Monthly Archives: May 2015

Historical Fiction and the conflict around Lake Ontario

14 May 2015 Comments (0)

The confederacy of the Five Iroquois Nations was an outstanding political body, an impressive democracy that the world was yet to see anywhere around the globe for quite a few centuries to come.

The intricate set of laws that reached for every aspect of life, the complicated system of checks and balances that made sure no nation or individual people gained more power than the others, the direct and indirect involvement of people from every status and stance of the society, the equality of genders, all this and more manifested itself in the creation of the Great Peacemaker who had come to these lands maybe as far as eight centuries ago, crossing Lake Ontario, leaving his original people, the Wayndot nations, or Crooked Tongues, as they were referred by the dwellers of the other side. Known to us in many great details, the Great League of the Iroquois keeps drawing the historians’ attention.

But what about the other side?

Much less known, the Wyandot People seemed to be divided into four nations, organized in an alliance as well, maybe not as one political body with mutual set of laws and closer ties, but like any other alliance, an organization that was designed to meet economical, trading, and probably military needs. It is assumed that this alliance was formed later, much later, maybe as far as the 15th century, but with no concrete evidence pointing either way, it is difficult to determine.

What we seem to know for certain was the fact that both sides of the Great Lake did not get along, did not form an alliance, even though their ways of life were strikingly similar, even the languages they spoke belonging to one linguistic group.

And yet, temporary peace agreements might have been reached over the centuries of co-existence, and this is the possibility I wanted to explore in this and the following novels.

Back in the Great League’s lands, trouble was brewing. The notorious Crooked Tongues from the other side of Lake Ontario, rumored to now be organized into a sort of an alliance, were posing a threat, more so than ever before. And yet, the War Chief, out of all people, was the one advocating negotiations, insisting on seeking a peaceful solution to the generations-long hostility and war. His followers were puzzled, the opposition outraged.

Meanwhile, Kentika has her own troubles to face. Was it ever easy for a foreigner to fit into a new life? For a girl who never even fit in among her own people, the challenge was becoming nearly impossible. But then, on top of it all, the political trouble hit.

An excerpt from “The Foreigner”, People of the Longhouse Series, book #2.

“Oh, please.” Watching a group of people who went past them, unhurried and at ease, their voices carrying with the wind, as did their laughter, she waved a buzzing fly away. “The foreigners. I hoped they would leave before the ceremony.”

Her companion’s face lost some of its good-natured beam as well. “Yes, they better go back to their distant lands and leave our men and leaders alone. They can’t possibly try to suggest what has been whispered around the town. It would be too inconceivable.”

Seketa felt the remnants of her well-being evaporating. “My husband thinks they might be allowed to state their case before the Great Council, when our respectable elders are due to meet again, after the Cold Moons.” She watched the round, good-natured face closing up, turning blank, in too familiar of a fashion. She had seen it happening many times since the arrival of the accursed delegation. “There is no harm in foreigners speaking to our leaders. The laws of the Great Peacemaker provide for this opportunity, as much as for any other. Remember that should a nation outside our union make known their disposition to obey the laws of the Great Peace, they may be invited to trace the roots to the Tree of Peace, and if their minds are clean, and they are obedient and—”

“Yes, Seketa, I know the laws as well as you do. And yet,” the woman shrugged, “our War Chief is an outstanding man, trusted and admired, a leader our people have been following for quite a long time. He is a good man, that husband of yours, a great leader, and yet, he has been insisting on listening to all sorts of foreigners for too long. There will be no peace with the Crooked Tongues. We all know it, and but for his insistence, we would have been better prepared, less surprised with the escalation of things.” A rough, weathered palm came up, displaying the evidence of long summers of working the land. Partly successful, it managed to stop Seketa’s indignant protests that were about to erupt. “Yes, I know, I know. We all know that when these people came over to raid our lands again, after so many summers of quiet, your husband did not hesitate in retaliating, doing so brilliantly, yes, punishing the enemy hard. And yet …” The loud sigh was accompanied by another wave of large hands, this time palms up, relating gloomy doubt. “His heart is not in those raids, Sister. One can see that. He still hopes to achieve peace with the enemy, somehow. And it’s not a good state of affairs, not good at all. We need our War Chief to be aggressive, spoiling for a fight. We can’t have him thinking of peace, planning for this possibility while organizing his raids. He needs to focus on how to humble the enemy, how to hurt them. Not how to make them talk peace as they did for some very short time, after the Messenger of the Great Spirits left our world all those long summers ago.”

She wanted to close her ears, to push the words away, not to let them enter her mind, for she knew her companion was right. Brilliant in everything he ever did, from organizing the Great Council’s meetings to managing many smaller affairs of the entire union, he was just as good at making war. On the rare occasions he had authorized, and then organized the warriors’ parties to head across the Great Lake, he did it well, like everything he undertook.

And yet, this woman was right. His heart was not in the warfare. The persistent hope to reach an agreement with the Crooked Tongues, her and the Peacemaker’s original people, to have their representatives sitting under the shade of the Great Tree of Peace, taking a part in the greatest union, his most admired hero’s creation, oh, but these hopes did color his deeds, did influence his decisions.

She wanted to shut her eyes, or maybe scream in frustration. He was loyal to the memory of a man who had been dead for many summers, gone, disappeared. He risked everything in order to save this man once, but in the long run, it brought him no good.