Proposals of the Senecas

Scanned Document:

Propositions Made to Us by the Sinnekus in Fort Orange, the 25th of July 1660


The Hon. General Petrus Stuyvesant and the gentlemen of both the courts here

First, they say, that it is now some years past since they were at the Manhattans and brought presents there, without having received any return for it, not even a pipeful of tobacco; whereupon they give three beavers.[1]

Second, they say that a year or two ago they requested that they might receive a blanket and a piece of cloth for one beaver, to which they got no other answer than that we would tell them when the ships came; whereupon they give three beavers.

Third, “We only make a little request of you and yet in asking this it is as if we ran against a stone.” They thereupon give three beavers.

Fourth, they say, “When we were at the Manhattans, we concluded our friendship and bound ourselves together with a chain, and this is only for a renewal of it.” They give thereupon three beavers.

Fifth, they say, “Let us be of one mind, and when you ask something of us, we shall in turn listen to you.” They thereupon present three beavers.

Sixth, they say, “We are now engaged in a difficult war[2] and we can get no powder or lead unless we have beavers, and a good soldier ought to have powder and lead for nothing.” They thereupon give three beavers.

Seventh, they say, “We thank you for all that we now receive as a gift, caps, stockings, shoes, shirts, and breechclouts.” They thereupon give two beavers.

Eighth, they say, “Now, once more a large group of Sinnekus will come and ask that they may barter their beavers at their pleasure and not be locked up by the Dutch, but be allowed to go with their beavers where they please and not be beaten when they want their beavers to trade at another place.” They thereupon give three beavers.

Ninth, they say, “You have taken us, both Maquas and Mahikanders, with you to the peace conference ] in the Esopus. Now you ought to restore the captured Indians of the Esopus.”[3] They thereupon give two small beavers.

Tenth, “We are quite content that you have made peace with the Esopus Indians. We sometimes have to use the road also. It is very good that brothers live together in peace.”

Eleventh, they say, “You are essentially the chiefs of the entire country, to whom we all look up. We have asked to have a piece of cloth for one beaver, 50 hands of sewant for one beaver and 30 double handfuls of powder for one beaver. You have slept until now, therefore we now wake you up again.” They thereupon give three beavers.

12th, they say, “We have great trouble in getting the beavers through the enemy’s country. We request therefore much powder and lead, for if the enemy defeats us, where can we then catch beavers?” They thereupon give two beavers.

13th, they say that they request that it may from now on be settled here that they can get 30 hands of black sewant for one beaver. They thereupon give two beavers.

14th, they say that they request that they may from now on have 60 hands of white sewant for one beaver. They thereupon give two beavers.

15th, they say that sometimes when they are in a trader’s house and they wish to go to another man’s house to buy goods that appeal to them they are severely beaten till they hardly know where their eyes are. That ought not to be and everyone ought to be free to go where he pleases to buy the goods that suit him. They thereupon give two beavers.

16th, they say, “We have requested that the Dutch would not beat us any more. This you must now forbid the Dutch, so that we may smoke tobacco in peace. If you now buy two beavers’ worth of tobacco, you can smoke and think over everything. We expect to come next year with all the chiefs to hear what you have to say. This is only to arouse you for the present, but then we shall state everything thoroughly.” They thereupon give two beavers.

17th, they say, “The Dutch are sending so many brokers into the woods from one house, that they do not know where to go with their beavers. Each house ought to have something. They, that is to say, the brokers, pull one this way and that, so that one does not know where to go. That should not be tolerated, but each house ought to have something.” They thereupon give one beaver.

18th, they say, “The French Indians will visit the Mahikanders at the Cahous.[4] They greatly bewail this. And as you are bound to them with a chain, you ought to be sad also.” They thereupon give one beaver.

19th, they request that the honorable general warn all the Dutchmen not to beat the Indians anymore; otherwise, the Dutch say that they know nothing about it. And that they may go with their beavers where they please, without being beaten. Whereupon they give one beaver.


A large group of Sinneken appeared at Manhattan in 1656. They brought 4000 beaver pelts to trade for guns and ammunition. Their petition to establish a trading house at Nederhorst opposite Manhattan across the Hudson River was an attempt to circumvent the Mohawk, who controlled access to Fort Orange. Stuyvesant forwarded this appeal to Amsterdam where it was eventually denied by the WIC directors. See “Bontemantel Papers,” 522/1 at NYPL and NYCD, 14:373.
Reference is to the Sinneken’s war with the Susquehannock or Minquaes west of the Delaware Valley, and possibly with the French and their Indian allies for control of the fur trade.
During the First Esopus War eleven Indian captives were sent to Curaçao to work with the Negroes in the service of the company. It was hoped that this would keep the Indians in line. In 1661 two of the Indians were returned to demonstrate a reward for good behavior.
Cohoes Falls, near the mouth of the Mohawk River


Translation: Gehring, C., trans./ed., New Netherland Documents Series: Vol. 16, part 2, Fort Orange Court Minutes, 1652-1660 (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press: 1990).A complete copy of this publication is available on the New Netherland Institute website.