League of the Hodenosaunee, or Iroquois


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"My son, listen once more to the words of thy mother. Thou wert brought into life with her pains. Thou wert nourished with her life. She has attempted to be faithful in raising thee up. When thou weft young, she loved thee as her life. Thy presence has been a source of great joy to her. Upon thee she depended for support and comfort in her declining days. She had ever expected to gain the end of the path of life before thee. But thou hast outstripped her, and gone before her. Our great and wise Creator has ordered it thus. By his will I am left to taste more of the miseries of this world. Thy friends and relatives have gathered about thy body, to look upon thee for the last time. They mourn, as with one mind, thy departure from among us. We, too, have but a few days more, and our journey shall be ended. We part now, and you are conveyed from our sight.But we shall soon meet again, and shall again look upon each other. Then we shall part no more. Our Maker has called you to his home. Thither will we follow. Naho!"1

[Among the Fox] usually a man far advanced in years . . . takes his place near the head of the coffin. He is to say farewell to the dead not only for his own behalf, but for all who are present, likewise for others who are away. This man performs the office sometimes at the request of the relatives of the dead, and as frequently it is his own seeking, because of a personal desire to do it. It is, however, not customary for a relative to deliver the farewell. Now and then it may be long and wordy, but as a general rule, it is soon over with. Here is an example of what the shorter, more typical kind is like:

"My son, depart in peace and continue in that state of mind as you journey along the way. Sad are your kindred, for sorely they grieve to see you leaving them. But do not tarry, and let not their sorrow sadden you, and be not grieved that you are leaving them behind; for you are going to our nephew, to the place where the sun goes down are you going. When there you have come, he will set food before you. He will ask you about your kindred, and then you can tell him about them. Convey to him these messages which they send, hand to him this offering of tobacco which they send for him to use. Ever be mindful of their welfare. So beseech of him pity for them, beg of him to deliver them from hunger, want, and distress. Ask for them health and long life. And then seek for the kindred that have since gone before you. They will ask for them that are yet to come, and tell them about them.

"Do not linger by the way, never look back but keep even on. The path you follow leads straight to the place where the sun goes down.

"That is all, my son, that is all I have to tell you."

At intervals in the course of the farewell, the speaker pauses and sprinkles pinches of powdered tobacco about over the body; and when his talk is ended, he adds a little more in silence and then withdraws. Thereupon up step, one after another, the relatives and others who each in turn sprinkle over the body the holy tobacco; some place a bit of it in the palms of the dead, and some murmur a parting phrase. When the last has passed by the dead, then two vessels are put beside the body; one vessel contains water and the other food; for it is said that the way to the spirit world is far, and the soul might famish with hunger and thirst before it reaches there.

The face is then covered again, the mat is drawn together so as to overlap over the body, and then the coffin is closed. The timbers are pulled away from beneath and the coffin is let down with ropes; in a little while the grave is filled up with most of its own earth. A shed is quickly erected over the grave, and at the foot just outside is driven a stake pointing westward. It is generally colored red, and from its top a feather or a shred of cloth usually flutters in the wind. In front of the stake is laid a dog that has been choked to death; it lies on its belly with legs extended as if running westward; it is said to be guide and companion to the soul on the way to the spirit world. It is common to kill more than one dog, and puppies are generally preferred.1

1Morgan, L.H.n/an/an/an/a, , 169, note.

1 Jones, W., "Mortuary Observances and the Adoption Rites of the Algonkin Foxes of Iowa," Congrès International des Américanistes, Quinzième Session, 1: 266–268.


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Chicago: "League of the Hodenosaunee, or Iroquois," League of the Hodenosaunee, or Iroquois in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. Thomas, William I. (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937), Original Sources, accessed May 27, 2022, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=567Y5VKYL5CYB82.

MLA: . "League of the Hodenosaunee, or Iroquois." League of the Hodenosaunee, or Iroquois, in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, edited by Thomas, William I., New York, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937, Original Sources. 27 May. 2022. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=567Y5VKYL5CYB82.

Harvard: , 'League of the Hodenosaunee, or Iroquois' in League of the Hodenosaunee, or Iroquois. cited in 1937, Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. , McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., New York. Original Sources, retrieved 27 May 2022, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=567Y5VKYL5CYB82.