Friday, May 25, 2012

About the Iroquois Confederacy Sachems

These sachemships were distributed unequally among the five tribes; but without giving to either a preponderance of power; and unequally among the gentes of the last three tribes. The Mohawks had nine sachems, the Oneidas nine, the Onondagas fourteen, the Cayugas ten, and the Senecas eight. This was the number at first, and it has remained the number to the present time. A table of these sachemships, founded at the institution of the Confederacy with the names which have been borne by their sachems in succession from its formation to the present time, is subjoined, with their names in the Seneca dialect, and their arrangement in classes to facilitate the attainment of unanimity in council. In foot-notes will be found the signification of these names, and the gentes to which they belonged: [Footnote: These names signify as follows:]
Table of sachemships of the Iroquois.
     1. Da-go-e'-o-ge. [Footnote: "Neutral," or "The Shield."]
     2. Ho-yo-went'-ha. [Footnote: "Man who Combs."]
     3. Da-go-no-we'-do. [Footnote: "Inexhaustible."]
     4. So-o-e-wo'-ah. [Footnote: "Small Speech."]
     5. Da-yo'-ho-go. [Footnote: "At the Forks."]
     6. O-o-o'-go-wo. [Footnote: "At the Great River."]
     7. Da-an-no-go'-e-neh. [Footnote: "Dragging His Horns."]
     8. So-da'-go-e-wo-deh. [Footnote: "Even Tempered."]
     9. Hos-do-weh'-se-ont-ho. [Footnote: "Hanging up Rattles."
           Thee sachems in class One belonged to
           the Turtle gens, in class Two to the Wolf gens, and in
           class Three to the Bear gens.]
     1. Ho-dos'-ho-the. [Footnote: "A man bearing a Burden."]
     2. Ga-no-gweh'-yo-do. [Footnote: "A Man covered in Cat-tail Down."]
     3. Da-yo-ho'-gwen-da. [Footnote: "Opening through the Woods."]
     4. So-no-sase'. [Footnote: "A Long String."]
     5. To-no-o-ge-o. [Footnote: "A Man with a Headache."]
     6. Ho-de-o-dun-nent'-ho. [Footnote: "Swallowing Himself."]
     7. Da-wo-do'-o-do-yo. [Footnote: "Place of the Echo."]
     8. Go-ne-o-dus'-ha-yeh. [Footnote: "War-clubs on the Ground."]
     9. Ho-wus'-ho-da-o. [Footnote: "A man Steaming Himself."
           The sachems in the first class belong to Wolf gens,
           in the second the Turtle gens, and in the third to
           the Bear gens.]
     1. To-do-do'-ho. [Footnote: "Tangled," Bear gens.]
     2. To-nes'-sa-ah.
     3. Da-ot'-ga-dose. [Footnote: "On the Watch,"
           Bear gens. This sachem and the one before him were
           hereditary councillors of the To-do-do'-ho, who
           held the most illustrious sachemship.]
     4. Go-neo-do'-je-wake. [Footnote: "Bitter Body," Snipe gens.]
     5. Ah-wo'-ga-yat. [Footnote: Turtle gens.]
     6. Da-o-yat'-gwo-e. [Footnote: Not ascertained.]
     7. Ho-no-we-ne-to. [Footnote: This sachem was hereditary
           keeper of the wampum; Wolf gens.]
     8. Go-we-ne'-san-do. [Footnote: Deer gens]
     9. Ho-e'-ho. [Footnote: Deer gens]
     10. Ho-yo-ne-o'-ne. [Footnote: Turtle gens]
     11. Sa-do'-kwo-seh. [Footnote: Bear gens]
     12. So-go-ga-ho'. [Footnote: "Having a Glimpse," Deer gens.]
     13. Ho-sa-ho'-do. [Footnote: "Large Mouth," Turtle gens.]
     14. Sko-no'-wun-de. [Footnote: "Over the Creek" Turtle gens.]
     1. Da-go'-ne-yo. [Footnote: "Man Frightened," Deer gens.]
     2. Da-je-no'-do-web-o. [Footnote: Heron gens.]
     3. Go-do-gwa-sa. [Footnote: Bear gens.]
     4. So-yo-wase. [Footnote: Bear gens.]
     5. Ho-de-os'yo-no. [Footnote: Turtle gens.]
     6. Da-yo-o-yo'go. [Footnote: Not ascertained.]
     7. Jote-ho-weh'-ko. [Footnote: "Very Cold," Turtle gens.]
     8. De-o-wate'-ho. [Footnote: Heron gens.]
     9. To-do-e-ho'. [Footnote: Snipe gens.]
     10. Des-go'-heh. [Footnote: Snipe gens.]
     1. Ga-ne-o-di'-yo. [Footnote: "Handsome Lake," Turtle gens.]
     2. So-do-go'-o-yase. [Footnote: "Level Heavens," Snipe gens.]
     3. Go-no-gi'-e. [Footnote: Turtle gens.]
     4. So-geh'-jo-wo. [Footnote: "Great Forehead." Hawk gens.]
     5. So-de-a-no'-wus. [Footnote: "Assistant," Bear gens.]
     6. Nis-ho-ne-a'-nent. [Footnote: "Falling Day," Snipe gens.]
     7. Go-no-go-e-do'-we. [Footnote: "Hair Burned Off." Snipe gens.]
     8. Do-ne-ho-go'-weh. [Footnote: "Open Door," Wolf gens.]
Two of these sachemships have been filled but once since their creation. Ho-yo-went'-ho and Da-go-no-we'-da consented to take the office among the Mohawk sachems, and to leave their names in the list upon condition that after their demise the two should remain thereafter vacant. They were installed upon these terms, and the stipulation has been observed to the present day. At all councils for the investiture of sachems their names are still called with the others as a tribute of respect to their memory. The general council, therefore, consisted of but forty-eight members.
Each sachem had an assistant sachem, who was elected by the gens of his principal from among its members, and who was installed with the same forms and ceremonies. He was styled an "aid." It was his duty to stand behind his superior on all occasions of ceremony, to act as his messenger, and in general to be subject to his directions. It gave to the aid the office of chief and rendered probable his election as the successor of his principal after the decease of the latter. In their figurative language these aids of the sachems were styled "Braces in the Long House," which symbolized the confederacy.
The names bestowed upon the original sachems became the names of their respective successors in perpetuity. For example, upon the demise of Go-ne-o-di'-yo, one of the eight Seneca sachems, his successor would be elected by the Turtle gens in which this sachemship was hereditary, and when raised up by the general council he would receive this name, in place of his own, as a part of the ceremony. On several different occasions I have attended their councils for raising up sachems both at the Onondaga and Seneca reservations, and witnessed the ceremonies herein referred to. Although but a shadow of the old confederacy now remains, it is fully organized with its complement of sachems and aids, with the exception of the Mohawk tribe, which removed to Canada about 1775. Whenever vacancies occur their places are filled, and a general council is convened to install the new sachems and their aids. The present Iroquois are also perfectly familiar with the structure and principles of the ancient confederacy.
For all purposes of tribal government the five tribes were independent of each other. Their territories were separated by fixed boundary lines, and their tribal interests were distinct. The eight Seneca sachems, in conjunction with the other Seneca chiefs, formed the council of the tribe by which its affairs were administered, leaving to each of the other tribes the same control over their separate interests. As an organization the tribe was neither weakened nor impaired by the confederate compact. Each was in vigorous life within its appropriate sphere, presenting some analogy to our own States within an embracing Republic. It is worthy of remembrance that the Iroquois commended to our forefathers a union of the colonies similar to their own as early as 1755. They saw in the common interests and common speech of the several colonies the elements for a confederation, which was as far as their vision was able to penetrate.
The tribes occupied positions of entire equality in the confederacy in rights, privileges, and obligations. Such special immunities as were granted to one or another indicate no intention to establish an unequal compact or to concede unequal privileges. There were organic provisions apparently investing particular tribes with superior power; as, for example, the Onondagas were allowed fourteen sachems and the Senecas but eight; and a larger body of sachems would naturally exercise a stronger influence in council than a smaller. But in this case it gave no additional power, because the sachems of each tribe had an equal voice in forming a decision, and a negative upon the others. When in council they agreed by tribes, and unanimity in opinion was essential to every public act. The Onondagas were made "Keepers of the Wampum," and "Keepers of the Council Brand," the Mohawks "Receivers of Tribute" from subjugated tribes, and the Senecas "Keepers of the Door" of the Long House. These and some other similar provisions were made for the common advantage.
The cohesive principle of the confederacy did not spring exclusively from the benefits of an alliance for mutual protection, but had a deeper foundation in the bond of kin. The confederacy rested upon the tribes ostensibly, but primarily upon common gentes. All the members of the same gens, whether Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, or Senecas, were brothers and sisters to each other in virtue of their descent from the same common ancestor, and they recognized each other as such with the fullest cordiality. When they met, the first inquiry was the name of each other's gens, and next the immediate pedigree of their respective sachems; after which they were usually able to find, under their peculiar system of consanguinity the relationship in which they stood to each other. [Footnote: The children of brothers are themselves brothers and sisters to each other; the children of the latter were also brothers and sisters, and so downwards indefinitely. The children and descendants of sisters are the same. The children of a brother and sister are cousins; the children of the latter are cousins, and so downwards indefinitely. A knowledge of the relationships to each other of the members of the same gens is never lost.]
Three of the gentes—namely, the Wolf, Bear, and Turtle—were common to the five tribes; these and three others were common to three tribes. In effect, the Wolf gens, through the division of an original tribe into five, was now in five divisions, one of which was in each tribe. It was the same with the Bear and the Turtle gentes. The Deer, Snipe, and Hawk gentes were common to the Senecas, Cayugas, and Onondagas. Between the separated parts of each gens, although its members spoke different dialects of the same language, there existed a fraternal connection which linked the nations together with indissoluble bonds. When the Mohawk of the Wolf gens recognized an Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, or Seneca of the same gens as a brother, and when the members of the other divided gentes did the same, the relationship was not ideal, but a fact founded upon consanguinity, and upon faith in an assured lineage older than their dialects and coeval with their unity as one people. In the estimation of an Iroquois every member of his gens, in whatever tribe, was as certainly a kinsman as an own brother. This cross relationship between persons of the same gens in the different tribes is still preserved and recognized among them in all its original force. It explains the tenacity with which the fragments of the old confederacy still cling together. If either of the five tribes had seceded from the confederacy it would have severed the bond of kin, although this would have been felt but slightly. But had they fallen into collision it would have turned the gens of the Wolf against their gentile kindred, Bear against Bear; in a word, brother against brother. The history of the Iroquois demonstrates the reality as well as persistency of the bond kin, and the fidelity with which it was respected. During the long period through which the confederacy endured they never fell into anarchy nor ruptured the organization.
The "Long House" (Ho-de'-no-sote) was made the symbol of the confederacy, and they styled themselves the "People of the Long House" (Ho-e'-no-sau-nee). [Footnote: The Long House was not peculiar to the Iroquois, but used by many other tribes, as the Powhattan Indians of Virginia, the Nyacks of Long Island, and other tribes.]
This was the name, and the only name, with which they distinguished themselves. The confederacy produced a gentile society more complex than that of a single tribe, but it was still distinctively a gentile society. It was, however, a stage of progress in the direction of a nation, for nationality is reached under gentile institutions. Coalescence is the last stage in this process. The four Athenian tribes coalesced in Attica into a nation by the intermingling of the tribes in the same area, and by the gradual disappearance of geographical lines between them. The tribal names and organizations remained in full vitality as before, but without the basis of an independent territory. When political society was instituted on the basis of the deme or township, and all the residents of the deme became a body politic, irrespective of their gens or tribe, the coalescence became complete.