THESE 24 Iroquois legends and stories have been told in the homes of the Iroquois for many centuries; long before the white man arrived on the North American continent. The perusal and study of these stories will, it is believed, give as much pleasure to the reader, as they have given the compiler. Of special interest is the “Legend of Hiawatha” made famous fifty years earlier by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Some of the stories and lengends in this volume are:
The Birth of the Arbutus
A Legend Of The River
Legends Of The Corn
The First Winter
The Great Mosquito
The Story Of Oniata
The Legends of Hiawatha, and many, many more.
The American Indians, like so many cultures, built neither monuments nor wrote books. However, they did make picture writings, known in later years as “wampum.” Mostly, these were mere symbols, recording mainly feats of arms.
However, the Iroquois used wampum as a record of a person’s credentials or a certificate of authority. It was also used for official purposes and religious ceremonies, and it was used as a way to bind peace between tribes. Among the Iroquois, every chief and every clan mother has a certain string of wampum that serves as their certificate of office. When they pass on or are removed from their station, the string will then pass on to the new leader. Runners carrying messages during colonial times would present the wampum showing that they had the authority to carry the message. Wampum is still used to this day by the Iroquois in the ceremony of raising up a new chief and in the Iroquois Thanksgiving ceremonies.
If our forefathers had taken more interest in the peoples they found on the Western Continent, spending less of their energies in devising plans for cheating the Indians out of their furs and lands—a policy their descendants have closely followed and admirably succeeded in—our libraries might contain volumes of fairy tales that would delight the youth of many generations.
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