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p. 166


1 a. Yo o-nen o-nen wen ni sr te, "oh now--now this day." It will be noticed that this address of the "younger brothers" commences in nearly the same words which begin the speeches of the Canienga book. This similarity of language exists in other parts of the two books, though disguised by the difference of dialect, and also by the very irregular and corrupt spelling of the Onondaga book. To give some idea of this irregularity, and of the manner in which the words of this book are to be pronounced, several of these words are sub joined, with the pronunciation of the interpreter, represented in the orthography of the Canienga book:

Words as written.

wen ni sr te
ho gar a nyat
son tar yen
na ya ne
o shon ta gon gonar
gar weear har tye
on gwr non sen shen tar qua
ga nen ar ta (or, ga nen ar ti)
kon hon wi sats
o wen gr ge
nar ya he yr genh

As pronounced by La Fori.



The letter r, it will be seen, is not a consonant. In fact, it is never heard as such in the modern Onondaga dialect. As used by La Fort, its office is either to give to the preceding vowel a the sound which it has in father, or by itself to represent that sound. The a, when not followed by r, is usually sounded like a in fate, but sometimes keeps the sound of a in far. The e usually represents the English e in be, or, when followed by n, the e in pen. The i and y are commonly sounded as in the word city. The g is always hard, and is interchangeable with k. The t and d are also interchangeable.

While the syllables in the original are written separately, the words are not always distinguished; and it is doubtful if,

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in printing, they have in all cases been properly divided. The translation of the interpreter, though tolerably exact, was not always literal; and in the brief time at our command the precise meaning of some of the words was not ascertained. No attempt, therefore, has been made to form a glossary of this portion of the text.

(Transcribers' Note: In the original printed text there were gaps of one and two spaces between syllables. In this transcription the gaps of one space have been replaced with a hyphen and gaps of two spaces by one space.--jbh.}

In the original the addresses of the "younger brothers" are divided into sections, which are numbered from one to seven, and each of which, in the ceremony, is called to mind by its special wampum-string, which is produced when the section is recited. As the first of these sections is of much greater length than the others, it has been divided in this work, for the purpose of ready reference, into sub-sections, which are numbered 1 a, 1 b, and so on.

1. b. Nenthaotagenhetak, "by the ashes," or "near the hearth." The root-word is here agenhe, the Onondaga form of the Canienga word akenra, ashes, which is comprised in the compound form, jiudakenrokde, in Section 27 of the Canienga book. It will be seen that the spokesman of the younger nations is here complying strictly with the law laid down in that section. He "stands by the hearth and speaks a few words to comfort those who are mourning."

1. c. "It was valued at twenty." The interpreters explained that by "twenty" was understood the whole of their wampum, which constituted all their treasure. A human life was worth the whole of this, and they freely gave it, merely to recall the memory of the chief who was gone. Among the Hurons, when a man had been killed, and his kindred were willing to renounce their claim to vengeance on receiving due satisfaction, the number of presents of wampum and other valuables which were to be given was rigidly prescribed by their customary law. 1 From this custom would easily follow the usage of making similar gifts, in token of sympathy, to all persons who were mourning the loss of a near relative.

1. d. "Because with her the line is lost." The same sentiment prevailed among the Hurons. "For a Huron killed by a Huron," writes Father Ragueneau in the letter just quoted, "thirty gifts are commonly deemed a sufficient satisfaction. For a woman forty are required, because, as they say, the women are less able to defend themselves; and, moreover, they being the source whence the land is peopled, their

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lives should be deemed of more value to the commonwealth, and their weakness should have a stronger support in public justice." Such was the reasoning of these heathen barbarians. Enlightened Christendom has hardly yet advanced to the mark of these opinions.

1. e. "Where the grave has been made," &c. The recital of Father Ragueneau also illustrates this passage." Then followed," he writes, "nine other presents, for the purpose, as it were, of erecting a sepulchre for the deceased. Four of them were for the four pillars which should support this sepulchre, and four others for the four cross-pieces on which the bier of the dead was to rest. The ninth was to serve as his pillow."

2. "I will make the sky clear to you." In this paragraph the speaker reminds the mourners, in the style of bold imagery which the Iroquois orators affected, that continued grief for the dead would not be consonant with the course of nature. Though all might seem dark to them now, the sky would be as clear, and the sun would shine as brightly for them, as if their friend had not died. Their loss had been inevitable, and equally sure would be the return of the "pleasant days." This reminder, which may seem to us needless, was evidently designed as a reproof, at once gentle and forcible, of those customs of excessive and protracted mourning which were anciently common among the Huron Iroquois tribes.

3. "You must converse with your nephews," &c. The "nephews" are, of course, the chiefs of the younger nations, who are here the condolers. The mourners are urged to seek for comfort in the sympathy of their friends, and not to reject the consolations offered by their visitors and by their own people.

4. "And now you can go out before the people, and go on with your duties," &c. This, it will be seen, corresponds with the injunctions of the Canienga book. (See Section 27, ante, p. 127): "And then they will be comforted, and will conform to the great law."

6. "Then the horns shall be left on the grave," &c. The same figure is here used as in the Canienga book, Section 23 (ante, p. 125). It is evident that the importance of keeping up the succession of their councillors was constantly impressed on the minds of the Iroquois people by the founders of their League.

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7. "And the next death will receive the pouch." The "mourning wampum," in modern days, is left, or supposed to be left, with the kindred of the late chief until another death shall occur among the members of the Council, when it is to be passed on to the family of the deceased. This economy is made necessary by the fact that only one store of such wampum now exists, as the article is no longer made. It is probable that in ancient times the wampum was left permanently with the family of the deceased, as a memorial of the departed chief.

"Where the fire is made and the smoke is rising," i.e., when you receive notice that a Condoling Council is to be held in a certain place. The kindled fire and the rising smoke were the well-understood images which represented the convocation of their councils. In the Onondaga book before referred to (ante, p. 152) a few pages were occupied by what might be styled a pagan sermon, composed of exhortations addressed to the chiefs, urging them to do their duty to the community. The following is the commencement of this curious composition, which may serve to illustrate both the words now under consideration and the character of the people. The orthography is much better than that of La Fort's book, the vowels generally having the Italian sound, and the spelling being tolerably uniform. The translation was made by Albert Cusick, and is for the most part closely literal. The discourse commences with a "text," after the fashion which the pagan exhorter had probably learned from the missionaries:--

Naye ne iwaton ne gayanencher:

Onen wahagwatatjistagenhas ne Thatontarho. Onen wagayengwaeten, naye ne watkaenya, esta netho tina enyontkawaonk. Ne enagenyon nwatkaonwenjage shanonwe nwakayengwaeten netho titentyetongenta shanonwe nwakayengwaeten, ne tokat gishens enyagoiwayentaha ne oyatonwetti.

Netho hiya nigawennonten ne ongwanencher ne Ayakt Niyongyonwenjage ne Tyongwehonwe.

Otti nawahoten ne oyengwaetakwit? Nayehiya, ne agwegeh enhonatiwagwaisyonk ne hatigowanes,--tenhontatnonongwak gagweki,--oni enshagotino-ongwak ne honityogwa; engenk ne hotisgenrhergeta, oni ne genthonwisash, oni ne hongwagsata, oni ne ashonsthateyetigaher ne ongwagsata; netho niyoh tehatinya agweke sne sgennon enyonnontonnyonhet,

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ne hegentyogwagwegi. Naye ne hatigowanens neye gagwegi honatiiwayenni sha oni nenyotik honityogwa shanya yagonigonheten. Ne tokat gishen naye enyagotiwatentyeti, negaewane akwashen ne honiyatwa shanityawenih.


"The law says this:"

"Now the council-fire was lighted by Atotarho. Now the smoke rises and ascends to the sky, that everybody may see it. The tribes of the different nations where the smoke appeared shall come directly where the smoke arises, if, perhaps, they have any business for the council to consider.

"These are the words of our law,--of the Six Nations of Indians.

"What is the purpose of the smoke? It is this--that the chiefs must all be honest; that they must all love one another; and that they must have regard for their people,--including the women, and also our children, and also those children whom we have not yet seen; so much they must care for, that all may be in peace, even the whole nation. It is the duty of the chiefs to do this, and they have the power to govern their people. If there is anything to be done for the good of the people, it is their duty to do it."

7 b. "Now I have finished! Now show him to me!" With this laconic exclamation, which calls upon the nation of the late chief to bring forward his successor, the formal portion of the ceremony--the condolence which precedes the installation--is abruptly closed.


167:1 Relation of 1648, p. 80.

Next: Note A: The Names of the Iroquois Nations