Welcome to the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.
And thanks for coming to the blog today. I will be giving away a Tradepaper copy of SENECA SURRENDER to some lucky blogger…a value of $13.99. So come on in, leave a comment. That’s all one has to do to enter into the drawing. On the right side of the page here are the Giveaway Guidelines. Please read them as they are the rules that govern our giveaways. Note, too, that I depend on you to come here on Wednesday or Thursday to discover whether or not you are the winner. Unlike some other sites, we do not contact you. Okay? On with the blog.
Last week I did a radio interview and we talked a great deal about SENECA SURRENDER and the Iroquois Confederation — and I thought I’d post it here before we get into the actual subject of the blog today — it’s about 30 minutes long. So if you have the time, come and give it a listen:
Yummm… The smells of pumpkin pie, turkey and cranberry sauce remind me that Thanksgiving is close at hand.
Of course we are all pretty much aware that our Thanksgiving comes from the Eastern Indians, and in particular Squanto — and if you didn’t know about Squanto, I would highly recommend the movie, Squanto, starring a young and dreamy Adam Beach. Sigh…
But what was this festival called Thanksgiving? Did it happen just this one time? Was it due to the Indians’ wishing to acknowledge the newcomers, as I was often taught in school? Was there more to it? Well, I do believe that there was … is more to the story as Paul Harvey used to say. So do read on.
Thanksgiving was one of several festivals amongst the Eastern Indians — in particular I’m talking about the Iroquois. However, these ceremonies were common to all the Eastern tribes. There were many festivals throughout the year, and they tended to follow the seasons.
The Iroquois celebrated six festivals, wherein they gave thanks to the Creator for all they had. These festivals would open with speeches by leaders, teachers, and elders. And of course there was much dancing, which was done not only for the fun of simply dancing, but it was also a sense of worship. It was thought that because the Creator needed some sort of amusement, thus He gave the people dancing.
In spring — early March — it was time to collect together tree bark and sap – this was needed to repair houses and other things, such as canoes, bowls, etc. Spring was also the time for planting. This was the maple festival. Next was the Planting festival. Here prayers were sent to the Creator to bless their seed.
The Iroquois’ main food source was corn, beans and squash (the three sisters), and of course deer meat or other meat when available. Family gardens were separated by borders that were broad and grassy — they would even camp on these borders and sometimes they were raise watch towers.
The next festival of the Iroquois was the Strawberry Festival. This is where the people gave thanks to the Creator for their many fruits (like strawberries). It was summertime. The women gathered wild nuts and other foods, while the men hunted, fished and provided various meats for cooking. Again, each festival was greeted with much dancing and merriment. Did you know that the some Iroquois believed the way to the Creator was paved with strawberries?
The festival after that was the Green Corn Fesitval. Again, the people thanked the Creator for the bounty of food that had been raised all through the summer. Dancers danced to please the Creator and musicians sang and beat the drum. Again there were many speeches to honor the people and the Creator. There were team sports. Lacrosse was the game that was most admired and it was played with great abandon by the men. Women played games, too and often their games were as competitive as the men’s.
The season festival following that was…are you ready? Thanksgiving — or the Harvest Thanksgiving. By this time the women had harvested the corn, beans and squash. Much of it would be dried. Much went to feed families. Husks were made into many different items. Dolls, rugs, mats. Did you know that the dolls didn’t have faces? Now was the time to gather more nuts and berries. Men were busy, too, hunting far away. Bear, moose, beaver were all sought after and hunted. Again, there was much celebration. Dancing, speeches, prayer. And of course — food. It was this particular festival that was shared with the newcomers to this continent.
Can you guess what the next festival was? Although this is a Christmas tree, it was not a celebration of Christmas — but if you guessed this, you were very close. The next and last festival of the year was New Year’s. At this time, a white dog was sacrificed as a gift to the Creator. This was also a time for renewing the mind and body. (Does that not remind you of our New Year’s resolutions?) At this time, the False Face Society members would wear masks to help others to cleanse themselves of their bad minds and restore only their good minds. There was again much celebration, much dancing, much merriment and enjoyment as each person would settle in for the long winter ahead of them.
The First Americans indeed did give this country very much, not only its festivals which we stillremember to this day, but also it gave to this nation a fighting spirit for freedom. In these times when there seems to be a forgetfulness about our American roots, it is wonderful to remember that the American Indian and the Love of Freedom went hand-in-hand. I know I am thankful for my family and my husband and daughters and my granddaughter and grandson. I’m thankful to be able to travel this beautiful country. I’m thankful that I was raised in a country where one could voice one’s opinion regardless of the wishes of the “King,” even if those freedoms are not as easily found today as they once were.
Come on in and join in the discussion.
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