Thursday, February 11, 2010

HUM 221: Iroquois confederation (People of the Long House), origins

Read the traditional account of the origin of the Iroquois Confederation also known as the Five (later Six) Nations or the People of the Long House (Haudenosaunee) on the Indigenous People website. Another version of the story is available on the Native American Lore Index Page website. Compare the tradtional stories to the historical accounts available elsewhere on the World Wide Web, and see what information you can find about a relationship between the Iroquois Confederation and the creation of a federal government in America after the Revolutionary War. Post your answers to the following questions:
  • Does the traditional story of De-Ka-Nah-Wi-Da (Peacemaker) and Hiawatha remind you of other legends? Which ones? What specific details remind you of other myths and/or origin stories?
  • How does the story of the Peacemaker, Hiawatha and the Iroquois compare to our Thanksgiving story as an origin myth?
  • What values of the Haudenosaunee people are reflected in the origin story? Be specific.
  • Historians have different opinions on how much Ben Franklin and the Founders were influenced by the Iroquois. Based on your reading, what do you think? Which viewpoint is most convincing to you?
  • What values of the Haudenosaunee people do you think are reflected in American democracy? Be specific.
Don't be afraid to think for yourself. As always, you'll learn more from your classmates than you do from me or the books we read.

16 comments:

calenevill said...

Hiawatha (also known as Ha-yo-went'-ha) who lived around 1550, was variously a leader of the Onondaga and Mohawk nations of Native Americans.
Hiawatha was a follower of Deganawidah, a prophet and shaman who was credited as the founder of the Iroquois confederacy, (referred to as Haudenosaune by the people). If Deganawidah was the man of ideas, Hiawatha was the politician who actually put the plan into practice. Hiawatha was a skilled and charismatic orator, and was instrumental in persuading the Iroquois peoples, the Senecas, Onondagas, Oneidas, Cayugas, and Mohawks, a group of Native Americans who shared a common language, to accept Deganawidah's vision and band together to become the Five Nations of the Iroquois confederacy. (Later, in 1721, the Tuscarora nation joined the Iroquois confederacy, and they became the Six Nations).
According to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Song of Hiawatha is based on Schoolcraft's Algic Researches and History, Condition, and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States. Schoolcraft seems to have based his "Hiawatha" primarily on the Algonquian trickster-figure Manabozho. There is none, or only faint resemblance between Longfellow's hero and the life-stories of Hiawatha and Deganawidah; see Longfellow's Hiawatha vs. the historical Iroquois Hiawatha.
Those who joined in the League were the Seneca, Onondaga, Oneida, Cayuga and Mohawks. Once they ceased (most) infighting, they rapidly became one of the strongest forces in 17th and 18th century northeastern North America. The League engaged in a series of wars against the French and their Iroquoian-speaking Wyandot ("Huron") allies. They also put great pressure on the Algonquian peoples of the Atlantic coast and what is now subarctic Canada and not infrequently fought the English colonies as well.

http://www.crystalinks.com/iroquois.html

Jessica said...

The Peacemaker (Dekanawidah) journeyed to all five nations of the Haudenosaunee - Mohawk, Onieda, Onandaga, Cayuga, and Seneca - asking each to stop warring and live in peace with each other. At each stop, he brought good fortune, and the people believed him. When he reached the Onandaga, in the middle of all five peoples, he met Tadadaho, an evil man who would not consent to the union with the others. The Peacemaker persuaded him to relent by promising him that he could watch over the Council Fire; Tadadaho believed he would be able to remain in control this way [to this day, the Onandaga are the people responsible for keeping the oral history of the Iroquois - The Faith Keepers.] When the representatives from the five nations reached the first League meeting, they had brought weapons. The Peacemaker had them bury their weapons beneath the Great Tree of Peace and admonished all who lived beneath the tree to always look ahead for the sake of the League. He then gave each an arrow. He broke an arrow to show that standing apart from each other, they are easily broken. He then bundled the arrows and failed to break them, showing the strength they will have if they stand together. He then told them that in the future people will come who do not understand the Tree and will hack its roots. When the tree begins to fall, they must hold the tree and keep it from hitting the ground. When they can hold it no longer, they must have their children hold the Tree, for it must never hit the ground.

http://www.campton.sau48.k12.nh.us/iroqconf.htm

TMAC said...

The Master Hilarion some hundreds of years ago incarnated as 'Hiawatha' and prepared the way of the native Americans [Indians] for the coming of the White Settlers, the American sixth sub race of our fifth race/type, which came from England and Europe.

The progress of evolution, of the need of the soul for new forms and incidentally for new land to expand and settle, the quelling and pushing back of the Atlantean branch known as the Red Indian, chiefly the Iroquois and later the Sioux, lead to the work of Hiawatha and De-ka-nah-wi-da who brought a relative peace between the warring and spiritually degenerating Indians amongst themselves and a certain reconciliation toward the incoming tide of the 'White Man.' There was of course much bloodshed and warring as we know between the native Americans and Colonising Americans/Canadians but this is inevitably the course of such things.

The Peacemaker (Dekanawidah) journeyed to all five nations of the Haudenosaunee - Mohawk, Onieda, Onandaga, Cayuga, and Seneca - asking each to stop warring and live in peace with each other. At each stop, he brought good fortune, and the people believed him. When he reached the Onandaga, in the middle of all five peoples, he met Tadadaho, an evil man who would not consent to the union with the others. The Peacemaker persuaded him to relent by promising him that he could watch over the Council Fire; Tadadaho believed he would be able to remain in control this way [to this day, the Onandaga are the people responsible for keeping the oral history of the Iroquois - The Faith Keepers.]

Jake Hill said...

Dekanawidah was a peacemaker that brought peace to other tribes.

mikefleshman said...

Quite another personage is the actual Hiawatha of Iroquoian tradition, certain of whose deeds and traits are incorporated in the poet's tale. Hiawatha was an Onondaga chieftain whose active years fell in the latter half of the sixteenth century. At that time the Iroquoian tribes of central New York were at constant war with one another and with their Algonquian neighbours, and Hiawatha conceived the great idea of a union which should ensure a universal peace. It was no ordinary confederacy that he planned, but an intertribal government whose affairs should be directed and whose disputes should be settled by a federal council containing representatives from each nation. This grandiose dream of a vast and peaceful Indian nation was never realized; but it was due to Hiawatha that the Iroquoian confederacy was formed, by means of which these tribes became the overlords of the forest region from the Connecticut to the Mississippi and from the St. Lawrence to the Susquehanna

http://www.oldandsold.com/articles26/indian-mythology-16.shtml

Shakeria said...

Peacemaker Dekanawidah was a good peacemaker..Hiawatha had tragedy when all three of his daughters died in one way or another....i didnt see any resemblance in the 2 poems...

Michael Hayes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lucas Baugher said...

Other names for the Iroquois are Haudenosaunee, People of the Longhouse, and the Six Nations. The Iroquois Indians lived in what is now New York State along the St. Lawrence River. The Iroquois Indians were know as the "Five Nations". The league was formed before European contact. The original five nations are Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, and Seneca. The Tuscarora joined later, after European contact, and became the sixth nation.

Michael Hayes said...

The story of the peacemanker reminds me of the story of Jesus. He went out spreading peace and perfroming mmiracles. Then, he sent Haiwatha to do the same. Then they met back up and joined the tribes together. It reminds me of Thanksgiving because it is about different groups of people getting together annually to celebrate peace between them. This is what our Thanksgiving is supposed to be about. The story shows that these people really valued peace and tranquility between tribes. I dont think that the early US had much influence from the Iroquois. There is no refernces in hisotical documents to suggest it and the idea of them influencing the US has aonly been around about 30 years. I think the idea would have been thought up a lot sooner if it was based in truth. I think that the ideas of equality and the system of checks and balances could be derived from the Iroquois history because every tribe had one thing that made it unique from the others, but no tribe had more power than the others. This is like checks and balances because one section of government can create legislation, but the other wo can shoot it down if they want.

Michael D. said...

I beleive the founding fathers, especially Benjamin Franklin were influenced by the Iroquois Confederacy.

"At the 1744 treaty council, by Franklin 's account, Canassatego, speaker for the great council at Onondaga, recommended that the colonies form a union in common defense under a federal government: "We are a powerful Confederacy, and by your observing the same methods our wise forefathers have taken, you will acquire much strength and power; therefore, whatever befalls you, do not fall out with one another."

In arguing for such a plan, Franklin stressed the fact that the individual nations of the confederacy managed their own internal affairs without interference from the Grand Council." - http://www.lightparty.com/Spirituality/Iroquois.html

According to Jerri-Jo Idarius "Franklin 's contact with the Iroquois influenced many key ideas for a new form of government federalism, equality, natural rights, freedom of religion, property rights, etc."

http://www.lightparty.com/Spirituality/Iroquois.html

Catey Rutschke said...

In the five nations passages, the "Spirits of the Sky Worlds" came down and blesses each of the Indian tribes with a certain kind of food. "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." It reminds me somewhat of a Thanksgiving that the Indians shared long ago.

http://www.ilhawaii.net/~stony/lore37.html

Roman said...

the story of hiawatha resembles bible stories where there is a divine power and disciples. it also shows a hierarchy of power like a modern day government with divided power of among the members.

Kathleen said...

The Iroquois and Colonial Federation

At Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 1744, Canassatego, the Iroquois Tadodaho, advised colonial representatives on Iroquois concepts of unity:

“Our wise forefathers established Union and Amity between the Five Nations. This has made us formidable; this has given us great Weight and Authority with our neighboring Nations. We are a powerful Confederacy; and by your observing the same methods, our wise forefathers have taken, you will acquire such Strength and power. Therefore whatever befalls, never fall out with one another.”

Benjamin Franklin probably first learned of Canassatego’s advice to the colonies as he set the sachem’s words in type. Franklin’s press issued Indian treaties in small booklets that enjoyed a lively sale throughout the colonies, from 1736 to 1762. Even before the Albany Congress, the first attempt to unify the colonies, Benjamin Franklin had been musing over the words of Canassatego. Using Iroquois examples of unity, Franklin sought to shame the reluctant colonists into some form of union in 1751 when he engaged in a hyperbolic racial slur: “It would be a strange thing … if Six Nations of Ignorant savages should be capable of forming such an union and be able to execute it in such a manner that it has subsisted ages and appears indissoluble, and yet that a like union should be impractical for ten or a dozen English colonies, to whom it is more necessary and must be more advantageous.” Actually, subsequent evidence shows that Franklin had a healthy respect for the Iroquois. He began his distinguished diplomatic career by representing Pennsylvania in treaty councils with the Iroquois and their allies, as he became a forceful advocate of colonial union.


Historian Bruce E. JohansenOn July 10, 1754, Franklin formally proposed his Plan of Union before the Albany Congress. Franklin wrote that the debates on the Albany Plan “... went on daily, hand in hand with the Indian business.” The Iroquois sachem Tiyanoga not only spoke for the roughly 200 Indians in attendance at the Albany Congress but also briefed the colonial delegates on Iroquois political systems, much as Canassatego had done 10 years earlier.

In drawing up his final draft of the Albany Plan for colonial unification, Franklin was meeting several diplomatic demands: the British, for control; the colonies, for autonomy in a loose confederation; and the Iroquois, for a colonial union similar to their own in form and function. For the British, the plan provided administration by a president general appointed by England. The individual colonies were to be allowed to retain their own constitutions, except as the plan circumscribed them. The retention of internal sovereignty within the individual colonies closely resembled the Iroquois system and had no existing precedent in Europe.
Ben Franklin seemed to use many of the Iroquois beliefs and stories. Although his ideas were originally shot down. the original thoughts are still present.

http://www.america.gov/st/peopleplace-english/2009/June/20090617110824wrybakcuh0.5986096.html

lena ater said...

the story of the peacemaker reminds me of the simpler times when everyone would trde this for that. no one would fight or argue about who gets what. the traditions were were past on and down from generations. It even reminds me of our own thanksgiving http://www.ihawai.net/stony/lore37.html

Cait131 said...

The Peacemaker is referred to as either Dekanawida and Deganawida, due to a a respect mark. Along with Hiawatha. The Founded of the Haudenosaunee, (also called the Iroquois Confederacy), which is a political/cultural union of many different Native American tribes. The union was known to create a powerful alliance of people in the Iroquoian people in Ontario, Ohio and some other places alone with those. Lived around 1550. Leader of Mohawk and Onondago nations of Native Americans too.

dave maziarz said...

The Master Hilarion some hundreds of years ago incarnated as 'Hiawatha' and prepared the way of the native Americans [Indians] for the coming of the White Settlers, the American sixth sub race of our fifth race/type, which came from England and Europe.

The progress of evolution, of the need of the soul for new forms and incidentally for new land to expand and settle, the quelling and pushing back of the Atlantean branch known as the Red Indian, chiefly the Iroquois and later the Sioux, lead to the work of Hiawatha and De-ka-nah-wi-da who brought a relative peace between the warring and spiritually degenerating Indians amongst themselves and a certain reconciliation toward the incoming tide of the 'White Man.' There was of course much bloodshed and warring as we know between the native Americans and Colonising Americans/Canadians but this is inevitably the course of such things.

The Peacemaker (Dekanawidah) journeyed to all five nations of the Haudenosaunee - Mohawk, Onieda, Onandaga, Cayuga, and Seneca - asking each to stop warring and live in peace with each other. At each stop, he brought good fortune, and the people believed him. When he reached the Onandaga, in the middle of all five peoples, he met Tadadaho, an evil man who would not consent to the union with the others. The Peacemaker persuaded him to relent by promising him that he could watch over the Council Fire; Tadadaho believed he would be able to remain in control this way [to this day, the Onandaga are the people responsible for keeping the oral history of the Iroquois - The Faith Keepers.]