Iroquois Nation

1 January 2018

Iroquois League (Truer, 2013; Weatherboard, 2010). The purpose of this alliance was to develop peace and maintain stability between the various tribe members (Truer, 2013). These goals were achieved by instituting the Awakener (Great Law of Peace) (Weatherboard, 2010).

The Awakener contained many laws and guidelines that each tribal nation needed to abide by but it also contained two unique features. The first of these unique features is that each nation could enter into their own separate alliances outside of the League.As tribal demands for European goods increased, individual League Nations entered into alliances with both the Dutch and French explorers and settlers (Johnson, 2013). The second unique feature Of the Awakener was that it did not restrict how many tribes could join. At any point in time the League could vote to admit new members which occurred in 1 722 when the League voted and accepted the Tuscarawas tribe into their organization (Ibid). In the end the League was comprised of six different nations, the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca (Ray, 2011) and Tuscarawas (Weatherboard, 2010).Although each Nation in the League had its own tribal name, language, and story however all six nations were collectively known as the Heterogeneousness (People of the Longhouse) (Wright, 2003).

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The League was presided over by a group of male tribe members voted in by the females of their clans. In the European language this group of men were referred to as Confederacy Chiefs but within the Six Nations they were called the Rottenness (the Beloved Ones) or Peace Chiefs (Johnson, 2013). Sitting on the council was a total of fifty hereditary chiefs (sachems) who were appointed to the League since the day it was formed.When the League nuncio is broken down into individual tribes the council holds the following configuration; 10 Cayuga, 8 Seneca, 9 Mohawk, 14 Onondaga and 9 Oneidas (Ibid). Prior to the Revolution the Oneidas not only represented themselves on the council but they also acted as the voice for the Tuscarawas Nation as well since they had sponsored them into the League. Following the Revolution, the League added an additional 13 seats to the council for the Tuscarawas tribe (Ibid). It is clear from looking at the tribal council that numbers varied in how many war chiefs represented each tribe.

It has been suggested that this variation occurred because over time clans died out or they got so small they were folded into larger clans like occurred with the Huron between the year of 1649 to 1 656 (Ibid). Iroquois and European settlers have compared the Iroquois Confederacy to that of a Longhouse. This longhouse was divided into five different sections with the SΓ©ance’s in the west and the Mohawk in the east. These two tribes were said to be the keepers of ‘the doors”. The two tribes were thus placed in the role of being responsible for the defenses Of the Iroquois Confederacy.The Onondaga sat n the middle of the Longhouse and were responsible for tending the fire (symbolized the government). The final two tribes spoken of in the Longhouse analogy were the Oneida and Cayuga tribes who were viewed as the “younger brothers” of the Confederacy (Wright, 2003).

The analogy of the Longhouse made it easier for outsiders (e. G. Europeans, other tribes) to understand how the Iroquois Confederacy operated. The Iroquois Confederacy proved to be such a formidable union that in 1 744 Conestoga, Onondaga sachem suggested that the American colonies unify in the same manner (Wright, 2003).In fact during Canoeist’s speech, a thirty eightieth old writer, printer and philosopher wrote about the impact of this remarkable man’s speech saying: It would be a very strange thing if Six Nations of ignorant savages should be capable of forming a scheme for such a union, and be able to execute it in such a manner as that it has subsisted ages, and appears indissoluble; and yet that a like union should be impracticable for ten or a dozen English Colonies. ” (Wright, 2003; peg. 16) This writer was Benjamin Franklin, later known as the co-author of the American Constitution as well as he inventor of the lightning rod (Wright, 2003).

Unlike other cultures who trace their linage through patrimonial (father’s) line, Aboriginal tribes traced their linage through the matrilineal (mother’s) line (Johnson, 2013; Thomas 2000; Weatherboard, 201 0; Truer, 2013). Tracing the linage through the matrilineal lines left the women of the tribes in positions of great reverence and power (Truer, 2013) which was not just witnessed within the family but the community as a whole.For example, women not only had the power to vote in the League Chief for their tribe (Johnson, 2013) but they also had the rower to remove these individuals from their Chiefdom if they were deemed to act improper or because they had lost the confidence of their electorates (Weatherboard, 2010). Matrilineal lines also shaped the composition of tribal villages. The linage in conjunction with other “fireside” nuclear families are residing in one longhouse worked to create the close knit foundation for each tribal village (Ray, 201 1).The thirty to fifty longhouses located in each village worked to join the community together as a whole (Truer, 2013). Once again presiding over the community were the oldest female tribal members who ere also responsible for watching over their families as well (Ray, 2011 Watching over their family was no small thing for these elderly women since it was not uncommon for most longhouses to have forty to a hundred family members residing there at any point in time (Wright, 2003).

Such a high number of family members living together was not rare because in the Iroquois culture the female children did not leave their family longhouse.It is in this longhouse that the young couple will live out their lives raising not only their children but their grandchildren and great grandchildren as well. Any male children will remain in their family longhouse until he marries, however because inter- clan marriage was strictly forbidden in the Iroquois Nation (Johnson, 2013). Marriage meant that male children not only left their families but their villages as well. When leaving their family and village behind these young men were only permitted to take with them their personal possessions, weapons and clothing (Thomas, 2000).This was because all other items in the home and village were the possessions of the women, this included the family longhouse (Ibid). Iroquois villages did not move with the seasons nor did they move around or hunting, rather Iroquois villages stayed on the land until they needed new fertile land or because they were forced to move by the government and military.

When these required moves were undertaken the villages were located near a small lake or a river so that the villagers had easy access to drinking water Monsoons, 2013).The next step for setting up the new village is to protect it from attack. For the Iroquois this meant surrounding the village with a stockade as well as ditches and ramparts (Wright, 2003). The stockade will be large in size because it surrounds the thirty to fifty longhouses squired by the community. These protective measures are especially important because it was not uncommon for the men of the village to be gone for days, weeks, or months at a time due to hunting, trading or warring (Thomas, 2000).Since the Iroquois lifestyle required male villagers to be gone for long periods of time the daily running of the village was left in the hands of the female villagers. This meant that the women were not only caring for their children but also the elderly, sick, and injured.

The women also split their time between maintaining the village fields as well as gathering wild foods (e. G. Outs, berries, roots, fungi and fruits) (Johnson, 2013). In the life of the Iroquois the produce (e. G. Ron, beans, squash) grown in the village fields accounted for fifty to seventy-five percent of the villagers caloric intake (Ray, 2011 Due to the villager’s dependency on these items in their diets, the clans women spent a great deal of time planting, weeding and harvesting the village fields which could consist of up to one hundred acres of land for a new village ( Thomas, 2000). In conjunction with the produce harvested and gathered by the village Women the Iroquois diet also consisted of the meat (e.

. Bison, deer, bear, raccoon, porcupine, marten, etc. ) hunted and fished for by the male members of the village (Johnson, 2013).Fishing took place between spring and summer generally ending at the start of harvest time while the hunting began at the end of harvesting time and into mid-winter (Ibid). Hunting done by the Iroquois not only provided families with food but furs for warm clothing as well. When the tribes found themselves sitting with surpluses they would work to trade them with not only other tribes but European settlers as well. By the beginning of the 17th century the Iroquois rib found themselves fully immersed in the fur trade with the European settlers (Johnson, 2013).

As demands for furs increased with the Europeans so did the Iroquois demands for European goods (Ibid). This supply and demand cycle led to the scarcity of certain animals (e. G. Beavers) in some areas (e. G. Between Hudson and Geneses) while at other times it led to brattle wars between the Iroquois and other Native tribes (Heron’s and Patens 1649-1650, Neutrals 1650-1651, Aeries 1654-1656) (Ibid). The culmination of these various wars have now become known as the “Beaver Wars”.

The purpose of these attacks was to gain more hunting grounds and ultimately increase their trade with the Europeans (Ibid).In the end, trading benefited both the Iroquois and the settlers especially during periods of food shortages. During these periods of time trading partners could turn to one another for help either with food or other necessary items. The Iroquois tribe by itself was neither strong nor large however once they aligned themselves with five other tribes they became both larger and more powerful only out sized by the Cree. TO maintain peace and stability wrought their nation they came together as a unit and devised the Confederacy with input from all the individual tribes within the newly formed nation.

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