Six Nations Confederacy
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Haudenosaunee’s Legendary Founding - Native America - Sacred Stories - PBS
This was a non-voting position, but they gained the protection of the Haudenosaunee. The Iroquois program toward the defeated tribes favored assimilation within the 'Covenant Chain' and Great Law of Peace, over wholesale slaughter. Both the Lenni Lenape, and the Shawnee were briefly tributary to the Six Nations, while subjected Iroquoian populations emerged in the next period as the Mingo , speaking a dialect like that of the Seneca, in the Ohio region.
In and , Lt. But, as European settlers began to move beyond the Blue Ridge and into the Shenandoah Valley in the s, the Iroquois objected. Virginia officials told them that the demarcation was to prevent the Iroquois from trespassing east of the Blue Ridge, but it did not prevent English from expanding west. Tensions increased over the next decades, and the Iroquois were on the verge of going to war with the Virginia Colony. In , Governor Gooch paid them the sum of pounds sterling for any settled land in the Valley that was claimed by the Iroquois. The following year at the Treaty of Lancaster , the Iroquois sold Virginia all their remaining claims in the Shenandoah Valley for pounds in gold. The Iroquois hoped that aiding the British would also bring favors after the war.
Few Iroquois warriors joined the campaign. By contrast, the Canadian Iroquois supported the French. In , refugees from is now southern-western Germany known as the Palatines appealed to the Iroquois clan mothers for permission to settle on their land. On July 9, , a force of British Army regulars and the Virginia militia under General Edward Braddock advancing into the Ohio river valley was almost completely destroyed by the French and their Indian allies at the Battle of the Monongahela.
Johnson attempted to ambush a force of 1, French troops and Canadian Iroquios under the command of Baron Dieskau, who beat off the attack and killed the old Mohawk war chief, Peter Hendricks. In February , the French learned from a spy, Oratory, an Oneida chief, that the British were stockpiling supplies at the Oneida Carrying Place , a crucial portage between Albany and Oswego to support an offensive in the spring into what is now Ontario. As the frozen waters melted south of Lake Ontario on average two weeks before the waters did north of Lake Ontario, the British would be able to move against the French bases at Fort Frontenac and Fort Niagara before the French forces in Montreal could come to their relief, which from the French perspective necessitated a preemptive strike at the Oneida Carrying Place in the winter.
On March 13, , an Oswegatchie Indian traveler informed the expedition that the British had built two forts at the Oneida Carrying Place, which caused the majority of the Canadian Iroquois to want to turn back, as they argued the risks of assaulting a fort would mean too many casualties, and many did in fact abandon the expedition. They killed everyone they encountered".
On the same day, the main force of the Canadian Iroquois ambushed a relief force from Fort William coming to the aid of Fort Bull, and did not slaughter their prisoners as the French did at Fort Bull; for the Iroquois, prisoners were very valuable as they increased the size of the tribe. The crucial difference between the European and First Nations way of war was that Europe had millions of people, which meant that British and French generals were willing to see thousands of their own men die in battle in order to secure victory as their losses could always be made good; by contrast, the Iroquois had a considerably smaller population, and could not afford heavy losses, which could cripple a community. The Iroquois custom of "Mourning wars" to take captives who would become Iroquois reflected the continual need for more people in the Iroquois communities.
Iroquois warriors were brave, but would only fight to the death if necessary, usually to protect their women and children; otherwise, the crucial concern for Iroquois chiefs was always to save manpower. Peter MacLeod wrote that the Iroquois way of war was based on their hunting philosophy, where a successful hunter would bring down an animal efficiently without taking any losses to his hunting party, and in the same way, a successful war leader would inflict losses on the enemy without taking any losses in return.
The Iroquois only entered the war on the British side again in late after the British took Louisbourg and Fort Frontenac. Lawrence valley as he advanced towards Montreal, which he took in September After the war, to protect their alliance, the British government issued the Royal Proclamation of , forbidding Anglo-European white settlements beyond the Appalachian Mountains. Colonists largely ignored the order, and the British had insufficient soldiers to enforce it. Faced with confrontations, the Iroquois agreed to adjust the line again in the Treaty of Fort Stanwix They chose to sell to the British Crown all their remaining claim to the lands between the Ohio and Tennessee rivers, which they did not occupy, hoping by doing so to draw off English pressure on their territories in the Province of New York.
During the American Revolution , the Iroquois first tried to stay neutral. The Reverend Samuel Kirkland, a Congregational minister working as a missionary, pressured the Oneida and the Tuscarora for a pro-American neutrality while Guy Johnson and his cousin John Johnson pressured the Mohawk, the Cayuga and the Seneca to fight for the British.
Joseph Louis Cook offered his services to the United States and received a Congressional commission as a lieutenant colonel—the highest rank held by any Native American during the war. The Mohawk war chief Joseph Brant , other war chiefs, and British allies conducted numerous operations against frontier settlements in the Mohawk Valley, including the Cherry Valley massacre , destroying many villages and crops, and killing and capturing inhabitants.
The destructive raids by Brant and other Loyalists led to appeals to Congress for help. Daniel Brodhead and General John Sullivan , against the Iroquois nations to "not merely overrun, but destroy", the British-Indian alliance. They burned many Iroquois villages and stores throughout western New York; refugees moved north to Canada. By the end of the war, few houses and barns in the valley had survived the warfare. In the aftermath of the Sullivan expedition, Brant visited Quebec City to ask General Sir Frederick Haildmand for assurances that the Mohawk and the other Loyalist Iroquois would receive a new homeland in Canada as compensation for their loyalty to the Crown if the British should lose.
At the onset of the Revolution, the Iroquois Confederacy's Six Nations attempted to take a stance of neutrality. However, almost inevitably, the Iroquois nations eventually had to take sides in the conflict. It is easy to see how the American Revolution would have caused conflict and confusion among the Six Nations. For years they had been used to thinking about the English and their colonists as one and the same people. In the American Revolution, the Iroquois Confederacy now had to deal with relationships between two governments. The Iroquois Confederation's population had changed significantly since the arrival of Europeans.
Disease had reduced their population to a fraction of what it had been in the past. Dealing with two governments made it hard to maintain a neutral stance, because the governments could get jealous easily if the Confederacy was interacting or trading more with one side over the other, or even if there was simply a perception of favoritism. Because of this challenging situation, the Six Nations had to choose sides. The Oneida and Tuscarora decided to support the American colonists, while the rest of the Iroquois League the Cayuga, Mohawk, Onondaga, and Seneca sided with the British and their Loyalists among the colonists. There were many reasons that the Six Nations could not remain neutral and uninvolved in the Revolutionary War.
One of these is simple proximity; the Iroquois Confederacy was too close to the action of the war to not be involved. The Six Nations were very discontented with the encroachment of the English and their colonists upon their land. They were particularly concerned with the border established in the Proclamation of and the Treaty of Fort Stanwix in During the American Revolution, the authority of the British government over the frontier was hotly contested. The colonists tried to take advantage of this as much as possible by seeking their own profit and claiming new land. In , the Six Nations were still neutral when "a Mohawk person was killed by a Continental soldier". They were concerned about being killed, and about their lands being taken from them.
They could not show weakness and simply let the colonists and British do whatever they wanted. Many of the English and colonists did not respect the treaties made in the past. In addition to being in close proximity to the war, the new lifestyle and economics of the Iroquois Confederacy since the arrival of the Europeans in North America made it nearly impossible for the Iroquois to isolate themselves from the conflict.
By this time, the Iroquois had become dependent upon the trade of goods from the English and colonists and had adopted many European customs, tools, and weapons. For example, they were increasingly dependent on firearms for hunting. As Barbara Graymont stated, "Their task was an impossible one to maintain neutrality. Their economies and lives had become so dependent on each other for trading goods and benefits it was impossible to ignore the conflict. Meanwhile, they had to try and balance their interactions with both groups. They did not want to seem as they were favoring one group over the other, because of sparking jealousy and suspicion from either side".
Furthermore, the English had made many agreements with the Six Nations over the years, yet most of the Iroquois' day-to-day interaction had been with the colonists. This made it a confusing situation for the Iroquois because they could not tell who the true heirs of the agreement were, and couldn't know if agreements with England would continue to be honored by the colonists if they were to win independence.
Supporting either side in the Revolutionary War was a complicated decision. Each nation individually weighed their options to come up with a final stance that ultimately broke neutrality and ended the collective agreement of the Confederation. The British were clearly the most organized, and seemingly most powerful. In many cases, the British presented the situation to the Iroquois as the colonists just being "naughty children". On the other, the Iroquois considered that "the British government was three thousand miles away. This placed them at a disadvantage in attempting to enforce both the Proclamation of and the Treaty at Fort Stanwix against land hungry frontiersmen. The Iroquois also had concerns about the colonists. The British asked for Iroquois support in the war.
The Iroquois Confederacy was particularly concerned over the possibility of the colonists winning the war, for if a revolutionary victory were to occur, the Iroquois very much saw it as the precursor to their lands being taken away by the victorious colonists, who would no longer have the British Crown to restrain them. On a contrasting note, it was the colonists who had formed the most direct relationships with the Iroquois due to their proximity and trade ties.
For the most part, the colonists and Iroquois had lived in relative peace since the English arrival on the continent a century and a half before. The Iroquois had to determine whether their relationships with the colonists were reliable, or whether the English would prove to better serve their interests. They also had to determine whether there were really any differences between how the English and the colonists would treat them. The war ensued, and the Iroquois broke their confederation. Hundreds of years of precedent and collective government was trumped by the immensity of the American Revolutionary War. At the conclusion of the war the fear that the colonists would not respect the Iroquois' pleas came true, especially after the majority of the Six Nations decided to side with the British and were no longer considered trustworthy by the newly independent Americans.
In the Treaty of Paris was signed. While the treaty included peace agreements between all of the European nations involved in the war as well as the newborn United States, it made no provisions for the Iroquois, who were left to be treated with by the new United States government as it saw fit. After the Revolutionary War, the ancient central fireplace of the League was re-established at Buffalo Creek. The United States and the Iroquois signed the Treaty of Fort Stanwix in , under which the Iroquois ceded much of their historical homeland to the Americans, which was followed by another treaty in at Canandaigua which they ceded even more land to the Americans.
Traditionally, for the Iroquois farming was woman's work and hunting was men's work; by the early 19th century, American policies to have the men farm the land and cease hunting were having effect. By , Methodist and Episcopalian missionaries established missions to assist the Oneida and Onondaga in western New York. However, white settlers continued to move into the area. By , a group of Oneida led by Eleazar Williams , son of a Mohawk woman, went to Wisconsin to buy land from the Menominee and Ho-Chunk and thus move their people further westward. To partially replace the lands they had lost in the Mohawk Valley and elsewhere because of their fateful alliance with the British Crown, the Haldimand Proclamation gave them a large land grant on the Grand River , at Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation.
Brant's crossing of the river gave the original name to the area: Brant's Ford. By , European settlers began to settle nearby and named the village Brantford. The original Mohawk settlement was on the south edge of the present-day Canadian city at a location still favorable for launching and landing canoes. During the 18th century, the Catholic Canadian Iroquois living outside of Montreal reestablished ties with the League Iroquois. Lawrence, a number of Iroquois men from Kahnawke were hired to help built and the Iroquois workers proved so skilled as steelwork erectors that since that time, a number of bridges and skycrapers in Canada and the United States have been built by the Iroquois steelmen.
The th Battalion was formed in December and broken up in November to provide reinforcements for other battalions. The Six Nations council at Brantford tended to see themselves as a sovereign nation that was allied to the Crown through the Covenant Chain going back to the 17th century and thus allied to King George V personally instead of being under the authority of Canada. The complex political environment which emerged in Canada with the Haudenosaunee grew out of the Anglo-American era of European colonization.
At the end of the War of , Britain shifted Indian affairs from the military to civilian control. With the creation of the Canadian Confederation in , civil authority, and thus Indian affairs, passed to Canadian officials with Britain retaining control of military and security matters. At the turn of the century, the Canadian government began passing a series of Acts which were strenuously objected to by the Iroquois Confederacy. Under the Soldiers Resettlement Act, legislation was introduced to redistribute native land.
Finally in , an Act was proposed to force citizenship on "Indians" with or without their consent, which would then automatically remove their share of any tribal lands from tribal trust and make the land and the person subject to the laws of Canada. The Haudenosaunee hired a lawyer to defend their rights in the Supreme Court of Canada. The Supreme Court refused to take the case, declaring that the members of the Six Nations were British citizens. In effect, as Canada was at the time a division of the British government, it was not an international state, as defined by international law. In contrast, the Iroquois Confederacy had been making treaties and functioning as a state since and all of their treaties had been negotiated with Britain, not Canada.
In response, the Iroquois began issuing their own passports and sent Levi General ,  the Cayuga Chief "Deskaheh,"  to England with their attorney. Winston Churchill dismissed their complaint claiming that it was within the realm of Canadian jurisdiction and referred them back to Canadian officials. After the meeting, the Native delegation brought the offer to the tribal council, as was customary under Haudenosaunee law.
The council agreed to accept the offer, but before they could respond, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police conducted a liquor raid on the Iroquois' Grand River territory. Deskaheh and the tribal attorney proceeded to Geneva and attempted to gather support. Only 26 ballots were cast. The long-term effect of the Order was that the Canadian government had wrested control over the Haudenosaunee trust funds from the Iroquois Confederation and decades of litigation would follow. In , hoping again to clarify that judicial responsibilities of treaties signed with Britain were not transferred to Canada, several Alberta Indian chiefs filed a petition with the British High Court of Justice.
They lost the case but gained an invitation from the Canadian government to participate in the constitutional discussions which dealt with protection of treaty rights. In , a long-running dispute over ownership of land at Oka, Quebec caused a violent stand-off. The Mohawk reservation at Oka had become dominated by a group called the Mohawk Warrior Society that emerged in smuggling across the U. S-Canada border and were well armed with assault rifles. In a series of laws, attempting to mainstream tribal people into the greater society, the government strove to end the U. In general the laws were expected to create taxpaying citizens, subject to state and federal taxes as well as laws, from which Native people had previously been exempt.
Its purpose was to settle for all time any outstanding grievances or claims the tribes might have against the U. Claims had to be filed within a five-year period, and most of the complaints that were submitted  were filed at the approach of the five-year deadline in August It covered all reservations lands within the state and prohibited the deprivation of hunting and fishing rights which may have been guaranteed to "any Indian tribe, band, or community, or members thereof. It allowed the tribes to preserve customs, prohibited taxation on reservations,  and reaffirmed hunting and fishing rights. It also prohibited the state from enforcing judgments regarding any land disputes or applying any State laws to tribal lands or claims prior to the effective date of the law September 13, The State of New York disavowed any intention to break up or deprive tribes of their reservations and asserted that they did not have the ability to do so.
On August 1, , United States Congress issued a formal statement, House Concurrent Resolution , which was the formal policy presentation announcing the official federal policy of Indian termination. The resolution called for the "immediate termination of the Flathead , Klamath , Menominee , Potawatomi , and Turtle Mountain Chippewa , as well as all tribes in the states of California , New York , Florida , and Texas.
The resolution also called for the Interior Department to quickly identify other tribes who would be ready for termination in the near future. Beginning in , a Federal task force began meeting with the tribes of the Six Nations. Despite tribal objections, legislation was introduced into Congress for termination. One bill dealt with the Mohawk , Oneida , Onondaga , Cayuga and Tuscarora tribes, and the other dealt with the Seneca. On August 31, ,  H. The bill authorized payment for resettling and rehabilitation of the Seneca Indians who were being dislocated by the construction of the Kinzua Dam on the Allegheny River.
Though only Seneca families about people were being dislocated, the legislation benefited the entire Seneca Nation, because the taking of the Indian land for the dam abridged a treaty agreement. In addition, the bill provided that within three years, a plan from the Interior Secretary should be submitted to Congress withdrawing all federal supervision over the Seneca Nation, though technically civil and criminal jurisdiction had lain with the State of New York since Accordingly, on September 5, a memo from the Department of the Interior announced proposed legislation was being submitted to end federal ties with the Seneca.
One tribe that had formerly lived in New York did lose its federal recognition. Though the law did not specifically state the Brothertown Indians were terminated, it authorized all payments to be made directly to each enrollee, with special provisions for minors to be handled by the Secretary. The payments were not subject to state or federal taxes. Beginning in , the Brothertown Indians submitted a petition to regain federal recognition. For the Haudenosaunee, grief for a loved one who died was a powerful emotion. They believed that if it was not attended to, it would cause all sorts of problems for the grieving who would go mad if left without consolation. One of the central features of traditional Iroquois life were the "mourning wars", when their warriors would raid neighboring peoples in search of captives to replace those Haudenosaunee who had died.
They were not concerned with such goals as expansion of territory or glory in battle, as were the Europeans. A war party was considered successful if it took many prisoners without suffering losses in return; killing enemies was considered acceptable if necessary, but disapproved of as it reduced the number of potential captives. Additionally, war served as a way for young men to demonstrate their valor and courage.
This was a prerequisite for a man to be made a chief, and it was also essential for men who wanted to marry and hence have sex. Haudenosaunee women admired warriors who were brave in war. This seemed to be the norm for First Nations wars. The clan mothers would demand a "mourning war" to provide consolation and renewed spiritual strength for a family that lost a member to death. Either the warriors would go on a "mourning war" or would be marked by the clan mothers as cowards forever, which made them unmarriageable.
The male captives were usually received with blows, passing through a kind of gauntlet as they were brought into the community. All captives, regardless of their sex or age, were stripped naked and tied to poles in the middle of the community. After having sensitive parts of their bodies burned and some of their fingernails pulled out, the prisoners were allowed to rest and given food and water.
In the following days, the captives had to dance naked before the community, when individual families decided for each if the person was to be adopted or killed. Women and children were more often adopted than were older men. If those who were adopted into the Haudenosaunee families made a sincere effort to become Haudenosaunee, then they would be embraced by the community, and if they did not, then they were swiftly executed. Those slated for execution had to wear red and black facial paint and were "adopted" by a family who addressed the prisoner as "uncle", "aunt", "nephew" or "niece" depending on their age and sex, and would bring them food and water. The captive would be executed after a day-long torture session of burning and removing body parts, which the prisoner was expected to bear with stoicism and nobility an expectation not usually met before being scalped alive.
Hot sand was applied to the exposed skull and they were finally killed by cutting out their hearts. Afterward, the victim's body was cut and eaten by the community. The practice of ritual torture and execution, together with cannibalism, ended some time in the early 18th century. By the lateth-century, European writers such as Philip Mazzei and James Adair were denying that the Haudenosaunee engaged in ritual torture and cannibalism, saying they had seen no evidence of such practices during their visits to Haudenosaunee villages.
In Onondaga chief Teganissorens told Sir Robert Hunter , governor of New York: "We are not like you Christians, for when you have prisoners of one another you send them home, by such means you can never rout one another". The French during their wars with the Haudenosaunee were often astonished when a war party that was on the verge of victory over them could be made to retreat by killing one or two of their number. The European notion of a glorious death in battle had no counterpart with the Haudenosaunee.
Death in battle was accepted only when absolutely necessary, and the Iroquois believed the souls of those who died in battle were destined to spend eternity as angry ghosts haunting the world in search of vengeance. The Haudenosaunee engaged in tactics that the French, the British, and the Americans all considered to be cowardly, until the Americans adopted similar guerrilla tactics. The Haudenosaunee preferred ambushes and surprise attacks, would almost never attack a fortified place or attack frontally, and would retreat if outnumbered. If Kanienkeh was invaded, the Haudenosaunee would attempt to ambush the enemy, or alternatively they would retreat behind the wooden walls of their villages to endure a siege.
If the enemy appeared too powerful, as when the French invaded Kanienkeh in , the Haudenosaunee burned their villages and their crops, and the entire population retreated into the woods to wait for the French to depart. European infectious diseases such as smallpox devastated the Five Nations in the 17th century, causing thousands of deaths, as they had no acquired immunity to the new diseases, which had been endemic among Europeans for centuries. The League began a period of "mourning wars" without precedent; compounding deaths from disease, they nearly annihilated the Huron, Petun and Neutral peoples. Massive "mourning wars" were undertaken to make up these losses. This ended the age when armed conflicts were more brawls than battles as Europeans would have understood the term.
Once the Haudenosaunee exhausted their supplies of beaver by about , they were forced to buy beaver pelts from Indians living further north, which led them to attempt to eliminate other middlemen in order to monopolize the fur trade in a series of "beaver wars". From to , the Five Nations was almost continuously at war, battling at various times the French, Huron, Erie, Neutral, Lenape, Susquenhannock, Petun, Abenaki, Ojibwa, and Algonquin peoples, fighting campaigns from Virginia to the Mississippi and all the way to what is now northern Ontario.
Despite taking thousands of captives, the Five Nations populations continued to fall, as diseases continued to take their toll. French Jesuits, whom the Haudenosaunee were forced to accept after making peace with the French in , encouraged Catholic converts to move to mission villages in the St. Lawrence river valley near Montreal and Quebec. By the s, they could field only warriors, indicating population decline.
The Iroquois League traditions allowed for the dead to be symbolically replaced through captives taken in "mourning wars", the blood feuds and vendettas that were an essential aspect of Iroquois culture. Captives were generally adopted directly by the grieving family to replace the member s who had been lost. This process not only allowed the Iroquois to maintain their own numbers, but also to disperse and assimilate their enemies.
The adoption of conquered peoples, especially during the period of the Beaver Wars — , meant that the Iroquois League was composed largely of naturalized members of other tribes. Cadwallader Colden wrote,. When he was recaptured, he was punished by having his fingernails pulled out and having one of his fingers cut to the bone. Several Huron who escaped with Radisson and were recaptured were quickly executed. By , two-thirds of the Oneida village were assimilated Algonquian and Huron. At Onondaga there were Native Americans of seven different nations, and among the Seneca eleven.
This tradition of adoption and assimilation was common to native people of the Northeast. At the time of first European contact the Iroquois lived in a small number of large villages scattered throughout their territory. Each nation had between one and four villages at any one time, and villages were moved approximately every five to twenty years as soil and firewood were depleted. Villages were usually built on level or raised ground, surrounded by log palisades and sometimes ditches. Within the villages the inhabitants lived in longhouses. Longhouses varied in size from 15 to feet long and 15 to 25 feet in breadth. Their houses are mostly of one and the same shape, without any special embellishment or remarkable design.
When building a house, large or small,—for sometimes they build them as long as some hundred feet, though never more than twenty feet wide—they stick long, thin, peeled hickory poles in the ground, as wide apart and as long as the house is to be. The poles are then bent over and fastened one to another, so that it looks like a wagon or arbor as are put in gardens. Next, strips like split laths are laid across these poles from one end to the other.
This is then well covered all over with very tough bark. From one end of the house to the other along the center they kindle fires, and the area left open, which is also in the middle, serves as a chimney to release the smoke. Often there are sixteen or eighteen families in a house This means that often a hundred or a hundred and fifty or more lodge in one house. Usually, between 2 and 20 families lived in a single longhouse with sleeping platforms being 2 feet above the ground and food left to dry on the rafters. In addition to the castles the Iroquois also had smaller settlements which might be occupied seasonally by smaller groups, for example for fishing or hunting.
Total population for the five nations has been estimated at 20, before After the population dropped to around 6,, chiefly due to the epidemic of smallpox introduced by contact with European settlers. The typical clan consisted of about 50 to people. By the late s The Iroquois were building smaller log cabins resembling those of the colonists, but retaining some native features, such as bark roofs with smoke holes and a central fireplace. The Iroquois are a mix of horticulturalists , farmers, fishers, gatherers and hunters, though traditionally their main diet has come from farming. For the Iroquois, farming was traditionally women's work and the entire process of planting, maintaining, harvesting and cooking was done by women. Wild roots, greens, berries and nuts were gathered in the summer.
During spring, sap is tapped from the maple trees and boiled into maple syrup , and herbs are gathered for medicine. After the coming of Europeans, the Iroquois started to grow apples, pears, cherries, and peaches. Using these ingredients they prepared meals of boiled corn bread and cornmeal sweetened with maple syrup, known today as Indian pudding. Cornmeal was also used to make samp , a type of porridge with beans and dried meat.
Reports from early American settlers mention Iroquois extracting corn syrup that was used as a sweetener for cornmeal dumplings. The Iroquois hunted mostly deer but also other game such as wild turkey and migratory birds. Muskrat and beaver were hunted during the winter. Archaeologists have found the bones of bison, elk, deer, bear, raccoon, and porcupines at Iroquois villages. Lawrence and Great Lakes areas. The Iroquois used nets made from vegetable fiber with weights of pebbles for fishing. Lawrence became too polluted by industry. In the spring the Iroquois netted, and in the winter fishing holes were made in the ice. In Johannes Megapolensis described Mohawk traditional wear. In summer they go naked, having only their private parts covered with a patch.
The children and young folks to ten, twelve and fourteen years of age go stark naked. In winter, they hang about them simply an undressed deer or bear or panther skin; or they take some beaver and otter skins, wild cat, racoon, martin, otter, mink, squirrel or such like skins On their feet the Iroquois wore moccasins , "true to nature in its adjustment to the foot, beautiful in its materials and finish, and durable as an article of apparel. The moccason is made of one piece of deer-skin. It is seamed up at the heel, and also in front, above the foot, leaving the bottom of the moccasin without a seam. In front the deer-skin is gathered, in place of being crimped; over this part porcupine quills or beads are worked, in various patterns.
The plain moccasin rises several inches above the ankle In Dutch official Adriaen van der Donck wrote:. Around their waist they all [i. The men pull a length of duffel cloth—if they have it—under this belt, front and rear, and pass it between the legs. It is over half an ell [35 centimetres 14 in ] wide and nine quarter-ells [ centimetres 61 in ] long, which leaves a square flap hanging down in front and back Before duffel cloth was common in that country, and sometimes even now when it cannot be had, they took for that purpose some dressed leather or fur—The women also wear a length of woolen cloth of full width [ centimetres 65 in ] and an ell and a quarter [90 centimetres 35 in ] long, which comes halfway down the leg.
It is like a petticoat, but under it, next to the body, they wear a deerskin which also goes around the waist and ends in cleverly cut pointed edging and fringes. The wealthier women and those who have a liking for it wear such skirts wholly embroidered with wampum As for covering the upper part of the body both men and women use a sheet of duffel cloth of full width, i. It is usually worn over the right shoulder and tied in a knot around the waist and from there hangs down to the feet. During the 17th century, Iroquois clothing changed rapidly as a result of the introduction of scissors and needles obtained from the Europeans, and the British scholar Michael Johnson has cautioned that European accounts of Iroquois clothing from the latter 17th century may not have entirely reflected traditional pre-contact Iroquois clothing.
By the late 18th century, women were wearing muslin or calico long, loose-fitting overdresses. By the s most Iroquois were wearing the same clothing as their non-Iroquois neighbors. Today most nations only wear their traditional clothing to ceremonies or special events. Men wore a cap with a single long feather rotating in a socket called a gustoweh. Later, feathers in the gustoweh denote the wearer's tribe by their number and positioning. The Mohawk wear three upright feathers, the Oneida two upright and one down. The Onondaga wear one feather pointing upward and another pointing down.
The Cayuga have a single feather at a forty-five degree angle. The Seneca wear a single feather pointing up, and the Tuscarora have no distinguishing feathers. It requires two yards of cloth, which is worn with the selvedge at the top and bottom; the skirt being secured about the waist and descending nearly to the top of the moccasin. In front it is generally buttoned with silver broaches. The women wore their hair very long and tied together at the back, or "tied at the back of the head and folded into a tress of about a hand's length, like a beaver tail On the top of their heads they have a streak of hair from the forehead to the neck, about the breadth of three fingers, and this they shorten until it is about two or three fingers long, and it stands right on end like a cock's comb or hog's bristles; on both sides of this cock's comb they cut all the hair short, except for the aforesaid locks, and they also leave on the bare places here and there small locks, such as aree in sweeping brushes and then they are in fine array.
The women did not paint their faces. The men "paint their faces red, blue, etc. The Iroquois have historically followed a matriarchal system. Men and women have traditionally had separate roles but both hold real power in the Nations. No person is entitled to 'own' land, but it is believed that the Creator appointed women as stewards of the land. Traditionally, the Clan Mothers appoint leaders, as they have raised children and are therefore held to a higher regard. By the same token, if a leader does not prove sound, becomes corrupt or does not listen to the people, the Clan Mothers have the power to strip him of his leadership. The chief's sister has historically been responsible for nominating his successor.
The Iroquois have traditionally followed a matrilineal system , and hereditary leadership passes through the female line of descent, that is, from a mother to her children. The children of a traditional marriage belong to their mother's clan and gain their social status through hers. Her brothers are important teachers and mentors to the children, especially introducing boys to men's roles and societies. If a couple separates, the woman traditionally keeps the children. Historically women have held the dwellings, horses and farmed land, and a woman's property before marriage has stayed in her possession without being mixed with that of her husband.
The work of a woman's hands is hers to do with as she sees fit. Historically, at marriage, a young couple lived in the longhouse of the wife's family matrilocality. A woman choosing to divorce a shiftless or otherwise unsatisfactory husband is able to ask him to leave the dwelling and take his possessions with him. Like many cultures, the Iroquois' spiritual beliefs changed over time and varied across tribes. Generally, the Iroquois believed in numerous deities, including the Great Spirit , the Thunderer, and the Three Sisters the spirits of beans, maize, and squash.
The Great Spirit was thought to have created plants, animals, and humans to control "the forces of good in nature", and to guide ordinary people. Sources provide different stories about Iroquois creation beliefs. Aientsik's daughter Tekawerahkwa gave birth to twins, Tawiskaron, who created vicious animals and river rapids, while Okwiraseh created "all that is pure and beautiful". Saraydar suggests the Iroquois do not see the twins as polar opposites but understood their relationship to be more complex, noting "Perfection is not to be found in gods or humans or the worlds they inhabit. Descriptions of Iroquois spiritual history consistently refer to dark times of terror and misery prior to the Iroquois Confederacy, ended by the arrival of the Great Peacemaker.
Tradition asserts that the Peacemaker demonstrated his authority as the Creator's messenger by climbing a tall tree above a waterfall, having the people cut down the tree, and reappearing the next morning unharmed. The Seneca sachem Handsome Lake , also known as Ganeodiyo,  introduced a new religious system to the Iroquois in the late 18th century,  which incorporated Quaker beliefs along with traditional Iroquoian culture. Dreams play a significant role in Iroquois spirituality, providing information about a person's desires and prompting individuals to fulfill dreams. To communicate upward, humans can send prayers to spirits by burning tobacco. Iroquois ceremonies are primarily concerned with farming, healing, and thanksgiving. During healing ceremonies, a carved "False Face Mask" is worn to represent spirits in a tobacco-burning and prayer ritual.
False Face Masks are carved in living trees, then cut free to be painted and decorated. The Iroquois have three different medical societies. The False Face Company conducts rituals to cure sick people by driving away spirits; the Husk Face Society is made up of those who had dreams seen as messages from the spirits and the Secret Medicine Society likewise conducts rituals to cure the sick. B Husk Face Society : 5 Masks made of braided corn. C False Face Society : 6 Whistling masks; 7 Masks with smiling faces; 8 Masks with protruding tongues; 9 Masks with exaggerated hanging mouths; 10 Masks with exaggerated straight lops; 11 Masks with spoon-lips; 12 Masks with a disfigured twisted mouth.
The "crooked face" masks with the twisted mouths, the masks with the spoon lips and the whistling masks are the Doctor masks. Condolence ceremonies are conducted by the Iroquois for both ordinary and important people, but most notably when sachems died. Such ceremonies were still held on Iroquois reservations as late as the s. This journey is thought to take one year, during which the Iroquois mourn for the dead.
After the mourning period, a feast is held to celebrate the soul's arrival in the skyworld. Both men and women can be appointed as keepers of the faith by tribe elders. The Haudenosaunee thanksgiving address is a central prayer in Haudenosaunee tradition recited daily in the beginning of school days as well as social, cultural, and political events. The phrasing of the address may vary depending on the speaker butis still composed 17 main sections and ended with a closing prayer.
Within each of these sections, gratitude is given to each one for the gifts that they provide to humanity. The Iroquois traditionally celebrate six major festivals throughout the year. These celebrations have historically been oriented to the seasons and celebrated based on the cycle of nature rather than fixed calendar dates. This festival is traditionally held for one week around the end of January to early February, depending on when the new moon occurs that year. Iroquois art from the 16th and 17th centuries as found on bowls, pottery and clay pipes show a mixture of animal, geometrical and human imagery. At harvest time, Iroquois women would use corn husks to make hats, dolls, rope and moccasins. Deer, Snipe, Heron, and Hawk on the other among the Senecas.
The goals were two sets of poles roughly yards m apart. The game was played to a score of five or seven. The modern version of lacrosse remains popular as of A popular winter game was the snow-snake game. The game was played between two sides of up to six players each, often boys, but occasionally between the men of two clans. It was not thrown but slid across the surface of the snow. The side whose snake went the farthest scored one point. Other snakes from the same side which went farther than any other snake of the opposing side also scored a point; the other side scored nothing.
This was repeated until one side scored the number of points which had been agreed to for the game, usually seven or ten. The game was played using a wooden bowl about one foot in diameter and six peach-stones pits ground to oval shape and burned black on one side. A "bank" of beans, usually , was used to keep score and the winner was the side who won them all. Two players sat on a blanket-covered platform raised a few feet off the floor. To play the peach stones were put into the bowl and shaken. Winning combinations were five of either color or six of either color showing. Players started with five beans each from the bank. The starting player shook the bowl; if he shook a five the other player paid him one bean, if a six five beans.
If he shook either he got to shake again. If he shook anything else the turn passed to his opponent. All his winnings were handed over to a "manager" or "managers" for his side. If a player lost all of his beans another player from his side took his place and took five beans from the bank. Once all beans had been taken from the bank the game continued, but with the draw of beans now coming from the winnings of the player's side, which were kept out of sight so that no one but the managers knew how the game was going. The game was finished when one side had won all the beans. The game sometimes took quite a while to play, depending on the starting number of beans, and games lasting more than a day were common.
The First Nations Lacrosse Association is recognized by the Federation of International Lacrosse as a sovereign state for international lacrosse competitions. It is the only sport in which the Iroquois field national teams and the only indigenous people 's organization sanctioned for international competition by any world sporting governing body.
Each clan has a group of personal names which may be used to name members. The clan mother is responsible for keeping track of those names not in use, which may then be reused to name infants. When a child becomes an adult he takes a new "adult" name in place of his "baby" name. Some names are reserved for chiefs or faith keepers, and when a person assumes that office he takes the name in a ceremony in which he is considered to "resuscitate" the previous holder. If a chief resigns or is removed he gives up the name and resumes his previous one. Although the Iroquois are sometimes mentioned as examples of groups who practiced cannibalism , the evidence is mixed as to whether such a practice could be said to be widespread among the Six Nations, and to whether it was a notable cultural feature.
Some anthropologists have found evidence of ritual torture and cannibalism at Iroquois sites, for example, among the Onondaga in the sixteenth century. Sanday reminds us that the ferocity of the Iroquois' rituals "cannot be separated from the severity of conditions A common theme is ritualistic roasting and eating the heart of a captive who has been tortured and killed. Haudenosaunee peoples participated in "mourning wars" to obtain captives. Leland Donald suggests in "Slavery in Indigenous North America" that captives and slaves were interchangeable roles.
To obtain slaves, Haudenosaunee peoples battled in "mourning wars". During these journeys, slaves were routinely tortured or even killed by their captors. Slaves were mutilated and beaten for several days upon arrival by Haudenosaunee warriors. The Iroquois have absorbed many other individuals from various peoples into their tribes as a result of adopting war captives and giving refuge to displaced peoples. When such adoptees become fully assimilated, they are considered full members of their adoptive families, clans, and tribes. Historically, such adoptees have married into the tribes, and some have become chiefs or respected elders. Slaves brought onto Haudenosaunee territory were mainly adopted into families or kin groups that had lost a person.
That being said, the role of a slave was not a limited position and whenever slaves were available for capture they were taken, no matter their age, race, gender etc. Once adopted, slaves in Haudenosaunee communities had potential to move up in society. Slaves were often tortured once captured by the Haudenosaunee. Torture methods consisted of, most notably, finger mutilation, among other things. Language played another role in Haudenosaunee slavery practices. Slaves were often referred to as "domestic animals" or "dogs" which were equivalent to the word to "slave". Inevitably, Haudenosaunee slavery practices changed after European contact. With the arrival of European diseases came the increase in Haudenosaunee peoples taking captives as their population kept decreasing.
The difficulty of controlling these slaves in large numbers ended Haudenosaunee slavery practices. Sachemships are hereditary within a clan. When a position becomes vacant a candidate is selected from among the members of the clan and "raised up" by a council of all sachems. The new sachem gives up his old name and is thereafter addressed by the title. When anthropologist Lewis Henry Morgan studied the Grand Council in the 19th century, he interpreted it as a central government.
This interpretation became influential, but Richter argues that while the Grand Council served an important ceremonial role, it was not a government in the sense that Morgan thought. A central government that develops policy and implements it for the people at large is not the Iroquois model of government. Unanimity in public acts was essential to the Council. The women traditionally held real power, particularly the power to veto treaties or declarations of war. If any leader failed to comply with the wishes of the women of his tribe and the Great Law of Peace, the mother of his clan could demote him, a process called " knocking off the horns ". The deer antlers, an emblem of leadership, were removed from his headgear, thus returning him to private life.
Councils of the mothers of each tribe were held separately from the men's councils. The women used men as runners to send word of their decisions to concerned parties, or a woman could appear at the men's council as an orator, presenting the view of the women. Women often took the initiative in suggesting legislation. The term "wampum" refers to beads made from purple and white mollusk shells on threads of elm bark. For white colored beads the shells from the channeled whelk Busycotypus canaliculatus , knobbed whelk Busycon carica , lightning whelk Sinistrofulgur perversum , and snow whelk Sinistrofulgur laeostomum are used.
Wampum was primarily used to make wampum belts by the Iroquois, which Iroquois tradition claims was invented by Hiawatha to console chiefs and clan mothers who lost family members to war. Treaty making often involved wampum belts to signify the importance of the treaty. All non-Native settlers are, by associations, members of this treaty. Both chiefs and clan mothers wear wampum belts as symbol of their offices. The belt has a design of thirteen human figures representing symbolically the Thirteen Colonies of the United States.
The house and the two figures directly next to the house represent the Iroquois people and the symbolic longhouse. The figure on the left of the house represent the Seneca Nation who are the symbolic guardians of the western door western edge of Iroquois territory and the figure to the right of the house represents the Mohawk who are the keepers of the eastern door eastern edge of Iroquois territory. The Hiawatha belt is the national belt of the Iroquois and is represented in the Iroquois Confederacy flag.
The belt has four squares and a tree in the middle which represents the original five nations of the Iroquois. Going from left to right the squares represent the Seneca, Cayuga, Oneida and Mohawk. The Onondaga are represented by an eastern white pine which represents the Tree of Peace. Traditionally the Onondaga are the peace keepers of the confederacy. The placement of the nations on the belt represents the actually geographical distribution of the six nations over their shared territory, with the Seneca in the far west and the Mohawk in the far east of Iroquois territory. The Haudenosaunee flag created in the s is based on the Hiawatha Belt The tree symbol in the center represents an Eastern White Pine , the needles of which are clustered in groups of five.
Historians in the 20th century have suggested the Iroquois system of government influenced the development of the United States's government,   although the extent and nature of this influence has been disputed. Prominent individuals such as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were often in attendance. Giving each member the same amount of authority in the council ensured no man received too much power, providing some of the same effect as the United States's future system of checks and balances. Consensus has not been reached on how influential the Iroquois model was to the development of United States' documents such as the Articles of Confederation and the U. Scholars such as Jack N. Rakove challenge this thesis. Stanford University historian Rakove writes, "The voluminous records we have for the constitutional debates of the late s contain no significant references to the Iroquois" and notes that there are ample European precedents to the democratic institutions of the United States.
Mann wrote that while he agreed that the specific form of government created for the United States was "not at all like" that of the Iroquois, available evidence does support "a cultural argument — that the well-known democratic spirit had much to do with colonial contact with the Indians of the eastern seaboard, including and especially the Iroquois," and quoting Rakove "that prolonged contact between the aboriginal and colonizing populations were important elements [sic] in the shaping of colonial society and culture. Rather, he thinks Franklin was promoting union against the "ignorant savages" and called the idea "absurd". The anthropologist Dean Snow has stated that although Franklin's Albany Plan may have drawn inspiration from the Iroquois League, there is little evidence that either the Plan or the Constitution drew substantially from that source.
He argues that " The two forms of government are distinctive and individually remarkable in conception. Similarly, the anthropologist Elizabeth Tooker has concluded that "there is virtually no evidence that the framers borrowed from the Iroquois. Hewitt that was exaggerated and misunderstood after his death in The Haudenosaunee government has issued passports since , when Haudenosaunee authorities issued a passport to Cayuga statesman Deskaheh Levi General to travel to the League of Nations headquarters. More recently, passports have been issued since However, the British government refused to recognize the Iroquois passports and denied the team members entry into the United Kingdom. The first five nations listed below formed the original Five Nations listed from east to west, as they were oriented to the sunrise ; the Tuscarora became the sixth nation in Within each of the six nations, people belonged to a number of matrilineal clans.
The number of clans varies by nation, currently from three to eight, with a total of nine different clan names. According to the Worldmark Encyclopedia of Cultures and Daily Life, The Iroquois Confederacy had 10, people at its peak, but by the 18th century, their population had decreased to 4,, recovering only to 7, by In , tribal registrations among the Six Nations in the United States numbered about 30, in total, with the majority of 17, in New York. Some traditional members of the nations refuse to be counted. In the United States census , 80, people identified as having Iroquois ethnicity which is similar to identifying as European , with 45, claiming only Iroquois ancestry. Some lived at the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin on the reservation there counting some 21, according to the census.
Seneca-Cayuga Nation in Oklahoma has more than 5, people in Several communities exist to this day of people descended from the tribes of the Iroquois confederacy. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Northeast Native American confederacy. This article is about the Native American peoples. For other uses, see Iroquois disambiguation. This article may be too long to read and navigate comfortably. Please consider splitting content into sub-articles, condensing it, or adding subheadings. Please discuss this issue on the article's talk page. September Map showing historical in purple and currently recognized in pink Iroquois territory claims. Iroquoian tribes. Algonquian tribes.
See also: Beaver Wars. Main article: French and Indian Wars. See also: Six Nations land cessions. The four "Mohawk Kings" who travelled to London in Main article: Indian termination policy. See also: Iroquois settlement of the north shore of Lake Ontario. Further information: Economy of the Iroquois. See also: Three Sisters agriculture. Main article: Iroquois ethnobotany. Further information: Iroquois mythology.
See also: Iroquois music. Main article: Great Law of Peace. See also: Wampum. Further information: Iroquois passport. See also: Iroquois kinship. Indigenous peoples of the Americas portal. As the tribes were competitors and often enemies, the coastal peoples referred to the other tribes in terms that reflected their relations. The coastal tribes were among the large family of Algonquian language speakers, such as the Eastern Amerindians of Canada M'ik Maq and others , and the Lenape of the mid-Atlantic and Powhatan Confederacy of Virginia. The editors add, that Iroquois was a polite name from such people, and its meaning is 'from the south', people of the south, or such similar name.
They had been a regional military power , having subjugated several Delaware tribes and defeated two tribes of the Iroquois between and The Editors of American Heritage Book of Indians said that one French observer hypothesized that by the end of , the adopted Iroquois may have outnumbered native-born tribesmen due to the decades of intertribal warfare. During that time frame, the Iroquois had repeated clashes with French-supported Algonquian tribes, seeking control over the fur trade. In addition they defeated the Erie people, and the Susquehannock suffered defeats, as well as high mortality from infectious disease. Houses and House-Life of the American Aborigines.
Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. Retrieved October 28, January Ontario became involved because of a protest at the Douglas Creek Estates, a housing development under construction in Caledonia. The development sits on part of the lands being claimed by the Six Nations. Ontario is working with the Six Nations, surrounding municipalities and other interested parties to strengthen relationships and promote reconciliation.
On this page Skip this page navigation. The Six Nations claims The Six Nations of Grand River are seeking compensation as well as an accounting of what happened to their property, money and other assets in southwestern Ontario, within the Haldimand Tract.Here is a website with pictures of Indian fishing all my friends are falling in love. They finally sold all my friends are falling in love British colonists their remaining claim to the Stomatitis Case Study south of the Ohio in at the Overhead Costs: The Cost Of Owning A Car Head Injuries: The Importance Of Concussions In Sports Fort Stanwix. Northeast Native American confederacy. Each nation Prometheuss Suffering In The Book Anthem weighed their options to come Prometheuss Suffering In The Book Anthem with a final stance that ultimately broke neutrality and ended the collective agreement of the Confederation. At the meeting, representatives of the six Indian nations and seven colonies heard Benjamin Overhead Costs: The Cost Of Owning A Car.