THE LAST OF THE NANTICOKES
AN INDIAN LEDGEND
THE BALTIMORE REPUBLICAN
Abstract from an article printed in the Saturday, May 11, 1844 issue of the Sunbury American & Shamokin Journal
Sunbury, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania
To some there is an astonishment for the waste of sympathy for the American Savage. “Lo! The Poor Indian.” “The Noble Red Man of the Forest.”
Reality paints characters of blood, heartless butcheries, committed of innocent and defenseless women and children, symphathy fades.
It is maintained by some that there is not a noble trait in an Indian character. He buries his tomahawk in the skull of an enemy, takes the infant from the mothers breast, takes scalps to sang from his trophy belt.
This is a tail of an old soldier, ten or twelve years ago, which illustrates Indian character.
Any person who has traveled along the Susquehanna river in dead of winter can tell you of the bleak and cheerless country about the Shamokin area that time of year. Before civilization came to the area many way worn traveler fell upon crusted snow and breathed his last. It was this time of year that two hardy 'pioneers' ventured to establish communities along the West Branch, the Delaware Tribe of Indians of 200 and some warriors, settled where Lewisburg now stands, because of a scarcity of provision about the main body of the Delaware River.
Here they set their lodges and made preparation for a grand buffalo hunt.
Two hundred miles up the river there were living a remnant of a fierce and reckless tribe, the Nanticokes, maybe six hundred men, women and children, who were once a powerful nation but their treachery had rendered them now as 'outlaws' with other tribes.
These Nanticokes having news that Delawares were encamped below them , destroyed their camp and marched toward the Delaware tribe, reaching the opposite side of the river, the Delaware camp, within a week. Here they build their new camp. This lawless tribe well known to the Delawares and their chiefs gave orders not to communicate whatsoever with the Nanticokes. This was a eath blow to the Nanticoke braves who had come here with the express purpose of having liaisons with the women of the Delaware tribe.
The refusal of the Delawares to smoke the peace pipe provoked the Nanticokes which calls a council to avenge the insult. After many opinions of how to best punish these neighbors, Chief Chuttawee, a noble looking, and heartless, individual arose and urged that the most satisfactory procedure to the Nanticokes and the more excruciating to the Delawares was to violate their women. This proposition as excepted and Chief Chuttawee pledged himself to bring about the opportunity.
True to his word Chief Chuttawee skulked about the Delaware camp until he met a dark eyed, dusky Delaware maid who was unable to withstand the honeyed advance of the handsome Nanticoke Chief , who wooed and won, got all the information as to their movements he desired. He found of the preparations for the great buffalo hunt, awaiting to see the trail of the herd going to buffalo valley, after which the hunting business would commence.
Chuttawee took advantage of the information and the very next night he and a select party succeeded I making an artificial buffalo track trail in the crusted snow some three or four miles up the valley . Early the next morning yells of rejoicing were heard and there was all bustle and commotion. Quivers were filled and every man who could bend a bow started on the hunt. Their voices scarcely died away and the Nanticoke's crossed the ice a began the works of destruction. By this time the hunting party had reached the end of the tracks, deception flashed upomn their minds and like a herd of deer they returned to devastation and the shrieks of the wives and daughters, it was too late. Viliany had been consummated. The Natnticoke were back in camp across the ice.
The Delaware Chiefs assembled. The council fire blazed high in the air. Each chief was depicted with anger, deep ab damning, for the tenderest chord of the savage had been severed, the determination to drink deep of the Nanticoke blood was made. Within the hour, deliberations were done, the war dance performed, with war whoops , the marched toward the Nanticoke camp, even knowing there were twice the number of warriors to contend with. The Nanticoke expected them , and by common consent, all marched to the mouth of the Chillisquaque creek, both tribes leaving the old, the wives and children, behind. At length they reached the battleground and the massacre commenced. Loud were the yells of the dying and wounded, but calm succeeds, the works completed. The Nanticokes were exterminated, and only sixth of the two hundred Delawares remained. These sixty warriors were not satisfied , tey went to the Nanticoke village, dragged all Nanticoke, aged elders, women and children , to the gory battle field , piled them with dead bodies, binding them together with pine fagots and applied the torch, next began a dance of victory, which lasted after night fall.
As the blaze ascended to heaven cries of the suffers were drowned by the victorious shouts of the sixty warriors which did not stop until the heap of dead and dying was reduced to a pile of ashes, the last of the Nanticokes