Lyda Conley's Legal Argument to Preserve the Huron Indian Cemetery

"As we shall attempt to speak to you, this afternoon, about Huron  Cemetery, we are mindful of the fact that "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou  eat bread till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken; for  dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return."

  History tells us that a superstitious reverence for and burial of the dead  has been found a distinguishing trait of Indian character--to some extent we  believe this to be true--as graves of the redmen were their only monuments, so  traditions were their only history.  The Wyandots or Hurons, including the Eries or Erigas, Ahrendahronous, and the Attiwandorouk or "Neutral Nation  Canada, are one of the three divisions of the Wyandot-Iroquois Family--a  distinct, and historically famous group, allied ethnically to the Algonquins, and  linguistically, Morgan thinks, to the Dakotas.
The Wyandots of Wyandot County, Ohio having been promised 148,000 acres of land in Kansas, in lieu of their annuity, which under the treaty of January 29, 1817 was to have been paid annually forever, were persuaded to  sell their lands in the states of Michigan and Ohio, and came to what is now  known as Wyandotte County, Kansas, around the year 1842.  The excuse given for not keeping this agreement was that so large a tract could not be found unclaimed.  The Delawares, who in the year 1640 were compelled to purchase  land from the Wyandots , feeling they owed a moral obligation to the Wyandots, sold them the land in the fork of the Missouri and Kansas Rivers, consisting of 39 sections of land for which they paid $48,000

The Wyandots, we find adhered to the cause of the United States during the war with Great Britain, and in consequence of such adherence their property was injured or destroyed, for which under the 12th article of the  treaty of September 29, 1817, the United States engaged to pay in the course of the year 1818, damages in the amount of $4319 at Upper Sandusky.

My grandfather Isaac Zane, whose Indian name was Mawcasharrow, was a scout, and also carried mail in the War of 1812.  He was among the  number of the head men of the tribe and chiefs who came to Kansas in the  year 1842 to purchase the land of the Delaware Indians which sale was  consummated July 25, 1848.  This purchase included Huron Cemetery, which  under the treaty of Jan. 31, 1855 was not ceded to the United States, being then in use as a public cemetery, but on the other hand the 2nd article of said treaty  provided:  "The portion now enclosed and used as a public burying ground shall be permanently reserved and appropriated for that purpose:, and the Supreme Court of the United States in Peters 498, 513 and 145 U.S. 539, held that whenever a tract of land has been legally appropriated to any purpose,  from that moment it becomes severed from the mass of public lands, and no subsequent law or proclamation, or sale will be construed to embrace it, or to operate upon it, although no reservation of it be made; and have held , also,  that "It is well settled in the United States that cemeteries are among the purposes for which land may be dedicated, and it is held that, upon such dedication, the owner is precluded from exercising his former rights over the  land."

The first case of record three thousand seven hundred and eighty-three   years ago states "and his sons did unto him according as he commanded them, the field of Ephron, which was in Machpelah, which was before Mamre,  the field, and the cave which was therein, and all the trees that were in the field, that were in all the borders round about, were made sure, Unto Abraham for a possession in the presence of the Children of Seth, before all  that went in at the gate of his city.  And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his  wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre:  The same is Hebron  in the land of Canaan.  And the field is and the cave that is therein, were  made sure unto Abraham for a possession of burying place...And that one  hundred and eighty three years later "Jacob called unto his sons, and, he  charged them, and said unto them, "I am to be gathered unto my people; bury  me with my fathers in the cave that is in Ephron the Mamre, in the land of  Canaan, which Abraham  bought with the field of Ephron the Hittite for a  possession of a burying place. There they buried Abraham and Sarah, his wife;  there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife; and there I buried Leah."

  And his sons did unto him according as he commanded them.  For his  sons carried him unto the land of Canaan, and buried him in the cave of the  field of Machpelah, which Abraham bought with the field for a possession of a  burying place of Ephron the Hittite before Mamre."

 Like Jacob of old I too, when I shall be gathered unto my people, desire  that they bury me with my fathers in Huron Cemetery, the most sacred and  hallowed spot on earth to me, and I cannot believe that this is superstitious  reverence any more than I can believe that the reverence every true American  has for the grave of Washington at Mount Vernon is a superstitious reverence.

 Huron Cemetery is known to be the oldest (sic) burial ground in the  State of Kansas.  Just when the first internment was made therein, we have not  been able to ascertain.  We find however, that in the year 1843,  a chief by the  name Matthew Peacock, aged 68 years, and in the year 1844, Squeendechtee,  another chief who was at that time 61 years of age, died and was buried  therein.  Other chiefs whose graves we find there are Rontondee or Warpole,  Tauromee, Summundowat, Hawdownwaugh or Mathhews, Monocue or  Thomas, Dawatout or John Hicks, Big Tree, Tall Charles, Sarahess, Clark,  Armstrong and many others space will not permit us to mention.

  The wisest man the world has ever known admonishes, "Remove not  the ancient (landmark), which thy fathers have set.."  and that the hand of the  desecrator "remove not the old landmark; and enter not unto fields of the  fatherless; For their redeemer is mighty; he shall plead their cause with thee."

 Man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the street; or ever the  silver cord be loose, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at  the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern.

  Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit shall  return unto God who gave it."