The Iroquois Nation was a nation of five tribes, which was comprised of Mohawks, Senecas, Oneidas, Cayugas, and Onondagas. These tribes were originally separated, but later brought together by two Indians named Hiawatha and Deganawidah. Hiawatha seemed to be the spokesman while Deganawidah took on the role as a philosopher. These two men formed a nation where some of the ideas are still intact today.
One aspect that made them so strong was the way in which they governed themselves. Women in their society were basically in charge, except for the Sachems who were representatives appointed by the heads of the Ohwachiras. When this federal assembly met, the Sachems voted as tribes instead as individuals. This in many ways can be compared to present day government electoral votes.
Another aspect I found that created a strong unity was the arrangement of power, which was demonstrated in their seating arrangement. The Mohawks and Senecas sat on one side, while the Oneidas and Cayugas on the other. The two tribes were separated with the Onondagas sitting between them. This arrangement was a lot like present day’s balance of power in the three different branches of the Federal Government.
The government of the Iroquois Nation has set themselves apart from almost all other Indians of North America and made it a powerful force in denouncing the Indians as being savages. Today’s Native American has adopted many of the ideas of the Iroquois Nation.
Native American history is handed down amongst the tribes through spoken language and rituals. Native American religion is centered on the idea that every day items as well as the nature surrounding them can possess spirit. Euro-Christian’s views are more anonymous as to religion and more scientific concerning their history.
Native American’s view of history contains many inconclusive facts when looked at from a European point of view. When you consider their lack of a written language, there are many instances where they do name specific places from which they originate. Unlike the Euro-Christians, these places the Native American’s speak of can be found today. In contrast, Euro-Christian religion/history speaks of the Garden of Eden, but with no specific location as to where the garden can be found. Native American history is interwoven with their religion as where the majority of European history is scientific.
Native American history in the old was told down generation to generation. A written history was not looked at as being that important. The Native Americans don’t recognize time in a linear fashion but more of a circular one.
The old history of the Native Americans was one of war chiefs and cruel leaders with a blood thirst and extreme savagery. The older has more religion mixed in with it, as it should because the great emphasis on religion and history are combined. The Native Americans before the arrival of Europeans were a people with inner strife and conflict as well as accomplishment. They were on the land that connected them with there history and it was easy for them to pass it down.
The new history is one of forced moves from lands that connect the Native Americans to their history and religion. The new history is comprised of trade wars along with fighting amongst once friendly tribes. The new history is also comprised of sickness, which was spread by Europeans. Hopefully, new writings about the leaders who were philosophers and great peacemakers will replace the misguided views of early European history.
Life For the Native Americans was good before the Europeans arrived. The Natives live in harmony with nature and each other, living in an understood coexistence. Natives planted fields and hunted, while moving about throughout the year according to season. After the arrival of the Europeans, much of the native population died of disease. Whether this was intentional or not, that part is not clear, although I lean towards intentional even from the start.
Native Americans grew maze and other vegetables on cleared plots of land for years at a time. They would move after the soil was depleted of minerals, but they wouldn’t clear very large plots of land because they never grew more than they would use. Then the Europeans came and demanded the Natives feed them along with trade with them. This caused the Natives to become dependent on European goods and thus giving the Europeans control over them. At this point in history, the Native Americans way of life started to decline.
European policy regarding the Natives was one of exploitation and greed. The Europeans saw the natives as a commodity not as human beings, as barbarians not as the civil advanced people they were. They saw them as a way to make some money and advance there own goals.
The Europeans were coming over in larger amounts and they needed to spread out over the great expanse of the wilderness (populated Native American land). The Europeans adopted policy that would allow them to take over by any means necessary by deceiving, murdering, disease, and war. The Europeans justification to the stealing of land was also that the Natives were nothing more than animals, who were not using all the land to the extent that it could be used.
I believe these justifications to be erroneous as well as ignorant. As to the Natives being non-intelligent, barbarous people, they had complex societies that were self sufficient with strong and complex governments. They also had belief in religion, many with a god residing power over all. To the natives not using the land to the fullest, I think it should read not ruining the land to the fullest. Native Americans used the land for what they needed to exist, not to turn a profit and destroy nature (the wilderness).
Native Americans thought of gifts as symbolic gestures of friendship and peace at first. They would look at all trade as an exchange of gifts. They would have feasts after trades with the French, for instance to bolster the moral and finalize a deal. Even when the stakes were high and the Europeans knew that it was a gift and not a trade, the natives thought it to be a gift. When the Europeans traded gifts to the Natives for land, the Natives assumed they were trading a gift for the use of land, not knowing that land can be owned. Land was a sacred thing to the Natives and I doubt they would have traded any of it, if they knew the implications of these gifts they were receiving (in trade).
The Europeans on the other hand knew that the natives didn’t know what some of these trades meant. A few Europeans tried to explain it to the natives, but to no avail. The Natives didn’t understand to the Europeans delight. They used this against the Natives who couldn’t have known the value of what they were giving up. The Europeans were at fault by knowing these trades to be absurd and unfair