Collection: History of Chenango and Madison Counties New York

Oneida and Cayuga join the Iroquois Confederacy

“The Oneida and Cayuga,” says Gallatin, “are said to have been compelled to join [the confederacy.] Those two tribes were the younger and the three others the older members.” Zinzendorf, speaking of the Iroquois, says “the Oneidas and Cayuga are their children.”–Indian tribes of North America. “By the early French writers, the Mohawks and Oneidas were styled the lower or inferior Iroquois; while the Onondagas, Cayuga and Seneca, were denominated the upper or superior Iroquois, because they were located near the sources of the St. Lawrence. The Mohawks, who are commonly supposed to be the first nation in the confederacy and were considered the most warlike people in the land, were also styled elder brothers of the other nations, and so esteemed themselves. To [them] was always accorded the high consideration of furnishing the war captain, or ‘Tekarahogea,’ of the confederacy, which distinguished title was retained with them till the year 1814, when the celebrated Hoa-ho-a-quah, an Onondaga, was chosen in general council at Buffalo to fill that important station. The political and social organizations of the Iroquois though simple in their structure were effective in their operation. They were calculated to violate as little as might be the high regard this people had for individual liberty, which they required should be the largest, consistent with the general welfare. The method by which they secured efficiency without imposing undue...

Read More

Onondaga Council Fire

All business between other nations and the Iroquois was brought to the council fire of Onondaga,(*) and the conclusion there reached carried with it all the weight of a kingly edict. The deliberations of the sachems were conducted with the utmost decorum, and a rigid adherence to their notions of parliamentary usage which challenged the admiration of civilized nations. No speaker interrupted another. Each gave his opinion in turn, but not until he had stated in full the subject of discussion, to prove that he understood it, and had repeated the arguments pro and con of previous speakers. Thus their debates were exceedingly prolix, but resulted in a thorough sifting of the matter in hand. Their sachems received no compensation for their services. Honor and esteem were their chief rewards; shame and being despised, their punishment. Their principal men, both sachems and chiefs, were generally poorer than the common people; for they affected to give away and distribute all the presents or plunder they got by treaty or in war.(+) They held their office by reason of merit and the esteem in which they were held by the people, and forfeited this distinction when that esteem was lost. Thus while the system held out ample incentives to valorous achievement, there was nothing to tempt the covetous and sordid. A respect for native superiority, and a willingness to yield to...

Read More

The Iroquios Council

The Chippewa, however, furnished an exception to this rule. With them the son of a chief had a legal right to succeed his father. The rule, though binding, was very elastic, and capable of stretching to the farthest limits of the tribe–each tribe being allowed to select its chief from among its own members. Almost invariably the chief was succeeded by a near relative, always on the female side; but if these were manifestly unfit, his successor was chosen at a council of the tribe from among remoter kindred, in which case he was nominated by the matron of the late chief’s household. 1Lafitau. In any event the choice was never adverse to the popular inclination. 2Parkman. The new chief was inducted into office by a formal council of the sachems of the league; and on assuming its duties he dropped his own name and substituted that which, since the formation of the league, had belonged to his especial chieftainship. 3Parkman. The chief was required to be a skillful hunter, if not the best in his tribe, and liberal with his game. He must also be a good physician, and able to advise and assist the sick in every circumstance. It was his duty to take care of orphans, to harbor strangers, and to keep order in the town. But he, like the sachem, had no power of compulsion;...

Read More

Hiawatha Speaks to the Tribes

At length he regained his composure and took his seat in the council, whose deliberations were participated in by the ablest counselors of the assembled nations. At the conclusion of the debate, Hiawatha, desiring that nothing should be done hastily and inconsiderately, proposed that the council be postponed one day, so that they might weigh well the words which had been spoken, when he promised to communicate his plan for consideration, assuring them of his confidence in its success. The following day the council again assembled and amid breathless silence the sage counselor thus addressed them: “Friends and Brothers: You are members of many tribes and nations. You have come here, many of you, a great distance from your homes. We have convened for one common purpose, to promote one common interest, and that is to provide for our mutual safety, and how it shall best be accomplished. To oppose these hordes of northern foes by tribes, singly and alone, would prove our certain destruction; we can make no progress in that way; we must unite ourselves into one common band of brothers. Our warriors united, would surely repel these rude invaders and drive them from our borders. This must be done and we shall be safe. “You, the Mohawk, sitting under the shadow of the ‘great tree,’ whose roots sink deep into the earth, and whose branches spread...

Read More

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...

Read More

Iroquois Feasts

Prodigality was as much a characteristic of their feasts as their dances and other amusements, with which they were often associated, and like them are supposed to have had their origin in religion. They were often participated in by whole villages, sometimes even by neighboring villages, and in this way a vain or ambitious host applied all his substance to one entertainment. Br‚beuf relates an instance of this kind which occurred in the winter of 1635, at the village of Contarrea, where thirty kettles were over the fires, and twenty deer and four bears were served up. 1Parkman’s Jesuits. The invitation was simple and consisted in the concise summons, “Come and eat.” To refuse was a grave offense. Each guest took his dish and spoon and as he entered, greeted his host with the ejaculation, Ho! He then ranged himself with the rest, squatted on the earthen floor or on the platform along the sides of the house, around the steaming kettles. A long prelude of lugubrious singing preceded the feast. The host, who took no share in the feast, then proclaimed in a loud voice the contents of each kettle and at each announcement the company responded in unison, Ho! The attendant squaws then filled the bowls of the guests, who interspersed their feasting with talking, laughing, jesting, singing and smoking, at times protracting the entertainment throughout the...

Read More

Iroquois Towns

The Indian towns were generally but an irregular and confused aggregation of Indian houses, clustered together with little regard to order, and covering from one to ten acres. They were often fortified, and a situation favorable to defense was always chosen–the bank of a lake, the crown of a difficult hill, or a high point of land in the fork of confluent rivers. These defenses were not often constructed with any mathematical regularity, but made to conform to the nature of the ground. 1The forts attacked by Champlain in 1615 and M. de Tracy in 1666, furnish exceptions to this statement, and the diagram of the former also shows that the inclosed village was built with great regularity. The former was in the form of a hexagon, without bastions, “with strong quadruple palisades of large timber, thirty feet high, interlocked the one with the other, with an interval of not more than a foot between them, with galleries in the form of parapets, defended with double pieces of timber;” and the latter was a triple palisade, twenty feet in height, and flanked by four bastions. Both were provided with the means of extinguishing fires. Water was conducted to the former from a pond with a never-failing supply of water by means of gutters; while in the latter it was kept in bark tanks; Voyages de la Nouv. France par...

Read More

Taounyawatha – Deity of the Forest

This was a part of the broad domain of the Iroquois 1Iroquois was the French name for the five confederated nations of Indians residing mostly within this State. By the Dutch they were called “Maquas.” They denominated themselves “Mingoes,” meaning United People – Clark’s Onondaga. Their true name is “Hodenosaunee” or “People of the Long House,” because the five nations were ranged in a long line through Central New York, and likened to one of their long bark houses. Parkman’s Jesuits. Ruttenber says they bore the title of “Aquinosbione,” or “Konosbioni,” having the same meaning. Confederacy,   which extended, in general terms, from the Hudson to the Genesee, and from the north to the south boundary of this State. This confederacy was composed of the following nations, located in the following order from east to west, the Mohawk, (Ganeagaonos,) 3The Iroquois termination in one, means people.–Parkman’s Jesuits. Its origin is buried in the obscurity of vague tradition and was unknown to civilized nations in 1750. 4Coldens Five Nations. on the river which bears their name, the Oneida, (Onayotekaonos) Onondaga, (Onundagaonos) Cayugas, (Gwengwehonos) and Seneca, (Nundawaonos) mostly adjacent to the lakes which bear their names. The traditions of the Iroquois ascribe it, as well as the origin of the individual nations, to a supernatural source. They, like the Athenians, sprung from the earth itself. “In remote ages they had been confined...

Read More

History of the Iroquois Indians

We have no authentic history of a people inhabiting this country anterior to those who occupied it on the advent of the Europeans, and who are classed under the generic term Indians. Even their history prior to their intimate association with civilized people is shrouded in obscurity and is transmitted to us in the form of vague and fragmentary legends. The aborigines were a barbaric race and have left no written history, except that we occasionally discover traces of their rude paintings and still ruder engravings. But this is in a measure compensated by the more enduring relics, consisting of the implements of husbandry, the chase and war, which the plow and other means of excavation have numerously disclosed. Their fortified villages and places of burial are rich also in suggestive incidents. 1The Indians were accustomed to bury with their dead various articles of ornament and use, which, it was supposed, would be serviceable in their passage to a future abode, of which the most barbaric had some conception. Taounyawatha – Deity of the Forest Hiawatha Speaks to the Tribes Oneida and Cayuga Join the Confederacy Onondaga Council Fire The Iroquios Council The Adirondacks Tuscarora Incorporated into the Confederacy Downfall of the Iroquois Confederacy Iroquois Domestic and Social Life Iroquois Social Interactions Iroquois Feasts Iroquois Towns Iroquios Personal Ornamentation Iroquois Religion Iroquois Ceremonies Footnotes:   [ + ] 1. ↩ The...

Read More

Iroquois Domestic and Social Life

We purpose giving in this chapter some of the more prominent features of Indian domestic and social life, which furnish the best index to their true character. The Indian, viewed as a distinct branch of the human family, has some peculiar traits and institutions which may be advantageously studied. They furnish the key to those startling impulses which have so long made him an object of wonder to civilized communities, and reveal him as the legitimate product of the conditions attending his birth, his forest education, and the wants, temptations and dangers which surround him. They show him also to be as patient and politic as he is ferocious. “America, when it became known to Europeans, was, as it had long been, a scene of wide-spread revolution. North and South, tribe was giving place to tribe, language to language; for the Indian, hopelessly unchanging in respect to individual and social development, was as regarded tribal relations and social haunts, mutable as the wind. In Canada and the northern section of the United States, the elements of change were especially active. The Indian population which, in 1535, Cartier found at Montreal and Quebec, had disappeared at the opening of the next century, and another race had succeeded, in language and customs widely different; while in the region now forming the State of New York, a power was rising to a...

Read More

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. 1Ibid. 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,...

Read More

Chenango County, New York Genealogy

This collection was extracted from the History of Chenango and Madison Counties, New York. The genealogy data we’re providing below is specific to the Chenango County portion of the book, except for the Native American History. It presently contains only the towns of Afton and Sherburne.

Read More

Search

Subscribe to AccessGenealogy

Enter your email address to subscribe to AccessGenealogy and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 4,457 other subscribers

It takes a Village to grow a Family Tree!


It takes a village to grow a family tree!
Genealogy Update - Keeping you up-to-date!
101 Best Websites 2016

Recent Comments

Subscribe to AccessGenealogy

Enter your email address to subscribe to AccessGenealogy and receive notifications of new posts and databases by email.

Join 4,457 other subscribers

Pin It on Pinterest