intelligence and philanthropy, to serve without pecuniary compensation, and who, under his direction, shall exercise joint control with the Secretary of the Interior over the disbursement of this large fund.

      The commission selected in accordance with this provision of the law, composed of the following gentlemen; George H. Stuart, William Welsh, W.E. Dodge, E. S. Tobey, John B. Farwell, Robert Campbell, Felix R. Brunot, Henry S. Lane and Nathan Bishop, met in this city in May last, and after deliberations upon the points suggested for their consideration, as embraced in my letter to them dated the 26th of May involving the legal status of the Indians, the rights and the obligations of the government toward them: the propriety of any further treaties being made; the expediency of a change in the mode of annuity payments, and other points of special interest they decide as preliminary to future operations and for the more convenient and speedy discharge of their duties, upon dividing the territory inhabited by the Indians into three sections and appointed subcommittees out of their number to visit each, and examine into the affairs of the tribes therein, and to report at a meeting to be held in Washington prior to the coming session of Congress.

      In regard to the fund of two million dollars referred to, it may be remarked that it has enabled the department to a great extent to carry out the purpose for which it was appropriated. There can be no question but that mischief has been prevented and suffering either relieved or warded off from numbers who otherwise by force or circumstances would have been led into difficulties and extreme want. By the timely supplies of subsistence and clothing furnished, and the adoption of measures for their benefit, the tribes from whom the greatest trouble was apprehended have been kept comparatively quiet, and some advance it is to be hoped, made in the direction of their permanent settlement in the localities assigned to them, and their entering upon a new course of life.

      The subsistence they receive is furnished through the agency of the commissionary department of the Army, with, it is believed, greater economy and more satisfaction than could have resulted had the mode heretofore been followed. In this connection I desire to call attention to the fact that the number of wild Indians and other, also not provided for by treaty stipulations, whose precarious condition requires that something should be done for relief and who are thrown under the immediate charge of the department, is increasing. It is therefore, a matter of serious consideration and urgent necessity that means be offered to properly care for them. For this purpose, in my judgement there should be annually appropriated by Congress, a large contingent fund similar to that in question, and subject to the same control. I accordingly recommend that the subject be brought to the attention of Congress.

      With a view of more efficiency in the management of affairs of the respective superintendencies and agencies, the Executive has inaugurated a change of policy whereby a different class of men from those heretofore selected, have been appointed to duty as superintendents and agents. There are doubtless just grounds for it, as great and frequent complaints have been made for years past, of either the dishonesty of inefficiency of many of these officers. Members of the Society of Friends, recommended by the society, now hold these positions in the Northern superintendency, embracing all Indians in Nebraska; and in the Central, embracing tribes residing in Kansas, together with the Kiowas, Comanches, and other tribes in the Indian county. Other superintendencies and agencies, excepting that of Oregon and two agencies there, are filled by Army detailed for such duty.

      The experiment has not been sufficiently tested to enable me to say definitively that it is a success, for but a short time has elapsed since these Friends and officers entered upon duty; but so far as I can learn, the plan works advantageously, and will probably prove a positive benefit to the service, and the indications are that the interests of the government and the Indians will be subserved by an honest and faithful discharge of duty, fully answering the expectations entertained by those who regard the measure as wise and proper.

      I am pleased to have it remarked that there is now a perfect understanding between the officers of this department and those of the military, with respect to their relative duties and responsibilities in reference to the Indian affairs. In this matter with the approbation of the President and yourself a circular letter was addressed to this office in June last to all superintendents and agents, defining the policy of the government in its treatments of the Indians, as comprehended in there general terms, viz: that they should be secured their legal rights; located, when practicable, upon reservations; assisted in agricultural pursuits and the arts of civilized life and that Indians who should fail or refuse to come in and locate in permanent abodes provided for them, must be subject wholly to the control and supervision of military authorities, to be treated as friendly or hostile as circumstances might justify. The War Department concurring, issued orders upon the subject for the information and guidance of the proper military officers, and the result has been harmony of action between two departments, no conflict of opinion having arisen as to the duty, power and responsibility of either.

      Arrangements now, as heretofore, will doubtless be required with tribes desiring to be settled upon reservations for the relinquishment of their rights to the lands claimed by them, and for assistance in sustaining themselves in a new position, but I am of the opinion that they should not be of a treaty nature. It has become a matter of serious import whether the treaty system in use ought longer to be continued. In my judgement it should not. A treaty involves the idea of a compact between two or more sovereign powers, each possessing of sufficient authority and force to compel a compliance with the obligations incurred. The Indian tribes of the United States are not sovereign nations, capable of making treaties, as none of them have an organized government of such inherent strength as would secure a faithful obedience of its people in the observance of compacts of this character. They are held to be the wards of the government, and the only title to the law concedes to them to the lands they occupy or claim is a mere possessory one. But because treaties have been made with them generally for the extinguishment of their supposed absolute title to land inhabited by them, or over which they roam, they have become falsely impressed with the notion of national independence.

      It is time that this idea should be dispelled, and that the government cease the cruel farce of thus dealing with its helpless and ignorant wards. Many good men, looking at this matter only from a Christian point of view, will perhaps say that the poor Indian has been greatly wronged and ill treated; that this whole county was once his of which he has been despoiled, and that he has been driven from place to place until he has hardly left to him a spot where to lay his head. This indeed may be philanthropic, and human, but the stern letter of the law admits of no conclusion, and great injury has been done by the government deluding these people into the belief of their being independent sovereignties, while they were at the same time recognized only as it s dependents and wards.

      As civilization advances and their possessions of land are required for settlement, such legislation should be granted to them as a wise, liberal and just government ought to extend to its subjects holding their dependent relation. In regard to the treaties now in force, just and humanity require that they be promptly and faithfully executed, so that the Indians may not have the cause of complaint, or reason to violate their obligation by acts of violence and robbery."

      Ely S. Parker
      U.S. Commissioner of Indian Affairs
    • The Rift Widens

      While still a Civil War soldier, Ely Parker wrote his brother that he proposed "by and by to come home and settle down once more on my farm, and go to work as all honest men do. I want you to lay up in your mind the conviction that I am coming home again to gladden by my presence the heart of such relations and friends as think well of me." But Ely would never return to live at Tonawanda. When the war ended, he followed Grant to Washington. A newspaper report noted his presence for the review of troops on May 26, 1865: "Beside General Grant is a huge Colonel, dusky-faced, and with such high cheekbones that we recognize him at once for an aboriginal. He is one of Grant's favored aides, and has so intensely imbibed the spirit of the North, that a few days ago he said: "You white men are Christians, and may forgive the murder (of President Abraham Lincoln) I am of a race which never forgives the murder of a friend.""

      Ely Parker had spent a great deal of time with Abraham Lincoln at General Grant's Union headquarters at City Point, Virginia. The President would often sit by Parker and go over telegrams as they came in, updating the war's progress. Parker said he and Lincoln had numerous conversations about federal Indian policies, and their acquaintance was strong enough that after Appomattox, he went to the White House to show Lincoln his Red Jacket medal. Ely was one of the last to see the President alive. His visit was on Good Friday, the same day Lincoln was shot while attending a play at Ford's Theatre.

      Parker remained in the nation's capital, assisting in the administration of the post-war demobilization. Grant had him transferred from the Volunteers into the regular Army and through a series of brevets he became a Brigadier General. Parker was also called upon to exercise his knowledge in Indian affairs. In 1865, he was part of a commission sent to meet with native nations that had allied themselves with the Confederacy. In 1866, he aided in the investigation of the Fetterman massacre, in which 81 U.S. soldiers were ambushed and killed outside Fort Phil Kearney by Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho Indians. Parker concluded that the commander of the fort had exercised little discipline with his garrison, and had taken few precautions against Indian hostilities. He faulted Fetterman for disobeying orders, and his commander for not sending reinforcements until it was too late. Parker further stated that the hostile Sioux (Lakota) "will not come to terms and they should be promptly and severely punished." As federal "peace" commissioners approached meetings with the Brule and Ogalala Sioux, they tapped Parker to speak for them. He introduced himself to the 2,500 Indians present as the spokesman for their "great grandfather, the President of the United States," who was "sick in his mind" by the Indian warfare. In remarks recorded by the New York Herald, Parker said President Johnson "would like to have all the Indians live together as good neighbors, but to do this, they must have a permanent home. They must have a place where the white man will not disturb or molest them."

      At the same time Ely's diplomatic efforts were winning praise in Washington, his rift with the Tonawanda Senecas was widening. In a letter to his brother Nic, Parker said he was tired of the Tonawandas' "unending whims and imaginary troubles. I could without expense to my people attend to their necessary business. If however, they prefer to have it their own way, I shall not complain or interfere. You know that our family has always been grossly maligned by the Indians, and I for one want to give them as little cause as possible for doing so."

      "Ely Parker knew he was resented. They (the Senecas) didn't like his elevation as a Sachem and they didn't like his elevation as an academic. And while they had a great appreciation of his war exploits, that wasn't sufficient to undermine the jealousies. In the letter to Nic, he tells him that he's the person that Grant and the administration -- all the administration -- consult about American Indian affairs. And when it comes to Tonawanda and Iroquois matters, he's the consultant. He explains to Nic that every question, whether it's a new church bell or a steeple or an improvement or an increase in annuities, comes to him for decision. And whatever he decides is government policy. But he says to his brother, don't tell any Indians that, they are too ignorant to understand what I am doing. That's his word: "ignorant. What does he mean by ignorant? He means physically, these people do not understand the world that he's moving in, and moving in still for them. They simply have no capacity to understand where he's at or what he's doing. They don't speak English; remember, as late as his death (1895) two-thirds of Seneca people did not write or read English. A substantial portion, probably over half, didn't speak English. There's no way they could literally know what he is doing, or appreciate it. That's what he meant by ignorant. Their worlds were separate, and he was on the other side of a world that the great majority of his people had not crossed into.

      And certainly in terms of his own people he got above himself. Why? Because he was a person of enormous talent, and people recognized and fostered that talent, they appreciated it. They supported it, educationally, materially, emotionally. They kept telling him how great he was. They knew he was great and they said he was great. His whole life people came to up to him and said, you're a great man. This is not a diet that leads to humility or modesty in a people in which leaders were supposed to be modest; more modest than other people. And were supposed to be poorer than other people. In which people are not supposed to get above themselves. Yes, he's a tall tree. He's one of the Sachems, but all of the tall trees are supposed to be of equal height. He's gotten in terms of his own people, an over-swelled head of no small proportions and that's traditionally resented, as well as personally a subject of jealousy."

      Stephen Saunders Webb, Ph.D.
      Maxwell School, Syracuse University

      The breach with the Tonawandas widened in 1867, when Ely married Minnie Orton Sackett. He was 39, she was an 18-year-old white woman, a capital city belle. Traditional Haudenosaunee oppose interracial marriages because cultural descent is matriarchal. By marrying a white woman, Parker disenfranchised any children he may have had from ever being enrolled as a Seneca.

      Washington society was also taken aback by the union. Ely and Minnie had to endure disapproving stares and racist comments printed in capital papers. Yet none of that impaired Parker's political ascension; in 1869, Ulysses S. Grant was sworn in as President of the United States, and one of his first acts was to appoint Ely S. Parker as Commissioner of Indian Affairs.

      "No Native American had ever held that position before. It was brand new. But it was well-received. The Senate without hesitation confirmed it."

      William Armstrong
      Parker Biographer

      "As Commissioner of Indian Affairs, first of all he continued the program that he had laid out to Grant and to Lincoln at the Army Headquarters in City Point in 1864 and '65, first of all the Peace Policy. A policy of moving from military extermination of Native people, to establishing peace with them."

      Stephen Saunders Webb, Ph.D.
      Maxwell School, Syracuse University

      "I believe that his politics are right, that if you fulfill your promises to Indians, you deliver the treaty goods, you deliver food, the services you promise, you won't have a war with Indians. A lot of people don't realize that's what it was about back then."

      Rick Hill Sr. (Tuscarora)
      Chair: Haudenosaunee Standing Committee on NAGPRA

      "His idea was, let's put these people on reservations, they're in a controlled space. But it was important not only to put them in this controlled space, but let's educate them. Let's teach them the things they need to know in order to survive and move into the next century."

      Jare Cardinal
      Rochester Museum & Science Center

      "He said that the way for Indians to survive was to become humanized. What was it that he didn't see in us that was human? Become civilized; how come he didn't think we were good enough as we were. And then ultimately to become Christianized. Now those were the things that he said were standard Indian policy. All the reformers believed that. I think in one sense Parker was saying that because he thought that was what the white man wanted to hear."

      Rick Hill Sr. (Tuscarora)
      Chair: Haudenosaunee Standing Committee on NAGPRA

      When Parker took office, the so-called Indian Wars were at crisis levels; in 1868 it was estimated that they cost the U.S. government one million dollars per Indian killed. Western Indian nations were trying to defend their homelands against a tidal wave of white settlers drawn to the frontier by the discovery of gold, a new transcontinental railroad, and the Homestead Act. Parker's goal was simple: peace at all costs, and his philosophy and policies were outlined in his first Commissioner's report of 1869. Although his efforts slowed the pace of the wars, Parker incited controversy with an 1870 show of force. A Piegan Band of Blackfeet Indians had robbed and killed white settlers and Parker sent the information on to the War Department with a request that prompt measures be taken. U.S. troops headed to Montana led by an Army Colonel and Civil War veteran named Eugene Baker.

      "And about 170 men, women and children were killed, at a time when this particular town of Piegan people had tried to signal to the attacking United States forces that they were neutral, they were pro-United States, they were not enemies. But Baker continued to fire into their town and they slaughtered all of these people. It was such and atrocity that Congress investigated it. And during that investigation, because of this loyalty that had developed during the Civil War, Ely Parker sided with Colonel Baker. He said that it was the Indians' fault, they had brought it on themselves."

      Robert W. Venables, Ph.D.
      Senior Lecturer, American Indian Studies
      Cornell University

      "You can look at Parker's years as Commissioner in two ways: Ely was using his abilities and powers to do what he thought best to help stop the wars, to help Indians out west adapt to change. But if you look at Ely Parker from the standpoint of the Senecas, and perhaps the Indian nations in confusion out west, he was a traitor. He was no longer a cultural bridge. He was someone who had accepted white society and the values of white society as being all important, all encompassing and he had forgotten who he was. He was not someone you could rely on to help you survive into the future."

      Jare Cardinal
      Rochester Museum & Science Center
    • Two Row Wampum: Symbol of Sovereignty; Metaphor for Life

      Two Row Wampum Belt

      The Two Row Wampum Belt is central to Haudenosaunee culture. It is called the "Gaswehntha," and is a visual record of the very first treaty made with 17th century Europeans. Its oral history has been preserved for centuries. Ely Parker probably heard it while still a youth at Tonawanda. The Two Row Wampum Belt defines Haudenosaunee status with the outside world as sovereign - separate but equal. That principle is represented on the belt as two lines of purple on a field of white.

      "The purple lines represent the Haudenosaunee travelling in their canoe. Parallel to them, but not touching, is the path of the boat of the Europeans that came here.

      In our canoe is our way of life, our language, our law and our customs and traditions. And in the boat, likewise, are the European language, customs, traditions, and law. We have said, "Please don't get out of your boat and try to steer our canoe. And we won't get out of our canoe and try to steer your boat." We're going to accept each other as sovereign - we're going to travel down the river of life together, side by side."

      G. Peter Jemison
      Faithkeeper, Cattaraugus Reservation,
      Seneca Nation

      There is another level to the Two Row interpretation, a warning against cultural seductions, and the perils of walking in two worlds. Even as they formed the 17th century treaty with the Europeans, Haudenosaunee leaders knew that some of their people would leave the canoe to ride the white man's boat. And some white men would join the Six Nations, but the ones in most danger were those who had one foot in each - the "two-minded person" who tried to balance astride canoe and boat. The warning could have been written for Ely Parker.

      "The chiefs said that some time in the future, a big wind would come and blow the two vessels apart. And those standing with one foot in the boat and one in the canoe would fall into the river of life, and no power this side of the creation could save them."

      Oren Lyons (Seneca)
      Faithkeeper, Onondaga Nation

      "Because of the way that I live and the things that I do to make a living, I'm always asking myself, which line am I walking on? Is it the old Indian line or is it the white man's line? Oftentimes I feel like I'm jumping back and forth between the two. So I look at Ely Parker and I figure he had to ask himself the same questions: who do I want to be? What kind of Indian do I want to be? How am I going to work for the people? What vision do I have for us? So I'm constantly using him for my own personal metaphor to remind myself: don't go too far, be careful what you do, and remember those underlying values. That's what the work's all about, and when you forget those underlying values, it begins to fall apart quickly.

      At the same time I use him as a metaphor to say, well, sometimes you strike out, but you have to get back up! When I think about Parker, he learned a valuable lesson, but the betrayal of it was that he just got mad and went off to Connecticut, rather than come back here and say, "Okay, now that I know the other side, now I know how they think, I'm back here to use that old Seneca mentality for the fight - do it again, but do it better!" And that was the frustrating part of it for me in looking at his life, was that he gave up. We can't give up on our communities. If everyone did what Parker did, then we wouldn't have anything today."

      Rick Hill Sr. (Tuscarora)

      Chair, Haudenosaunee Standing Committee on NAGPRA
    • Commissioner Parker on Trial

      In 1869, a New York Times article announced the formal induction of Ely S. Parker to his post as Commissioner of Indian Affairs: "The clerks and Attaches of the Bureau were then presented and received by General Parker. He informed them that no immediate changes would be made because there were several more important matters which demanded his early attention, but at no distant day he would devote himself to reorganization of the Bureau, when the revision of the clerical force might be expected."

      "Ely Parker would try (he failed, but he would try) to reorganize one of the more corrupt administrations in all the history of our corrupt governments. The Indian Ring was profoundly corrupt; the agents of the government in passing out treaty goods and allowances to Native peoples, everywhere, but especially in the west, gave corruption a whole new and dreadful dimension. He inherited this, tried to change this."

      Stephen Saunders Webb, Ph.D.
      Maxwell School, Syracuse University

      Prior to Grant's administration, the agents and superintendents of the Indian Affairs office were political appointees; competition for the modestly-paid positions fed beliefs of widespread graft and theft from Indian nations. The Peace Policy terminated the political system; the positions were instead proffered to members of the Quaker religion and Army officers, men who Parker and Grant felt could create an honest administration. Then a Board of Indian Commissioners was appointed to oversee the agencies, identify and eliminate dishonest practices, and generally advise the government on its Indian policies.

      "The first Chairman of that board was a man named William Welsh, a prominent Episcopal layman. Welsh thought that the board should have more power than it did, and when Ely Parker demonstrated that the ultimate power really resided in the Commissioner's office, Welsh resigned."

      William Armstrong
      Parker Biographer

      But Welsh remained active behind the scenes, and would engineer Commissioner Parker's undoing. William Armstrong called Welsh a "very peculiar person, very suspicious person, saw corruption everywhere and became convinced that Parker was part of the so-called Indian Ring." Perhaps still bearing a grudge against Parker, Welsh once told an acquaintance that the Commissioner was "the representative of a race only one generation from barbarism, and did not think that he should be expected to be able to withstand the inducements of parties who were his superiors in matters of business."

      By December 1870, Welsh's investigation of Ely Parker went public. In a letter published in Washington newspapers, Welsh accused Parker of malfeasance in office. Welsh had investigated a June 1870 delivery of beef and flour to Indians on the Missouri River, and had concluded that the supplies weren't needed, and weren't approved by the Board of Indian Commissioners. He accused Parker of deliberately paying too much for the beef, so that he could share in illegal profits estimated at $250,000.

      Welsh filed 13 counts of misconduct against Parker with the House of Representatives, charges which Ely denied in a letter of rebuttal that concluded with: "Your committee will observe, upon reading the charges numbered from one to thirteen inclusive, that in some cases they contain statements of facts of which I have no knowledge; that they abound in inferences of the person making them which do not necessarily follow from the facts themselves; that they cover a wide range of inquiry, not only into particular transactions, but the general policy of the Indian Office; that they are often vague and uncertain in allegations of the facts, but of this I care little. There are substantial averments which concern me personally and officially, and all such I stand ready to answer."

      However, when hearings before the House Committee on Appropriations began, Parker took to his bed, physically incapacitated by the scandalous nature of the charges. His defense was run by his good friend and attorney Norton Chipman, who had established his reputation as the trial prosecutor of the Confederate prison camp at Andersonville. Chipman's defense of Parker was passionate and comprehensive; his arguments and presentation of evidence refuted nearly all the charges. Chipman also launched a scathing attack on William Welsh and the almost pathological lengths he went to in his investigation of Ely Parker: "Certainly whatever knowledge that persistent, patient and searching inquiry could produce, will be found here. The prosecutor, Mr. Welsh, has been denied no facility in any quarter, official or otherwise, which would lead to the discovery of any important fact connected with the charges. He has had access to the files and records of all the departments and bureaus of the government, and has used this privilege freely. He has even caused to be brought before the committee the private bank account of at least one person with whom he suspected General Parker may have been in collusion. And I do not doubt that the same zeal which led him to the examination of this bank account, has also led him to make the same fruitless search with regard to the private bank account of General Parker elsewhere."

      Eventually, Ely Parker was compelled from his sick bed to testify before the committee. He also filed the following communication with the committee's chairman.

      "Mr. Chairman: In asking you to consider the suggestions submitted by my friend and counsel in this investigation, General Chipman, it is proper, perhaps, that I should say a word myself. I will not attempt to go over the testimony, as that has been done by my friend, nor could I do so with any satisfaction myself, or in any way to aid your committee, for I have not been able to attend the investigation, during its progress, and am not familiar enough with the facts of record to assist you in your examination of it. I do not know either, that I can now add anything to what I have said under oath in reply to questions asked me by the committee, and which I suppose were intended to cover the whole ground of this investigation.

      When I entered upon the discharge of the duties of my office, I knew how sensitive the public were with regard to the administration of our Indian affairs. I knew, too, the solicitude with which Congress has always regarded that bureau of our Government service, and firmly resolved that I would administer the office to the best of my ability, and in such a manner that no taint of dishonor, at least, should ever attach to my conduct.

      To what extent my ability has proved equal to the duties devolved upon me, it is not becoming for me to speak. I know that I have spared no pains, no sacrifice of personal convenience and pleasure, to discharge my whole duty faithfully. I do not claim that I have made no mistakes, for that is more, but, Mr. Chairman, I do say, and I speak it in a solemn a manner as I am capable, and to this extent I have already sworn, that I have never profited pecuniarily, or indeed otherwise by any transaction in my official capacity while I have been serving as Commissioner of Indian Affairs.

      I cannot know in advance how you will regard the various matters which have been made the subject of your investigation, as they affect my personal honor and official integrity; but whether they are sufficiently explained by the facts in the record or not, no view which you may take of them can change the knowledge within my own breast, that I have never sought to defraud the Government of one penny, or have knowingly lent my aid to others with that view. There is not to be found anywhere in connection with this trial - if I make speak of it as a trial - a single transaction about which I had at the time, or until Mr. Welsh published his letter of December last, the slightest suspicion that my conduct would be inquired into. All of my official acts now before your committee, were performed in the usual routine of my official duties. I gave them no further thought afterwards than such as would naturally come up in the mind of a public officer in the casual review of his past administration.

      When I was, in January, suddenly called upon to explain transactions of my office, six months previous, I could only rely for explanation upon such records as happened to remain in my office, and upon such facts as I could from other sources, bring to the attention of the committee. As to the effect of these records and facts, you are to be the judges, and I leave them with you in the full belief that you will weigh them well before you condemn my action.

      If human testimony is to be believed, and if my sworn statements of other with whom I am suspected of being in complicity are to be credited, I think I may safely leave the question of my personal honor in your hands. As to the wisdom of any particular act of mine into which you have been examining, of course your judgement and mine may differ, and as to this I can only rest upon the circumstances surrounding me at the time, and the facts in the record, tending to show whether I acted wisely or not.

      You must admit, Mr. Chairman, that the matter is one of great moment to me, and while I have no right to ask at your hands any report other than that which may be the result of your own convictions, I think I have the right to ask that at the time you make it to the House of Representatives, you will also state all the material facts upon which your conclusions should rest. I do not shrink from any responsibility which I have incurred, or its just consequences, and I only ask that that body which ultimately determines upon the result of the investigation, shall have that full knowledge of my conduct which will enable them to form a correct judgement in a matter of such great importance to me."

      E.S. Parker

      The committee issued its findings in the winter of 1871: "To the committee, the testimony shows irregularities, neglect and incompetency, and, in some instances, a departure from the express provisions of law for the regulation of Indian expenditures, and in the management of affairs in the Indian Department. But your committee have not found evidence of fraud or corruption on the part of the Indian Commissioner. With much to criticize and condemn, arising partly from errors of judgement in the construction of statutes passed to insure economy and faithfulness in administration, we have no evidence of any pecuniary or personal advantage sought or derived by the Commissioner, or anyone connected with his Bureau."

      "But at the same time, Congress turned around and passed a law that gave the board of Indian commissioners more power than it had before. That they were to have joint supervision with the Commissioner of Indian Affairs over every expenditure of the office. And that act, taking away Parker's own responsibility, and the hurt of those charges, led Parker to give it all up. He had been in office only two years and fairly successful two years. Helped establish this Peace Policy of Grant's, and to some extent, calmed things down in the west. But Parker could not in good conscience continue in that position, and resigned."

      William Armstrong
      Parker Biographer

      Parker said he could not in justice, "continue to hold the ambiguous position I now occupy as Commissioner of Indian Affairs," and resigned effective August 1, 1871. President Grant did not try to talk him out of it, instead offering Parker a letter of agreement. Their 11-year friendship was all but over when Ely left Washington.

      "There were a few meetings?.Parker had transcribed the terms of surrender at Appomattox, and he had kept one of the flimsy manifold copies that Grant had drafted the terms. And I think in the 1870s he looked Grant up, and asked Grant to endorse that it was, in fact, authentic, which Grant did. On another occasion, Grant had been on a world tour and the staff went to see Grant when he came back. And then finally when Grant was dying of cancer, Parker tried to see him. Saw his son; was not able to see Grant. I don't know if he was being rebuffed. It might have been that Grant simply was physically not able to see him.

      "I don't know why the rift between the two men. Their closeness certainly evaporated after Washington. Parker at one point blamed Mrs. Grant; now this was not in public, this was in private conversations; he blamed her for her love of wealth and its effect on her husband. Publicly, he always expressed loyalty to Grant, he wouldn't get into controversies; but privately I think he felt that Grant had gradually abandoned his old staff."

      William Armstrong
      Parker Biographer

      "I think the explanation is a military one. Grant's original staff was professional people and old friends from Galena: essentially civilians and members of the U.S. volunteers. When Grant becomes the General of the Armies of the Potomac, he brings in a professional staff of West Pointers. And ever afterwards, Parker says, Grant wanted to please the professionals who had previously looked down on him as a bad performer at the academy, and a drunk, and an incompetent officer. As Parker says, "It was West Pointers who ruined us all." His own appointment as military secretary was seen as an enormous victory of the old staff over the new, for the volunteers staff over the professionals. Parker tells us that got even worse in the Grant Presidency. That Grant's desire to please the professional soldiers, the West Pointers, led him to denigrate those who were not of that tradition.

      Secondly he says Grant himself had no talent for politics, and at the same time had enormous need for, and love of, money -- "filthy lucre", Parker called it. And that those two things combined to bring him down. Grant was politically adept at covering his tracks, and he was corrupt. And hence, his own fear of political scandal, and his own personal corruption, tends to separate him from people like Parker, at least during the Presidency."

      Stephen Saunders Webb, Ph.D.
      Maxwell School, Syracuse University
    • The Era of "Robin's Nest"

      Ely Parker was 43 years old when he left Washington D.C. for the last time. He was emotionally and physically drained by the months of scandal, and spent some time rebuilding his strength in a New Jersey spa. His future was uncertain: Parker was through with politics and would not return to live at Tonawanda. Fortunately, Minnie Parker stepped forward with a plan, a destination, and -- as it turned out -- a whole new career for the former Indian Commissioner.

      "Seeing the disappointment in Ely's face, knowing he had been disgraced in front of his friends, Minnie decided to take him away from politics and Washington society. And they went to Fairfield, Connecticut where she had family and friends, and where Ely would have opportunities for a fresh start."

      Jare Cardinal
      Rochester Museum & Science Center
      Robin's Nest, Fairfiled, Connecticut
      Robin's Nest, Fairfield, Connecticut

      They called their new home "Robin's Nest," and it was the setting for some of the couple's happier years. The Parker's three-acre homestead was nestled among wealthy neighbors. Oliver Burr Jennings lived next door; he was a brother-in-law to William Rockefeller, and a stockholder and director in Standard Oil. It may have been Jennings who mentored Parker's new interest in Wall Street investments.

      "There are accounts of Parker commuting into New York City, which many people did from Fairfield. There are other stories of his investments into various other businesses. There really is very little documentation of this period of his life. What is clear is that he made a great deal of money."

      William Armstrong
      Parker Biographer
      Wall Street
      Wall Street

      Parker relaxed into his life as a wealthy businessman; New York City and Wall Street dominated his daytime hours, and at night he was one of many husbands greeted at the train station by "the female contingent in stylish vehicles and becoming apparel." The Parkers were warmly welcomed into Fairfield society; Minnie was a popular hostess, and Ely gained a reputation for his unparalleled wine cellar and his skill as a billiards player. For almost five years, the Parkers enjoyed the best of everything -- the finest carriage and horses, a house full of servants -- and it is said that Ely even had hired a "Negro bodyguard."

      In 1873, Ely's fortunes began to evaporate; first with the failure of Jay Cooke and Company, then the collapse of the Freedman's Bank. Those disasters were followed by the failure of an insurance company and the folding of a publishing venture. The Parkers were able to keep their Fairfield home, but by 1876, finances forced Ely to look for basic employment. His business career had ended -- he would have to start his life all over again.
    • The Circle is Complete

      The Tonawanda Parkers shared an attitude toward adversity: "Spend no time mourning the failures of the past. Tears make a bitter throat. Look ahead, there is more work to do." With his Wall Street fortunes lost, Ely Parker simply moved on. He tried to reenter engineering, but found his skills were out of date. "The profession ran away from me," Parker wrote. "Young men were wanted for their activity, and the old men were discarded."

      In 1876, Parker finally found a steady job as a desk clerk with the New York City Police Department. It was his final career, one with little responsibility and very modest pay, but while in New York Parker joined veterans' organizations and for a time revived his career as a public speaker. When Minnie Parker gave birth to the couple's only child, Maud, in 1878, Ely became a devoted father.

      Then another woman entered Parker's life: a poet and student of the Haudenosaunee named Harriet Maxwell Converse. Their deep friendship and Converse's gentle questions revived Parker's interest in his traditional culture. He began to question his life's path, and to assess the price of walking in two worlds. Although he regretted many of his actions, Do-Ne-Ho-Ga-Wa-'s spirit was rekindled.

      Parker spent his last years on earth battling kidney disease, diabetes, and a serious of strokes. In 1895, he went to bed early and died in his sleep.

      The Haudenosaunee see all of life as a circle, and in death, Ely Parker returned to his beginnings. In 1897 his body was re-interred in Seneca homelands in western New York, next to the grave of the Seneca orator Red Jacket. And with that, the last element of his mother's prophetic dream was fulfilled. The circle was complete.
    • 300 Mulberry Street

      An old friend was responsible for Ely Parker's final career as a desk clerk. General William F. Smith was a Civil War veteran, and had supervised Ely's engineering work at Detroit and in Chattanooga. By 1876, Smith was president of the New York City Police Department's Board of Commissioners, and he used his influence to get Parker a job. The pay was a modest $2,400 a year, but it was work, and on September 30, 1876, the former Commissioner of Indian Affairs walked to his office at 300 Mulberry Street and reported for duty.

      "He was hired as a clerk. A clerk to the supply and repair committee. A job that kept food on the table, but no real responsibilities, little satisfaction. Parker served in that job the last 19 years of his life, working on requisitions for brooms and shovels and pens and erasers. Quite a come down."

      William Armstrong
      Parker Biographer
      New York Harbor
      New York Harbor

      The Parkers moved to New York and, according to William Armstrong, Ely became a familiar sight on the city's streets, "usually dressed in a suit of slate-colored cloth, a Prince Albert coat, and a sugar-loaf hat with a stiff, flat brim." Inside 300 Mulberry Street, Ely was a mostly silent observer - as politics raged and commissioners and clerks were cleaned out, he stayed at his desk contending with what he called an "overwhelming" amount of work. But he also made new friends; one of them was Jacob Riis, who worked as a police reporter for the New York Tribune and Evening Sun. Riis also authored The Making of an American, which contained a tribute of sorts to his Seneca friend:

      "I suppose it was the fact that he was an Indian that first attracted me to him. As the years passed we became great friends, and I loved nothing better in an idle hour than to smoke a pipe with the General in his pokey little office at Police Headquarters. That was about all there was to it too, for he rarely opened his mouth except to grunt approval of something I was saying. When, once in a while, it would happen that some of his people came down from the Reservation or from Canada, the powwow that ensued was my dear delight. Three pipes and about eleven grunts made up the whole of it, but it was none the less entirely friendly and satisfactory. We all have our own ways of doing things, and that was theirs. He was a noble old fellow. His title was no trumpery show, either. It was fairly earned on more than one bloody field with Grant's army. Parker was Grant's military secretary, and wrote the original draft of the surrender at Appomattox, which he kept to his death with great pride. It was not General Parker, however, but Donehogawa, Chief of the Senecas and of the remnant of the once powerful Six Nations, and guardian of the western door of the council lodge, that appealed to me, who in my boyhood had lived with Leatherstocking and with Uncas and Chingachgook. They had something to do with my coming here, and at last I had for a friend one of their kin. I think he felt the bond of sympathy between us and prized it, for he showed me in many silent ways that he was fond of me. There was about him an infinite pathos, penned up there in his old age among the tenements of Mulberry Street on the pay of a second-rate clerk, that never ceased to appeal to me."

      Jacob A. Riis
      Making of an American

      Ely Parker also found companionship with fellow war veterans. He joined the Grand Army of the Republic, the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, and the Society for Colonial Wars. He rekindled his skills as a powerful orator, and in 1889 traveled as far as Chicago to speak to a Masonic gathering. He carried with him the silver Red Jacket medal that he proudly displayed and explained to hundreds in the audience. The medal seemed to be his most cherished memento, and as evidenced by the following newspaper article, Parker was vigilant about its authenticity.

      Geneva Gazette, March 18, 1891 Preface by the Editor:
      The following letter is so self-explanatory that nothing more need be said about the matter contained in it, the writer merely adding that another, said to be, Red Jacket medal, is in the hands of the indefatigable investigator, George H. Harris, Rochester, NY, similar in size an appearance to the Canandaigua medal, but dated 1795, and having 15 stars, the number of States at that time.

      This letter is remarkable for its elegant diction and beauty and plainness of writing. The writer, General Ely S. Parker, is a prominent Civil Engineer in New York City, is the leading Seneca Sachem, was "raised up" to the Sachemship in 1851 with the title of "Door Keeper" (Donehogawa) and was an officer in the civil war on the staff of General Grant, and drew up the articles of capitulation at the time of the surrender of General Lee.

      New York, March 9th, 1891

      To:Geo. S. Conover, Esq., Geneva, NY

      Dear Sir:

      Permit me to thank you sincerely and heartily for your able circular and letter, dated February 1891, on the Washington Red Jacket Medal.

      It seems that your article was written in consequence of a medal purporting to have belonged to the famous Indian orator, having been presented to the "Red Jacket Club" at Canandaigua by Mrs. Thomas Francis Meagher, a grand-daughter of Capt. Jasper Parrish of Canandaigua, whilom interpreter for the Seneca Indians.

      I saw this medal during its exhibition a short time ago at Tiffany & Co.'s' jewelry store on Union Square in this city. It was labeled "The Red Jacket Medal". I took pains to assure Tiffany's people that it was not a Red Jacket Medal, nor the one he wore throughout his life, and at the same time showed them the genuine medal which is in my possession. I also took an early opportunity of writing to the Hon. Thos. Howell of Canandaigua about it, and gave it as my firm conviction that Red Jacket never wore, or owned, this medal. It is however a genuine Washington Indian medal, shaped and inscribed on both sides like mine, with same date, viz.: 1792. Its longest diameter is about 5 inches, mine is 7 inches. I suggested to Mr. Howell that it would be well to advise the Club of the preceding facts. Whether he has done so or no, I am unable to say.

      Perhaps it would be well for history if this medal question should now be definitely settled. But how can it be done? It is almost a century since these medals were given, and I believe nearly all of the present possessors of the Washington Indian medals have begun to trace their ownership back to Red Jacket. Besides mine and this one at Canandaigua, I hear of one being in some collection at Albany, another in the collection of the Pennsylvania Historical Society at Philadelphia, and another still in Texas.

      At Red Jacket's death, and in accordance with Indian custom, my medal was given by his relations, in the distribution of his personal effects, to one James Johnson, a favorite nephew of his, and at that time a young and promising chief. Johnson retained it about 20 years, and at my installation as a leading Sachem of the Iroquois Confederacy in 1851, I was formally invested with it by the master of ceremonies placing it about my neck, the speaker remarking that it was given by the great Washington to my tribal relative Red Jacket, and that it was to be retained and worn as evidence of the bond of perpetual peace and friendship established and entered into between the people of the United States and the Six Nations of Indians at the time of its presentation. There were scores of chiefs and other Indians present at this ceremony who personally had known Red Jacket and were familiar with the medal, and it is not probable or supposable that they all would have been deceived as to its genuineness, or countenanced an imposition by having a bogus medal placed abut my neck on so important an occasion.

      I have since met many old settlers of Buffalo and vicinity, among whom I will only mention Hon. O. H. Marshall, Orlando Allen, H.N. Porter, John Ganson, Benj. Dole, Mr. Sibley, Mr. Turner (author of the "Holland Land Purchase") who have asked me to show them the medal, and they have instantly and invariably recognized it as the one they had so often seen worn by Red Jacket, and also the bead string by which it is suspended.

      The Washington medals are all inscribed alike upon both sides, varying only in size and date. Mine is a large one and dated 1792 - has 13 stars, the eagle holding 13 arrows in one claw and an olive branch in the other.

      Respectfully yours, & c., Ely S. Parker Or Do-ne-ho-ga-wa, Iroquois Sachem

      Although Parker still signed his letters as an "Iroquois Sachem," he hadn't fulfilled the responsibilities of that title for over three decades. When he did journey to western New York, it was for a vacation. Once or twice a year he would visit his brother Nic at the Cattaraugus reservation - there he was greeted as an elder statesman. A portrait of him in full military dress was prominently featured in Nic's sitting room, and over it hung one of Ely's military swords. The sword captured the imagination of Nic's grandson, Arthur Parker, who wondered if he could ever be "as great as Uncle Ely, and wear a sword like that." When Ely came to visit, Arthur Parker said, "He would bring a suit of clothes for my grandfather, made in the exact pattern of his own; and a big satchel of presents for everyone else. I must have been seven years old when I first saw Uncle Ely. I did not know he had come, and rushing into the sitting room, I called out "Gramp!" Then I fell back in dismay, for there were two "Gramps," dressed alike and to my startled eyes, each an exact counterpart, but when they spoke I noticed that their voices were slightly different."

      Ely and Nicholson Parker did look strikingly alike, and shared the closest bond among the Parker siblings. Another brother, Levi Parker, and his sister Carrie, died in 1891; Nicholson passed in 1892, and Ely was "left alone," said Arthur Parker, the last of the "grandfather generation."

      Arthur Parker's comments quoted from,
      The Life of General Ely S.Parker,
      Arthur C. Parker, Buffalo Historical Society, 1919.
    • Parker's Final Years

      As he neared his sixth decade on the earth, Ely Parker's health began to deteriorate. His correspondence held confessions of chronic ailments, a growing sore on his foot, and a loss of feeling in his left arm. As the symptoms worsened, his friend Harriet Maxwell Converse urged him to see Dr. J.H. Salisbury -- the man who originated the Salisbury treatment, a high protein diet of pulped steak (cooked rare in patties) and rest in a particular type of hospital bed. Salisbury was also a former chemist who boasted a new diagnostic technique involving microscopic and chemical analysis of a patient's blood.

      After examining Parker in 1890, Salisbury sent a note to Converse advising her of his diagnosis: "General Parker has diabetes. It is well you brought him here. I have requested him to come in and see me as a social patient without charge. Have given him a diet list and instructions for drinking and eating. Please help him along by encouragement all you can."

      A short time later, Parker wrote to Converse, saying that he had seen little improvement. "Last week I was miserable and stayed at home nearly the whole week. It is all in the foot. The sore spot is constantly enlarging and of course, it is very painful. I am continuing the diet of beef and hot water. I see the Doctor often. He is very kind and good." Parker's foot would gradually improve, but it never completely healed, and soon other concerns took precedence. In 1893 he was diagnosed with Bright's disease, today known as glomerulonephritis, or kidney disease. Then he suffered a stroke. Despite feelings of pain and numbness, Parker insisted upon going in to work. Shortly after noon on July 11th, 1893, he lay down on a couch in his office and asked to have a doctor called. He was taken to a New York hospital, where he had three more mild strokes.

      Parker never fully recovered. His left leg and arm were almost useless, and his invalid's pension of twelve dollars a month did little to offset rising medical bills. He began to auction off his possessions, at one time he even considered pawning his silver Red Jacket medal. His growing depression was evident in an 1894 letter to Harriet Maxwell Converse: "I am tired," the General wrote, "and care not how soon the end comes."

      By 1895, Parker was barely able to walk, and even his famed penmanship was failing - yet through sheer determination, he reported once a week to Mulberry Street. On August 27th, his appearance was so alarming that the Police Department granted him a leave of absence. Three days later he died at the Fairfield home of his old friends Arthur and Josephine Brown. On August 30th, Parker announced simply that he was tired; he went to bed and died in his sleep. He was 67 years old.

      Parker's funeral was held in Arthur Brown's parlor, and would unite representatives from the many worlds in which the Seneca Indian had walked: his society friends, military comrades, and representatives from the Haudenosaunee. Parker's body was laid out in full military uniform, and the service was Episcopalian - but Harriet Maxwell Converse would step forward to conduct the sacred Indian ceremony of "laying on the horns." A New York newspaper carried this account: "In former days the spreading horns of a deer were placed on the remains of dead sachems as a symbol of their authority, and removed at the grave, to be bestowed on the new sachem. Instead of the horns, Mrs. Converse used two strings of valued wampum beads, tied with a little piece of black ribbon.
      Around the coffin sat six full-blooded Indians, silent and stern. The men uttered not a word from the time they entered the presence of the dead until the earth had fallen on his coffin. Just before the casket was closed at the house, an Indian pipe was placed inside of it, representing peace and friendship. Then over the bier was draped a great American flag."

      A decade before his death, Ely Parker said he wanted his final resting place to be beside Red Jacket. In 1897, the Buffalo Historical Society fulfilled his wish; Parker was re-interred in Forest Lawn cemetery next to the grave of Sa-Go-Ye-Wat-Ha. The setting could not have been more appropriate: Forest Lawn had once been the site of the Granger farm, a Haudenosaunee trading post. Ely's mother Elizabeth, had seen that farm in her 1828 dream of prophecy: "She beheld a rainbow that reached from the reservation to the Granger farm, when it was suddenly broken in the middle of the sky." Do-Ne-Ho-Ga-Wa had returned home, fulfilling the last of his mother's dream of destiny. "His sun rose on Indian lands, and set on the white man's land. But the ancient earth of his people enfolded him in death."
    • Elizabeth Parker's "Dream of Prophecy"

      The debate continues concerning Elizabeth Parker's dream. Some historians and Haudenosaunee believe it is mythological, rather than proven fact. The only published source for the account is found in Arthur C. Parker's biography of his great-uncle, The Life of General Ely S. Parker. In that book, Arthur Parker claims that Harriet Maxwell Converse and New York Herald reporter John Habbard each heard the story from 19th century Tonawanda Senecas. Their account is transcribed in quotations below.

      According to these sources, in 1828 Ely's mother (a Tonawanda Seneca woman named Elizabeth Parker) was five months into pregnancy. One night she dreamed that she was in the Buffalo Creek Reservation, near the farm of a local man named Granger. As she looked up through snowflakes swirling from heavy skies, she saw a rainbow suddenly break through. As it arched, it broke in two, and on one side Elizabeth saw suspended signs with lettering similar to those she had seen over white men's stores.

      Elizabeth took her vision to a Dreamguesser who told her:

      "A son will be born to you who will be distinguished among his nation as a peace-maker. He will become a white man as well as an Indian. He will be a wise white man, but will never desert his people, nor, 'lay down his horns' (Sachem's title) as a great chief. His name will reach from the east to the west, the north to the south, as great among his Indian family and pale-faces. His sun will rise on Indian land and set on white man's land. Yet the ancient land of his people will fold him in death."

  • Sources 
    1. [S740] Wikipedia, (Reliability: 2), 27 Dec 2018.
      Ely S. Parker

      Birth name Ely Samuel Parker
      Born 1828
      Indian Falls, New York
      Died August 31, 1895 (aged 66?67)
      Fairfield, Connecticut
      Buried Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo, New York
      Allegiance United States of America
      Service/branch United States Army
      Union Army
      Years of service 1863?1869[1]
      Rank Union Army colonel rank insignia.png Colonel
      Union Army brigadier general rank insignia.svg Brevet Brigadier General
      Unit Adjutant to General U.S. Grant
      2nd U.S. Cavalry Regiment
      Battles/wars American Civil War

      Siege of Vicksburg
      Battle of Chattanooga
      Overland Campaign
      Siege of Petersburg
      Appomattox Campaign

      Other work Head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs

      Ely Samuel Parker (1828 ? August 31, 1895), (born Hasanoanda, later known as Donehogawa) was a Seneca attorney, engineer, and tribal diplomat. He was commissioned a lieutenant colonel during the American Civil War, when he served as adjutant and secretary to Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. He wrote the final draft of the Confederate surrender terms at Appomattox. Later in his career, Parker rose to the rank of brevet brigadier general. President Grant appointed him as Commissioner of Indian Affairs, the first Native American to hold that post.[1]

      Early life and education

      Parker was born in 1828 as the sixth of seven children to Elizabeth and William Parker, of prominent Seneca families, at Indian Falls, New York (then part of the Tonawanda Reservation).[1] He was named Ha-sa-no-an-da and later baptized Ely Samuel Parker. His father was a miller and a Baptist minister.[2] The Seneca are one of the Six Nations of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois Confederacy). Ely had a classical education at a missionary school, was fully bilingual speaking Seneca as well as English, and went on to college. He spent his life bridging his identities as Seneca and a resident of the United States.

      The parents strongly supported education for all the children, who included Spencer Houghton Cone, Nicholson Henry, Levi, Caroline (Carrie), Newton, and Solomon.[2] Nicholson Parker also became a prominent Seneca leader as he was a powerful orator. Beginning in the 1840s, the Parker home became a meeting place of non-Indian scholars who were interested in the people, such as Lewis Henry Morgan, Henry Rowe Schoolcraft and John Wesley Powell; they were connected to the discussions and studies that formed anthropology as a discipline.[2]

      Parker worked in a legal firm reading law for the customary three years in Ellicottville, New York and then applied to take the bar examination. He was not permitted because, as a Seneca, at that time he was not considered a United States citizen.[3] It was not until 1924 that all American Indians were considered citizens under the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924.[4] Dee Brown in his Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee said Parker was refused because he was not a white man, which was not quite accurate.[5]

      In the 1840s, Parker had a chance meeting in a book store with Lewis Henry Morgan, a young lawyer involved in creating The Grand Order of the Iroquois, a youthful fraternity of young white men from upstate New York who romanticized their image of the Native American and who wanted to model themselves on the people who had until recently been the dominant presence in their part of the country. Through this chance meeting, Morgan and Parker became friends. Parker invited Morgan to the Tonawanda reservation. Parker became Morgan's main source of information and entrée to others in the Seneca and other Iroquois nations. Morgan dedicated his book on the Iroquois to Parker, noting their joint collaboration on the project. The relationship between the two men proved important for them both. Just as Parker helped Morgan to become an anthropological pioneer, Morgan helped Parker to make connections in the larger white-dominated society. Later in life, Parker was appointed to the position that Morgan had wanted for himself?the Commissioner of Indian Affairs.

      More immediately, with Morgan's help, Parker gained admission to study engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. He worked as a civil engineer until the start of the American Civil War.


      Parker began his career in public service by working as an interpreter and diplomat to the Seneca chiefs in their negotiations about land and treaty rights, in 1852 Parker was made sachem of the Seneca, and given the name Donehogawa, "Keeper of the Western Door of the Long House of the Iroquois".[5]

      Before this he had met and worked with Morgan, an independent scholar in the field of ethnology and anthropology. Morgan dedicated his book League of the Iroquois (1851) to Parker, writing "the materials are the fruit of our joint researches." Morgan helped Parker gain entry to Rensselaer Polytechnic, because he recognized the man's abilities.[6]

      As an engineer, Parker contributed to upgrades and maintenance of the Erie Canal, among other projects. As a supervisor of government projects in Galena, Illinois, he befriended Ulysses S. Grant, forming a strong and collegial relationship that was useful later.[6]

      Civil War service
      General Ulysses S. Grant and Staff: Ely Samuel Parker (left sitting), Adam Badeau, General Grant (at table), Orville Elias Babcock, Horace Porter.

      Near the start of the Civil War, Parker tried to raise a regiment of Iroquois volunteers to fight for the Union, but was turned down by New York Governor Edwin D. Morgan. He then sought to join the Union Army as an engineer, but was told by Secretary of War Simon Cameron that as an Indian, he could not join.[7] Parker contacted his colleague and friend Ulysses S. Grant, whose forces suffered from a shortage of engineers. Parker was commissioned a captain in May 1863 and ordered to report to Brig. Gen. John Eugene Smith. Smith appointed Parker as the chief engineer of his 7th Division during the siege of Vicksburg, and later said Parker was a "good engineer".[1]
      Surrender at Appomattox. Ely Parker is third from right, back row

      When Ulysses S. Grant became commander of the Military Division of the Mississippi, Parker became his adjutant during the Chattanooga Campaign. He was subsequently transferred with Grant as the adjutant of the U.S. Army headquarters and served Grant through the Overland Campaign and the Siege of Petersburg. At Petersburg, Parker was appointed as the military secretary to Grant, with the rank of lieutenant colonel. He wrote much of Grant's correspondence.

      Parker was present when Confederate general Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse in April 1865. He helped draft the surrender documents, which are in his handwriting.[8] At the time of surrender, General Lee "stared at me for a moment," said Parker to more than one of his friends and relatives, "He extended his hand and said, 'I am glad to see one real American here.' I shook his hand and said, 'We are all Americans.'[9] Parker was brevetted brigadier general of United States Volunteers on April 9, 1865, and of United States Army March 2, 1867.

      Post-Civil War

      After the Civil War, Parker was commissioned as an officer in the 2nd United States Cavalry on July 1, 1866. He again became the military secretary to Grant, with the rank of colonel, as the senior officer completed his appointment as commanding general of the U.S. Army. Parker was a member of the Southern Treaty Commission that renegotiated treaties with those Indian Tribes, mostly from the Southeast, that had sided with the Confederacy. Parker resigned from the army with the brevet rank of brigadier general of Regulars on April 26, 1869.[1]

      He was elected a Veteran Companion of the New York Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, a military society of officers of the Union armed forces and their descendants.
      Personal life

      After the war, in 1867 Parker married the much younger Minnie Orton Sackett (1849?1932), a white woman. They had one daughter, Maud Theresa Parker (1878?1956).[10]

      Appointment under Grant

      Shortly after Grant took office as president in March 1869, he appointed Parker as Commissioner of Indian Affairs. Parker served in this office from 1869 to 1871. He was the first Native American to hold the office. Parker became the chief architect of President Grant's Peace Policy in relation to the Native Americans in the West. Under his leadership, the number of military actions against Indians were reduced and there was an effort to support tribes in their transition to lives on reservations.

      After leaving government service, Parker invested in the stock market. At first he did well, but eventually he lost the fortune he had accumulated, after the Panic of 1873. Through his social connections, Parker received an appointment to the Board of Commissioners of the New York Police Department's Committee on Supplies and Repairs. Parker received many visits at Police Headquarters on Mulberry Street from Jacob Riis, the photographer famous for documenting the lives of slum dwellers. Riis enjoyed "smoking a pipe in his poky little office" and was "famous for his access to internal police reports."[11]

      Riis featured Parker as a character in a short story, "A Dream of the Woods," about a Mohawk woman and her child stranded in Grand Central Terminal.[11]

      Later life and death

      Parker lived his last years in poverty, dying in Fairfield, Connecticut on August 31, 1895. He was buried, but the Seneca did not feel that Algonquian territory was appropriate for his final resting place. They requested that his widow relocate his body.[11] On January 20, 1897, his body was exhumed and reinterred at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, New York. He was reinterred next to his ancestor Red Jacket, a famous Seneca orator, and other notables of western New York.

      Parker's career and impact on contemporary Native Americans is described in Chapter 8 of Dee Brown's Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.
      He is said to have helped found the town of Parker, Arizona. Another individual with the surname of Parker is credited with this distinction as well.

      In popular culture

      Asa-Luke Twocrow plays Ely Parker in the film Lincoln (2012), directed by Steven Spielberg.
      Gregory Sierra plays him in Season 3, Episode 7 of the American TV series Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman.
      Parker is featured as a character in the novels Grant Comes East and Never Call Retreat.


      Parker, Arthur (1919). The Life of General Ely S. Parker. Buffalo Historical Society. p. 154. (reprinted 2005, ISBN 1-889246-50-6)
      Joy Porter, To Be Indian: The Life of Iroquois-Seneca Arthur Caswell Parker, University of Oklahoma Press, 2001, pp. 12-14, ISBN 0-8061-3317-1, accessed 17 February 2011
      "Gerry J. Gilmore, "Seneca Chief Fought Greed, Injustice"". Archived from the original on October 13, 2006. Retrieved 2007-11-23., American Forces Press Service
      The Indian Citizenship Act (1924) (43 Stat. 253, ante, 420)
      Dee Brown, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. 1970. ISBN 0-330-23219-3
      Steven Conn, History's Shadow: Native Americans and Historical Consciousness in the Nineteenth Century, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004, p.210
      Parker, Arthur (1919). The Life of General Ely S. Parker. Buffalo Historical Society. pp. 102?3. (reprinted 2005, ISBN 1-889246-50-6)
      "Ely Parker - Chief, Lawyer, Engineer, and Brigadier General". U.S. Department of the Interior. Retrieved 2013-11-02.
      Arthur C. Parker, The Life of General Ely S. Parker: Last Grand Sachem of the Iroquois and General Grant's Military Secretary Buffalo, New York: Buffalo Historical Society, 1919, p. 133
      Hoxie, Frederick E. (1996). Encyclopedia of North American Indians. Houghton Mifflin Company. p. 467. ISBN 0-395-66921-9.

      Adams, James Ring (Fall 2011), "The Many Careers of Ely Parker", National Museum of the American Indian, pp. 30?31

      Further reading

      Armstrong, William H. Warrior in Two Camps. (Syracuse University Press, 1978) ISBN 0-8156-0143-3.
      Bruchac, Joseph. Walking Two Worlds.. (7th Generation, 2015) ISBN 978-1-939053-10-7. Biography for young adults.
      Michaelsen, Scott. "Ely S. Parker and Amerindian Voices in Ethnography." American Literary History 8.4 (1996): 615-638. in JSTOR
      Moses, Daniel. The Promise of Progress: The Life and Work of Lewis Henry Morgan (University of Missouri Press, 2009)
      Parker, Arthur Caswell. The Life of General Ely S. Parker (1919) online.
      Van Steenwyk, Elizabeth. Seneca Chief, Army General: A Story about Ely Parker (Millbrook Press, 2001) for high schools. online

      External links
      Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ely Parker.
      Wikisource has the text of a 1900 Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography article about Ely S. Parker.

      Biography, "Ely S. Parker", The Civil War, PBS
      National Park Service: Ely Parker- A Real American"
      Ely Parker Scrapbooks at Newberry Library
      "Ely Samuel Parker". Find a Grave. Retrieved May 12, 2016.
      Jacob Riis, "A Dream of the Woods"

    2. [S543] Find A Grave ( (Reliability: 3), 27 Dec 2018.
      Memorial ID 3603

      Ely Samuel Parker
      Original Name Donehogehweh
      Birth 1828
      Indian Falls, Genesee County, New York, USA
      Death 30 Aug 1895 (aged 66?67)
      Fairfield, Fairfield County, Connecticut, USA
      Forest Lawn Cemetery
      Buffalo, Erie County, New York, USA Show Map
      Plot Section 12, Lot 1

      Civil War Union Brevet Brigadier General. He was born in Genesee County, New York, and educated in two different cultures. He was a trained lawyer, but was barred from practicing in New York because of his race(on grounds of lack of citizenship); he also was a self-taught engineer. He met Ulysses S. Grant before the Civil War in Galena, Illinois. Eager to join the army, he was once rejected for military service because he was an Indian. In 1863, with Grant's support, he was commissioned as a staff officer for another friend from Galena, Brigadier General John E. Smith, he served as chief engineer of the 7th Division, XVII Corps, Army of the Tennessee. He became reacquainted with Grant during the Vicksburg campaign. He later served at Chattanooga and during the siege of Petersburg he joined Grant's staff as military secretary with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. There he was often derogatorily called "The Indian." He was introduced to General Robert E. Lee in the parlor of the McLean House at Appomattox. Lee replied, "I am glad to see one real American here," he replied, We are all Americans." Writing out the terms of surrender for Grant's signature, he had reached the height of his military career. After the war he continued as Grant's secretary until the beginning of Grant's presidency, serving as a Second Lieutenant in the 2nd Cavalry and still later as Colonel and aide-de-camp. He was brevetted Brigadier General in both the volunteers and in the regulars for the war. His brevet was backdated to the day of Lee's surrender. In 1869 President Grant astounded the nation by appointing him commissioner of Indian affairs, a post never before deemed suitable for an Indian. He served as Chief of the six Iroquois Nations, consisting of the Tuscaroras, Cayugas, Senecas, Mohawks, Oneidas, and Onondagas. Beset both by corrupt profiteers and overzealous churchmen, he was investigated by the House of Representatives. Exonerated, he resigned in sorrow and attempted a career in business, in which he was not successful. Before his death in Fairfield, Connecticut, he sank into poverty and left his widow with no income and few possessions; those included, however, one of the valuable manifold (carbon) copies of the surrender he had written at Appomattox. He is buried near friends, Red Jacket, Little Billy, Young King, Tall Peter, Destroy Town, and Louis Bennett, also known as Deerfoot.

      Bio by: Ugaalltheway

      Researched by Ted Smith

    3. [S1225] (Reliability: 3), 27 Dec 2018.
      Daily Inter Ocean (Chicago, Illinois), 25 Dec 1867, page 2

      Miss Minnie Sackett, the lady to whom Col. Parker, the Indian, was married, yesterday, at Washington, is a daughter of Amodio, the singer. After his death her mother married Col. Sackett, of Oneida county, N.Y., and is a widow for a second time, Col. S. having been killed in Virginia during the war. Miss Sackett is nineteen years of age, and is said to be very handsome.

      Transcribed by Ted Smith

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