Cherokee Phoenix


Published September, 29, 1832

Page 4 Column 2a


The most dangerous pretenders among them are the sorcerers who not only impose upon and frighten the superstitious, but, with the foul spirit of Satan, they commit horrid murders, and are generally cunning enough to conceal their wickedness. The following anecdote, related, by Mr. Hockewelder, in which one of these impostors was brought to the test of truth, will also show how deeply rooted is the belief of the Indians in these fancied supernatural powers. Sometime about the year 1786, a Quaker trader, of the name of Anderson, who, among the Indians, was called the honest Quaker trader, after vainly endeavoring to convince them of the folly of witchcraft, defied their sorcerers to produce any effect upon him. He desired that two of them might be brought to him successively on different days, for the purpose of trying their art. The first conjurer, however, declared that Anderson was so good a man, and so much the friend of Indians, that he would not injure him. The other was a different stamp. He was an arch sorcerer, whose fame was extended far and wide, and was much dreaded by the Indians, who dissuaded Anderson from exposing himself to what they deemed certain destruction. It was only stipulated before hand that the magician should not be armed, nor carry poison, or anything of a destructive nature about him, and that he should not approach nearer than twelve feet. The spectators being assembled, the sorcerer took his seat, arrayed in the most frightful manner that he could devise. The wizard began the murmury(sic) by working with his fingers on a blanket, plucking now and then a little wool, and breathing on it, then rolling it together in small rolls of the size of a bean, and went through a number antic tricks. Anderson remained cool and composed, now and then calling to his antagonist not to be sparing of his exertions. The conjurer now began to make the most horrid gesticulations. At last, while the eyes of the spectators were all fixed on this brave man, to observe the effect of the sorcerers craft, the terrible conjurer, finding that all his efforts were vain, gave up the point; alleging, as an excuse 'that the quantity of salt which the Americans used with their food was what preserved them from the effects of sorcery.' Though it was easy to see through this miserable pretence, yet the Indians are so infatuated on this subject, that they gave to the impostor's lame excuse the most implicit belief.