8. Iroquoian Cultures

Iroquois (Haudenosaunee)

The people referred to as Iroquois call themselves Haudenosaunee (People of the Longhouse/ They are Building a Longhouse). The Algonquian Huron (Wyandot), traditional enemies of the Iroquois and allies to the French Basque fisherman and hunters, called the Haudenosaunee “Irinakhoiw” meaning “black snakes” or “real adders”. It is also possible that the Basque used the term “hilokoa” in reference to the Haudenosaunee meaning “killer people”. The pidgin language spoken between the Huron and the Basque settled on Iroquois, which I will use in this essay due to its familiarity.

What distinguishes the Iroquois from the 1200 or so Algonquian tribes of the northeast is language. Iroquoian is a linguistic island within the vast Algonquian area. It includes the familiar tribes of Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Mohawk, and Oneida that formed the Iroquois League (The League of Peace and Power) by the sixteenth century if not earlier. In 1722 the Tuscarora were driven north by the English and were reunited with Iroquois. The confederacy became known as the Six Nations.

The Cherokee, driven into the southeast by the Iroquois and Delaware in 1634 are a detached Iroquoian tribe. I don’t know why this occurred knowing that the Delaware were part of the huge Algonquian world and the Iroquois with their league and relatives of the Cherokee were a world unto itself. Unlike the Tuscarora, the Cherokee remained unaffiliated with the Iroquois League. In fact, as allies to the English colonists, willing to do their bidding, the Cherokee slaughtered the Tuscarora, their relatives, and drove those that survived back into the Iroquois fold. But even with all of this confusion and mayhem I found that to grasp the influence of the Cherokee might have had on Appalachian folk culture I had to look to the Iroquois. Unlike the fragmented Cherokee culture, Iroquois customs remain reasonably well documented and bear a remarkable resemblance to what remains of the Cherokee.

Let’s first look at the Iroquois League itself. It is embodied in a Great Council of fifty hereditary sachems, the ceremonial and cultural medicine men. The territory controlled by the Iroquois was considered a vast tribal longhouse. The Mohawk were the keepers of the east door, the Seneca the keepers of the west door. The Onondaga, situated at the heart of Iroquois territory were the keepers of the League’s central fire.

The Iroquois Confederacy, distinguished from the League, was a decentralized entity that dealt politically and diplomatically with European colonization. The Iroquois were allies to the English during the American Revolution. The Confederacy dissolved after the British were defeated. The League continues to exist into today. It should be noted that the Iroquois destroyed many of its own lesser tribes, such as the Erie in 1654, over competition for the fur trade. This could have been the reason the Cherokee were driven into the southeast.

The Iroquois were not limited to the New York region as is often supposed. In the early 1700’s they enjoyed a long reach into Virginia. The Blue Ridge was considered the buffer between the English colony and the Iroquois by treaty. The Iroquois were forbidden to move east of the Blue Ridge demarcation but by the 1730’s settlers pushed west beyond the Blue Ridge into the Iroquoian Shenandoah Valley. By 1734, on the verge of war, the Virginia Colony paid the Iroquois 100 pounds sterling for the settled land in the Shenandoah Valley. In 1744 the Iroquois sold the last of their remaining Virginia land to the English for 200 pounds in gold. It is important to be aware of these things because Iroquois culture had been an influence in the southern Appalachian region for about a century and a half.
One of the most intriguing Iroquoian customs concerned their view of reincarnation. Unlike the other tribes we have visited who used names as a means of keeping departed tribal members within the tribe’s mainstream, the Iroquois believed they could only replace lost members with captives, some of which were Europeans. The dead were replaced with “Mourning Wars”, a time when the Iroquois would exploit memories of old feuds and disagreements, sweep into other villages, and take prisoners. Captives were adopted directly by grieving families, keeping the Iroquois population high as well as dispersing and assimilating their enemies. Mourning Wars replaced tribal members lost due to other wars, famine, and epidemics. During the Beaver Wars (1609 – 1701) the Iroquois League was largely composed of assimilated members of other tribes. By 1668 it is thought that 2/3’s of the Oneida village was made up of Huron and other Algonquian tribal members. Seven different nations were represented at Onondaga, and eleven within the Seneca. All members, regardless of tribe or race, were adopted, educated as Iroquois, and fully assimilated as tribal members.

The clan system as it stands today varies in each of the six nations from three clans to eight in a variety of combinations. In general the clans include: Wolf, Bear, Turtle, Sandpiper, Deer, Beaver, Heron, Hawk, and Eel.

The Iroquois believe that the spirits change the seasons and key ceremonies occur in relationship to agricultural events during the course of the year. And within each of these ceremonies, numerous and specific rituals take place. The Midwinter Ceremony is a good example of this.

Nine rituals take place in the Midwinter Ceremony over the course of nine days in January or February. The date is determined by the new moon’s proximity to the Big and Little Dippers and commences five days after this astronomical event.

The Big Heads and the Stirring of the Ashes is the first ritual. Individuals dressed in elaborate corn husk masks and buffalo hides, symbolizing both the harvest and the hunt, go from house to house stirring the hearth ashes with corn mashing mallets. While the ashes are being stirred prayers of gratitude are offered followed by prayers for the renewal and fertility of the Earth. The ashes represent the Earth and the journey of all life that progresses from and returns to Her.

The Stirring of the Ashes is followed by the Tobacco Invocation where tobacco is placed on the remaining coals to smolder. This too is considered an act of gratitude and it is believed that prayers are carried in the smoke.

The Dream Sharing Ritual is a particularly interesting event where everyone shares their dreams with the tribe and people offer suggestions about the dreams’ meanings. Dreaming, both asleep and lucid, is an art cultivated by many groups, is believed to provide all of the knowledge needed by an individual and his or her tribe. During the Dream Sharing Ritual dreams are often reenacted to help determine the meanings. This practice is a stark contrast to the Western world’s dismissal of this art wrapped in expressions such as, “It’s just a dream”, or the western notion that dreams should be kept a secret. Often during the Dream Sharing Ritual people volunteer to help the dreamers fulfill what is given in their dreams. It is considered both an honor and a great responsibility.

The False Face Society, a society of medicine men, exists to cure the village and all its members of illness and misfortune. They wear masks carved from living trees and clothes made from buffalo hide, representing as mentioned before, both the harvest and the hunt. The medicine men move from house to house invoking benevolent spirits with tobacco smoke, and together they drive away the malevolent spirits that cause disease, illness, and trouble in general, often made evident on the Dream Sharing Ritual. While this is taking place medicine songs are sung, and turtle rattles are shaken while being rubbed on the floors and walls. Tobacco ashes are blown onto the patient. This is followed by a Longhouse Ceremony.

All of the masks are assembled in the Longhouse, given pouches of tobacco, and ritually fed with white corn mush in payment for services rendered. The ritual continues with dancing followed by corn meal mush shared by everyone. I have read that the False Face Society performs this ritual twice a year, once during the Midwinter Ceremony.

Much of the Midwinter Ceremony is about cleansing and doctoring and the Bear Dance provides an element to this. Men and women dance counterclockwise moving as bears move, invoking the spirit of the bear. Bears act as transcendental liaisons between Earth’s creatures and the Creator.

The Bear Dance is followed by the Peach Stone Game, symbolizing the game played by the Creator and his evil brother during Creation. It is a rather complicated game that is divinatory by nature and determines the success or failure of the season’s harvest.
At this point in the Midwinter Ceremony a white dog was once sacrificed as a means to purify the entire community. The dog was strangled to insure its body was not flawed, and then decorated with plumes, red paint, beads made from shells and precious things, as well as ribbons. The dog was ritually burned with tobacco. Today, a white basket has replaced the dog.

The Sacrifice of the White Dog is followed by the Great Feather Dancer. Dancers dressed in full regalia move to the rhythm of songs accompanied by turtle shell rattles. It is a dance of thanksgiving for the blessings bestowed during the preceding year.

The final day includes an overview of the Midwinter Ceremony’s accomplishments and celebration. The council that will preside over the new year is chosen and introduced to tribal members. Everyone has been doctored, unburdened, and sanctified to proceed into the new year. The Midwinter Ceremony has concluded.

I have read various descriptions of the Midwinter Ceremony. Some are performed over six days rather than nine, set when the Pleiades is directly overhead at dusk. Each tribe of the Iroquois League has its own version so it’s likely if you do more reading on the subject you’ll discover many variations.

Other annual rituals that take place include:

1.    The Green Corn Ceremony
2.    The Maple Ceremony
3.    The Green Corn Ceremony (a second one)
4.    The Planting Ceremony
5.    The Strawberry Ceremony
6.    The Green Bean Ceremony

Some of these are described below in the Cherokee entry and all are complex, much like the Midwinter Ceremony. Notice that all of these ceremonies are about the sacredness of food. The western world persists in thinking that the only plants regarded as sacred are mind altering psycho-tropics; the world ties these plants to indigenous cultural shamanism. Nothing could be further from the truth.  The most sacred plants in the indigenous paradigm are the plants that provide food. The most elaborate rituals are about gathering, planting, cultivating, harvesting, and preparing food for winter. Food plants are regarded as powerful spirits capable of sustaining or destroying an entire people. Many are used as medicinal panaceas, believed capable of curing anything. So please, when speaking about sacred plants, begin with the sacredness of food.

In thinking about the white dog it should be mentioned that animal sacrifice remains somewhat common among quite a few tribes. Eagles are killed by medicine people for their plumes, talons, wings, bones, and other parts. Many other birds, especially raptors but not always, are ritually killed as well. Deer are hunted and smothered for ceremonies. Sheep are killed and hung from to tops of poles climbed by Koshare.

Lastly, I thought I would mention that tobacco has numerous medicinal applications for treating wounds and other things. As a spirit tobacco insures that the truth is spoken during councils and meetings.

Cherokee (Tsalagi)

The northern kinsmen of the Cherokee were the Iroquois and yet they and their Delaware neighbors drove the Cherokee out of the Great Lakes area into the southern Appalachian region in 1634. I don’t know why. But I do know it didn’t take the Cherokee long to become allies of the English, and as such they had a hand in eliminating any tribe thought to be a nuisance to the English. Sadly, Cherokee allegiance to England did not protect them from smallpox or any of the other diseases devastating native people. Nor did it protect them from the eventual encroachment and final displacement by increasing numbers of English settlers.

Nevertheless, the Cherokee continue to observe many of their traditions that include seven clans and seven rituals. After I studied them it was easy for me to see how features of these traditions could have been woven into Appalachian life.

The Long Hair Clan with its subdivisions of Twister, Wind, and Strangers, are traditionally peace keepers. They took in orphans from other tribes, captives, and ‘strangers’ that probably included white settlers and runaway slaves. The Peace Chief is a member of the Long Hair Clan.

The Blue Clan includes the subdivisions of Panther, Wildcat, and Bear. It is thought to be the oldest clan. The Blue Clan is responsible for making special medicine for children.

The Wolf Clan, the largest clan, is the one that provided protection. Its War Chief and the Peace Chief of the Long Hair Clan govern the tribe.

The Wild Potato Clan has one subdivision called the Blind Savannah. The Wild Potato Clan safe keeps the land and oversees the magic and medicine of gathering.

Hunters and runners make up the Deer Clan. Its members take care of animals, animal medicine, and carry messages from village to village, even person to person.

The Bird Clan carries messages between the people and the Creator. Its subdivisions are Raven, Turtle Dove, and Eagle. It is the only clan permitted to collect eagle plumes and present them to those individuals who have earned them.

The Paint Clan is the clan of medicine people. Medicine, in Cherokee tradition, is painted on unwell individuals and the Paint Clan is the only one permitted to do this. The Paint Clan is responsible for harvesting and preparing this paint medicine, and presiding over the ceremonial application of it.

The seven ceremonies of the Cherokee are performed in a Longhouse. Seven different woods are burned in the central fire, each representing one of the seven clans. Movement around the fire is counterclockwise.

The Great New Moon Ceremony takes place on the first new moon in October because it is believed that the world was created in autumn. It is a deeply sacred ceremony that includes dancing and purification by immersing oneself in water seven times. The Great New Moon Ceremony is one of gratitude to the Creator and the Ancestors for all the blessings they have brought to the people, and the affirmation that the cycle of life will continue. Each family brings corn, beans, and squash to the feast.

The Friendship Ceremony takes place ten days after the Great New Moon Ceremony. It is a time that renews the unity between mankind and the Creator. Vows of eternal friendship between men and women are renewed. Pledges of universal paternal and fraternal love are made. It is a time of reconciliation between those who have quarreled during the previous year. The Friendship Ceremony is one of purification and unification of the people to each other and to the Creator.

The Bouncing Bush Ceremony is an expression of unrestrained joy. It is the time thanks is given to the Creator and his helpers, acknowledging them as the source of all blessings. The ceremony includes dancing, feasting, and offerings of tobacco to the central fire.

The First New Moon of Spring Ceremony takes place in March. It is the time when all the previous harvest is brought together into a feast and consumed by the people. The ceremony initiates the planting season by prophesying about the new crop’s success or failure.  The central fire is extinguished and rekindled. Then during the course of seven days all of the home fires are extinguished and rekindled with coals from the central fire. It is the time of new beginnings and renewal of the Earth’s bounty.

The Green Corn Ceremony takes place in July or August when the corn is still green but fit to taste. Once the date is set runners are dispatched to all the villages and return with seven ears of corn, one from each clan. Then the chiefs and seven councilors fast for six days. On the seventh day the central fire is extinguished and rekindled; it is fed with kernels from the seven ears of corn. The village is cleaned and the old pottery is broken. New corn is then harvested and made into feast food for all to partake of, except the chiefs and his councilors who are only allowed to eat last year’s corn.

The Ripe Corn Ceremony takes place 40 to 50 days after the Green Corn Ceremony when the corn is mature. It is a thanksgiving ceremony to the Creator for the bounty of the harvest. It is believed to be the only Cherokee ceremony to survive into the 20th century.

The Chief Dance takes place every seven years. The principal chief is carried on a white chair into the sacred circle and situated next to the fire. He is acknowledged as chief of the people by each of the seven clans. It is followed by dancing and a feast.

I must emphasize that this way of life is far more complex than my brief anecdotes suggest. I don’t want to leave you with the impression that clans and the ceremonies are somehow simplistic. They are not. The vast and varied ways of life cultivated by Indigenous Americans are sophisticated, deeply spiritual, and unimaginably mystical.

Tuscarora

The Tuscarora of North Carolina are part of the Iroquoian family that once inhabited the entire piedmont from Virginia into northern South Carolina. They had moved into the region before contact and settled along the Roanoke, Neuse, Tar, and Pamlico Rivers in eastern North Carolina. It is possible that the Tuscarora knew the residents of the lost Roanoke Colony established in 1585 by the English on the North Carolina coast. The Roanoke residents disappeared without a trace.

Known contact with the English didn’t take place again until 1701. John Lawson, an explorer hired by the English king sought the Tuscarora’s help in exploring the region of what is now North and South Carolina. It is believed that at the time the Tuscarora were actually three tribes with a population of 6000 to 8000 people. One account in 1650 suggests that the Tuscarora, the Meherrin, and the Nottoway were one tribe.

Like all the other tribes, the Tuscarora were decimated by European diseases, especially smallpox. By 1711 colonists encroached on Tuscarora land and as expected war ensued. The English and their Cherokee allies slaughtered all the inhabitants of the Tuscarora’s main village, consisting only of women, children, and elders. Throughout this holocaust many Tuscarora were captured and sold into slavery. Perhaps 1500 fled to Virginia, the majority of which eventually returned to North Carolina. In 1715, some of the southern Tuscarora went to South Carolina to fight against the Yamassee, where later they were joined by their wives and children, settling near Port Royal, South Carolina. Those who remained in North Carolina were granted 56,000 acres along the Roanoke. It was called Indian Woods. The South Carolina group joined them in 1722.  As expected it didn’t take long before the Colonial Government reduced the grant and gave the land to colonists. Encroachment and widespread discrimination continued and the people of Indian Woods drifted away until there were only 301 left in 1755. In 1763 and 1766 more migrated north into Pennsylvania and New York, leaving behind only 104. Another treaty was negotiated in 1803. In 1804 the last bands left North Carolina for New York, leaving behind a handful of old families. By 1831 Indian Woods had been reduced to 2000 acres; even so, some remained. In time the southern Tuscarora succeeded in getting a full accounting of land value and rents owed in accordance with the 1803 treaty. Three bands re-organized as one group but are yet to be recognized.

Those that didn’t stay, were driven north into Pennsylvania and finally New York by the English over the course of ninety years. The Tuscarora were sponsored by the Oneida and became part of the Six Nations in 1722.  They too have struggled with recognition and were finally granted 520 acres on the Niagara River.

The Tuscarora, like all Indigenous Americans, do not draw a distinction between daily life and religious life. They have no word for religion and hold that all of life, both ritual and every day, is spiritual expression. Ritual practices of the Tuscarora are much like those of the Iroquois, and include the Longhouse, Green Corn, Midwinter, and Strawberry Ceremonies continued into present day.

Meherrin

The Meherrin people are related to and thought to share a common ancestor with the Tuscarora and Nottoway. Originally inhabiting the Virginia piedmont, the Meherrin moved into North Carolina because of Colonial pressure before heading to New York and joining the Iroquois Confederacy. Today, with 900 members, the Meherrin are a state recognized tribe in North Carolina.

Nottoway (Cheroenhaka)

The name of this tribe has something of a speculative evolution. Cheroenhaka is thought to be a Tuscarora word meaning Tobacco People or The People at the Fork of the Stream.  The Algonquian word Nadawa means “poisonous snake”; and the Algonquian word Natawewa suggests “traders”. The Virginians called them Nottoway because of the trade with them: Roanoke (shell beads) for skins (deer and otter). To add to the confusion, in 1584 the English noted that the Algonquian called the combined people of Nottoway, Meherrin, and Tuscarora, Mangoak or Magoags. The Nottoway language is believed to have become extinct long before 1900. In 1820 it appeared that only three elderly speakers were still alive. Several people cataloged 275 words. By the early 20th century it was determined that those words were closely related to the northern Tuscarora.

The 1650 first contact reported a population of 400 to 500 people. Hostility from other tribes led to the Nottoway and Meherrin becoming English allies against the Susquehannock in 1675. By 1677 they were considered a Tributary Nation of the Virginia Colony. Continued hostility from other tribes kept them moving around Virginia in 1681. This continued until they were finally absorbed into the Wyanoke, an Algonquian tribe that was part of the Powhatan Confederacy. Throughout all of this, the Nottoway remained organized, living in palisaded, multi-family longhouses and supplementing fishing, hunting, and gathering with the cultivation of maize, squash and beans.

Sadly, with high fatalities from European diseases, especially measles and smallpox, added to tribal warfare and colonial encroachment, the Nottoway population continued to decline. In 1720 some went to New York with the Tuscarora and some remained in Virginia. Further, some of the New York Nottoway, Tuscarora, and Meherrin merged and moved back to South Carolina.

Westo

The Westo people, either by nature or necessity, took a different path. They were first encountered by Europeans in the 17th century. Early Virginians traded with the Westo, firearms for slaves. The Westo moved to the Savannah River and became known for their powerful military and slave raids. In 1661 the Westo attacked the Spanish in Florida and Georgia and continued to attack other tribes and colonies up and down the coast, especially the Catawba. The South Carolina colony was dependent on the Catawba for protection and finally made a peace arrangement between the Westo and Catawba. During this period South Carolina had extensive slave trade with the Westo, kidnapped, it is believed, from the Cherokee, Chickasaw and others, some of whom later formed the Creek Confederacy. Virtually every tribe in the region was considered a traditional enemy of the Westo. Consequently, the Westo blocked colonial trade with any other tribe.

At some point during all of this some Shawnee migrated to the Savannah River area. They became known as the Savannah Indians. Although they didn’t share a language with the Westo it was witnessed that through sign language the Shawnee/Savannah communicated to the Westo that other tribes were planning an attack. This revelation made the Shawnee/Savannah and Westo friends and allies. As time went on the Shawnee/Savannah succeeded in establishing trade relations with the colony, providing the opportunity for the colonists to realize the value of having wider trade relations with all of the local tribes. This event led to the undoing of the Westo stronghold. The Shawnee/Savannah allied with the Carolina colony and together they went to war against the Westo, destroying them in 1680. The Shawnee/Savannah assumed control of Westo land and the Westo trading power. Surviving Westo people were believed to have been sold into slavery and sent to the West Indies to work the sugar plantations. A few may have remained in South Carolina, mentioned on a 1715 map. If that is true, they likely joined the Creek Confederacy.

Susquehannock

The name, Susquehannock, is an Algonquian word. It is unknown what the Susquehannock called themselves. They lived along the Susquehanna River and its tributaries, from southern New York, through Pennsylvania and down to the mouth of the Susquehanna in Maryland on the north end of Chesapeake Bay. Having a distinct style in pottery archaeological evidence also puts them in West Virginia as well.

The original population of the Susquehannock in 1600 CE is thought to have been 5000 to 7000 people. By 1700 it had declined to 300, largely due to European diseases and warfare, and in part, as a consequence of the fur trade. It is believed that the Susquehannock people were a confederacy of at least 20 smaller tribes. In 1676 the Iroquois made peace with the Virginia and Maryland colonies, becoming English allies. Meanwhile, as allies of the French, the Susquehannock competed fiercely with the Iroquois in the fur trade. After much warfare between them as well as encroachment by the French into the Ohio Valley the Susquehannock were defeated by the Iroquois and joined the Six Nations in New York in 1677. Some of them merged with the Meherrin and Nottoway there. The Iroquois assumed control of most of the Susquehanna River.

Others were invited by the English to resettle in Maryland, just across the river from Pennsylvania. After the unrelated Doeg killed some colonists in Virginia, the colonists crossed into Maryland and killed the Susquehannock there. Those that survived moved to Fort Piscataway, near present day Washington DC. Due to some frontier disturbances the Virginia and Maryland militias surrounded the peaceful village at Fort Piscataway. Five chiefs tried to negotiate an appeal but were murdered. Remaining Susquehannock slipped away and returned to the Susquehanna River.

In 1697 a few hundred Susquehannock resettled in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in a village called Conestoga Town. They were protected by the provincial Pennsylvania government. By 1763 the population had declined to 22 members. The same year the Paxton Boys slaughtered six of them. The remaining members were sheltered by the Commonwealth in a workhouse but two weeks later the Paxton Boys killed the remaining fourteen. In the early 1700’s remnants of Susquehannock migrated to Ohio, merging with other tribes and becoming known as the Mingo. It is then that the Susquehannock lost their identity as a nation.

Mingo

Mingo is derived from the Algonquian Delaware word Mingwe or Mingue, meaning “treacherous”. The Mingo were also called the Ohio Iroquois and the Ohio Seneca. They were an independent group of the Six Nations, moving into the Ohio Valley in the mid-18th century when it was sparsely populated and under Iroquois control. After the French and Indian War (1754-1763) the Cayuga moved to Ohio and the British created a reservation along the Sandusky River. They were joined by the Ohio Shawnee and the Mingo confederacy, followed by the Iroquois Seneca, the Wyandot, the Susquehannock remnants, and also other Shawnee and Delaware peoples. This group of diverse tribes lived independent of the Iroquois. In 1763 the Mingo with the other tribes banded together to drive the English out of the Ohio Valley. The Iroquois were English allies.

The story of Logan, the village chief of the Mingo, while not in the least uncommon, is a sad one. He was not a war chief. Even so, white settlers murdered his family. He made an eloquent and famous speech now known as “Logan’s Lament”; something everyone should read. And although Logan exacted revenge for the loss of his family he later refused to participate in the Battle of Point Pleasant, West Virginia (1774), because he was a man who believed in living peacefully with white settlers. That battle is thought by some to be the first battle of the Revolution.

By 1830 the Mingo were flourishing in western Ohio. They managed farms, schools, and civic institutions. Unfortunately and under the auspices of the Indian Removal Act, the government forced them to sell their land and migrate to Kansas in 1832, where they joined the Seneca and Cayuga bands there. In 1869 the government forced all of them to move to Oklahoma, at the time called the Indian Territory. In 1881 more bands of Cayuga and Seneca out of Canada joined them. In 1902, the 372 remaining members of the joint tribe received land allotments. Then in 1937 under the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act the tribes were recognized under the name of the Seneca Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma. There are five thousand members today, continuing their cultural and religious ties to Six Nations.

Erie (Erielhonan)

Erielhonan means “long tail”. They were also called the Cat People and the Raccoon People. By the 15th and 16th centuries Great Lakes tribes began to coalesce. Competition for resources was escalated by the fur trade and there was an enormous amount of warfare that took place between the tribes. The Iroquois were further angered by the Erie taking in Huron refugees; the Iroquois and Huron being bitter enemies. In mid-1650 the Iroquois confederacy went to war with the Erie and others, destroying the Erie confederacy. Some dispersed groups survived several decades before being absorbed into the Iroquois Seneca. It is speculated that some fled to Virginia and South Carolina and became the Westo. Various peoples claim to be descendants of Erie including the Seneca in Oklahoma and Kansas. While the Erie had little contact with Europeans they did some early fur trade with the Dutch from Fort Orange, near present day Albany, New York. They had some contact with the Jesuits too. But most of what is known about the Erie comes from the stories of other tribes, and archaeology.




Leave a Reply

(required)

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *

Current day month ye@r *

Responses to “8. Iroquoian Cultures”

  1. Wow…that is a lot of research, documentation and history.
    I feel like i’m finally beginning to follow along – being familiar enough with the geography to begin to imagine the movement a little easier.
    I keep reminding myself that what is now WV was Virgina until 1863.
    Thank you

    • Yes, that adds to the challenge. Old records referring to Virginia include West Virginia, where as, post Civil War and now we draw a distinction.

Trackbacks