Smithsonian

Dutch missionary John Megapolensis on the Mohawks (Iroquois), 1644

In 1643, Dutch minister John Megapolensis became the town’s first pastor at Fort Orange (near Albany). As pastor he was not allowed to farm or trade, but received support from the town, while diligently performing his duties, which included teaching the Indians about Christ.

The Women are obliged to prepare the Land, to mow, to plant, and do every Thing; the Men do nothing except hunting, fishing, and going to War against their Enemies: they treat their Enemies with great Cruelty in Time of War, for they first bite off the Nails of the Fingers of their Captives, and cut off some joints, and sometimes the whole of the Fingers; after that the Captives are obliged to sing and dance before them . . ., and finally they roast them before a slow Fire for some Days, and eat them. . . . Though they are very cruel to their Enemies, they are very friendly to us: we are under no Apprehensions from them. . . .

They are entire Strangers to all Religion, but they have a Tharonhijouaagon, (which others also call Athzoockkuatoriaho) i.e. a Genius which they put in the Place of God, but they do not worship or present Offerings to him: they worship and present Offerings to the Devil whom they call Otskon or Airekuoni. . . . They have otherwise no Religion: when we pray they laugh at us; some of them despise it entirely, and some when we tell them what we do when we pray, stand astonished. When we have a Sermon, sometimes ten or twelve of them, more or less, will attend, each having a long Tobacco Pipe, made by himself, in his Month, and will stand a while and look, and afterwards ask me what I was doing and what I wanted, that I stood there alone and made so many Words, and none of the rest might speak? I tell them I admonished the Christians, that they must not steal, . . . get drunk, or commit Murder, and that they too ought not to do these Things, and that I intend after a while to preach to them. . . . They say I do well in teaching the Christians, but immediately add Diatennon jawij Assyreoni hagiouisk, that is, why do so many Christians do these Things. They call us Assyreoni, that is, Cloth-Makers, or Charistooni, that is, Iron-Workers, because our People first brought Cloth and Iron among them...

Credit: Ebenezer Hazard, Historical Collections (Philadelphia, 1792), 1, 520-526.