Many colonists, on the other hand, chose to become Indians, either by joining Indian society voluntarily, by not trying to escape from captivity, or by staying with their Indian captors in the wake of peace treaties that gave them the freedom to return home. Early in the eighteenth century the Tuscarora, another Iroquoian-speaking tribe living in North Carolina, moved into the territory occupied by the Confederacy. They had rebelled against the encroachment of colonial settlers, against continual fraudulent treatment by traders, and against repeated raids that took their people for the slave trade.
They suffered a terrible defeat, with hundreds of their people killed and hundreds more enslaved. Those who escaped such fates made their way north and became the sixth nation of the Iroquois League. The first half of the eighteenth century was a period of rebuilding. The Iroquois made peace with the French and established themselves in a neutral position between the French and the English.
This strategy lasted until the French and Indian War erupted in ; though the Confederacy was officially neutral, the Mohawk sided with the English, and the Seneca with the French.
Before long, another conflict arose among the European colonists, and the Iroquois were faced with the American Revolutionary War. Again, the various tribes failed to agree on which side to support. Without unanimous agreement on a common position, each nation in the Confederacy was free to pursue its own course.
The Oneida fought on the side of the colonists, eventually earning official commendation from George Washington for their assistance. A major faction of the Mohawk sided with the British and recruited other Iroquois warriors to their cause.
The League as a political entity was severely damaged by the conflict, and the war itself brought death and devastation to the member tribes. After the war, American retaliatory raids destroyed Iroquois towns and crops, and drove the people from their homelands. The Six Nations remained fragmented in political, social, and religious ways throughout the nineteenth century.
The development of the New Religion, beginning in , helped revitalize the traditional culture and facilitated the transition to reservation life. Finally, beginning in the s, the Mohawk, Seneca, and Tuscarora became involved in major land disputes over power-production and flood-control projects proposed by the New York State Power Authority and the United States Army Corps of Engineers.
Paired with the social climate favoring ethnic assertion in the mid-twentieth century, these land disputes helped foster a resurgence in Iroquois solidarity. The Iroquois see themselves as a sovereign nation, not as merely another ethnic group within the United States population, and gaining further recognition of that status is a major objective.
They have asserted their position in interesting ways. For example, when the United States declared war on Germany in , the Iroquois Confederacy issued its own independent declaration and claimed status as an allied nation in the war effort. In a Haudenosaunee delegation attended groundbreaking ceremonies for the United Nations building in New York City. Iroquois statesmen and athletes use Haudenosaunee passports as they travel around the world.
Protecting the land is another priority. Since the s, the Haudenosaunee have been involved in land issues involving projects as varied as the Kenzua Dam project, the St. Lawrence Seaway, and the Niagara Power Plant. In another land issue, the St. Regis Akwesasne Mohawk reservation has been affected by off-reservation pollution sources, including a neighboring toxic-waste dump and nearby airfouling industrial plants.
In the s, struggles over land rights and protection of the land have also included the extension of leases on property and towns in western New York, as well as ongoing conflicts over pollution and the environment.
Resolving the question of gambling on the reservations is also an important issue. In the controversy erupted into a gun battle that left two Mohawk dead.
They have thrown aside the values of our ancient confederacy for personal gain" The Onondaga Council of Chiefs Memorandum on Tribal Sovereignty. Even before the Europeans came to America, the Iroquois were an agricultural society.
The men set out on hunting expeditions in dugout or bark canoes to provide meat and hides, while the women tended to the farming. They were a relaxed society with a minimum of rules. The longhouses in which they lived were constructed with a vestibule at each end that was available for use by all residents.
Within the body of the house, a central corridor eight feet wide separated two banks of compartments. Each compartment, measuring about 13 feet by six feet, was occupied by a nuclear family. A wooden platform about a foot above the ground served as a bed by night and chair by day; some compartments included small bunks for children. An overhead shelf held personal belongings. Every 20 feet along the central corridor, a fire pit served the two families living on its opposite sides.
Bark or hide doors at the ends of the buildings were attached at the top; these openings and the smoke holes in the roof 15 to 20 feet above each hearth provided the only ventilation.
Villages of to people were protected by a triple-walled stockade of wooden stakes 15 to 20 feet tall. About every 15 years the nearby supplies of wild game and firewood would become depleted, and the farmed soil would become exhausted. During a period of two years or so, the men would find and clear an alternate site for the village, which would then be completely rebuilt.
The primary crops, revered as gifts from the Creator, were called the "Three Sisters": Corn provided stalks for climbing bean vines, while squash plants controlled weeds by covering the soil. The complimentary nutrient needs and soil-replenishing characteristics of the three crops extended the useful life of each set of fields. In addition to providing food, the corn plants were used to make a variety of other goods.
From the stalks were made medicine-storing tubes, corn syrup, toy warclubs and spears, and straws for teaching children to count. Corn husks were fashioned into lamps, kindling, mattresses, clotheslines, baskets, shoes, and dolls. Animal skins were smoked over corn cob fires. Although bows and arrows tipped with flint or bone were the primary hunting weapons, blow guns were used for smaller prey.
Made from the hollowed stem of swamp alder, blow guns were about six feet long and one inch thick, with a half-inch bore; the arrows were two and a half feet long. Elm bark was put to many useful purposes, including constructing houses, building canoes, and fashioning containers. Baskets were woven of various materials, including black ash splints. Pottery vessels were decorated with angular combinations of parallel lines. Wampum cylindrical beads about one-fourth inch long and one-eighth inch in diameter was very important in the Iroquois culture.
The beads were made of quahog, or large, hardshell clam shells and could only be obtained through trading or as tribute payments from coastal tribes. White and purple beads were made from the different sections of the shells. Although the beads were used as ornamentation on clothing, wampum had several more important uses.
Strings of the beads were used in mourning rituals or to identify a messenger as an official representative of his nation. Wampum belts served as symbols of authority or of contract. Patterns or figures woven into wampum belts recorded the terms of treaties; duplicate belts were given to each of the contracting parties. Because of its important uses, wampum became a valuable commodity and was sometimes used as a form of currency in trading.
Traditional Iroquois games ranged from lively field contests like lacrosse to more sedentary activities involving the bouncing of dried fruit-pit "dice" from a wooden bowl. The games were played both as entertainment and as elements of periodic ceremonies. A favorite winter game called "snow-snake" involved throwing a long wooden rod and seeing how far it would slide down an icy track smoothed out on a snowy field.
The Iroquois had no stringed musical instruments. The only wind instrument, the wooden "courting flute," had six finger stops and was blown from the end. Single-tone rhythm instruments provided the only musical accompaniment for ceremonial dancing and singing. Rattles were made by placing dried corn kernels inside various materials including turtle shells, gourds, bison horns, or folded, dried bark.
The traditional drum was about six inches in diameter, made like a wooden pail, and covered with stretched animal skin; just the right amount of water was sealed inside to produce the desired tone when the drum was tapped with a stick. The Iroquois have been willing to adapt to a changing world, but they have resisted efforts to substitute a European culture for their own heritage. For example, in the Reverend David Brainerd proposed to live among them for two years to help them build a Christian church and become accustomed to the weekly worship cycle.
They were direct in declining his offer: Essays in the Ethnohistory of Colonial North America. Oxford University Press, ] p. Yet changes were inevitable. In a Quaker delegation worked among the Seneca, teaching them to read and write.
They also instructed them in modern farming methods and encouraged men to work on the farms, which represented a major cultural shift. A respected Seneca warrior named Gaiantwaka, known as The Cornplanter, helped bring about this change, as did his half brother, Ganiodayo Handsome Lake. More Iroquois began to accept the concept of private ownership of land; historically, tribal lands were held in common, although individuals might have the right to farm certain parcels during their lifetime.
During the nineteenth century, the Iroquois sold large amounts of land in exchange for useful trade goods. Leading chiefs were sometimes induced to support such sales by the offer of lifetime pensions. Today, longhouses are used only for religious and ceremonial purposes. In the mids a rather abrupt change occurred in the style of artwork used to decorate clothing with beads, quills, and embroidery. Rather than the traditional patterns of curving lines and scrolls, designs became representational images of plants and flowers, influenced by the floral style prominent among the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century French.
Eventually, the Onondaga discovered that non-Indians would be willing to pay to see their ceremonial dances, and they experimented with public performances.
In the annual Green Corn Festival was delayed several weeks for the convenience of the audience, and the council house was filled three times with spectators who paid 15 cents admission. The contemporary historian William M. Beauchamp wrote, "Of course, this deprived the feast of all religious force, and made it a mere show; nor did it quite satisfy those who saw it" "Notes on Onondaga Dances," An Iroquois Source Book, Volume 2, edited by Elisabeth Tooker.
Garland Publishing, ] p. As was the case with other Native Americans, much of the friction between the Iroquois and non-Indians has involved different attitudes toward land. During the s and s the long-standing disparity was brought into sharp focus during the planning and construction of the Kinzua Dam, which flooded over 9, acres of Seneca Land.
The Indians fought the dam, claiming it violated the treaty between the Six Nations and the United States. The government reimbursed the tribe financially, but the reservation was disrupted. The grave of the revered Cornplanter had to be moved to accommodate the dam; his descendant Harriett Pierce commented, "The White man views land for its money value. Traditional values are sustained on the various Iroquois reservations.
The ancient languages are spoken and taught, traditional ceremonies are observed, and baskets are woven. Material wealth is not characteristic of reservation Indians, but Tonawanda Seneca Chief Corbett Sundown, keeper of the Iroquois "spiritual fire," disputes the assessment that the people are poor. He told a National Geographic writer: You say we ought to set up industries and factories. You call that progress? Unfortunately, his character is a classic case of mistaken identity.
The real subject of the poem, an Ojibwe hero named Nanabozho, was confused with the Iroquoian Hiawatha in a mid-nineteenth century work by Henry Rowe Schoolcraft that inspired Longfellow.
The Longfellow poem, at least, presented a sympathetic image of an Iroquois-named character. Christian nations might with equal justice be always represented with cannon and balls, swords and pistols, as the emblems of their employment and their prevailing tastes" Elias Johnson, Legends, Traditions and Laws of the Iroquois, or Six Nations, and History of the Tuscarora Indians [New York: AMS Press, reprint of edition ] p. Corn is the traditional staple of the Haudenosaunee diet. It was baked or boiled and eaten on or off the cob; the kernels were mashed and either fried, baked in a kettle, or spread on corn leaves that were folded and boiled as tamales.
Some varieties of corn were processed into hominy by boiling the kernels in a weak lye solution of hardwood ashes and water. Bread, pudding, dumplings, and cooked cereal were made from cornmeal. Parched corn coffee was brewed by mixing roasted corn with boiling water. Besides corn, and the beans and squash they raised with it, the Iroquois people ate a wide variety of other plant foods. Wild fruits, nuts, and roots were gathered to supplement the cultivated crops. Berries were dried for year-round use.
Maple sap was used for sweetening, but salt was not commonly used. The traditional diet featured over 30 types of meat, including deer, bear, beaver, rabbit, and squirrel. Fresh meat was enjoyed during the hunting season, and some was smoked or dried and used to embellish corn dishes during the rest of the year.
Passing between the legs, it was secured by a waist belt, and decorated flaps of the breechcloth hung in the front and back.
The belt, or sash, was a favorite article; sometimes worn only around the waist, and sometimes also over the left shoulder, it was woven on a loom or on the fingers, and might be decorated with beadwork.
Other items that were worn by both sexes included a fringed, sleeveless tunic, separate sleeves connected to each other by thongs, but not connected to the tunic , leggings, moccasins, and a robe or blanket. Clothing was adorned with moose-hair embroidery featuring curved line figures with coiled ends. Decorated pouches for carrying personal items completed the costumes.
Women used burden straps, worn across the forehead, to support litters carried on their backs. By the end of the eighteenth century, trade cloth replaced deerskin as the basic clothing material. Imported glass beads replaced porcupine quills as decorative elements.
The annual cycle consists of six regular festivals, which are still observed among the Iroquois. In addition, ceremonies are held as needed for wakes, memorial feasts, burials, adoptions, or sealing of friendships. The new year began with the Mid-Winter Festival, which was held in late January or early February when the men returned from the fall hunt. It lasted five days, followed by another two or three days of game playing.
This was a time of spiritual cleansing and renewal, and included a ritual cleaning of homes. Public confessions were made, and penitents touched a wampum belt as a pledge of reform. Playing a traditional dice game commemorated the struggle between the Creator and his evil twin brother for control over the earth.
Thanks were offered to the Creator for protection during the past year. Dreams were always considered to be supernatural messages, and everyone was obliged to help the dreamer by fulfilling the needs or desires expressed in the dream; particular attention was devoted to dream guessing during the Mid-Winter Festival.
On a pre-festival day, names were conferred on babies, young adults, and adoptees so they could participate in the upcoming ceremonies.
In the spring, when the sap rose, it was time for the Thanks-to-the-Maple Festival. This one-day celebration included social dances and the ceremonial burning of tobacco at the base of a maple tree. This was a half-day observance in which the Creator was thanked and spirit forces were implored for sufficient rain and moderate sun. Ripening strawberries in June signaled time for the Strawberry Festival.
Dancers mimicked the motions of berry pickers. This one-day celebration was a time for giving thanks. In August or early September, the corn was ready to eat. This event was marked by the Green Corn Festival, which involved ceremonies on four successive mornings. The first day included general thanksgiving, a Feather Dance honoring those who worked to put on the festival, and the naming of children. The second day saw more dances and the bestowing of names on young adults and adoptees.
The third day was dedicated to personal commitment and sacrifice, and included a communal burning of tobacco. Speeches and dancing were followed by a feast.
On the fourth day the ceremonial dice game was played as it was at the Mid-Winter Festival. Finally, the women who worked the fields sang thanksgiving for the crops. When all the crops had been harvested and stored away, and before the men left for the fall hunt, the Harvest Festival was held. This one-day celebration took place in October. The use of masks, or "false faces," is a major component of Iroquois rituals.
They symbolized spirit forces that were represented by the person wearing the mask at festivals or healing ceremonies. One group of spirits was depicted by masks carved from living trees, while another group was represented by masks made from braided corn husks.
Miniature corn husk masks, three inches across or less, were kept as personal charms; in ancient times the miniatures were also made of clay or stone. When a person died, everyone who had similar names gave them up until a period of mourning was completed. Later, if another person was adopted into the clan, he was often given the name of the deceased person whose place he took. A wake was held the night following a death. After a midnight meal, the best orators of the village spoke about the deceased, and about life and death in general.
The body was placed on a scaffold for several days on the chance that the person only appeared dead and might revive, which happened occasionally. After decomposition began, the remains might be buried, or the cleaned bones This group of Iroquois are unearthing the bones of their ancestors for proper reburial. When the village relocated, all of the unburied skeletons were interred in a common grave. By the end of the nineteenth century, burials were conducted according to European customs.
Upon death both the soul and the ghost left the body. Using food and tools offered by the survivors, the soul journeyed to the land of the dead. The ghost, on the other hand, became a spiritual inhabitant of the village. At a yearly Feast of the Dead, tobacco and songs were offered to the resident ghosts.
Traditional Iroquois rituals addressed both physical and mental health issues. Medicine men or women used herbs and natural ointments to treat maladies including fevers, coughs, and snake bites.
Wounds were cleaned, broken bones were set, and medicinal emetics were administered. Another type of healer, known as a conjurer, sang incantations to combat maladies caused through witchcraft. Twice a year groups of False Faces visited each house in the village, waving pine boughs and dispelling illness. Shamans were empowered to combat disorders caused by evil spirits. In the realm of mental health, modern psychologists see the value in the Iroquois practice of dream guessing.
The six Iroquoian dialects are similar enough to allow easy conversation. The Mohawk and Oneida are quite similar, as are the Cayuga and Seneca; the Onondaga and Tuscarora are each different from the five others. One common characteristic is the lack of labial sounds formed by bringing the lips together. The language is rich in words for tangible things, but lacking in abstract expressions. A treatise noted, "for the varieties, sexes, and ages of a single animal they would have a multitude of terms, but no general word for animal.
Or they would have words for good man, good woman, good dog, but no word for goodness" Lewis H. Human Relations Area Files, ] p. Historically, the Iroquois language was oral. In the mids a Congregational missionary named Asher Wright devised a written version using the English alphabet and edited a Seneca newspaper. During the latter half of the s, written dictionaries and grammar texts have been developed for teaching the languages on the reservations. The University of the State of New York, ] pp.
Some of the basic Mohawk expressions are: The Iroquois tribes were organized into eight clans, which were grouped in two moieties: In ancient times, intermarriage was not allowed within each four-clan group, but eventually intermarriage was only forbidden within each clan. Tribal affiliation did not affect clan membership; for example, all Wolf clan members were considered to be blood relatives, regardless of whether they were members of the Mohawk, Seneca, or other Iroquois tribes.
At birth, each person became a member of the clan of his or her mother. Within a tribe, each clan was led by the clan mother, who was usually the oldest woman in the group. In consultation with the other women, the clan mother chose one or more men to serve as clan chiefs. Each chief was appointed for life but the clan mother and her advisors could remove him from office for poor behavior or dereliction of duty.
Traditionally, a man and woman wishing to marry would tell their parents, who would arrange a joint meeting of relatives to discuss the suitability of the two people for marriage to each other.
If no objections arose during the discussion, a day was chosen for the marriage feast. Then the two began their new life together. In ancient times adultery was rare. When it was discovered, the woman was punished by whipping, but the man was not punished. If a couple decided to separate, both of their families would be called to a council.
The parties would state their reasons for wanting a divorce, and the elders would try to work out a reconciliation. If those efforts failed, the marriage ended. In ancient times, fathers kept their sons and mothers kept their daughters when a divorce occurred; by the early eighteenth century, however, mothers typically kept all of the children.
Children were valued among the Iroquois; because of the matrilineal society, daughters were somewhat more prized than sons. The couple stayed there a few days, and then returned to their own home to prepare another feast. Birthing took place in a hut located outside the village.
As her time drew near, the mother and a few other women withdrew to the hut and remained there until a few days after the birth. Until he was able to walk, an Iroquois baby spent his days secured to a cradleboard, which his mother would hang from a tree branch while she worked in the fields.
Babies were named at birth; when the child reached puberty, an adult name was given. Names referred to natural phenomena such as the moon or thunder , landscape features, occupations, and social or ceremonial roles; animal names were very rare. Some examples of the meanings of names are: A person was never addressed by his name during conversation; when speaking about a person, especially to a relative, the name was only used if he could not otherwise be clearly identified by terms of relation or the context of the discussion.
Mothers had primary responsibility for raising their children and teaching them good behavior. In keeping with the easy-going nature of Haudenosaunee society, children learned informally from their family and clan elders. Children were not spanked, but they might be punished by splashing water in their faces.
Difficult children might be frightened into better behavior by a visit from someone wearing the mask of Longnose, the cannibal clown. Puberty marked the time of acceptance into adult membership in the society.
On the occasion of her first menses, a girl would retire to an isolated hut for the duration of her period. She was required to perform difficult tasks, such as chopping hardwood with a dull axe, and was prohibited from eating certain foods.
The period of initiation for a young man was more lengthy; when his voice began to change, he went to live in a secluded cabin in the forest for up to a year. An old man or woman took responsibility for overseeing his well-being.
He ate sparsely, and his time was spent in physically demanding activities such as running, swimming, bathing in icy water, and scraping his shins with a stone. His quest was completed when he was visited by his spirit, which would remain with him during his adult life. An Anthology [Ohsweken, Ontario: Iroqrafts Ltd, ] p. The Census found that 60 percent of the Iroquois over the age of 25 were high school graduates, and nine percent were college graduates.
Iroquois children attending reservation schools learn not only the subjects typically taught at non-Indian schools, but also study their tribal culture and history. Gale Research, ] p. From ancient times the Haudenosaunee believed that a powerful spirit called Orenda permeated the universe. He created everything that is good and useful. The Evil Spirit made things that are poisonous, but the Great Spirit gained control of the world. During the seventeenth century, French Jesuit missionaries converted many of the Iroquois to Catholicism.
Kateri Tekakwitha, who was baptized in , became the first Native American nun. She was extraordinarily devout; since her death many visions and miraculous cures have been attributed to her intervention. She was beatified by the Catholic Church in and is a candidate for canonization to sainthood. The "Blessed Kateri" is revered at the feasts and celebrations of many Native American nations, particularly those who have incorporated Catholicism into their spiritual belief systems.
In three Mohawk chiefs, along with another from the Mahicans, visited Queen Anne in England to ask for military assistance against the French and for Anglican missionaries to teach their people. As the years passed, Quakers, Baptists, Methodists, and an interdenominational Protestant group called the New York Missionary Society joined the effort of proselytizing the Iroquois.
An intense rivalry developed between the pagan and Christian factions. In fact, in a group of Oneidas led by Eleazar Williams, a Mohawk from Canada who had become an Episcopalian minister, left their New York homeland and moved to Wisconsin, where they established a reservation. In , amidst the Christian missionary efforts, a revival of the ancient Longhouse religion developed. A Seneca known as Handsome Lake had spent much of his life in dissolute living and fell gravely ill when he was about 65 years old.
He expected to die, but instead, he experienced a profound vision and recovered. Inspired, he began to spread the Good Word among his fellow Iroquois. The New Religion was essentially a revitalization of the ancient pagan beliefs, although some Quaker influence can be detected. Major tenets of the New Religion included shunning of alcoholic beverages, abandonment of beliefs in witchcraft and love potions, and denunciation of abortion.
The religion was instrumental in showing many Iroquois how to retain their own culture while adapting to a world dominated by non-Indians. The Longhouse religion continues to be a major spiritual focus among the Iroquois people. Some adhere solely to its practice, while others maintain a parallel membership in a Christian church. Census data from show that two-thirds of the Iroquois people lived in urban areas.
About half of those living outside urban settings actually lived on reservations. Ties to the homeland and the tribal culture are strong, however, and those who live off the reservation return from time to time to visit relatives and to spiritually renew themselves. In a modern rendition of their ancient sojourns away from the village to hunt, Iroquois men today may support their families by living and working in a city but returning home periodically.
In particular, there is a cohesive group of Indians, including many Mohawk, living in Brooklyn during the week but returning to their families on weekends. Iroquois men, especially Mohawk, are famous as ironworkers in construction. They walk steel girders high in the air unhampered by any fear of heights.
Consequently, they are in demand around the country for skyscraper and bridge building projects, which have included such landmarks as the World Trade Center and the Golden Gate Bridge. Fathers pass their ironworking tools on to their sons or sometimes daughters in an atmosphere reminiscent of ancient rituals. The census indicated that about nine percent of the employed Iroquois were engaged in construction, although over half of the men of the St.
Regis Mohawk Reservation are members of the ironworker union. Factory work was actually the largest occupation, accounting for one-fourth of the jobs held by Iroquois people. Nineteen percent of the employed Iroquois worked in "professional and related services," including health and education. Another 13 percent were engaged in retail trade. Richards of Cornell University conducted an acculturation study focusing on the Onondaga tribe during the s and early s Richards, pp. At that time 70 percent of the tribal women who held jobs worked as domestics in off-reservation homes.
This put them in the position of interacting with upper- and middle-class families in home environments that exposed them to radio and television programs, non-Indian lifestyles, modern home appliances, and even different types of foods.
Onondaga men, on the other hand, worked primarily in factories or on construction sites. Although they interacted with non-Indian men, there was little exchange of cultural information. Differential patterns of acculturation resulted, in which the women were more comfortable and successful in relating to non-Indian agencies, including law enforcement. Economic activity varies markedly among the various Iroquois reservations. The Eisteddfod is an older tradition, revived in the 19th century.
Held during the first week of August, it celebrates Welsh arts and culture. It features a colourful procession, elaborate and extravagant costumes, and the music of many steel bands.
The carnival originated in the mid s as a way of celebrating and maintaining the cultural traditions of the Caribbean immigrants who live in and around the Notting Hill area.
Mandy is the creator of the Woodlands Resources section of the Woodlands Junior website. Follow Mandy on Twitter. Woodlands Junior Homework Help new website. Project Britain Folklore Calendar stories, sayings, customs. Facts about the month of August Customs and Traditions Gemstone: Lammas Superstition To bring good luck, farmers would let the first corn bread go stale and then crumble it over the corners of their barns.
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