Posts Tagged: Cayuga

The Rise of the Iroquois Part III, Haudenosaunee, the People of the Longhouse

27 February 2014 Comments (0)

With the People of the Flint (Mohawks) firmly behind him, the Great Peacemaker could now begin implementing his plans full time.

First the National Council of his current hosts has to be organized, to be conducted in the way of the town councils, with its representatives being nominated by the Clan Mothers, promptly replaced should the chosen man be noticed neglecting his duties.

Next, the neighboring nation, the People of the Standing Stone (Oneida) was to be approached. Surprisingly, the People of the Standing Stone gave the Peacemaker no trouble, joining the union promptly and with great excitement. In a matter of a few gatherings the old enmity of long moons and summers was forgotten, to be replaced by a brotherhood and a firm agreement. The laws of the Peacemaker’s constitution were strong and uncompromising.

Yet, not every nation received the message of the Good Tidings of Peace with enthusiasm. The Onondaga People were still unheeding, still resentful, with Hiawatha, encouraged by the Peacemaker, back and struggling, but Tadodaho proving difficult, impossible to convince, or even intimidate, into listening.

To the west, the People of the Great Swamp (Cayuga) greeted the changes most eagerly, but their neighbors, the powerful People of the Mountains (Seneca) wouldn’t hear any of it. They were divided too, with two prominent leaders agreeing but in one thing, as it seemed – in their resentment of foreigners presuming to manage their people’s affairs. To convince the People of the Mountains another miracle was needed, but by this time the Great Peacemaker seemed to be growing impatient.

So it was August 1142, when he arrived at Genesee River, a river that crossed Senecas’ lands, making a boundary between the two parts of the nation.

The gathering was called, with both leaders coming promptly, but with their minds closed to reason. The argument that ensued must have been long and tedious. Seneca people seemed to be wary of the idea of peace and mutual management alongside with the people considered their bitter enemies for long summers that passed.

And then the sun began disappearing from the sky.

The list of fulltime solar eclipses shows that, indeed, one such occurred over this area in August 1142 (and again somewhere around 1451), according to the list displayed on NASA Eclipse Website.

Whether it was the Great Peacemaker’s doing or not, upon seeing such a terrible phenomena, the People of the Mountains brought forward no more arguments. Having recovered from their fright but awed beyond reason, they joined the proposed union with no further delays.

Which left the Great Peacemaker free to deal with the Onondagas and their difficult Tadodaho.

According to many versions of the legend, the Peacemaker and Hiawatha went to see the evil sorcerer together, armed with their words and little else.

The daylight hours passed while they talked and talked, with the evil man refusing to listen. Snakes twisted in his hair, and his body was contorted, terrible to look at.

Finally, after many persuasive speeches the stubborn leader deigned to see the reason, agreeing to join the Good Tidings of Peace. At this point the Peacemaker was reported to comb the snakes out of his difficult adversary’s hair, making the twisted limbs straight again.

Whether it was that simple, or was the Peacemaker forced to bargain, offering much in exchange for a partnership and cooperation, we don’t know. The various legends say nothing about the actual terms.

What we do know is that the Onondaga People received many concessions, having gained an advanced position in the union that was to prosper for the centuries to come.

There was no inequality in the wonderfully democratic set of law proposed by the Great Peacemaker, still the Onondaga enjoyed a very prominent position, indeed, with the gathering of the Great Council being held permanently in their lands, giving them a certain measure of power while authorized to summon the Great Council’s meetings. The closing word was always to be theirs, with the Onondaga representatives being the last to sound their opinion on any issues deliberated by the council.

It was a sort of vetoing powers, but the proceeding of the council rendered that advantage useless. With the unanimous voting being required, it came to every member of the council having a power of vetoing any decision, anyway.

And so the Great Council of the Five Nations was born then and there, to survive for centuries and to give the later-day’s European newcomers their version of the modern-day USA constitution.

An excerpt from “The Great Law of Peace”, The Peacemaker Series, book #3.

Unable to stop himself from doing so, Tekeni looked up, a stony fist squeezing his stomach. What started as the dark crack on the edge of the blazing sun was now a blot of ominous blackness, swallowing the shining deity like a snake devouring its prey, unhurried, sure of itself. He almost shut his eyes, his senses clinging to the familiar voice, so calm and well measured. Didn’t Two Rivers notice that something was amiss?

“You are the fifth family, the keepers of the western door. Without you, our longhouse will not be whole.”

Most people were staring at the sky now, some gaping, some pointing, murmuring, looking around, their fear unconcealed.

“It all sounds very well,” the younger leader’s voice boomed, overcoming the growing hum. “But what happens if we refuse to join? Will the Great Spirits direct you to gather the warriors of the four nations in order to force us into your union? What will you do if we refuse to guard the western door of your metaphorical longhouse?”

Two Rivers got to his feet, looking suddenly tired, almost exhausted.

“I think the Great Spirits are not trying to conceal their displeasure,” he said quietly, his jaw stubbornly tight, but his eyes clouded, thoughtful and oh-so-very sad. “Listen to this.”

Gesturing widely, he pointed toward the forest behind their backs. Not a chirp of a bird came from between the swaying trees. Even the insects kept quieter now, as though afraid of the darkness.

“What does it mean?” the people were shouting. “What is happening?”

“The Great Spirits are displeased.” Two Rivers’ voice rang calmly, but there was an obvious tension to it now.

Unable to fight the urge, Tekeni came closer, but whether to protect his friend in case someone decided to attack him, or to seek the safety beside the man who seemed to be doing all this, he didn’t know.

The cold was growing, definite now. And so were the shadows. He noticed the flowers down the clearing were closing up, as though the night were nearing.

People were rushing about, openly afraid, peering at the sky, murmuring prayers. Two Rivers stood there alone, watching the sharpening shadows, his jaw tight.

“Your dream?” whispered Tekeni, stepping into the void surrounding his friend. Even their people kept away from the Crooked Tongues man now, stealing terrified glances.

The warm palm rested on his shoulder, heavy and reassuring. “Yes. But it is going to be all right.”

The distant shadows loomed over the western side of the lake, like a gathering storm.

“What is happening?” He swallowed, hearing his own voice husky and high, full of panic. The urge to run away welled. It was obvious that the Left-Handed Twin was coming to claim their world for himself and his underworld minions and followers, the bad, poisonous uki and the giants that were still reported to roam the earth. The cry of an owl confirmed this assumption. An owl in the middle of the day?

“I don’t know,” Two Rivers’ voice shook now too, his self-assurance gone. “I wish I knew!”

Historical Fiction and the Five Nations

23 September 2013 Comments (0)

I am happy to announce the release of another new book

The Great Law of Peace

Having proven the divine nature of his mission to the People of the Flint (Mohawks), the Great Peacemaker began working for real.

Backed by this powerful nation and their goodwill, he had approached their immediate neighbors, The People of the Standing Stone (Oneida), who had proven relatively easy to convince. The message of the Good Tidings of Peace fell on attentive ears, although it must have taken a few gatherings and more than a few arguments to make two enemy nations sit beside the same fire.

“They deliberated for three days, with the foreigner doing most of the talking,” went on the older warrior, scratching the sides of his bowl with the spoon in an attempt to fish out the last of the juicy pieces. “And they are still there, waiting for the representatives of the other towns to arrive.”

“Can’t they conduct their own people’s meeting without the Messenger holding their hands?” asked Jikonsahseh, raising her eyebrows high.

The men shrugged in unison.

The People of the Great Swamp (Cayuga) joined the proposed union of the nations eagerly, but their neighbors to the west, the fierce warlike People of the Mountains (Seneca) remained suspicious. They were divided anyway, following two different leaders, with Genesee River being a natural boundary. Yet, what united both disagreeing leaders was their mutual dislike of foreigners trying to pry into their people’s affairs. To speak to the enemies of yesterday? Oh please!

But the Peacemaker was not about to go away. Or to take a ‘no’ for an answer. Accompanied by the leaders of the three other nations, he sailed into the lands of the stubborn Seneca, to talk and to persuade, by another miracle if necessary.

The meeting might have not been very well going, as at some point the Peacemaker was reported to make “the sun disappear from the sky” . Indeed, in August 1142, around the possible site of this meeting (Ganondagan, near modern-day Victor, NY) a full solar eclipse have occurred according to the list displayed on NASA Eclipse Website. There were, of course, more eclipses recorded above this area – a century earlier, and a few centuries later too – but those were either not full or occurring at the wrong time of the year or a day.

This or that way, after witnessing such a terrible prove of the divine displeasure, Seneca People joined promptly, with no more arguments or debates.

The sun was a pitifully thin crescent, like Grandmother Moon on certain days. Oh, Mighty Spirits! Tekeni watched the strips of light, darting across the ground, alternating with patches of black, both moving fast, like attacking predators. It was as though the light and the darkness were fighting each other. The epic battle of the Celestial Twins?

He felt his heart fluttering, the stony fist gripping his stomach, squeezing with all its might. But for the presence of Two Rivers, he would turn around and run into the woods, to crawl somewhere quiet and maybe vomit in fear. The world was ending in front of his eyes, and he was not ready for this. It was one thing to risk his life, facing the death, fighting or sailing, or hunting a bear, but another to watch the world dying, collapsing on its own, with the Father Sun being devoured by a feral beast.”

With the backing of four powerful nations, the Peacemaker could turn to the last of the reluctant, the Onondagas. In the lands of the People of the Hills (Onondaga) all was not well. Tadodaho, the man responsible for Hiawatha’s family’s death, was still strong, still influential, still adamant in his refusal to listen to the message of the Great Peace. He was reported to be a powerful sorcerer, with twisted limbs and snakes for a hair.

The Peacemaker and Hiawatha went to see him alone.

According to many versions of the legend it was a long tedious meeting. The old sorcerer refused to listen. Snakes twisted in his hair, and his ears were closed to reason. The Father Sun climbed its usual path and was about to descend to its resting place and still the Peacemaker talked, refusing to give up.

In the end the old sorcerer was convinced. He allowed the Peacemaker to comb the snakes out of his hair, his twisted limbs straightened and he joined the Great Peace.

Judging by the Peacemaker’s wonderfully detailed, well-recorded constitution, it might not have been that simple. Onondaga People had definitely received a special place. The meetings of the Five Nations were to be always held in Onondaga lands, making its inhabitants into the Keepers of the Central Fire. In the Great Council these people were represented considerably more heavily than any other nation (14 Onondaga representatives as opposed to 9 of the Mohawks, 9 of the Oneida, 10 of Cayuga and 8 of Seneca).

Tadodaho was to preside over the meetings, having a position of an arbiter, and a power of veto. Not that the power of veto gave the Onondagas any clear advantage, as the voting was required to be always unanimous, thus granting every member of the council power to veto any decision.

Still, these positions of honor and additional power may have be the ones to tip the scales on that famous snakes-combing meeting. The Peacemaker was a great man with grand vision and a brilliant thinking. He might have thought of those concessions to lure the man he needed to join on his free will. In the end there was no inequality in the Great League’s procedures, honorific titles or not.

An excerpt from “The Great Law of Peace”, The Peacemaker Series, book #3.

He pushed the troublesome thoughts aside, concentrating on the elated mood of this town, talking to them and letting them talk. Hionhwatha had done a splendid work, he decided. He had clearly spent no time in idleness and gloom. These people wanted to join, with no special concessions even, but the real challenge was still ahead of him.

“Tadodaho is holding his town and the settlements surrounding Onondaga Lake in his firm grip. He is fiercer than ever, and by now, quite eager to meet you, to pit his strength against yours. He doesn’t fear me more than he should, so my life is in no danger. But yours is.”

“Then we shall give him his meeting.” Replete with food, Two Rivers sought out his pipe, always within an easy reach. He was relying on its calming effect too readily these days, he reflected, crushing the dry tobacco leaves, not paying attention to the familiar process. Of an old he had not been smoking his pipe at every opportunity.“Join us, and we will sail to Onondaga Town in a real strength, with our intentions peaceful but our spirits strong, unwavering, ready to face any challenge.” He forced a grin, missing Tekeni’s presence. For a change, the young man had chosen to stay on the shore, reinforcing the warriors who remained behind in order to guard their canoes. As though there was a need to guard their vessels, camping in such a friendly place.

“Maybe,” said the old leader thoughtfully. “Maybe we’ll do just that.” His grin spread, along with a slightly mischievous sparkle. “And to think that when we separated on the shores of Onondaga Lake you were no more than a strangely spoken foreigner with a few outcasts for followers. But look at you now! Two seasons later, you come to me, followed by four united nations, speaking our tongue, more sure of yourself than ever. And more impatient.” The glimmer in the dark eyes deepened. “You will need every grain of your patience now. While dealing with Tadodaho, you will have to be firm and confident, as unwavering as always, but this sparkle of arrogance I see in you now will have to go. You cannot force my people into your union, four nations or not. You can only persuade them.”

“Can Tadodaho be persuaded?” Momentarily alone, as, out of respect, people moved away, letting the two leaders converse in private, Two Rivers eyed the older man, pleased with the changes. The haunted, violent look was gone, replaced by the dignified bearing, the slightly amused, know-it-all twinkle new to the broad, wrinkled face. The old bastard knew what Two Rivers wanted to know, and he was not about to volunteer the information without making the visitor ask.

“Maybe he can be persuaded. Who knows?” The wide shoulders lifted in a shrug. “He has been waiting for you to come. Not much had been done around Onondaga Lake to make it ready against your arrival. The old fox is clearly playing for time, curious, confident in his ability to deal with you, to put you in your place or get rid of you. Curious and expectant. Maybe he has more wisdom than we credit him with.” Another shrug. “He could have gotten rid of me, could have swayed High Springs to his side, but he did not. Why? Only his devious mind knows. I think he is eager to meet you.”

“Then we shall grant him his wish.” Uneasily, Two Rivers shifted, leaning against the warm tiles of the bark lining the wall of the longhouse. “Maybe when he sees the size of our delegation, it will make him pause.”

“It won’t. He knows his strengths and our weaknesses. He knows that we need to make it as peaceful as we can, resorting to no violence, as tempting as the option may be. But, of course, we shall sail in a day or two. We have not much choice, do we? And we do have the power now.”

The Rise of the Iroquois, part I – In the lands of the Crooked Tongues

14 September 2013 Comments (2)

The most recent studies place the formation of the Five Nations’ Great League, people whom we know today as Iroquois, at around 1142, basing their conclusion on the oral tradition, archaeological evidence, and specific events such as full solar eclipse that was most clearly mentioned to occur above a certain area on either August 1142, or somewhere around 1450.

At this time the lands of today’s upstate New-York and southeastern Canada were torn by ferocious warfare, with many nations fighting each other, relentless in the mutual hatred, swept in the ever-rising tide of revenge and retaliation. A murder has to be avenged by murder, an attacked by a counterattack. There was no safety anymore, and not even a resemblance of peace.

People lived in well fortified towns and villages, surrounded by a double-row of palisade fence and sometimes even protective ditches. To wander the woods, in order to seek privacy, make love or just meditate, was absolutely out of the question, with people venturing beyond the safety of their palisade only in large, well organized groups. Women in the fields were working carefully, allocating enough fellow workers to climb the high platforms erected for this purpose on either side of the field, to watch the surroundings, to sound the alarm should the enemy warriors be spotted. Men were hunting in large groups, ready to fight the enemy, not always to return.

Slowly but steadily the situation had worsened, with bad harvest being a more frequent occurrence than not, with famine threatening toward every coming winter, and the deceases spreading.

The Harvest Ceremony was nearing, usually one more happy celebration, but this time the amounts of the harvested corn were pitiful, creating a problem. Reasons and explanations kept mounting, as they did now in the beginning of every fall, plenty of reasonable excuses, but their mutual nature was difficult to overlook. It towered menacingly, indicating the farmers’ state of mind and even the lack of manpower. Women in the fields were busy keeping their watch, ready to sound alarm at the sight of approaching enemy, so the rest could make it safely behind the town’s fence. However, for every justified warning, there were quite a few false ones and those pointed at the disoriented state of the people’s minds. Nervousness and lack of confidence had been mounting for decades, reaching for all aspects of life, growing with every summer, steadily, if imperceptibly.

Every town struggled as best as it could, trying to work the land and to harvest the forest fruit, to dry enough meat and fish, to collect enough firewood for the winter to pass on comfortably; yet their main resources were still turned to warfare. To equip as many warriors’ parties was important because there were always neighboring nations and settlements that needed to be punished and made to learn a lesson, and the town’s defenses always needed to be strengthened, because the neighbors were expected to retaliated, never failing this particular expectation.

A vicious circle that kept ruining people’s lives. A vicious circle that needed to be stopped, somehow. There were probably enough people who saw that something was wrong, that something wasn’t working, but they either kept silent or simply weren’t listened to.

“The enemy grew too bold!” exclaimed the Wolf Clan’s man. “The People of the Hills grew too bold. They should be punished for their brazenness.”

Some heads nodded in agreement, while others just shrugged.

“To ensure our well being through the upcoming winter, we will have to send out as many hunting parties as we can organize,” said Atiron, taking the pipe in his turn. “The men will have to leave their clubs in favor of their bows and their fishing spears. We have close to two moons to do as much hunting and fishing as we can.” He let the smoke linger in his throat, enjoying the sensation. “The women will finish their winter preparation sooner than usual, due to the small amounts of corn to grind, and so they will be free to gather more of the forest fruit, and plenty of firewood.” Passing the pipe on, he sighed. “Our duty is to ensure the well being of this town, so the Frozen Moons will not prove as terrible as two winters before.”

They fell silent, remembering the terrible winter when the illness spread like a lethal storm, killing people in its wake, unmerciful, oblivious of the identity and the age of its victims. All due to the lack of food and firewood, Atiron knew. Not to the displeased spirits as many chose to believe.

The Great Peacemaker came from across the Lake Ontario. He belonged to none of the five powerful nations of the modern-day upstate New-York. His foreignness might have been one of his greatest advantages because as a person belonging to neither side, he could be expected to have a measure of objectivity when no one trusted the other. On this, the other, southern side, of the Great Lake his people were called Crooked Tongues, because they talked in a language that was difficult to understand, regarded generally as uncouth foreigners, also an enemy but not as bad as the local foe.

By crossing the Great Lake he gambled mightily, with his life and not only his status as a person who had left his own people for the sake of the unknown. In those times the death was quick to come upon a lonely man who could not even speak in a proper, not-crooked sort of a way.

So why did he do that? Was his own country folk proving too stubborn, refusing to listen?

It may have been the case. The Huron/Wyandot people on the northern side of Lake Ontario were in a somewhat similar situation. They were divided in four different nations, and they had probably warred against each other as zealously, as relentlessly, unforgiving of offenses, imaginary or real.

Maybe they didn’t trust a person of their own, having difficulties to see beyond the obvious strangeness of his ideas. Maybe they needed an outsider to come and tell them that.

But no outsider was heading their way, while one of their own seemed to be on his way out.

An excerpt from “Two Rivers”, The Peacemaker Trilogy, book #1.

To leave or not to leave? The question kept circling in his head, examining all the possible angles, arriving at a dead end, always. To stay was fruitless, to leave was insane. The town of his childhood offered nothing but frustration, boredom, emptiness. But so did any settlement of his people. His reputation would go with him wherever he went. They all knew about the prophecy and about the strangeness and unacceptability of his ideas.

To leave it all behind by crossing the Great Sparkling Water, on the other hand, was tempting but plain insane. He had nothing to seek among the enemies of his people, nothing to ask, nothing to offer. Nothing but a spectacular death that they would be sure to inflict upon him. That might give them an interesting diversion for a day, but he would gain nothing but a painful end. Even taking the boy along might not solve the problem. The promising youth was nothing but a child when he had left his people, with no influence and no weight. A son of a War Chief, admittedly, but still just a child. No one would probably remember him at all.

No. The attempt to cross the Great Lake was the worst idea of them all. And yet…

The scattered drops of rain sprinkled his face, waking him from his reverie. Time to go back, back to suspicious glances, hatred, and mistrust. He shrugged. The hatred was new, all the rest – not so much.

Hesitating upon the top of the trail, he watched the woods to his left, his instincts alerting him for no apparent reason. He scanned the open patch of the land, all the way to the clusters of trees that began not far away from his vantage point. As though unwilling to disappoint him, a figure sprang from behind them, progressing in a funny gait, seeming like running upon an uneven surface.

Puzzled, he watched her for another heartbeat, then rushed down the cliff, his heart beating fast. Something was amiss. Even from this distance, he could see that it was a woman and that she had been in some sort of a trouble, with her hair flowing wildly and her dress askew, but mostly because of the desperate way she ran. Were enemy warriors spotted in the proximity of their woods?

He hastened his step, but the girl must have been running really fast, as she was close by the time he reached the flat ground. Close enough to recognize her. The pretty Beaver Clan girl. His heart missed a beat.

Historical fiction and the Iroquois

1 September 2013 Comments (0)

I am happy to announce the release of another new book

Two Rivers

The Great League of the Iroquois existed for centuries before both Americas had been discovered by the other continents. Composed of five nations known to us under the names of Mohawks, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and Seneca, the Iroquois Confederacy had occupied most of the present-day upstate New York and more, spilling into the southeastern Canada.

What made this confederacy special was their amazingly detailed, well-defined constitution. Recorded by a pictographic system in the form of wampum belts, the league’s laws held on for centuries, maintaining perfect balance between five powerful nations.

More than a few modern scholars believe that USA constitution was inspired by the Iroquois. To what degree, this is another question, but Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and some other Founding Fathers were, undoubtedly, very well-versed in the laws of the Great League, with Franklin advocating a federal system akin to that of the Iroquois and Adams leading a faction that favored more centralized government but still citing some of the Iroquois laws in the process.

So what was this remarkable constitution, and how did it come to life?

The year is 1140 and the war is raging on, relentless, uncompromising, a ferocious warfare, with every nation fighting each other, raiding one another’s towns, seeking revenge against offenses, imaginary or real. Five sister-nations caught in the web of violence and retaliation, unable to escape the hopeless loop.

To settle their differences and make them talk, someone with courage and unusually broad thinking was needed. Maybe a prophet. Maybe just an outstanding man. But an outsider, on that all the versions of the legend agree.

The Great Peacemaker, indeed, according to all sources crossed Lake Ontario, heading from the lands of the Huron/Wyandot people, present day southeastern Canada. For reasons unknown, his own country folk did not want to listen to his message.

However, the time the first novel in the trilogy is dealing with, the main bulk of the work was yet awaiting him. To cross the Lake Ontario was a brave decision. But what made him do that? Did he leave willingly or was he forced to do so?

Tekeni, a captive youth from across the Great Sparkling Water (Lake Ontario), adopted but finding it difficult to fit into his new life, gets caught in the middle of his new country folk politics when a game of lacrosse goes wrong. An act of violence, commenced out of an impulse puts him outside the law, hated by all but one man who is also frowned upon.

Two Rivers was an esteemed hunter and warrior, a local man of impressive abilities and skills, but a strange person with strange ideas that he never bothered to keep to himself. He claimed that the constant warfare was a wrong way of life, that the struggle between the neighboring nations – even the enemy across the Great Lake! – should stop. He maintained that the peaceful existence was possible. A notion that made even his friends shake their heads in doubt. What he said made no sense.

Yet, the man was insistent, arguing with his peers and his elders and betters, even the members of the Town and War Councils, and the Mothers of the Clans. Many eyebrows were raised in disapproval, but now that he was defending an enemy cub guilty of crime, the general displeasure began to turn into anger and hatred. Just whom this man thought he was?

With their trouble mounting and the revengefulness of some people around them growing, both Tekeni and Two Rivers find themselves pushed beyond limits.

An excerpt from “Two Rivers”, The Peacemaker Series, book #1.

Turning abruptly, she faced him, her face barely visible in the faint moonlight, mainly the outline of the beautiful cheekbones, high and oh-so-well defined.

“What do you want?” he asked tiredly, squatting upon the cold sand.

“Me? Nothing! I want nothing from you.”

“Then why did you wait for me here?”

“I didn’t say I was waiting for you!” The fringes decorating her dress jumped angrily as her chest rose and fell. “I came to enjoy some peace and quiet. I was here first.”

He snorted. “Peace and quiet? You don’t look so peaceful. And you were waiting for me here, fuming and getting angrier with every heartbeat.”

The hiss of her breath tore the silence. “I just came to tell you that if you will go on defending the dirty whelp that tried to kill my brother, you will regret it dearly.”

He didn’t turn his head, not surprised.

“Your brother is not dead yet. He may heal. And he was the one to attack this boy. I was there, I saw it all. He grabbed the boy by his throat, and he threatened to kill him, after he hit him in the middle of the game. It was quite a blow, and I’m surprised he didn’t break this youth’s arm. And maybe he did. It was all blue and swollen, but no one paid attention, of course. No one cared for the dirty foreigner. They were busy fussing around your brother, the impeccable Wyandot man.” He raised his hand as she tried to say something, glaring at her in his turn, truly angry now. “Well, I did not intend to defend the wild cub. He was certainly guilty of the charges against him. All I did was to tell the true story when I was called by the Town Council to testify. But now, after talking to you, I may very well do that, try to help that boy. He was treated badly enough, this afternoon, if not through his previous moons here. He was adopted formally, turned into one of us. But he is not treated as one of us now, is he?”

“If my brother dies, he’ll die,” she said stubbornly, turning away and peering at the dark mass of the water below her feet. “Adopted or not, one of us or not. And I’m warning you. Keep out of it. Many people are angry with you as it is. Your attitude is bad enough, without making matters so much worse by helping the filthy cub.” She paused, and he could imagine her lips pressing tightly, unpleasantly thin, an ugly sight, although she was a beautiful woman. “The boy is lost, anyway. If my brother recovers, he will not let this incident pass unavenged. He will kill the boy by his own hand.”

“He can’t take the law into his hands. We are no savages. We have councils to settle such matters.”

A shrug was his answer. He tried to keep his anger at bay.

“How is he now?” he asked instead.

She shrugged again. “He is vomiting, and he cannot see clearly. He is murmuring, coming around, and then going back into the worlds of the Spirits.”

“Not good.” He sighed and more felt than saw her doing the same. “But he still may heal. I’ve seen people recover from head injuries like that. It takes time.”

“I hope you are right.” Her voice stiffened again, turning freezing cold. “But if he doesn’t, this boy will wish he were never born.”

The hatred, he thought, feeling the familiar twisting in his stomach. Always hatred. So much of it. And it is ruling our lives, this ever present sense of being wronged, this persistent need of revenge, this hopeless urge to take our frustrations out on something or someone. And always anger, anger, lakes of anger, not a peaceful moment for anyone, harmful, destructive, corruptive, ruining people and nations. Can’t they truly see the wrong in it?”

The Great Peacemaker

18 August 2011 Comments (0)

He came from across the Great Sparkling Water (Ontario), carrying the tidings of peace. Alone, in a stone canoe; or so the legend says.

His mission was suicidal. The southern shores of the Great Lake were torn by decades of a fierce warfare. Five powerful nations fought each other relentlessly, mercilessly, unable to stop what had, probably, begun as a few feuds and a few retaliations, developing over the years into a full scale war, into a vicious cycle of revenge and counter-revenge.

These wars brought nothing but destruction. These nations were doomed, he knew, unless stopped and made to think. Someone has to explain, made them see the reason. But he, of all people, was the less likely candidate to make himself heard, coming from the lands of the Crooked Tongues (Huron). Should someone stop to listen to his message, he would have difficulty to understand the stranger’s dialect.

But the Creator, the Right-Handed Twin himself, had entrusted him with this mission. He had no choice.

The misty shores of the Onondaga lands greeted him solemnly, reserved yet not hostile. Few hunters stared at the approaching canoe in disbelieve. Unafraid and businesslike, he informed them about his mission and sent them off to spread the word.

His fortune remained favorable when, next, he came to the dwelling of Jeconsahseh, a woman who kept her place neutral and who fed the passing by parties of warriors. Before entering her bark little lodge, the warriors were required to leave their weapons outside. She listened attentively and had no difficulty to understand the urgency of a peaceful solution. He promised her the leadership of the women, the Clan Mothers, when the peace is achieved.

Not afraid of the challenge, he then proceeded into the lands of the fiercest nation, the People of the Flint (Mohawks). Suspiciously, yet attentively, they listen to the stranger’s words. The situation must have been truly hopeless by this time, to make the warriors and their leaders’ minds so open. After a few miracles performed, they had agreed to listen. They had also no difficulty to understand the importance of his mission.

Still in the People of the Flint lands, he met Ayonwatha, the grief-stricken Onondaga leader, who has recently lost the last of his family in his strife against the loathsome and a very powerful sorcerer, Tadodarho. Removing Ayonwatha’s grief with the help of the wampum shells, the Great Peacemaker had instituted the traditional Condolence Ceremony for the generations to come. The Wampum Belts also had assumed their prominent place in the yet-to-be-born Great League of the Iroquois, documenting treaties and agreements that represented important events of the rich Five Nations’ history.

The both men now tried to meet the evil Tadodarho, but failed. So they proceeded into the lands of the neighboring People of the Standing Rock (Oneida) and the People of the Great Swamp (Cayuga). In the lands of the People of the Mountain (Seneca) the Peacemaker had to banish the sun from the noon sky to prove his might.

With four nations devotedly following, they returned into the lands of the evil Tadodarho once again, not deterred by the man’s repulsive appearances, nor by the snakes wrangling in his head. They song the Great Song of Peace and, eventually, were successful in pacifying the sorcerer’s evil mind.

With this last obstruction removed, the Great Peacemaker plunged into a more tedious task, establishing his great and a very elaborated set of laws, which would govern the united Five Nations for hundreds years to come, serving their purpose unfailingly and giving their example to the much-later-to-form USA constitution.