Primary Sources

Chief Canasatego of the Onondaga nation often served as spokesperson for the larger Iroquois Confederation.  He is cited in the following excerpt:

In 1744, when the Virginia legislature offered free tuition at the the College of William and Mary to six Iroquois youths, the Iroquois politely declined.  Explaining their reasons, the great Onondaga spokesman Canasatego told why a college education made no sense at all:

    “We have had some experience of it. Several of our young people were formerly brought up in the colleges of the Northern provinces; they were instructed in all your sciences; but, when they came back to us, they were bad runners, ignorant of every means of living in the woods, unable to bear either cold or hunger, knew neither how to build a cabin, take a deer, nor kill an enemy, spoke our language imperfectly, were therefore neither fit for hunters, warriors, nor counselors; they were totally good for nothing.

    “We are however no the less obliged for your kind offer, though we decline accepting it; and to show our grateful sense of it, if the gentleman of Virginia shall send us a dozen of their sons, we will take great care of their education, and instruct them in all we know, and make men of them.”

Excerpted from Through Indian Eyes: The Untold Story of Native American Peoples.  Edited by John L. Cobbs, et al. Available at Amazon.

* Clicking the link to the left will lead you to a wealth of primary sources, starting with one printed by Ben Franklin.  (See other primary source links in the right-hand margin of that page.)  And please notice that each new page leads to other links.  All from the Smithsonian (Washington, DC) libraries. A goldmine for history.