Iroquois Confederacy (Haudenosaunee)

http://www.indigenouspeople.net/Iroquoisnation/

Iroquois Literature

(Haudenosaunee)

The Iroquois also known as the Haudenosaunee, the Five Nations and Five Nations of the Iroquois (Six Nations after 1722), and (to themselves) the Goano’ganoch’sa’jeh’seroni or Ganonsyoni, are a historically powerful important Native American people who formed the Iroquois Confederacy, a league of five (later six) distinct nations. French, Dutch and British colonists in both Canada and the Thirteen Colonies wanted to curry favor with the Iroquois; for nearly 200 years considerations of the Iroquois were a powerful factor in North American colonial policy-making decisions. All sides wooed them, each settlement feared them, politically they were unique, a large Native American polity which, until during the American Revolution, could not be divided.

When Europeans first arrived in North America, the Haudenosaunee were based in what is now the northeastern United States, primarily in what is referred to today as upstate New York west of the Hudson River and through the Finger Lakes region. In 1995, more than 50,000 enrolled Six Nations people lived in Canada, and about 30,000 in the United States. After the defeat of the British and their Iroquois allies in the American Revolutionary War, most migrated to Canada and their descendants live there.

The Iroquois are a mix of horticulturalists, farmers, fishers, gatherers and hunters, though their main diet traditionally has come from farming. The main crops they cultivated are corn, beans and squash, which were called the three sisters and are considered special gifts from the Creator. These crops are grown strategically. The cornstalks grow, the bean plants climb the stalks, and the squash grow beneath, inhibiting weeds and keeping the soil moist under the shade of their broad leaves. In this combination, the soil remained fertile for several decades. The food was stored during the winter, and it lasted for two to three years. When the soil eventually lost its fertility, the Haudenosaunee migrated.

The Iroquois believe that the spirits change the seasons. Key festivals coincided with the major events of the agricultural calendar, including a harvest festival of thanksgiving. The Great Peacemaker (Deganawida) was their prophet. After the arrival of the Europeans, many Iroquois became Christians, among them Kateri Tekakwitha, a young woman of Mohawk-Algonquin parents. Traditional spirituality was revived to some extent in the second half of the 18th century by the teachings of the Haudenosaunee prophet Handsome Lake.

http://www.indigenouspeople.net/iroquois.htm

Thayendanegea
(Joseph Brant)

“Those who have one foot in the canoe and
one foot in the boat are going to fall in the river.”

Tuscarora Saying

The Iroquois call themselves the Haudenosaunee, which means “People of the Longhouse,” or more accurately, “They Are Building a Long House.” According to their tradition, The Great Peacemaker introduced the name at the time of the formation of the League. It implies that the nations of the League should live together as families in the same longhouse.

Traditionally, Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) are the guardians of the eastern door, as they are located in the east closest to the Hudson, and the Seneca are the guardians of the western door of the “tribal longhouse”, the territory they controlled in present-day New York. Onöñda’gega’ (Onondaga), whose homeland is in the center of Haudenosaunee territory, are keepers of the League’s (both literal and figurative) central flame.

The Grand Council of the Iroquois League is an assembly of 56 Hoyenah (chiefs) or Sachems, a number that has never changed. Today, the seats on the Council are distributed among the Six Nations as follows:

Iroquois Confederacy
(Haudenosaunee)

14 Onondaga
10 Cayuga
9 Oneida
9 Mohawk
8 Seneca
6 Tuscarora

0-1

The original homeland of the Iroquois was in upstate New York between the Adirondack Mountains and Niagara Falls. Through conquest and migration, they gained control of most of the northeastern United States and eastern Canada. At its maximum in 1680, their empire extended west from the north shore of Chesapeake Bay through Kentucky to the junction of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers; then north following the Illinois River to the south end of Lake Michigan; east across all of lower Michigan, southern Ontario and adjacent parts of southwestern Quebec; and finally south through northern New England west of the Connecticut River through the Hudson and upper Delaware Valleys across Pennsylvania back to the Chesapeake. With two exceptions – the Mingo occupation of the upper Ohio Valley and the Caughnawaga migration to the upper St. Lawrence – the Iroquois did not, for the most part, physically occupy this vast area but remained in their upstate New York villages.

During the hundred years preceding the American Revolution, wars with French-allied Algonquin and British colonial settlement forced them back within their original boundaries once again. Their decision to side with the British during the Revolutionary War was a disaster for the Iroquois. The American invasion of their homeland in 1779 drove many of the Iroquois into southern Ontario where they have remained. With large Iroquois communities already located along the upper St. Lawrence in Quebec at the time, roughly half of the Iroquois population has since lived in Canada. This includes most of the Mohawk along with representative groups from the other tribes. Although most Iroquois reserves are in southern Ontario and Quebec, one small group (Michel’s band) settled in Alberta during the 1800s as part of the fur trade.

Iroquois Leaders

Ahyouywaigh
(John Brant)

Cornplanter Kiontwogky
(Corn Plant)

Iroquois Constitution

Iroquois Oral Traditions

Cayuga Nation
[Guyohkohnyo – People of the
Seneca Nation]

Tuscaroras Nation
[Skaroreh Katenuaka Nation]

Mohawk Nation

Onandaga Nation

Oneida Nation/Onyota’a:ka:
(People of the Satnding Stone)

Oren Lyons

Iroquois Links

Haudenosaunee Dances and Songs

Haudenosaunee Iroquois Confederacy

The Natural World teaming, with life allows each species to live & to be different. Differences do not cause conflict as much as disrespect. The following are Cultural differences that Hodenoshaunee have and they are offered for your consideration and understanding.

1) Our cultural knowledge explains that our two people were created separately on two different continents. We did not come across the Bering Strait. To be placed on a progressive continuum is in itself the purest form of racism.

2) We begin to travel in two paths with understanding, respect and cooperation,the bench mark of separation.

3) We have two distinct legacies of life. We each have an entirely different way of viewing the world. These differences have led us to deal with each other in a sometimes bizarre mannar.

4) Aboriginal world view contains a greater sense of the current completeness of existence.

5) Aboriginal people have a different way of seeing reality. Any discussion of land becomes a discussion of religion, kinship and is our view of land. We view everything as possessing a life and we look to the unity of whole as the completeness of existence. All life comes from Mother Earth.

6) Belief is more important than what they can prove.

7) Land does not belong to us. It belongs to the coming faces (generations to come). In this sense, we cannot own,sell buy and give land away. It belongs to all.

8) Everything is related and survival depends on how one exercises the use of resources. We only take what we can use.

9) Our view of time and space is different. The spirts allow us to return to the orgins of ceremonies and as long as we do them in completeness we can draw on that original power and strength. It seeks harmony in a cyclical contact over time. We are concerned with being and maintaining rather than becoming developing, changing, making and storing.

10) Every Hodenoshaunee person has a personal relation with nature and does not strive to control it. There is no connection of land, labor and wealth.

11) The future does not contain the stimulating prospect of progress.

12) To meet the Non-Native halfway is to self destruct.

13) Why is the option of leading a separate cultural domain into the future so shocking? Reaction would be pure racism. Any one wants to be different. Work on understanding the difference. Form a partnership not a marriage.

by Chief Harvey Longboat
Six nations

Simply put, the Iroquois were the most important native group in North American history. Culturally, however, there was little to distinguish them from their Iroquian-speaking neighbors. All had matrilineal social structures – the women owned all property and determined kinship. The individual Iroquois tribes were divided into three clans, turtle, bear, and wolf – each headed by the clan mother. The Seneca were like the Huron tribes and had eight (the five additional being the crane, snipe, hawk, beaver, and deer). After marriage, a man moved into his wife’s longhouse, and their children became members of her clan. Iroquois villages were generally fortified and large. The distinctive, communal longhouses of the different clans could be over 200′ in length and were built about a framework covered with elm bark, the Iroquois’ material of choice for all manner of things. Villages were permanent in the sense they were moved only for defensive purposes or when the soil became exhausted (about every twenty years).

Agriculture provided most of the Iroquois diet. Corn, beans, and squash were known as “deohako” or “life supporters.” Their importance to the Iroquois was clearly demonstrated by the six annual agricultural festivals held with prayers of gratitude for their harvests. The women owned and tended the fields under the supervision of the clan mother. Men usually left the village in the fall for the annual hunt and returned about midwinter. Spring was fishing season. Other than clearing fields and building villages, the primary occupation of the men was warfare. Warriors wore their hair in a distinctive scalplock (Mohawk of course), although other styles became common later. While the men carefully removed all facial and body hair, women wore theirs long. Tattoos were common for both sexes. Torture and ritual cannibalism were some of the ugly traits of the Iroquois, but these were shared with several other tribes east of the Mississippi. The False Face society was an Iroquois healing group which utilized grotesque wooden masks to frighten the evil spirts believed to cause illness.

It was the Iroquois political system, however, that made them unique, and because of it, they dominated the first 200-years of colonial history in both Canada and the United States. Strangely enough, there were never that many of them, and the enemies they defeated in war were often twice their size. Although much has been made of their Dutch firearms, the Iroquois prevailed because of their unity, sense of purpose, and superior political organization. Since the Iroquois League was formed prior to any contact, it owed nothing to European influence. Proper credit is seldom given, but the reverse was actually true. Rather than learning political sophistication from Europeans, Europeans learned from the Iroquois, and the League, with its elaborate system of checks, balances,, and supreme law, almost certainly influenced the American Articles of Confederation and Constitution.

Canadian Genealogy (The Iroquois)

Iroquois Indian Museum

The Great Peace CD-ROM

Aboriginal CD-ROM dedicated to the history, culture, and spirituality of the Iroquois Confederacy and The Great Law, which formed the basis of the U.S. Constitution. This CD is of high interest to schools, libraries, museums and other individuals. The website is created and maintained by natives from the Six Nations of the Grand River Reservation.

J.Garlow
Great Peace CD-ROM Webmaster

The Iroquois were originally natives of the plain, connected very probably with the Dakotas of the west. But they moved eastwards from the Mississippi valley towards Niagara, conquering as they went. No other tribe could compare with them in either bravery or ferocity. They possessed in a high degree both the virtues and the vices of Indian character–the unflinching courage and the diabolical cruelty which have made the Indian an object of mingled admiration and contempt. In bodily strength and physical endurance they were unsurpassed. Even in modern days the enervating influence of civilization has not entirely removed the original vigor of the strain. During the American Civil War of fifty years ago the five companies of Iroquois Indians recruited in Canada and in the state of New York were superior in height and measurement to any other body of five hundred men in the northern armies.

When the Iroquoian Family migrated, the Hurons settled in the western peninsula of Ontario. The name of Lake Huron still recalls their abode. But a part of the race kept moving eastward. Before the coming of the whites, they had fought their way almost to the sea. But they were able to hold their new settlements only by hard fighting. The great stockade which Cartier saw at Hochelaga, with its palisades and fighting platforms, bore witness to the ferocity of the struggle. At that place Cartier and his companions were entertained with gruesome tales of Indian fighting and of wholesale massacres. Seventy years later, in Champlain’s time, the Hochelaga stockade had vanished, and the Hurons had been driven back into the interior. But for nearly two centuries after Champlain the Iroquois retained their hold on the territory from Lake Ontario to the Hudson. The conquests and wars of extermination of these savages, and the terror which they inspired, have been summed up by General Francis Walker in the saying: ‘They were the scourge of God upon the aborigines of the continent.’

The Iroquois were in some respects superior to most of the Indians of the continent. Though they had a limited agriculture, and though they made hardly any use of metals, they had advanced further in other directions than most savages. They built of logs, houses long enough to be divided into several compartments, with a family in each compartment. By setting a group of houses together, and surrounding them with a palisade of stakes and trees set on end, the settlement was turned into a kind of fort, and could bid defiance to the limited means of attack possessed by their enemies. Inside their houses they kept a good store of corn, pumpkins and dried meat, which belonged not to each man singly but to the whole group in common. This was the type of settlement seen at Quebec and at Hochelaga, and, later on, among the Five Nations. Indeed, the Five Nations gave to themselves the picturesque name of the Long House, for their confederation resembled, as it were, the long wooden houses that held the families together.

http://www.indigenouspeople.net/hiawatha.htm

De-Ka-Nah-Wi-Da and Hiawatha

The Hiawatha in this story is the historic person of the late fourteenth century. He should not be confused with the character in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, The Song of Hiawatha.

In the late nineteenth century, the Iroquois Six Nations Council asked their six hereditary Chiefs to write in English for the first time the traditional oral history of the formation of the League of Five nations. It was formed about 1390, 100 years before Columbus discovered America. (The Tuscaroras joined the League conditionally in 1715.)

The traditional history was dictated by the six ceremonial Chiefs, one from each of these tribes: the Mohawks, Oneidas, Cayugas, Senecas, Onondagas, and the Tuscaroras. Two subchiefs were appointed secretaries, and the typewritten report was prepared by an Indian. On July 3, 1900, the completed history was approved by the Council of the Confederacy.

About 1390, an Iroquois mother living near the Bay of Quinte had a very special dream: A messenger came to her and revealed that her maiden daughter, who lived at home, would soon give birth to a son. She would call him De-ka-nah-wi-da (De-kah-a-wee-da). When a grown man, he would bring to all people the good Tidings of Peace and Power from the Chief of the Sky Spirits.

De-ka-nah-wi-da was born, as the dream foretold. He grew rapidly. One day he said to his mother and grandmother, “The time has come for me to perform my duty in the world. I will now build my canoe.”

When it was completed, and with the help of his mother and grandmother, he dragged the canoe to the edge of the water. The canoe was made of white stone. He got into it, waved good-bye, and paddled swiftly away to the East. A group of Seneca hunters on the far side of the bay saw the canoe coming toward them. De- ka-nah-wi-da stepped ashore and asked, “Why are you here?”

The first man replied, “We are hunting game for our living.”

A second man said, “There is strife in our village.”

“When you go back,” De-ka-nah-wi-da told them, “you will find that peace prevails, because the good Tidings of Peace and Power have come to the people. You will find strife removed. Tell your Chief that De-ka-nah-wi-da has brought the good news. I am now going eastward.”

The men on the lakeshore wondered, because the swift canoe was made of white stone. When they returned to their village and reported to their Chief, they found that peace prevailed.

After leaving his canoe on the east shore, De-ka-nah-wi-da travelled overland to another tribal settlement and asked the Chief, “Have you heard that Peace and Power have come to earth?”

“Yes, I have heard,” answered the Chief. “I have been thinking about it so much that I have been unable to sleep.”

De-ka-nah-wi-da then explained, “That which caused your wakefulness is now before you. Henceforth, you will be called Chief Hiawatha. You shall help me promote peace among all the tribes, so that the shedding of blood may cease among your people.”

“Wait,” said Hiawatha. “I will summon my people to hear you speak.” All assembled quickly.

“I have brought the good tidings of Peace and Power from the Chief of the Sky Spirits to all people on earth. Bloodshed must cease in the land. The Good Spirit never intended that blood should flow between human beings.”

Chief Hiawatha asked his tribe for their answer. One man asked, “What will happen to us if hostile tribes are on either side of us?”

“Those nations have already accepted the good news that I have brought them,” replied De-ka-nah-wi-da. Hiawatha’s tribe then also accepted the new plan of peace.

When the Messenger departed, Hiawatha walked with him for a short distance. “There is one I wish to warn you about because he may do evil to you,” confided De-ka-nah-wi-da. “He is a wizard and lives high above Lake Onondaga. He causes storms to capsize boats and is a mischief-maker. I go on to the East.”

Hiawatha had three daughters. The eldest became ill and died. Not long afterward, the second daughter died. All of the tribe gathered to console Hiawatha and to help him forget his great sorrow. One of the warriors suggested a game of lacrosse.

During the game, the last of Hiawatha’s daughters went to the spring for water. Halfway there, she saw a beautiful high-flying bird of many bright colours. She called for the people to look at the bird. Then the huge creature swooped down toward her. In fear, she started to run back to her lodge. At the same time, the people came running to see the bird. Hiawatha’s daughter was knocked down in the confusion. They did not see her and she was trampled to death.

“Has the wizard sent that bird and caused the death of my daughter?” wondered Hiawatha. Deeper in sorrow, he decided to leave his tribe and go away.

A few days later, he met De-ka-nah-wi-da, who commissioned him a Peacemaker. Henceforth, Hiawatha would spend his time going from village to village and spread the good Tidings of Peace and Power, so that the children of the future would live in peace.

The Mohawk Nation was the first to accept the peace plan, and they invited Hiawatha to make his home with them. One night De- ka-nah-wi-da appeared outside Hiawatha’s sleeping room. “It is now urgent,” he said softly, “that you come with me. We must go at once to another settlement. I have been there before and I promised to return.”

On their way, they came to a large lake. De-ka-nah-wi-da asked Hiawatha to choose between paddling across the rough water and flying over it. Remembering the warning about the wizard, he chose to fly over the lake. De-ka-nah-wi-da used his supernatural power and turned both of them into high-flying birds.

When they reached the opposite shore, they resumed their natural bodies. Then they journeyed to the top of a very high hill to see the one chief, the great wizard, who had not yet accepted the good news of peace. Upon seeing him, Hiawatha was startled–the wizard’s head was a mass of writhing snakes. His hands and feet were claw-like and twisted. He used his power to persecute others.

After a long time of discussion and gentle persuasion, Hiawatha noticed that the wizard began to smile! He exclaimed, “I do want to accept your plan of Peace and Power.”

At once the wizard began to change. His hands and feet straightened. Hiawatha combed the snakes from his hair. Soon other chiefs arrived to help in the wizard’s regeneration.

De-ka-nah-wi-da then asked all the chiefs and their chief warriors and assistants to meet on the shores of Lake Onondaga for a Council. Hiawatha, Chief of the Mohawks, asked the Oneida, Seneca, and Cayuga chiefs to bow their heads with him before the reformed wizard, who was the Onondaga Chief Atotarho (A-ta-tar’- ho). This was their way of showing their acceptance of him and their willingness to follow his leadership when called upon.

The Messenger stood before the Council and explained a plan for the Constitution of the Iroquois League of Peace:

“Let us now give thanks to the Great Chief of the Sky Spirits, for our power is now complete. ‘Yo-Hen, Yo-Hen,”‘ he said, meaning praise and thanksgiving.

The Great Spirit created man, the animals, earth, and all the growing things. I appoint you, Atotarho, Chief of the Onondagas, to be Fire-Keeper of your new Confederacy Council of the Five United Iroquois Nations.

“Chief Warrior and Chief Mother will now place upon your head the horns of a buck deer, a sign of your authority.

“Hiawatha shall be the Chief Spokesman for the Council. He will be the first to consider a subject and to give his opinion. He shall then ask the Senecas, Oneidas, and the Cayugas for their opinions, in that order. If not unanimous, Atotarho’s opinion will be considered next. Hiawatha shall continue the debate until a unanimous decision is reached. If not accomplished within a reasonable time, the subject shall be dropped.

“Let us now make a great white Wampum of shell beads strung on deer sinews. Each bead will signify an event and create a design of memory. We shall place it on the ground before the Fire- Keeper. Beside it we shall lay a large White Wing. With it, he can wash away any dust or spot–symbolic of destroying any evil that might cause trouble.

“We shall give the Fire-Keeper a rod to remove any creeping thing that might appear to harm the White Wampum or your grandchildren. If he should ever need help, he shall call out in his thunderous voice for the other Nations of the Confederacy to come to his aid.

“Each Chief shall organize his own tribe in the same way for the peace, happiness, and contentment of all his people. Each Chief shall sit at the head of his own Council and matters shall be referred to him for final decision.

“In the future, your Annual Confederacy Council Fire shall be held here at the Onondaga village of Chief Atotarho. It will be your Seat of Government.

“Let us now plant a symbolic tree of long leaves destined to grow tall and strong. It will represent your unity and strength. When other nations wish to accept the good Tidings of Peace and Power, they shall be seated within the Confederacy Council. Atop the tall tree will proudly sit an all-seeing eagle to watch and warn you of any danger.

“Let each Chief now bring one arrow to form a bundle of arrows. Tie them together so tightly that they cannot be bent or broken apart. Place the bundle of arrows beside the Council Fire as another symbol of your unity and strength.

“Let us join hands firmly, binding ourselves together in a circle. If a tree should fall upon the circle, your circle cannot be broken. Your people can thus be assured of your unity and peace.

“If a Council Chief should ever want to remove himself as Chief, then his Horns of Authority shall be placed upon the head of his hereditary successor.

“You Chiefs must now decide what you will do with your war weapons,” said De-ka-nah-wi-da.

Hiawatha then led the thoughtful discussion of the subject. The men agreed to dig a deep chasm where there was a rushing river beneath. Into this river the chiefs and their chief warriors threw all of their armaments of war. Then they closed the chasm forever.

De-ka-nah-wi-da reconvened the Council and stated:

“I charge you never to disagree seriously among yourselves. If you do, you might cause the loss of any rights of your grandchildren, or reduce them to poverty and shame. Your skin must be seven hands thick to stand for what is right in your heart. Exercise great patience and goodwill toward each other in your deliberations. Never, never disgrace yourselves by becoming angry. Let the good Tidings of Peace and Power and righteousness be your guide in all your Council Fires. Cultivate good feelings of friendship, love, and honour for each other always.

“In the future, vacancies shall be filled from the same hereditary tribes and clans from which the first Chiefs were chosen. The Chief Mother will control the chiefship titles and appoint hereditary successors. New Chiefs shall be confirmed by the Confederacy Council before the Condolence Ceremony. At that time, the Horns of Authority shall be placed upon the head of the new Chief.

“All hunting grounds are to be in common. All tribes shall have co-equal rights within your common boundaries. I now proclaim the formation of the League of the Five Iroquois Nations completed. I leave in your hands these principles I have received from the Chief of the Sky Spirits. In the future you will have the power to add any necessary rules for the safety and well-being of the Confederacy.

“My mission is now fulfilled. May your Confederacy continue from generation to generation–as long as the sun will shine, the grass will grow, the water will run. I go to cover myself with bark. I will have no successor and no one shall be called by my name.” De-ka-nah-wi-da departed from the Council Fire.

Chief Spokesman and Lawgiver Hiawatha arose before the Council and stated, “Hereafter, when opening and closing the Council Fire, the Fire-Keeper shall pick up the White Wampum strings and hold them high to honour all that has gone before. He will offer praise and thanksgiving to the Great Spirit. In Annual Council, the Chiefs will smoke the Pipe of Great Peace.

“If a chief stubbornly opposes matters of decision before the Council, displaying disrespect for his brother Chiefs, he shall be admonished by the Chief Mother to stop such behaviour and to act in harmony. If he continues to refuse, he shall be deposed.

“If a family or clan should become extinct, the Chief’s title shall be given to another chosen family within his Nation, and the hereditary title will remain within that family.”

All of the Chiefs of that first Council Fire agreed with Hiawatha’s plan as a part of their new Constitution.

Chief Fire-Keeper Atotarho arose before the Council with his arms outstretched, holding the White Wampum strings high in praise and thanksgiving to the Holder of the Heavens. Herewith, he closed the historic first Confederacy Council Fire of the Iroquois League of Five Nations. “Yo-Hen, Yo-Hen!” he solemnly concluded, “thank you.”

The Five Chiefs then smoked the Pipe of Great Peace!

Constitution of the Iroquois Nations

The Great Binding Law

GAYANASHAGOWA

1. I am Dekanawidah and with the Five Nations’ Confederate
Lords I plant the Tree of Great Peace. I plant it in your
territory, Adodarhoh, and the Onondaga Nation, in the territory
of you who are Firekeepers.

I name the tree the Tree of the Great Long Leaves. Under
the shade of this Tree of the Great Peace we spread the soft
white feathery down of the globe thistle as seats for you,
Adodarhoh, and your cousin Lords.

We place you upon those seats, spread soft with the
feathery down of the globe thistle, there beneath the shade of
the spreading branches of the Tree of Peace. There shall you
sit and watch the Council Fire of the Confederacy of the Five
Nations, and all the affairs of the Five Nations shall be
transacted at this place before you, Adodarhoh, and your cousin
Lords, by the Confederate Lords of the Five Nations.

2. Roots have spread out from the Tree of the Great Peace,
one to the north, one to the east, one to the south and one to
the west. The name of these roots is The Great White Roots and
their nature is Peace and Strength.

If any man or any nation outside the Five Nations shall
obey the laws of the Great Peace and make known their
disposition to the Lords of the Confederacy, they may trace the
Roots to the Tree and if their minds are clean and they are
obedient and promise to obey the wishes of the Confederate
Council, they shall be welcomed to take shelter beneath the
Tree of the Long Leaves.

We place at the top of the Tree of the Long Leaves an
Eagle who is able to see afar. If he sees in the distance any
evil approaching or any danger threatening he will at once warn
the people of the Confederacy.

3. To you Adodarhoh, the Onondaga cousin Lords, I and the
other Confederate Lords have entrusted the caretaking and the
watching of the Five Nations Council Fire.

When there is any business to be transacted and the
Confederate Council is not in session, a messenger shall be
dispatched either to Adodarhoh, Hononwirehtonh or Skanawatih,
Fire Keepers, or to their War Chiefs with a full statement of
the case desired to be considered. Then shall Adodarhoh call
his cousin (associate) Lords together and consider whether or
not the case is of sufficient importance to demand the
attention of the Confederate Council. If so, Adodarhoh shall
dispatch messengers to summon all the Confederate Lords to
assemble beneath the Tree of the Long Leaves.

When the Lords are assembled the Council Fire shall be
kindled, but not with chestnut wood, and Adodarhoh shall
formally open the Council.

[ ed note: chestnut wood throws out sparks in burning,
thereby creating a disturbance in the council ]

Then shall Adodarhoh and his cousin Lords, the Fire
Keepers, announce the subject for discussion.

The Smoke of the Confederate Council Fire shall ever
ascend and pierce the sky so that other nations who may be
allies may see the Council Fire of the Great Peace.Adodarhoh and his cousin Lords are entrusted with the
Keeping of the Council Fire.

4. You, Adodarhoh, and your thirteen cousin Lords, shall
faithfully keep the space about the Council Fire clean and you
shall allow neither dust nor dirt to accumulate. I lay a Long
Wing before you as a broom. As a weapon against a crawling
creature I lay a staff with you so that you may thrust it away
from the Council Fire. If you fail to cast it out then call
the rest of the United Lords to your aid.

5. The Council of the Mohawk shall be divided into three
parties as follows: Tekarihoken, Ayonhwhathah and Shadekariwade
are the first party; Sharenhowaneh, Deyoenhegwenh and
Oghrenghrehgowah are the second party, and Dehennakrineh,
Aghstawenserenthah and Shoskoharowaneh are the third party.
The third party is to listen only to the discussion of the
first and second parties and if an error is made or the
proceeding is irregular they are to call attention to it, and
when the case is right and properly decided by the two parties
they shall confirm the decision of the two parties and refer
the case to the Seneca Lords for their decision. When the
Seneca Lords have decided in accord with the Mohawk Lords, the
case or question shall be referred to the Cayuga and Oneida
Lords on the opposite side of the house.

6. I, Dekanawidah, appoint the Mohawk Lords the heads and the
leaders of the Five Nations Confederacy. The Mohawk Lords are
the foundation of the Great Peace and it shall, therefore, be
against the Great Binding Law to pass measures in the
Confederate Council after the Mohawk Lords have protested
against them.

No council of the Confederate Lords shall be legal unless
all the Mohawk Lords are present.

7. Whenever the Confederate Lords shall assemble for the
purpose of holding a council, the Onondaga Lords shall open it
by expressing their gratitude to their cousin Lords and
greeting them, and they shall make an address and offer thanks
to the earth where men dwell, to the streams of water, the
pools, the springs and the lakes, to the maize and the fruits,
to the medicinal herbs and trees, to the forest trees for their
usefulness, to the animals that serve as food and give their
pelts for clothing, to the great winds and the lesser winds, to
the Thunderers, to the Sun, the mighty warrior, to the moon, to
the messengers of the Creator who reveal his wishes and to the
Great Creator who dwells in the heavens above, who gives all
the things useful to men, and who is the source and the ruler
of health and life.

Then shall the Onondaga Lords declare the council open.
The council shall not sit after darkness has set in.

8. The Firekeepers shall formally open and close all councils
of the Confederate Lords, and they shall pass upon all matters
deliberated upon by the two sides and render their decision.

Every Onondaga Lord (or his deputy) must be present at
every Confederate Council and must agree with the majority
without unwarrantable dissent, so that a unanimous decision may
be rendered.

If Adodarhoh or any of his cousin Lords are absent from a
Confederate Council, any other Firekeeper may open and close
the Council, but the Firekeepers present may not give any
decisions, unless the matter is of small importance.

9. All the business of the Five Nations Confederate Council
shall be conducted by the two combined bodies of Confederate
Lords. First the question shall be passed upon by the Mohawk
and Seneca Lords, then it shall be discussed and passed by the
Oneida and Cayuga Lords. Their decisions shall then be
referred to the Onondaga Lords, (Fire Keepers) for final
judgement.
The same process shall obtain when a question is brought
before the council by an individual or a War Chief.

10. In all cases the procedure must be as follows: when the
Mohawk and Seneca Lords have unanimously agreed upon a
question, they shall report their decision to the Cayuga and
Oneida Lords who shall deliberate upon the question and report
a unanimous decision to the Mohawk Lords. The Mohawk Lords
will then report the standing of the case to the Firekeepers,
who shall render a decision as they see fit in case of a
disagreement by the two bodies, or confirm the decisions of the
two bodies if they are identical. The Fire Keepers shall then
report their decision to the Mohawk Lords who shall announce it
to the open council.

11. If through any misunderstanding or obstinacy on the part
of the Fire Keepers, they render a decision at variance with
that of the Two Sides, the Two Sides shall reconsider the
matter and if their decisions are jointly the same as before
they shall report to the Fire Keepers who are then compelled to
confirm their joint decision.

12. When a case comes before the Onondaga Lords (Fire Keepers)
for discussion and decsion, Adodarho shall introduce the matter
to his comrade Lords who shall then discuss it in their two
bodies. Every Onondaga Lord except Hononwiretonh shall
deliberate and he shall listen only. When a unanimous decision
shall have been reached by the two bodies of Fire Keepers,
Adodarho shall notify Hononwiretonh of the fact when he shall
confirm it. He shall refuse to confirm a decision if it is not
unanimously agreed upon by both sides of the Fire Keepers.

13. No Lord shall ask a question of the body of Confederate
Lords when they are discussing a case, question or
proposition. He may only deliberate in a low tone with the
separate body of which he is a member.

14. When the Council of the Five Nation Lords shall convene
they shall appoint a speaker for the day. He shall be a Lord
of either the Mohawk, Onondaga or Seneca Nation.
The next day the Council shall appoint another speaker,
but the first speaker may be reappointed if there is no
objection, but a speaker’s term shall not be regarded more
than for the day.

15. No individual or foreign nation interested in a case,
question or proposition shall have any voice in the Confederate
Council except to answer a question put to him or them by the
speaker for the Lords.

16. If the conditions which shall arise at any future time
call for an addition to or change of this law, the case shall
be carefully considered and if a new beam seems necessary or
beneficial, the proposed change shall be voted upon and if
adopted it shall be called, “Added to the Rafters”.

Rights, Duties and Qualifications of Lords

17. A bunch of a certain number of shell (wampum) strings
each two spans in length shall be given to each of the female
families in which the Lordship titles are vested. The right
of bestowing the title shall be hereditary in the family of
the females legally possessing the bunch of shell strings and
the strings shall be the token that the females of the family
have the proprietary right to the Lordship title for all time
to come, subject to certain restrictions hereinafter mentioned.

18. If any Confederate Lord neglects or refuses to attend the
Confederate Council, the other Lords of the Nation of which he
is a member shall require their War Chief to request the female
sponsors of the Lord so guilty of defection to demand his
attendance of the Council. If he refuses, the women holding
the title shall immediately select another candidate for the
title.

No Lord shall be asked more than once to attend the
Confederate Council.

19. If at any time it shall be manifest that a Confederate
Lord has not in mind the welfare of the people or disobeys the
rules of this Great Law, the men or women of the Confederacy,
or both jointly, shall come to the Council and upbraid the
erring Lord through his War Chief. If the complaint of the
people through the War Chief is not heeded the first time it
shall be uttered again and then if no attention is given a
third complaint and warning shall be given. If the Lord is
contumacious the matter shall go to the council of War Chiefs.
The War Chiefs shall then divest the erring Lord of his title
by order of the women in whom the titleship is vested. When
the Lord is deposed the women shall notify the Confederate
Lords through their War Chief, and the Confederate Lords shall
sanction the act. The women will then select another of their
sons as a candidate and the Lords shall elect him. Then shall
the chosen one be installed by the Installation Ceremony.
When a Lord is to be deposed, his War Chief shall address
him as follows:

“So you, __________, disregard and set at naught the
warnings of your women relatives. So you fling the warnings
over your shoulder to cast them behind you.

“Behold the brightness of the Sun and in the brightness of
the Sun’s light I depose you of your title and remove the
sacred emblem of your Lordship title. I remove from your brow
the deer’s antlers, which was the emblem of your position and
token of your nobility. I now depose you and return the
antlers to the women whose heritage they are.”

The War Chief shall now address the women of the deposed
Lord and say:

“Mothers, as I have now deposed your Lord, I now return to
you the emblem and the title of Lordship, therefore repossess
them.”

Again addressing himself to the deposed Lord he shall say:

“As I have now deposed and discharged you so you are now
no longer Lord. You shall now go your way alone, the rest of
the people of the Confederacy will not go with you, for we know
not the kind of mind that possesses you. As the Creator has
nothing to do with wrong so he will not come to rescue you from
the precipice of destruction in which you have cast yourself.
You shall never be restored to the position which you once
occupied.”

Then shall the War Chief address himself to the Lords of
the Nation to which the deposed Lord belongs and say:

“Know you, my Lords, that I have taken the deer’s antlers
from the brow of ___________, the emblem of his position and
token of his greatness.”

The Lords of the Confederacy shall then have no other
alternative than to sanction the discharge of the offending
Lord.

20. If a Lord of the Confederacy of the Five Nations should
commit murder the other Lords of the Nation shall assemble at
the place where the corpse lies and prepare to depose the
criminal Lord. If it is impossible to meet at the scene of the
crime the Lords shall discuss the matter at the next Council of
their Nation and request their War Chief to depose the Lord
guilty of crime, to “bury” his women relatives and to transfer
the Lordship title to a sister family.

The War Chief shall address the Lord guilty of murder and
say:

“So you, __________ (giving his name) did kill __________
(naming the slain man), with your own hands! You have comitted
a grave sin in the eyes of the Creator. Behold the bright
light of the Sun, and in the brightness of the Sun’s light I
depose you of your title and remove the horns, the sacred
emblems of your Lordship title. I remove from your brow the
deer’s antlers, which was the emblem of your position and token
of your nobility. I now depose you and expel you and you shall
depart at once from the territory of the Five Nations
Confederacy and nevermore return again. We, the Five Nations
Confederacy, moreover, bury your women relatives because the
ancient Lordship title was never intended to have any union
with bloodshed. Henceforth it shall not be their heritage.
By the evil deed that you have done they have forfeited it
forever..”

The War Chief shall then hand the title to a sister
family and he shall address it and say:

“Our mothers, ____________, listen attentively while I
address you on a solemn and important subject. I hereby
transfer to you an ancient Lordship title for a great calamity
has befallen it in the hands of the family of a former Lord.
We trust that you, our mothers, will always guard it, and that
you will warn your Lord always to be dutiful and to advise his
people to ever live in love, poeace and harmony that a great
calamity may never happen again.”

21. Certain physical defects in a Confederate Lord make him
ineligible to sit in the Confederate Council. Such defects are
infancy, idiocy, blindness, deafness, dumbness and impotency.
When a Confederate Lord is restricted by any of these
condition, a deputy shall be appointed by his sponsors to act
for him, but in case of extreme necessity the restricted Lord
may exercise his rights.

22. If a Confederate Lord desires to resign his title he shall
notify the Lords of the Nation of which he is a member of his
intention. If his coactive Lords refuse to accept his
resignation he may not resign his title.

A Lord in proposing to resign may recommend any proper
candidate which recommendation shall be received by the Lords,
but unless confirmed and nominated by the women who hold the
title the candidate so named shall not be considered.

23. Any Lord of the Five Nations Confederacy may construct
shell strings (or wampum belts) of any size or length as
pledges or records of matters of national or international
importance.

When it is necessary to dispatch a shell string by a War
Chief or other messenger as the token of a summons, the
messenger shall recite the contents of the string to the party
to whom it is sent. That party shall repeat the message and
return the shell string and if there has been a sumons he shall
make ready for the journey.

Any of the people of the Five Nations may use shells (or
wampum) as the record of a pledge, contract or an agreement
entered into and the same shall be binding as soon as shell
strings shall have been exchanged by both parties.

24. The Lords of the Confederacy of the Five Nations shall be
mentors of the people for all time. The thickness of their
skin shall be seven spans — which is to say that they shall
be proof against anger, offensive actions and criticism. Their
hearts shall be full of peace and good will and their minds
filled with a yearning for the welfare of the people of the
Confederacy. With endless patience they shall carry out their
duty and their firmness shall be tempered with a tenderness for
their people. Neither anger nor fury shall find lodgement in
their minds and all their words and actions shall be marked by
calm deliberation.

25. If a Lord of the Confederacy should seek to establish any
authority independent of the jurisdiction of the Confederacy of
the Great Peace, which is the Five Nations, he shall be warned
three times in open council, first by the women relatives,
second by the men relatives and finally by the Lords of the
Confederacy of the Nation to which he belongs. If the
offending Lord is still obdurate he shall be dismissed by the
War Chief of his nation for refusing to conform to the laws of
the Great Peace. His nation shall then install the candidate
nominated by the female name holders of his family.

26. It shall be the duty of all of the Five Nations
Confederate Lords, from time to time as occasion demands, to
act as mentors and spiritual guides of their people and remind
them of their Creator’s will and words. They shall say:

“Hearken, that peace may continue unto future days!
“Always listen to the words of the Great Creator, for he
has spoken.
“United people, let not evil find lodging in your minds.
“For the Great Creator has spoken and the cause of Peace
shall not become old.
“The cause of peace shall not die if you remember the
Great Creator.”

Every Confederate Lord shall speak words such as these to
promote peace.

27. All Lords of the Five Nations Confederacy must be honest
in all things. They must not idle or gossip, but be men
possessing those honorable qualities that make true royaneh.
It shall be a serious wrong for anyone to lead a Lord into
trivial affairs, for the people must ever hold their Lords high
in estimation out of respect to their honorable positions.

28. When a candidate Lord is to be installed he shall furnish
four strings of shells (or wampum) one span in length bound
together at one end. Such will constitute the evidence of his
pledge to the Confederate Lords that he will live according to
the constitution of the Great Peace and exercise justice in all
affairs.
When the pledge is furnished the Speaker of the Council
must hold the shell strings in his hand and address the
opposite side of the Council Fire and he shall commence his
address saying: “Now behold him. He has now become a
Confederate Lord. See how splendid he looks.” An address may
then follow. At the end of it he shall send the bunch of shell
strings to the oposite side and they shall be received as
evidence of the pledge. Then shall the opposite side say:

“We now do crown you with the sacred emblem of the deer’s
antlers, the emblem of your Lordship. You shall now become a
mentor of the people of the Five Nations. The thickness of
your skin shall be seven spans — which is to say that you
shall be proof against anger, offensive actions and criticism.
Your heart shall be filled with peace and good will and your
mind filled with a yearning for the welfare of the people of
the Confederacy. With endless patience you shall carry out
your duty and your firmness shall be tempered with tenderness
for your people. Neither anger nor fury shall find lodgement
in your mind and all your words and actions shall be marked
with calm deliberation. In all of your deliberations in the
Confederate Council, in your efforts at law making, in all your
official acts, self interest shall be cast into oblivion. Cast
not over your shoulder behind you the warnings of the nephews
and nieces should they chide you for any error or wrong you may
do, but return to the way of the Great Law which is just and
right. Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and
have always in view not only the present but also the coming
generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface
of the ground — the unborn of the future Nation.”

29. When a Lordship title is to be conferred, the candidate
Lord shall furnish the cooked venison, the corn bread and the
corn soup, together with other necessary things and the labor
for the Conferring of Titles Festival.

30. The Lords of the Confederacy may confer the Lordship title
upon a candidate whenever the Great Law is recited, if there be
a candidate, for the Great Law speaks all the rules.

31. If a Lord of the Confederacy should become seriously ill
and be thought near death, the women who are heirs of his title
shall go to his house and lift his crown of deer antlers, the
emblem of his Lordship, and place them at one side. If the
Creator spares him and he rises from his bed of sickness he may
rise with the antlers on his brow.

The following words shall be used to temporarily remove
the antlers:

“Now our comrade Lord (or our relative Lord) the time has
come when we must approach you in your illness. We remove for
a time the deer’s antlers from your brow, we remove the emblem
of your Lordship title. The Great Law has decreed that no Lord
should end his life with the antlers on his brow. We therefore
lay them aside in the room. If the Creator spares you and you
recover from your illness you shall rise from your bed with the
antlers on your brow as before and you shall resume your duties
as Lord of the Confederacy and you may labor again for the
Confederate people.”

32. If a Lord of the Confederacy should die while the Council
of the Five Nations is in session the Council shall adjourn for
ten days. No Confederate Council shall sit within ten days of
the death of a Lord of the Confederacy.

If the Three Brothers (the Mohawk, the Onondaga and the
Seneca) should lose one of their Lords by death, the Younger
Brothers (the Oneida and the Cayuga) shall come to the
surviving Lords of the Three Brothers on the tenth day and
console them. If the Younger Brothers lose one of their Lords
then the Three Brothers shall come to them and console them.
And the consolation shall be the reading of the contents of the
thirteen shell (wampum) strings of Ayonhwhathah. At the
termination of this rite a successor shall be appointed, to be
appointed by the women heirs of the Lordship title. If the
women are not yet ready to place their nominee before the Lords
the Speaker shall say, “Come let us go out.” All shall leave
the Council or the place of gathering. The installation shall
then wait until such a time as the women are ready. The
Speaker shall lead the way from the house by saying, “Let us
depart to the edge of the woods and lie in waiting on our
bellies.”

When the women title holders shall have chosen one of
their sons the Confederate Lords will assemble in two places,
the Younger Brothers in one place and the Three Older Brothers
in another. The Lords who are to console the mourning Lords
shall choose one of their number to sing the Pacification Hymn
as they journey to the sorrowing Lords. The singer shall lead
the way and the Lords and the people shall follow. When they
reach the sorrowing Lords they shall hail the candidate Lord
and perform the rite of Conferring the Lordship Title.

33. When a Confederate Lord dies, the surviving relatives
shall immediately dispatch a messenger, a member of another
clan, to the Lords in another locality. When the runner comes
within hailing distance of the locality he shall utter a sad
wail, thus: “Kwa-ah, Kwa-ah, Kwa-ah!” The sound shall be
repeated three times and then again and again at intervals as
many times as the distance may require. When the runner
arrives at the settlement the people shall assemble and one
must ask him the nature of his sad message. He shall then say,
“Let us consider.” Then he shall tell them of the death of the
Lord. He shall deliver to them a string of shells (wampum) and
say “Here is the testimony, you have heard the message.” He
may then return home.

It now becomes the duty of the Lords of the locality to
send runners to other localities and each locality shall send
other messengers until all Lords are notified. Runners shall
travel day and night.

34. If a Lord dies and there is no candidate qualified for the
office in the family of the women title holders, the Lords of
the Nation shall give the title into the hands of a sister
family in the clan until such a time as the original family
produces a candidate, when the title shall be restored to the
rightful owners.

No Lordship title may be carried into the grave. The
Lords of the Confederacy may dispossess a dead Lord of his
title even at the grave.

Election of Pine Tree Chiefs

35. Should any man of the Nation assist with special ability
or show great interest in the affairs of the Nation, if he
proves himself wise, honest and worthy of confidence, the
Confederate Lords may elect him to a seat with them and he may
sit in the Confederate Council. He shall be proclaimed a ‘Pine
Tree sprung up for the Nation’ and shall be installed as such
at the next assembly for the installation of Lords. Should he
ever do anything contrary to the rules of the Great Peace, he
may not be deposed from office — no one shall cut him down —
but thereafter everyone shall be deaf to his voice and his
advice. Should he resign his seat and title no one shall
prevent him. A Pine Tree chief has no authority to name a
successor nor is his title hereditary.

Names, Duties and Rights of War Chiefs

36. The title names of the Chief Confederate Lords’ War Chiefs
shall be:

Ayonwaehs, War Chief under Lord Takarihoken (Mohawk)
Kahonwahdironh, War Chief under Lord Odatshedeh (Oneida)
Ayendes, War Chief under Lord Adodarhoh (Onondaga)
Wenenhs, War Chief under Lord Dekaenyonh (Cayuga)
Shoneradowaneh, War Chief under Lord Skanyadariyo (Seneca)

The women heirs of each head Lord’s title shall be the
heirs of the War Chief’s title of their respective Lord.
The War Chiefs shall be selected from the eligible sons of
the female families holding the head Lordship titles.

37. There shall be one War Chief for each Nation and their
duties shall be to carry messages for their Lords and to take
up the arms of war in case of emergency. They shall not
participate in the proceedings of the Confederate Council but
shall watch its progress and in case of an erroneous action by
a Lord they shall receive the complaints of the people and
convey the warnings of the women to him. The people who wish
to convey messages to the Lords in the Confederate Council
shall do so through the War Chief of their Nation. It shall
ever be his duty to lay the cases, questions and propositions
of the people before the Confederate Council.

38. When a War Chief dies another shall be installed by the
same rite as that by which a Lord is installed.

39. If a War Chief acts contrary to instructions or against
the provisions of the Laws of the Great Peace, doing so in the
capacity of his office, he shall be deposed by his women
relatives and by his men relatives. Either the women or the
men alone or jointly may act in such a case. The women title
holders shall then choose another candidate.

40. When the Lords of the Confederacy take occasion to
dispatch a messenger in behalf of the Confederate Council,
they shall wrap up any matter they may send and instruct the
messenger to remember his errand, to turn not aside but to
proceed faithfully to his destination and deliver his message
according to every instruction.

41. If a message borne by a runner is the warning of an
invasion he shall whoop, “Kwa-ah, Kwa-ah,” twice and repeat
at short intervals; then again at a longer interval.
If a human being is found dead, the finder shall not touch
the body but return home immediately shouting at short
intervals, “Koo-weh!”

Clans and Consanguinity

42. Among the Five Nations and their posterity there shall be
the following original clans: Great Name Bearer, Ancient Name
Bearer, Great Bear, Ancient Bear, Turtle, Painted Turtle,
Standing Rock, Large Plover, Deer, Pigeon Hawk, Eel, Ball,
Opposite-Side-of-the-Hand, and Wild Potatoes. These clans
distributed through their respective Nations, shall be the sole
owners and holders of the soil of the country and in them is it
vested as a birthright.

43. People of the Five Nations members of a certain clan shall
recognize every other member of that clan, irrespective of the
Nation, as relatives. Men and women, therefore, members of the
same clan are forbidden to marry.

44. The lineal descent of the people of the Five Nations shall
run in the female line. Women shall be considered the
progenitors of the Nation. They shall own the land and the
soil. Men and women shall follow the status of the mother.

45. The women heirs of the Confederated Lordship titles shall
be called Royaneh (Noble) for all time to come.

46. The women of the Forty Eight (now fifty) Royaneh families
shall be the heirs of the Authorized Names for all time to come.

When an infant of the Five Nations is given an Authorized
Name at the Midwinter Festival or at the Ripe Corn Festival,
one in the cousinhood of which the infant is a member shall be
appointed a speaker. He shall then announce to the opposite
cousinhood the names of the father and the mother of the child
together with the clan of the mother. Then the speaker shall
announce the child’s name twice. The uncle of the child shall
then take the child in his arms and walking up and down the
room shall sing: “My head is firm, I am of the Confederacy.”
As he sings the opposite cousinhood shall respond by chanting,
“Hyenh, Hyenh, Hyenh, Hyenh,” until the song is ended.

47. If the female heirs of a Confederate Lord’s title become
extinct, the title right shall be given by the Lords of the
Confederacy to the sister family whom they shall elect and that
family shall hold the name and transmit it to their (female)
heirs, but they shall not appoint any of their sons as a
candidate for a title until all the eligible men of the former
family shall have died or otherwise have become ineligible.

48. If all the heirs of a Lordship title become extinct, and
all the families in the clan, then the title shall be given by
the Lords of the Confederacy to the family in a sister clan
whom they shall elect.

49. If any of the Royaneh women, heirs of a titleship, shall
wilfully withhold a Lordship or other title and refuse to
bestow it, or if such heirs abandon, forsake or despise their
heritage, then shall such women be deemed buried and their
family extinct. The titleship shall then revert to a sister
family or clan upon application and complaint. The Lords of
the Confederacy shall elect the family or clan which shall in
future hold the title.

50. The Royaneh women of the Confederacy heirs of the Lordship
titles shall elect two women of their family as cooks for the
Lord when the people shall assemble at his house for business
or other purposes.
It is not good nor honorable for a Confederate Lord to
allow his people whom he has called to go hungry.

51. When a Lord holds a conference in his home, his wife, if
she wishes, may prepare the food for the Union Lords who
assemble with him. This is an honorable right which she may
exercise and an expression of her esteem.

52. The Royaneh women, heirs of the Lordship titles, shall,
should it be necessary, correct and admonish the holders of
their titles. Those only who attend the Council may do this
and those who do not shall not object to what has been said nor
strive to undo the action.

53. When the Royaneh women, holders of a Lordship title,
select one of their sons as a candidate, they shall select one
who is trustworthy, of good character, of honest disposition,
one who manages his own affairs, supports his own family, if
any, and who has proven a faithful man to his Nation.

54. When a Lordship title becomes vacant through death or
other cause, the Royaneh women of the clan in which the title
is hereditary shall hold a council and shall choose one from
among their sons to fill the office made vacant. Such a
candidate shall not be the father of any Confederate Lord.
If the choice is unanimous the name is referred to the men
relatives of the clan. If they should disapprove it shall be
their duty to select a candidate from among their own number.
If then the men and women are unable to decide which of the two
candidates shall be named, then the matter shall be referred to
the Confederate Lords in the Clan. They shall decide which
candidate shall be named. If the men and the women agree to a
candidate his name shall be referred to the sister clans for
confirmation. If the sister clans confirm the choice, they
shall refer their action to their Confederate Lords who shall
ratify the choice and present it to their cousin Lords, and if
the cousin Lords confirm the name then the candidate shall be
installed by the proper ceremony for the conferring of Lordship
titles.

Official Symbolism

55. A large bunch of shell strings, in the making of which the
Five Nations Confederate Lords have equally contributed, shall
symbolize the completeness of the union and certify the pledge
of the nations represented by the Confederate Lords of the
Mohawk, the Oneida, the Onondaga, the Cayuga and the Senecca,
that all are united and formed into one body or union called
the Union of the Great Law, which they have established.

A bunch of shell strings is to be the symbol of the
council fire of the Five Nations Confederacy. And the Lord
whom the council of Fire Keepers shall appoint to speak for
them in opening the council shall hold the strands of shells
in his hands when speaking. When he finishes speaking he shall
deposit the strings on an elevated place (or pole) so that all
the assembled Lords and the people may see it and know that the
council is open and in progress.

When the council adjourns the Lord who has been appointed
by his comrade Lords to close it shall take the strands of
shells in his hands and address the assembled Lords. Thus will
the council adjourn until such time and place as appointed by
the council. Then shall the shell strings be placed in a place
for safekeeping.

Every five years the Five Nations Confederate Lords and
the people shall assemble together and shall ask one another if
their minds are still in the same spirit of unity for the Great
Binding Law and if any of the Five Nations shall not pledge
continuance and steadfastness to the pledge of unity then the
Great Binding Law shall dissolve.

56. Five strings of shell tied together as one shall represent
the Five Nations. Each string shall represent one territory
and the whole a completely united territory known as the Five
Nations Confederate territory.

57. Five arrows shall be bound together very strong and each
arrow shall represent one nation. As the five arrows are
strongly bound this shall symbolize the complete union of the
nations. Thus are the Five Nations united completely and
enfolded together, united into one head, one body and one
mind. Therefore they shall labor, legislate and council
together for the interest of future generations.

The Lords of the Confederacy shall eat together from one
bowl the feast of cooked beaver’s tail. While they are eating
they are to use no sharp utensils for if they should they might
accidentally cut one another and bloodshed would follow. All
measures must be taken to prevent the spilling of blood in any
way.

58. There are now the Five Nations Confederate Lords standing
with joined hands in a circle. This signifies and provides
that should any one of the Confederate Lords leave the council
and this Confederacy his crown of deer’s horns, the emblem of
his Lordship title, together with his birthright, shall lodge
on the arms of the Union Lords whose hands are so joined. He
forfeits his title and the crown falls from his brow but it
shall remain in the Confederacy.

A further meaning of this is that if any time any one of
the Confederate Lords choose to submit to the law of a foreign
people he is no longer in but out of the Confederacy, and
persons of this class shall be called “They have alienated
themselves.” Likewise such persons who submit to laws of
foreign nations shall forfeit all birthrights and claims on
the Five Nations Confederacy and territory.

You, the Five Nations Confederate Lords, be firm so that
if a tree falls on your joined arms it shall not separate or
weaken your hold. So shall the strength of the union be
preserved.

59. A bunch of wampum shells on strings, three spans of the
hand in length, the upper half of the bunch being white and the
lower half black, and formed from equal contributions of the
men of the Five Nations, shall be a token that the men have
combined themselves into one head, one body and one thought,
and it shall also symbolize their ratification of the peace
pact of the Confederacy, whereby the Lords of the Five Nations
have established the Great Peace.

The white portion of the shell strings represent the women
and the black portion the men. The black portion, furthermore,
is a token of power and authority vested in the men of the Five
Nations.

This string of wampum vests the people with the right to
correct their erring Lords. In case a part or all the Lords
pursue a course not vouched for by the people and heed not the
third warning of their women relatives, then the matter shall
be taken to the General Council of the women of the Five
Nations. If the Lords notified and warned three times fail to
heed, then the case falls into the hands of the men of the Five
Nations. The War Chiefs shall then, by right of such power and
authority, enter the open concil to warn the Lord or Lords to
return from the wrong course. If the Lords heed the warning
they shall say, “we will reply tomorrow.” If then an answer is
returned in favor of justice and in accord with this Great Law,
then the Lords shall individualy pledge themselves again by
again furnishing the necessary shells for the pledge. Then
shall the War Chief or Chiefs exhort the Lords urging them to
be just and true.

Should it happen that the Lords refuse to heed the third
warning, then two courses are open: either the men may decide
in their council to depose the Lord or Lords or to club them to
death with war clubs. Should they in their council decide to
take the first course the War Chief shall address the Lord or
Lords, saying: “Since you the Lords of the Five Nations have
refused to return to the procedure of the Constitution, we now
declare your seats vacant, we take off your horns, the token of
your Lordship, and others shall be chosen and installed in your
seats, therefore vacate your seats.”

Should the men in their council adopt the second course,
the War Chief shall order his men to enter the council, to take
positions beside the Lords, sitting bewteen them wherever
possible. When this is accomplished the War Chief holding in
his outstretched hand a bunch of black wampum strings shall say
to the erring Lords: “So now, Lords of the Five United Nations,
harken to these last words from your men. You have not heeded
the warnings of the women relatives, you have not heeded the
warnings of the General Council of women and you have not
heeded the warnings of the men of the nations, all urging you
to return to the right course of action. Since you are
determined to resist and to withhold justice from your people
there is only one course for us to adopt.” At this point the
War Chief shall let drop the bunch of black wampum and the men
shall spring to their feet and club the erring Lords to death.
Any erring Lord may submit before the War Chief lets fall the
black wampum. Then his execution is withheld.

The black wampum here used symbolizes that the power to
execute is buried but that it may be raised up again by the
men. It is buried but when occasion arises they may pull it
up and derive their power and authority to act as here
described.

60. A broad dark belt of wampum of thirty-eight rows, having a
white heart in the center, on either side of which are two
white squares all connected with the heart by white rows of
beads shall be the emblem of the unity of the Five Nations.

[ ed note: This is the Hiawatha Belt, now in the
Congressional Library. ]

The first of the squares on the left represents the Mohawk
nation and its territory; the second square on the left and the
one near the heart, represents the Oneida nation and its
territory; the white heart in the middle represents the
Onondaga nation and its territory, and it also means that the
heart of the Five Nations is single in its loyalty to the Great
Peace, that the Great Peace is lodged in the heart (meaning the
Onondaga Lords), and that the Council Fire is to burn there for
the Five Nations, and further, it means that the authority is
given to advance the cause of peace whereby hostile nations out
of the Confederacy shall cease warfare; the white square to the
right of the heart represents the Cayuga nation and its
territory and the fourth and last white square represents the
Seneca nation and its territory.

White shall here symbolize that no evil or jealous
thoughts shall creep into the minds of the Lords while in
Council under the Great Peace. White, the emblem of peace,
love, charity and equity surrounds and guards the Five Nations.

61. Should a great calamity threaten the generations rising
and living of the Five United Nations, then he who is able to
climb to the top of the Tree of the Great Long Leaves may do
so. When, then, he reaches the top of the tree he shall look
about in all directions, and, should he see that evil things
indeed are approaching, then he shall call to the people of the
Five United Nations assembled beneath the Tree of the Great
Long Leaves and say: “A calamity threatens your happiness.”

Then shall the Lords convene in council and discuss the
impending evil.

When all the truths relating to the trouble shall be
fully known and found to be truths, then shall the people seek
out a Tree of Ka-hon-ka-ah-go-nah, [ a great swamp Elm ], and
when they shall find it they shall assemble their heads
together and lodge for a time between its roots. Then, their
labors being finished, they may hope for happiness for many
days after.

62. When the Confederate Council of the Five Nations declares
for a reading of the belts of shell calling to mind these laws,
they shall provide for the reader a specially made mat woven of
the fibers of wild hemp. The mat shall not be used again, for
such formality is called the honoring of the importance of the
law.

63. Should two sons of opposite sides of the council fire
agree in a desire to hear the reciting of the laws of the
Great Peace and so refresh their memories in the way ordained
by the founder of the Confederacy, they shall notify Adodarho.
He then shall consult with five of his coactive Lords and they
in turn shall consult with their eight brethern. Then should
they decide to accede to the request of the two sons from
opposite sides of the Council Fire, Adodarho shall send
messengers to notify the Chief Lords of each of the Five
Nations. Then they shall despatch their War Chiefs to notify
their brother and cousin Lords of the meeting and its time and
place.

When all have come and have assembled, Adodarhoh, in
conjunction with his cousin Lords, shall appoint one Lord who
shall repeat the laws of the Great Peace. Then shall they
announce who they have chosen to repeat the laws of the Great
Peace to the two sons. Then shall the chosen one repeat the
laws of the Great Peace.

64. At the ceremony of the installation of Lords if there is
only one expert speaker and singer of the law and the
Pacification Hymn to stand at the council fire, then when this
speaker and singer has finished addressing one side of the fire
he shall go to the oposite side and reply to his own speech and
song. He shall thus act for both sidesa of the fire until the
entire ceremony has been completed. Such a speaker and singer
shall be termed the “Two Faced” because he speaks and sings for
both sides of the fire.

65. I, Dekanawida, and the Union Lords, now uproot the tallest
pine tree and into the cavity thereby made we cast all weapons
of war. Into the depths of the earth, down into the deep
underearth currents of water flowing to unknown regions we cast
all the weapons of strife. We bury them from sight and we
plant again the tree. Thus shall the Great Peace be
established and hostilities shall no longer be known between
the Five Nations but peace to the United People.

Laws of Adoption

66. The father of a child of great comliness, learning,
ability or specially loved because of some circumstance may, at
the will of the child’s clan, select a name from his own (the
father’s) clan and bestow it by ceremony, such as is provided.
This naming shall be only temporary and shall be called, “A
name hung about the neck.”

67. Should any person, a member of the Five Nations’
Confederacy, specially esteem a man or woman of another clan or
of a foreign nation, he may choose a name and bestow it upon
that person so esteemed. The naming shall be in accord with
the ceremony of bestowing names. Such a name is only a
temporary one and shall be called “A name hung about the
neck.” A short string of shells shall be delivered with the
name as a record and a pledge.

68. Should any member of the Five Nations, a family or person
belonging to a foreign nation submit a proposal for adoption
into a clan of one of the Five Nations, he or they shall
furnish a string of shells, a span in length, as a pledge to
the clan into which he or they wish to be adopted. The Lords
of the nation shall then consider the proposal and submit a
decision.

69. Any member of the Five Nations who through esteem or other
feeling wishes to adopt an individual, a family or number of
families may offer adoption to him or them and if accepted the
matter shall be brought to the attention of the Lords for
confirmation and the Lords must confirm adoption.

70. When the adoption of anyone shall have been confirmed by
the Lords of the Nation, the Lords shall address the people of
their nation and say: “Now you of our nation, be informed that
such a person, such a family or such families have ceased
forever to bear their birth nation’s name and have buried it in
the depths of the earth. Henceforth let no one of our nation
ever mention the original name or nation of their birth. To do
so will be to hasten the end of our peace.

Laws of Emigration

71. When any person or family belonging to the Five Nations
desires to abandon their birth nation and the territory of the
Five Nations, they shall inform the Lords of their nation and
the Confederate Council of the Five Nations shall take
cognizance of it.

72. When any person or any of the people of the Five Nations
emigrate and reside in a region distant from the territory of
the Five Nations Confederacy, the Lords of the Five Nations at
will may send a messenger carrying a broad belt of black shells
and when the messenger arrives he shall call the people
together or address them personally displaying the belt of
shells and they shall know that this is an order for them to
return to their original homes and to their council fires.

Rights of Foreign Nations

73. The soil of the earth from one end of the land to the
other is the property of the people who inhabit it. By
birthright the Ongwehonweh (Original beings) are the owners
of the soil which they own and occupy and none other may hold
it. The same law has been held from the oldest times.

The Great Creator has made us of the one blood and of the
same soil he made us and as only different tongues constitute
different nations he established different hunting grounds and
territories and made boundary lines between them.

74. When any alien nation or individual is admitted into the
Five Nations the admission shall be understood only to be a
temporary one. Should the person or nation create loss, do
wrong or cause suffering of any kind to endanger the peace of
the Confederacy, the Confederate Lords shall order one of their
war chiefs to reprimand him or them and if a similar offence is
again committed the offending party or parties shall be
expelled from the territory of the Five United Nations.

75. When a member of an alien nation comes to the territory
of the Five Nations and seeks refuge and permanent residence,
the Lords of the Nation to which he comes shall extend
hospitality and make him a member of the nation. Then shall he
be accorded equal rights and privileges in all matters except
as after mentioned.

76. No body of alien people who have been adopted temporarily
shall have a vote in the council of the Lords of the
Confederacy, for only they who have been invested with Lordship
titles may vote in the Council. Aliens have nothing by blood
to make claim to a vote and should they have it, not knowing
all the traditions of the Confederacy, might go against its
Great Peace. In this manner the Great Peace would be
endangered and perhaps be destroyed.

77. When the Lords of the Confederacy decide to admit a
foreign nation and an adoption is made, the Lords shall inform
the adopted nation that its admission is only temporary. They
shall also say to the nation that it must never try to control,
to interfere with or to injure the Five Nations nor disregard
the Great Peace or any of its rules or customs. That in no way
should they cause disturbance or injury. Then should the
adopted nation disregard these injunctions, their adoption
shall be annuled and they shall be expelled.

The expulsion shall be in the following manner: The
council shall appoint one of their War Chiefs to convey the
message of annulment and he shall say, “You (naming the nation)
listen to me while I speak. I am here to inform you again of
the will of the Five Nations’ Council. It was clearly made
known to you at a former time. Now the Lords of the Five
Nations have decided to expel you and cast you out. We disown
you now and annul your adoption. Therefore you must look for a
path in which to go and lead away all your people. It was you,
not we, who committed wrong and caused this sentence of
annulment. So then go your way and depart from the territory
of the Five Nations and from the Confederacy.”

78. Whenever a foreign nation enters the Confederacy or
accepts the Great Peace, the Five Nations and the foreign
nation shall enter into an agreement and compact by which the
foreign nation shall endeavor to pursuade other nations to
accept the Great Peace.

Rights and Powers of War

79. Skanawatih shall be vested with a double office, duty and
with double authority. One-half of his being shall hold the
Lordship title and the other half shall hold the title of War
Chief. In the event of war he shall notify the five War Chiefs
of the Confederacy and command them to prepare for war and have
their men ready at the appointed time and place for engagement
with the enemy of the Great Peace.

80. When the Confederate Council of the Five Nations has for
its object the establishment of the Great Peace among the
people of an outside nation and that nation refuses to accept
the Great Peace, then by such refusal they bring a declaration
of war upon themselves from the Five Nations. Then shall the
Five Nations seek to establish the Great Peace by a conquest
of the rebellious nation.

81. When the men of the Five Nations, now called forth to
become warriors, are ready for battle with an obstinate
opposing nation that has refused to accept the Great Peace,
then one of the five War Chiefs shall be chosen by the warriors
of the Five Nations to lead the army into battle. It shall be
the duty of the War Chief so chosen to come before his warriors
and address them. His aim shall be to impress upon them the
necessity of good behavior and strict obedience to all the
commands of the War Chiefs. He shall deliver an oration
exhorting them with great zeal to be brave and courageous and
never to be guilty of cowardice. At the conclusion of his
oration he shall march forward and commence the War Song and he
shall sing:

Now I am greatly surprised
And, therefore I shall use it —
The powerr of my War Song.
I am of the Five Nations
And I shall make supplication
To the Almighty Creator.
He has furnished this army.
My warriors shall be mighty
In the strength of the Creator.
Between him and my song they are
For it was he who gave the song
This war song that I sing!

82. When the warriors of the Five Nations are on an
expedition against an enemy, the War Chief shall sing the War
Song as he approaches the country of the enemy and not cease
until his scouts have reported that the army is near the
enemies’ lines when the War Chief shall approach with great
caution and prepare for the attack.

83. When peace shall have been established by the termination
of the war against a foreign nation, then the War Chief shall
cause all the weapons of war to be taken from the nation. Then
shall the Great Peace be established and that nation shall
observe all the rules of the Great Peace for all time to come.

84. Whenever a foreign nation is conquered or has by their
own will accepted the Great Peace their own system of internal
government may continue, but they must cease all warfare
against other nations.

85. Whenever a war against a foreign nation is pushed until
that nation is about exterminated because of its refusal to
accept the Great Peace and if that nation shall by its obstinacy
become exterminated, all their rights, property and territory
shall become the property of the Five Nations.

86. Whenever a foreign nation is conquered and the survivors
are brought into the territory of the Five Nations’ Confederacy
and placed under the Great Peace the two shall be known as the
Conqueror and the Conquered. A symbolic relationship shall be
devised and be placed in some symbolic position. The conquered
nation shall have no voice in the councils of the Confederacy
in the body of the Lords.

87. When the War of the Five Nations on a foreign rebellious
nation is ended, peace shall be restored to that nation by a
withdrawal of all their weapons of war by the War Chief of the
Five Nations. When all the terms of peace shall have been
agreed upon a state of friendship shall be established.

88. When the proposition to establish the Great Peace is
made to a foreign nation it shall be done in mutual council.
The foreign nation is to be persuaded by reason and urged to
come into the Great Peace. If the Five Nations fail to obtain
the consent of the nation at the first council a second council
shall be held and upon a second failure a third council shall
be held and this third council shall end the peaceful methods
of persuasion. At the third council the War Chief of the Five
nations shall address the Chief of the foreign nation and
request him three times to accept the Great Peace. If refusal
steadfastly follows the War Chief shall let the bunch of white
lake shells drop from his outstretched hand to the ground and
shall bound quickly forward and club the offending chief to
death. War shall thereby be declared and the War Chief shall
have his warriors at his back to meet any emergency. War must
continue until the contest is won by the Five Nations.

89. When the Lords of the Five Nations propose to meet in
conference with a foreign nation with proposals for an
acceptance of the Great Peace, a large band of warriors shall
conceal themselves in a secure place safe from the espionage
of the foreign nation but as near at hand as possible. Two
warriors shall accompany the Union Lord who carries the
proposals and these warriors shall be especially cunning.
Should the Lord be attacked, these warriors shall hasten back
to the army of warriors with the news of the calamity which
fell through the treachery of the foreign nation.

90. When the Five Nations’ Council declares war any Lord of
the Confederacy may enlist with the warriors by temporarily
renouncing his sacred Lordship title which he holds through the
election of his women relatives. The title then reverts to
them and they may bestow it upon another temporarily until the
war is over when the Lord, if living, may resume his title and
seat in the Council.

91. A certain wampum belt of black beads shall be the emblem
of the authority of the Five War Chiefs to take up the weapons
of war and with their men to resist invasion. This shall be
called a war in defense of the territory.

Treason or Secession of a Nation

92. If a nation, part of a nation, or more than one nation
within the Five Nations should in any way endeavor to destroy
the Great Peace by neglect or violating its laws and resolve to
dissolve the Confederacy, such a nation or such nations shall
be deemed guilty of treason and called enemies of the
Confederacy and the Great Peace.

It shall then be the duty of the Lords of the Confederacy
who remain faithful to resolve to warn the offending people.
They shall be warned once and if a second warning is necessary
they shall be driven from the territory of the Confederacy by
the War Chiefs and his men.

Rights of the People of the Five Nations

93. Whenever a specially important matter or a great emergency
is presented before the Confederate Council and the nature of
the matter affects the entire body of the Five Nations,
threatening their utter ruin, then the Lords of the Confederacy
must submit the matter to the decision of their people and the
decision of the people shall affect the decision of the
Confederate Council. This decision shall be a confirmation of
the voice of the people.

94. The men of every clan of the Five Nations shall have a
Council Fire ever burning in readiness for a council of the
clan. When it seems necessary for a council to be held to
discuss the welfare of the clans, then the men may gather
about the fire. This council shall have the same rights
as the council of the women.

95. The women of every clan of the Five Nations shall have
a Council Fire ever burning in readiness for a council of the
clan. When in their opinion it seems necessary for the
interest of the people they shall hold a council and their
decisions and recommendations shall be introduced before the
Council of the Lords by the War Chief for its consideration.

96. All the Clan council fires of a nation or of the Five
Nations may unite into one general council fire, or delegates
from all the council fires may be appointeed to unite in a
general council for discussing the interests of the people.
The people shall have the right to make appointments and to
delegate their power to others of their number. When their
council shall have come to a conclusion on any matter, their
decision shall be reported to the Council of the Nation or to
the Confederate Council (as the case may require) by the War
Chief or the War Chiefs.

97. Before the real people united their nations, each nation
had its council fires. Before the Great Peace their councils
were held. The five Council Fires shall continue to burn as
before and they are not quenched. The Lords of each nation in
future shall settle their nation’s affairs at this council fire
governed always by the laws and rules of the council of the
Confederacy and by the Great Peace.

98. If either a nephew or a niece see an irregularity in the
performance of the functions of the Great Peace and its laws,
in the Confederate Council or in the conferring of Lordship
titles in an improper way, through their War Chief they may
demand that such actions become subject to correction and that
the matter conform to the ways prescribed by the laws of the
Great Peace.

Religious Ceremonies Protected

99. The rites and festivals of each nation shall remain
undisturbed and shall continue as before because they were
given by the people of old times as useful and necessary
for the good of men.

100. It shall be the duty of the Lords of each brotherhood
to confer at the approach of the time of the Midwinter
Thanksgiving and to notify their people of the approaching
festival. They shall hold a council over the matter and
arrange its details and begin the Thanksgiving five days
after the moon of Dis-ko-nah is new. The people shall
assemble at the appointed place and the nephews shall notify
the people of the time and place. From the beginning to
the end the Lords shall preside over the Thanksgiving and
address the people from time to time.

101. It shall be the duty of the appointed managers of the
Thanksgiving festivals to do all that is needed for carrying
out the duties of the occasions.

The recognized festivals of Thanksgiving shall be the
Midwinter Thanksgiving, the Maple or Sugar-making Thanksgiving,
the Raspberry Thanksgiving, the Strawberry Thanksgiving, the
Cornplanting Thanksgiving, the Corn Hoeing Thanksgiving, the
Little Festival of Green Corn, the Great Festival of Ripe Corn
and the complete Thanksgiving for the Harvest.

Each nation’s festivals shall be held in their Long
Houses.

102. When the Thansgiving for the Green Corn comes the
special managers, both the men and women, shall give it
careful attention and do their duties properly.

103. When the Ripe Corn Thanksgiving is celebrated the Lords
of the Nation must give it the same attention as they give
to the Midwinter Thanksgiving.

104. Whenever any man proves himself by his good life and his
knowledge of good things, naturally fitted as a teacher of good
things, he shall be recognized by the Lords as a teacher of
peace and religion and the people shall hear him.

The Installation Song

105. The song used in installing the new Lord of the
Confederacy shall be sung by Adodarhoh and it shall be:

“Haii, haii Agwah wi-yoh
” ” A-kon-he-watha
” ” Ska-we-ye-se-go-wah
” ” Yon-gwa-wih
” ” Ya-kon-he-wa-tha

Haii, haii It is good indeed
” ” (That) a broom, —
” ” A great wing,
” ” It is given me
” ” For a sweeping instrument.”

106. Whenever a person properly entitled desires to learn the
Pacification Song he is privileged to do so but he must prepare
a feast at which his teachers may sit with him and sing. The
feast is provided that no misfortune may befall them for
singing the song on an occasion when no chief is installed.

Protection of the House

107. A certain sign shall be known to all the people of the
Five Nations which shall denote that the owner or occupant of
a house is absent. A stick or pole in a slanting or leaning
position shall indicate this and be the sign. Every person not
entitled to enter the house by right of living within it upon
seeing such a sign shall not approach the house either by day
or by night but shall keep as far away as his business will
permit.

Funeral Addresses

108. At the funeral of a Lord of the Confederacy, say: Now we
become reconciled as you start away. You were once a Lord of
the Five Nations’ Confederacy and the United People trusted
you. Now we release you for it is true that it is no longer
possible for us to walk about together on the earth. Now,
therefore, we lay it (the body) here. Here we lay it away.
Now then we say to you, ‘Persevere onward to the place where
the Creator dwells in peace. Let not the things of the earth
hinder you. Let nothing that transpired while yet you lived
hinder you. In hunting you once took delight; in the game of
Lacrosse you once took delight and in the feasts and pleasant
occasions your mind was amused, but now do not allow thoughts
of these things to give you trouble. Let not your relatives
hinder you and also let not your friends and associates trouble
your mind. Regard none of these things.’

“Now then, in turn, you here present who were related to
this man and you who were his friends and associates, behold
the path that is yours also! Soon we ourselves will be left
in that place. For this reason hold yourselves in restraint
as you go from place to place. In your actions and in your
conversation do no idle thing. Speak not idle talk neither
gossip. Be careful of this and speak not and do not give way
to evil behavior. One year is the time that you must abstain
from unseemly levity but if you can not do this for ceremony,
ten days is the time to regard these things for respect.”

109. At the funeral of a War Chief, say:
“Now we become reconciled as you start away. You were
once a War Chief of the Five Nations’ Confederacy and the
United People trusted you as their guard from the enemy.”
(The remainder is the same as the address at the funeral
of a Lord).

110. At the funeral of a Warrior, say:
“Now we become reconciled as you start away. Once you
were a devoted provider and protector of your family and you
were ever ready to take part in battles for the Five Nations’
Confederacy. The United People trusted you.” (The remainder
is the same as the address at the funeral of a Lord).

111. At the funeral of a young man, say:
“Now we become reconciled as you start away. In the
beginning of your career you are taken away and the flower of
your life is withered away.” (The remainder is the same as the
address at the funeral of a Lord).

112. At the funeral of a chief woman, say:
“Now we become reconciled as you start away. You were
once a chief woman in the Five Nations’ Confederacy. You once
were a mother of the nations. Now we release you for it is
true that it is no longer possible for us to walk about
together on the earth. Now, therefore, we lay it (the body)
here. Here we lay it away. Now then we say to you, ‘Persevere
onward to the place where the Creator dwells in peace. Let not
the things of the earth hinder you. Let nothing that
transpired while you lived hinder you. Looking after your
family was a sacred duty and you were faithful. You were one
of the many joint heirs of the Lordship titles. Feastings were
yours and you had pleasant occasions. . .” (The remainder is
the same as the address at the funeral of a Lord).

113. At the funeral of a woman of the people, say:
“Now we become reconciled as you start away. You were
once a woman in the flower of life and the bloom is now
withered away. You once held a sacred position as a mother
of the nation. (Etc.) Looking after your family was a sacred
duty and you were faithful. Feastings . . . (etc.)” (The
remainder is the same as the address at the funeral of a Lord).

114. At the funeral of an infant or young woman, say:
“Now we become reconciled as you start away. You were a
tender bud and gladdened our hearts for only a few days. Now
the bloom has withered away . . . (etc.) Let none of the
things that transpired on earth hinder you. Let nothing that
happened while you lived hinder you.” (The remainder is the
same as the address at the funeral of a Lord).

[ Editors note: the above ellipses and ‘etc.’ remarks are
transcribed directly from the text I copied. ]

115. When an infant dies within three days, mourning shall
continue only five days. Then shall you gather the little boys
and girls at the house of mourning and at the funeral feast a
speaker shall address the children and bid them be happy once
more, though by a death, gloom has been cast over them. Then
shall the black clouds roll away and the sky shall show blue
once more. Then shall the children be again in sunshine.

116. When a dead person is brought to the burial place, the
speaker on the opposite side of the Council Fire shall bid the
bereaved family cheer their minds once again and rekindle their
hearth fires in peace, to put their house in order and once
again be in brightness for darkness has covered them. He shall
say that the black clouds shall roll away and that the bright
blue sky is visible once more. Therefore shall they be in
peace in the sunshine again.

117. Three strings of shell one span in length shall be
employed in addressing the assemblage at the burial of the
dead. The speaker shall say:

“Hearken you who are here, this body is to be covered.
Assemble in this place again ten days hence for it is the
decree of the Creator that mourning shall cease when ten days
have expired. Then shall a feast be made.”

Then at the expiration of ten days the speaker shall say:
“Continue to listen you who are here. The ten days of mourning
have expired and your minds must now be freed of sorrow as
before the loss of a relative. The relatives have decided to
make a little compensation to those who have assisted at the
funeral. It is a mere expression of thanks. This is to the
one who did the cooking while the body was lying in the house.
Let her come forward and receive this gift and be dismissed
from the task.” In substance this shall be repeated for every
one who assisted in any way until all have been remembered.

Prepared by Gerald Murphy (The Cleveland Free-Net – aa300)
Distributed by the Cybercasting Services Division of the
National Public Telecomputing Network (NPTN).

Permission is hereby granted to download, reprint, and/or otherwise
redistribute this file, provided appropriate point of origin
credit is given to the preparer(s) and the National Public
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Iroquois Oral Traditions

Story of Hiawatha

De-Ka-Nah-Wi-Da and Hiawatha

The Hiawatha in this story is the historic person of the late fourteenth century. He should not be confused with the character in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, The Song of Hiawatha.

In the late nineteenth century, the Iroquois Six Nations Council asked their six hereditary Chiefs to write in English for the first time the traditional oral history of the formation of the League of Five nations. It was formed about 1390, 100 years before Columbus discovered America. (The Tuscaroras joined the League conditionally in 1715.)

The traditional history was dictated by the six ceremonial Chiefs, one from each of these tribes: the Mohawks, Oneidas, Cayugas, Senecas, Onondagas, and the Tuscaroras. Two subchiefs were appointed secretaries, and the typewritten report was prepared by an Indian. On July 3, 1900, the completed history was approved by the Council of the Confederacy.

About 1390, an Iroquois mother living near the Bay of Quinte had a very special dream: A messenger came to her and revealed that her maiden daughter, who lived at home, would soon give birth to a son. She would call him De-ka-nah-wi-da (De-kah-a-wee-da). When a grown man, he would bring to all people the good Tidings of Peace and Power from the Chief of the Sky Spirits.

De-ka-nah-wi-da was born, as the dream foretold. He grew rapidly. One day he said to his mother and grandmother, “The time has come for me to perform my duty in the world. I will now build my canoe.”

When it was completed, and with the help of his mother and grandmother, he dragged the canoe to the edge of the water. The canoe was made of white stone. He got into it, waved good-bye, and paddled swiftly away to the East. A group of Seneca hunters on the far side of the bay saw the canoe coming toward them. De- ka-nah-wi-da stepped ashore and asked, “Why are you here?”

The first man replied, “We are hunting game for our living.”

A second man said, “There is strife in our village.”

“When you go back,” De-ka-nah-wi-da told them, “you will find that peace prevails, because the good Tidings of Peace and Power have come to the people. You will find strife removed. Tell your Chief that De-ka-nah-wi-da has brought the good news. I am now going eastward.”

The men on the lakeshore wondered, because the swift canoe was made of white stone. When they returned to their village and reported to their Chief, they found that peace prevailed.

After leaving his canoe on the east shore, De-ka-nah-wi-da travelled overland to another tribal settlement and asked the Chief, “Have you heard that Peace and Power have come to earth?”

“Yes, I have heard,” answered the Chief. “I have been thinking about it so much that I have been unable to sleep.”

De-ka-nah-wi-da then explained, “That which caused your wakefulness is now before you. Henceforth, you will be called Chief Hiawatha. You shall help me promote peace among all the tribes, so that the shedding of blood may cease among your people.”

“Wait,” said Hiawatha. “I will summon my people to hear you speak.” All assembled quickly.

“I have brought the good tidings of Peace and Power from the Chief of the Sky Spirits to all people on earth. Bloodshed must cease in the land. The Good Spirit never intended that blood should flow between human beings.”

Chief Hiawatha asked his tribe for their answer. One man asked, “What will happen to us if hostile tribes are on either side of us?”

“Those nations have already accepted the good news that I have brought them,” replied De-ka-nah-wi-da. Hiawatha’s tribe then also accepted the new plan of peace.

When the Messenger departed, Hiawatha walked with him for a short distance. “There is one I wish to warn you about because he may do evil to you,” confided De-ka-nah-wi-da. “He is a wizard and lives high above Lake Onondaga. He causes storms to capsize boats and is a mischief-maker. I go on to the East.”

Hiawatha had three daughters. The eldest became ill and died. Not long afterward, the second daughter died. All of the tribe gathered to console Hiawatha and to help him forget his great sorrow. One of the warriors suggested a game of lacrosse.

During the game, the last of Hiawatha’s daughters went to the spring for water. Halfway there, she saw a beautiful high-flying bird of many bright colours. She called for the people to look at the bird. Then the huge creature swooped down toward her. In fear, she started to run back to her lodge. At the same time, the people came running to see the bird. Hiawatha’s daughter was knocked down in the confusion. They did not see her and she was trampled to death.

“Has the wizard sent that bird and caused the death of my daughter?” wondered Hiawatha. Deeper in sorrow, he decided to leave his tribe and go away.

A few days later, he met De-ka-nah-wi-da, who commissioned him a Peacemaker. Henceforth, Hiawatha would spend his time going from village to village and spread the good Tidings of Peace and Power, so that the children of the future would live in peace.

The Mohawk Nation was the first to accept the peace plan, and they invited Hiawatha to make his home with them. One night De- ka-nah-wi-da appeared outside Hiawatha’s sleeping room. “It is now urgent,” he said softly, “that you come with me. We must go at once to another settlement. I have been there before and I promised to return.”

On their way, they came to a large lake. De-ka-nah-wi-da asked Hiawatha to choose between paddling across the rough water and flying over it. Remembering the warning about the wizard, he chose to fly over the lake. De-ka-nah-wi-da used his supernatural power and turned both of them into high-flying birds.

When they reached the opposite shore, they resumed their natural bodies. Then they journeyed to the top of a very high hill to see the one chief, the great wizard, who had not yet accepted the good news of peace. Upon seeing him, Hiawatha was startled–the wizard’s head was a mass of writhing snakes. His hands and feet were claw-like and twisted. He used his power to persecute others.

After a long time of discussion and gentle persuasion, Hiawatha noticed that the wizard began to smile! He exclaimed, “I do want to accept your plan of Peace and Power.”

At once the wizard began to change. His hands and feet straightened. Hiawatha combed the snakes from his hair. Soon other chiefs arrived to help in the wizard’s regeneration.

De-ka-nah-wi-da then asked all the chiefs and their chief warriors and assistants to meet on the shores of Lake Onondaga for a Council. Hiawatha, Chief of the Mohawks, asked the Oneida, Seneca, and Cayuga chiefs to bow their heads with him before the reformed wizard, who was the Onondaga Chief Atotarho (A-ta-tar’- ho). This was their way of showing their acceptance of him and their willingness to follow his leadership when called upon.

The Messenger stood before the Council and explained a plan for the Constitution of the Iroquois League of Peace:

“Let us now give thanks to the Great Chief of the Sky Spirits, for our power is now complete. ‘Yo-Hen, Yo-Hen,”‘ he said, meaning praise and thanksgiving.

The Great Spirit created man, the animals, earth, and all the growing things. I appoint you, Atotarho, Chief of the Onondagas, to be Fire-Keeper of your new Confederacy Council of the Five United Iroquois Nations.

“Chief Warrior and Chief Mother will now place upon your head the horns of a buck deer, a sign of your authority.

“Hiawatha shall be the Chief Spokesman for the Council. He will be the first to consider a subject and to give his opinion. He shall then ask the Senecas, Oneidas, and the Cayugas for their opinions, in that order. If not unanimous, Atotarho’s opinion will be considered next. Hiawatha shall continue the debate until a unanimous decision is reached. If not accomplished within a reasonable time, the subject shall be dropped.

“Let us now make a great white Wampum of shell beads strung on deer sinews. Each bead will signify an event and create a design of memory. We shall place it on the ground before the Fire- Keeper. Beside it we shall lay a large White Wing. With it, he can wash away any dust or spot–symbolic of destroying any evil that might cause trouble.

“We shall give the Fire-Keeper a rod to remove any creeping thing that might appear to harm the White Wampum or your grandchildren. If he should ever need help, he shall call out in his thunderous voice for the other Nations of the Confederacy to come to his aid.

“Each Chief shall organize his own tribe in the same way for the peace, happiness, and contentment of all his people. Each Chief shall sit at the head of his own Council and matters shall be referred to him for final decision.

“In the future, your Annual Confederacy Council Fire shall be held here at the Onondaga village of Chief Atotarho. It will be your Seat of Government.

“Let us now plant a symbolic tree of long leaves destined to grow tall and strong. It will represent your unity and strength. When other nations wish to accept the good Tidings of Peace and Power, they shall be seated within the Confederacy Council. Atop the tall tree will proudly sit an all-seeing eagle to watch and warn you of any danger.

“Let each Chief now bring one arrow to form a bundle of arrows. Tie them together so tightly that they cannot be bent or broken apart. Place the bundle of arrows beside the Council Fire as another symbol of your unity and strength.

“Let us join hands firmly, binding ourselves together in a circle. If a tree should fall upon the circle, your circle cannot be broken. Your people can thus be assured of your unity and peace.

“If a Council Chief should ever want to remove himself as Chief, then his Horns of Authority shall be placed upon the head of his hereditary successor.

“You Chiefs must now decide what you will do with your war weapons,” said De-ka-nah-wi-da.

Hiawatha then led the thoughtful discussion of the subject. The men agreed to dig a deep chasm where there was a rushing river beneath. Into this river the chiefs and their chief warriors threw all of their armaments of war. Then they closed the chasm forever.

De-ka-nah-wi-da reconvened the Council and stated:

“I charge you never to disagree seriously among yourselves. If you do, you might cause the loss of any rights of your grandchildren, or reduce them to poverty and shame. Your skin must be seven hands thick to stand for what is right in your heart. Exercise great patience and goodwill toward each other in your deliberations. Never, never disgrace yourselves by becoming angry. Let the good Tidings of Peace and Power and righteousness be your guide in all your Council Fires. Cultivate good feelings of friendship, love, and honour for each other always.

“In the future, vacancies shall be filled from the same hereditary tribes and clans from which the first Chiefs were chosen. The Chief Mother will control the chiefship titles and appoint hereditary successors. New Chiefs shall be confirmed by the Confederacy Council before the Condolence Ceremony. At that time, the Horns of Authority shall be placed upon the head of the new Chief.

“All hunting grounds are to be in common. All tribes shall have co-equal rights within your common boundaries. I now proclaim the formation of the League of the Five Iroquois Nations completed. I leave in your hands these principles I have received from the Chief of the Sky Spirits. In the future you will have the power to add any necessary rules for the safety and well-being of the Confederacy.

“My mission is now fulfilled. May your Confederacy continue from generation to generation–as long as the sun will shine, the grass will grow, the water will run. I go to cover myself with bark. I will have no successor and no one shall be called by my name.” De-ka-nah-wi-da departed from the Council Fire.

Chief Spokesman and Lawgiver Hiawatha arose before the Council and stated, “Hereafter, when opening and closing the Council Fire, the Fire-Keeper shall pick up the White Wampum strings and hold them high to honour all that has gone before. He will offer praise and thanksgiving to the Great Spirit. In Annual Council, the Chiefs will smoke the Pipe of Great Peace.

“If a chief stubbornly opposes matters of decision before the Council, displaying disrespect for his brother Chiefs, he shall be admonished by the Chief Mother to stop such behaviour and to act in harmony. If he continues to refuse, he shall be deposed.

“If a family or clan should become extinct, the Chief’s title shall be given to another chosen family within his Nation, and the hereditary title will remain within that family.”

All of the Chiefs of that first Council Fire agreed with Hiawatha’s plan as a part of their new Constitution.

Chief Fire-Keeper Atotarho arose before the Council with his arms outstretched, holding the White Wampum strings high in praise and thanksgiving to the Holder of the Heavens. Herewith, he closed the historic first Confederacy Council Fire of the Iroquois League of Five Nations. “Yo-Hen, Yo-Hen!” he solemnly concluded, “thank you.”

The Five Chiefs then smoked the Pipe of Great Peace!

Story of Hiawatha – Complete Work
Story of Hiawatha – by Chapter

Iroquois Constitution

Oral Tradition of the Foundation of the Iroquois Confederacy

“Friends and Brothers:–You being members of many tribes, you have come from a great distance; the voice of war has aroused you up; you are afraid of your homes, your wives and your children; you tremble for your safety. Believe me, I am with you. My heart beats with your hearts. We are one. We have one common object. We come to promote our common interest, and to determine how this can be best done.

“To oppose these hordes of northern tribes, singly and alone, would prove certain destruction. We can make no progress in that way. We must unite ourselves into one common band of brothers. We must have but one voice. Many voices makes confusion. We must have one fire, one pipe, and one war club. This will give us strength. If your warriors are united they can defeat the enemy and drive them from our land; if we do this, we are safe.

“Onondaga, you are the people sitting under the shadow of the Great Tree, whose branches spread far and wide, and whose roots sink deep into the earth. You shall be the first nation, because you are warlike and mighty.

“Oneida, and you, the people who recline your bodies against the Everlasting Stone, that cannot be moved, shall be the second nation, because you always give good counsel.

“Seneca, and you, the people who have your habitation at the foot of the Great Mountain, and are overshadowed by its crags, shall be the third nation, because you are all greatly gifted in speech.

“Cayuga, you, whose dwelling is in the Dark Forest, and whose home is everywhere, shall be the fourth nation, because of your superior cunning in hunting.

“Mohawk, and you, the people who live in the open country, and posess much wisdom, shall be the fifth nation, because you understand better the art of raising corn and beans and making cabins.

Stories

Battle With the Snakes

 

There was a man who was not kind to animals. One day when he was hunting, he found a rattlesnake and decided to torture it. He held its head to the ground and pierced it with a piece of bark. Then as it was caught there, he tormented it.

“We shall fight,” he said and then burned the snake until it was dead. He thought this was a great jest and so, whenever he found a snake, he would do the same thing.

One day another man from his village was walking through the forest when he heard a strange sound. It was louder than the wind hissing through the tops of tall pine trees. He crept closer to see. There, in a great clearing, were many snakes. They were gathered for a war council and as he listened in fright he heard them say:

“We shall now fight with them. Djisdaah has challenged us and we shall go to war. In four days we shall go to their village and fight them.”

The man crept away and then ran as fast as he could to his village to tell what he had heard and seen. The chief sent other men to see if the report was true. They returned in great fright.

“Ahhhh,” they said, “it is so. The snakes are all gathering to have a war.”

The chief of the village could see that he had no choice. “We must fight,” he said and ordered the people of the village to make preparations for the battle. They cut mountains of wood and stacked it in long piles all around the village. They built rows of stakes close together to keep the snakes out. When the fourth day came, the chief ordered that the piles of wood be set on fire. Just as he did so they heard a great noise, like a great wind in the trees. It was the noise of the snakes, hissing as they came to the village to do battle.

Usually a snake will not go near a fire, but these snakes were determined to have their revenge. They went straight into the flames. Many of them died, but the living snakes crawled over the bodies of the dead ones and continued to move forward until they reached the second row of stakes.

Once again, the chief ordered that the piles of wood in the second row of defense be set on fire. But the snakes crawled straight into the flames, hissing their war songs, and the living crawled over the bodies of the dead. It was a terrible sight. They reached the second row of stakes and, even though the people fought bravely, it was no use. The snakes were more numerous than fallen leaves and they could not be stopped. Soon they forced their way past the last row of stakes and the people of the village were fighting for their lives. The first man to be killed was Djisdaah, the one who had challenged the snakes to battle.

It was now clear that they could never win this battle. The chief of the village shouted to the snakes who had reached the edge of the village: “Hear me, my brothers. We surrender to you.

We have done you a great wrong. Have mercy on us.”

The snakes stopped where they were and there was a great silence.

The exhausted warriors looked at the great army of snakes and the snakes stared back at them. Then the earth trembled and cracked in front of the human beings. A great snake, a snake taller than the biggest pine tree, whose head was larger than a great long house, lifted himself out of the hole in the earth

“Hear me,” he said. “I am the chief of all the snakes. We shall go and leave you in peace if you will agree to two things.”

The chief looked at the great snake and nodded his head. “We will agree, Great Chief,” he said.

“It is well,” said the Chief of the Snakes. “These are the two things. First, you must always treat my people with respect. Secondly, as long as the world stands, you will never name another man Djisdaah.”

And so it was agreed and so it is, even today.

Boy Who Lived With the Bears

 

There was once a boy whose father and mother had died and he was left alone in the world. The only person he had to take care of him was his uncle, but his uncle was not a kind man. The uncle thought that the boy was too much trouble and fed him only scraps from the table and dressed him in tattered clothing and moccasins with soles that were worn away. When the boy slept at night, he had to sleep outside his uncle’s lodge far away from the fire. But the boy never complained because his parents had told him always to respect people older than himself.

One day the uncle decided to get rid of the boy. “Come with me,” he said. “We are going hunting.”

The boy was very happy. His uncle had never taken him hunting before. He followed him into the woods. First his uncle killed a rabbit. The boy picked it up to carry it for the uncle and was ready to turn back to the lodge, but his uncle shook his head. “We will go on. I am not done hunting.”

They went further and the uncle killed a fat grouse. The boy was very happy, for they would have so much to eat that surely his uncle would feed him well that night and he began to turn back, but the uncle shook his head again. “No,” he said, “we must go on.”

Finally, they came to a place very, very far in the forest where the boy had not been before. There was a great cliff and at its base a cave led into the rock. The opening to the cave was large enough only for a small person to go into. “There are animals hiding in there,” the uncle said. “You must crawl in and chase them out so that I can shoot them with my arrows.”

The cave was very dark and it looked cold inside, but the boy remembered what his parents had taught him. He crawled into the cave. There were leaves and stones, but there were no animals. He reached the very end of the cave and turned back, ashamed that he had not fulfilled his uncle’s expectations. And do you know what he saw? He saw his uncle rolling a great stone in front of the mouth of the cave. And then everything was dark.

The boy tried to move the stone, but it was no use. He was trapped! At first he was afraid, but then he remembered what his parents had told him. The orenda of those who are good at heart is very strong. If you do good and have faith, good things will come to you. This made the boy happy and he began to sing a song. The song was about himself, a boy who had no parents and needed friends. As he sang, his song grew louder, until he forgot he was trapped in a cave. But then he heard a scratching noise outside and stopped singing, thinking his uncle had come back to let him out of the cave.

However, as soon as he heard the first of many voices outside his cave, he knew that he was wrong. That high squeaking voice was not the voice of his uncle. “We should help this boy,” said the high squeaking voice.

“Yes,” said a very deep voice which sounded warm and loving. “He is all alone and needs help.

There is no doubt that we should help him.”

“One of us,” said another voice, “will have to adopt him.”

And then many other voices, voices of all kinds which seemed to speak in many languages agreed. The strange thing was that the boy could understand all these voices, strange as they were. Then the stone began to move and light streamed into the cave, blinding the boy who had been in the darkness for a long time. He crawled out, very stiff and cold, and looked around him. He was surrounded by many animals!

“Now that we have rescued you,” said a small voice from near his feet, “you must choose which of us will be your parents now.” He looked down and saw that the one who was speaking was a mole.

“Yes,” said a great moose standing in the trees. “You must choose one of us.”

“Thank you,” said the boy. You are all so kind. But how can I choose which one of you will be my parents?”

“I know,” said the mole. “Let us all tell him what we are like and what kind of lives we lead and he can decide.” There was general agreement on that, and so the animals began to come up to the boy one by one.

“I’ll begin,” said the mole. “I live under the earth and dig my tunnels through the Earth Mother. It is very dark and cozy in my tunnels and we have plenty of worms and grubs to eat.”

“That sounds very good,” said the boy, “but I am afraid that I am too big to go into your tunnels, friend Mole.”

“Come and live with me,” said the beaver. “I live in a fine lodge in the midst of a pond. We beavers eat the best bark from the sweetest trees and we dive under the water and sleep in our lodge in the winter time.”

“Your life is very interesting too,” said the boy, “but I cannot eat bark, and I know that I would freeze in the cold waters of your pond.”

“How about me?” said the wolf. “I run through the woods and fields and I catch all the small animals I want to eat. I live in a warm den and you would do well to come with me.”

“You too are very kind,” said the boy, “but all of the animals have been so kind to me I would not feel right eating them.”

“You could be my child,” said the deer. “Run with us through the forest and eat the twigs of the trees and the grass of the fields.”

“No, friend deer,” the boy said, “You are beautiful and good, but you are so fast that I would be left far behind you.”

Then an old bear-woman walked over to the boy. She looked at him a long time before she talked and when she spoke her voice was like a growling song.

“You can come with us and be a bear,” she said. “We bears move slowly and speak with harsh voices, but our hearts are warm. We eat the berries and the roots which grow in the forest and our fur would keep you warm in the long season cold.”

“Yes,” said the boy, “I would like to be a bear. I will come with you and you will be my family.” So the boy who had no family went to live with the bears. The mother bear had two other children and they became brothers to the boy. They would roll and play together and soon the boy was almost as strong as a bear.

“Be careful, though,” the old bear-woman cautioned him. “Your brothers’ claws are sharp and wherever they scratch you, you will grow hair just like them.” They lived together a long time in the forest and the old bear-woman taugh the boy many things.

One day they were all in the forest seeking berries when the bear-woman motioned them to silence.

“Listen,” she said. “There is a hunter.” They listened and, sure enough, they heard the sounds of a man walking. The old bear-woman smiled. “We have nothing to fear from him,” she said. “He is the heavy- stepper and the twigs and the leaves of the forest speak of him wherever he goes.”

Another time as they walked along, the old bear- woman again motioned them to silence. “Listen,” she said. “Another hunter.” They listened and soon they heard the sound of singing . The old bear- woman smiled. “That one too is not dangerous. He is the flapping-mouth, the one who talks as he hunts and does not remember that everything in the forest has ears. We bears can hear singing even if it is only thought, and not spoken.”

So they lived on happily until one day when the old bear-woman motioned them to silence, a frightened look in her eyes. “Listen,” she said, “the one who hunts on two-legs and four-legs. This one is very dangerous to us, and we must hope he does not find us, for the four-legs who hunts with him can follow our tracks wherever we go and the man himself does not give up until he has caught whatever it is that he is hunting for.”

Just then they heard the sound of a dog barking “Run for your lives,” cried the old bear-woman “The four-legs has caught our scent.”

And so they ran, the boy and the three bears. They ran across streams and up hills, but still the sound of the dog followed them. They ran through swamps and thickets, but the hunters were still close behind. They crossed ravines and forced their way through patches of thorns, but could not escape the sounds of pursuit. Finally, their hearts ready to burst from exhaustion, the old bear-woman and the boy and the two bear-brothers came to a great hollow log. “It is our last hope,” said the old bear-woman. “Go inside.”

They crawled into the log and waited, panting and afraid. For a time, there was no sound and then the noise of the dog sniffing at the end of their log came to their cars. The old bear-woman growled and the dog did not dare to come in after them. Then, once again, things were quiet and the boy began to hope that his family would be safe, but his hopes were quickly shattered when he smelled smoke. The resourceful hunter had piled branches at the end of the log and was going to smoke them out!

“Wait,” cried the boy in a loud voice. “Do not harm my friends.”

“Who is speaking?” shouted a familiar voice from outside the log. “Is there a human being inside there?” There came the sound of branches being kicked away from the mouth of the log and then the smoke stopped. The boy crawled out and looked into the face of the hunter–it was his uncle!!

“My nephew!” cried the uncle with tears in his eyes. “Is it truly you? I came back to the cave where I left you, realizing that I had been a cruel and foolish man . . . but you were gone and there were only the tracks of many animals. I thought they had killed you.

And it was true. Before the uncle had reached home, he had realized that he had been a wicked person. He had turned back, resolved to treat the son of his own sister well from then on. His grief had truly been great when he had found him gone.

“It is me,” said the boy. “I have been cared for by the bears. They are like my family now, Uncle. Please do not harm them.”

The uncle tied his hunting dog to a tree as he nodded his agreement. “Bring out your friends. I will always be the friend of bears from now on if what you say is true.”

Uncertain and still somewhat afraid, the old bear- woman and her two sons came out of the log. They talked to the boy with words which sounded to the uncle like nothing more than animals growling and told him that he must now be I human being again.

“We will always be your friends,” said the old bear-woman and she shuffled into the forest after her two sons. “And you will remember what it is to know the warmth of an animal’s heart.”

And so the boy returned to live a long and happy life with his uncle. a friend to the bears and all the animals for as long as he lived.

Chipmunk and Bear

 

Long ago when animals could talk, a bear was walking along. Now it has always been said that bears think very highly of themselves. Since they are big and strong, they are certain that they are the most important of the animals.

As this bear went along turning over big logs with his paws to look for food to eat, he felt very sure of himself. “There is nothing I cannot do,” said this bear.

“Is that so?” said a small voice. Bear looked down. There was a little chipmunk looking up at Bear from its hole in the ground.

“Yes,” Bear said, “that is true indeed.” He reached out one huge paw and rolled over a big log. “Look at how easily I can do this. I am the strongest of all the animals. I can do anything. All the other animals fear me.”

“Can you stop the sun from rising in the morning?” said the Chipmunk.

Bear thought for a moment. “I have never tried that,” he said. “Yes, I am sure I could stop the sun from rising.”

“You are sure?” said Chipmunk.

“I am sure,” said Bear. “Tomorrow morning the sun will not rise. I, Bear, have said so.” Bear sat down facing the east to wait.

Behind him the sun set for the night and still he sat there. The chipmunk went into its hole and curled up in its snug little nest, chuckling about how foolish Bear was. All through the night Bear sat. Finally the first birds started their songs and the east glowed with the light which comes before the sun.

“The sun will not rise today,” said Bear. He stared hard at the glowing light. “The sun will not rise today.”

However, the sun rose, just as it always had. Bear was very upset, but Chipmunk was delighted. He laughed and laughed. “Sun is stronger than Bear,” said the chipmunk, twittering with laughter. Chipmunk was so amused that he came out of his hole and began running around in circles, singing this song:

“The sun came up,
The sun came up.
Bear is angry,
But the sun came up.”

While Bear sat there looking very unhappy, Chipmunk ran around and around, singing and laughing until he was so weak that he rolled over on his back. Then, quicker than the leap of a fish from a stream, Bear shot out one big paw and pinned him to the ground.

“Perhaps I cannot stop the sun from rising,” said Bear, “but you will never see another sunrise.”

‘Oh, Bear,” said the chipmunk. “oh, oh, oh, you are the strongest, you are the quickest, you are the best of all of the animals. I was only joking.” But Bear did not move his paw.

“Oh, Bear,” Chipmunk said, “you are right to kill me, I deserve to die. Just please let me say one last prayer to Creator before you eat me.”

“Say your prayer quickly,” said Bear. “Your time to walk the Sky Road has come!”

“Oh, Bear,” said Chipmunk, “I would like to die. But you are pressing down on me so hard I cannot breathe. I can hardly squeak. I do not have enough breath to say a prayer. If you would just lift your paw a little, just a little bit, then I could breathe. And I could say my last prayer to the Maker of all, to the one who made great, wise, powerful Bear and the foolish, weak, little Chipmunk.

“Bear lifted up his paw. He lifted it just a little bit. That little bit, though, was enough. Chipmunk squirmed free and ran for his hole as quickly as the blinking of an eye. Bear swung his paw at the little chipmunk as it darted away. He was not quick enough to catch him, but the very tips of his long claws scraped along Chipmunk’s back leaving three pale scars.

To this day, all chipmunks wear those scars as a reminder to them of what happens when one animal makes fun to another.

Dogs Who Saved their Master

Long ago a hunter owned four dogs. Three of them were very large and fierce. They were strong enough to hold and kill a bear. The fourth dog was small, but she was no less valuable. She was the kind of dog the Iroquois people call Gayei Nadehogo ‘eda’, “Four-Eyes.” She had two yellow spots on her forehead which made her look as if she had an extra pair of eyes. Such dogs are supposed to have special power and indeed, though she was the smallest of the dogs, Four-Eyes led the others. She was always the first to pick up a trail.

The hunter thought his dogs very special and treated them as if they were part of his family. Each night he slept by their side. Whenever he killed any game he always fed them before taking any of the meat for himself.

It was during the Moon when the leaves changed colour. The hunter had roamed far from his village in search of game. For some time now the hunting had not been good. It seemed as if the animals had all been driven away and even with his fine dogs, it was hard to find a single deer. Finally, the hunter shot a fine buck. As he began to clean it, he noticed that his dogs had not gathered around as they usually did after a kill to be given their reward if the first cut of meat. Instead, all four of them stood around a great dead elm tree with its top broken off as if shattered by lightning. The hunter called his dogs.

“Four-Eyes, Long-Tooth, Quick-Foot, Bear-Killer,” he said, “come.”

But without leaving their places around the tree, the dogs just turned their heads to look at him. Now many hunters would have shouted at their dogs or beaten them, but this man had great respect for these animals.

“Something,” he said, “must be in that tree. I must wait and watch.”

So he made camp at the edge of he clearing, built a small fire, and made ready to go to sleep. However, just as he was about to fall asleep, he heard a noise from the other side of his fire. He looked up. There stood the little four-eyed dog.

“My Brother,” said Four-Eyes, “You are in great danger.” The hunter was greatly surprised. Never before had he heard a dog speak. He listened closely.

“In that hollow tree,” the dog continued, “there is a terrible creature which has driven away or killed all the game. We are trying to keep it within the tree so that you can escape, but we cannot do so much longer. My three brothers and I will probably die, but there is a chance you can escape if you do as I say.”

“Nyoh, my sister,” the man said leaning forward, “well shall I listen.”

“As soon as I leave you.” said Four-Eyes, “you must begin to run. Take only two pairs of moccasins with you. I shall lick the bottoms of them so that you can travel as we dogs do with the speed of the wind through the trees. Take nothing else with you. Your arrows and your club are no good against this creature. Go straight to the east from here and do not look back. If it goes well, I shall see you again.”

Then the dog came around to his side of the fire and licked the bottoms of his moccasins. He put on one pair, tying the others about his waist with a strip of twisted basswood bark. As the little four-eyed dog melted back into the darkness, he leaped up, leaving everything behind him, and began to run. From the other side of the clearing he heard a terrible howl and the sound of his dogs growling as they attacked, but he did not slow down or look back.

All through the night he ran. The moon crossed the sky, casting her light on his path and then the east began to glow with light as the sun began to lift. He slowed down to rest and as he did so the little four eyed dog stepped out from the bushes in front of him.

“My brother,” said Four-Eyes. “Bear-Killer is dead. We have held the creature for a while. but now it on your trail. Look,” she said, “there are holes in your moccasins. You must put on the other pair.”

The hunter looked at his feet. His moccasins were all in tatters. He took them off and put on the other pair.

“Nyah-weh, little sister,” he said, “I thank you and your brothers.”

“You have thanked us many times in the past by the way you always treated us,” Four-Eyes said “Now you must run. Head straight to the south. The creature is getting near.”

Again the hunter ran. Once more he heard the awful howl of the creature and the sound of his dogs attacking. But he did not look back or slow down. All through the morning he ran and ran until the sun was high in the sky. Once more he paused for breath. The little four-eyed dog stepped out from the bushes in front of him.

“My Brother,” she said. “Quick-Foot is dead. It is not going well for us. The creature is coming more quickly now, leaping from tree to tree. My brother and I will wait here and hide. We will try to pull it down. Perhaps you will be able to get away.”

The man nodded. There were no words he could speak.

“One thing more,” said Four-Eyes. “When you need strength, stop and drink from any pool of water by the side of the path. But before you do so be sure to step in and muddy the water. That is what you have always seen us doing and it is our secret for gaining strength from the water we drink. Now go.”

The man did as she said. Once more he heard behind him the howl of the creature, this time from high in the trees. Then he heard the growling of his dogs and the sound of a large body being pulled to the ground. But he did not slow down or look back. Soon he came to a pool of water by the side of the path. He stepped in to muddy the water and drank. Then, with his strength renewed, he ran on.

Now the sun was only the width of a hand above the western edge of the sky. The path had grow more familiar as he ran and he knew that he was close to his village. It had taken him many days to make the journey to the place where they had been hunting. But so strong had been the advice which the little four-eyed dog had given him, he made the journey back in only one day and a night. He was very tired now, though. He could hardly place one foot in front the other and he stumbled as he made his way along the trail. His legs felt weaker than those of a newborn child. He fell to his knees.

The little four-eyed dog stepped from the bushes in front of him. She looked as tired as he and there were many wounds on her body. The hunter almost wept when he saw her. She spoke before he could say anything.

“My Brother,” she said, “Long-Tooth is dead. My own time to die is coming. I shall attack the creature now. Perhaps I can hold it until you reach safety. Since it cannot come within a circle of light. maybe you will escape. If I fight well enough, the creature will be so weak that it will go away and never return.

“Do not weep for me. Only do us one last favour if you live. Come back and give our bones decent burial so the animals of the forest do not scatter them. Now run or our sacrifice will be for nothing.”

The man stood up and ran. Tears filled his eyes. He summoned all of his strength and ran on into the deepening evening. Behind him he heard a terrible struggle as his small dog attacked the creature he had not yet seen, but he did not slow down or look back. On and on he ran until he heard one last yelp. Then he knew that Four-Eyes too had been killed.

Now he could feel the ground shaking as if great trees were falling behind him. A howl split the night close behind him and his limbs felt as if they were filled with ice. Yet he did not stop or look back. “Go-weh!” he called, giving the ancient distress cry of the Iroquois. “GO-WEH!!”

In the village the men who had gathered for the Feast to Honour the Dead heard the cry. Pulling down dry torches from the racks above their heads, they lit them and rushed out into the forest. The human cry was faint, but it was close to them.

Now the hunter felt the creature’s hot breath on the back of his neck. “GOOO-WEHHH!!!!” he called one last time and then, catching his foot on a root, he fell headlong to the earth. The next thing he knew he was being lifted to his feet by friendly hands. Above him in a circle were the faces of the men of his village holding torches of dried bark over their heads to give them light. Where were his dogs?

Then a terrible howl from the northern edge of the forest filled the air. The hunter and the others looked. There in the darkness something towered over the trees. It had long arms and its eyes were fire pits. They saw the gleam of sharp teeth from its mouth and the claws at the ends of its arms were like lance tips. Four times it screamed and then turned and shambled back into the forest.

When the next morning came, the hunter and a party of his friends went back and found huge tracks of a kind they had never seen before, leading straight to the north. There was blood on the rocks as if the creature had suffered many wounds. They did not follow the creature. Instead they continued on along the hunter’s trail to search for the bodies of his faithful dogs. The first dog they found was Four- Eyes. Only her bones were left, but she still held between her teeth a great piece of flesh torn from the creature. They placed her bones in a sack and continued on. It took them two days to reach the place where Long-Tooth had died and here, too, they found only the dog’s bones which they placed in the sack. Two more days passed before they reached the bones of Quick-Foot and another two before the bones of Bear-Killer were found. Yet the hunter had come that far in a single night and a day.

The hunter brought the bones of his four dogs back to his village and buried them beneath the floor of his lodge.

From that time on, the hunting was good for that man and the people of his village. The terrible creature was never seen again. It is said, too, that in that village the dogs were always treated well and whenever a dog was born with two spots over its eyes, it was treated the best of all.

Four Iroquois Hunters

Once, not long ago, four Iroquois hunters spent the winter together trapping in the north. They had good luck. When they brought their furs to the trading post at the end of the season, they had more than enough to buy all the things they needed for their families. In fact, there was just enough left over to buy a new rifle.

They had a problem. Although they hunted and trapped together as brothers, for all of them belonged to the Bear Clan, they did not live together. One hunter was from the Nundawaono, the People of the Great Hill, the Seneca. His home was to the west. One was from the Gueugwehono, the People of the Mucky Land, the Cayuga. His home was to the south near the marshes by the long lakes. One was from the Onundagaono, the People on the Hills, the Onondaga. His place was in the very centre of the lands of the Great League. One was from the Ganeagaono, the People of the Flint, the Mohawks. His home was to the east. Now that they had finished trapping, each would be returning home. It was easy to divide provisions among four people, but how could they divide the rifle? Finally it was decided. The man who told the tallest story about hunting would take the gun home.

The Mohawk hunter spoke first. “A man was walking along. He had been hunting all day, but his mind wasn’t on his hunting. He’d used up all of the bullets for his old muzzle loader without hitting anything. As he walked, he ate some cherries he had picked. Eat one, spit the stone into his hand. Eat one spit the stone into his hand. Then he saw, right in front of him, a big, big deer. But he had no bullets left. He thought quickly. He poured powder into the gun, took the cherry seeds, loaded them and fired at the deer’s head. The deer fell down, but it got right up again and ran away.

“Some years later that same hunter went out again hunting in the same place. Again he had no luck. Near the end of the day he saw at the edge of a clearing a tall tree covered with ripe cherries. Ah, this man thought. At least I can eat some cherries. So he put his gun down and began to climb up into the tree. He had reached the lower branches when the tree began to shake back and forth and the hunter had to hold on with both hands. Then the tree lifted straight up into the air and he was thrown out. He looked up from the ground and saw that the tree was growing from between the antlers of a huge deer which shook its head one more time and then ran away into the forest. And that,” said the Mohawk hunter, “is my story.”

Now it was the turn of the Onondaga hunter. “One time my uncle was out hunting. He had only one shot left in his gun and he wanted to make it count. He came to a stream where he saw a duck swimming back and forth, back and forth. Just in front of the duck there was a large trout and it was leaping from the water to catch flies, leaping, leaping, leaping. On the other side of the stream there stood a deer. It had its head up and it was standing still, sniffing the wind. Further back on a small hill was a bear up on its hind legs, scratching its paws on a tree, up and down, up and down. My uncle got down on his belly. He crawled close to the stream, took careful aim and waited. When everything was just right and the trout jumped again he pulled the trigger. His bullet went through the trout and killed the duck. It ricocheted off the water and struck the deer. It went through the deer and killed the bear. My uncle was a good shot. The amazing thing–I know you will find this hard to believe–is that when he went to skin the bear he turned it over and found it had fallen on a fox and killed it.” The Onondaga hunter paused for breath. “And that fox had a fat rabbit in its mouth.”

The Cayuga hunter was next. “Many seasons ago my grandfather was out hunting and saw a deer. He started to chase it so he could get closer for a better shot, but he ran so fast he went right past the deer. When the deer saw my grandfather go by him, it got scared. It turned around, jumped as hard as it could and sailed right over a stream. My grandfather jumped too but when he got halfway over the stream he saw he couldn’t make it to the other side so he turned around in mid-air and jumped back. By now the deer hid behind a hill on the other side of the stream so my grandfather couldn’t see it anymore. “Now my grandfather was angry. He wasn’t going to let that deer get away! He put his gun between little maple trees and bent the barrel. The he aimed and shot. The bullet curved right around the hill and struck the deer.

“When my grandfather saw the fallen deer he got real excited. It was as if it was the first deer he’d ever shot. He started to skin it right away, But the dear wasn’t dead. Just when my grandfather reached the horns and was about to pull the skin off, the dear jumped up and began to run around. My grandfather tried to grab the deer, but it was too slippery. He chased it around and around. Then the skin got caught on the bark of a hickory tree. The dear backed off and pulled real hard and the skin came right off over its horns! The deer ran away, leaving my grandfather with nothing but its skin.” The Cayuga hunter looked up and look a deep breath. “And if you don’t believe my story, you can just go to my grandfather’s lodge. That skin is still hanging there.”

Now only the Seneca hunter was left. He looked around at the other three. Then he smiled and shook his head. “Wah-ah,” he said, “I am sorry. None of us Senecas ever tell tall stories about hunting.”

The other three hunters looked at each other. Then, without another word, they handed him the gun.

Four Iroquois Animal Traditions

Gifts of the Little People

The Gifts of the Little People
(Makiawisug)

There once was a boy whose parents had died. He lived with his uncle who did not treat him well. The uncle dressed the boy in rags and because of this the boy was called Dirty Clothes.

This boy, Dirty Clothes, was a good hunter. He would spend many hours in the forest hunting food for his lazy uncle who would not hunt for himself.

One day Dirty Clothes walked near the river, two squirrels that he had shot hanging from his belt. He walked near the cliffs which rose from the water. This is where the Little People, the Jo-Ge-Oh, often beat their drums. Most of the hunters from the village were afraid to go near this place, but Dirty Clothes remembered the words his mother had spoken years ago, “Whenever you walk with good in your heart, you should never be afraid.”

A hickory tree grew there near the river. He saw something moving in its branches. A black squirrel as hopping about high up in the top of the tree. When Dirty Clothes heard a small voice. “Shoot again, Brother,” the small voice said. “You still have not hit him.”

Dirty Clothes looked down and there near his feet were two small hunters. As he watched, one of them shot an arrow but it fell short of the black squirrel. “Ah,” Dirty Clothes thought, “they will never succeed like that. I must help them.” He drew his bow and with one shot brought down the squirrel.

The tiny hunters ran to the squirrel. “Whose arrow is this?” asked one of them. They looked up and saw the boy. “Eee-yah,” said one of the tiny hunters, “you have shot well. The squirrel is yours.”

“Thank you,” Dirty Clothes answered, “but the squirrel is yours and also these others I have shot today.”

The two small hunters were very glad. “Come with us,” they said. “Come visit our lodge so we can thank you properly.”

Dirty Clothes thought about his uncle, but it was still early in the day aud he could hunt some more after visiting them. “I’ll will come with you,” Dirty Clothes said.

The two Little People led the boy to the river. There a tiny canoe was waiting, only as big as one of his shoes, but his friends told him to step inside. He took one step… and found he had become as small as the tiny hunters and was sitting with them inside their canoe.

The Little People dipped their paddles and up the canoe rose into the air! It flew above the hickory tree, straight to the cliffs and into a cave, the place where the Jo-Ge-Oh people lived. There the two hunters told their story to the other Little People gathered there who greeted the boy as a friend. “You must stay with us.” his new friends said, “for just a short time so we can teach you.”

Then the Jo-Ge-Oh taught Dirty Clothes things which he had never known. They told him many useful things about the birds and the forest animals. They taught him much about the corn and the squash and the beans which feed human life. They taught him about the strawberries which glow each June like embers in the grass and showed him how to make a special drink which the Little People love.

Last they showed him a new dance to teach his people, a dance to be done in a darkened place so the little People could come and dance with them unseen, a dance which would honour the Jo-Ge-Oh and thank them for their gifts.

Four days passed and the boy knew that the time had come for him to leave. “I must go to my village,” he told his friends.

So it was that with the two small hunters he set out walking towards his home. As they walked with him, his two friends pointed to the many plants which were useful and the boy looked at each plant carefully, remembering its name. Later, when he turned to look back at his friends, he found himself standing all alone in a field near the edge of his village.

Dirty Clothes walked into his village wondering how so many things had changed in just four days. It was the same place, yet nothing was the same. People watched him as he walked and finally a woman came up to him. “You are welcome here, Stranger,” said the woman. “Please tell us who you are.”

“Don’t you know?” he answered. ‘I am Dirty Clothes.”

“How can that be?” said the woman. “Your clothing is so beautiful.”

At that, he saw his old rags were gone. The thing he wore now was of fine new buckskin, embroidered with moose hair and porcupine quills. “Where is my uncle,” he asked the woman, “the one who lived there in that lodge and had a nephew dressed in rags?”

Then an old man spoke up from the crowd. “Ah,” said the old man, “that lazy person? He’s been dead any years and why would a fine young warrior like you look for such a man?”

Dirty Clothes looked at himself and saw he was no longer a boy. He had become a full-grown man and towered over the people of his village. “I see,” he said, “the Little People have given me more gifts than I thought.” And he began to tell his story.

The wisest of the old men and women listened well to this young warrior. They learned many things by so listening. That night all his people did the Dark Dance to thank the Jo-Ge-Oh for their gifts and, in the darkness of the lodge, they heard the voices of the Little People joining in the song, glad to know that the human beings were grateful for their gifts. And so it is, even to this day, that the Little People remain the friends of the people of the longhouse and the Dark Dance is done, even to this day.

Girl Who Was not Satisfied with Simple things

There once was a girl who was not satisfied with simple things. Her parents despaired of ever finding her a husband she would accept. Each man who came was not good enough. “That one was too fat; he will never do.” Or “Did you see how shabby his moccasins were?” Or “I didn’t like the way he spoke.” Such were the things she would say.

One night, as the fire flickered low, a strange young warrior came to their door. “Dahjoh,” said the mother. “come inside,” but the visitor stood a the edge of the light and pointed his hand at the girl.

“I have come to take you as my wife,” he said. Now this young man was very handsome. His face shone in the firelight. Above his waist was a fine, wide belt of black and yellow wampum that glittered like water. On his head he wore two tall feathers and he moved with the grace of a willow tree in the wind.

But the mother was worried. “My daughter,” she said, “you would not take any of the men in our village. Would you marry a stranger whose clan you don’t know?”

It was no use, for at last the daughter was satisfied. She packed her belongings and walked into the night, following the handsome stranger.

The girl walked for some time through the darkness with him when she began to feel afraid. Why had she left her mother’s lodge to come with this man she had never seen?

Just then her husband grasped her arm. “Do not fear,” he said, whispering in the darkness. “We will soon come to the place of my people.”

“But my husband,” said the girl, “how can that be? It seems we must be close to the river.”

Her husband grasped her arm again. “Follow me,” he whispered “just down this hill. We have almost come to the place of my people.”

The two of them walked down a steep bank and came to a lodge which had a pair of horns, like those of a giant elk, fastened above the door. “This is our home,” the husband said. “Tomorrow you will meet my people.”

The rest of the night the girl was afraid. She heard strange noises outside. She noticed that the lodge had a smell like that of a fish. She held her blankets tightly about her and waited, wide-eyed, for the morning.

When the next day came, the sun did not shine. The grey sky was filled with hazy light. Her husband gave her a new dress, covered just like his with wampum. “You must put this on,” he said to the girl, “before you are ready to meet my people.”

But the frightened girl would not touch the dress.

“It smells like fish,” she said. “I will not put it on.”

Her husband looked angry but he said no more. Before long, he walked to the door of the lodge. “I must go away for a time,” he whispered. “Do not leave this place and do not be afraid of anything you see.” And he was gone.

The girl sat there wondering about her fate. Why had she come with this strange man? She saw that if she had been satisfied with simple things this would not have happened. She thought of the fire in her mother’s lodge. She thought of the simple, good-hearted men who had asked her to marry them. Just then a great horned serpent crawled in through the door of the lodge. As she sat there, stiff with fear, it came up to her and stared a long time into her eyes. Around its body were glittering bands of yellow and black. Then it turned and crawled out of the door.

The girl followed slowly and peered outside. All around, there were serpents, some lying on rocks, some crawling out of caves. Then she knew that her husband was not what he seemed, not a human being, but a serpent disguised in human form.

Now this girl who had been foolish was a girl who was not without courage. She knew that she would never agree to put on her husband’s magical dress and become a great serpent herself. But how could she escape? She thought and thought and finally, for she had gone the whole night without sleep, she closed her eyes and slept.

Then, as she slept, it seemed to her an old man appeared in her dream. “My granddaughter,” said the old man in a clear deep voice, “let me help you.”

“But what can I do, Grandfather?” she asked.

“You must do as I say,” the old man answered “You must leave this place at once and run to the edge of the village. There you will see a tall steep cliff. You must climb that cliff and not turn back or your husband’s people will stop you. When you have reached the top, I shall help you.”

When the girl awoke, she realized she had to follow the old man’s words. She looked outside the lodge and saw her husband coming, dressed again in the form of a beautiful man. She knew she had to go at once or be caught in this place forever. So, quick as a partridge flying up, she burst from the door of her husband’s lodge and dashed toward the cliffs.

“Come back!” she heard her husband shout but she did not look back. The cliffs were very far away. She ran as swiftly as she could. Then she began to hear a sound, a rustling noise like the wind rushing through the reeds but she did not look back. The cliffs were closer now. Then once more she heard her husband’s voice close to her whispering, whispering, “Come back, my wife, come join my people.” But now she had come to the cliffs and began to climb.

She climbed and she climbed, using all of her strength, remembering the old man’s promise, as her hands grew painful and tired. Ahead of her was the top of the cliff and as she reached it she felt the hand of the old man lifting her to her feet.

She looked back and saw that she had just climbed up out of the river. Behind her were many great horned serpents. Then, as she watched, the old man began to hurl bolts of lightning which struck the monsters. And she knew that the old man was Heno, the Thunderer.

The lightning flashed and the thunder drums rolled across the sky. In the river the serpents tried to escape but the bolts of Heno struck them all. Then the storm ended and the girl stood there, a gentle rain washing over her face as the Thunderer looked down on her.

“You’re very brave, my child,” he said. “You have helped me rid the earth of those monsters. Perhaps I may call on you again, for your deed has given you power.”

Then the old man raised his hand and a single cloud drifted down to earth. He and the girl stepped into the cloud which carried them back to her village.

It is said that the girl later married a man whose heart was good. Between them they raised many fine children. It is also said that her grandfather, Heno, came back to visit her many times. Often she would fly with him to help rid the earth of evil creatures.

And when she was old, she always told her grandchildren these words: “Be satisfied with simple things.”

Hodadenon: The Last One Left and the Chestnut Tree

Long ago a boy and his uncle lived together in an elm bark lodge. The boy’s name was Hodadenon, which means “The Last One Left.” All of the rest of his family had disappeared over the years and it was thought they had been killed by those who were ‘otgont’, possessed of wicked powers.

Each morning the uncle would feed Hodadenon and then go out of the lodge to hunt, leaving the boy by himself. Each evening he would return, again feed the boy, and then go to sleep.

One day Hodadenon was playing by himself in the lodge. He began to think. “Enh,” he said, “why is it that I never see my uncle eat?”

Then he took a bone awl and made a small hole in the deerskin he used as a blanket each night. “Tonight,” said Hodadenon, “I shall see what happens after we go to bed.”

That evening as always the uncle returned. He fed the boy and told him to go to sleep. Hodadenon lay down on one side of the fire and on the other side the uncle lay down on his couch, which was made of saplings and covered with many animal skins.

Pulling the deerskin over his head, Hodadenon pretended to sleep, but he could still see his uncle through the small hole he had made. After a time, the uncle stood up and went over to the fire.

“Hodadenon,” said the uncle in a soft voice, but the boy did not answer. Three times more the uncle called his name, but Hodadenon still pretended to sleep. Coming closer to the fire, the uncle blew very hard into it. Sparks flew out, landing on the boy’s legs.

“Hodadenon,” said the uncle, “be careful. You are going to be burned.” But even though some of the sparks fell on his bare skin and burned him Hodadenon did not move.

“Nyoh,” said the uncle, “the boy is indeed asleep.” He went over to his couch and removed the skins. He lifted off the top of the couch and took out a box made of birch bark. All of this Hodadenon watched through the hole in his blanket.

Opening the box made of birch bark, the uncle took out a small pot. It was so small that it fit easily in the palm of his hand. From inside the pot he took out another object which the boy could not clearly see though it looked to be smaller than an acorn. Using a little knife, the uncle scraped tiny shavings from the thing into the pot. Then, putting the tiny pot over the fire, he blew on it and sang this song:

Grow, pot, grow in size
Grow, pot, grow in size

And as Hodadenon watched, the pot grew in size as the uncle sang his song and blew on it. Finally the pot was as large as a normal cooking pot and the odour of something delicious came from it. Before long the food was ready and the uncle ate it all. When he was through, he blew once more on the pot and sang this song:

Shrink, pot, shrink in size
Shrink, pot, shrink in size

And once again the pot became small enough to hold in the palm of his hand. Replacing the thing he had scraped in the tiny pot, Hodadenon’s uncle replaced the pot in the birch bark box and again hid everything in the secret compartment under his couch. Then he went to sleep.

The next morning, as always, the uncle went out hunting and left the boy alone in the lodge. For a time Hodadenon played around the lodge. He shot his small bow and arrow at a target and did other things, but the song his uncle sang to the pot kept going through his head. Finally he could stand it no longer.

“My uncle will be back soon from his hunting,” he said. “He will be very hungry. I should prepare a meal for him.”

Hodadenon went over to his uncle’s couch, pulled off the skins and opened the compartment. Taking out the box of birch bark, he opened it and found the tiny pot. Within it was half of a small dry nut.

“So this is my uncle’s food,” said Hodadenon, “but it is almost gone. If I want to make enough for him to eat, I must use it all. I am sure he can get more.” So Hodadenon took a knife and scraped all that was left of the nut into the tiny pot. Then, placing the pot over the fire, he blew on it and sang:

Grow, pot, grow in size
Grow, pot, grow in size

Sure enough, just as it had done for his uncle, the pot became larger. Now it was the size of a normal cooking pot and it was boiling and boiling.

But Hodadenon was not satisfied, “surely my uncle will be more hungry than this when he comes home. I must make more.” Then he blew on the pot and again sang:

Grow, pot, grow in size
Grow, pot, grow in size

Now the pot was so large and bubbling so fast that Hodadenon had to stretch to stir the contents, which smelled very good indeed.

“Neh,” said Hodadenon, “this isn’t enough. What if my uncle wishes to share this good food with me. After all, he will be grateful that I prepared it. I must make more.” So, once more, he blew on the kettle and sang the song. Again the pot grew and now it was so large that Hodadenon had to stand on top of his uncle’s couch and use a canoe paddle to stir the contents, but he was so excited that he did not want to stop.

“This is almost enough for us,” he said, “but what if we should have visitors? We should have enough to offer them as well.”

So, for a fourth time, Hodadenon blew on the pot and sang the magic song. The pot grew so big that Hodadenon had to get out of the lodge because it filled the whole place from side to side! It was so big that the only way the boy could stir it was by taking a long pole up to the roof and reaching down to stir it through the smoke hole!

When Hodadenon’s uncle came back from hunting, the first thing he saw was the pudding bubbling out of the door of the lodge. He heard someone singing above him and looked up. There was Hodadenon, swinging his legs in the smoke hole, still stirring the pudding and singing happily:

What a good cook I am
What a good cook I am
We all will eat well now
What a good cook I am

“Nephew,” called the old man, “come down from there. What you have done has killed me.”

Then Hodadenon’s uncle blew on the pot through the door of the lodge and sang the song to make it grow small. When it was down to the size it had been at the beginning, he entered the lodge, lay down on his couch and began to weep.

Hodadenon, who had come down from the smoke hole, walked over to where the old man lay.

“Uncle,” said Hodadenon, “what is wrong?”

“Hodadenon,” said the uncle, “you have used up all of the only food I can eat. Now I will starve to death. This is why I never allowed you to see me eat. I knew that you would do this.”

“Uncle,” said the boy, “things can’t be that bad. Just go and get another of those little nuts.”

“Neh,” said the uncle, “that is the kind of food called a chestnut. Long ago, though it was very dangerous, I obtained that one. All these years I have eaten it and it would have lasted for many more. Now I am too old to get another one.”

“Wah-ah,” said Hodadenon, “this is my doing. I shall go and bring back many chestnuts.”

“It is not possible,” said the old man. “The way is long and guarded by many terrible creatures. Others of your family have gone there but none have ever returned.”

Yet Hodadenon would not give up. Finally the uncle agreed to tell him the way. “Go straight to the north, the uncle said. “There you will find a narrow path. At its first turn it is guarded by two great rattle snakes, slaves to the evil ones who own the chestnut trees. No one can get past them.”

“But what if I do, Uncle?” asked Hodadenon.

If anyone by good luck passes the great snakes, he will next encounter two huge hears. They guard a passageway between the rocks. They too are slaves of the evil ones. They will tear apart anyone who tries to pass.

“Further on down the path are two giant Panthers which leap upon anyone who attempts to get by them. Hodadeno, it cannot be done.”

“Is that all, Uncle?” Hodadenon said.

“Is it not enough?” said the old man. “Neh, that is only the beginning. Next is the place where the chestnut trees grow. There live the seven sisters who own the trees. All of them are strong in ‘otgont’ power. If anyone comes to steal the chestnuts, they run from their long lodge and beat the person to death with their clubs. No one can hope to go undetected, for a flayed human skin hangs in the top of a tree looking down on the chestnut grove and it sings a warning when anyone comes close.”

“Nyah-weh, Uncle,” said Hodadenon, “I thank you for your good advice. Now I must he on my way. I shall return with the food you need if all goes well.” Taking two sticks, he tied them together and placed them standing near the fire. “Watch these sticks, Uncle,” said the boy. “If all is well with me they will not move, but if I am killed they will break apart.”

Now Hodadenon set out on his way. He went straight to the north and found a narrow path. “This must be the road my uncle told me of,” said Hodadenon. “It looks easy enough to travel.”

The boy continued along and soon the path began to twist and wind. Ahead, it turned sharply to the left. Hodadenon stopped, crept off the path, went through the trees, and peered out cautiously. There on either side of the path, were two great rattlesnakes, coiled and ready to strike.

“Uncle,” said Hodadenon, “you know this road well.” He went and caught two chipmunks. Holding one in each hand he again began to walk the path.

When he came to the two rattlesnakes he threw a chipmunk into the mouth of each before they could strike him.

“Tca,” he said, “you seem to be in need of food. Now I have given you that which you should hunt for yourselves. Hawenio, our Creator, did not make any of his beings to be slaves. Go from this place.”

As soon as he finished speaking, the two rattlesnakes uncoiled and crawled off in different directions, leaving the road unguarded as Hodadenon went along his way.

Meanwhile, back at the lodge, the two tied sticks which had been quivering now stood still as Hodadenon’s uncle watched them intently.

Now the path entered a rocky place. Again Hodadenon left the trail to scout ahead. There, where the way dipped between two big boulders, were a pair of giant bears, crouched and ready to tear apart anybody who tried to go by.

“Uncle,” said Hodadenon, “you have travelled this road before.” He climbed a tree where he heard the buzzing of many bees, pulled out two combs of honey and went back onto the path. When he came to the bears, he hurled the combs of honey into their mouths before they could grab him.

“Hunh,” the boy said, “it looks to me as if you were hungry. Now I have given you that which you like best of all. The one who gave us breath, Hawenio, did not make us to be the slaves of anyone. Go from this place.”

At his words, the two bears turned and went away,each in a different direction as Hodadenon continued down the trail.

Meanwhile, back at the uncle’s lodge, the two tied sticks stopped quivering and Hodadenon’s uncle breathed a sigh of relief.

Now the path entered a deep forest and wound between large trees. Leaving the trail, Hodadenon crept along till he could see the place where two huge panthers, eyes glowing like green flames, hid behind a pair of giant pines on either side of the path.

“Uncle,” Hodadenon said, “you remember your travels well.” Taking his bow and arrows, he killed two deer. Carrying them over his shoulders, he went down the trail once more. Before the panthers could leap upon him, he threw each of them a deer.

“Ee-yah,” he said, “I see that you were in need of food. Now I have given you that which you are supposed to hunt. Know that the one who gave us strength to walk around, Hawenio, did not intend that any living creature should serve another as a slave. Go from this place.”

In two different directions away into the trees slunk the panthers and the boy continued along his way.

Meanwhile, back at the lodge, the two sticks which had been shaking as if struck by a strong wind once more stood still as Hodadenon’s uncle watched them.

The path in front of Hodadenon was very straight and wide. It looked to have been travelled by many feet. The boy listened very carefully and soon he began to hear a very faint song coming from the treetops. Crawling forward through the brush, he peered up and saw the one who was singing. It was the skin of a woman tied in the top of a tree. This was her song:

Gi-nu, gi-nu, gi-nu
I am the one who sees all,
I see you

The song was very soft. Hodadenon could barely hear it, but he knew it would grow loud indeed if she caught a glimpse of him. Below her was a grove of trees. They were covered with a fruit which had burrs all over it. These, Hodadenon knew, must be the chestnuts. Beyond the skin woman and the trees was a great pile of human bones and just to the other side of them was the long lodge of the seven witches. “Tcu,” said Hodadenon, “now I shall need some help.” Going to a basswood tree, he peeled a long strip of bark. With a burned stick and the juice of berries, he decorated the piece of bark until it looked just like a long wampum belt. Slinging it over his shoulder, he knelt down and tapped four times on the earth.

“My friend,” he said, “I am in need of help.”

Up out of the ground poked the nose and then the head of a female mole.

“Nyoh, Hodadenon! How can I help you?” asked the mole.

“Grandmother,” said the boy, “if I make myself very small, will you carry me under the earth with you?”

“That’s too easy,” said the mole. “Let’s go!”

Then Hodadenon began to rub himself with his hands. As he did so he grew smaller and smaller until he was small enough to travel with the mole under the earth. Down into the ground they went, coming up beneath the very tree where the Skin Woman was swaying back and forth. Once again Hodadenon rubbed himself with his hands until he was back to normal. Then he called up to Skin Woman.

“Sister,” he called, “I have seen you first. Do not tell the others I am here and I will give you this fine belt of wampum.”

“Wah-ah!” said Skin Woman, “I did not see you, Hodadenon. Give me the belt and I will not warn them you are here.”

Hodadenon tossed the belt up to Skin Woman. She put it on and immediately it wrapped itself so tightly about her she could not speak. Under the tree, Hodadenon quickly filled his pouch with chestnuts. Then, making himself small once more, he called for his friend, Mole, to take him back under the earth.

Up in the tree, Skin Woman finally got her breath. She began to sing:

Gi-nu, gi-nu, gi-nu
Someone has bribed me
I cannot say who

Out from the long lodge ran the seven witches. Each of them carried a long club. They ran to the place where Skin Woman hung, but they saw no one.

“Someone has been here,” said one of the witches.

“Some of our chestnuts are gone,” said another.

“Skin Woman,” said a third witch, “you are our slave. Speak and tell us who has been here.”

But Skin Woman did not answer the question. All she did was swing back and forth in the wind, singing this song:

Gi-nu, gi-nu, gi-nu
I’ve been given a wampum belt
Shining and new

“You are a fool,” said another of the witches. “That is only the bark from a tree.”

“It must have been The Last One Left.” said the fifth witch, “the boy whose uncle stole from us long ago.”

“If he comes back,” said the sixth witch, “we will catch him and kill him.”

“Nyoh,” said the last witch, “now we must punish our slave.” She took her club and struck Skin Woman a heavy blow. Each of the others did the same. Then the seven witches went back into the long lodge, leaving the Skin Woman covered with bruises, but still singing softly of her fine new belt of wampum.

Meanwhile, back in the lodge of Hodadenon’s uncle, the two sticks had fallen over on the floor. Picking them up and standing them upright once more, the old man watched them with great concern.

From his hiding place in the earth, Hodadenon had listened to all that was said by the seven sisters. “It is not right,” he said “that those terrible creatures should go on like this. Friend Mole, we must go back there.”

The mole dove deeper into the earth. She carried Hodadenon under the long lodge and came up beneath the couch where the sisters slept. There, tied to a string of sinew, were seven hearts. Quick as a spark leaping from the fire, Hodadenon grabbed the string of hearts and ran from the lodge. Seeing him, the seven witches grabbed their clubs and gave chase.

Now back in the lodge of Hodadenon’s uncle the two sticks fell over once more. The old man was so disheartened that he did not stand them up again. He lay there staring at them, certain that his nephew would now never return alive.

From the top of her tree, Skin Woman sang as the seven witches chased Hodadenon:

Gi-nu, gi-nu, gi-nu
Hodadenon has your hearts
This will be the end of you

Now the first witch had almost caught up with the boy and raised her club to strike him. As she did so, Hodadenon squeezed one of the hearts on the sinew string and the witch fell dead. Now the second witch was about to strike. Again Hodadenon squeezed a heart and the second witch died also. In the end, he had squeezed all seven of the hearts and all seven of the evil sisters had fallen dead.

Climbing to the top of the tree, Hodadenon cut loose the cords which held Skin Woman. He brought her down and placed her on top of the pile of human bones. Then he began to push against a great dead hickory tree which was near the pile.

“Get yourselves up, my relatives!” he shouted. “A tree is about to fall on you!”

Immediately Skin Woman and all of the people whose bones were piled there leaped up and came back to life. Skin Woman was, indeed, the sister of Hodadenon. Long ago the evil witches had caught her and the others of his family whose bones lay in that pile. There before him were his parents, his brothers, and all his relations. All were very happy to be alive and thanked the boy again and again.

Taking the chestnuts from the ground, Hodadenon passed them out to all his relatives.

“Plant these all over,” he said. “Food will be shared with everyone from now on.”

Finally, his pouch filled with chestnuts, Hodadenon went back to the lodge of his uncle. The old man lay there on his couch, thin as a skeleton, his eyes fixed on the two tied sticks.

“Uncle,” said Hodadenon, “I have returned.”

The old man jumped up and embraced the nephew. To this day he still sits in that lodge, making chestnut pudding in his pot. And from that time on, the chestnuts, like all the other good things given to us by Hawenio, our Creator, no longer belong to just one family, no matter how powerful they are, but are shared by all.

How Bear Lost His Tail

Back in the old days, Bear had a tail which was his proudest possession. It was long and black and glossy and Bear used to wave it around just so that people would look at it. Fox saw this. Fox, as everyone knows, is a trickster and likes nothing better than fooling others. So it was that he decided to play a trick on Bear.

It was the time of year when Hatho, the Spirit of Frost, had swept across the land, covering the lakes with ice and pounding on the trees with his big hammer. Fox made a hole in the ice, right near a place where Bear liked to walk. By the time Bear came by, all around Fox, in a big circle, were big trout and fat perch. Just as Bear was about to ask Fox what he was doing, Fox twitched his tail which he had sticking through that hole in the ice and pulled out a huge trout.

“Greetings, Brother,” said Fox. “How are you this fine day?”

“Greetings,” answered Bear, looking at the big circle of fat fish. ” I am well, Brother. But what are you doing?”

“I am fishing,” answered Fox. “Would you like to try?”

“Oh, yes,” said Bear, as he started to lumber over to Fox’s fishing hole.

But Fox stopped him. “Wait, Brother,” he said, “This place will not be good. As you can see, I have already caught all the fish. Let us make you a new fishing spot where you can catch many big trout.”

Bear agreed and so he followed Fox to the new place, a place where, as Fox knew very well, the lake was too shallow to catch the winter fish–which always stay in the deepest water when Hatho has covered their ponds. Bear watched as Fox made the hole in the ice, already tasting the fine fish he would soon catch. “Now,” Fox said, “you must do just as I tell you. Clear your mind of all thoughts of fish. Do not even think of a song or the fish will hear you. Turn your back to the hole and place your tail inside it. Soon a fish will come and grab your tail and you can pull him out.”

“But how will I know if a fish has grabbed my tail if my back is turned?” asked Bear.

“I will hide over here where the fish cannot see me,” said Fox. “When a fish grabs your tail, I will shout. Then you must pull as hard as you can to catch your fish. But you must be very patient. Do not move at all until I tell you.”

Bear nodded, “I will do exactly as you say.” He sat down next to the hole, placed his long beautiful black tail in the icy water and turned his back.

Fox watched for a time to make sure that Bear was doing as he was told and then, very quietly, sneaked back to his own house and went to bed. The next morning he woke up and thought of Bear. “I wonder if he is still there,” Fox said to himself. “I’ll just go and check.”

So Fox went back to the ice covered pond and what do you think he saw? He saw what looked like a little white hill in the middle of the ice. It had snowed during the night and covered Bear, who had fallen asleep while waiting for Fox to tell him to pull his tail and catch a fish. And Bear was snoring. His snores were so loud that the ice was shaking. It was so funny that Fox rolled with laughter. But when he was through laughing, he decided the time had come to wake up poor Bear. He crept very close to Bear’s ear, took a deep breath, and then shouted: “Now, Bear!!!”

Bear woke up with a start and pulled his long tail hard as he could. But his tail had been caught in the ice which had frozen over during the night and as he pulled, it broke off — Whack! — just like that. Bear turned around to look at the fish he had caught and instead saw his long lovely tail caught in the ice.

“Ohhh,” he moaned, “ohhh, Fox. I will get you for this.” But Fox, even though he was laughing fit to kill was still faster than Bear and he leaped aside and was gone.

So it is that even to this day Bears have short tails and no love at all for Fox. And if you ever hear a bear moaning, it is probably because he remembers the trick Fox played on him long ago and he is mourning for his lost tail.

How Buzzard Got His Feathers

 

A long time ago the birds had no clothing. They spoke like people, but they were shy and hid from sight. One day they decided to hold a great council. “We must go to Creator and ask him for clothing,” said Eagle. So it was decided. But who would carry the message?

Many birds volunteered. But finally they chose Buzzard. He could fly great distances because of his long wings, and he could soar higher than any of the other birds and so come more easily to the sun-place, where Creator lived. All of the birds burned tobacco and sent their prayers up to creator, and then buzzard set out on his way.

It was a long journey. Buzzard flew and flew. He ate the food he had carried with him and still he was far from the place of Creator. He became hungry, so hungry that he stopped and ate some dead fish washed up on the shore below him. They were rotten and smelled had. But his hunger was great, and he did not notice.

He continued on his way. Now he was close to the sun-place; he went higher and higher. It grew fiery hot from the sun, but still he flew up and up. The skin on top of his naked head burned red in the sun’s heat, but at last he came to the place of Creator.

“I have been waiting for you,” Creator said, “because I have heard the prayers of the birds. I will give you clothes made of fine feathers to take back.” Then he showed Buzzard the clothing he had prepared. It was fine indeed. There were as many colours in the feathers as there are in the rainbow snake that arches across the sky after a rain, and the feathers shone so brightly that Buzzard had to turn his eyes away from them.

“Now,” Creator said, “I know how hard it was for you to fly to me. You may have the first choice of all these suits of feathers. Remember, though, you may try on each suit only once.”

Buzzard was very pleased. “I must choose the finest feathers,” he said to himself. “Then everyone will see them and always remember it was I who brought back clothing for the birds.”

He tried on a suit of bright blue and white feathers with a jaunty cap. “No,” he said, taking it off, “not bright enough.” And so that suit went to Blue Jay.

He tried on another suit of brilliant red and black with a tall crest. “No,” he said, “I do not look good in red.” And so that suit went to Cardinal.

He tried on another suit of gray and black with a scarlet vest. Again he was not satisfied, and that suit went to robin.

He put on a suit as yellow as the sun with handsome dark markings. “Too much black on this one,” he said, and that suit went to Goldfinch.

Creator patiently watched Buzzard trying on one suit after another. None of them were right. Sometimes the feathers were too long. Sometimes they were not long enough. Some were too dark, others too light. None of them seemed to be just right for the messenger of all the birds.

Finally Buzzard put on a suit of clothes that was too small for him. Although all of the other clothes had grown larger or smaller to fit whatever bird chose them, this last suit of feathers was very tight. Buzzard pulled and strained. Finally he got it on. It left his legs and his neck bare; the red skin of his bald head remained uncovered. He looked at the suit. Not fine. Not fine at all. The feathers hardly had any colour–just a dirty brown. They were not shiny and neat like the others. Buzzard was not pleased, “This is the worst of all.” he said.

Creator smiled. “Buzzard,” he said, “it is the only suit left. Now it will have to be yours.”

And so to this day you can see Buzzard wearing the suit that he earned for himself. He still eats things long dead because of what he ate on his journey to the place of Creator. And though some make fun of the way he looks, Buzzard still remembers that he was the only one who could make that long journey.

Even in his suit of dirty feathers that fits him badly, even with his head burned scarlet from the heat of the sun, he remembers that he was chosen be the messenger for all the birds. When he circles high in the sky, he is close to Creator. Then, even in his ill fitting suit of feathers, he is proud.

Hungry Fox and the Boastful Suitor

One day Fox was out walking along. He’d been hunting but had no luck. It was a long time since he’d eaten. His stomach was growling so loudly he could hardly hear anything else. Suddenly he realized someone was coming singing a song. Quicker than the flick of a wren’s tail Fox leaped off the path and crouched down on his belly in the bushes. Louder and louder grew the song. Then Fox saw something begin to appear over the crest of the hill. It was a single heron feather. Fox moved his front paws, getting ready to leap out at the bird he thought the feather was attached to. But as the feather lifted higher and higher, he realized it was no bird at all. It was the feather attached to the top of a gustoweh, the head-dress of an Iroquois man whose face now bobbed into sight as he came over the hill on horseback.

If he sees me, Fox thought, I can forget about my hunger forever! It was well known that fox skins were prized by the Iroquois. Fox tried to make himself smaller than a mouse, hoping he wouldn’t be seen.

Closer and closer the man came. He was wearing fine clothes and Fox could hear the words of man’s song very clearly now. It was a boasting song.

“No one is braver than Heron Feather,” sang the young man.

“And I should know that for I am he. No one wears finer clothing. No one is a better fisherman. If you doubt this, look and see.”

He was on his way to the lodge of a young woman he had been watching for some time. He was going to try to impress her and her mother so that the girl would ask him to marry her. His song and his fine clothing were part of the plan.

But Fox was no longer listening to Heron Feather’s song. He was not seeing those fine clothes. All of Fox’s attention was on what he was smelling. Fish. That large bag hanging from the young man’s blanketroll was full of fish! Fox’s mouth watered and his tongue hung out. It had been such a long time since he had eaten fish. His fears left him. The young man on the horse passed him by, but Fox’s thoughts were far ahead.

Yes, Fox said to himself. I think there is a way. As quickly as he could, he ran along through the woods keeping out of sight of the road. Soon he was ahead of the Iroquois man. Just around a bend, Fox laid himself down by the edge of the path. He closed his eyes and opened his mouth so that his tongue hung out in the dirt. Not moving a muscle, he waited. Soon he began to near Heron Feather’s boasting song.

Heron Feather was so intent on his singing, trying to find a few more words to describe just how fine he looked in his new white buckskin breechclout that he almost rode right past Fox. When he saw Fox out of the corner of his eye, he stopped. “Enh,” he said, “what is this?” He climbed down from his horse.

“Kweh, a dead fox?” Picking up a long stick he carefully prodded the side of the animal. It did not move. “Nyoh,” he said, “it is surely dead.” He bent down and looked at it closely. It was skinny, but the pelt was in fine condition. He picked it up by the tail. “Hmm, it has not been dead for long. It only stinks a little bit.” When he said that, Fox’s mouth opened a little and his lips curled back from his teeth, but Heron Feather did not notice.

“Hmm,” Heron Feather said, “maybe I should skin it out now.” When he said that one of Fox’s eyes twitched a little, but Heron Feather did not notice. “Neh,” he went on, “I should not skin him out now. If I do I may dirty my fine new clothes. I will just take him with me.” He walked back to his horse and began to unlace the bag. “Weh-yoh,” he smiled, “when Swaying Reed’s mother sees this fox I caught she will know I am a great hunter. Then she will surely allow her daughter to bring me marriage bread.” He dropped the fox in with his fish, laced the bag shut and climbed back on his horse. Soon he was singing again. This time it was a song about how great a hunter Heron Feather was.

Inside the bag Fox lay still for a few minutes. Then he began to gnaw at the side. When he had made a hole large enough, he began to drop the fish out, one by one. Finally, when all the fish were gone, he made the hole larger and jumped out to freedom and his best meal in many days.

Too busy with his singing, Heron Feather did not even notice. He rode all the way to the village where Swaying Reed lived. He stopped in front of her mother’s lodge and sat there on his horse, singing til many people had gathered around. He sang of his beautiful clothes, of the many fish he caught (he actually had traded his mother’s beaded moccasins for them), of all the animals he hunted and trapped. Swaying Reed and her mother came out of the lodge and watched as he reached back for his bag. Now he would show them what a good provider he was!

When he held up the bag and saw that it was empty with a hole in the bottom he stopped singing. Turning around, he rode silently away. He learned that day that boasting songs do not make a person great. It is one thing to find a fox and another skin it.

Hunting of the Great Bear

There were four hunters who were brothers. No hunters were as good as they at following a trail. They never gave up once they began tracking their quarry.

One day, in the moon when the cold nights return, an urgent message came to the village of the four hunters. A great bear, one so large and powerful that many thought it must be some kind of monster, had appeared. The people of the village whose hunting grounds the monster had invaded were afraid. The children no longer went out to play in the woods. The long houses of the village were guarded each night by men with weapons who stood by the entrances. Each morning, when the people went outside, they found the huge tracks of the bear in the midst of their village. They knew that soon it would become even more bold.

Picking up their spears and calling to their small dog, the four hunters set forth for that village, which was not far away. As they came closer they noticed how quiet the woods were. There were no signs of rabbits or deer and even the birds were silent. On a great pine tree they found the scars where the great bear had reared up on hind legs and made deep scratches to mark its territory. The tallest of the brothers tried to touch the highest of the scratch marks with the tip of his spear. “It is as the people feared,” the first brother said. “This one we are to hunt is Nyah-gwaheh, a monster bear.”

“But what about the magic that the Nyah-gwaheh has?” said the second brother.

The first brother shook his head. “That magic will do it no good if we find its track.”

“That’s so,” said the third brother. “I have always heard that from the old people. Those creatures can only chase a hunter who has not yet found its trail. When you find the track of the Nyah-gwaheh and begin to chase it, then it must run from you.”

“Brothers,” said the fourth hunter who was the fattest and laziest, “did we bring along enough food to eat? It may take a long time to catch this big bear. I’m feeling hungry.”

Before long, the four hunters and their small dog reached the village. It was a sad sight to see. There was no fire burning in the centre of the village and the doors of all the long houses were closed. Grim men stood on guard with clubs and spears and there was no game hung from the racks or skins stretched for tanning. The people looked hungry.

The elder sachem of the village came out and the tallest of the four hunters spoke to him.

“Uncle,” the hunter said, “we have come to help you get rid of the monster.”

Then the fattest and laziest of the four brothers spoke. “Uncle,” he said, “is there some food we can eat? Can we find a place to rest before we start chasing this big bear. I’m tired.”

The first hunter shook his head and smiled. “My brother is only joking, Uncle.” he said. ” We are going now to pick up the monster bear’s trail.”

“I am not sure you can do that, Nephews,” the elder sachem said. “Though we find tracks closer and closer to the doors of our lodges each morning, whenever we try to follow those tracks they disappear.”

The second hunter knelt down and patted the head of their small dog. “Uncle,” he said, that is because they do not have a dog such as ours.” He pointed to the two black circles above the eyes of the small dog. “Four-Eyes can see any tracks, even those many days old.”

“May Creator’s protection be with you,” said the elder sachem.

“Do not worry. Uncle,” said the third hunter. “Once we are on a trail we never stop following until we’ve finished our hunt.” “That’s why I think we should have something to eat first,” said the fourth hunter, but his brothers did not listen. They nodded to the elder sachem and began to leave. Sighing, the fattest and laziest of the brothers lifted up his long spear and trudged after them.

They walked, following their little dog. It kept lifting up its head, as if to look around with its four eyes. The trail was not easy to find.

“Brothers,” the fattest and laziest hunter complained, “don’t you think we should rest. We’ve been walking a long time.” But his brothers paid no attention to him. Though they could see no tracks, they could feel the presence of the Nyah-gwaheh. They knew that if they did not soon find its trail, it would make its way behind them. Then they would be the hunted ones.

The fattest and laziest brother took out his pemmican pouch. At least he could eat while they walked along. He opened the pouch and shook out the food he had prepared so carefully by pounding together strips of meat and berries with maple sugar and then drying them in the sun. But instead of pemmican, pale squirming things fell out into his hands. The magic of the Nyah-gwaheh had changed the food into worms.

“Brothers,” the fattest and laziest of the hunters shouted, “let’s hurry up and catch that big bear! Look what it did to my pemmican. Now I’m getting angry.”

Meanwhile, like a pale giant shadow, the Nyah-gwaheh was moving through the trees close to the hunters. Its mouth was open as it watched them and its huge teeth shone, its eyes flashed red. Soon it would be behind them and on their trail.

Just then, though, the little dog lifted its head and yelped. “Eh-heh!” the first brother called.

“Four-Eyes has found the trail,” shouted the second brother.

“We have the track of the Nyah-gwaheh,” said the third brother.

“Big Bear,” the fattest and laziest one yelled, “we are after you, now!”

Fear filled the heart of the great bear for the first time and it began to run. As it broke from the cover of the pines, the four hunters saw it, a gigantic white shape, so pale as to appear almost naked. With loud hunting cries, they began to run after it. The great bear’s strides were long and it ran more swiftly than a deer. The four hunters and their little dog were swift also though and they did not fall behind. The trail led through the swamps and the thickets. It was easy to read, for the bear pushed everything aside as it ran, even knocking down big trees. On and on they ran, over hills and through valleys. They came to the slope of a mountain and followed the trail higher and higher, every now and then catching a glimpse of their quarry over the next rise.

Now though the lazy hunter was getting tired of running. He pretended to fall and twist his ankle.

“Brothers,” he called, “I have sprained my ankle. You must carry me.”

So his three brothers did as he asked, two of them carrying him by turns while the third hunter carried his spear. They ran more slowly now because of their heavy load, but they were not falling any further behind. The day had turned now into night, yet they could still see the white shape of the great bear ahead of them. They were at the top of the mountain now and the ground beneath them was very dark as they ran across it. The bear was tiring, but so were they. It was not easy to carry their fat and lazy brother. The little dog, Four-Eyes, was close behind the great bear, nipping at its tail as it ran.

“Brothers,” said the fattest and laziest one. “put me down now. I think my leg has gotten better.”

The brothers did as he asked. Fresh and rested, the fattest and laziest one grabbed his spear and dashed ahead of the others. Just as the great bear turned to bite at the little dog, the fattest and laziest hunter levelled his spear and thrust it into the heart of the Nyah-Gwaheh. The monster bear fell dead.

By the time the other brothers caught up, the fattest and laziest hunter had already built a fire and was cutting up the big bear.

“Come on, brothers,” he said. “Let’s eat. All this running has made me hungry!”

So they cooked the meat of the great bear and its fat sizzled as it dripped from their fire. They ate until even the fattest and laziest one was satisfied and leaned back in contentment. Just then, though, the first hunter looked down at his feet.

“Brothers,” he exclaimed, “look below us!”

The four hunters looked down. Below them were thousands of small sparkling lights in the darkness which. they realized, was all around them.

“We aren’t on a mountain top at all,” said the third brother. “We are up in the sky.”

And it was so. The great bear had indeed been magical. Its feet had taken it high above the earth as it tried to escape the four hunters. However, their determination not to give up the chase had carried them up that strange trail.

Just then their little dog yipped twice.

“The great bear!” said the second hunter. “Look!”

The hunters looked. There, where they had piled the bones of their feast the Great Bear was coming back to life and rising to its feet. As they watched, it began to run again, the small dog close on its heels.

“Follow me,” shouted the first brother. Grabbing up their spears, the four hunters again began to chase the great bear across the skies.

So it was, the old people say, and so it still is. Each autumn the hunters chase the great bear across the skies and kill it. Then, as they cut it up for their meal, the blood falls down from the heavens and colours the leaves of the maple trees scarlet. They cook the bear and the fat dripping from their fires turns the grass white.

If you look carefully into the skies as the seasons change, you can read that story. The great bear is the square shape some call the bowl of the Big Dipper. The hunters and their small dog (which you can just barely see) are close behind, the dipper’s handle. When autumn comes and that constellation turns upside down, the old people say. “Ah, the lazy hunter has killed the bear.” But as the moons pass and the sky moves once more towards spring, the bear slowly rises back on its feet and the chase begins again.

Rabbit and Fox

One winter Rabbit was going along through the snow when he saw Fox. It was too late to hide, for Fox had caught Rabbit’s scent.

“I am Ongwe Ias, the one who eats you!” barked Fox. “Yon cannot escape me!”

Rabbit began to run for his life. He ran as fast as he could around trees and between rocks, making a great circle in the hope that he would lose Fox. But when he looked back he saw that Fox was gaining on him. “I am Ongwe Ias,” Fox barked again. “You cannot escape.”

Rabbit knew that he had to use his wits. He slipped off his moccasins and said, “Run on ahead of me.” The moccasins began to run, leaving tracks in the snow. Then, using his magic power, Rabbit made himself look like a dead, half-rotten rabbit and lay down by the trail.

When Fox came to the dead rabbit, he did not even stop to sniff at it. “This meat has gone bad,” he said. Then, seeing the tracks that led on through the snow he took up the chase again and finally caught up with Rabbit’s old moccasins.

“Hah,” Fox snarled, “this time he has fooled me. Next time I will eat the meat no matter how rotten it looks.” He began to backtrack. Just as he expected when he came to the place where the dead rabbit had been, it was gone. There were tracks leading away through the bushes, and Fox began to follow them.

He hadn’t gone far when he came upon an old woman sitting by the trail. In front of her was a pot, and she was making a stew.

“Sit down, grandson,” she said. “Have some of this good stew.”

Fox sat down. “Have you seen a rabbit go by?”

“Yes,” said the old woman, handing him a beautifully carved wooden bowl filled with hot stew. “I saw a very skinny rabbit go by. There was no flesh on his bones, and he looked old and tough.”

“I am going to eat that rabbit,” said Fox.

“Indeed?” said the old woman. “You will surely do so, for the rabbit looked tired and frightened. He must have known you were close behind him. Now eat the good stew I have given you.”

Fox began to eat and, as he did so, he looked at the old woman. “Why do you wear those two tall feathers on your head, old woman?” he asked.

“These feathers?” said the old woman. “I wear them to remind me of my son who is a hunter. Look behind you–here he comes now.”

Fox turned to look and, as he did so, the old woman threw off her blankets and leaped high in the air. She went right over Fox’s head and hit him hard with a big stick that had been hidden under the blankets.

When Fox woke up his head was sore. He looked for the stew pot, but all he could see was a hollow stump. He looked for the wooden soup bowl, but all he could find was a folded piece of bark with mud and dirty water in it. All around him were rabbit tracks. “So, he has fooled me again,” Fox said. “It will be the last time.” He jumped up and began to follow the tracks once more.

Before he had gone far he came to a man sitting by the trail. The man held a turtle-shell rattle in his hand and was dressed as a medicine man.

“Have you seen a rabbit go by?” asked Fox.

“Indeed,” said the medicine man, “and he looked sick and weak.”

“I am going to eat that rabbit,” Fox said.

“Ah,” said the medicine man, “that is why he looked so afraid. When a great warrior like you decides to catch someone, surely he cannot escape.”

Fox was very pleased. “Yes,” he said, “I am Ongwe Ias. No rabbit alive can escape me.”

“But, Grandson,” said the medicine man, shaking his turtle-shell rattle, “what has happened to your head? You are hurt.”

“It is nothing,” said the Fox. “A branch fell and struck me.”

“Grandson,” said the medicine man, “you must let me treat that wound, so that it heals quickly. Rabbit cannot go far. Come here and sit down.”

Fox sat down, and the medicine man came close to him. He opened up his pouch and began to sprinkle something into the wound.

Fox looked closely at the medicine man. “Why are you wearing two feathers?” he asked.

“These two feathers,” the medicine man answered, “show that I have great power. I just have to shake them like this, and an eagle will fly down. Look, over there! An eagle is flying down now.”

Fox looked and, as he did so, the medicine man leaped high in the air over Fox’s head and struck him hard with his turtle-shell rattle.

When Fox woke up, he was alone in a small clearing. The wound on his head was full of burrs and thorns, the medicine man was gone, and all around him were rabbit tracks.

“I will not be fooled again!” Fox snarled. He gave a loud and terrible war cry. “I am Ongwe Ias,” he shouted. “I am Fox!”

Ahead of him on the trail, Rabbit heard Fox’s war cry. He was still too tired to run and so he turned himself into an old dead tree.

When Fox came to the tree he stopped. “This tree must be Rabbit,” he said, and he struck at one of the small dead limbs. It broke off and fell to the ground. “No,” said Fox, “I am wrong.

This is indeed a tree.” He ran on again, until he realized the tracks he was following were old ones. He had been going in a circle. “That tree!” he said.

He hurried back to the place where the tree had been. It was gone, but there were a few drops of blood on the ground where the small limb had fallen. Though Fox didn’t know it, the branch he had struck had been the end of Rabbit’s nose, and ever since then rabbits’ noses have been quite short.

Leading away into the bushes were fresh rabbit tracks. “Now I shall catch you!” Fox shouted.

Rabbit was worn out. He had used all his tricks, and still Fox was after him. He came to a dead tree by the side of the trail. He ran around it four times and then, with one last great leap, lumped into the middle of some blackberry bushes close by. Then, holding his breath, he waited.

Fox came to the dead tree and looked at the rabbit tracks all around it. “Hah,” Fox laughed, “you are trying to trick me again.” He bit at the dead tree, and a piece of rotten wood came away in his mouth. “Hah,” Fox said, “you have even made yourself taste like a dead tree. But I am Ongwe Ias, I am Fox. You cannot fool me again.”

Then, coughing and choking, Fox ate the whole tree. From his hiding place in the blackberry bushes, Rabbit watched and tried not to laugh. When Fox had finished his meal he went away, still coughing and choking and not feeling well at all.

After a time, Rabbit came out of his hiding place and went on his way.

Raccoon and the Crayfish

One day Joehgah, the raccoon, was walking along. As he walked he began to feel hungry. So, when he saw a small stream, he decided to do some fishing.

“Maybe there is a fish under here,” he said, feeling under a large stone with his long fingers. A crayfish was hiding there. It nipped Raccoon’s finger hard with its claws.

“Eh!” Raccoon yelped, pulling his paw out from under the stone. He reached under again. This time the crayfish nipped two of his fingers! “Eh-heh!” Raccoon yipped, pulling his paw out again. He was very angry. For a moment he almost forgot how hungry he was. Then he began to think.

“You crayfish are too smart for me,” he said in a loud voice. “I am about to die of hunger and I cannot catch anything to eat.” He walked away from the stream into the woods. There he found some sticky pine pitch and dead leaves on the ground. He rolled in the leaves and the pitch until his fur looked very messy. He found a rotting elm log and he bit off a piece of the rotten wood and wedged it in his mouth, then he walked quietly back to the stream, rolled over on his back, closed his eyes and opened his mouth.

Some time passed and a small crayfish came out of the stream. As soon as it saw Joehgah, the raccoon, it became frightened. “It is Ongwe Ias, the man-eater!” squeaked the crayfish. It scooted back into the stream and darted back under a rock. But later, when no raccoon paws came searching for it, the crayfish became curious. Once again it crawled to the edge of the stream bank and peeked out. There lay Raccoon. His fur was dirty, his mouth was open and his eyes were closed.

“Can it be that Raccoon has died?” said the little crayfish. He crawled slowly out of the stream. Joehgah did not move. “He is dead,” said the crayfish. He jumped back into the stream and swam as fast as he could to the place where all the other crayfish lived. “Raccoon is dead!” he shouted. “The man-eater is dead. Our enemy will hunt us no more!”

Hearing all the noise, the chief of the crayfish asked his warriors to find out what was happening. Soon they came back, bringing the little crayfish with them.

“Raccoon is dead,” said the small crayfish. “His body now lies on the bank of the stream.”

“How did he die?” said the chief. He found it hard to believe Raccoon was truly gone.

The small crayfish looked around. Many had gathered to listen. “I killed him,” he said. “It was a terrible fight. Many times he almost had me. Finally I picked him up and threw him on the ground. Then he died.”

“Hmm,” said the Chief of the crayfish. “Can you take us to the place where you fought this great battle?”

“Yes,” said the small crayfish, “and you will see that Raccoon is dead indeed.”

So the chief of the crayfish and many others went to the place where Joehgah still lay. His eyes were closed. His feet were up in the air. His mouth was open.

“See if he is dead,” said the Chief to one of his warriors. The warrior crayfish scuttled a few inches out of the water and then hurried back to safety. But Raccoon had not moved.

“Yes,” said the warrior crayfish, “he is dead.”

“Go and pinch him,” said the chief to another warrior. The second warrior crayfish scuttled up to Raccoon. Raccoon did not move. The crayfish reached out and grabbed Raccoon’s tail hard with his claw and twisted it. But Raccoon did not move “He is dead,” said the crayfish. But the Chief did not come out of the water.

“Look into his mouth,” said the Chief. Another crayfish warrior came out of the water. He crawled up to Raccoon’s mouth. He crawled right inside and found the rotting wood there.

“Eh-hey!” shouted the third crayfish. “He is very dead. He has begun to rot!”

Now the Chief was convinced. He led the others out of the water. There were many of them and they formed a circle around Raccoon’s body. They began to dance, singing this victory song:

Jo-eh-gah, Jo-eh-gah No more will he trouble us. Jo-eh-gah, Joe-eh-gah, No more will he trouble us.

As they sang they danced closer and closer to Raccoon. When they were close enough, Raccoon jumped up. He grabbed to the left, he grabbed to the right. He caught all of the crayfish and he ate them.

Then he went down to the stream and washed his paws to clean off the pine pitch. Ever since then raccoons always wash their food when they eat. And when Raccoon was done he smiled. “Perhaps you crayfish are not too smart for me after all,” and he went on his way.

Skunny-Wundy and the Stone Giant

A long time ago, there lived a person called Skunny-Wundy. He wasn’t very big and he wasn’t very small, but everybody knew him well because he was always boasting about his bravery. He would talk about all the brave things he had done and all the brave things he was going to do until people would beg him to stop. They weren’t quick to do so, however, because Skunny-Wundy, whose name meant Cross-The-Creek, loved only one thing more than he loved to boast: he loved playing tricks on people.

Now in those days there lived some terrible monsters. There were people who could turn themselves into monster bears. And there were great Flying Heads who could destroy whole villages. There were monsters hiding in the springs who grabbed careless travellers, and great horned serpents living in the lakes. But the most frightening monsters of all were the Stone Giants.

The old sachem was interested. “Aren’t you even afraid of the stone giants?”

“Hah,” said Skunny-Wundy. “I will destroy the stone giants if they dare to fight me. There is no greater warrior than Skunny-Wundy. If…”

Without his noticing it, everyone crept quiet away and left Skunny-Wundy standing there shaking his stone hatchet and boasting. While he strode up and down, all the people gathered in the Council House. Soon a young man came out and ran out of the village only to return a few minutes later, but Skunny-Wundy did not even notice.

All the people, led by the old sachem, came out of the Council House and gathered around Skunny-Wundy. The old man said, “Skunny-Wundy, rejoice. We have decided to give you a chance to prove your bravery.”

Skunny-Wundy stopped striding back and forth. He looked around. All eyes in the village were focused on him. “Ah,” he said with a worried look, that is very good. But. . . uh. . . what do you mean?”

“We have decided,” the old man said with just a hint of a smile, “to allow you to fight the Flint Coats.”

“Oh,” Skunny-Wundy said, “that is good, but. . . how can I find the Stone Giants? Why. . . they might even run away when they see me coming.”

“Do not worry,” the old man answered, smiling broadly. ” A very big Stone Giant stands even now on the other side of the river. He is waiting for you. We sent a messenger to tell him he should run away before the mighty warrior Skunny-Wundy arrived to destroy him. That made the Stone Giant so angry he swore he would stay there until you arrived.”

Skunny-Wundy was very frightened, but he knew he had to accept this challenge. If he didn’t, people would make fun of him forever.

“Hah,” Skunny-Wundy said, “that is good. I shall go now to fight the Flint Coat.” He strode quickly out of the village. However, as soon as he was out of sight, he began to walk more slowly. He needed time to think. How could he defeat such a monster?

“If I throw rocks at him,” he said to himself, “he’ll catch them and chew them up like ripe berries. If I shoot arrows at him, they’ll snap like blades of dry grass. No, I must think. Stone giants aren’t very bright after all. Perhaps I can think of some way to trick him.”

Just then, Skunny-Wundy heard a very loud, frightening noise that sounded like the beating of a gigantic drum or the roaring of a hurricane wind. It came from the direction of the river just beyond the trees. Skunny-Wundy crept closer. He peered out from behind a tree and saw what he had been afraid he would see.

There on the other side of the river stood the biggest, ugliest, angriest stone giant anyone could ever imagine. He had pulled a giant pine tree up by the roots and was beating it against the earth, making a noise like an enormous drum. As he pounded the ground, he sang a terrible war song in a voice as loud as a hurricane.

Skunny-Wundy began to turn around so that he could tiptoe away, but it was too late.

“HONH!” the stone Giant roared. “WHO IS OVER THERE? ARE YOU SKUNNY-WUNDY WHO SAYS HE CAN DESTROY ME?”

Skunny-Wundy stepped out from behind a tree. “Yes!” he shouted. “I am Skunny-Wundy and it is true that I can destroy you. Come over here and fight me!”

Holding the giant pine tree in one hand like a war club, the stone giant waded into the river. The water was deep and before he was halfway across he disappeared under the water. Quick as a fox, Skunny-Wundy hurried upstream where the river was shallow and quickly crossed over to the other side.

Before long, the Stone Giant’s head came out of the water near the other side. He climbed up onto the bank where Skunny-Wundy had been standing.

“HONH!” the stone giant roared. “WHERE IS SKUNNY-WUNDY?”

“Here I am!” shouted Skunny-Wundy from the other side.

The stone giant turned and looked at him. “WHY DID YOU GO OVER THERE?” he growled.

“Over where?” Skunny-Wundy answered. “I’m still waiting for you. You must have gotten turned around under water. If you aren’t afraid of me, come over here and fight.”

The Stone Giant roared with anger and rushed into the river. He immediately disappeared under the water and Skunny-Wundy had to run quickly to cross over to the other side of the river. He ran so fast he dropped his stone hatchet and left it he hind.

When the stone giant climbed out of the water again, there was no sign of Skunny-Wundy, but right in front of him was Skunny-Wundy’s hatchet.

“WHAT IS THIS?” growled the Stone Giant. “THIS MUST BE A TOY.” He lifted the hatchet to his mouth and touched it to his tongue to test its sharpness. Then he struck Skunny-Wundy’s hatchet against a real boulder. To his surprise, the boulder split right two!

Meanwhile, Skunny-Wundy was watching from he other side of the river. He had heard that any weapon touched by the saliva of a Stone Giant would have magical power and now he knew that it was true. Skunny-Wundy slipped out from behind he trees and waved his arms.

“Hah!” Skunny-Wundy shouted. “Come over here and bring me back my hatchet, so that I can cut off your head with it.”

For the first time in his long life, the Stone Giant felt fear in his cold flint heart. If Skunny-Wundy’s little stone hatchet could split great boulders in two, Skunny-Wundy would surely be able to destroy him. “No,” pleaded the Stone Giant, “Do not kill me. You are a terrible warrior. Let me go and I will see that none of my people ever come near your village again.”

Skunny-Wundy pretended to think for a minute. Then he nodded his head. “That is good. You may go md save your life. But always remember Skunny-Wundy, the great warrior!”

The stone giant hastened away, leaving Skunny- Wundy’s hatchet on the river bank. As soon as he was out of sight, Skunny-Wundy crossed over and retrieved his weapon. “Now I must return to my village. My people will be very glad to hear the stories I shall tell them.”

Thus it was that Skunny-Wundy used his wits to defeat the Stone Giant.

Story of Okteondon or the Workers of Evil

Long ago, an old man lived alone in the forest with his grandson, Okteondon. All his family had been killed by workers of evil and the old man worried greatly about the safety of the small boy. He was so worried that he hid the boy under the root of a great elm tree which grew in front of their lodge.

One day, when the old man was out working in his corn field, he heard something. It was a song, coming from the direction of his home.

I am rising
I am rising
Grandfather hear me
I am rising

The old man dropped his basket and ran as fast as he could back to the lodge. The great elm tree had begun to tip to one side as Okteondon sang his song from beneath. With a great effort, the grandfather pushed the tree back into place.

“Grandson,” he said. “you must stay where you are. Otherwise, the Eagle Women may see you and carry you away with them.”

The next day the old man went again into the forest, this time gathering herbs for medicine. He had not been gone long when he heard something. It was a song, coming from the direction of his home.

I am rising
I am rising
Grandfather hear me
I am rising

The old man dropped the herbs he had picked and ran as fast as he could back to the lodge. But before he could reach it, he heard a great crash. The great elm tree had fallen. And when he reached the lodge, there was his grandson, Okteondon, sitting on the ground beside the fallen tree.

The next day Okteondon came to his grandfather, “I had a dream. I dreamt that I hunted a small bird which was black. I killed it with my bow and arrow.”

“That bird,” the grandfather answered. “is a chickadee. It is the first game that a boy is allowed to shoot.”

Later Okteondon went out of the house with his bow and arrow. Soon he came back with a chickadee he had shot. The old man showed him how to clean the bird and cook it over a small fire Then the grandfather sang a song.

A hunter
My grandson will be a hunter
A hunter
My grandson will be a great hunter

The old man took down his bow and arrow from the place where it hung on the wall. It was black with soot, but when he cleaned it, it looked beautiful.

In the days that followed, Okteondon had other dreams and hunted other animals, each of them right for a young hunter to shoot. First he dreamed of the raccoon, then of the turkey and finally of the deer. On the day he brought home his first bear, his grandfather grew serious; the boy had become a man very quickly.

“Okteondon,” the old man said “it is good you have become a hunter. Now our lives will be easier.” He reached into his leather bag and took out a flute made of cedar wood. “This flute,” he said, “will tell you what game to hunt and where to find it. Only a good hunter can use this flute, a hunter who truly respects the animals which must give up their lives so that we may live.”

Okteondon took the flute and blew through it. The flute sang:

An elk, an elk
Okteondon will kill an elk.
He will go to the west
And there he will kill an elk

Okteondon went to the west as the flute had spoken and there he found a great elk which he killed with one shot.

Each day Okteondon played the flute and each day the flute spoke and told him what game to hunt and where to find it. One day, however, his grandfather looked very worried. “What is wrong, Grandfather?” Okteondon asked.

“Okteondon,” the grandfather replied, “You have become a great hunter, but I am worried about those who do evil. You must promise me not to go to the north for there is danger in that direction.”

When the next day dawned, Okteondon hunted to the east. He remembered his grandfather’s words but gradually his steps led him farther and farther to the left of his path until he was heading north. He proceeded in this direction until he came to a big hollow tree.

“Perhaps,” he thought, “there are raccoons in that tree.” He put down his bow and arrows and began to climb. He had just reached the top of the tree and was looking down into the hollow when he heard a beautiful voice.

“Come down, Okteondon, come down from the tree. Come and sit by my side and talk to me.”

Again and again the voice called and, although Okteondon knew in his heart that he shouldn’t listen, he kept looking at the beautiful young woman whose words these were. Okteondon climbed down slowly.

As he sat down by the young woman, she spoke these words to him gently with a smile. “Sit close to me. You look tired. Rest your head in my lap.” And Okteondon did as she said, but before he fell asleep, unbeknown to her, he tied one of his long hairs to the root of the tree.

As soon as he was asleep, the young woman leaped up, put Okteondon in a skin bag, threw the bag over her shoulder and leaped into the air. She flew only a short way, however, before Okteondon’s long hair, which was tied to the root of the tree, pulled her back.

Okteondon fell out of the bag and woke up. “What has happened?” he asked.

But the woman spoke to him again with gentle words and he soon fell asleep with his head in her lap. This time she untied his hair from the tree root before throwing him into her bag. Lifting the bag to her shoulder, she leaped up and flew through the air until she landed at the edge of a great cliff many miles away. There she opened her bag and Okteondon fell through the air landing on a narrow cliff.

Meanwhile, at the lodge of Okteondon’s grandfather, the magic flute made of cedar fell from its place on the wall. Greatly worried, the grandfather picked it up. “Surely, something evil has happened to my grandson.”

When Okteondon awoke, he saw that he was not alone. All around him were others who, like himself, had been deceived. Some had died and nothing was left of them but bones. Others were half dead. As he watched, great birds circled downward and attacked those who were still living.

A bird flew down and tore a piece of flesh from Okteondon’s arm but he only laughed and spit upon the wound which healed immediately.

Meanwhile, at the lodge of Okteondon’s grandfather, the mouthpiece of the magic flute was suddenly covered with blood. Fear filled the old man’s heart. “Surely, my grandson has been wounded.”

Okteondon lay upon the cliff for a long time, uncertain how he would ever escape. Then he had a dream in which a voice spoke to him. “Okteondon, when you wake, there will be a small cedar twig near you. Place that twig into the earth.”

When he awoke, it was as he had been told. Near his arm was a cedar twig. He buried it carefully in the thin soil of the ledge. As he watched in amazement, a cedar tree began to grow and before long reached the top of the cliff. He thought he would climb the tree but knew he must do something else first.

He gathered around him all the bones of those who had died. Then he went to a big hickory tree which was growing on the ledge and began to push it. “Rise up and run,” he shouted, “or this tree will surely fall on you.”

All the bones came together and became living men once more. They were healthy and well except for a few whose bones had been mixed together. In one case a tall man had one leg which was too short, whereas another had an arm that was too long. (They say this is how cripples came to be.) Then Okteondon and the men climbed the giant cedar tree and escaped.

Meanwhile, Okteondon’s grandfather began to despair for his grandson’s life. Each night he heard a voice outside his door. “Grandfather, I am well. I have come home,” but when the old man opened the door, he found only a fox or an owl which ran away quickly.

The men whom Okteondon rescued turned out to be his brothers and cousins killed by The Workers of Evil. His kinsmen tried to convince Okteondon to stay with them, but he refused. “No, I must go and look for my wife.” And he walked again to the north.

Okteondon had not gone many miles when he came upon a lodge in front of which sat the beautiful young woman and her mother. “I have come to marry you,” Okteondon said. The young woman took him aside. “You must run away from here. My mother is very evil and will surely kill you. She is the one who sent me to deceive you.”

But Okteondon only laughed and returned to ask the mother if he could marry her daughter. “Yes.” said the old woman. “You may marry my daughter, but you must behave in proper fashion as my son-in-law. You must promise to honour and obey me.” Okteondon agreed and moved in with the old woman and his new wife. That night as they slept, the old woman began to roll around and make loud groaning noises.

“What is wrong?” Okteondon asked.

His wife answered, “You must wake my mother by striking her on the head with the corn pounder. It is the only way to wake someone who is dreaming.”

Okteondon struck the old woman on the head just as his wife advised and asked. “Mother-in-law, what is wrong?”

“I dreamed,” said the old woman, “that you killed the white beaver in the lake and made a feast for us.”

“Is that all?” said Okteondon. “I shall do it tomorrow. Go back to sleep.”

When day came, Okteondon went to the lake where the white beaver lived. The water of the lake was so poisonous it would wash the flesh away from the bones of anyone who touched it. The white beaver rose from the water and rushed toward Okteondon, but Okteondon killed it with one arrow. He grabbed it from the lake and ran back to the lodge of his mother-in-law.

The poisonous water of the lake rose up and rushed after him, but as soon as he threw the body of the white beaver at the feet of his wife’s mother the water receded. “There is the white beaver,” he said. “I have done as your dream foretold.”

The old woman was very upset. “Okteondon, let me have the beaver’s body.” But Okteondon refused.

“Okteondon, let me have just the Beaver’s skin.” But Okteondon refused and began to cut the beaver up in preparation for cooking it.

“Okteondon, give me one piece of the beaver’s meat.” But Okteondon refused. He placed all the beaver, every bit of the meat, skin and bones into a pot and cooked it.

Then he opened the door of the lodge. “You whirlwinds,” he called, “You Flying Heads! I invite you to come to a feast.”

Immediately the lodge was filled with Flying Heads who greedily ate every bit of the white beaver. “Hah,” the whirlwinds laughed, “the old woman’s brother made a good stew!” Then Okteondon’s mother-in-law grew very angry and chased the whirlwinds from her lodge.

That night as they slept, the old woman began to groan and roll around again. Okteondon struck her on the head with the corn pounder. “What is wrong?” he asked.

“I have dreamed,” answered his mother-in-law, “that you killed the great black eagle.”

“Is that all?” Okteondon answered. “I shall do it in the morning. Go back to sleep.”

The next day Okteondon set out to find the black eagle which he soon located at the top of a tall tree. He fired an arrow, but the tree grew taller and the arrow missed.

“Ah,” said Okteondon. “is that how it is?” Then he took another arrow from his quiver, spoke a few words to it and fired it quickly. The arrow struck the black eagle and killed it.

Okteondon carried the black eagle back home. The old woman was very upset. Again she begged him for the body but he refused. She then asked for the skin, the meat, even one feather, but he would not agree.

He placed the whole eagle in a big pot, cooked it and invited the Flying Heads in. Soon every bit of the black eagle was eaten. “Hah!” laughed the Flying Heads, “the old woman’s husband made an even better meal than her brother.” Okteondon’s mother-in-law grew very angry and chased the Flying Heads with such fury that several of them flew right through the side of the lodge, making great holes in the bark walls.

That night as they slept, the old woman began to groan and roll around. Okteondon struck her on the head with the corn pounder. “What is wrong?” he asked.

“I have dreamed,” answered his mother-in-law, “that you went into the sweat lodge.”

“Is that all?” Okteondon answered. “I will do it in the morning.”

The next morning they made the sweat lodge ready. The old man built a fire and Okteondon went inside. As soon as he was inside the lodge, the old woman danced around outside the lodge and sang this song.

Hot as flint
Hot as flint
Let this lodge
Be hot as flint

When she was finished, she opened the door of the sweat lodge but Okteondon stepped out, unharmed.

“Now,” said Okteondon, “it is your turn to go in the lodge.” The old woman went into the sweat lodge just as Okteondon told her to. Then Okteondon danced and sang this song.

Let it be flint
First red hot
Let it be flint
Then white hot

It happened as he said. The sweat lodge became red hot flint and then white hot flint. Finally, it burst open from the heat. The only thing remaining in the lodge was a screech owl which flew out, hooting mournfully. It flapped away. The evil old woman was gone.

Okteondon and his wife went to find the lodge of his grandfather.

As the old man sat before the cold fire, ashes strewn on his head as a sign of mourning, he heard a voice outside calling, “Grandfather, I am well. I have come home.”

“You can’t fool me,” said the old man.

“Grandfather, it is Okteondon. I have returned.”

“If it is truly you, thrust your hands in through the door and let me bind them to the pole.”

Okteondon did as he said. When the old man realized it was indeed his grandson, he was filled with joy. He welcomed Okteondon and his new wife with great happiness and soon after, the three of them went to the village where Okteondon’s relatives were now living, those whom he had restored to life.

All of them lived long and happy lives, untroubled by the Workers of Evil.

Three Brothers Who Followed the Sun

The Iroquois Nation still retains vestiges of their adoration of the Sun. They continue to observe certain rites, such as the Sun Dances, which are survivals of more elaborate sun ceremonies of long, long ago.

Among the most popular sun dances of many tribes and bands of Iroquois Nation were the Ostowa-gowa, or the Great Feather Dance. This became a prime religious dance of the Gai’wiu religion of Handsome Lake, the Seneca Prophet. He revolutionized the religious system of the Iroquois of New York and Ontario.

Few of the early folk-beliefs have survived the taboo of the Prophet. These beliefs are difficult to trace, unless one has the Gai’wiu religion of Handsome lake and the Code of Dekanawida, the founder of the Iroquois Confederacy.

The Seneca Sun Ceremony of Thanksgiving is called by any tribal member who dreams that the rite is necessary for the welfare of the community. The ceremony begins promptly at high noon, when three arrows or three musket shots are fired heavenward to notify the Sun of their intention to address him.

After each volley, the people shout their war cries to the Sun– for the Sun loves war. A ceremonial fire is built. In ancient times, fire was started by a pump drill, and more recently by striking a match. The tribal Sun-Priest chants his thanksgiving song while he casts from a husk basket handfuls of native tobacco upon the flames to carry his words upward to the Sun.

The ceremony begins outside of the Long House, where the rising smoke lifts everyone’s thoughts and songs to the sun. Immediately after this beginning, the entire assemblage enters the Long House, where costumed Feather Dancers begin their ritualized Sun Dance. The New York Iroquois tribes do not carry effigies of the Sun in their preparation for or in their dance, according to their traditions.

The following Seneca legend was related by Edward Cornplanter, the recognized head preacher of the Gai’wiu of the Handsome Lake. Cornplanter was a Seneca Indian and a descendant of Gaiant Waka, the Prophet’s brother.

In the following legend, there seem to be some modern features, stated Cornplanter. He asserted, however, that the portion relating to the sky and sun are very, very old traditions. He said that he had always heard the upper world described as told in this legend. He then added that the Sun loved the sound of war, and would linger in his morning journey to observe battle activities anywhere, but after he reached midheaven, the Sun travelled on at his usual speed.

This legend developed in olden times, when not many people were about. Three brothers who were not married spent their lives hunting. When young they enjoyed the excitement of hunting, but as they grew older they seemed to lose the pleasure of the sport. Youngest brother suggested that for a new experience they walk to the edge of the earth, where the sky comes down and touches the big sea of salt water. At the western side of the salt water, this world is an island.

The other brothers thought the plan sounded like a good one. When everything was ready, they started on their journey. For a good many years they kept going and many things happened to them; however, they always continued straight westward.

Finally, the brothers came to a place where the sun goes under the sky’s edge. The sky bends down there, and sinks into the water. For a month, they camped and watched the things that were happening. They noticed just how the sun got under the rim of the sky and disappeared quickly. They saw some men trying to get under the edge of the sky, but it descended too quickly for them, and they were crushed.

The brothers noticed when the sky came up, the water sank lower; and when the sky went into the water, the water rose higher. Youngest brother said he wanted to try to pass under the rim of the sky when the sun slipped under on its sun-road. But eldest brother said he thought the happenings were too evilly mysterious, and he was afraid for them to try.

Without waiting for anyone’s opinion, youngest brother ran very quickly under the sky’s rim, and found the rim very thick. Second brother followed youngest brother like a flash. They kept on the sun road with the water on each side of them. Eldest brother watched, and when he saw nothing had injured his brothers, he began to run after them.

The younger brothers turned from their safe place to encourage him, but at that moment the sky came down on the sun-road and crushed eldest brother. But they did see his spirit shoot by them quickly. The two remaining brothers felt very, very sad.

They discovered that, on the other side of the sky, everything was different. Before them loomed a large hill, which they ascended, and they saw a very large village in the distance. A man came running toward them. As he approached them he called out, “Come!” They realized he was their eldest brother.

“How did you arrive here so quickly, brother?” they asked. “We did not see you come.”

“I was too late, and passed by on a spirit road,” he replied.

They noticed an old man walking toward them. He was youthful and strong in body, but his hair was long and white. He seemed like a very old man. His face showed wisdom and he bore himself like a chief. “I am the father of the people in the Above-the-Sky- Place,” he said.

“Haweni’u is my son. I wish to advise you, because I have lived here a long time. I have always lived here, but Haweni’u was born of the woman on the island. When you see my son, call quickly, ‘Nia’we ‘ska’no!’ If you fail to speak first, he will say, ‘You are mine,’ and you will be spirits as your brother is.”

The three brothers proceeded and came to a high house made of white bark. They walked up the path to the door. A tall man stepped out quickly, and the brothers said the magic words. The great man said, “Doges’ I have been watching you for a long time.” The brothers entered the house. When inside, the tall man said, “In what condition are your bodies?”

“We have fine bodies,” they replied.

“You do not speak the truth,” the great man answered. “I am Haweni’u and I know all about your bodies. One of you must lie down, and I will purify him and then the other.”

One brother lay down, and Haweni’u placed a small shell to his own lips, and put it on the brother’s mouth. He also tapped him on the neck, and sealed the shell with clay. Haweni’u began to skin the brother. He took apart the muscles, and then scraped the bones. He took out the organs and washed them. Then he built the man again. He loosened the clay and rubbed his neck. He did this with both brothers, and they sat up and said, “It seems as if we had slept.” Haweni’u said, “Every power of your bodies has been renewed. I’ll test you.”

The brothers followed Haweni’u to a fine grove of trees surrounded by a thick hedge. All kinds of flowers were blooming outside. “My deer are here,” said Haweni’u.

A large buck with wide antlers ran toward them. “He is the swiftest of my runners. Try and catch him,” said Haweni’u.

The men ran after the deer and rapidly overtook him. “He has given us good speed,” the brothers said. They soon discovered they had many other superior abilities, and the great man tested them all on that day.

They returned to the white lodge, and the brothers saw a messenger running toward them. Upon his wide chest was a great bright ball of light. It was very brilliant. In some unknown language he shouted to Haweni’u and dashed on.

“Do you understand his words, or do you know that man?” asked Haweni’u. “He is the Sun, my messenger. Each day he brings me news. Nothing from east to west escapes his eye. He has just told me of a great war raging between your people and another nation. Let us look down on the earth and see what is happening.”

He led them to a high hill in the middle of the country, and looked down through a hole where a tree had been uprooted. They saw two struggling bands of people and all the houses burning. They could hear people crying and shouting their war-cries.

“Men will always do this,” said Haweni’u, and then they came back down the hill.

The brothers stayed a very long time in the upper world, and learned so much they could never tell it all at one time. Sometimes they looked down on the earth and saw villages in which no one lived. They seemed to be waiting for people to be born and live there. In the upper world they saw villages, likewise, awaiting the coming of people from below.

Haweni’u told them a good many things, and after a time asked a messenger to lead the brothers to the path that the Sun took when he came out on the earth in the morning. They followed the messenger and came out on the earth. They waited until the Sun had gone over the earth to the west. Again they went under the edge of the sky in the east, and came out in their own country again.

It was night and they slept on the ground. In the morning they saw their village, and it was overgrown with trees. They followed a familiar path through the woods, and came upon another village. Their own people were living there. They went into a council- house and talked. They told their story, but no one recognized them except their sister, who was an aged woman by then.

She said, “The war of which you speak took place fifty years ago.”

The brothers did not care too much for the earth now, but wished themselves back in the upper world. They were not like the other men, because they never grew tired. They were very strong and could chase animals and kill them with their hands. Nothing could kill the brothers, neither arrow nor disease. After a long time; they were struck by lightning, and they were both killed. Presumably, they were granted their wish, and joined eldest brother in the Above World.

Turtle Makes War on Men

One day Turtle decided he would go on the war path against the Human Beings. He painted his cheeks red and climbed into his canoe, singing a war song. He had not paddled far down the river before he saw a figure standing on the bank. It was Bear. “Greetings! Thanks be given that you are strong, Little Brother,” said Bear. “Where are you going?”

“I am going to make war on the Human Beings,” said Turtle. “Too long have they made war on animals. Now is the time for us to strike back.”

“Hah,” Bear said. “Perhaps you are right. I would like to go with you.”

Turtle looked at thaw huge form of Bear and at his own small canoe. “What can you do as a warrior?” Turtle quickly asked. “Why should I take you on my war party?”

“I am very big and strong,” said Bear. “I can crush an enemy in my arms.”

Turtle shook his head and paddled away. “No,” he said, “you would be too slow to go on the warpath with me.”

After Turtle had gone a few more miles down the stream, he saw another figure waving to him from the banks of the river. He paddled his canoe closer and saw it was Wolf. “Turtle,” shouted Wolf, “I hear you are going to make war on Human Beings. You must take me with you!” Turtle looked at Wolf and at Wolf’s long sharp teeth. Wolf was not as big as Bear, but he was still big enough to make Turtle worry if his small canoe could hold so much weight.

“What can you do?” asked Turtle.

“I can run very fast to attack the enemy. With my long teeth I can bite them.”

But Turtle was already paddling away down the river. “No,” he called back over his shoulder, “you would not do to go with me on my war party. You are too fast and you would run away and leave me behind.”

When Turtle had rounded the bend in the river, he saw a strange animal standing on the banks. The animal was no larger than Turtle himself and was wearing a beautiful black and white robe. Turtle pulled his canoe in to the shore.

“You,” Turtle said, “do you want to go with me to make war on Human Beings?”

“That is a good idea,” said the strange animal. “I know that with my secret weapon I can be of help.”

“What is your secret weapon?” asked Turtle.

“I cannot tell you,” said the animal, turning his back towards Turtle, “but I can show you.”

The animal, whose name was Skunk, was certainly right. His secret weapon was very powerful and after Turtle had washed himself off in the river, it was agreed that Skunk would accompany Turtle.

The two of them set off down the river, only stopping when another strange animal called to them from the forest.

“Take me with you,” called the animal. “I wish to make war on the Human Beings also.”

“Who are you?” asked Turtle.

“I am Rattlesnake,” said the long thin animal. “I have great magic in my long fangs and can kill any animal by touching them. Shall I show you?”

Turtle shook his head quickly, remembering his experience with Skunk. “No,” he said, “I believe you. Come into the boat and we will go together and make war. With a war party as powerful as our own, we will soon destroy all of the Human Beings in the world!”

A few miles further on down the river was a small village of the Iroquois. It was there that Turtle decided to make his first raid. The three warriors talked over the strategy and it was decided that surprise attack would be most effective. Skunk hid himself in the bushes near the small spring where the women came each morning to fill their water pots, Snake coiled up in a pile of firewood beside one of the lodges, and Turtle pulled his head and feet into his shell after placing himself next to the overturned cooking pots.

Bright and early the next morning, a woman went to the spring to get water. As soon as she went over to fill her pot, Skunk shot her with his weapon. This woman was very brave, however, and even though she was coughing and choking, she beat Skunk with her fists until he was almost dead and then staggered back to the village. When Skunk recovered, he crawled away into the bushes, resolving never to attack human Beings again. Turtle’s war party was now down to only two.

Rattlesnake’s turn was not far off. Another woman came out for some wood to start the cooking fire. This woman had very sharp eyes and she saw the telltale coils of Rattlesnake hidden among the logs. Grabbing a handful of stones, she began to hurl them at Rattlesnake and it was all he could do to escape with his life. So many of the stones struck him, his head was flattened out and to this day all Rattlesnakes have a flattened head as a result of Turtle’s war party.

Now Turtle was the only warrior left. He bided his time, waiting for a chance to strike. The chance finally came when a man walked over to the cooking pots, intending to pick one up to use for the morning meal. Instead of picking up a pot, he grabbed Turtle who shot his head out of his shell and bit the man firmly on his leg.

“Ow, Ohhh!” shouted the man, “let go of me.” But Turtle would not let go. The man grabbed a big stick and began beating Turtle with it so hard that it cracked Turtle’s shell in many places, but still Turtle would not let go.

“I am going to place you in the fire and burn you,” panted the man, and this frightened Turtle very much.

“I have not used my wits,” thought Turtle. He cried out in a loud boasting voice. “Put me in the fire. It is my home and will make me grow stronger. Only do not put me in the water.”

“Ah-ha!” cried the man, “so you are afraid of water!” He gritted his teeth from the pain and hobbled down to the river where he thrust in his leg with Turtle still holding on firmly. Turtle waited until he was deep enough, and then, letting go of the man’s leg, he swam away under water as fast as he could. Ever since that day, even though Turtle still wears the red paint of war on his cheeks, he has avoided human Beings, his cracked shell a reminder to him of what happened when he decided to make war human Beings.

Turtle’s Race With Bear

It was an early winter, cold enough so that the ice had frozen on all the ponds and Bear, who had not yet learned in those days that it was wiser to sleep through the White Season, grumbled as he walked through the woods. Perhaps he was remembering a trick another animal had played on him, perhaps he was just not in a good mood. It happened that he came to the edge of a great pond and saw Turtle there with his head sticking out of the ice.

“Hah,” shouted Bear, not even giving his old friend a greeting. “What are you looking at, Slow One?”

Turtle looked at Bear. “Why do you call me slow?”

Bear snorted. “You are the slowest of the animals. If I were to race you, I would leave you far behind.” Perhaps Bear never heard of Turtle’s big race with Beaver and perhaps Bear did not remember that Turtle, like Coyote, is an animal whose greatest speed is in his wits.

“My friend,” Turtle said, “let us have a race to see who is the swiftest.”

“All right,” said Bear. “Where will we race?”

“We will race here at this pond and the race will be tomorrow morning when the sun is the width of one hand above the horizon. You will run along the banks of the pond and I will swim in the water.”

“How can that be?” Bear said. “There is ice all over the pond.”

“We will do it this way,” said Turtle. “I will make holes in the ice along the side of the pond and swim under the water to each hole and stick my head out when I reach it.”

“I agree,” said Bear. “Tomorrow we will race.”

When the next day came, many of the other animals had gathered to watch. They lined the banks of the great pond and watched Bear as he rolled in the snow and jumped up and down making himself ready.

Finally, just as the sun was a hand’s width in the sky, Turtle’s head popped out of the hole in the ice at the starting line. “Bear,” he called, “I am ready.”

Bear walked quickly to the starting place and as soon as the signal was given, he rushed forward, snow flying from his feet and his breath making great white clouds above his head. Turtle’s head disappeared in the first hole and then in almost no time at all reappeared from the next hole, far ahead of Bear.

“Here I am Bear,” Turtle called. “Catch up to me!” And then he was gone again. Bear was astonished and ran even faster. But before he could reach the next hole, he saw Turtle’s green head pop out of it.

“Here I am, Bear,” Turtle called again. “Catch up to me!” Now bear began to run in earnest. His sides were puffing in and out as he ran and his eyes were becoming bloodshot, but it was no use. Each time, long before he would reach each of the holes, the ugly green head of Turtle would be there ahead of him calling out to him to catch up!

When Bear finally reached the finish line, he was barely able to crawl. Turtle was waiting there for him, surrounded by all the other animals. Bear had lost the race. He dragged himself home in disgrace, so tired that he fell asleep as soon as he reached his home. He was so tired that he slept until the warm breath of the Spring came to the woods again.

It was not long after Bear and all to other animals had left the pond that Turtle tapped on the ice with one long claw. At his sign it a dozen ugly heads like his popped up from the holes all along the edge of the pond. It was Turtle’s cousins and brothers, all of whom looked just like him!

“My relatives,” Turtle said, “I wish to thank you. Today we have shown Bear that it does not pay to call other people names. We have taught him a good lesson.”

Turtle smiled and a dozen other turtles, all just like him, smiled back. “And we have shown the other animals,” Turtle said, “that Turtles are not the slowest of the animals.”

Two Daughters

There once was a woman who lived alone with her two daughters. Both girls were good-looking and clever and their mother was sure they would do well when the time came for them to find husbands.

When the older daughter was sixteen, the mother said, “My child, we have lived here for many years and have eaten well, thanks to our friends, the corn, the beans and the squash, but it has been a long time since we have tasted meat. You are now old enough to find a husband who is a good hunter and can take care of us. I know just the man. The son of a woman called Big Earth. They live a day’s journey away from here.”

“What is this man like, Mother?” asked the older daughter.

“You will like him very much. He is handsome and strong as well as being a good hunter. But now we must start making some marriage bread which you will be carrying with you on your journey.”

The two girls began to work with their mother, shelling corn, pounding it and baking it into cakes of bread. It took a long time but when they were finished, they had twenty-four cakes of marriage bread which they placed in a pack basket.

“Now, my daughter,” said the mother as she painted the older girl’s face and combed her long black hair, “listen carefully. Do not stop to talk to anyone you meet along the way. If it grows dark before you reach the long house of Big Earth, do not go into anybody else’s lodge. Sleep in the woods instead”

“I hear your words, Mother,” said the older daughter, but her thoughts were already racing ahead to the handsome young man she hoped to marry. She lifted her basket and adjusted the carrying strap across her forehead very carefully, so as not to disturb her beautifully combed hair. Then she set out with her sister on the narrow path through the forest.

After they travelled for a time, the younger sister thought she heard footsteps following them. “Who is that?” she asked.

“Oh, that is only the wind in the pine trees,” said the older sister. And they continued walking.

Before long it was afternoon and the sun was beginning to bend toward the place where earth and sky meet. The younger sister listened and was certain she heard the sound of quiet feet. “What is that I hear?” she asked.

“Oh, it is only a bird,” said the older sister. And they continued walking.

The younger sister, however, kept on listening. She continued hearing footsteps which were now ahead of them. At times, she could barely make out the shape of an old man in the bushes near the path.

Before long, they came to a small clearing where they saw an old man holding a bow and arrow. He was looking up into a tall hickory tree. “Come here,” called the old man, pointing up into the tree. “I need your help. I am trying to shoot that squirrel up there in the top of the tree, but my eyesight is weak and I am afraid I will lose my arrow.”

The younger sister said, “Remember the words of our mother. We must not stop to talk with anyone along the way.”

But the older sister did not listen. “This old man seems to be a very pleasant person. Let us do as he says.”

“Please do,” said the old man. “Put down your pack and watch my arrow. If I miss the squirrel, chase after the arrow and bring it back to me.” He drew his bow and let the arrow fly. It arched high up through the top of the tree and landed many paces away in the forest. The two girls ran to get the arrow, but when they came back the old man was gone and so was the pack filled with marriage bread.

The younger sister said, “We must return home for we have disobeyed our mother.”

So the girls went home and told their mother what had happened. “Ah,” she said, “you must not love me very much or you would have obeyed me.” She did not say anything else that night.

The next day she told the girls, “We must make marriage bread again, but this time it is you, my younger daughter, who will be the one seeking a husband.” So the mother and her two daughters made more cakes of marriage bread but this time they filled the pack of the younger sister. Once more the two sisters set out on their way.

Once again the younger daughter thought she heard footsteps following them but she said nothing. Instead she kept thinking of her mother’s words. Late in the afternoon they came to the same clearing in the forest where the old man had tricked them. There, sitting on a log, was the old man.

“I am glad to see that you are well,” he said. “Where are you going?”

The younger sister said nothing, but the older sister answered immediately, “We are going to the long house of a woman called Big Earth. My sister is going to ask the son of Big Earth to be her husband.”

“Oh,” said the old man, “you are lucky you saw me. You are going in the wrong direction. You must pass through the woods over here to reach the lodge of Big Earth.”

The younger daughter was still suspicious but her sister would not listen. “This old man is trying to help us,” she said. “Let us do as he says.” So they went the way the old man had pointed.

As soon as they were out of sight, the old man hurried to his lodge which was at the end of the path he had shown them. “Quick,” he shouted to his wife, “cover your face with ashes and sit on the other side of the fire. You must pretend to be my mother. Two girls are coming with a pack of marriage bread and I mean to have it.”

The old man changed his clothes and painted his face so that he looked very young and handsome. He sat down in the shadows of his lodge. Soon he heard the sound of the two girls coming toward his door. “Enter,” he called. “Come in to the longhouse of Big Earth and her handsome son.”

The two girls came in and when they saw the old man in his fine clothes with his face painted, they thought he was certainly the man they were seeking. They sat down beside him and put down the pack filled with marriage bread.

Just then, however, someone came to the door of the lodge and shouted. “Old man, old man, they want you at the long lodge.”

“Go away!” shouted the old man and then turned to the two girls. “Someone has come to the wrong place – there is no old man here.”

Before long, however, the voice returned, “Father, Father, you must come.”

“Go away!” shouted the old man. He turned to the two girls. “Ah, that poor boy. His father died yesterday, and he is still wandering around the town calling for him.”

It was only a short time before the voice returned again. “Please, Father, they have sent me to bring you. You must come.”

The old man turned to the two girls and smiled. “I am afraid I must go and tell this child who I am. It is late and you should rest. Just lie down and I will be back soon.” He went outside and the younger sister thought she heard harsh words and the sound of blows being struck.

Soon the old woman across the fire from them fell asleep. “My sister,” said the younger daughter, “something is wrong. We must not stay here. This is surely the house of the old man who tricked us before. We must obey the words of our mother.” She slipped out of the lodge and returned with two rotten logs. “We must wrap these logs in his blankets so that the old woman will not know we have gone.”

As soon as they left the lodge, they heard the sound of dancing coming from another part of the village. Carrying the rescued pack of marriage bread, they came to a his longhouse. They looked inside and saw the old man who had tricked them, dancing in the middle of the floor while all the people watched. And there, on the other side of the fire, sat a very handsome man with his mother.

“Ahah” said the younger daughter, “that is the man we are really looking for. Covering their faces with their blankets, the two sisters slipped into the lodge and went to sit by Big Earth and her son. They placed the basket of marriage bread in front of the woman who was very pleased.

“Yes,” Big Earth said to the younger sister, “you will be a fine wife for my son.”

When the dancing was ended, the two sisters, still wrapped in their blankets, left with Big Earth and her son. Meanwhile the old man, very pleased with his own cleverness, went back to his lodge and saw what he thought to be the forms of the two girls covered by his blankets.

“I have returned. They asked me to come to a meeting. They can’t make any decisions without me.” He sat down beside his blankets and felt something pinch him. Thinking it was one of the girls, he laughed. “Be patient, I will lie down soon.” Then he took off his clothes and, slipping into his blankets, found himself in bed with two rotten logs crawling with large biting ants!

The next day the two sisters returned with the son of Big Earth to the lodge of their mother. There he hunted and brought meat to the family of his new wife, the clever younger daughter who had followed the advice of her mother.

They all lived together happily.

Wampum Bird

One legend tells how the Iroquois hero Hiawatha, while travelling through the territory of the Mohawks, came to the edge of a great lake. As he was wondering how to cross it, a huge flock of ducks descended on the lake and began to drink the water. When the birds rose up again, the lake was dry and its bed was covered with shells. From these shells Hiawatha made the first wampum beads and used them to unite the tribes in peace.

According to another story, however, the first wampum was not obtained so easily. An Iroquois girl had gone to gather cranberries in a marsh near her village, but there such a terrifying sight met her eyes that she dropped her basket and fled in panic. In the middle of the marsh squatted a huge bird, half the height of a tree, with fierce flashing eyes and a cruel, hooked beak. Its whole body was covered, not with feathers, but with purple and white shell beads.

The girl’s tale caused great alarm in the village, for such a creature had never been seen before. The chief hurriedly called a council. All the wise men were summoned to find out what the monster was and what its presence meant.

The council deliberated long and hard. They prayed to the spirits of earth and sky and made offerings to enlist their aid. At last, the oldest shaman, the wisest of them all, rose to his feet to address them.

‘Through my powers,’ he declared, ‘I have learned that the creature in the marsh is a wampum bird. I have heard that, in the Sky Land far above us, such birds do exist, but this is the first ever seen in our world. It may be that we shall never see another. If we can obtain the Wampum which clothes its body, it will bring us much wealth and good fortune.’

‘Then let us not waste a moment!’ cried the chief, ‘We must not let such a bird escape. I will call together my boldest warriors to kill it and bring the wampum back to our village.’

Led by the chief, the warriors set out for the marsh where they found the wampum bird feeding among the cranberries. White wampum covered its body, purple its wings. At a signal from the chief, the warriors rushed forward, shouting their battle cries and whirling their clubs.

The great bird seemed completely unafraid. It did not even attempt to fly away. Instead it turned to face them and, in spite of its ungainly appearance, it moved swiftly and fiercely, beating its wings and lunging with its beak and talons. So ferocious was its onslaught that the warriors fell back in disarray and retreated to the edge of the marsh.

The chief saw that the task of obtaining the wampum would not be as easy as he had at first thought. Already several of the young men had been wounded in the attack and blood flowed from deep gashes inflicted by the bird’s sharp claws. Her tried to rally his shaken warriors.

‘Our clubs are no use to us here,’ he said, ‘since we cannot get close enough to strike. We must use our arrows instead. Do not be discouraged. Remember what riches the wampum will bring. Moreover,’ he went on, ‘I offer an additional prize, for whoever kills the wampum bird shall have my daughter for his bride.’

The chief’s daughter was the most beautiful girl for many miles around and her hand was eagerly sought by all the young men of the tribe. Each now swore that he would be the one to defeat the wampum bird and reached for his bow.

Arrows flew thick and fast through the air towards the wampum bird. As the first arrow struck it, the bird rose to its full height and shook it off. As it did so, the wampum showered from its body like hailstones and settled in great drifts around it. Yet, in an instant, new beads covered its body, as if nothing had happened.

Again and again the warriors drew their bows, but each time an arrow found its mark, the bird merely shook it off. With every movement, clusters of wampum fell to the ground until the whole surface of the marsh was covered with shining white and purple beads. Yet still the bird was unconquered and still wampum clothed its body.

The chief was in despair. It seemed that nothing could destroy the Wampum bird and his men were growing weary and dispirited. As they discussed what to do next, they saw a young man emerge from the woods bordering the marsh and come towards them.

The warriors fell silent at his approach, their faces hard with suspicion. Several tightened their fingers around the handles of their clubs, for they distrusted strangers. ‘Who are you and what brings you here?’ the chief challenged the young man.

The stranger answered proudly, ‘I am a Delaware. My village lies not far from here, beyond the woods.’

At his words, the warriors began to mutter among themselves. There had been disagreements and skirmishes between the Iroquois and the Delaware in the past and there were old scores to settle.

The young man paid no heed to their threats and went on, ‘News came to my village of this monster bird. I have come to see it for myself and to kill it if I can. Clearly, it is no simple target.’

The Iroquois warriors grew angry. ‘Let us kill this impudent Delaware now!’ shouted one. ‘He is an enemy and comes to mock us!’ There was a roar of agreement from his fellows and they raised their clubs in readiness.

‘Wait!’ said the chief. ‘Let him try to shoot the bird. If he fails, we will show no mercy and kill him where he stands.’

The young man fitted an arrow to his bowstring. None saw the arrow leave his bow and none saw it strike, but before their eyes, the Wampum bird, uttering a harsh, unearthly cry, fell to the ground and lay still.

For a moment the warriors stood as if turned to stone. Then they rushed to where the bird lay. It was dead, the arrow piercing its head between the eyes.

The Iroquois looked at the young man with awe and amazement. There were still those who wished to kill him, jealous that he should have succeeded where they had failed, but once more the chief intervened and he was carried back in triumph to the village.

The wampum which had fallen from the body of the great bird was gathered up and carried back as well. There was so much of the precious material that even the largest lodge could not hold it all.

The chief was true to his word and he offered the young Delaware his daughter’s hand in marriage as a reward for killing the wampum bird. The young man was as handsome as the girl was beautiful and both were well satisfied with the arrangement.

Then the chief said to the young man, ‘Go, return to your village and bring all your people back for a great council. The Delaware have been our enemies, but henceforth they will be our friends.’

At the council the Iroquois acknowledged the Delaware as their kinsmen and, to confirm the bond between them, they passed back and forth strings of wampum taken from the body of the bird which the Delaware youth had killed. Ever afterwards the Iroquois and the Delaware lived side by side in peace and friendship and, from that time, no treaty was ever concluded without the passing of a wampum belt.

Wife
of the Thunderer

Four Iroquois Hunters

http://www.indigenouspeople.net/hunters.htm

Once, not long ago, four Iroquois hunters spent the winter together trapping in the north. They had good luck. When they brought their furs to the trading post at the end of the season, they had more than enough to buy all the things they needed for their families. In fact, there was just enough left over to buy a new rifle.

They had a problem. Although they hunted and trapped together as brothers, for all of them belonged to the Bear Clan, they did not live together. One hunter was from the Nundawaono, the People of the Great Hill, the Seneca. His home was to the west. One was from the Gueugwehono, the People of the Mucky Land, the Cayuga. His home was to the south near the marshes by the long lakes. One was from the Onundagaono, the People on the Hills, the Onondaga. His place was in the very centre of the lands of the Great League. One was from the Ganeagaono, the People of the Flint, the Mohawks. His home was to the east. Now that they had finished trapping, each would be returning home. It was easy to divide provisions among four people, but how could they divide the rifle? Finally it was decided. The man who told the tallest story about hunting would take the gun home.

The Mohawk hunter spoke first. “A man was walking along. He had been hunting all day, but his mind wasn’t on his hunting. He’d used up all of the bullets for his old muzzle loader without hitting anything. As he walked, he ate some cherries he had picked. Eat one, spit the stone into his hand. Eat one spit the stone into his hand. Then he saw, right in front of him, a big, big deer. But he had no bullets left. He thought quickly. He poured powder into the gun, took the cherry seeds, loaded them and fired at the deer’s head. The deer fell down, but it got right up again and ran away.

“Some years later that same hunter went out again hunting in the same place. Again he had no luck. Near the end of the day he saw at the edge of a clearing a tall tree covered with ripe cherries. Ah, this man thought. At least I can eat some cherries. So he put his gun down and began to climb up into the tree. He had reached the lower branches when the tree began to shake back and forth and the hunter had to hold on with both hands. Then the tree lifted straight up into the air and he was thrown out. He looked up from the ground and saw that the tree was growing from between the antlers of a huge deer which shook its head one more time and then ran away into the forest. And that,” said the Mohawk hunter, “is my story.”

Now it was the turn of the Onondaga hunter. “One time my uncle was out hunting. He had only one shot left in his gun and he wanted to make it count. He came to a stream where he saw a duck swimming back and forth, back and forth. Just in front of the duck there was a large trout and it was leaping from the water to catch flies, leaping, leaping, leaping. On the other side of the stream there stood a deer. It had its head up and it was standing still, sniffing the wind. Further back on a small hill was a bear up on its hind legs, scratching its paws on a tree, up and down, up and down. My uncle got down on his belly. He crawled close to the stream, took careful aim and waited. When everything was just right and the trout jumped again he pulled the trigger. His bullet went through the trout and killed the duck. It ricocheted off the water and struck the deer. It went through the deer and killed the bear. My uncle was a good shot. The amazing thing–I know you will find this hard to believe–is that when he went to skin the bear he turned it over and found it had fallen on a fox and killed it.” The Onondaga hunter paused for breath. “And that fox had a fat rabbit in its mouth.”

The Cayuga hunter was next. “Many seasons ago my grandfather was out hunting and saw a deer. He started to chase it so he could get closer for a better shot, but he ran so fast he went right past the deer. When the deer saw my grandfather go by him, it got scared. It turned around, jumped as hard as it could and sailed right over a stream. My grandfather jumped too but when he got halfway over the stream he saw he couldn’t make it to the other side so he turned around in mid-air and jumped back. By now the deer hid behind a hill on the other side of the stream so my grandfather couldn’t see it anymore. “Now my grandfather was angry. He wasn’t going to let that deer get away! He put his gun between little maple trees and bent the barrel. The he aimed and shot. The bullet curved right around the hill and struck the deer.

“When my grandfather saw the fallen deer he got real excited. It was as if it was the first deer he’d ever shot. He started to skin it right away, But the dear wasn’t dead. Just when my grandfather reached the horns and was about to pull the skin off, the dear jumped up and began to run around. My grandfather tried to grab the deer, but it was too slippery. He chased it around and around. Then the skin got caught on the bark of a hickory tree. The dear backed off and pulled real hard and the skin came right off over its horns! The deer ran away, leaving my grandfather with nothing but its skin.” The Cayuga hunter looked up and look a deep breath. “And if you don’t believe my story, you can just go to my grandfather’s lodge. That skin is still hanging there.”

Now only the Seneca hunter was left. He looked around at the other three. Then he smiled and shook his head. “Wah-ah,” he said, “I am sorry. None of us Senecas ever tell tall stories about hunting.”

The other three hunters looked at each other. Then, without another word, they handed him the gun.

How Fire Came to the Six Nations

http://www.indigenouspeople.net/fire6nat.htm

Often, around the fire in the long house of the Iroquois, during the Moon of the Long Nights, this tale is told.

Three Arrows was a boy of the Mohawk tribe. Although he had not yet seen fourteen winters he was already known among the Iroquois for his skill and daring. His arrows sped true to their mark. His name was given him when with three bone-tipped arrows he brought down three flying wild geese from the same flock. He could travel in the forest as softly as the south wind and he was a skilful hunter, but he never killed a bird or animal unless his clan needed food. He was well-versed in woodcraft, fleet of foot, and a clever wrestler. His people said, ‘Soon he will be a chief like his father.’ The sun shone strong in the heart of Three Arrows, because soon he would have to meet the test of strength and endurance through which the boys of his clan attained manhood. He had no fear of the outcome of the dream fast which was so soon to take. His father was a great chief and a good man, and the boy’s life had been patterned after that of his father.

When the grass was knee-high, Three Arrows left his village with his father. They climbed to a sacred place in the mountains. They found a narrow cave at the back of a little plateau. Here Three Arrows decided to live for his few days of prayer and vigil. He was not permitted to eat anything during the days and nights of his dream fast. He had no weapons, and his only clothing was a breechclout and moccasins. His father left the boy with the promise that he would visit him each day that the ceremony lasted, at dawn.

Three Arrows prayed to the Great Spirit. He begged that soon his clan spirit would appear in a dream and tell him what his guardian animal or bird was to be. When he knew this, he would adopt tat bird or animal as his special guardian for the rest of his life. When the dream came he would be free to return to his people, his dream fast successfully achieve.

For five suns Three Arrows spent his days and nights on the rocky plateau, only climbing down to the little spring for water after each sunset. His heart was filled with a dark cloud because that morning his father had sadly warned him that the next day, the sixth sun, he must return to his village even if no dream had come to him in the night. This meant returning to his people in disgrace without the chance of taking another dream fast.

That night Tree Arrows, weak from hunger and weary from ceaseless watch, cried out to the Great Mystery. ‘O Great Spirit, have pity on him who stands humbly before Thee. Let his clan spirit or a sign from beyond the thunderbird come to him before tomorrow’s sunrise, if it be Thy will.’ As he prayed, the wind suddenly veered from east too north. This cheered Three Arrows because the wind was now the wind of the great bear, and the bear was the totem of his clan. When he entered the cavern he smelled for the first time the unmistakable odour of a bear: this was strong medicine. He crouched at the opening of the cave, too excited to lie down although his tire body craved rest. As he gazed out into the night he heard the rumble of thunder, saw the lightning flash, and felt the fierce breath of the wind from the north. Suddenly a vision came to him, and a gigantic bear stood beside him in the cave. Then Three Arrows heard it say, ‘Listen well, Mohawk. Your clan spirit has heard your prayer. Tonight you will learn a great mystery which will bring help and gladness to all your people.’ A terrible clash of thunder brought the dazed boy to his feet as the bear disappeared. He looked from the cave just as a streak of lightning flashed across the sky in the form of a blazing arrow. Was this the sign from the thunderbird ?

Suddenly the air was filled with a fearful sound. A shrill shrieking came from the ledge just above the cave. It sounded as though mountain lions fought in the storm; yet Three Arrows felt no fear as he climbed toward the ledge. As his keen eyes grew accustomed to the dim light he saw that the force of the wind was causing two young balsam trees to rub violently against each other. The strange noise was caused by friction, and as he listened and watched fear filled his heart, for, from where the two trees rubbed together a flash of lightning show smoke. Fascinated, he watched until flickers of flames followed the smoke. He had never seen fire of any kind at close range nor had any of his people. He scrambled down to the cave and covered his eyes in dread of this strange magic. Then he smelt bear again and he thought of his vision, his clan spirit, the bear, and its message. This was the mystery which he was to reveal to his people. The blazing arrow in the sky was to be his totem, and his new name – Blazing Arrow.

At daybreak, Blazing Arrow climbed onto the ledge and broke two dried sticks from what remained of one of the balsams. He rubbed them violently together, but nothing happened. ‘The magic is too powerful for me,’ he thought. Then a picture of his clan and village formed in his mind, and he patiently rubbed the hot sticks together again. His will power took the place of his tired muscles. Soon a little wisp of smoke greeted his renewed efforts, then came a bright spark on one of the stick. Blazing Arrow waved it as he had seen the fiery arrow wave in the night sky. A resinous blister on the stick glowed, then flamed – fire had come to the Six Nations!

Origin of the Iroquois Nations

http://www.indigenouspeople.net/iroqnati.htm

About 1390, today’s State of New York became the stronghold of five powerful Indian tribes. They were later joined by another great tribe, the Tuscaroras from the south. Eventually the Iroquois, Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, and Cayugas joined together to form the great Iroquois Nation. In 1715, the Tuscaroras were accepted into the Iroquois Nation.

The Five Nations

Long, long ago, one of the Spirits of the Sky World came down and looked at the earth. As he travelled over it, he found it beautiful, and so he created people to live on it. Before returning to the sky, he gave them names, called the people all together, and spoke his parting words:

“To the Mohawks, I give corn,” he said. “To the patient Oneidas, I give the nuts and the fruit of many trees. To the industrious Senecas, I give beans. To the friendly Cayugas, I give the roots of plants to be eaten. To the wise and eloquent Onondagas, I give grapes and squashes to eat and tobacco to smoke at the camp fires.”

Many other things he told the new people. Then he wrapped himself in a bright cloud and went like a swift arrow to the Sun. There his return caused his Brother Sky Spirits to rejoice.

The Six Nations

Long, long ago, in the great past, there were no people on the earth. All of it was covered by deep water. Birds, flying, filled the air, and many huge monsters possessed the waters.

One day the birds saw a beautiful woman falling from the sky. Immediately the huge ducks held a council.

“How can we prevent her from falling into the water?” they asked.

After some discussion, they decided to spread out their wings and thus break the force of her fall. Each duck spread out its wings until it touched the wings of other ducks. So the beautiful woman reached them safely.

Then the monsters of the deep held a council, to decide how they could protect the beautiful being from the terror of the waters. One after another, the monsters decided that they were not able to protect her, that only Giant Tortoise was big enough to bear her weight. He volunteered, and she was gently placed upon his back. Giant Tortoise magically increased in size and soon became a large island.

After a time, the Celestial Woman gave birth to twin boys. One of them was the Spirit of Good. He made all the good things on the earth and caused the corn, the fruits, and the tobacco to grow.

The other twin was the Spirit of Evil. He created the weeds and also the worms and the bugs and all the other creatures that do evil to the good animals and birds.

All the time, Giant Tortoise continued to stretch himself. And so the world became larger and larger. Sometimes Giant Tortoise moved himself in such a way as to make the earth quake.

After many, many years had passed by, the Sky-Holder, whom Indians called Ta-rhu-hia-wah-ku, decided to create some people. He wanted them to surpass all others in beauty, strength, and bravery. So from the bosom of the island where they had been living on moles, the Sky-Holder brought forth six pairs of people.

The first pair were left near a great river, now called the Mohawk. So they are called the Mohawk Indians. The second pair were told to move their home beside a large stone. Their descendants have been called the Oneidas. Many of them lived on the south side of Oneida Lake and others in the valleys of Oneida Creek. A third pair were left on a high hill and have always been called the Onondagas.

The fourth pair became the parents of the Cayugas, and the fifth pair the parents of the Senecas. Both were placed in some part of what is now known as the State of New York. But the Tuscaroras were taken up the Roanoke River into what is now known as North Carolina. There the Sky-Holder made his home while he taught these people and their descendants many useful arts and crafts.

The Tuscaroras claim that his presence with them made them superior to the other Iroquois nations. But each of the other five will tell you, “Ours was the favoured tribe with whom Sky- Holder made his home while he was on the earth.”

The Onondagas say, “We have the council fire. That means that we are the chosen people.”

As the years passed by, the numerous Iroquois families became scattered over the state, and also in what is now Pennsylvania, the Middle West and southeastern Canada. Some lived in areas where bear was their principal game. So these people were called the Bear Clan. Others lived where beavers were plentiful. So they were called the Beaver Clan. For similar reasons, the Deer, Wolf, Snipe and Tortoise clans received their names.

Seneca
Literature

http://www.indigenouspeople.net/seneca.htm

Red Jacket

Quotes by Red Jacket:

“Know that we are eager to share our gifts, in the name of love.
Kindness is a language the deaf can hear and the dumb can understand.

It is another’s fault if he be ungrateful;
but it is mine if I do not give.

There is none more abusive to others
than they that lie most open to themselves.

The good things of prosperity are to be wished;
but the good things that belong to adversity are to be admired.

Nothing is so wretched or foolish as to anticipate misfortunes.
What madness is it to be expecting evil before it comes.

What madness it is for a man to starve himself
to enrich his heir, and so turn a friend into an enemy!
For his joy at your death will be proportioned to what you leave him.

A well-governed appetite is a great part of liberty.
All cruelty springs from hard-heartedness and weakness.

Difficulties strengthen the mind as labor does the body.
Drunkenness is nothing else but a voluntary madness.

There is as much greatness of mind
in acknowledging a good turn, as in doing it.

Money does all things for reward. Some are pious and honest
as long as they thrive upon it, but if the devil himself gives
better wages, they soon change their party.

That which is given with pride and ostentation
is rather an ambition than a bounty.

Most powerful is he who has himself in his own power.
The sun also shines on the wicked.

Other men’s sins are before our eyes;
our own are behind our backs.

No action will be considered blameless, unless the will was so,
for by the will the act was dictated.

It is proof of a bad cause when it is applauded by the mob.
Every guilty person is his own hangman.”

Stories

Godasiyo the Woman Chief

At the beginning of time when America was new, a woman chief named Godasiyo ruled over an Indian village beside a large river in the East. In those days all the tribes spoke one language and lived in harmony and peace. Because Godasiyo was a wise and progressive chief, many people came from faraway places to live in her village, and they had no difficulty understanding one another.

At last the village grew so large that half the people lived on the north side of the river, and half on the south side. They spent much time canoeing back and forth to visit, attend dances, and exchange gifts of venison, hides, furs, and dried fruits and berries. The tribal council house was on the south side, which made it necessary for those who lived on the north bank to make frequent canoe trips to consult with their chief. Some complained about this, and to make it easier for everybody to cross the rapid stream, Godasiyo ordered a bridge to be built of saplings and tree limbs carefully fastened together. This bridge brought the tribe close together again, and the people praised Godasiyo for her wisdom.

Not long after this, a white dog appeared in the village, and Godasiyo claimed it for her own. Everywhere the chief went the dog followed her, and the people on the north side of the river became jealous of the animal. They spread stories that the dog was possessed by an evil spirit that would bring harm to the tribe. One day a delegation from the north bank crossed the bridge to the council house and demanded that Godasiyo kill the white dog. When she refused to do so, the delegates returned to their side of the river, and that night they destroyed the bridge.

From that time the people on the north bank and those on the south bank began to distrust each other. The tribe divided into two factions, one renouncing Godasiyo as their chief, the other supporting her. Bad feelings between them grew so deep that Godasiyo foresaw that the next step would surely lead to fighting and war. Hoping to avoid bloodshed, she called all members of the tribe who supported her to a meeting in the council house.

“Our people,” she said, “are divided by more than a river. No longer is there goodwill and contentment among us. Not wishing to see brother fight against brother, I propose that those who recognize me as their chief follow me westward up the great river to build a new village.”

Almost everyone who attended the council meeting agreed to follow Godasiyo westward. In preparation for the migration, they built many canoes of birch bark. Two young men who had been friendly rivals in canoe races volunteered to construct a special water craft for their chief. With strong poles they fastened two large canoes together and then built a platform which extended over the canoes and the space between them. Upon this platform was a seat for Godasiyo and places to store her clothing, extra leggings, belts, robes, moccasins, mantles, caps, awls, needles and adornments.

At last everything was ready. Godasiyo took her seat on the platform with the white dog beside her, and the two young men who had built the craft began paddling the double canoes beneath. Behind them the chief’s followers and defenders launched their own canoes which contained all their belongings. This flotilla of canoes covered the shining waters as far as anyone could see up and down the river.

After they had paddled a long distance, they came to a fork in the river. Godasiyo ordered the two young canoeists to stop in the middle of the river until the others caught up with them. In a few minutes the flotilla was divided, half of the canoes on her left, the others on her right.

The chief and the people on each side of her began to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the two forks in the river. Some wanted to go one way, some preferred the other way. The arguments grew heated with anger. Godasiyo said that she would take whichever fork her people chose, but they could agree on neither. Finally those on the right turned the prows of their canoes up the right channel, while those on the left began paddling up the left channel. And so the tribe began to separate.

When this movement started, the two young men paddling the two canoes carrying Godasiyo’s float disagreed as to which fork they should take, and they fell into a violent quarrel. The canoeist on the right thrust his paddle into the water and started toward the right, and at the same time the one on the left swung his canoe toward the left. Suddenly Godasiyo’s platform slipped off its supports and collapsed into the river, carrying her with it.

Hearing the loud splash, the people on both sides turned their canoes around and tried to rescue their beloved chief. But she and the white dog, the platform, and all her belongings had sunk to the bottom, and they could see nothing but fish swimming in the clear waters.

Dismayed by this tragic happening, the people of the two divisions began to try to talk to each other, but even though they shouted words back and forth, those on the right could not understand the people on the left, and those on the left could not understand the people on the right. When Godasiyo drowned in the great river her people’s language had become changed. This was how it was that the Indians were divided into many tribes spreading across America, each of them speaking a different language.

Niagara Falls

The powerful Seneca nation lives near Niagara Falls in present-day Canada. For several years, they experienced crop failure from frost. An epidemic followed, killing many of their nation.

One day a young Seneca girl went into a little cave above the falls to bathe. Suddenly a large rattlesnake attacked her. When she tried to escape, she fell into the rapids, which swept her onto the cataract. By a miracle, the water swirled her into the Cave-of-the-Winds, behind the falls.

There lived the Good Spirit of Thunder and Lightning. It was he who created the mist, which ascended toward the heavens and formed clouds, out of which came the Lightning. Good Spirit told the young girl that also under the waterfall lived Evil Spirit of Famine and Starvation. It was he who caused the crops to fail.

Evil Spirit also controlled a huge Water Serpent that lived in the Niagara River and Lake Erie. Often the Serpent came to the little bay of the river, just above the falls. He cleaned himself there, poisoning the water, which the Senecas used for drinking and cooking.

“Your water is poisoned,” said Good Spirit to the girl. “Because of that many of your nation have died. I want you to return to your people and report to your Chief what I now tell you.

“Your whole nation must move at once. Your people must pack all of their property and load their canoes. They must go from the Chippewa River up the Niagara River and make a new settlement on Buffalo Creek. There they will grow good crops and enjoy themselves again.

“I know the Evil Spirit will send his Water Serpent after you. Tell your Chief that I will follow the Senecas in a dark cloud. I will send lightning and a thunderbolt upon Water Serpent and kill him, if he does follow you.”

Immediately, the young girl went to the Chief of the Senecas and repeated all that Good Spirit had said. The nation packed and moved as they were directed. Water Serpent followed the canoes.

The Senecas arrived at their new landing site and heard a loud thunderbolt when a lightning flash struck the monster. It thrashed in the water with great force, scooping out a broad basin in Buffalo Creek, which formed the now-famous “horseshoe” of Niagara Falls, according to Seneca storytellers.

After the Senecas had set up a temporary camp, the young girl said, “Can we now send our chiefs to visit Good Spirit and honour him for his kindness to us?”

When the tribal chiefs reached the little bay below Buffalo Creek, they saw the dead Water Serpent. In the village, they saw the Evil Spirit of Famine and Starvation hanging from a high pole. The chiefs thanked the Good Spirit of Thunder and Lightning for the safety of the Seneca nation.

Good health and fine crops always have been theirs ever since Chief of the Senecas obeyed the Good Spirit by moving his nation as directed.

Sacrifice at Niagara Falls

Nee-ah-gah-rah, meaning “Thundering Waters,” is the Iroquois Nation pronunciation of Niagara. They believed that the sound of the cataract was the voice of a mighty spirit that dwelt in the waters. In the years gone by, they offered to it a sacrifice every year.

The sacrifice was a maiden of the tribe who was sent over the cataract in a white canoe decorated with fruits and flowers. To be chosen for the sacrifice was considered such a great honour that girls contended for it. In the spirit world, the happy hunting grounds, were special gifts for such a person.

Probably the last sacrifice at Niagara Falls was made in 1679, when Lela-wala, the beautiful daughter of Chief Eagle Eye, was chosen for the honour of the sacrifice. That year, the French explorer La Salle was in the area. He had been trying to convert the Senecas to Christianity, and he protested against their plan for the sacrifice.

His Protests were answered by one of the tribal leaders: “Your words witness against you. You say that Christ set us an example. We will follow it. Why should one sacrifice be great and our sacrifice be horrible?”

The maiden’s father was a brave warrior and a noble chief. His wife was dead. The only member of his family left was the beautiful Lela-wala, very dear and precious to him. But he showed no sign of the grief he felt and made no protest against the choice of her for the sacrifice.

On the day set for the sacrifice, the tribe gathered on the bank of the river. They enjoyed the games, the singing, and the dancing that always took place on special occasions. Everyone became quiet when the little white canoe came into sight, covered with fruits and flowers given to their chief’s daughter.

Shortly after her canoe entered the current, another white canoe darted out from under the trees along the bank of the river. Chief Eagle Eye’s grief was so great that he was on his way to join his daughter. With swift and strong movements through the rapids, he was soon beside her.

The two looked at each other once. The crowd lost their calmness and shouted at them, some with frantic despair and some with admiration. Side by side, the canoes plunged over the cataract. The brave maiden and the brave chief were beyond rescue.

“After their death, they were changed into pure spirits of strength and goodness. They live so far beneath the falls that the roaring is music to them.” He is the ruler of the cataract; she is the maiden of the mist.

Seek Your Father

Two legends, related by Esquire Johnson, an old Seneca Chief. He described the origin of the twins Good and Evil, and said the Sun was made by the Good-minded twin out of the face of his dead mother, the first earth-woman, who was the daughter of the Sky-woman.

Another version of this Seneca legend, dated 1876, tells practically the same story, but names the Sky-woman as having borne first a daughter, who, without any knowledge of a man, became that earth-mother of the twins Good and Evil. That daughter died giving birth to the twins, and she was buried by her mother, the Sky-woman.

Sky-woman said to her grandson the good-mined-spirit, “Now you must go and seek your father. When you find him, you must ask him to give you power.”

She pointed to the East and said to him, “He lives in that direction. You must go on and on, until you reach the limits of this huge island. Then continue onward, as you must paddle upon the waters, until you come to a high mountain, which rises straight up out of the water. You must climb this mountain to the summit. There you will see a wonderful being, sitting on the highest peak. You must say to him, ‘I am your son.’

“Your father is the Sun, and through you, he is also the father of mankind, because of your earthly origin from my daughter.”

Three Brothers Who Followed the Sun

The Iroquois Nation still retains vestiges of their adoration of the Sun. They continue to observe certain rites, such as the Sun Dances, which are survivals of more elaborate sun ceremonies of long, long ago.

Among the most popular sun dances of many tribes and bands of Iroquois Nation were the Ostowa-gowa, or the Great Feather Dance. This became a prime religious dance of the Gai’wiu religion of Handsome Lake, the Seneca Prophet. He revolutionized the religious system of the Iroquois of New York and Ontario.

Few of the early folk-beliefs have survived the taboo of the Prophet. These beliefs are difficult to trace, unless one has the Gai’wiu religion of Handsome lake and the Code of Dekanawida, the founder of the Iroquois Confederacy.

The Seneca Sun Ceremony of Thanksgiving is called by any tribal member who dreams that the rite is necessary for the welfare of the community. The ceremony begins promptly at high noon, when three arrows or three musket shots are fired heavenward to notify the Sun of their intention to address him.

After each volley, the people shout their war cries to the Sun– for the Sun loves war. A ceremonial fire is built. In ancient times, fire was started by a pump drill, and more recently by striking a match. The tribal Sun-Priest chants his thanksgiving song while he casts from a husk basket handfuls of native tobacco upon the flames to carry his words upward to the Sun.

The ceremony begins outside of the Long House, where the rising smoke lifts everyone’s thoughts and songs to the sun. Immediately after this beginning, the entire assemblage enters the Long House, where costumed Feather Dancers begin their ritualized Sun Dance. The New York Iroquois tribes do not carry effigies of the Sun in their preparation for or in their dance, according to their traditions.

The following Seneca legend was related by Edward Cornplanter, the recognized head preacher of the Gai’wiu of the Handsome Lake. Cornplanter was a Seneca Indian and a descendant of Gaiant Waka, the Prophet’s brother.

In the following legend, there seem to be some modern features, stated Cornplanter. He asserted, however, that the portion relating to the sky and sun are very, very old traditions. He said that he had always heard the upper world described as told in this legend. He then added that the Sun loved the sound of war, and would linger in his morning journey to observe battle activities anywhere, but after he reached midheaven, the Sun travelled on at his usual speed.

This legend developed in olden times, when not many people were about. Three brothers who were not married spent their lives hunting. When young they enjoyed the excitement of hunting, but as they grew older they seemed to lose the pleasure of the sport. Youngest brother suggested that for a new experience they walk to the edge of the earth, where the sky comes down and touches the big sea of salt water. At the western side of the salt water, this world is an island.

The other brothers thought the plan sounded like a good one. When everything was ready, they started on their journey. For a good many years they kept going and many things happened to them; however, they always continued straight westward.

Finally, the brothers came to a place where the sun goes under the sky’s edge. The sky bends down there, and sinks into the water. For a month, they camped and watched the things that were happening. They noticed just how the sun got under the rim of the sky and disappeared quickly. They saw some men trying to get under the edge of the sky, but it descended too quickly for them, and they were crushed.

The brothers noticed when the sky came up, the water sank lower; and when the sky went into the water, the water rose higher. Youngest brother said he wanted to try to pass under the rim of the sky when the sun slipped under on its sun-road. But eldest brother said he thought the happenings were too evilly mysterious, and he was afraid for them to try.

Without waiting for anyone’s opinion, youngest brother ran very quickly under the sky’s rim, and found the rim very thick. Second brother followed youngest brother like a flash. They kept on the sun road with the water on each side of them. Eldest brother watched, and when he saw nothing had injured his brothers, he began to run after them.

The younger brothers turned from their safe place to encourage him, but at that moment the sky came down on the sun-road and crushed eldest brother. But they did see his spirit shoot by them quickly. The two remaining brothers felt very, very sad.

They discovered that, on the other side of the sky, everything was different. Before them loomed a large hill, which they ascended, and they saw a very large village in the distance. A man came running toward them. As he approached them he called out, “Come!” They realized he was their eldest brother.

“How did you arrive here so quickly, brother?” they asked. “We did not see you come.”

“I was too late, and passed by on a spirit road,” he replied.

They noticed an old man walking toward them. He was youthful and strong in body, but his hair was long and white. He seemed like a very old man. His face showed wisdom and he bore himself like a chief. “I am the father of the people in the Above-the-Sky- Place,” he said.

“Haweni’u is my son. I wish to advise you, because I have lived here a long time. I have always lived here, but Haweni’u was born of the woman on the island. When you see my son, call quickly, ‘Nia’we ‘ska’no!’ If you fail to speak first, he will say, ‘You are mine,’ and you will be spirits as your brother is.”

The three brothers proceeded and came to a high house made of white bark. They walked up the path to the door. A tall man stepped out quickly, and the brothers said the magic words. The great man said, “Doges’ I have been watching you for a long time.” The brothers entered the house. When inside, the tall man said, “In what condition are your bodies?”

“We have fine bodies,” they replied.

“You do not speak the truth,” the great man answered. “I am Haweni’u and I know all about your bodies. One of you must lie down, and I will purify him and then the other.”

One brother lay down, and Haweni’u placed a small shell to his own lips, and put it on the brother’s mouth. He also tapped him on the neck, and sealed the shell with clay. Haweni’u began to skin the brother. He took apart the muscles, and then scraped the bones. He took out the organs and washed them. Then he built the man again. He loosened the clay and rubbed his neck. He did this with both brothers, and they sat up and said, “It seems as if we had slept.” Haweni’u said, “Every power of your bodies has been renewed. I’ll test you.”

The brothers followed Haweni’u to a fine grove of trees surrounded by a thick hedge. All kinds of flowers were blooming outside. “My deer are here,” said Haweni’u.

A large buck with wide antlers ran toward them. “He is the swiftest of my runners. Try and catch him,” said Haweni’u.

The men ran after the deer and rapidly overtook him. “He has given us good speed,” the brothers said. They soon discovered they had many other superior abilities, and the great man tested them all on that day.

They returned to the white lodge, and the brothers saw a messenger running toward them. Upon his wide chest was a great bright ball of light. It was very brilliant. In some unknown language he shouted to Haweni’u and dashed on.

“Do you understand his words, or do you know that man?” asked Haweni’u. “He is the Sun, my messenger. Each day he brings me news. Nothing from east to west escapes his eye. He has just told me of a great war raging between your people and another nation. Let us look down on the earth and see what is happening.”

He led them to a high hill in the middle of the country, and looked down through a hole where a tree had been uprooted. They saw two struggling bands of people and all the houses burning. They could hear people crying and shouting their war-cries.

“Men will always do this,” said Haweni’u, and then they came back down the hill.

The brothers stayed a very long time in the upper world, and learned so much they could never tell it all at one time. Sometimes they looked down on the earth and saw villages in which no one lived. They seemed to be waiting for people to be born and live there. In the upper world they saw villages, likewise, awaiting the coming of people from below.

Haweni’u told them a good many things, and after a time asked a messenger to lead the brothers to the path that the Sun took when he came out on the earth in the morning. They followed the messenger and came out on the earth. They waited until the Sun had gone over the earth to the west. Again they went under the edge of the sky in the east, and came out in their own country again.

It was night and they slept on the ground. In the morning they saw their village, and it was overgrown with trees. They followed a familiar path through the woods, and came upon another village. Their own people were living there. They went into a council- house and talked. They told their story, but no one recognized them except their sister, who was an aged woman by then.

She said, “The war of which you speak took place fifty years ago.”

The brothers did not care too much for the earth now, but wished themselves back in the upper world. They were not like the other men, because they never grew tired. They were very strong and could chase animals and kill them with their hands. Nothing could kill the brothers, neither arrow nor disease. After a long time; they were struck by lightning, and they were both killed. Presumably, they were granted their wish, and joined eldest brother in the Above World. 

Child fed and cared for by a Porcupine and a Bear
(Seneca)

WHEN I SLEEP

When I sleep
I dream of my people;
In battles long ago.

I see their pain,
Their anger,
Their sorrow.

“I CRY IN MY SLEEP”

The Spirit of our people
Who lived long ago,
Still lives.

“BUT ONLY IN OUR DREAMS”

By: H. M. Sisler, Jr., Seneca

The Seneca nation became one of the five strong tribes of the Iroquois linguistic family in central New York state, forming the Iroquois Nation as early as 1390. Later they obtained guns from the Dutch, giving them a dominating influence over the entire northeast. Senecas live between Lake Seneca and the Genesee River, about in the middle of the region. The Iroquois Nation attained the highest form of governmental organization reached by any Native American nation.

Mr. Barry Snyder, President
Seneca Nation of Indians of NY
P.O. Box 231, Haley Building
Salamanca, NY 14779
(716) 532-4900

Mohawk Literature

http://www.indigenouspeople.net/mohawk.htm

Chief Ahyouwaighs

“If my warriors are to fight they are too few;
if they are to die they are too many.”


“Each individual has to have a vision for the future,
… for the children coming.”

Jake Swamp, Akwesane Mohawk


Stories

The Story of Wild Berries
Joseph Brant

Mr. John Loran, Principal Chief
St. Regis Band of Mohawk Indians
St. Regis Mohawk Reservation Council House
Hogansburg, NY 136455
(518) 358-2272

Mohawk Language Standardization Project

Mohawk Language

-Nia:wen (Thank you)

Joseph Brant (Thayendanegea), Mohawk

http://www.indigenouspeople.net/brant.htm

“Our wise men are called Fathers, and they truly sustain that character.
Do you call yourselves Christians? Does the religion of Him who you call your
Savior inspire your spirit, and guide your practices? Surely not.

It is recorded of him that a bruised reed he never broke.
Cease then to call yourselves Christians, lest you declare to the world your hypocrisy.
Cease too to call other nations savage, when you are tenfold more the children of cruelty than they. 
No person among us desires any other reward for performing a brave and
worthwhile action, but the consciousness of having served his nation.

I bow to no man for I am considered a prince among my own people.
But I will gladly shake your hand.”

Joseph Brant to King George III

The Story of Joseph Brant

by Tom Penick

The Mohawk Indian Joseph Brant served as a spokesman for his people, a Christian missionary of the Anglican church, and a British military captain during the U.S. War of Independence. He is remembered for his efforts in unifying upper New York Indian tribes and leading them in terrorizing raids against patriot communities in support of Great Britian’s efforts to repress the rebellion. He is also credited for the establishment of the Indian reservation on the Grand River in Canada where the neighboring town of Brantford, Ontario, bears his name.

Brant was born in 1742 on the banks of the Ohio River and given the Indian name of Thayendanegea, meaning “he places two bets.” He inherited the status of Mohawk chief from his father. He attended Moor’s Charity School for Indians in Lebanon, Connecticut, where he learned to speak English and studied Western history and literature. He became an interpreter for an Anglican Missionary, the Reverend John Stuart, and together they translated the prayer book and the Gospel of Mark into Mohawk. Molly Brant, Joseph’s sister, married General Sir William Johnson who was the British superintendent for northern Indian affairs. Sir William was called to duty during the last French and Indian War of 1754-1763. Joseph followed Sir William into battle at the age of 13, along with the other Indian braves at the school.

Following this frightening experience, Joseph returned to school for a short period. Sir William had need of an interpreter and aid in his business with the Indians and employed Joseph in this prestigious position. In his work with Sir William, Joseph discovered a trading company that was buying discarded guns from the Army, filling cracks in the barrels with lead, and then selling them to Indians. The guns would explode when fired, often injuring the owner. Joseph was able to prove this in court and the trading company’s license was revoked.

It was the custom for young men not to marry until they had made their mark, and Joseph was now prepared to choose a wife. Around 1768 he married Christine, the daughter of an Oneida chief, whom he had met in school. They had both Indian and Anglican wedding ceremonies and lived on a farm which Joseph had inherited. Christine died of tuberculosis around 1771, leaving Joseph with a son and a daughter. During this time, Joseph resumed his religous work, translating the Acts of the Apostles into the Mohawk language. In 1773, he married Susannah, sister of his first wife. Susannah died a few months later, also of tuberculosis. In 1774 he was appointed secretary to Sir William’s successor, Guy Johnson. In 1775 he received a captain’s commission and was sent to England to assess whether the British would or would not help the Mohawk recover their lands. He met with the King on two occasions and a dinner was held in his honor.

While in England, Brant attended a performance of Romeo and Juliet. Lady Ossory, a member of a famous Irish family, asked him, “What do you think of that kind of love-making, Captain Brant?” He replied, “There is too much of it, your ladyship.” “Why do you say that?’, and Joseph answered quickly, “Because, your ladyship, no lover worth a lady’s while would waste his time and breath in all that speech-making. If my people were to make love in that way our race would be extinct in two generations.” [Monture, p. 36]

On his return to the colonies, he saw action in the Battle of Long Island in August 1776. He led four of the six nations of the Iroquois League in attacks against colonial outposts on the New York frontier. The Iroquois League was a confederation of upper New York State Indian tribes formed between 1570 and 1600 who called themselves “the people of the long house.” Initially it was composed of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca. After the Tuscarora joined in 1722, the league became known to the English as the Six Nations and was recognized as such in Albany, New York, in 1722. They were better organized and more effective, especially in warfare, than other Indian confederacies in the region. As the longevity of this union would suggest, these Indians were more advanced socially than is often thought. Benjamin Franklin even cited their success in his argument for the unification of the colonies. They lived in comfortable homes, often better than those of the colonists, raised crops, and sent hunters to Ohio to supply meat for those living back in New York. These hunters were usually young braves or young married couples, as was the case with Joseph Brant’s parents.

During the U.S. War of Independence a split developed in the Iroquois league, with the Oneida and Tuscarora favoring the American cause while the others fought for the British under the leadership of Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant. A few of the leaders favored a neutral stance, preferring to let the white men kill each other rather than become involved. Brant feared that the Indians would lose their lands if the colonists achieved independence. Basic to animosities between Indians and whites was the difference in views over land ownership. The Indians felt that the land was for the use of everyone and so initially saw no reason to not welcome the Europeans. The colonists, on the other hand, were well acquainted with the priviledges of ownership (or lack thereof) and were eager to acquire land of their own.

Brant commanded the Indians in the Battle of Oriskany on August 6, 1777. In early 1778 he gathered a force of Indians from the villages of Unadilla and Oquaga on the Susquehanna River. On September 17, 1778 they destroyed German Flats near Herkimer, New York. The patriots retalliated under the leadership of Col. William Butler and destroyed Unadilla and Oquaga on October 8th and 10th. Brant’s forces, along with loyalists under Capt. Walter N. Butler, then set out to destroy the town and fort at Cherry Valley. There were 200-300 men stationed at the fort but they were unprepared for the attack on August 11, 1778. The attackers killed some 30 men, women, and children, burned houses, and took 71 prisoners. They killed 16 soldiers at the fort but withdrew the following day when 200 patriot reinforcements arrived. The settlement was abandoned and the event came to be known as the “Cherry Valley Massacre.” Brant won a formidable reputation after this raid and in cooperation with loyalists and British regulars, he brought fear and destruction to the entire Mohawk Valley, southern New York, and northern Pennsylvania. He thwarted the attempts of a rival chief, Red Jacket, to persuade the Iroquois to make peace with the revolutionaries. In 1779, U.S. Major General John Sullivan led a retaliatory expedition of 3700 men against the Iroquois, destroying fields, orchards, granaries, and their morale. The Iroquois were defeated near present-day Elmira, N.Y. In spite of this, Indian raids persisted until the end of the war and many homesteads had to abandoned. The Iroquois League came to an end after admitting defeat in the Second Treaty of Ft. Stanwix in 1784.

Around 1782, Brant married his third wife, Catherine Croghan, daughter of an Irishman and a Mohawk. With the war over, and the British having surrendered lands to the colonists and not to the Indians, Brant was faced with finding a new home for himself and his people. He discouraged further Indian warfare and helped the U.S. commissioners to secure peace treaties with the Miamis and other tribes. He retained his commission in the British Army and was awarded a grant of land on the Grand River in Ontario by Govenor Sir Frederick Haldimand of Canada in 1784. The tract of 675,000 acres encompassed the Grand River from its mouth to its source, six miles deep on either side. Brant led 1843 Iroquois Loyalists from New York State to this site where they settled and established the Grand River Reservation for the Mohawk. The party included members of all six tribes, but primarily Mohawk and Cayugas, as well as a few Delaware, Nanticoke, Tutelo, Creek, and Cherokee, who had lived with the Iroquois before the war. They settled in small tribal villages along the river. Sir Haldimand had hurriedly pushed through the land agreement before his term of office expired and was unable to provide the Indians with legal title to the property. For this reason, Brant again traveled to England in 1785. He succeeded in obtaining compensation for Mohawk losses in the U.S. War for Independence and received funds for the first Episcopal Church in Upper Canada, but failed to obtain firm title to the Grand River reservation. The legality of the transfer remains under question today.

Her Majesty’s Chapel of the Mohawks was built in 1785 at the order of King George III. The simple wooden structure survives today as the oldest Protestant church in Ontario and is the only church outside the United Kingdom with the status of Chapel Royal. The church contains some lavish appointments including a silver service and bible dating from 1712 when Queen Anne had a church erected for the Mohawk on the Mohawk River in New York. Also erected for the Indians in 1785 was a saw and grist mill and a school.

Brant continued with his missionary work. He felt that his followers could learn much from observing the ways of the white man and made a number of land sales of reservation property to white settlers to this end, despite the unsettled ownership. He tried unsuccessfully to arrange a settlement between the Iroquois and the United States. He traveled in the American West promoting an all-Indian confederacy to resist land cessions. Late in his life, he continued the work he had begun as a young man of translating the Creed and important passages of the Old and New Testament into the Mohawk language. He was a man who studied and was able to internalize the better qualities of the white man while always remaining loyal and devoted to his people.

Joseph Brant died at his last residence in what is now Burlington in 1807, Ontario and was buried there. Later his remains where transferred by an Indian relay, where various warriors would take turns to carry him for reburial (a distance of approx. 25 miles) at the church known as The Chapel of the Mohawks in what was once Brant’s Mohawk Village (around 1790) and is now part of the city of Brantford.

Bibliography

1. “Brant, Joseph,” Dictionary of American Biography, 1927.

2. “Brant, Joseph,” The Encyclopedia Americana, 1992.

3. “Brant, Joseph,” The New Encyclopedia Britannica, 1991.

4. “Brantford,” The New Encyclopedia Britannica, 1991.

5. “Cherry Valley Massacre,” The Encyclopedia Americana, 1992.

6. Flick, A.C., “The Sullivan-Clinton Campaign of 1779,”
History of the State of New York, 1933-1937.

7. Green, Evarts Boutell, The Revolutionary Generation1763-1790, 1943.

8. “Iroquois League,” The new Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1991.

9. Mathews, R. V., “In Defense of Joseph Brant,” Conservationist, 31:41, March 1977.

10. Mitchell, Lt.Col. Joseph B., Discipline & Bayonets, 1967.

11. Monture, Ethel Brant, Famous Indians, 1960.

12. Van Steen, M., “Brantford’s Royal Chapel,” Canadian Geographical Journal, 57:136-41, October 1958.

13. Weaver, Sally M., “Six Nations of the Grand River, Ontario,” Handbook North American Indians, 1978.

Using the Berry Plants for Nutrition and Medicine

by Katsi Cook, Mohawk

 

“The wild strawberry is the first berry food to appear in the spring and this sacred plant is gathered at that time and eaten as a blood purifier…”

Wildberries remind us of our childhood. Indeed, they are a special gift of Creation to the children and to women. Over 250 species or berries and fruits–strawberry, red raspberry, currant, elderberry, juniper berry, cranberry, bearberry, to name a few – in Native America are gathered and utilized for their nutritional and medicinal value. Berries are delicious when eaten raw, crushed and mixed with water and maple syrup or honey for drinks; mixed with soups, bread, puddings and meats, and dried for winter storage. The berries, leaves and roots can be collected and used together or separately and drunk as a medicine tea. Among the Haudenosaunee (Six Nations Iroquois), the wild strawberry is regarded as the “leader” of the berries. It is the first berry food to appear in the spring and this sacred plant is gathered at that time and eaten as a blood purifier. The iron and minerals in the berries and leaves of the wild strawberry make this favorite berry plant a valuable blood remedy. Elderberries, red raspberry and tender sumacberry sprouts are also used for their alterative, or blood-building, properties.

Wild berries are extremely rich in vitamin C. Vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient which detoxifies the body, promotes healing, strengthens connective tissue, helps to absorb iron, and cooperates with the B complex in maintaining the endocrine system. A severe deficiency of Vitamin C leads to scurvy, a disease that was common in Europe at one time and which was attributed then to “bad air.” Native peoples of Turtle Island had already recognized the dietary basis of the disease and they knew how to prevent and cure it with a variety of medicines from natural sources. Cranberries are antiscorbutic, meaning that they are effective in preventing and treating scurvy. They can be used alone or in combination with other berries like sumacberry and other natural sources high in vitamin C like the fresh, new tips of evergreens.

Berries are also of great benefit to the urinary tract. They act as diuretics (promotes the flow of urine) and they acidify the urine to create a hostile environment for bacteria. Cranberry and bearberry have long been used in the treatment of cystitis (urinary bladder infection).

Berries also have astringent properties, meaning that they cause contraction of tissue and they arrest bleeding and discharge. In this capacity, they are proven remedies for diarrhea and leukorrhea.

Blackberry root, in combination with wild strawberry leaves has long been known as an effective remedy of diarrhea. Blackberry root has also been used as a treatment for dysentery, a disease characterized by extreme diarrhea and passage of mucus, blood, pus and fluid.

Kneeling upon soft mosses or standing at a bramble of thorny harvest; their quick fingers dancing across bushes heavy with their succulent fruit, our grandmothers gathered berries of many colors with joy and grateful recognition. They used the berry plant as a woman’s medicine throughout their reproductive years for a variety of purposes. Some berry plants help to stimulate and promote normal menstrual function, others help to ease childbearing and childbirth; still others alleviate menopausal symptoms or are useful in the treatment of gynecologic complaints.

Still today, Indian woman and children prize the various wild berries that grow in our territories and we will travel long distances and make camp and harvest those berries which aren’t quite as near to home. We join our elders in their lament that gravel pits and concrete are causing the berry and other plants to “turn their faces from the people and disappear.”

Using the berry plants for both nutrition and medicine is one way that traditionally-minded woman can continue to keep their strength and health within the cycles of the creation. Begin by using those berries you were familiar with as a child, and seek the guidance of someone who is knowledgeable about the berries in your area to find the safest and most effective way to use them. If you are on your moon, or still bleeding from childbirth, do not gather the berries or any other plants. Have your grandmother, midwife or someone else you trust do it for you. If you are pregnant, there are some berry plants you shouldn’t use, like elderberry roots. Although its okay to eat the cooked berries, the roots contain a toxic principle. Remember, too that although berry plants have much nutritional value, they are only meant to supplement and enhance a well-balanced diet. Like anything else, don’t overdo it. More does not mean better.

Above all, as whenever you harvest the Creation’s gift, give thanks and acknowledgement to the Creator and to the plant, and return something to the Earth so that her cycles may continue.

BERRIES FOR WOMEN’S NUTRITION AND MEDICINE WILD STRAWBERRY: noon tak tek hah kwa growing where the ground is burned

Springtime is traditionally a time of cleansing the body from impurities which accumulate in the system over the relative inactivity of winter. Just as every menstrual cycle includes the purification of the woman through her menses, it is also important that she cleanse her body in harmony with the earth’s cycles through fasting or the use of bioactive plants.

The whole strawberry plant; berries, leaves and roots – can be used as they appear in your area in the spring for purposes of cleansing the system. Both a blood purifier and blood builder, the wild strawberry is a laxative, diuretic and astringent. The leaves and berries are rich in iron and contain the minerals magnesium, potassium and sodium.

It is a teaching of many native peoples that during menstruation and pregnancy the woman’s body becomes highly toxic. At menses and childbirth, it is important for a woman to rest. She may also observe dietary restrictions such as not eating meat or salt. Wild strawberry leaves and berries can be used alone or in combination with other medicines to cleanse the woman’s body during her moon time and following childbirth.

Also, if you eat too many strawberries during pregnancy, the old women say, your baby will be born with a strawberry mark!

RED RASPBERRY: oo na joo kwa

Of all the berries, this is among the most useful for women throughout the reproductive years. The berries and leaves are rich in iron and they also contain minerals-phosphorus, potassium, magnesium- which help build the blood by carrying iron from stores in the liver, spleen, and bone marrow to needy tissues, the reproductive organs in particular. In pregnancy, tea made from the leaves is good for nausea. Its action on the uterus assists contractions and checks hemorrhage during labor and delivery. After delivery, it strengthens and cleanses the system and enriches the mother’s milk supply. Raspberry leaf tea helps stimulate and promote normal menstrual function.

Steep 1 tablespoon fresh or dried leaves to one cup boiled water, or 1 cut leaf to 1 quart boiled water for at least 5 minutes. Drink liberally throughout pregnancy, lactation and the menstrual cycle. Raspberry leaves can be mixed with other berry plants or with mint or honey to improve the taste and medicinal action.

The lukewarm tea in combination with slippery elm can be used as a douche for leukorrhea (whitish discharge) of vaginitis or menopause.

PARTRIDGEBERRY: noon kie oo nah yeah noisy foot

This berry was not generally used for food by humans, but was used by the women as an excellent tonic for the female reproductive area. Partridgeberry is a uniquely native american plant. It was called “Squawvine” by colonists who saw Indian women using it, and it continues to be called that by people who don’t know the meaning of the derogatory word “squaw.”

An in fusion, or tea, of the entire plant is used several weeks before childbirth (do not use during the 1st or 2nd trimesters), and can be used after delivery during breastfeeding. It is a female regulator and tonic and can be used for all uterine complaints.

Partridgeberry contains resin, mucilage, dextrin and saponin in birthing medicine, but it cannot be used liberally and must be prepared only by a knowledgeable person. Partridgeberry salve for sore or cracked nipples:

1. Cover 1 ounce whole plant with 1 pint oil (wheatgerm or olive oil)

2. Bake at 350 degrees for 2-4 hours.

3. Remove plant parts from oil.

4. Melt beeswax in the remaining oil and plant mixture and mix.

5. Put in container and allow to cool.

It should be a creamy ointment. If it is too stiff, heat again and add oil; if it is too thin, reheat and add beeswax.

JUNIPER BERRY: Gad

The Navajo name is given for this evergreen shrub because it is widely used in the southwest mountain areas as a stimulant and emetic. The needles are boiled and used for diarrhea and as a postpartum stimulant. Juniper berries can be dried and used for tea which has a laxative effect. Traditional Navajos use juniper as an emetic (causes vomiting) to purify the system of both adults and newborns. For adults, they say to put the leaves in warm water when you get up in the morning, before you have breakfast. Then go and run, and when you return, drink the liquid. It will make you throw up and purify your body.

Curly Mustache, a Navajo medicine man, in his account of the First Navajo Birth in Ruth Roessel’s book “Women in Navajo Society”, tells of the instructions given by the Holy people to the Dine in childbearing. In the traditional way, a newborn baby is given the juice of the inner white skin of the juniper bark. Usually, a woman goes out and peels the bark off the juniper trees. The white inside bark is peeled off and put into warm water until it turns reddish. A teaspoon of this juice is given to the baby to drink. This makes the child vomit the mucus and birthwaters it may have swallowed and cleanses its insides. (N.B. I mention this information for ethnographic purposes only.)

Matilda Coxe Stevenson, a sensitive female anthropologist who attended several births among the Zuni in the late 1800’s, reports that juniper twigs and berries were steeped in boiled water by the Zuni and drunk by the expectant mother as a tea throughout labor and delivery and afterwards to relax her system and cleanse the uterus. She mentions, too, that the People believed that if they drank the tea in the earlier stages of pregnancy, the child would be very dark.

The Recommended Daily Allowance of vitamin C during pregnancy and breastfeeding is 80-100 mg. This daily dietary requirement is necessary for the formation of strong cell walls and blood vessels, and it is therefore essential to the growth of the fetus and the placenta.

Mohawk people would prepare a tea high in vitamin C for pregnant mothers which included white pine, cranberry and sumac branch bark.

During pregnancy or oral contraceptive use, a woman faces increased susceptibility to urinary tract infection because of rising blood levels of a reproductive hormone called progesterone. Progesterone causes smooth muscle tissues, such as the bladder, to relax. It also causes the ureters, the ducts leading from the kidneys to the bladder to dilate. This action, in addition to the pressure of the growing uterus during pregnancy on the ureters and urinary bladder, may cause the bladder to become distended. The resulting increased volume of urine makes the urinary tract more hospitable to bacteria. It is important to drink lots of liquid to dilute the urine to keep the urinary system flushed out. Cranberry juice, best taken without sugar, contains hipuric acid which inhibits the growth of bacteria.

Cranberry leaves can be made into a tea and taken postpartum to help prevent uterine infection in situations where the woman may seem at greater risk, such as cases of premature rupture of membranes.

Etcetera: an extract of the bark of Blackberry roots and wild strawberry leaves make a fine treatment for umbilical cord cure.

“Well, when I grew up, things were different. In my time there was a lot of berries, a lot of game, fish, everything. But now everything is gone – the roots, the berries. That is what I see: they don’t grow no more. The reason why is when they are ripe, nobody prays when they grab the berries to put ’em in their mouth; they just go in there and eat off the bushes. It’s the same with the roots. The old timers believed they had to pray for everything before they tasted it. But now, they don’t believe in anything anymore…now you believe in the other way, you don’t believe in our Indian ways.” – Agnes Vanderberg, 81 year old Flathead Elder


References:

Indigenous Women is an official publication of the Indigenous Women’s Network, a continental and pacific network of women who are actively involved in work in their communities. IWN emerged from a gathering of around 200 Indigenous women Yelm, Washington in 1985. Women came from the Americas and the Pacific to tell their stories, present testimony as to conditions, and to look for strategies and alternatives to make a better future for our families and communities. We discussed the issues of political prisoners, land rights, environmental degradation, domestic violence, health problems and other concerns which are pressing in our community. We learned from each other and we found courage in the experience. We wanted to continue tis work.

Four years later, the Indigenous Women’s Network was formally organized by a group of women who were committed keeping up the links between women working in their communities, and finding a way to strengthen that work. Our philosophy is to “work within the framework of the vision of our elders,” and through this process, to rebuild our families, communities, and nations. This publication is one part of that process.

The Indigenous Women’s Network is a membership organization comprised of Indigenous women (voting members) and others who are interested (supporting members). Membership dues are $15 annually for voting members and $25 for supporting members which can be an organization or individual. Both receive periodic updates and our publication which is intended to appear at least two times a year. Membership information can be obtained at:

Indigenous Women’s Network

P.O. Box 174

Lake Elmo, MN 55042

612-777-3629

Indigenous women are invited and encouraged to submit articles, poetry and artwork/graphics within the visions of this magazine. Please do not send originals and include stamped, self-addressed return packaging for your items if you wish them returned.

Contributers:

Katsi Cook, O. Seumptewa, Victoria Manyarrows, Cate Gilles, R. Bancroft, Mark Dowie, Debra Lynn White Plume, Sarah Lyons, Kay Miller, Dr. Melanie McCoy, Mililani Trask, Nora Naranjo-Morse, Buffy St. Marie, Allison Weiss, Ruth White, and Erika Zavaleta.

Onondaga Literature

http://www.indigenouspeople.net/onondaga.htm

Onondaga Artists

Haudenosaunee (People of the Long House), aka “Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy,” Faithkeeper, Chief Oren Lyons addressed the delegates to the United Nations Organization by opening “The Year of the Indigenous Peoples” (1993) in the United Nations General Assembly Auditorium, United Nations Plaza, New York City, New York, December 10, 1992.

“For all of us. I am Oren Lyons, Haudenosaunee, and speaking on behalf of the Indigenous People of North America, this Great Turtle Island. Mr. President, distinguished delegates, Chiefs, Clan Mothers, Leaders and Members of the World’s Indigenous Nations and Peoples, we thank you, The General Assembly, for the recognition and the proclamation of “1993, The International Year of the Indigenous Peoples,” for the theme of, “Indigenous Peoples, a New Partnership.” We thank Madam Chairman Repal Chur of the Working Group for Indigenous Populations for consistent, enthusiastic support. And at this time, we recognize the inspiration and spiritual force of Augusto Williamson Diaz, for his vision of such a day as this, and our gratitude to those leaders of Indigenous Peoples and people who also had the vision of this day for our people, who put their blood, their sweat and their tears into this moment. And to those who are no longer here, our profound gratitude and appreciation.

This proclamation brings home inspiration and renewed dedication to our quest for self-determination, justice, freedom and peace in our Homelands and our Territories. Indeed, the quest is a renewal of what we enjoyed before the coming of our White Brothers from across the sea. We lived contentedly under the:

“Gai Eneshah Go’ Nah”, The Great Law of Peace.

We were instructed to create societies based on the principles of Peace, Equity, Justice, and the Power of Good Minds. Our societies are based upon great democratic principles of the authority of the people and equal responsibilities for the men and the women. This was a great way of life across this Great Turtle Island and freedom with respect was everywhere. Our leaders were instructed to be men of vision and to make every decision on behalf of the seventh generation to come; to have compassion and love for those generations yet unborn. We were instructed to give thanks for All That Sustains Us. Thus, we created great ceremonies of Thanksgiving for the life-giving forces of the Natural World, as long as we carried out our ceremonies, life would continue. We were told that ‘The Seed is the Law.’

Indeed, it is The Law of Life. It is The Law of Regeneration. Within the seed is the mysterious force of life and creation. Our mothers nurture and guard that seed and we respect and love them for that. Just as we love:


“I hi do’ hah”, our Mother Earth,

for the same spiritual work and mystery. We were instructed to be generous and to share equally with our brothers and sisters so that all may be content. We were instructed to respect and love our Elders, to serve them in their declining years, to cherish one another. We were instructed to love our children, indeed, to love ALL children. We were told that there would come a time when parents would fail this obligation and we could judge the decline of humanity by how we treat our children. We were told that there would come a time when the world would be covered with smoke, and that it would take our elders and our children. It was difficult to comprehend at the time, but now all we have to do is but to walk outside to experience that statement. We were told that there would come a time when we could not find clean water to wash ourselves, to cook our foods, to make our medicines, and to drink. And there would be disease and great suffering. Today we can see this and we peer into the future with great apprehension. We were told there would come a time when, tending our gardens, we would pull up our plants and the vines would be empty. Our precious seed would begin to disappear. We were instructed that we would see a time when young men would pace back and forth in front of their chiefs and leaders in defiance and confusion.


There are some specific issues I must bring forward on behalf of our Nations and Peoples.

North America: The issue of nuclear and toxic waste dumps on our precious lands; the policy of finding a place for the waste with the poorest and most defenseless of peoples today. This brings the issue of the degradation of our environment by these waste dumps, over-fishing, over-cutting of timber, and toxic chemicals from mining processes throughout our lands.

Treaty violations: We have with the United States and Canada 371 ratified Treaties and Agreements. The Ruby Valley Treaty of the Western Shoshone is a prime example of what the violation of treaties brings: human rights violations, forced removals, disenfranchisements of traditional people with confiscations of their property and livestock.

The refusal to recognize and support religious freedoms of our people and the decisions by the (U.S.) Supreme Court which incorporates this attitude into Federal Law. This translates into the violation of Sacred Sites. Mt. Graham in the Apache Country is now a project site for an observatory, causing great stress to the Apache People who have depended upon the spiritual forces of this mountain for survival. Ironically, a partner in this project is the Vatican, and even further, it has proposed to name this project ‘Columbus.’

The appropriation of our intellectual properties is continuous and devastating. Land is the issue. Land has always been the issue with Indigenous Peoples. Original title is a problem for all of you. We must try to reach an agreement on a more level playing field that allows us to, at least, a chance for survival.

Our brother, Leonard Peltier, has been too long in prison, In 1993, to signal a new attitude —and what better than his release after 16 years — symbolic of the exercise of dominion over our Peoples.

All this has come from across the seas. The catastrophes that we have suffered at the hands of our brothers from across the seas has been unremitting and inexcusable. It has crushed our people, and our Nations, down through the centuries. You brought us disease and death, and the idea of Christian dominion over heathens, pagans, savages. Our lands were declared ‘vacant’ by Papal Bulls, which created law to justify the pillaging of our land. We were systematically stripped of our resources, religions and dignity.

Indeed, we became resources of labor for goldmines and canefields. Life for us was unspeakable and cruel. Our black and dark-skinned brothers and sisters were brought here from distant lands to share our misery and suffering and death. Yet, we survived. I stand before you as a manifestation of the spirit of our people, and our will to survive. The Wolf, our Spiritual Brother, stands beside us and we are alike in the Western mind — hated, admired, and still a mystery to you, and still undefeated.

So then, what is the message I bring to you today? Is it our common future? It seems to me that we are living in a time of prophecy, a time of definitions and decisions. We are the generation with the responsibilities and the option to choose the The Path of Life for the future of our children, or, the life and path which defies the Laws of Regeneration. Even though you and I are in different boats, you in your boat and we in our canoe, we share the same River of Life — what befalls me, befalls you. And downstream, downstream in this River of Life, our children will pay for our selfishness, for our greed, and for our lack of vision. 500 years ago, you came to our pristine lands of great forests, rolling plains, crystal clear lakes and streams and rivers. And we have suffered in your quest for God, Glory, and Gold. But, we have survived. Can we survive another 500 years of “sustainable development?” I don’t think so. Not in the definitions that put ‘sustainable’ in today. I don’t think so. So, reality and the

Natural Law will prevail: The Law of the Seed and Regeneration. We can still alter our course. It is NOT too late. We still have options. We need the courage to change our values to the regeneration of our families, the life that surrounds us. Given this opportunity, we can raise ourselves. We must join hands with the rest of Creation and speak of Common Sense, Responsibility, Brotherhood, and PEACE. We must understand that The Law *is* the Seed and only as True Partners can we survive.

On behalf of the Indigenous People of the Great Turtle Island, I give my appreciation and thanks.

Now I am finished.

Dah ney’ to.

(Oren Lyons received a standing ovation and shouts of approval from Indian spectators.)

Oren Lyons

http://www.indigenouspeople.net/orenlyon.htm

“When we walk upon Mother Earth, we always plant our feet carefully because we
know the faces of our future generations are looking up at us from beneath the ground.
We never forget them. In the absence of the sacred, nothing is sacred. Everything is for sale.”

Wikipedia

JO AG QUIS HO

Faithkeeper, Turtle Clan, Onondaga Nation, Haudenosaunee, Six Nations, Iroquois Confederacy Cattaraugus Indian Reservation, New York

Oren R. Lyons is a traditional Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan, and a member of the Onondaga

Nation Council of Chiefs of the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy. He is Professor of American Studies at the State University of New York at Buffalo, where he directs the Native American Studies Program.

Oren Lyons was born in 1930 and raised in the traditional lifeways of the Iroquois on the Seneca and Onondaga reservations in northern New York state. After serving in the Army, he graduated in 1958 from the Syracuse University College of Fine Arts. He then pursued a career in commercial art in New York City, becoming the art and planning director of Norcross Greeting Cards with 200 artists under his supervision. He has exhibited his own paintings widely and is noted as an American Indian artist.

Since his return to Onondaga in 1970, Chief Lyons has been a leading advocate for American Indian causes. He is recognized not only in the United States and Canada but internationally as an eloquent and respected spokesperson on behalf of Native peoples. He is a sought-after lecturer or participant in forums in a variety of areas, including not only American Indian traditions, but Indian law and history, human rights, environment and interfaith dialogue, and has received numerous honors and awards.

For over fourteen years he has taken part in the meetings in Geneva of Indigenous Peoples of the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations, and helped to establish the Working Group on Indigenous Populations in 1982. He serves on the Executive Committee of the Global Forum of Spiritual and Parliamentary Leaders on Human Survival, and is a principal figure in the Traditional Circle of Indian Elders, an annual council of traditional grassroots leadership of the major Indian nations of North America. He was a negotiator between the governments of Canada, Quebec, and New York State and the Mohawk Indians in the crisis at Oka during the summer of 1990, and led a delegation of seventeen American Indian leaders which met with President Bush in Washington on April 16, 1991.

A lifelong lacrosse player, Oren Lyons was an All-American in this sport, which was invented by the Iroquois, and the Syracuse University team had an undefeated season during his graduating year. He is currently Honorary Chairman of the Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse Team, which competed in the summer of 1990 at the World Games in Perth, Australia, against the national teams of the United States, Canada, Great Britain and Australia. In 1989 he was named Man of the Year in Lacrosse by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

Chief Lyons was the subject of a one-hour television documentary produced and hosted by Bill Moyers, which was broadcast on PBS on July 3, 1991. He has authored numerous books including Exiled in the Land of the Free; Democracy, Indian Nations, and the U.S. Constitution; as well as Voice of Indigenous Peoples (1992), and Native People Address the United Nations (1994), both by Clear Light Publishers, Santa Fe, NM.

Chief Lyons is a tenured professor of American Studies at the State University of New York, Buffalo.

More Info

Speeches/Videos

Indigenous Native American Prophecy – Part 2

Indigenous Native American Prophecy – Part 3

Indigenous Native American Prophecy – Part 5

Iroquois History

Oren Lyons: Value Change for Survival

Onondaga Nation

At the United Nations

At the World Bank

“For all of us. I am Oren Lyons, Haudenosaunee, and speaking on behalf of the Indigenous People of North America, this Great Turtle Island. Mr. President, distinguished delegates, Chiefs, Clan Mothers, Leaders and Members of the World’s Indigenous Nations and Peoples, we thank you, The General Assembly, for the recognition and the proclamation of “1993, The International Year of the Indigenous Peoples,” for the theme of, “Indigenous Peoples, a New Partnership.” We thank Madam Chairman Repal Chur (sp?) of the Working Group for Indigenous Populations for consistent, enthusiastic support, and Diaz. And at this time, we recognize the inspiration and spiritual force of Augusto Williamson Diaz, for his vision of such a day as this, and our gratitude to those leaders of Indigenous Peoples and people who also had the vision of this day for our people, who put their blood, their sweat and their tears into this moment. And to those who are no longer here, our profound gratitude and appreciation.”

===========================================================

Larry Hill

Seneca from the Six Nations

https://www.indigenouspeople.net/hill.htm

Indians In Fiction

Here is the text of ‘Indians in Fiction.’ It appeared in the May ’95 issue of Ransom Notes, the Los Angeles Sisters in Crime newsletter. I added the editor’s headings. They help clarify the structure of the article. There are a couple of ideas that deserve footnotes, notably the occupied lands statement and the notion of Indians used as symbols to depict the anti-civilized, but their inclusion and the rest of the paper are my responsibility. I attempted to obtain as much community input as time allowed, but any errors are again my responsibility.

–Larry Hill Indians in Fiction

Indian mythology and Indian characters have been a part of fiction for hundreds of years. A quick perusal of your bookshelf will show many examples from Caliban in Shakespeare’s The Tempest to Chief Broom in Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest to Eva Broussard in Abigail Padgett’s Strawgirl. In spite of agents reminding writers of the salability of ethnic characters, Indian characters are often overlooked. This is probably due to a sense that Indian characters are difficult to develop.

What should a writer know in order to bring realism to an Indian character?

Is it enough to say he was dark-skinned with a braid and a stare that could curl the hair of a Dutchman? That she was a savage beauty with obsidian eyes, reflecting the story of all before her? The answers to these questions depends on whether your Indian characters are symbols or not.

In the past, and continuing to some extent today, Indian characters were used as symbols; savages manufactured to depict the anti-civilized. They were the great white whale against which a foreign civilization had to struggle for economic prosperity, the manufactured savage that had to be conquered for technocracy to flourish. But when economics are stripped away, all that remains is the struggle against nature. The contemporary usage of Indians as symbols in the post-western world remains anti-civilized, but it is now seen as that part of us we long to embrace, the savage power we fear we’ve lost forever.

Films and Books

We need only watch Dances with Wolves to illustrate this point. In this much-acclaimed movie, we see a cavalry officer, Dunbar, who almost loses his leg to war, a civil war. He is then assigned a post at the edge of the frontier where he lives an idyllic life, dancing with wolves, and is befriended by the Lakota. After months of freedom with the Lakota, he is accosted by white troops. The government has reached out and taken his freedom. In fact, the government has threatened every person who is free. The Indian is used as a symbol for right wing paranoia. Is this a serious revision? No. Why? The Pawnee. Some Indians are free, right-minded and loving, some are murderous, the very people that should have been wiped out. For the non-Indian, this myth fits their rationalization. The only positive aspect of the film is the portrayal of Indian families. Kicking Bird actually makes love to his wife.

Hollywood has singularly failed to present Indians accurately. Women haven’t fared much better. Still, there are a few examples of success: Pow-Wow Highway, and Thunderheart deserve mention. Of the two, Pow-Wow Highway is the closest to an ideal depiction, but the author of the book would disagree. They share three major reasons for the success of their characters:

  1. historically accurate context,
  2. full character development and
  3. humor.

Writers have sometimes succeeded where film makers have failed. However, most of this success has been relatively recent. And like many of the most interesting mystery writers over the last twenty years, it has been a woman author that has touched the heart of the Indian character. However, there isn’t an Indian character that has transcended fiction to the collective consciousness. Doing a survey of Indian literature would yield a character analysis both broad and deep. Unfortunately, that is a task beyond the scope of this overview. Simply, the most important trait is an Indian character’s understanding, or lack thereof, of the context of their existence.

Indian characters

Most contemporary mystery authors strive for realism. Accepting that literary realism is as much an artifice as semiotics, being a manufactured depiction of a particular world view and all, contemporary mystery writers create characters that are substantial rather than amorphous, that are not based on a point of view, but simply have a point of view. Although modern writers use allegory and symbolism, continuing the potential for misusing Indian characters, it is only when the symbol is more important than the character that fault is found. And that is the trick. To create an Indian character, a writer should follow the same guidelines they would for any other character. Indians are not symbols nor should Indian characters be symbols, although it may be impossible to fully escape these dated notions. While it is challenging to create a character that we may not be as familiar with, the pay-off is illumination.

Knowledge of the Past

There are important considerations for Indian characters that flow from history. Although thought, action and motivation may be similar, there are fundamental differences. Just as smart men and smart women may be alike in many ways, there are differences at the core that cannot be ignored. For Indian characters, the greatest among these is the past. Few Indians can truly escape history nor do they want to. Indian characters that have no knowledge of the past will not ring true. Their knowledge of history will often be clouded with anger at government sponsored genocide, but the deeper truth is a profound sense of grief rooted in a lost freedom. The Indian character recognizes that their lands are occupied and there is no one on earth prepared to liberate them. This grief and anger often leads to the bottle or some other libation.

In contrast to the Indian anger is the non-Indian fear or guilt. It is a collective thing faintly felt. Some will argue it does not exist, but most Americans that know the true history of this land feel remorse. Others feel justified.

Anger is an emotion that usually develops between characters arising from some failing or another. Sometimes it is much deeper. Indian anger is a deep sense of betrayal not unlike the African American anger or the Jewish anger. But, there is a singularity that defines Indian anger; the rape and defilement of the earth, the Indian mother. It is the same feeling a person would experience watching their own mother being kidnapped, raped, tortured and, finally, murdered. This kind of anger is so extreme that characters fully involved in it are apt to destroy everything around them in a blind fury. Combined with the sense of enslavement that accompanies the loss of freedom and the knowledge of the genocide since contact and you might wonder why more Indians aren’t mass murderers. But for the power of their spirituality and the sense of their responsibility to the circle of life, they might be.

Often, contemporary Indian characters are concerned with finding their spiritual path or walking in balance in a world gone crazy, a world not of their making. One of the common myths taught from the first grade is that Columbus called the people of the Americas Indians because he thought he was in India, but India didn’t exist then. Hindustan was the name of India then. In Dios, people in God, is what Matthiessen and others proffer as the inspired utterance that led to the collective noun, Indian. In these politically correct times, Native is the term often applied to indicate aboriginal ancestry. In Canada, First Nations is the collective noun.

All Indians have a term in their language for themselves, which usually means original people or the people. At the tribal level, Indians refer to themselves by nation. A character may say I am an Iroquois but more likely would say I am a Mohawk, unless they didn’t know their nation. If they were dealing with someone in a political arena, they might say I am a Haudenoshonee, a person of the Longhouse, or an Ongwe onwe, original person. Many will also identify by clan if they know.

Urban Indians

For many reasons, from employment opportunities to forced relocation, Indians found their way to cities. For some parents, passing their history down was the same as condemning their children to a life of terror. As a consequence many people lost their tribal connection. For a generation or more, they found no way back to their roots. Eventually, some of these city transplants came together at friendship centers, Pow-wows, and gatherings and formed a community. Based on a mixture of traditions, songs and etiquette, this became recognized as Pan-Indian belief. Therefore it’s quite possible for a Pequot Indian of the Northeast to perform a pipe ceremony in a Lakota Inipi (sweat lodge) singing a Chumash spirit-welcome song.

Reservation IndiansA reservation Indian character likely will know a version of history that is much different from the American myth or the Hollywood fantasy and much different from his urban relatives. Some reservation Indians may feel that urban Indians are less connected and therefore may be critical of their urban siblings’ search for balance. Others may rely on the urban Indian for guidance as they overcome their feelings of being outsiders, their fears of a different culture.

Generally, a traditional Indian character will speak their language and will know a number of requisite ceremonies. A Christian Indian character may or may not be exposed to or be a part of traditional Indian ceremonies. Christian Indian characters are more likely to be assimilated and less likely to have the deep anger mentioned above. However, juxtaposition often creates characters that are much more interesting.

Character NamingCharacter naming is one of those funny aspects of writing that often defies logic. Indian character names can be difficult. Sioux Indians, the Lakota people, tend to have colorful names, Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse as an example while other nations do not. Some names may be offensive and unsuitable for some nations. For example, to name a character Blind Owl could be extremely offensive for some nations because the owl is seen by these nations as a messenger of death.

Cliche Characters

Warning. There are four predominant cliche characters:

  1. the Indian medicine person waiting for a non-Indian to save the nation,
  2. the noble savage befriending the settler and saving them,
  3. the evil savage hunted and killed by the heroic white man and, finally,
  4. the Indian woman, often called a princess, which some hunk carried away to tame in the same manner that he tamed the frontier.

Most westerns use one or more of these characters, even as recent as The Last Mohican, Squanto and the forthcoming Pochohontas. Just look at the dress of Pochohontas and wonder what the Disney animators were thinking.

Matriarchal Leadership

Many Indian nations are matriarchal. Leadership is passed through the women. Stories are passed through the women. Names are passed through the women. Women are the life givers. Women announce the Thanksgivings. They are the teachers. They are very demanding of young people. As the teachers, they never take time off. They are always watching.

Traditional Indian women characters can provide a strong moral underpinning as well as great narration from their constant observation. Far from their home, they may lose their direction in a world of the senses. So important are women in Indian life, many ceremonies for men involve recreating some aspect of the woman’s life. The Inipi is a womb, the Sun Dance represents the woman’s pain giving birth as examples.

Ceremonies

Other ceremonies are usually a thanksgiving, although some are for healing and others for enjoyment. They are timed to coincide with important events in that nation’s calendar, because they are timed to harvests and moon phases. These are times of family and friends and festivity is in the air, which brings the Indian character to life. Iroquoian people are taught to be thankful and enjoy life. It is in this enjoyment that they find their purpose, caring for the land and pleasing their creator.

Indian people consist of many nations united in two respects: their tie to Turtle Island, the Americas, and their tie to their Creator. Indians almost universally have a strong sense of humor, a strong sense of family that extends beyond the boundary of bloodlines, and a deeply held belief in the spirit world. Following these few suggestions will result in a more realistic depiction of the Indian as an individual than many of the savage portraits common in early works of fiction and Hollywood.

FAQ’s

Do Indians cry? Yes, especially after a good laugh.
Are all Indians dark-skinned? Not since Columbus.
Do Indians have beards? Since Columbus and some before.
Did Indians come over the land bridge? No. In much Indian mythology, Indians have always been here. The Cherokees are an exception in that their stories tell of a migration north as do the Delaware who tell of a migration south.
What is a squaw? It is an impolite word implying whore.
Are there Indian princesses? Only at Pow-wow beauty contests.
What is an Indian? A person who can trace their lineage to an original habitant of North America before Columbus. Color of skin is unimportant. Some believe that religion is.

Recommended Readings – Non-fiction

  • Indian Country by Peter Matthiessen. Tales of the continued encroachment of Indian lands.
  • Indian Givers by Jack Weatherford. Details of contributions to European society from Indians.
  • American Indian Women eds. Bataille and Sands. A series of articles about Indian women.
  • In the Spirit of Crazy Horse by Peter Matthiessen. A history of the Lakota struggle in the 1970s with a particular focus on Leonard Peltier.
  • Exiled in the Land of the Free eds. Lyons et al. A series of academic articles documenting the Iroquoian contribution to the American Constitution. The Native in Literature eds. King, Calver and Hoy. Commentary on Indians in fiction. Used in the preparation of this overview.
  • Manifest Manners: Postindian Warriors of Survivance by Gerald Vizenor. An academic exploration of the myths of Indianness. Used in the preparation of this overview.
  • and recognized texts on a particular nation such as Parker on the Iroquois. A history of the Iroquoian people.

Recommended Readings – Fiction

  • Almanac of the Dead by Leslie Marmon Silko. A MacArthur Grant work of fiction epic in scope.
  • Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich. The saga of two Indian families and the medicine that heals them.
  • Spider Woman’s Granddaughters edited by Paula Gunn Allen. Stories and poetry of Indian women.
  • Tonto and the Lone Ranger Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie. Humorous short stories from Yakima country.
  • Green Grass, Blue Water by Tom King. A fantasy of Indian characters from TV and elsewhere and others making sense of nonsense or nonsense of sense. Yellow Raft in Blue Water by Michael Dorris. The story of three generations of Indian women who struggle to know each other and themselves. Poignant and beautifully written.
  • House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday. A classic.

Warnings:Beware of books by Sun Bear, Wabun, Lynn Andrews and Carlos Castenada. These writers are considered devoid of merit by many traditional Indians for many reasons. Read if you must, but keep both eyes open.

We have a story many of you have heard that illustrates this point. For those that haven’t, it goes something like this. A young boy, walking down a snowy mountain path, heard a forlorn cry in the snow. “Help me,” it begged. “Help me.” He stopped to look and discovered a rattlesnake. “I can’t help you. You’re a rattlesnake and you’ll bite me.” “No, I promise. Save me and I’ll not bite you.” He gently lifted the snake, placed him in his warmest pouch and carried him down the mountain. Whereupon, the snake promptly bit him. He fell down, dying, and cried, “You promised you wouldn’t bite me. You promised.” “You knew what I was when you picked me up,” the snake hissed and slithered away.

Other Stories by

Larry Hill

Walking Back the Cat

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