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p. 146


The meaning of the general title, Okayondonghsera Yondennase, has been already explained (Introduction, p. 48). In the sub-title, the word oghentonh is properly an adverb, meaning firstly, or foremost. This title might, be literally rendered, "First the ceremony, 'At-the-wood's-edge' they call it."

1. The chiefs, in their journey to the place of meeting, are supposed to have passed the sites of many deserted towns, in which councils had formerly been held. Owing to the frequent removals of their villages, such deserted sites were common in the Iroquois country. The speaker who welcomes the arriving guests supposes that the view of these places had awakened in their minds mournful recollections.

Desawennawenrate,--"thy voice coming over." This word is explained in the Glossary. It is in the singular number. According to the Indian custom, the speaker regards himself as representing the whole party for whom he speaks, and he addresses the leader of the other party as the representative and embodiment of all who come with him. Throughout the speeches "I" and "thou" are used in the well under stood sense of "we" and "ye." In like manner, tribes and nations are, as it were, personified. A chief, speaking for the Onondagas, will say, "I (that is, my nation) am angry; thou (the Delaware people) hast done wrong." This style of bold personification is common in the scriptures. Moses warns the Israelites: "Thou art a stiff-necked people." "Oh my people!" exclaims Isaiah; "they which lead thee cause thee to err."

2. Denighroghkwayen, "let us two smoke." This word is in the dual number, the two parties, the hosts and the guests, being each regarded as one individual.

The difficulties and dangers which in the early days of the confederacy beset the traveler in threading his way through the forest, from one Indian nation to another, are vividly described in this section. The words are still employed by

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their speakers as an established form, though they have ceased to have any pertinence to their present circumstances.

3. Akwah deyakonakarondon, "yea, of chiefs,"--literally, "yea, having horns." The custom of wearing horns as part of the head-dress of a chief has been long disused among the Iroquois; but the idiom remains in the language, and the horns, in common parlance, indicate the chief, as the coronet suggests the nobleman in England. Among the western Indians, as is well known, the usage still survives. "No one," says Catlin, "wears the head-dress surmounted with horns except the dignitaries who are very high in authority, and whose exceeding valor, worth, and power are admitted by all." These insignia of rank are, he adds, only worn on special and rare occasions, as in meeting embassies, or at warlike parades or other public festivals, or sometimes when a chief sees fit to lead a war-party to battle. 1 The origin of the custom is readily understood. The sight, frequent enough in former days, of an antlered stag leading a herd of deer would be quite sufficient to suggest to the quick apprehension of the Indian this emblem of authority and pre-eminence.

5. Sathaghyonnighson, "thou who art of the Wolf clan." The clan is addressed in the singular number, as one person. It is deserving of notice that the titles of clanship used in the language of ceremony are not derived from the ordinary names of the animals which give the clans their designations. Okwaho is wolf, but a man of the Wolf clan is called Tahionni,--or, as written in the text, Taghyonni. In ordinary speech, however, the expression rokwaho, "he is a Wolf,'' might be used.

The English renderings of the names in the list of towns are those which the interpreters finally decided upon. In several instances they doubted about the meaning, and in some cases they could not suggest an explanation. Either the words are obsolete, or they have come down in such a corrupt form that their original elements and purport cannot be determined. As regards the sites of the towns, see the Appendix, Note E.

6. Deyakodarakeh ranyaghdenghshon,--"the two clans of the Tortoise." Respecting the two sub-gentes into which

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the Tortoise clan was divided, see ante, p. 53. Anowara is the word for tortoise, but raniahten (or, in the orthography of the text, ranyaghdengh) signifies, "he is of the Tortoise clan."

7. Jadadeken roskerewake, thy brother of the Bear clan." Okwari is bear, but roskerewake signifies "he is of the Bear clan." Rokwari, "he is a Bear," might, however, be used with the same meaning.

8. Onghwa kehaghshonha, "now recently." It is possible that onghwa is here written by mistake for orighwa. The word orighwakayongh, which immediately follows, signifies "in ancient times," and the corresponding word orighwakehaghshonha would be "in younger times." The period in which these additions were made, though styled recent, was probably long past when the "Book of Rites" was committed to writing; otherwise many towns which are known to have existed at the latter date would have been added to the list. In fact, the words with which the catalogue of towns closes "these were the clans in ancient times,"--seem to refer these later additions, along with the rest, back to a primitive era of the confederacy.

9. Rawenniyo raweghniseronnyh, "God has appointed this day," or, literally, "God makes this day." In these words are probably found the only trace of any modification of the Book of Rites caused by the influence of the white visitors and teachers of the modern Iroquois. As the very fact that the book was written in the alphabet introduced by the missionaries makes us certain that the person who reduced it to writing had been under missionary instruction, it might be deemed surprising that more evidences of this influence are not apparent. It is probable, however, that the conservative feeling of the Council would have rejected any serious alterations in their ancient forms. It seems not unlikely that David of Schoharie--or whoever was the penman on this occasion--may have submitted his work to his missionary teacher, and that in deference to his suggestion a single interpolation of a religious cast, to which no particular objection could be made, was allowed to pass.

The word Rawenniyo, as is well known, is the term for God which was adopted by the Catholic missionaries. It is, indeed, of Huron-Iroquois origin, and may doubtless have been occasionally employed from the earliest times as an

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epithet proper for a great divinity. Its origin and precise meaning are explained in the Appendix, Note B. The Catholic missionaries appropriated it as the special name of the Deity, and its use in later times is probably to be regarded as an evidence of Christian influence. That the sentence in which it occurs in the text is probably an interpolation, is shown by the fact that the words which precede this sentence are repeated, with a slight change, immediately after it. Having interjected this pious expression, the writer seems to have thought it necessary to resume the thread of the discourse by going back to the phrase which had preceded it. It will be observed that the religious sentiment proper to the Book of Rites appears to be confined to expressions of reverence for the great departed, the founders of the commonwealth. This circumstance, however, should not be regarded as indicating that the people were devoid of devotional feeling of another kind. Their frequent "thanksgiving festivals" afford sufficient evidence of the strength of this sentiment; but they apparently considered its display out of place in their political acts.

15. Nene karenna, "the song," or "hymn." The purport of this composition is explained in the Introduction (ante, p. 62). Before the Book of Rites came into my possession I had often heard the hymn repeated, or sung, by different individuals, in slightly varying forms. The Onondaga version, given me on the Syracuse Reservation, contains a line,--Negwiyage teskenonhenhne," which is not found in the Canienga MS. It is rendered "I come to greet the children." The affection of the Indians for their children, which is exhibited in various passages of the Book, is most apparent in the Onondaga portion.

Kayanerenh. This word is variously rendered,--"the peace," "the law," and "the league," (see ante, p. 33) Here it evidently stands for Kayanerenhkowa, "the Great Peace," which is the name usually given by the Kanonsionni to their league, or federal constitution.

Deskenonghweronne, or in the modern French orthography, teskenonhweronne, "we come to greet and thank," is a good example of the comprehensive force of the Iroquois tongue. Its root is nonhwe, or nonwe, which is found in kenonhwes, I love, like, am pleased with--the initial syllable ke being the first personal pronoun. In the frequentative form this

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becomes kenonhweron, which has the meaning of "I salute and thank," i.e., I manifest by repeated acts my liking or gratification. The s prefixed to this word is the sign of the reiterative form: skenonhweron, "again I greet and thank." The terminal syllable ne and the prefixed le are respectively the signs of the motional and the cislocative forms,--"I come hither again to greet and thank." A word of six syllables, easily pronounced (and in the Onondaga dialect reduced to five) expresses fully and forcibly the meaning for which eight not very euphonious English words are required. The notion that the existence of these comprehensive words in an Indian language, or any other, is an evidence of deficiency in analytic power, is a fallacy which was long ago exposed by the clear and penetrative reasoning of Duponceau, the true father of American philology. 1 As he has well explained, analysis must precede synthesis. In fact, the power of what may be termed analytic synthesis,--the mental power which first resolves words or things into their elements, and then puts them together in new forms,--Is a creative or co-ordinating force, indicative of a higher natural capacity than the act of mere analysis. The genius which framed the word teskenonhweronne is the same that, working with other elements, produced the steam-engine and the telephone.

Ronkeghsota jiyathondek. Two translations of this verse were given by different interpreters. One made it an address to the people: "My forefathers--hearken to them!" i.e., listen to the words of our forefathers, which I am about to repeat. The other considered the verse an invocation to the ancestors themselves. "My forefathers! hearken ye!" The words will bear either rendering, and either will be consonant with the speeches which follow.

The lines of this hymn have been thus cast into the metre of Longfellow's "Hiawatha:"--

"To the great Peace bring we greeting
To the dead chiefs kindred, greeting
To the warriors round him, greeting
To the mourning women, greeting!
These our grandsires' words repeating,
Graciously, O grandsires, hear us!"


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16. Enyonghdentyonko kanonghsakonghshon,--"to and fro in the house." In councils and formal receptions, it is customary for the orator to walk slowly to and fro during the intervals of his speech. Sometimes, before beginning his address, he makes a circuit of the assembly with a meditative aspect, as if collecting his thoughts. All public acts of the Indians are marked with some sign of deliberation.

21. Eghnikonh enyerighwawetharho kenthoh,--" thus they will close the ceremony here." The address to the forefathers, which is mainly an outburst of lamentation over the degeneracy of the times, is here concluded. It would seem, from what follows, that at this point the candidate for senatorial honors is presented to the council, and is formally received among them, with the usual ceremonies, which were too well known to need description. The hymn is then sung again, and the orator proceeds to recite the ancient laws which the founders of their confederacy established.

22. Watidewennakarondonnyon, "we have put on the horns in other words, "we have invested the new chief with the ensigns of office,"--or, more briefly, "we have installed him." The latter is the meaning as at present understood; but it is probable that, in earlier days, the panoply of horns was really placed on the head of the newly inducted councillor.

23. Aghsonh denyakokwanentonghsaeke, etc., "as soon as he is dead" (or, according to another rendering, "when he is just dying") the horns shall be taken off. The purport and object of this law are set forth in the Introduction, p. 67.

24. Ne nayakoghstonde ne nayeghnyasakenradake, "by reason of the neck being white." The law prescribed in this section to govern the proceedings of the Council in the case of homicide has been explained in the Introduction, p. 63. The words now quoted, however, introduce a perplexity which cannot be satisfactorily cleared up. The aged chief, John S. Johnson, when asked their meaning, was only able to say that neither he nor his fellow-councillors fully understood it. They repeated in council the words as they were written in the book, but in this case, as in some others, they were not sure of the precise significance or purpose of what they said. Some of them thought that their ancestors, the founders, had foreseen the coming of the white people, and wished to advise their successors against quarreling with

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their future neighbors. If this injunction was really implied in the words, we must suppose that they were an interpolation of the Christian chief, David of Schoharie, or possibly of his friend Brant. They do not, however, seem to be, by any means, well adapted to convey this meaning. The probability is that they are a modern corruption of some earlier phrase, whose meaning had become obsolete. They are repeated by the chiefs in council, as some antiquated words in the authorized version of the scriptures are read in our own churches, with no clear comprehension--perhaps with a total misconception--of their original sense.

27. Enjonkwanekheren, "we shall lose some one," or, more literally, we shall fail to know some person. This law, which is fully explained in the Introduction, p. 70, will be found aptly exemplified in the Onondaga portion of the text, where the speeches of the "younger brothers" are evidently framed in strict compliance with the injunctions here given.

28. Jadakweniyu. This word, usually rendered "ruler," appears to mean "principal person," or perhaps originally a "very powerful person." It is a compound word, formed apparently from oyata, body or person, kakwennion, to be able, and the adjective termination iyu or iyo, in its original sense of "great." (See Appendix, Note B.) M. Cuoq, in his Iroquois Lexicon, defines the verb kiatakwenniyo as meaning "to be the important personage, the first, the principal, the president." It corresponds very nearly to the Latin princeps, and, as applied in the following litany to the fifty great hereditary chiefs of the Iroquois, might fairly enough be rendered "prince."

Kanonghsyonny, in modern orthography, Kanonsionni. For the origin and meaning of this word, and an explanation of the following section, see the Introduction, p. 75.

Yejodenaghstahhere kanaghsdajikowah, lit., "they added frame-poles to the great framework." Each of these com pounds comprises the word kanaghsta, which is spelt by Bruyas, gannasta, and defined by him, "poles for making a cabin,--the inner one, which is bent to form the frame of a cabin." The reference in these words is to the Tuscaroras, Tuteloes, Nanticokes, and other tribes, who were admitted into the confederacy after its first formation. From a manuscript book, written in the Onondaga dialect, which I found at "Onondaga Castle," in September, 188o, I copied a list

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of the fifty councillors, which closed with the words, "shotinastasonta kanastajikona Ontaskaeken,"--literally, "they added a frame-pole to the great framework, the Tuscarora nation."

29. Onenh jathondek, sewarihwisaanonghkwe Kayanerenghkowa,--"now listen, ye who completed the work, the Great League." This section, though written continuously as prose, was probably always sung, like the list of chiefs which follows. It is, in fact, the commencement of a great historical chant, similar in character to the 78th Psalm, or to some passages of the Prophets, which in style it greatly resembles. In singing this portion, as also in the following litany to the chiefs, the long-drawn exclamation of hai, or haihhaih, is frequently introduced. In the MS. book referred to in the last note, the list of councillors was preceded by a paragraph, written like prose, but with many of these interjections interspersed through it. The interpreter, Albert Cusick, an intelligent and educated man, assured me that this was a song, and at my request he chanted a few staves of it, after the native fashion. The following are the words of this hymn, arranged as they are sung. It will be seen that it is a sort of cento or compilation, in the Onondaga dialect, of passages from various portions of the Canienga Book of Rites, and chiefly from the section (29) now under consideration:--

Netikenen honen
Nene kenyoiwatatye--
Netho watyongwententhe.

    Woe! Woe!
Hearken ye!
We are diminished!
    Woe! Woe!
The cleared land has become a thicket.
    Woe! Woe!
The clear places are deserted.
They are in their graves--
They who established it--
The great League.
Yet they declared
It should endure--
The great League.
Their work has grown old.
Thus we are become miserable.

The closing word is the same as the Canienga watyonkwentendane, which is found in the closing section of the Canienga

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book. The lines of the Onondaga hymn which immediately precede this concluding word will be found in Section 20 of that book, a section which is probably meant to be chanted. It will be noticed that the lines of this hymn fall naturally into a sort of parallelism, like that of the Hebrew chants.

30. Dekarihaokenh, or Tehkarihhoken. In John Buck's MS. the list of chiefs is preceded by the words "Nene Tehadirihoken," meaning the Caniengas, or, literally, "the Tekarihokens." For an explanation of this idiom and name, see ante, p. 77.

Ayonhwahtha, or Hayenwatha. This name, which, as Hiawatha, is now familiar to us as a household word, is rendered "He who seeks the wampum belt." Chief George Johnson thought it was derived from oyonwa, wampum-belt, and ratiehwatha, to look for something, or, rather, to seem to seek something which we know where to find. M. Cuoq refers the latter part of the word to the verb katha, to make. 1 The termination atha is, in this sense, of frequent occurrence in Iroquois compounds. The name would then mean "He who makes the wampum-belt," and would account for the story which ascribes to Hiawatha the invention of wampum. The Senecas, in whose language the word oyonwa has ceased to exist, have corrupted the name to Hayowentha, which they render "he who combs." This form of the name has also produced its legend, which is referred to elsewhere (p. 87). Hiawatha "combed the snakes out of Atotarho's head," when he brought that redoubted chief into the confederacy.

Shatekariwate, "two equal statements," or "two things equal." This name is derived from sate or shate, equal, and kariwa, or karihwa, for which see the Glossary.

Etho natejonhne, "this was your number," or, this was the extent of your class. These words, or the similar form, etho natehadinhne, "this was their number," indicate apparently that the roll of chiefs belonging to a particular class or clan is completed. They are followed by three other words which have been already explained (ante, pages 33 and 80), sewaterihwakhaonghkwe, sewarihwisaanonghkwe, kayanerenhkowa; In the written litany these three words are omitted toward the close,--probably to save the penman the labor of transcription; but in the actual ceremony it is understood that they

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are chanted wherever the formula etho natejonhne, or etho natehadinhne, occurs. In the modern Canienga speech this verb is thus conjugated in the plural,--etho being contracted to eh.--


we were that number;
ye were that number;
they were that number.

The three Canienga councillors of the first class all belong to the Tortoise clan.

31. Sharenhowane; in Onondaga, Showenhona. This name was translated by the interpreters, "he is the loftiest tree." It seems properly to mean "he is a great tree-top," from karenha, or garenha, which Bruyas renders cime d'arbre, and kowane, great.

Deyonnhehgonh, or Teyonhehkwen, "double life," from onnhe, life. My friend, Chief George Johnson, who bears this titular appellation, tells me that it is property the name of a certain shrub, which has a great tenacity of life.

Ohrenregowah; in Onondaga, Owenhegona. The interpreters differed much in opinion as to the meaning of this name. Some said "wide branches;" another, "a high hill." The root-word, ohrenre, is obsolete, and its meaning is apparently lost.

The three chiefs of the second class or division of the Caniengas belong to the Wolf clan.

32. Dehennakarine; in Onondaga, Tehennakaihne; "going with two horns." The root is onakara, horn, the termination ine, or ihne, gives the sense of going, de or te is the duplicative prefix.

Aghstawenserontha (Onon. Hastawensenwa), "he puts on the rattles." Mr. Bearfoot writes, "Ohstawensera seems to have been a general name for anything denuded of flesh, but is now confined to the rattles of the rattlesnake."

Shosgoharowane (Onon. Shosgohaehna), "he is a great wood-drift." "Yohskoharo, (writes Mr. Bearfoot) means an obstruction by driftwood in creeks or small rivers. The councillors of the third Canienga class are of the Bear clan.

33. Ise seniyatagweniyohkwe, "ye two were the principals.'' Atagweniyo, or adakweniyu (see ante, note to Sec. 28) here becomes a verb in the imperfect tense and the dual number. The reference is either to Dekanawidah and Odatsehte, the

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chiefs of the Caniengas and Oneidas, who worked together in founding the confederacy, or, rather, perhaps, to their two nations, each regarded as an individual, and, in a manner, personified.

Jatatawhak, or, more properly jatatahwak, means, liter ally, "son of each other." It is from the root-word kahawak (or gahawak), which is defined by Bruyas, avoir pour enfant, and is in the reciprocal form. Here, however, it is understood to mean "father and son," in reference to the political relationship between the Canienga and Oneida nations.

Odatsehte (Onon., Tatshehte), "bearing a quiver,"--or the pouch in which the arrows are carried. According to the tradition, when Dekanawidah's brother and embassador formally adopted Odatsehte as the political son of the Canienga chief, he took the quiver off his own shoulder, and hung it upon that of the Oneida chieftain.

Kanonhgwenyodon, "setting up ears of corn in a row." From ononhkwenha, an ear of corn.

Deyohhagwente (Onon., Tyohagwente), "open voice" This is another obsolete, or semi-obsolete word, about which the interpreters differ widely in opinion. "Hollow tube," "windpipe," "opening in the woods," "open voice," were the various renderings suggested. The latter would be de rived from ohakwa or ohagwa, voice, and the termination wente or gwente, which gives the sense of "open."

The three chiefs of the first Oneida class belong to the Wolf clan.

34. Shononhsese (Onon., Shononses), "his long house," or, "he has a long house." From kanonsa, house, with the adjective termination es, long.

Daonahrokenagh (Onon., Tonaohgena), "two branches." This is another doubtful word. In modern Canienga, "two branches" would be Toneñrokeñ.

Atyatonentha (Onon., Hatyatonnentha), "he lowers himself," or, literally, "he slides himself down," from oyata, body, self, and tonnenta, to slide.

The councillors of the second Oneida class are of the Tortoise clan.

35. Dewatahonhtenyonk (Onon., Tehatahonhtenyonk), "two hanging ears," from ohonta, ear.

Kaniyatahshayonk (Onon., Kanenyatakshayen). This name

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was rendered "easy throat," as if derived from oniata, throat but the Oneida form of the word seems to point to a derivation from onenya (or onenhia), stone. This word must be regarded as another obsolete compound.

Onwatsatonhonk (Onon., Onwasjatenwi), "he is buried." The three chiefs of the third Oneida class are of the Bear clan.

36. Eghyesaotonnihsen, lit., "this was his uncle,"--or, as the words would be understood by the hearers, "the next are his uncles." The Onondaga nation, being the brother of the Canienga, was, of course, the uncle of the Oneida. In John Buck's MS. the Onondagas are introduced with more ceremony in the following lines:

Etho yeshodonnih;

These are the uncles;
They, the name-bearers
They took hold here;
They made the League.

That is, they helped, or joined, in making the League.

Thatotarho, Wathatotarho (Onon. Thatotarho). Thatotarho is the passive voice and cislocative form of otarho, which is defined "to grasp," or "catch" (accrocher), but in the passive signifies "entangled." This great chief. whose name is better known as Atotarho (without the cislocative prefix), is of the Bear clan.

Etho ronarasehsen, "these were cousins," or rather, "the next were cousins." This cousinhood, like all the relation ships throughout the book, is political, and indicates some close relationship in public affairs. The announcement applies to the following chiefs, Enneserarenh and Dehatkahthos, who were the special aids and counsellors of Atotarho.

Enneserarenh (Onon. Hanesehen). One Onondaga chief said that he knew no meaning for this word. Another thought it might mean "the best soil uppermost." It is apparently from some obsolete root.

Dehatkahthos (Onon. Tehatkahtons), "he is two-sighted," or, "he looks both ways." Another rendering made it "on the watch." This and the preceding chief belong now to the Beaver clan. In one of the Onondaga lists which I received, these two, with their principal, Atotarho, formed a "class" by themselves, and were doubtless originally of the same clan.

Waghontenhnonterontye, "they were as brothers thenceforth;" or, more fully rendered, "the next continued to be brothers."

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This declaration refers to the three next following chiefs, who were connected by some special political tie. The first who bore the name were, probably, like the two preceding chiefs, leading partisans and favorites of the first Atotarho.

Onyatajiwak, or Skanyadajiwak (Onon., Oyatajiwak). One authority makes this "a fowl's crop;" another, "the throat alone,'' from oniata, throat, and jiwak, alone; another defined it, "bitter threat." Mr. Morgan renders it "bitter body,"--his informant probably seeing in it the word oyata, body. This chief belongs now to the Snipe clan.

Awekeyade, "the end of its journey,''--from awe, going, and akonhiate (Can.) "at the end." This chief is of the Ball tribe, both in Canada and at Onondaga Castle. In the list furnished to Mr. Morgan by the Senecas, he is of the Tortoise clan.

Dehadkwarayen (Onon., Tehatkwayen). This word is obsolete. One interpreter guessed it to mean "on his body;" another made it "red wings." He is of the Tortoise clan. In the Book of Rites the first six chiefs of the Onondagas make but one class, as is shown by the fact that their names are followed by the formula, etho natejonhne, "this was the number of you." It may be presumed that they were originally of one clan,--probably that of the Bear, to which their leader, Atotarho, belonged.

37. Yeshohawak, rokwahhokowah, "then his next son, he the great Wolf.'' The chief who follows, Rononghwireghtonh, was evidently a personage of great importance,--probably the leading chief of the wolf class. He forms a "clan" by himself,--the only instance of the kind in the list. The expression, "there (or, in him) were combined the minds," indicates--as Mr. Bearfoot suggests--a superior intellect. It may also refer to the fact that he was the hereditary keeper of the wampum records. The title was borne in Canada by the late chief George Buck, but the duties of record-keeper were usually performed by his more eminent brother, John (Skanawati).

Rononghwireghtonh (Onon., Hononwiehti), "he is sunk out of sight." This chief, who, as has been stated, alone constitutes the second Onondaga class, is of the Wolf clan.

38. Etho yeshotonnyh tekadarakehne, "then his uncles of the two clans." The five chiefs, who follow probably bore sonic peculiar political relation to Rononghwireghton.

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The first two in modern times are of the Deer clan; the last three are of the Eel clan. It is probable that they all belonged originally, with him, to one clan, that of the Wolf, and consequently to one class, which was afterwards divided into three.

Kawenenseronton (Onon., Kawenensenton). A word of doubtful meaning; one interpreter thought it meant "her voice suspended."

Haghriron (Onon., Hahihon), "spilled," or "scattered."

39. Wahhondennonterontye. This word has already occurred, with a different orthography, and is explained in the Note to Section 36.

Ronyennyennih (Onon., Honyennyenni). No satisfactory explanation could be obtained of this word. Chief john Buck did not know its meaning.

Shodakwarashonh (Onon., Shotegwashen), "he is bruised."

Shakokenghne (Onon. Shahkohkenneh), "he saw them." As stated above, the three chiefs in this class are of the Eel clan.

40. Shihonadewiraratye, "they had children," or, rather, "they continued to get children.'' Mr. Bearfoot writes in regard to this word: "Yodewirare, a fowl hatching, referring to the time when they were forming the league, when they were said to be hatching, or producing, the children mentioned--i.e., the other tribes who were taken into the confederacy."

Tehhodidarakeh, "these the two clans." Taken in connection with the preceding lines of the chant, it seems probable that this expression refers to the introduction of other clans into the Council besides the original three, the Bear, Wolf and Tortoise, which existed when the confederacy was formed.

Raserhaghrhonh (Onon., Sherhahwi), "wearing a hatchet in his belt,'' from asera, hatchet. This chief is of the Tortoise clan.

Etho wahhoronghyaronnyon, this put away the clouds. "These "clouds," it is said, were the clouds of war, which were dispelled by the great chief whose name is thus introduced, Skanawadyh, or as now spelt, Skanawati. He had the peculiar distinction of holding two offices, which were rarely combined. He was both a high chief, or "Lord of the Council," and a "Great Warrior." In former times the members of the Great Council seldom assumed executive duties. They were rarely sent out as ambassadors or is leaders of war-parties.

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These duties were usually entrusted to the ablest chiefs of the second rank, who were known as "Great Warriors," rohskenrakehte-kowa. Skanawati was an exception to this rule. It would seem that the chief who first bore this title had special aptitudes, which have come down in his family. A striking in stance, given in the "Relations" of the Jesuit missionaries among the Hurons, has been admirably reproduced by Mr. Parkman in the twenty-third chapter of his "Jesuits in North America," and cannot be better told than in his words. In the year 1648, during the desperate war between the Kanonsionni and the Hurons, the Onondagas determined to respond to the pacific overtures which they had received from their northern foes.

"They chose for their envoy," continues the historian, Scandawati, a man of renown, sixty years of age, joining with him two colleagues. 1 The old Onondaga entered on his mission with a troubled mind. His anxiety was not so much for his life as for his honor and dignity; for, while the Oneidas and the Cayugas were acting in concurrence with the Onondagas, the Senecas had refused any part in the embassy, and still breathed nothing but war. Would they, or still more, the Mohawks, so far forget the consideration due to one whose name had been great in the Councils of the League, as to assault the Hurons while he was among them in the character of an ambassador of his nation, whereby his honor would be compromised and his life endangered? 'I am not a dead dog,' he said, 'to be despised and forgotten. I am worthy that all men should turn their eyes on me while I am among enemies, and do nothing that may involve me in danger.' *    *    * Soon there came dire tidings. The prophetic heart of the old chief had not deceived him. The Senecas and Mohawks, disregarding negotiations in which they had no part, and resolved to bring them to an end, were invading the country in force. It might be thought that the Hurons would take their revenge on the Onondaga envoys, now hostages among them; but they did not do so, for the character of an ambassador was, for the most part, held in respect. One morning, however, Scandawati had disappeared. They were full of excitement; for they thought that he had escaped to the enemy. They ranged the woods in search of him, and at length found him in a thicket near the town. He

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lay dead, on a bed of spruce boughs which he had made, his throat deeply gashed with a knife. He had died by his own hand, a victim of mortified pride. 'See,' writes Father Ragueneau, 'how much our Indians stand on the point of honor!'"

It is worthy of note that the same aptitude for affairs and the same keen sense of honor which distinguished this high spirited chief survives in the member of his family who, on the Canadian Reservation, now bears the same title,--Chief John Buck,--whom his white neighbors all admit to be both a capable ruler and an able and trustworthy negotiator.

In Canada Skanawati is of the Tortoise clan. At Onondaga, where the original family has probably died out, the title now belongs to the Ball clan.

41. Yeshohawak, "then his next son,"--or rather, perhaps, "then, next, his son." The Cayuga nation was politically the son of the Onondaga nation.

Tekahenyonk (Onon., Hakaenyonk), "he looks both ways," or, "he examines warily." In section 28 (ante p. 126) this name is spelt Akahenyonh. The prefixed te is the duplicative particle, and gives the meaning of "spying on both sides." This and the following chief belong, in Canada, to the Deer clan, and constitute the first Cayuga class.

Jinontaweraon (Onon., Jinontaweyon), "coming on its knees."

42. Katakwarasonh (Onon., Katagwajik), "it was bruised." This name, it will be seen, is very similar to that of an Onondaga chief,--ante, Note to Section 39. The chief now named and the one who follows are of the Bear clan.

Shoyonwese (Onon., Soyonwes), "he has a long wampum belt." The root-word of this name is oyonwa, wampum-belt, the same that appears in Hayonwatha.

Atyaseronne (Onon., Hatyasenne), "he puts one on an other," or "he piles on." This chief is of the Tortoise clan, and completes, with the two preceding councillors, the second Cayuga class.

43. Yeshonadadekenah, "then they who are brothers." The three chiefs who follow are all of the Wolf clan, and make the third class of the Cayuga councillors.

Teyoronghyonkeh (Onon., Thowenyongo), "it touches the sky."

Teyodhoreghkonh (Onon., Tyotowegwi), "doubly cold."

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Wathyawenhehetken (Onon., Thaowethon), "mossy place."

44. The two following chiefs are of the Snipe clan, and constitute the fourth and last Cayuga class.

Atontaraheha (Onon., Hatontaheha) "crowding himself in."

Teskahe (Onon., Heskahe) "resting on it."

45. Yeshotonnih, "and then his uncle." The Seneca nation, being the brother of the Onondaga, is, of course, the uncle of the Cayuga nation.

Skanyadariyo (Onon., Kanyataio), "beautiful lake; originally, perhaps, "great lake." (See Appendix, Note B.) This name is spelt in Section 28 (ante, p. 128) Kanyadariyu. The prefixed s is the sign of the reiterative form, and when joined to proper names is regarded as a token of nobility, like the French de, or the German von 1. Kanyadariyo, was one of the two leading chiefs of the Senecas at the formation of the confederacy. The title belongs to the Wolf clan.

Yeshonaraseshen, lit., "they were cousins.'' In the present instance, and according to the Indian idiom, we must read "Skanyadariyo, with his cousin, Shadekaronyes."

Shadekaronyes (Onon., Shatekaenyes), "skies of equal length." This chief (whose successor now belongs to the Snipe clan) was in ancient times the head of the second great division of the Senecas.

These two potentates were made a "class" in the Council by themselves, and were thus required to deliberate together and come to an agreement on any question that was brought up, before expressing an opinion in the council. This ingenious device for preventing differences between the two sections of the Seneca nation is one of the many evidences of statesman ship exhibited in the formation of the League.

46. Satyenawat, "withheld." This chief, in the Canadian list, is of the Snipe clan; in Mr. Morgan's Seneca list, he is of the Bear clan. His comrade in the class, Shakenjowane, is, in both lists, of the Hawk clan.

Shakenjowane (Onon., Shakenjona), "large forehead."

There has apparently been some derangement here in the order of the classes. In Mr. Morgan's list, and also in one furnished to me at Onondaga Castle, the two chiefs just

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named belong to different classes. The variance of the lists may be thus shown:--

The Book of Rites.

The Seneca and Onondaga Lists.

Second Seneca Class.





Third Seneca Class.





Satyenawat and Kanokarih have changed places. As the Book of Rites is the earlier authority, it is probable that the change was made among the New York Senecas after a part of their nation had removed to Canada.

47. Kanokarih (Onon., Kanokaehe), "threatened."

Nisharyenen (Onon., Onishayenenha), "the day fell down."

One of the interpreters rendered the latter name, "the handle drops." The meaning of the word must be considered doubtful. The first of these chiefs is of the Tortoise clan, and the second is, in Canada, of the Bear clan. In Mr. Morgan's list he is of the Snipe clan. The disruption of the Seneca nation, and the introduction of Dew clans, have thrown this part of the list into confusion.

48. Onghwakeghaghshonah, etc. The verses which follow are repeated here from the passage of the Book which precedes the chanted litany. (See ante, Sect I on 28.) Their repetition is intended to introduce the names of the two chiefs who composed the fourth and last class of the Seneca councillors.

Yatehhotihohhataghkwen, "they were at the doorway," or, according to another version, "they made the doorway." The chiefs are represented as keeping the doorway of the "extended mansion," which imaged the confederacy.

Kanonghkeridawyh, (Onon., Kanonkeitawi,) "entangled hair given." This chief, in Canada, is of the Bear clan; in New York, according to Morgan's list, he is of the Snipe clan.

Teyoninhokarawenh, (Onon., Teyoninhokawenh,) "open door." In both lists he is of the Wolf clan.

Mr. Morgan (in his "League of the Iroquois," page 68,) states that to the last-named chief, or "sachem," the duty of watching the door was assigned, and that "they gave him a

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sub-sachem, or assistant, to enable him to execute this trust." In fact, however, every high chief, or royaner (lord), had an assistant, or war chief (roskenrakehte-kowa, great warrior), to execute his instructions. The Book of Rites shows clearly that the two chiefs to whom the duty of "guarding the door way" was assigned were both nobles of the first rank. Their office also appears not to have been warlike. From the words of the Book it would seem that when new tribes were received into the confederacy, these two councillors had the formal office of "opening the doorway" to the new-comers--that is (as we may suppose), of receiving and introducing their chiefs into the federal council.

In another sense the whole Seneca nation was deemed, and was styled in council, the Doorkeeper (Ronhohonti, pl.,--Roninhohonti) of the confederacy. The duty of guarding the common country against the invasions of the hostile tribes of the west was specially committed to them. Their leaders, or public representatives, in this duty would naturally be the two great chiefs of the nation, Kanyateriyo and Shadekaronyes. The rules of the League, however, seem to have for bidden the actual assumption by the councillors of any executive or warlike command. At least, if they undertook such duties, it must be as private men, and not in their capacity of nobles--just as an English peer might serve as an officer in the army or as an embassador. The only exceptions recognized by the Iroquois constitution seem to have been in the cases of Tekarihoken and Skanawati, who were at once nobles and war-chiefs. (See ante, pages 78 and 159.) The two great Seneca chiefs would therefore find it necessary to make over their military functions to their assistants or war-chiefs. This may explain the statement made by Morgan ("League of the Iroquois," p. 74) that there were two special "war-chiefships" created among the Senecas, to which these commands were assigned.

49. Onenh watyonkwentendane kanikonrakeh. The condoling chant concludes abruptly with the doleful exclamation, "Now we are dejected in spirit." Enkitendane, "I am becoming poor," or "wretched," is apparently a derivative of kitenre, to pity, and might be rendered, "I am in a pitiable state." "We are miserable in mind," would probably be a literal version of this closing ejaculation. Whether it is a lament for the past glories of the confederacy, or for the

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chief who is mourned, is a question which those who sing the words at the present day would probably have a difficulty in answering. It is likely, however, that the latter cause of grief was in the minds of those who first composed the chant.

It is an interesting fact, as showing the antiquity of the names of the chiefs in the foregoing list, that at least a fourth of them are of doubtful etymology. That their meaning was well understood when they were borne by the founders of the League cannot be questioned. The changes of language or the uncertainties of oral transmission, in the lapse of four centuries, have made this large proportion of them either obsolete or so corrupt as to be no longer intelligible. Of all the names it may probably be affirmed with truth that the Indians who hear them recited think of their primitive meaning as little as we ourselves think of the meaning of the family names or the English titles of nobility which we hear or read. To the Iroquois of the present day the hereditary titles of their councillors are to use their own expression--"just names," and nothing more. It must not be supposed, however, that the language itself has altered in the same degree. Proper names, as is well known, when they become mere appellatives, discharged of significance, are much more likely to vary than the words of ordinary speech.


147:1 Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and Condition of the North American Indians. By George Catlin; p. 172.

150:1 See the admirable Preface to his translation of Zeisberger's Delaware Grammar, p. 94.

154:1 Lexique de la Langue Iroquois, p. 161.

160:1 Scandawati is the Huron--and probably the original Onondaga pronunciation of the name.

162:1 See J. A. Cuoq: Jugement Erroné, etc., p. 57, "Le reiteratif est comme un signe de noblesse dans les noms propres."

Next: Notes On The Onondaga Book