The Iroquois Book of Rites
Horatio Hale

Part 2 out of 5

performance in which they thus took part was merely a formality which
ratified, or rather proclaimed, a foregone conclusion. The
reconciliation which was prescribed by their constitution had
undoubtedly been arranged by previous conferences, after their custom in
such matters, before the meeting of the Council. [Footnote: For a
curious instance of the manner in which questions to be apparently
decided by a Council were previously settled between the parties, see
the _Life of Zeisberger_, p. 190: "Gietterowane was the speaker on
one side, Zeisberger on the other. These two consulted together
privately,--Zeisberger unfolding the import of the strings [of wampum
which he had brought as ambassador] and Gietterowane committing to
memory what he said."] So effective was this provision of their
constitution that for more than three centuries this main cause of
Indian wars was rendered innocuous, and the "Great Peace" remained
undisturbed. This proud averment of their annalists, confirmed as it is
for more than half the period by the evidence of their white neighbors,
cannot reasonably be questioned. What nation or confederacy of
civilized Europe can show an exemption from domestic strife for so long
a term?

The third rule or ordinance which the founders enacted "to strengthen
the house" is of a remarkable character. It relates to the mortuary
usages of the people; and when these are understood, the great
importance of this law becomes apparent. Among the Indians of the
Huron-Iroquois family the ordinary mourning for the dead became
exaggerated into customs of the most extravagant character, exhausting
the time and strength of the warriors, and devouring their substance.
The French missionaries have left us an account of these singular usages
among the Hurons, some of which excited their respect, and others their
astonishment. "Our savages," they wrote, "are in no way savage as
regards the duties which nature herself requires us to render to the
dead. You would say that their efforts, their toils and their commerce
had no other end than to amass the means of honoring the departed. They
have nothing too precious for this object. To this they devote their
robes of skins, their hatchets and wampum, in such profusion that you
would fancy they made nothing of them; and yet these are the riches of
their country. Often in midwinter you will see them going almost naked,
while they have at home, laid up in store, good and handsome robes,
which they keep in reverence for the dead. This is their point of
honor. In this, above all, they seek to show themselves magnificent."
[Footnote: Brebeuf, _Relation of_ 1636, p. 128.]

During the three days that preceded the burial of the dead, or the
removal of his remains to the scaffold, the wails, groans and
lamentations of the relatives and neighbors resounded in the cabin where
he lay. All the stored riches were brought forth and lavished in gifts
"to comfort the mourners." The mourning did not end with the burial; in
fact, it may be said to have then only begun. The "great mourning," as
the missionaries term it, lasted for six days longer, during which the
mourners lay, face downward, upon their mats, and enveloped in their
robes, speechless, or replying only by an ejaculation to those who
addressed them. During this period they had no fire in the house, even
in winter; they ate their food cold, and left the cabin only at night,
and as secretly as possible. The "lesser mourning" lasted for a year,
during which they refrained from oiling their hair, attended public
festivals rarely, and only (in the case of women) when their mothers
ordered, and were forbidden to marry again.

This, however, was not all. Once in twelve years was held a great
ceremony of re-interment,--a solemn "feast of the dead," as it was
called. Until the day of this feast arrived, funeral rites in honor of
the departed were repeated from time to time, and feasts were held, at
which, as the expression was, their names were revived, while presents
were distributed, as at the time of their death. The great Feast of the
Dead, however, was the most important of all their ceremonies. The
bodies of all who had died in the nation during the preceding twelve
years were then exhumed, or removed from the scaffolds on which they had
been laid, and the festering corpses or cleansed bones were all interred
together in a vast pit lined with robes of beaver skins, the most
precious of all their furs. Wampum, copper implements, earthenware, the
most valued of their possessions, were cast into the pit, which was then
solemnly closed with earth. While the ceremony was going on, rich
presents of all descriptions, the accumulations of the past twelve
years, were distributed by the relatives of the deceased among the
people. In this distribution, strange to say, valuable fur robes were
frequently cut and torn to pieces, so as to be rendered worthless. A
lavish display and reckless destruction of wealth were deemed honors due
to the shades of the departed. [Footnote: See the _Relation_ for
1636, p. 131. A most vivid and graphic description of these
extraordinary ceremonies is given in Parkman's admirable work, _The
Jesuits in North America_, Chapter 7.]

The Attiwandaronks, or Neutrals, who were the nearest neighbors of the
Iroquois, were still more extravagant in their demonstrations of
affection for their lost friends. They, too, had their feasts of the
dead, at regular intervals. In the meantime the bodies were kept in
their houses as long as possible--"until the stench became intolerable."
Then, when this proximity could no longer be borne, the remains were
left for a period to decay on a scaffold in the open air. After a time
the remaining flesh was removed from the bones, which were arranged on
the sides of their cabins, in full view of the inmates, until the great
day of general interment. With these mournful objects before their
eyes, renewing constantly the sense of their loss, the women of the
household were excited to frequent outbursts of grief, expressed in
wailing chants. [Footnote: "Cet object qu'ils ont devant les yeux, leur
renouvellant continuellement le resentiment de leurs pertes, leur fait
ordinairement letter des cris, et faire des lamentations tout a fait
lugubres, le tout en chanson. Mais cela ne se fait que par les
femmes."--_Relation_ of 1641, p. 73.]

That the Iroquois in ancient times had funeral customs similar to those
of their sister nations, and not less revolting, cannot be doubted. How
these shocking and pernicious usages were abolished at one swoop is
shown by the brief passage in the Book of Rites now under
discussion. The injunctions are laconic, but full of meaning. When a
death occurs, the people are told, "this shall be done." A delegation of
persons, officially appointed for the purpose, shall repair to the
dwelling of the deceased, bearing in a pouch some strands of mourning
wampum. The leader, holding these strands, and standing by the hearth,
shall address, in the name of the whole people, a few words of comfort
to the mourners. And then "they shall be comforted," and shall go on
with their usual duties. To this simple ceremony--supplemented, in the
case of a high chief, by the rites of the "Condoling Council,"--the
preposterous funeral usages, which pervaded the lives and wasted the
wealth of the other nations of this stock, were reduced, by the wisdom
of the Iroquois legislators.

In considering these remarkable laws, it becomes evident that the work
which Hiawatha and Dekanawidah accomplished was really a Great
Reformation, not merely political, but also social and religious. They
desired not only to establish peace among the nations, but also to
abolish or modify such usages and beliefs as in their opinion were
injurious to their people. It is deserving of notice that a divinity
unknown, at least in name, to the Hurons, received special reverence
among the Iroquois. The chief characters of the Huron pantheon were a
female deity, Ataensic, a sort of Hecate, whom they sometimes identified
with the moon, and her grandson, Juskeha, who was sometimes regarded as
the sun, and as a benevolent spirit, but most commonly in their stories
appears as a fantastic and capricious goblin, with no moral attributes
whatever. In the Iroquois mythology these deities are replaced by a
personage of a much higher character. Taronhiawagon, the Holder of the
Heavens, was with them the Master of Life. He declared his will to them
in dreams, and in like manner disclosed future events, particularly such
as were important to the public welfare. He was, in fact, the national
god of the Iroquois. It was he who guided their fathers in their early
wanderings, when they were seeking for a place of abode. He visited them
from time to time, in person, to protect them from their enemies and to
instruct them in useful arts.

It is possible that the Iroquois Taronhiawagon may have been originally
the same as the Huron Juskeha. Some eminent authorities on Indian
mythology are inclined to this opinion. On the other hand, the earlier
Jesuit missionaries give no hint of such identity, and the Tuscarora
historian, Cusick, seems to distinguish between these divine
personages. But whether we accept this view or seek for any other
origin, there seems reason to suppose that the more exalted conception
of this deity, who is certainly, in character and attributes, one of the
noblest creations of the North American mythologies, dates from the era
of the confederacy, when he became more especially the chief divinity
and protector of the Kanonsionni. [Footnote: See for Taronhiawagon the
Jesuit _Relations_ for 1670, pp. 47, 66, and for 1671, p. 17: also
Cusick, pp. 20, 22, 24, 34. For Juskeha, see the _Relation_ for
1635, p. 34; 1636, pp. 101-103; 1640, p. 92. Lafitau in one place makes
Tharonhiawagon a deified man, and in another the grandson of
Ataensic.--_Moeurs des Sauvages Ameriquains_, Vol. 1. p. 146 and
p. 244.]



After the declaration of the laws of the League, there follows a passage
of great historical importance. The speaker recites the names of the
chiefs who represented the Five Nations in the conference by which the
work of devising their laws and establishing their government was
accomplished. The native name of the confederacy is here for the first
time mentioned. In the guttural and rather irregular orthography of the
Book it is spelt _Kanonghsyonny_. The Roman Catholic missionaries,
neglecting the aspirate, which in the Iroquois pronunciation appears and
disappears as capriciously as in the spoken dialects of the south of
England, write the word Kanonsionni. It is usually rendered by
interpreters the "Long House," but this is not precisely its
meaning. The ordinary word for "long house" is _kanonses_ or
_kanonsis_,--the termination _es_ or _is_ being the
adjective suffix which signifies _long_. _Kanonsionni_ is a
compound word, formed of _kanonsa_, _house_, and _ionni_,
extended, or drawn out. The confederacy was compared to a dwelling which
was extended by additions made to the end, in the manner in which their
bark-built houses were lengthened,--sometimes to an extent exceeding two
hundred feet. When the number of families inhabiting these long
dwellings was increased by marriage or adoption, and a new hearth was
required, the end-wall,--if this term may be applied to the slight frame
of poles and bark which closed the house,--was removed, an addition of
the required size was made to the edifice, and the closing wall was
restored. Such was the figure by which the founders of the confederacy
represented their political structure, a figure which was in itself a
description and an invitation. It declared that the united nations were
not distinct tribes, associated by a temporary league, but one great
family, clustered for convenience about separate hearths in a common
dwelling; and it proclaimed their readiness to receive new members into
the general household. [Footnote: The people of the confederacy were
known as _Rotinonsionni_, "They of the Extended House." In the
Seneca dialect this was altered and abridged to Hotinonsonni, the n
having the French nasal sound. This word is written by Mr. Morgan,

The names of the six great chiefs who, as representatives of their
several nations, formed the confederacy, are in this narrative linked
together in a manner which declares their political kinship. The first
rulers or heads of the combined households were the Canienga Dekanawidah
with his "joint-ruler" and political son, the Oneida Otatsehte (or
Odadsheghte), whose union with Dekanawidah was the commencement of the
League. Next follows Otatsehte's uncle (and Dekanawidah's brother), the
Onondaga Wathadodarho (Atotarho), who is accompanied by his son, the
Cayuga Akahenyonh. The uncle of the Cayuga representative, the Seneca
chief Kanadariyu, and his cousin, Shadekaronyes, represent the two
sections into which the great Seneca nation was divided. The name of
Hiawatha does not appear in this enumeration. According to the uniform
tradition of the Five Nations, he was not merely present in the
convention, but was the leading spirit in its deliberations. But he did
not officially represent any nation. By birth a high chief of the
Onondagas, he had been but newly adopted among the Caniengas. Each of
these nations had entrusted its interests to its own most influential
chief. But the respect with which Hiawatha was regarded is indicated, as
has been already remarked, by his place in the list of fifty
councillors, with whose names the Book concludes. Though so recently
received among the haughty Caniengas, whose proud and jealous temper is
often noticed by the missionaries and other early observers, his name is
placed second in the list of their representatives, immediately
following that of Tekarihoken, the chief who stood highest in titular
rank among the nobles of the Kanonsionni, and whose lineage was perhaps
derived from the leader of their primitive migrations.

The tradition runs that when the political frame of their confederacy
had been arranged by the members of this convention, and the number of
senators who should represent each nation in the federal council had
been determined, the six delegates, with Hiawatha and some other
advisers, went through all the nations, selecting--doubtless with the
aid of a national council in each case--the chiefs who were to
constitute the first council. In designating these,--or rather,
probably, in the ceremonies of their installation,--it is said that some
peculiar prerogative was conceded to the Onondagas,--that is, to
Atotarho and his attendant chiefs. It was probably given as a mark of
respect, rather than as conferring any real authority; but from this
circumstance the Onondagas were afterwards known in the council by the
title of "the nominators." The word is, in the Canienga dialect,
_Rotisennakehte_,--in Onondaga, _Hotisennakehte_. It means
literally, "the name-carriers,"--as if, said one of my informants, they
bore a parcel of names in a bag slung upon the back.

Each of the other nations had also its peculiar name in the Council,
distinct from the mere local designation by which it was commonly
called. Thus the Caniengas had for their "Council name" the term
_Tehadirihoken_. This is the plural form of the name of their
leading chief, Tekarihoken. Opinions differ much among the Indians as
to the meaning of this name. Cusick, the Tuscarora historian, defines it
"a speech divided," and apparently refers it to the division of the
Iroquois language into dialects. Chief George Johnson, the interpreter,
rendered it "two statements together," or "two pieces of news together."
Another native informant thought it meant "one word in two divisions,"
while a third defined it as meaning "between two words." The root-word
of the name is the Canienga _orihwa_, or _karihwa_, (properly
_karihoa_), which is defined "thing, affair, speech, news."
[Footnote: See Bruyas, _sub voce Gorihoa_. Mr. Morgan (_League of
the Iroquois_, p. 97), who derived his information from the Senecas,
says that the name "was a term of respect, and signifies 'neutral,' or,
as it may be rendered, the shield." He adds, "its origin is lost in
obscurity."] It also apparently means office; thus we have the
derivatives _garihont_, "to give some charge of duty to some one,"
and _atrihont_, "to be an officer, or captain." The name is in the
peculiar dual or rather duplicative form which is indicated by the
prefix _te_ and the affix _ken_ or _ke_. It may possibly,
therefore, mean "holding two offices," and would thus be specially
applicable to the great Canienga noble, who, unlike most of his order,
was both a civil ruler and a war-chief. But whether he gave his name to
his people, or received it from them, is uncertain. In other instances
the Council name of a nation appears to have been applied in the
singular number to the leading chief of the nation. Thus the head-chief
of the Onondagas was often known by the title of _Sakosennakehte_,
"the Name-carrier." [Footnote: "Il y avait en cette bande un Capitaine
qui porte'le nom le plus considerable de toute sa Nation,
Sagochiendagehte."--_Relation_ of 1654, p. 8. Elsewhere, as in the
_Relation_ for 1657, p. 17, this name is spelt Agochiendaguete.]

The name of the Oneida nation in the Council was
_Nihatirontakowa_--or, in the Onondaga dialect,
_Nihatientakona_--usually rendered the "Great-Tree
People,"--literally, "those of the great log." It is derived from
_karonta_, a fallen tree or piece of timber, with the suffix
_kowa_ or _kona_, great, added, and the verb-forming pronoun
prefixed. In the singular number it becomes _Niharontakowa_, which
would be understood to mean "He is an Oneida." The name, it is said, was
given to the nation because when Dekanawidah and Hiawatha first went to
meet its chief, they crossed the Oneida creek on a bridge composed of an
immense tree which had fallen or been laid across it, and noted that the
Council fire at which the treaty was concluded was kindled against
another huge log. These, however, may be merely explanations invented in
later times.

The Cayugas bore in Council the name of _Sotinonnawentona_, meaning
"the Great-Pipe People." In the singular it is
_Sononnawentona_. The root of the word is _kanonnawen_, which
in composition becomes _kanonnawenta_, meaning pipe, or calumet. It
is said that the chief who in the first Council represented the Cayugas
smoked a pipe of unusual size, which attracted the notice of the

Finally the Seneca mountaineers, the _Sonnontowanas_, bore the
title, in the Canienga speech, of _Ronaninhohonti_, "the
Door-keepers," or literally, "they who are at the doorway." In the
singular this becomes _Roninhohonti_. In the Onondaga dialect it is
_Honinhohonta_. It is a verbal form, derived from _Kanhoha_,
door, and _ont_, to be. This name is undoubtedly coeval with the
formation of the League, and was bestowed as a title of honor. The
Senecas, at the western end of the "extended mansion," guarded the
entrance against the wild tribes in that quarter, whose hostility was
most to be dreaded.

The enumeration of the chiefs who formed the confederacy is closed by
the significant words, "and then, in later times, additions were made to
the great edifice." This is sufficient evidence that the Canienga "Book
of Rites" was composed in its present form after the Tuscaroras, and
possibly after the Nanticokes and Tuteloes, were received into the
League. The Tuscaroras were admitted in 1714; the two other nations
were received about the year 1753. [Footnote: The former date is well
known; for the latter, see _N. Y. Hist. Col._, Vol. 6, p. 311;
Stone's _Life of Sir William Johnson_, p. 434.]

An outburst of lamentation follows. The speaker has recited the names of
the heroes and statesmen to whom the united nations were indebted for
the Great Peace which had so long prevailed among them. He has recalled
the wise laws which they established; and he is about to chant the
closing litany, commemorating the fifty chiefs who composed the first
federal council, and whose names have remained as the official titles of
their successors. In recalling these memories of departed greatness his
mind is filled with grief and humiliation at the contrast presented by
the degeneracy of his own days. It is a common complaint of all
countries and all times; but the sentiment was always, according to the
missionaries, especially strong among the Indians, who are a
conservative race. The orator appeals to the shades of their ancestors,
in words which, in the baldest of literal versions, are full of
eloquence and pathos. The "great law" has become old, and has lost its
force. Its authors have passed away, and have carried it with them into
their graves. They have placed it as a pillow under their heads. Their
degenerate successors have inherited their names, but not their mighty
intellects; and in the flourishing region which they left, naught but a
desert remains. A trace, and not a slight one, of the mournful sublimity
which we admire in the Hebrew prophets, with a similar cadence of
"parallelism" in the style, will be noticed in this forest lament.

The same characteristics mark the chanted litany which closes the
address. There is not merely parallelism and cadence, but occasionally
rhyme, in the stanzas which are interspersed among the names, as is seen
in the oft-repeated chorus which follows the names composing each clan
or "class":--

Etho natejonhne,
Kayaterenhkowa. [Footnote: For the translation, see _ante_, p. 33.]

This litany is sung in the usual style of their mourning or religious
chants, with many long-drawn repetitions of the customary ejaculation
_haihhaih_,--an exclamation which, like the Greek "ai! ai!" belongs
to the wailing style appropriate to such a monody. The expressions of
the chant, like those of a Greek chorus, are abrupt, elliptical, and
occasionally obscure. It is probable that this chant, like the condoling
Hymn in the former part of the Book, is of earlier style than the other
portions of the work, their rhythmical form having preserved the
original words with greater accuracy. Such explanations of the doubtful
passages as could be obtained from the chiefs and the interpreters will
be found in the notes.

The chant and the Book end abruptly with the mournful exclamation, "Now
we are dejected in mind." The lament which precedes the litany, and
which is interrupted by it, may be said to close with these words. As
the council is held, nominally at least, for the purpose of condolence,
and as it necessarily revives the memory of the departed worthies of
their republic, it is natural that the ceremonies throughout should be
of a melancholy cast. They were doubtless so from the beginning, and
before there was any occasion to deplore the decay of their commonwealth
or the degeneracy of the age. In fact, when we consider that the
founders of the League, with remarkable skill and judgment, managed to
compress into a single day the protracted and wasteful obsequies
customary among other tribes of the same race, we shall not be surprised
to find that they sought to make the ceremonies of the day as solemn and
impressive as possible.

But there are other characteristics of the "Book of Rites," prominent in
the Canienga section, and still more marked in the Onondaga portion,
which may well excite our astonishment. They have been already noticed,
but seem to deserve fuller consideration. It will be observed that, from
beginning to end, the Book breathes nothing but sentiments of kindness
and sympathy for the living, and of reverence for the departed,--not
merely for the chief whom they have come to mourn, but also for the
great men who have preceded him, and especially for the founders of
their commonwealth. Combined with these sentiments, and harmonizing
with them, is an earnest desire for peace, along with a profound respect
for the laws under which they lived. The work in which these feelings
are expressed is a genuine composition of the Indians themselves, framed
long before they were affected by any influences from abroad, and
repeated among them for centuries, with the entire assent of the
hearers. It affords unquestionable evidence of the true character both
of those who composed and of those who received it.



The popular opinion of the Indian, and more especially of the Iroquois,
who, as Mr. Parkman well observes, is an "Indian of the Indians,"
represents him as a sanguinary, treacherous and vindictive being,
somewhat cold in his affections, haughty and reserved toward his
friends, merciless to his enemies, fond of strife, and averse to
industry and the pursuits of peace. Some magnanimous traits are
occasionally allowed to him; and poetry and romance have sometimes
thrown a glamour about his character, which popular opinion, not without
reason, energetically repudiates and resents. The truth is that the
circumstances under which the red and white races have encountered in
North America have been such as necessarily to give rise to a wholly
false impression in regard to the character of the aborigines. The
European colonists, superior in civilization and in the arts of war,
landed on the coast with the deliberate intention of taking possession
of the country and displacing the natives. The Indians were at once
thrown on the defensive. From the very beginning they fought, not merely
for their land, but for their lives; for it was from their land that
they drew the means of living. All wars between the whites and the
Indians, whatever the color or pretence on either side, have been on
both sides wars of extermination. They have been carried on as such wars
always have been and always will be carried on. On the side of the
stronger there have been constant encroachments, effected now by menace
and now by cajolery, but always prefaced by the display and the
insolence of superior power. On the side of the weaker there have been
alternations of sullen acquiescence and of fierce and fruitless
resistance. It is not surprising that under such circumstances the
character of each party has been presented to the other in the most
forbidding light.

The Indians must be judged, like every other people, not by the traits
which they display in the fury of a desperate warfare, but by their
ordinary demeanor in time of peace, and especially by the character of
their social and domestic life. On this point the testimony of
missionaries and of other competent observers who have lived among them
is uniform. At home the Indians are the most kindly and generous of
men. Constant good humor, unfailing courtesy, ready sympathy with
distress, and a truly lavish liberality, mark their intercourse with one
another. The Jesuit missionaries among the Hurons knew them before
intercourse with the whites and the use of ardent spirits had embittered
and debased them. The testimony which they have left on record is very
remarkable. The missionary Brebeuf, protesting against the ignorant
prejudice which would place the Indians on a level with the brutes,
gives the result of his observation in emphatic terms. "In my opinion,"
he writes, "it is no small matter to say of them that they live united
in towns, sometimes of fifty, sixty, or a hundred dwellings, that is, of
three or four hundred households; that they cultivate the fields, from
which they derive their food for the whole year; and that they maintain
peace and friendship with one another." He doubts "if there is another
nation under heaven more commendable in this respect" than the Huron
"nation of the Bear," among whom he resided. "They have," he declares,
"a gentleness and an affability almost incredible for barbarians." They
keep up "this perfect goodwill," as he terms it, "by frequent visits, by
the aid which they give one another in sickness, and by their festivals
and social gatherings, whenever they are not occupied by their fields
and fisheries, or in hunting or trade." "They are," he continues, "less
in their own cabins than in those of their friends. If any one falls
sick, and wants something which may benefit him, everybody is eager to
furnish it. Whenever one of them has something specially good to eat, he
invites his friends and makes a feast. Indeed, they hardly ever eat
alone." [Footnote: _Relation_ for 1636, p. 117.]

The Iroquois, who had seemed little better than demons to the
missionaries while they knew them only as enemies to the French or their
Huron allies, astonished them, on a nearer acquaintance, by the
development of similar traits of natural goodness. "You will find in
them," declares one of these fair-minded and cultivated observers,
"virtues which might well put to blush the majority of Christians. There
is no need of hospitals among them, because there are no beggars among
them, and indeed, none who are poor, so long as any of them are
rich. Their kindness, humanity and courtesy not merely make them liberal
in giving, but almost lead them to live as though everything they
possess were held in common. No one can want food while there is corn
anywhere in the town." It is true that the missionaries often accuse the
Iroquois of cruelty and perfidy; but the narrative shows that these
qualities were only displayed in their wars, and apparently only against
enemies whose cruelty and perfidy they had experienced.

We can now see that the plan of universal federation and general peace
which Hiawatha devised had nothing in itself so surprising as to excite
our incredulity. It was, indeed, entirely in accordance with the genius
of his people. Its essence was the extension to all nations of the
methods of social and civil life which prevailed in his own nation. If
the people of a town of four hundred families could live in constant
"peace and friendship," why should not all the tribes of men dwell
together in the same manner? The idea is one which might readily have
occurred to any man of benevolent feelings and thoughtful
temperament. The project in itself is not so remarkable as the energy
and skill with which it was carried into effect. It is deserving of
notice, however, that according to the Indian tradition, Hiawatha was
impelled to action mainly by experience of the mischiefs which were
caused in his own nation through a departure from their ordinary system
of social life. The missionaries, in describing the general harmony
which prevailed among the Hurons, admit that it was sometimes
disturbed. There were "bad spirits" among them, as everywhere else, who
could not always be controlled. [Footnote: _Relation of 1636_,
p. 118: "Ostez quelques mauvais esprits, qui se rencontrent quasi
partout," etc.] Atotarho, among the Onondagas, was one of these bad
spirits; and in his case, unfortunately, an evil disposition was
reinforced by a keen intellect and a powerful will. His history for a
time offered a rare instance of something approaching to despotism, or
the Greek "tyranny," exercised in an Indian tribe. A fact so strange,
and conduct so extraordinary, seemed in after-times to require
explanation. A legend is preserved among the Onondagas, which was
apparently devised to account for a prodigy so far out of the common
order of events. I give it in the words in which it is recorded in my
journal. [Footnote: This story was related to me in March, 1882, by my
intelligent friend, Chief John Buck, who was inclined to give it
credence,--sharing in this, as in other things, the sentiments of the
best among his people.]

"Another legend, of which I have not before heard, professed to give the
origin both of the abnormal ferocity and of the preterhuman powers of
Atotarho. He was already noted as a chief and a warrior, when he had the
misfortune to kill a peculiar bird, resembling a sea-gull, which is
reputed to possess poisonous qualities of singular virulence. By his
contact with the dead bird his mind was affected. He became morose and
cruel, and at the same time obtained the power of destroying men and
other creatures at a distance. Three sons of Hiawatha were among his
victims. He attended the Councils which were held, and made confusion in
them, and brought all the people into disturbance and terror. His bodily
appearance was changed at the same time, and his aspect became so
terrible that the story spread, and was believed, that his head was
encircled by living snakes."

The only importance of this story is in the evidence it affords that
conduct so anti-social as that of Atotarho was deemed to be the result
of a disordered mind. In his case, as in that of the Scottish tyrant and
murderer, "the insane root that took the reason prisoner," was doubtless
an unbridled ambition. It is interesting to remark that even his fierce
temper and determined will were forced to yield at last to the pressure
of public opinion, which compelled him to range himself on the side of
peace and union. In the whimsical imagery of the narrative, which some
of the story-tellers, after their usual fashion, have converted from a
metaphor to a fact, Hiawatha "combed the snakes out of the head" of his
great antagonist, and presented him to the Council changed and restored
to his right mind.



Few popular notions, it may be affirmed, are so far from the truth as
that which makes the Iroquois a band of treacherous and ferocious
ravagers, whose career was marked everywhere by cruelty and
devastation. The clear and positive evidence of historical facts leads
to a widely different conclusion. It is not going too far to assert
that among all uncivilized races the Iroquois have shown themselves to
be the most faithful of allies, the most placable of enemies, and the
most clement of conquerors. It will be proper, in justice to them, as
well as in the interest of political and social science, to present
briefly the principles and methods which guided them in their
intercourse with other communities. Their system, as finally developed,
comprised four distinct forms of connection with other nations, all
tending directly to the establishment of universal peace.

1. As has been already said, the primary object of the founders of their
League was the creation of a confederacy which should comprise all the
nations and tribes of men that were known to them. Experience, however,
quickly showed that this project, admirable in idea, was impossible of
execution. Distance, differences of language, and difficulties of
communication, presented obstacles which could not be overcome. But the
plan was kept in view as one of the cardinal principles of their
policy. They were always eager to receive new members into their
League. The Tuscaroras, the Nanticokes, the Tuteloes, and a band of the
Delawares, were thus successively admitted, and all of them still retain
representative in the Council of the Canadian branch of the confederacy.

2. When this complete political union could not be achieved, the
Iroquois sought to accomplish the same end, as far as possible, by a
treaty of alliance. Two notable examples will show how earnestly this
purpose was pursued, and how firmly it was maintained. When the Dutch
established their trading settlements on the Hudson River, one of their
first proceedings was to send an embassy to the Five Nations, with
proposals for a treaty. The overture was promptly accepted. A strict
alliance was formed, and was ratified in the usual manner by an exchange
of wampum belts. When the English took the place of the Dutch, the
treaty was renewed with them, and was confirmed in the same manner. The
wampum-belts then received by the Confederates are still preserved on
their Canadian Reservation, and are still brought forth and expounded by
the older chiefs to the younger generation, in their great
Councils. History records with what unbroken faith, through many
changes, and despite many provocations from their allies and many
enticements from the French rulers and missionaries, this alliance was
maintained to the last.

If it be suggested that this fidelity was strengthened by motives of
policy, the same cannot be affirmed of the alliance with the Ojibways,
which dates from a still earlier period. The annalists of the
Kanonsionni affirm that their first treaty with this widespread people
of the northwest was made soon after the formation of their League, and
that it was strictly maintained on both sides for more than two hundred
years. The Ojibways then occupied both shores of Lake Superior, and the
northern part of the peninsula of Michigan. The point at which they came
chiefly in contact with the adventurous Iroquois voyagers was at the
great fishing station of St. Mary's Falls, on the strait which unites
Lake Superior with Lake Huron; and here, it is believed, the first
alliance was consummated. After more than two centuries had elapsed, the
broken bands of the defeated Hurons, fleeing from their ravaged homes on
the Georgian Bay, took refuge among the Ojibways, with whom they, too,
had always maintained a friendly understanding. Their presence and the
story of their sufferings naturally awakened the sympathy of their
hosts. The rapid spread of the Iroquois empire created alarm. A great
agitation ensued among the far-dispersed bands of the Ojibway
name. Occasional meetings between hunting-parties of the younger
warriors of the two peoples,--the Iroquois arrogant in the consciousness
of their recent conquests, the Ojibways sullen and suspicious,--led to
bitter words, and sometimes to actual strife. On two occasions several
Ojibway warriors were slain, under what provocation is uncertain. But
the reparation demanded by the Ojibway chiefs was promptly conceded by
the Iroquois Council. The amplest apology was made, and for every slain
warrior a pack of furs was delivered. The ancient treaty was at the same
time renewed, with every formality. Nothing could more clearly show the
anxiety of the Iroquois rulers to maintain their national faith than
this apology and reparation, so readily made by them, at the time when
their people were at the height of their power and in the full flush of
conquest. [Footnote: The Ojibway historian, Copway, in his
"_Traditional History of the Ojibway Nation_" (p. 84), gives the
particulars of this event, as preserved by the Ojibways themselves. Even
the strong national prejudice of the narrator, which has evidently
colored his statement, leaves the evidence of the magnanimity and
prudence of the Iroquois elders clearly apparent.] These efforts,
however, to preserve the ancient amity proved unavailing. Through whose
fault it was that the final outbreak occurred is a question which the
annalists of the two parties differ. But the events just recounted, and,
indeed, all the circumstances, speak strongly in favor of the Iroquois.
They had shown their anxiety to maintain the peace, and they had nothing
to gain by war. The bleak northern home of the Ojibways offered no
temptation to the most greedy conqueror. To the Ojibways, on the other
hand, the broad expanse of western Canada, now lying deserted, and
stretching before them its wealth of forests full of deer, its lakes and
rivers swarming with fish, its lovely glades and fertile plains, where
the corn harvests of the Hurons and Neutrals had lately glistened, were
an allurement which they could not resist. They assumed at once the
wrongs and the territories of their exiled Huron friends, and plunged
into the long-meditated strife with their ancient allies. The contest
was desperate and destructive. Many sanguinary battles took place, and
great numbers of warriors fell on both sides. On the whole the balance
inclined against the Iroquois. In this war they were a southern people,
contending against a hardier race from the far north. They fought at a
distance from their homes, while the Ojibways, migrating in bands,
pitched their habitations in the disputed region.

Finally, both sides became weary of the strife. Old sentiments of
fellowship revived. Peace was declared, and a new treaty was made. The
territory for which they had fought was divided between them. The
southwestern portion, which had been the home of the Attiwandaronks,
remained as the hunting-ground of the Iroquois. North and east of this
section the Ojibways possessed the land. The new treaty, confirmed by
the exchange of wampum-belts and by a peculiar interlocking of the right
arms, which has ever since been the special sign of amity between the
Iroquois and the Ojibways, was understood to make them not merely allies
but brothers. As the symbol on one of the belts which is still preserved
indicates, they were to be as relatives who are so nearly akin that they
eat from the same dish. This treaty, made two centuries ago, has ever
since been religiously maintained. Its effects are felt to this
day. Less than forty years ago a band of the Ojibways, the Missisagas,
forced to relinquish their reserved lands on the River Credit, sought a
refuge with the Iroquois of the Grand River Reservation. They appealed
to this treaty, and to the evidence of the wampum-belts. Their appeal
was effectual. A large tract of valuable land was granted to them by the
Six Nations. Here, maintaining their distinct tribal organization, they
still reside, a living evidence of the constancy and liberality with
which the Iroquois uphold their treaty obligations.

3. When a neighboring people would neither join the confederacy nor
enter into a treaty of alliance with it, the almost inevitable result
would be, sooner or later, a deadly war. Among the nomadic or unsettled
Indian tribes, especially the Algonkins and Sioux, the young men are
expected to display their bravery by taking scalps; and a race of
farmers, hunters, and fishermen, like the Iroquois, would be tempting
victims. Before the confederacy was formed, some of its members,
particularly the Caniengas and Oneidas, had suffered greatly from wars
with the wilder tribes about them. The new strength derived from the
League enabled them to turn the tables upon their adversaries. But they
made a magnanimous use of their superiority. An enemy who submitted was
at once spared. When the great Delaware nation, the Lenapes, known as
the head of the Algonkin stock, yielded to the arms of the Kanonsionni,
they were allowed to retain their territory and nearly all their
property. They were simply required to acknowledge themselves the
subjects of the Iroquois, to pay a moderate tribute in wampum and furs,
and to refrain thenceforth from taking any part in war. In the
expressive Indian phrase, they were "made women." This phrase did not
even imply, according to Iroquois ideas, any serious humiliation; for
among them, as the French missionaries tell us, women had much
authority. [Footnote: "Les femmes ayant beaucoup d'autorite parmi ces
peuples, leur vertu y fait d'autant plus de fruit qu'autre
part."--_Relation of_ 1657, p. 48.] Their special office in war was
that of peace-makers. It was deemed to be their right and duty, when in
their opinion the strife had lasted long enough, to interfere and bring
about a reconciliation. The knowledge of this fact led the Lenapes, in
aftertimes, to put forward a whimsical claim to dignity, which was
accepted by their worthy but credulous historian, Heckewelder. They
asserted that while their nation was at the height of power, their
ancestors were persuaded by the insidious wiles of the Iroquois to lay
aside their arms, for the purpose of assuming the lofty position of
universal mediators and arbiters among the Indian nations. [Footnote:
Heckewelder's _History of the Indian Nations_, p. 56.] That this
preposterous story should have found credence is surprising enough. A
single fact suffices to disprove it, and to show the terms on which the
Delawares stood with the great northern confederacy. Golden has
preserved for us the official record of the Council which was held in
Philadelphia, in July, 1742, between the provincial authorities and the
deputies of the Six Nations, headed by their noted orator and statesman,
the great Onondaga chief, Canasatego. The Delawares, whose claim to
certain lands was to be decided, attended the conference. The Onondaga
leader, after reciting the evidence which had been laid before him to
show that these lands had been sold to the colonists by the Delawares,
and severely rebuking the latter for their breach of faith in
repudiating the bargain, continued: "But how came you to take upon you
to sell land at all? We conquered you. We made women of you. You know
you are women, and can no more sell land than women. Nor is it fit that
you should have the power of selling lands, since you would abuse
it. This very land that you now claim has been consumed by you. You have
had it in meat and drink and clothes, and now you want it again, like
children, as you are. But what makes you sell land in the dark? Did you
ever tell us that you had sold this land? Did we ever receive any part
of the price, even the value of a pipe-stem from you? You have told us a
blind story--that you sent a messenger to inform us of the sale; but he
never came among us, nor have we ever heard anything about it. And for
all these reasons we charge you to remove instantly. We don't give you
the liberty to think about it. We assign you two places to go, either to
Wyoming or Shamokin. You may go to either of those places, and then we
shall have you more under our eyes, and shall see how you behave. Don't
deliberate, but remove away; and take this belt of wampum." [Footnote:
Golden: _History of the Five Nations_, Vol. II, p. 36 (2d

This imperious allocution, such as a Cinna or a Cornelius might have
delivered to a crowd of trembling and sullen Greeks, shows plainly
enough the relation in which the two communities stood to one
another. It proves also that the rule under which the conquered
Delawares were held was anything but oppressive. They seem to have been
allowed almost entire freedom, except only in making war and in
disposing of their lands without the consent of the Six Nations. In
fact, the Iroquois, in dealing with them, anticipated the very
regulations which the enlightened governments of the United States and
England now enforce in that benevolent treatment of the Indian tribes
for which they justly claim high credit. Can they refuse a like credit
to their dusky predecessors and exemplars, or deny them the praise of
being, as has been already said, the most clement of conquerors?

4. Finally, when a tribe within what may be called "striking distance"
of the Confederacy would neither join the League, nor enter into an
alliance with its members, nor come under their protection, there
remained nothing but a chronic state of warfare, which destroyed all
sense of security and comfort. The Iroquois hunter, fisherman, or
trader, returning home after a brief absence, could never be sure that
he would not find his dwelling a heap of embers, smoldering over the
mangled remains of his wife and children. The plainest dictates of
policy taught the Confederates that the only safe method in dealing with
such persistent and unappeasable foes was to crush them utterly. Among
the most dangerous of their enemies were the Hurons and the eastern
Algonkins, sustained and encouraged by the French colonists. It is from
them and their historians chiefly that the complaints of Iroquois
cruelties have descended to us; but the same historians have not omitted
to inform us that the first acquaintance of the Iroquois with triese
colonists was through two most wanton and butcherly assaults which
Champlain and his soldiers, in company with their Indian allies, made
upon their unoffending neighbors. No milder epithets can justly describe
these unprovoked invasions, in which the Iroquois bowmen, defending
their homes, were shot down mercilessly with firearms, by strangers whom
they had never before seen or perhaps even heard of. This stroke of evil
policy, which tarnished an illustrious name, left far-reaching
consequences, affecting the future of half a continent. Its first result
was the destruction of the Hurons, the special allies and instigators of
the colonists in their hostilities. The Attiwandaronks, or Neutrals,
with whom, till this time, the Iroquois had maintained peaceful
relations, shared the same fate; for they were the friends of the Hurons
and the French. The Eries perished in a war provoked, as the French
missionaries in their always trustworthy accounts inform us, by a
perverse freak of cruelty on their own part.

Yet, in all these destructive wars, the Iroquois never for a moment
forgot the principles which lay at the foundation of their League, and
which taught them to "strengthen their house" by converting enemies into
friends. On the instant that resistance ceased, slaughter ceased with
it. The warriors who were willing to unite their fortunes with the
Confederates were at once welcomed among them. Some were adopted into
the families of those who had lost children or brothers. Others had
lands allotted to them, on which they were allowed to live by
themselves, under their own chiefs and their native laws, until in two
or three generations, by friendly intercourse, frequent intermarriages,
and community of interests, they became gradually absorbed into the
society about them. Those who suppose that the Hurons only survive in a
few Wyandots, and that the Eries, Attiwandaronks, and Andastes have
utterly perished, are greatly mistaken. It is absolutely certain that of
the twelve thousand Indians who now, in the United States and Canada,
preserve the Iroquois name, the greater portion derive their descent, in
whole or in part, from those conquered nations. [Footnote: "Ces victoires
lear caasant presque autant de perte qu'a leurs ennemis, elles ont
tellement depeuple leurs Bourgs, qu'on y compte plus d'Estfangers que de
naturels du pays. Onnontaghe a sept nations differentes qut s'y sont
venues establir, et il s'en trouve jusqu'a onze dans Sonnontoiian."
_Relation of_ 1657, p. 34. "Qui feroit la supputation des francs
Iroquois, auroit de la peine d'en trouver plus de douze cents
(i. e. combattans) en toutes les cinq Nations, parce que le plus grand
nombre n'est compose que d'un ramas de divers peuples qu'ils ont
conquestez, commes des Hurons, des Tionnontateronnons, autrement Nation
du Petun; des Attiwendaronk, qu'on appelloit Neutres, quand ils estoient
sur pied; des Riquehronnons, qui sont ceux de la Nation des Chats; des
Ontwaganha, ou Nation du Feu; des Trakwaehronnons, et autres, qui, tout
estrangers qu'ils sont, font sans doute la plus grande et la meilleure
parties des Iroquois." _Ret. de_ 1660, p. 7. Yet, it was this
"conglomeration of divers peoples" that, under the discipline of
Iroquois institutions and the guidance of Iroquois statesmen and
commanders, held high the name of the Kanonsionni, and made the
Confederacy a great power on the continent for more than a century after
this time; who again and again measured arms and intellects with French
generals and diplomatists, and came off at least with equal fortune; who
smote their Abenaki enemies in the far east, punished the Illinois
marauders in the far west, and thrust back the intruding Cherokees into
their southern mountains; who were a wall of defence to the English
colonies, and a strong protection to the many broken bands of Indians
which from every quarter clustered round the shadow of the "great pine
tree" of Onondaga.] No other Indian community, so far as we know, has
ever pursued this policy of incorporation to anything near the same
extent, or carried it out with anything like the same humanity. Even
towards the most determined and the most savage of their foes, the
Kanonsionni, when finally victorious, showed themselves ever magnanimous
and placable.

The common opinion of the cruelty of the Iroquois has arisen mainly from
the custom which they occasionally practiced, like some other Indians,
of burning prisoners at the stake. Out of the multitude of their
captives, the number subjected to this torture was really very
small,--probably not nearly as large in proportion as the number of
criminals and political prisoners who, in some countries of Europe, at
about the same time, were subjected to the equally cruel torments of the
rack and the wheel. These criminals and other prisoners were so tortured
because they were regarded as the enemies of society. The motives which
actuated the Iroquois were precisely the same. As has been before
remarked, the mode in which their enemies carried on their warfare with
them was chiefly by stealthy and sudden inroads. The prowling warrior
lurked in the woods near the Iroquois village through the day, and at
night fell with hatchet and club upon his unsuspecting victims. The
Iroquois lawgivers deemed it essential for the safety of their people
that the men who were guilty of such murderous attacks should have
reason to apprehend, if caught, a direful fate.

If the comparatively few instances of these political tortures which
occurred among the Iroquois are compared with the awful list of similar
and worse inflictions which stain the annals of the most enlightened
nations of Europe and Asia, ancient and modern,--the crucifixions, the
impalements, the dreadful mutilations--lopping of hands and feet,
tearing out of eyes--the tortures of the rack and wheel, the red-hot
pincers, the burning crown, the noisome dungeon, the slow starvation,
the lingering death in the Siberian mines,--it will become evident that
these barbarians were far inferior to their civilized contemporaries in
the temper and arts of inhumanity. Even in the very method of punishment
which they adopted the Indians were outdone in Europe, and that,
strangely enough, by the two great colonizing and conquering nations,
heirs of all modern enlightenment, who came to displace them,--the
English and the Spaniards. The Iroquois never burnt women at the
stake. To put either men or women to death for a difference of creed had
not occurred to them. It may justly be affirmed that in the horrors of
Smithfield and the Campo Santo, the innate barbarism of the Aryan,
breaking through his thin varnish of civilization, was found, far
transcending the utmost barbarism of the Indian. [Footnote: The Aryans
of Europe are undoubtedly superior in humanity, courage and
independence, to those of Asia. It is possible that the finer qualities
which distinguish the western branch of this stock may have been derived
from admixture with an earlier population of Europe, identical in race
and character with the aborigines of America. See Appendix, Note F. ]



As the mental faculties of a people are reflected in their speech, we
should naturally expect that the language of a race manifesting such
unusual powers as the Iroquois nations have displayed would be of a
remarkable character. In this expectation we are not disappointed. The
languages of the Huron-Iroquois family belong to what has been termed
the polysynthetic class, and are distinguished, even in that class, by a
more than ordinary endowment of that variety of forms and fullness of
expression for which languages of that type are noted. The
best-qualified judges have been the most struck with this peculiar
excellence. "The variety of compounds," wrote the accomplished
missionary, Brebeuf, concerning the Huron tongue, "is very great; it is
the key to the secret of their language. They have as many genders as
ourselves, as many numbers as the Greeks." Recurring to the same
comparison, he remarks of the Huron verb that it has as many tenses and
numbers as the Greek, with certain discriminations which the latter did
not possess. [Footnote: _Relation_ of 1636, pp 99,100.] A great
living authority has added the weight of his name to these opinions of
the scholarly Jesuit. Professor Max Muller, who took the opportunity
afforded by the presence of a Mohawk undergraduate at Oxford to study
his language, writes of it in emphatic terms: "To my mind the structure
of such a language as the Mohawk is quite sufficient evidence that those
who worked out such a work of art were powerful reasoners and accurate
classifiers." [Footnote: In a letter to the author, dated Feb. 14,
1882. In a subsequent letter Prof. Muller writes, in regard to the study
of the aboriginal languages of this continent: "It has long been a
puzzle to me why this most tempting and promising field of philological
research has been allowed to lie almost fallow in America,--as if these
languages could not tell us quite as much of the growth of the human
mind as Chinese, or Hebrew, or Sanscrit." I have Prof. Max Miller's
permission to publish these extracts, and gladly do so, in the hope that
they may serve to stimulate that growing interest which the efforts of
scholars like Trumbull, Shea, Cuoq, Brinton, and, more recently, Major
Powell and his able collaborators of the Ethnological Bureau, are at
length beginning to awaken among us, in the investigation of this
important and almost unexplored province of linguistic science.]

It is a fact somewhat surprising, as well as unfortunate, that no
complete grammar of any language of the Huron-Iroquois stock has ever
been published. Many learned and zealous missionaries, Catholic and
Protestant, have labored among the tribes of this stock for more than
two centuries. Portions of the Scriptures, as well as some other works,
have been translated into several of these languages. Some small books,
including biographies and hymn-books, have been composed and printed in
two of them; and the late devoted and indefatigable missionary among the
Senecas, the Rev. Asher Wright, conducted for several years a
periodical, the "Mental Elevator" (_Ne Jaguhnigoageswatha_), in
their language. Several grammars are known to have been composed, but
none have as yet been printed in a complete form. One reason of this
unwillingness to publish was, undoubtedly, the sense which the compilers
felt of the insufficiency of their work; Such is the extraordinary
complexity of the language, such the multiplicity of its forms and the
subtlety of its distinctions, that years of study are required to master
it; and indeed it may be said that the abler the investigator and the
more careful his study, the more likely he is to be dissatisfied with
his success. This dissatisfaction was frankly expressed and practically
exhibited by Mr. Wright himself, certainly one of the best endowed and
most industrious of these inquirers. After residing for several years
among the Senecas, forming an alphabet remarkable for its precise
discrimination of sounds, and even publishing several translations in
their language, he undertook to give some account of its grammatical
forms. A little work printed in 1842, with the modest title of "_A
Spelling-book of the Seneca Language_," comprises the variations of
nouns, adjectives and pronouns, given with much minuteness. Those of the
verbs are promised, but the book closes abruptly without them, for the
reason--as the author afterwards explained to a correspondent--that he
had not as yet been able to obtain such a complete knowledge of them as
he desired. This difficulty is further exemplified by a work purporting
to be a "_Grammar of the Huron Language, by a Missionary of the
Village of Huron Indians, near Quebec, found amongst the papers of the
Mission, and translated from the Latin, by the Rev. John Wilkie_."
This translation is published in the "_Transactions of the Literary
and Historical Society of Quebec_," for 1831, and fills more than a
hundred octavo pages. It is a work evidently of great labor, and is
devoted chiefly to the variations of the verbs; yet its lack of
completeness may be judged from the single fact that the "transitions,"
or in other words, the combinations of the double pronouns, nominative
and objective, with the transitive verb, which form such an important
feature of the language, are hardly noticed; and, it may be added,
though the conjugations are mentioned, they are not explained. The work,
indeed, would rather perplex than aid an investigator, and gives no
proper idea of the character and richness of the language. The same may
be said of the grammatical notices comprised in the Latin "Proemium" to
Bruyas' Iroquois dictionary. These notices are apparently modeled to
some extent on this anonymous grammar of the Huron language,--unless,
indeed, the latter may have been copied from Bruyas; the rules which
they give being in several instances couched in the same words.

Some useful grammatical explanations are found in the anonymous Onondaga
dictionary of the seventeenth century, published by Dr. Shea in his
"_Library of American Linguistics_." But by far the most valuable
contribution to our knowledge of the structure of this remarkable group
of languages is found in the works of a distinguished writer of our own
day, the Rev. J. A. Cuoq, of Montreal, eminent both as a missionary and
as a philologist. After twenty years of labor among the Iroquois and
Algonkin tribes in the Province of Quebec, M. Cuoq was led to appear as
an author by his desire to defend his charges against the injurious
effect of a judgment which had been pronounced by a noted authority.
M. Renan had put forth, among the many theories which distinguish his
celebrated work on the Semitic languages, one which seemed to M. Cuoq as
mischievous as it was unfounded. M. Renan held that no races were
capable of civilization except such as have now attained it; and that
these comprised only the Aryan, the Semitic, and the Chinese. This
opinion was enforced by a reference to the languages spoken by the
members of those races. "To imagine a barbarous race speaking a Semitic
or an Indo-European language is," he declares, "an impossible
supposition (_une fiction, conradictoire_), which no person can
entertain who is familiar with the laws of comparative philology, and
with the general theory of the human intellect." To one who remembers
that every nation of the Indo-European race traces its descent from a
barbarous ancestry, and especially that the Germans in the days of
Tacitus were in precisely the same social stage as that of the Iroquois
in the days of Champlain, this opinion of the brilliant French
philologist and historian will seem erratic and unaccountable. M. Cuoq
sought to refute it, not merely by argument, but by the logic of
facts. In two works, published successively in 1864 and 1866, he showed,
by many and various examples, that the Iroquois and Algonkin languages
possessed all the excellences which M. Renan admired in the
Indo-European languages, and surpassed in almost every respect the
Semitic and Chinese tongues. [Footnote: See _Jugement Errone de
M. Ernest Renan sur les Langues Sauvages:_ (2d edit.) Dawson
Brothers, Montreal: 1870; and _Etudes Philologiques sur quelques
Langues Sauvages de r Amerique. Par N. O., Ancien Missionaire_. Ibid:
1866. Also _Lexique de la Langue Iroquoise, avec notes et
appendices. Par J. A. Cuoq, Pretre de St. Sulpice_. J. Chapleau &
Fils, Montreal: 1882. These are all works indispensable to the student
of Indian languages.] The resemblances of these Indian languages to the
Greek struck him, as it had struck his illustrious predecessor, the
martyred Brebeuf, two hundred years before. M. Cuoq is also the author
of a valuable Iroquois lexicon, with notes and appendices, in which he
discusses some interesting points in the philology of the language. This
lexicon is important, also, for comparison with that of the Jesuit
missionary, Bruyas, as showing how little the language has varied in the
course of two centuries. [Footnote: _Radices Verborum Iroquaeorum.
Auctore R. P. Jacopo Bruyas, Societatis Jesu_. Published in Shea's
"_Library of American Linguistics_" For the works in this
invaluable Library, American scholars owe a debt of gratitude to
Dr. Shea's enlightened zeal in the cause of science and humanity.] The
following particulars respecting the Iroquois tongues are mainly derived
from the works of M. Cuoq, of Bruyas, and of Mr. Wright, supplemented
by the researches of the author, pursued at intervals during several
years, among the tribes of Western Canada and New York. Only a very
brief sketch of the subject can here be given. It is not too much to
say that a complete grammar of any Iroquois language would be at least
as extensive as the best Greek or Sanscrit grammar. For such a work
neither the writer, nor perhaps any other person now living, except M.
Cuoq himself, would be competent.

The phonology of the language is at once simple and
perplexing. According to M. Cuoq, twelve letters suffice to represent
it: _a, c, f, h, i, k, n, o, r, s, t, w_. Mr. Wright employs for
the Seneca seventeen, with diacritical marks, which raise the number to
twenty-one. The English missionaries among the Mohawks found sixteen
letters sufficient, _a, d, e, g, h, i, j, k, n, o, r, s, t, u, w,
y._ There are no labial sounds, unless the _f_, which rarely
occurs, and appears to be merely an aspirated _w_, may be
considered one. No definite distinction is maintained between the vowel
sounds _o_ and _u_, and one of these letters may be dispensed
with. The distinction between hard and soft (or surd and sonant) mutes
is not preserved. The sounds of _d_ and _t_, and those of
_k_ and _g_, are interchangeable. So also are those of _l_
and _r_, the former sound being heard more frequently in the Oneida
dialect and the latter in the Canienga. From the Western dialects,--the
Onondaga, Cayuga and Seneca,--this _l_ or _r_ sound has, in
modern times, disappeared altogether. The Canienga _konoronkwa_, I
esteem him (in Oneida usually sounded _konolonkwa_), has become
_konoenkwa_ in Onondaga,--and in Cayuga and Seneca is contracted to
_kononkwa_. Aspirates and aspirated gutturals abound, and have
been variously represented by _h, hh, kh_, and _gh_, and
sometimes (in the works of the early French missionaries) by the Greek
[Greek: chi] and the _spiritus asper_. Yet no permanent distinction
appears to be maintained among the sounds thus represented, and M. Cuoq
reduces them all to the simple _h_. The French nasal sound
abounds. M. Cuoq and the earlier English missionaries have expressed it,
as in French, simply by the _n_ when terminating a syllable. When
it does not close a syllable, a diaeresis above the n, or else the
Spanish _tilde (n)_ indicates the sound. Mr. Wright denotes it by a
line under the vowel. The later English missionaries express it by a
diphthong: _ken_ becomes _kea; nonwa_ becomes _noewa_;
_onghwentsya_ is written _oughweatsya_.

A strict analysis would probably reduce the sounds of the Canienga
language to seven consonants, _h, k, n, r, s, t,_ and _w_, and
four vowels, _a, e, i_, and _o_, of which three, _a, e, and
o_, may receive a nasal sound. This nasalizing makes them, in fact,
distinct elements; and the primary sounds of the language may therefore
be reckoned at fourteen. [Footnote: A dental _t_, which the French
missionaries represent sometimes by the Greek _theta_ and sometimes
by _th_, and which the English have also occasionally expressed by
the latter method, may possibly furnish an additional element. The Greek
_theta_ of the former is simply the English _w_.] The absence
of labials and the frequent aspirated gutturals give to the utterance of
the best speakers a deep and sonorous character which reminds the hearer
of the stately Castilian speech.

The "Book of Rites," or, rather, the Canienga portion of it, is written
in the orthography first employed by the English missionaries. The
_d_ is frequently used, and must be regarded merely as a variant of
the _t_ sound. The _g_ is sometimes, though rarely, employed
as a variant of the _k_. The digraph _gh_ is common and
represents the guttural aspirate, which in German is indicated by
_ch_ and in Spanish by _j_. The French missionaries write it
now simply _h_, and consider it merely a harsh pronunciation of the
aspirate. The _j_ is sounded as in English; it usually represents a
complex sound, which might be analysed into _ts_ or _tsi_;
_jathondek_ is properly _tsiatontek_. The _x_, which
occasionally appears, is to be pronounced _ks_, as in
English. _An, en, on_, when not followed by a vowel, have a nasal
sound, as in French. This sound is heard even when those syllables are
followed by another _n_. Thus _Kanonsionni_ is pronounced as
if written _Kanonsionni_ and _yondennase_ as if written
_yondennase_. The vowels have usually the same sound as in German
and Italian; but in the nasal _en_ the vowel has an obscure sound,
nearly like that of the short _u_ in _but_. Thus
_yondennase_ sounds almost as if written _yondunnase_, and
_kanienke_ is pronounced nearly like _kaniunke_.

The nouns in Iroquois are varied, but with accidence differing from the
Aryan and Semitic variations, some of the distinctions being more
subtle, and, so to speak, metaphysical. The dual is expressed by
prefixing the particle _te_, and suffixing _ke_ to the noun;
thus, from _kanonsa_, house, we have _tekanonsake_, two
houses. These syllables, or at least the first, are supposed to be
derived from _tekeni_, two. The plural, when it follows an
adjective expressive of number, is indicated by the syllable _ni_
prefixed to the noun, and _ke_ suffixed; as, _eso
nikanonsake_, many houses. In other cases the plural is sometimes
expressed by one of the words _okon_ (or _hokon_)
_okonha_, _son_ and _sonha_, following the noun. In
general, however, the plural significance of nouns is left to be
inferred from the context, the verb always and the adjective frequently
indicating it.

All beings are divided into two classes, which do not correspond either
with the Aryan genders or with the distinctions of animate and inanimate
which prevail in the Algonkin tongues. These classes have been styled
noble and common. To the noble belong male human beings and
deities. The other class comprises women and all other objects. It seems
probable, however, that the distinction in the first instance was merely
that of sex,--that it was, in fact, a true gender. Deities, being
regarded as male, were included in the masculine gender. There being no
neuter form, the feminine gender was extended, and made to comprise all
other beings. These classes, however, are not indicated by any change
in the noun, but merely by the forms of the pronoun and the verb.

The local relations of nouns are expressed by affixed particles, such as
_ke_, _ne_, _kon_, _akon_, _akta._ Thus, from
_ononta_ mountain, we have _onontake_, at (or to) the
mountain; from _akehrat_, dish, _akehratne_, in (or on) the
dish; from _kanonsa_, house, _kanonsakon_, or
_kanonskon_, in the house, _kanonsokon_, under the house, and
_kanonsakta_, near the house. These locative particles, it will be
seen, usually, though not always, draw the accent towards them.

The most peculiar and perplexing variation is that made by what is
termed the "crement," affixed to many (though not all) nouns. This
crement in the Canienga takes various forms, _ta, sera, tsera,
kwa._ _Onkwe_, man, becomes _onkweta_; _otkon_,
spirit, _otkonsera_; _akawe_, oar, _akawetsera_;
_ahta_, shoe, _ahhtakwa_. The crement is employed when the noun
is used with numeral adjectives, when it has adjective or other affixes,
and generally when it enters into composition with other words. Thus
_onkwe_, man, combined with the adjective termination _iyo_
(from the obsolete _wiyo_, good) becomes _onkwetiyo_, good
man. _Wenni_, day, becomes in the plural _niate_
_niwenniserake_, many days, etc. The change, however, is not
grammatical merely, but conveys a peculiar shade of meaning difficult to
define. The noun, according to M. Cuoq, passes from a general and
determinate to a special and restricted sense. _Onkwe_ means man in
general; _asen nionkwetake_, three men (in particular.) One
interpreter rendered _akawetsera_, "the oar itself." The affix
_sera_ or _tsera_ seems to be employed to form what we should
term abstract nouns, though to the Iroquois mind they apparently present
themselves as possessing a restricted or specialized sense. Thus from
_iotarihen_, it is warm, we have _otarihensera_, heat; from
_wakeriat_, to be brave, _ateriatitsera_, courage. So
_kakweniatsera_, authority; _kanaiesera_, pride;
_kanakwensera_, anger. Words of this class abound in the Iroquois;
so little ground is there for the common opinion that the language is
destitute of abstract nouns. [Footnote: See, on this point, the remarks
of Dr Brinton to the same effect, in regard to the Aztec, Qquichua, and
other languages, with interesting illustrations, in his _"American
Hero Myths"_, p. 25]

The adjective, when employed in an isolated form, follows the
substantive; as _kanonsa kowa_, large house; _onkwe honwe_ (or
_onwe_) a real man. But, in general, the substantive and the
adjective coalesce in one word. _Ase_ signifies new, and added to
_kanonsa_ gives us _kanonsase_, new house. Karonta, tree, and
_kowa_, or _kowanen_, great, make together
_karontowanen_, great tree. Frequently the affixed adjective is
never employed as an isolated word. The termination _iyo_ (or
_iio_) expresses good or beautiful, and _aksen_, bad or ugly;
thus _kanonsiyo_, fine house, _kanonsasken_, ugly house. These
compound forms frequently make their plural by adding _s_, as
_kanonsiyos_, _kanonsaksens_.

The pronouns are more numerous than in any European language, and show
clearer distinctions in meaning. Thus, in the singular, besides the
ordinary pronouns, I, thou, he and she, the language possesses an
indeterminate form, which answers very nearly to the French
_on_. The first person of the dual has two forms, the one
including, the other excluding, the person addressed, and signifying,
therefore, respectively, "thou and I," and "he and I." The first person
plural has the same twofold form. The third persons dual and plural have
masculine and feminine forms. Thus the language has fifteen personal
pronouns, all in common use, and all, it may be added, useful in
expressing distinctions which the English can only indicate by
circumlocutions. These pronouns are best shown in the form in which they
are prefixed to a verb. The following are examples of the verb
_katkahtos_, I see (root _atkahto_) and _kenonwes_, I
love (root _nonwe_), as conjugated in the present tense:--

_katkahtos_, I see.
_satkahtos_, thou seest.
_ratkahtos_, he sees.
_watkahtos_, she sees,
_iontkahtos_, one sees.
_tiatkahtos_, we two see (thou and I.)
_iakiatkahtos_, we two see (he and I.)
_tsiatkahtos_, ye two see.
_hiatkahtos_, they two see (masc.)
_kiatkahtos_, they two see (fem.)
_tewatkahtos_, we see (ye and I.)
_iakwatkahtos_, we see (they and I.)
_sewatkahtos_, ye see.
_rontkahtos_, they see (masc.)
_kontkahtos_, they see (fem.)

_kenonwes_, I love.
_senonwes_, thou lovest.
_rononwes_, he loves.
_kanonwes_, she loves.
_icnonwes_, one loves.
_teninonwes_, we two love (thou and I)
_iakeninonwes_, we two love (he and I)
_seninonwes_, ye two love.
_hninonwes_, they two love (masc.)
_keninonwes_, they two love (fem.)
_tewanonwes_, we love (ye and I.)
_iakwanonwes_, we love (they and I.)
_sewanonwes_, ye love.
_ratinonwes_, they love (masc.)
_kontinonwes_, they love (fem.)

It will be observed that in these examples the prefixed pronouns differ
considerably in some cases. These differences determine (or are
determined by) the conjugation of the verbs. _Katkahtos_ belongs to
the first conjugation, and _kenonwes_ to the second. There are
three other conjugations, each of which shows some peculiarity in the
prefixed pronouns, though, in the main, a general resemblance runs
through them all. There are other variations of the pronouns, according
to the "paradigm," as it is called, to which the verb belongs. Of these
paradigms there are two, named in the modern Iroquois grammars paradigms
K and A, from the first or characteristic letter of the first personal
pronoun. The particular conjugation and paradigm to which any verb
belongs can only be learned by practice, or from the dictionaries.

The same prefixed pronouns are used, with some slight variations, as
possessives, when prefixed to a substantive; as, from _sita_, foot,
we have (in Paradigm A) _akasita_, my foot, _sasita_, thy
foot, _raosita_, his foot. Thus nouns, like verbs, have the five
conjugations and the two paradigms.

Iroquois verbs have three moods, indicative, imperative, and
subjunctive; and they have, in the indicative, seven tenses, the
present, imperfect, perfect, pluperfect, aorist, future, and paulo-post
future. These moods and tenses are indicated either by changes of
termination, or by prefixed particles, or by both conjoined. One
authority makes six other tenses, but M. Cuoq prefers to include them
among the special forms of the verb, of which mention will presently be

To give examples of these tenses, and the rules for their formation,
would require more space than can be devoted to the subject in the
present volume. The reader who desires to pursue the study is referred
to the works of M. Cuoq already mentioned.

The verb takes a passive form by inserting the syllable _at_
between the prefixed pronoun and the verb; and a reciprocal sense by
inserting _atat_. Thus, _kiatatas_, I put in;
_katiatatas_, I am put in; _katatiatatas_, I put myself in;
_konnis_, I make; _katonnis_, I am made; _katatonnis_, I
make myself. This syllable _at_ is probably derived from the word
_oyala_, body, which is used in the sense of "self," like the
corresponding word _hakty_ in the Delaware language.

The "transitions," or the pronominal forms which indicate the passage of
the action of a transitive verb from the agent to the object, play an
important part in the Iroquois language. In the Algonkin tongues these
transitions are indicated partly by prefixed pronouns, and partly by
terminal inflections. In the Iroquois the subjective and objective
pronouns are both prefixed, as in French. In that language "_il me
voit_" corresponds precisely with RAKAthatos, "he-me-sees." Here the
pronouns, _ra_, of the third person, and _ka_ of the first,
are evident enough. In other cases the two pronouns have been combined
in a form which shows no clear trace of either of the simple pronouns;
as in _helsenonwes_, thou lovest him, and _hianonwes_, he
loves thee. These combined pronouns are very numerous, and vary, like
the simple pronouns, in the five conjugations.

The peculiar forms of the verb, analogous to the Semitic conjugations
are very numerous. Much of the force and richness of the language
depends on them. M. Caoq enumerates--

1. The diminutive form, which affixes _ha_; as _knekirhaHA_, I
drink a little; _konkweHA_ (from _onkwe_, man), I am a man,
but hardly one (_i.e._, I am a little of a man).

2. The augmentative, of which _tsi_ is the affixed sign; as,
_knekirhaTSI_, I drink much. This is sometimes lengthened to
_tsihon_; as _wakatonteTSIHON_, I understand perfectly.

3 and 4. The cislocative, expressing motion towards the speaker, and the
translocative, indicating motion tending from him. The former has
_t_, the latter _ie_ or _ia_, before the verb, as
_tasataweiat_, come in; _iasataweiat_, go in.

5. The duplicative, which prefixes _te_, expresses an action which
affects two or more agents or objects, as in betting, marrying, joining,
separating. Thus, from _ikiaks_, I cut, we have _tekiaks_, I
cut in two, where the prefix _te_ corresponds to the Latin bi in
"bisect". The same form is used in speaking of acts done by those organs
of the body, such as the eyes and the hands, which nature has made
double. Thus _tekasenthos_, I weep, is never used except in this

6 The reiterative is expressed by the sound of _s_ prefixed to the
verb. It sometimes replaces the cislocative sign; thus,
_tkahtenties_, I come from yonder; _skahtenties_, I come

7. The motional is a form which by some is considered a special future
tense. Thus, from _khiatons_, I write, we have _khiatonnes_, I
am going to write; from _katerios_, I fight, _katerioseres_, I
am going to the war; from _kesaks_, I seek, _kesakhes_, I am
going to seek. These forms are irregular, and can only be learned by

8. The causative suffix is _tha_; as from _k'kowanen_, I am
great, we have _k'kowanaTHA_, I make great, I aggrandize. With
_at_ inserted we have a simulative or pretentious form, as
_katkowanaTHA_, I make myself great, I pretend to be great. The
same affix is used to give an instrumental sense; as from
_keriios_, I kill, we have _keriiohTHA_, I kill him with such
a weapon or instrument.

9. The progressive, which ends in _tie_ (sometimes taking the forms
_atie_, _hatie_, _tatie_), is much used to give the sense
of becoming, proceeding, continuing, and the like; as
_wakhiatontie_, I go on writing; _wakatrorihatie_, I keep on
talking; _wakeriwaientatie_, I am attending to the business. The
addition of an _s_ to this form adds the idea of plurality or
diversity of acts; thus, _wakhiatonties_, I go on writing at
different times and places; _wakatrorihaties_, I keep on telling
the thing, _i. e._, going from house to house.

10. The attributive has various forms, which can only be learned by
practice or from the dictionaries. It expresses an action done for some
other person; as, from _wakiote_, I work, we have _kiotense_,
I work for some one; from _katatis_, I speak, _katatiase_, I
speak in favor of some one.

11. The habitual ends in _kon_. From _katontats_, I hear, I
consent, we have _wakatontatskon_, I am docile; from
_katatis_, I speak, _wakatatiatskon_, I am talkative.

12. The frequentative has many forms, but usually ends in _on_, or
_ons_. From _khiatons_, I write, we have in this form
_khiatonnions_, I write many things; from _katkahtos_, I look,
_katkahtonnions_, I look on all sides.

These are not all the forms of the Iroquois verb; but enough have been
enumerated to give some idea of the wealth of the language in such
derivatives, and the power of varied expression which it derives from
this source.

The Iroquois has many particles which, like those of the Greek and
French languages, help to give clearness to the style, though their
precise meaning cannot always be gathered by one not perfectly familiar
with the language. _Ne_ and _nene_ are frequently used as
substitutes for the article and the relative pronouns. _Onenh_,
now; _kati_, then, therefore; _ok_, _nok_, and
_neok_, and; _oni_ and _neoni_, also; _toka_ and
_tokat_, if, perhaps; _tsi_, when; _kento_, here;
_akwah_, indeed, very; _etho_, thus, so; _are_,
sometimes, again; _ken_, an interrogative particle, like the Latin
_ne_--these and some others will be found in the Book of Rites,
employed in the manner in which they are still used by the best

It must be understood that the foregoing sketch affords only the barest
outline of the formation of the Iroquois language. As has been before
remarked, a complete grammar of this speech, as full and minute as the
best Sanscrit or Greek grammars, would probably equal and perhaps
surpass those grammars in extent. The unconscious forces of memory and
of discrimination required to maintain this complicated intellectual
machine, and to preserve it constantly exact and in good working order,
must be prodigious. Yet a comparison of Bruyas' work with the language
of the present day shows that this purpose has been accomplished; and,
what is still more remarkable, a comparison of the Iroquois with the
Huron grammar shows that after a separation which must have exceeded
five hundred years, and has probably covered twice that term, the two
languages differ less from one another than the French of the twelfth
century differed from the Italian, or than the Anglo-Saxon of King
Alfred differed from the contemporary Low German speech. The forms of
the Huron-Iroquois languages, numerous and complicated as they are,
appear to be certainly not less persistent, and probably better
maintained, than those of the written Aryan tongues.


[Originally presented as one page Iroquois, followed by one page
English translation. This is confusing in electronic texts, so have
changed it here to be the complete Iroquois text followed by the
complete English translation.]




1. Onenh weghniserade wakatyerenkowa desawennawenrate ne
kenteyurhoton. Desahahishonne donwenghratstanyonne ne
kentekaghronghwanyon. Tesatkaghtoghserontye ronatennossendonghkwe
yonkwanikonghtaghkwenne, konyennetaghkwen. Ne katykcnh nayoyaneratye ne
sanikonra? Daghsatkaghthoghseronne ratiyanarenyon
onkwaghsotsherashonkenhha; neok detkanoron ne shekonh ayuyenkwaroghthake
jiratighrotonghkwakwe. Ne katykenh nayuyaneratye ne sanikonra

2. Niyawehkowa katy nonwa onenh skennenji thisayatirhehon. Onenh nonwa
oghseronnih denighroghkwayen. Hasekenh thiwakwekonh deyunennyatenyon
nene konnerhonyon, "Ie henskerighwaghfonte." Kenyutnyonkwaratonnyon,
neony kenyotdakarahon, neony kenkontifaghsoton. Nedens
aesayatyenenghdon, konyennedaghkwen, neony kenkaghnekdnyon nedens
aesayatyenenghdon, konyennethaghkwen, neony kenwaseraketotanese
kentewaghsatayenha kanonghsakdatye. Niyateweghniserakeh yonkwakaronny;
onidatkon yaghdekakonghsonde oghsonteraghkowa nedens aesayatyenenghdon,

3. Niyawenhkowa kady nonwa onenh skennenjy thadesarhadiyakonh. Hasekenh
kanoron jinayawenhon nene aesahhahiyenenhon, nene ayakotyerenhon
ayakawen, "Issy tyeyadakeron, akwah deyakonakorondon!" Ayakaweron
oghnonnekenh niyuiterenhhatye, ne konyennedaghkwen.

4. Rotirighwison onkwaghsotshera, ne ronenh,
"Kenhenyondatsjistayenhaghse. Kendeyughnyonkwarakda
eghtenyontatitenranyon orighokonha." Kensane yeshotiriwayen
orighwakwekonh yatenkarighwentaseron, nene akwah
denyontatyadoghseronko. Neony ne ronenh, "Ethononweh yenyontatenonshine,
kanakdakwenniyukeh yenyontatideron."

5. Onenh kady iese seweryenghskwe sathaghyonnighshon:


Etho ne niwa ne akotthaghyonnishon.

6. Onenh nene shehhawah deyakodarakeh ranyaghdenghshon:


Etho ne niwa ne ranyaghdenshon.

7. Onenh nene jadadeken roskerewake:

8. Onenh nene onghwa kehaghshonha:

Etho ne niwa roghskerewake. Eghnikatarakeghne orighwakayongh.

9. Ne kaghyaton jinikawennakeh ne dewadadenonweronh, "ohhendonh
karighwadeghkwenh" radiyats. Doka enyairon, "Konyennedaghkwen; onenh
weghniserade yonkwatkennison. Rawenniyo raweghniseronnyh. Ne onwa
konwende yonkwatkennison nene jiniyuneghrakwah jinisayadawen. Onenh
oaghwenjakonh niyonsakahhawe jinonweh nadekakaghneronnyonghkwe. Akwah
kady okaghserakonh thadetyatroghkwanekenh."

10. "Onenh kady yakwenronh, wakwennyonkoghde okaghsery, akwah kady ok
skennen thadenseghsatkaghthonnyonhheke."

11. "Nok ony kanekhere deyughsihharaonh ne sahondakon. Onenh kady
watyakwaghsiharako waahkwadeweyendonh tsisaronkatah, kady nayawenh ne
skennen thensathondeke enhtyewenninekenneh."

12. "Nok ony kanekhere deyughsihharaonh desanyatokenh. Onenh kady hone
yakwenronh watyakwaghsihharanko, akwah kady ok skennen
deghsewenninekenne dendewadatenonghweradon."

13. Onenh are oya, konyennethaghkwen. Nene kadon yuneghrakwah
jinesadawen. Niyadeweghniserakeh sanekherenhonh
ratikowanenghskwe. Onghwenjakonh niyeskahhaghs; ken-ony
rodighskenrakeghdethaghkwe, ken-ony sanheghtyensera, ken-ony
saderesera. Akwagh kady ok onekwenghdarihengh thisennekwakenry.

14. Onenh kady yakwenronh wakwanekwenghdarokewanyon jisanakdade, ogh
kady nenyawenne seweghniserathagh ne akwah ok skennen then kanakdiyuhake
ji enghsitskodake denghsatkaghdonnyonheke.

15. Onenh nene Karenna,

Yondonghs "Aihaigh."

Kayanerenh dcskenonghweronne;
Kheyadawenh deskenonghweronne;
Oyenkondonh deskenonghweronne;
Wakonnyh deskenonghweronne.
Ronkeghsotah rotirighwane,--
Ronkeghsota jiyathondek.

16. Enskat ok enjerennokden nakwah oghnaken nyare enyonghdentyonko
kanonghsakonghshon, enyairon.

17. "A-i Raxhottahyh! Onenh kajatthondek onenh enyontsdaren ne
yetshiyadare! Ne ji onenh wakarighwakayonne ne sewarighwisahnonghkwe ne
kayarenghkowah. Ayawenhenstokenghske daondayakotthondeke."

18. "Na-i Raxhottahyh! Ne kenne iesewenh enyakodenghthe nene noghnaken

19. "Na-i Raxhottahyh! Onenh nonwa kathonghnonweh dhatkonkoghdaghkwanyon
jidenghnonhon nitthatirighwayerathaghkwe."

20. "Na-i Raxbottahyh! Nene ji onenh wakarighwakayonne ne
sewarighwisahnonghkwe, ne Kayarenghkowa. Yejisewatkonseraghkwanyon
onghwenjakonshon yejisewayadakeron, sewarighwisahnhonkwe ne
Kayanerenhkowah. Ne sanekenh ne seweghne aerengh niyenghhenwe
enyurighwadatye Kayanerenghkowah."

* * * * *

21. Eghnikonh enyerighwawetharho kenthoh, are enjonderennoden enskat
enjerenokden, onenh ethone enyakohetsde onenh are enjondentyonko
kanonghsakonghshon, enyairon wahhy:

22. "A-i Raxhotthahyh! Onenh jatthondek kady nonwa
jinihhotiyerenh,--orighwakwekonh natehaotiya-doreghtonh, nene roneronh
ne enyononghsaghniratston. A-i Raxhotthahyh! nene ronenh: 'Onen nonwa
wetewayennendane; wetewennakeraghdanyon; watidewenna-karondonnyon.'"

23. "Onenh are oya eghdeshotiyadoreghdonh, nene ronenh: 'Kenkisenh
nenyawenne. Aghsonh thiyenjide-watyenghsaeke, onok enjonkwanckheren.'
Nene ronenh: 'Kenkine nenyawenne. Aghsonh denyakokwanentonghsaeke, onok
denjontadenakarondako. Nene doka ok yadayakonakarondatye onghwenjakonh
niyaonsakahawe, A-i Raxhottahyh,' none ronenh, 'da-edewenhheye onghteh,
neok yadayakonakarondatye onghwenjakonh niyaonsakahawe.'"

24. "Onenh are oya eghdeshodiyadoreghtonh, nai Raxhottahyh! Nene ronenh
ne enyononghsaghniratston. Nene ronengh: 'Doka onwa
kenenyondatyadawenghdate, ne kenkarenyakeghrondonhah ne nayakoghstonde
ne nayeghnyasakenradake, ne kenh ne iesewenh, kenkine
nenyawenne. Kendenyethirentyonnite kanhonghdakde dewaghsadayenhah."

25. "Onenh are oya eghdejisewayudoreghdonh, nene isewenh:
'Yahhonghdehdeyoyanere nene kenwedewayen, onwa enyeken nonkwaderesera;
kadykenh niyakoghswathah, akwekonh nityakawenonhtonh ne
kenyoteranentenyonhah. Enyonterenjiok kendonsayedane akwah
enyakonewarontye, onok enyerighwanendon oghnikawenhonh ne
kendeyerentyonny; katykenh nenyakorane nenyerighwanendon akare onenh
enyakodokenghse. Onok na entkaghwadasehhon nakonikonra, onenh are ne eh

26. "Onenh are oya eghdeshotiyadoreghdonh, nene ronenh: 'Kenkine
nenyawenne. Endewaghneghdotako skarenhhesekowah, enwadonghwenjadethare
eghyendewasenghte tyoghnawatenghjihonh kathonghdeh thienkahhawe; onenh
denghnon dentidewaghneghdoten, onenh denghnon yaghnonwendonh
thiyaensayeken nonkwateresera.'"

27. "Onenh are oya eghdeshotiyadoreghdonh, nene roneronh ne
enyononghsaghniratston. Nene ronenh: 'Onenh wedewaweyennendane;
wedewennakeraghdanyon. Doka nonkenh onghwajok onok enjonkwanekheren.
Ken kady ne nenyawenne. Kenhendewaghnatatsherodarho ken kanakaryonniha
deyunhonghdoyenghdongh yendewanaghsenghde, kennikanaghseshah, ne
enyehharako ne kaneka akonikonghkahdeh. Enwadon ok jiyudakenrokde
thadenyedane doghkara nentyewenninekenne enjondatenikonghketsko ne
enyenikonghkwenghdarake. Onokna enjeyewendane yenjonthahida ne

28. "Onenh kady ise jadakweniyu ken Kanonghsyonny, Dekanawidah, ne
deghniwenniyu ne rohhawah Odadsheghte; onenh nene yeshodonnyh
Wathadodarho; onenh nene yeshohowah akahenyonh; onare nene yeshodonnyh
Kanyadariyu; onenh nene yeshonarase Shadekaronyes; onenh nene onghwa
kehhaghsaonhah yejodenaghstahhere kanaghsdajikowah."

* * * * *

29. Onenh jatthondek sewarihwisaanonghkwe Kayarenhkowah. Onenh
wakarighwakayonne. Onenh ne oknejoskawayendon. Yetsisewanenyadanyon ne
sewariwisaanonghkweh. Yejisewahhawihtonh, yetsisewennitskarahgwanyon;
agwah neok ne skaendayendon. Etho
yetsisewanonwadaryon. Sewarihwisaanonghkwe yetsisewahhawitonh.
Yetsisewatgonseraghkwanyon sewarihwisaanonghkwe, Kayanerenhkowah.

30. Onenh kady jatthondek jadakweniyosaon sewarihwisaanonghkwe:



Etho natejonhne!

31. Jatthontenyonk!



Etho natejonhne!

32. Jatthontenyonk!



Etho natejonhne,

33. Ise seniyatagweniyohkwe,
Ne deseniyenah;
Onenh katy jatthontenyonk



Etho natejonhne!

34. Jatthontenyonk!



Etho natejonhne!

35. Jatthontenyonk!



Etho natejonhne!

36. Eghyesaotonnihsen:
Onenh jatthontenyonk!

Etho ronarasehsen:





Etho natejonhne!

37. Yeshohawak:
Etho kakeghrondakwe
Ne kanikonghrashon,

Etho natejonhne!

38. Etho yeshotonnyh,


Etho nadehhadihne!

39. Wahhondennonterontye,



Etho nadejonhne!

40. Etho niyawenonh,

Etho wahhoronghyaronnyon:

Etho natejonhne!

41. Yeshohhawak,


Etho natejonhne!



Etho natejonhneh!

43. Yeshondadekenah,



Etho natejonhne!


Etho natejonhneh!

45. Yeshotonnyh,


Etho natejonhneh!


Etho natejonhneh!


Etho natejonhneh!

48. Onghwa keghaghshonah
Etho ronaraseshen,


Etho natejonhneh!

49. Onenh watyonkwentendane

[English Translation]



1. Now [Footnote: The paragraphs are not numbered in the original
text. The numbers are prefixed in this work merely for convenience of
reference.] to-day I have been greatly startled by your voice coming
through the forest to this opening. You have come with troubled mind
through all obstacles. You kept seeing the places where they met on
whom we depended, my offspring. How then can your mind be at ease? You
kept seeing the footmarks of our forefathers; and all but perceptible is
the smoke where they used to smoke the pipe together. Can then your mind
be at ease when you are weeping on your way?

2. Great thanks now, therefore, that you have safely arrived. Now, then,
let us smoke the pipe together. Because all around are hostile agencies
which are each thinking, "I will frustrate their purpose." Here thorny
ways, and here falling trees, and here wild beasts lying in
ambush. Either by these you might have perished, my offspring, or, here
by floods you might have been destroyed, my offspring, or by the
uplifted hatchet in the dark outside the house. Every day these are
wasting us; or deadly invisible disease might have destroyed you, my

3. Great thanks now, therefore, that in safety you have come through the
forest. Because lamentable would have been the consequences had you
perished by the way, and the startling word had come, "Yonder are lying
bodies, yea, and of chiefs!" And they would have thought in dismay, what
had happened, my offspring.

4. Our forefathers made the rule, and said, "Here they are to kindle a
fire; here, at the edge of the woods, they are to condole with each
other in few words." But they have referred thither [Footnote: That is,
to the Council House.] all business to be duly completed, as well as for
the mutual embrace of condolence. And they said, "Thither shall they be
led by the hand, and shall be placed on the principal seat."

5. Now, therefore, you who are our friends of the Wolf clan:

_In John Buck's MS._ _Supposed Meaning._
Ka rhe tyon ni. The broad woods.
Ogh ska wa se ron hon. Grown up to bushes again.
Gea di yo. Beautiful plain.
O nen yo deh. Protruding stone.
De se ro ken. Between two lines.
Te ho di jen ha ra kwen. Two families in a long-house,
Ogh re kyon ny. (Doubtful.) [one at each end.]
Te yo we yen don. Drooping wings.

Such is the extent of the Wolf clan.

6. Now, then, thy children of the two clans of the Tortoise:

Ka ne sa da keh. On the hill side.
Onkwi i ye de. A person standing there.
Weg'h ke rhon. (Doubtful.)
Kah ken doh hon. "
Tho gwen yoh. "
Kah he kwa ke. "

Such is the extent of the Tortoise clan.

7. Now these thy brothers of the Bear clan:
De ya oken. The Forks.
Jo non de seh. It is a high hill.
Ots kwe ra ke ron. Dry branches fallen to the ground.
Ogh na we ron. The springs.

8. Now these have been added lately:
Ka rho wengh ra don. Taken over the woods.
Ka ra ken. White.
De yo he ro. The place of flags (rushes).
De yo swe ken. Outlet of the river.
Ox den ke. To the old place.

Such is the extent of the Bear clan.

These were the clans in ancient times.

9. Thus are written the words of mutual greeting, called "the opening
ceremony." Then one will say, "My offspring, now this day we are met
together. God has appointed this day. Now, to-day, we are met together,
on account of the solemn event which has befallen you. Now into the
earth he has been conveyed to whom we have been wont to look. Yea,
therefore, in tears let us smoke together."

10. "Now, then, we say, we wipe away the tears, so that in peace you may
look about you."

11. "And, further, we suppose there is an obstruction in your ears. Now,
then, we remove the obstruction carefully from your hearing, so that we
trust you will easily hear the words spoken."

12. "And also we imagine there is an obstruction in your throat. Now,
therefore, we say, we remove the obstruction, so that you may speak
freely in our mutual greetings."

13. "Now again another thing, my offspring. I have spoken of the solemn
event which has befallen you. Every day you are losing your great
men. They are being borne into the earth; also the warriors, and also
your women, and also your grandchildren; so that in the midst of blood
you are sitting."

14. "Now, therefore, we say, we wash off the bloodmarks from your seat,
so that it may be for a time that happily the place will be clean where
you are seated and looking around you."

* * * * *

15. Now the Hymn,


I come again to greet and thank the League;
I come again to greet and thank the kindred;
I come again to greet and thank the warriors;
I come again to greet and thank the women.
My forefathers,--what they established,--
My forefathers,--hearken to them!

16. The last verse is sung yet again, while he walks
to and fro in the house, and says:

17. "Hail, my grandsires! Now hearken while your grandchildren cry
mournfully to you,--because the Great League which you established has
grown old. We hope that they may hear."

18. "Hail, my grandsires! You have said that sad will be the fate of
those who come in the latter times."

19. "Oh, my grandsires! Even now I may have failed to perform this
ceremony in the order in which they were wont to perform it." "Oh, my
grandsires! Even now that has become old which you established,--the
Great League. You have it as a pillow under your heads in the ground
where you are lying,--this Great League which you established; although
you said that far away in the future the Great League would endure."

* * * * *


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