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24 July 2005


The following article is of interest to the history of the Old Northwest Confederacy to which the Delaware belonged. It is taken from William Walker, The Provisional Government of Nebraska Territory, pp. 62-63. It was part of legislative report at the time: "It is well known that for the last hundred years a league has existed between the following tribes, viz: Wyandot, Delaware, Chippewa, Ottawa, Pottawottomie, Shawnee, and Miami. This League unanimously elected the Wyandott the Keeper of the Council fire, where all diplomatic and other important matters involving the interests of the several tribes composing this league were to be discussed. Whether in peace or War this league maintained a unity of mind and action in all important measures. On the happening of any important event interesting to them, it appears from past history, that the Keeper of the Council fire was the member whose duty it was to apprise the members by a confidential running bearing the official wampum. of the nature of the information received.

In pursuance of this understanding mutually entered into, the tribes composing this Confederacy naturally looked to the Wyandott for all official information of importance to them. Thus the principles of this compact were kept up till by the action of the U. S. Gov't  the tribes composing the Confederacy removed from the North and East to the west of the Mississippi. This caused some derangement in our intercourse with each other--caused an interruption of the usual interchange of friendly messages. Thus matters continued till the autumn (Oct) of 1848, when the members of the League assembled for the first time in the West and demanded "Where is the Council Fire? The keeper promptly responded: "When I rose from my seat in the East with my face to the West, I snatched the only fire brand yet burning in the Council fire and bro't it with me; and here my brethren I rekindle it in the West. Light the pipe and scour up my dish and Camp kettle again." At this first session West, all the former arrangements of the league were solemnly renewed and two other tribes joined us and agreed to incur the responsibilities and abide by the regulations and joint acts of the league, viz: The Kickapoos and Kansas...The Wyandot thus being formally reappointed the Keeper of the Council fire in the West, the obligation still rests upon him to discharge faithfully those obligations he incurred when originally invested with this mark of distinction. [The October 1848 meeting was probably held at or near Fort Leavenworth.]

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Laser copy 13 May 2002 (TH). This Page Was Last Edited 31 January 2004. Photo check A. TH.