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Iroquois Ceremonies

Among the Iroquois, and, indeed, all the stationary tribes, there was an incredible number of mystic ceremonies, extravagant, puerile, and often disgusting, designed for the cure of the sick or for the general weal of the community. Most of their observances seem originally to have been dictated by dreams, and transmitted as a sacred heritage from generation to generation. They consisted in an endless variety of dances, masquerading, and nondescript orgies; and a scrupulous adherence to all the traditional forms was held to be of the last moment, as the slightest failure in this respect might entail serious calamities. Dreams were the great Indian oracles, and were implicitly obeyed. They believed them to be direct emanations from the Great Spirit, and as such were immutable laws to them. From this source arose many of their evils and miseries. In them were revealed their destiny and duty; war and peace, health and sickness, rain and drouth, were all revealed by a a class of professional dreamers and dream interpreters. Wizards and witches were the great bane of the Iroquois, and objects of utter detestation. Murder might be condoned, but witchcraft was punishable with death in all cases. Any one might kill a witch on sight with impunity. They believed that witches could transform themselves at will into any one of the wild animals or birds, or even assume the shape of logs, trees, rocks, &c., and, in forms invisible, visit public assemblies or private houses, and inflict all manner of evils. The delusion was at one time so prevalent and their destruction so great as to seriously lessen the population.1...

Iroquois Social Interactions

Family discipline was little resorted to. Filling the mouth with water and spurting it over the refractory urchins, or denuding and plunging them into cold water, were the principal means employed.1 The children were always considered the property of the wife, and in case of divorce followed her; though those who had grown up might stay with the father if they chose. Both parents were very desirous of gaining the affection of their children, and hence never opposed their inclinations, that they might not lose it. Their education therefore was not much attended to. The father generally gave the child a name in his sixth or seventh year, and pretended that it was suggested to him in a dream. This was done at a sacrifice, in a song. The same ceremony was performed when an adult person received a name of honor in addition to the former. Taciturn, morose and cruel as the Indians were usually in their hunting and warlike expeditions, in their own cabins and communities they were very social, patient and forbearing; in their festal seasons, when all were at leisure, they engaged in a round of continual feasting, gambling, smoking and dancing. In gambling they spent much of their leisure, and staked all they controlled on the chances of the game, their food, ornaments, canoes, clothing, and even their wives. Various devices were employed, plum stones or pieces of wood, painted black on one side and white on the other, these were put into a wooden bowl, which, being struck heavily upon the ground, caused the balls to bound upward, and the betting was upon...

Middlesex County Ontario Earliest Indian Residents

The Indian, being without a literature, knows nothing of his origin. The Frenchman and Spaniard found him here, and learning from him all he did know, gave the story to civilization as an Indian legend, while treating the newfound race historically as they found it. Huron Nation The Hurons, originally the Wyandots, were at Quebec in 1534, when Jagques Cartier arrived there. Later, they formed an alliance with the Adirondacks, but when the latter joined the Southern Iroquois Confederacy (about 1580), the prestige of the Wyandots began to fade, and the dispersion of the tribe overall Canada to Lake Huron followed. Early in the 16th century, they, with some Mississaugas and members of other tribes, formed a new confederacy with villages along the Thames and Lake and River St. Clair. In 1649, this new branch of the tribe was dispersed by the Southern Confederacy. The name originates in the phrase Quelles Hures (What Heads), applied by the French of Marquette’s time on first seeing them in their new western home. During the winter of 1615-16, Champlain visited among the tribes then inhabiting the Peninsula, formed by Lake Erie and St. Clair river. The country was then inhabited by a tribe, to whom Champlain gave the name Neutral Nation, or Nation de Truite; while the whole country west was called Conchradum, and after the Iroquois war, Saguinan. The Hurons were, undoubtedly, a branch of the great Algonquin race which, under several names, owned Ontario from the Ottawa to Lake Huron. To this Ontario division the general title of Iroquois du Nord was given by the French for military and political...

Wyandot Government: A Short Study of Tribal Society

In the social organization of the Wyandot four groups are recognized, the family, the gens, the phratry, and the tribe. Society is maintained by the establishment of government, for rights must be recognized and duties performed. In this tribe there is found a complete differentiation of the military from the civil government. The civil government inheres in a system of councils and chiefs. In each gens there is a council, composed of four women, called Yu?-waí-yu-wá-na. These four women councillors select a chief of the gens from its male members—that is, from their brothers and sons. This gentile chief is the head of the gentile council. The council of the tribe is composed of the aggregated gentile councils. The tribal council, therefore, is composed one-fifth of men and four-fifths of women. The sachem of the tribe, or tribal chief, is chosen by the chiefs of the gentes. There is sometimes a grand council of the gens, composed of the councillors of the gens proper and all the heads of households and leading men—brothers and sons. There is also sometimes a grand council of the tribe, composed of the council of the tribe proper and the heads of households of the tribe, and all the leading men of the tribe. These grand councils are convened for special purposes. Methods of Choosing and Installing Councillors and Chiefs The four women councillors of the gens are chosen by the heads of households, themselves being women. There is no formal election, but frequent discussion is had over the matter from time to time, in which a sentiment grows up within the gens and...

Huron Indian Bands, Gens and Clans

Many tribes have sub-tribes, bands, gens, clans and phratry.  Often very little information is known or they no longer exist.  We have included them here to provide more information about the tribes. Ataronchronon. One of the minor tribes of the Huron confederation, among whom the Jesuit mission of Sainte Marie was established. Jes. Rel. for 1640, 61, 1858. Dasoak (flying). A clan of the Huron. Huron Clans Nothing definite was known of the clans of the Hurons until the appearance of Morgan’s Ancient Society in 1877, Powell’s Wyandot Government (1st Rep. B. A. E., 1881), and Connolley’s The Wyandots (Archaeol. Rep. Ontario, 92, 1899). From the last writer, who corrects the work of the former authorities, the following list of Huron clans is taken: Great Turtle Little Water Turtle Mud Turtle Wolf Bear Beaver Deer Porcupine Striped Turtle Highland Turtle Snake Hawk. These, according to Powell, were organized into four phratries or clan brotherhoods, but Connolley denies that four phratries ever existed. The evidence appears to indicate, however, that the four-phratry organization was merged into one of three, of which the Wolf clan constituted one and acted as executive and presiding...
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