history with Onondaga Lake Robby 1 miquel
What are the Haudenosaunee's
house of an Onondaga leader named Hayo’wetha , more commonly
known as Hiawatha. Hayo’wetha believed in the message of peace and wanted the
Haudenosaunee people to live in a united way. An evil Onondaga leader called
Tadadaho, who hated the message of peace, had killed Hayo’wetha’s wife and
daughters during the violent times. Tadadaho was feared by all; he was perceived
as being so evil that his hair was comprised of writhing snakes, symbolizing his
twisted mind. The Peacemaker helped Hayo’wetha mourn his loss and ease his pain.
Hayo’wetha then traveled with the Peacemaker to help unite the Haudenosaunee.
The Peacemaker used arrows to demonstrate the strength of unity. First, he took
a single arrow and broke it in half. Then he took five arrows and tied them together.
This group of five arrows could not be broken. The Peacemaker
said, “A single arrow is weak and easily broken. A bundle of arrows
tied together cannot be broken. This represents the strength of
having a confederacy. It is strong and cannot be broken.” The
Mohawk, Oneida, Cayuga, Seneca, and Onondaga accepted the
message of peace. With the nations joined together, the Peacemaker and
Hayo’wetha sought out Tadadaho. As they approached Tadadaho, he resisted their
invitation to join them. The Peacemaker promised Tadadaho that if he accepted the
message of peace, Onondaga would be the capital of the Grand Council. Tadadaho
finally succumbed to the message of peace. It is said that the messengers of peace
combed the snakes from his hair. The name Hayo’we:tha means “he who combs,”
indicating his role in convincing Tadadaho to accept the Great Law of Peace. Joined
together, these five nations became known as the Haudenosaunee Confederacy.
When peace had successfully been spread among the five nations, the people
gathered together to celebrate. They uprooted a white pine tree and threw their
weapons into the hole. They replanted the tree on top of the weapons and named it
the Tree of Peace, which symbolizes the Great Law of Peace that the Haudenosaunee
came to live by. The four main roots of the Tree of Peace represent the four directions
and the paths of peace that lead to the heart of Haudenosaunee territory, where all
who want to follow the Great Law of Peace are welcome. At the top of the Tree of
Peace is an eagle, guardian of the Haudenosaunee and messenger to the Creator.
Haudenausaunee clan system
Each of the six nations of Haudenosaunee is comprised of extended family
groups called CLANS. A CLAN MOTHER heads each clan. In the past, a clan
mother was usually the oldest woman of the clan. Today, clan mothers are
chosen for their cultural wisdom and dedication to the Haudenosaunee people.
Clan mothers have been given the honor of their duties because of a woman who
lived long ago called the Mother of Nations.
■ Clans are extended families. Haudenosaunee clans are MATRILINEAL.
This means they follow the line of descent of the mother. Children belong
to their mother’s clan.
■ The clans are named after animals and birds.
■ Before European contact, the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts,
uncles, cousins and grandparents of a clan lived together in one house
called a longhouse. This arrangement created a strong cooperative family
unit with the clan mother as the head.
■ When a couple got married, the husband moved into his wife’s family’s
longhouse. Though men moved into their wives’ homes, they did not change
their clans. Each man retained responsibilities to his mother’s family and
helped raise his sisters’ children.
■ People belonging to the same clan are related, regardless of their community
location. When people traveled to other Haudenosaunee communities, they
were welcomed by relatives of their same clan.
The clan mother has an important role. Some of her responsibilities are to:
■ Make all the major decisions that affect the clan.
■ Assign names to people in her clan.
■ Nominate the male leader of the clan. The male leader is called the HOYANEH.
■ Help ensure that all members of her clan are fed.
The Hiawatha belt
The Hiawatha Belt symbolizes the unity of the original five Haudenosaunee
nations, connected by the Great Law of Peace. Each white square and the
tree in the center represents one of the original five nations. The white lines extending from one end of the belt to the other represent the path of
peace, welcoming other nations to take shelter under the Great Law of Peace and join
the Confederacy. The Tuscarora Nation, the sixth nation in the Confederacy, joined
after this belt was created.
Games have always been, and still are, an important part of Haudenosaunee
social life. Not only are they fun to play but many of them teach the
importance of physical strength, well-being, and team building. Team sports
also offer opportunities for communities to socialize.
Today, lacrosse is an international team sport played competitively all over the world.
This modern game originated with the Haudenosaunee. Four hundred years ago,
explorers to Haudenosaunee territory saw the game of lacrosse being played. The
French Jesuits called the game “la crosse” because it was played with a long stick, which they called a crosse. Among the Haudenosaunee the game is called Tewaarathon, which means “they bump hips.” In lacrosse, a player must catch, carry and pass a ball using a lacrosse stick, a long stick with a net at one end. Historically, Haudenosaunee
people played lacrosse on a field that could be as short as one hundred yards or as
long as two miles. Teams could have from a handful to hundreds of players.
Although the game is won by the team who scores the most goals, there are
many other purposes for playing lacrosse. Considered to be a gift from the Creator,
it is seen as a medicine game, or a game played in order to heal and strengthen the
people. Lacrosse was sometimes played to resolve disputes and get rid of bad feelings
between clans and nations within the Haudenosaunee. It was and still is played to
bring families, communities, and nations together. Often before players engage in a
game of lacrosse there is a community blessing where ceremonial tobacco is placed
into a fire. As the smoke rises, it is believed to carry prayers to the Creator. However,
some players will also ask for guidance as individuals, praying for strength or speed.
These requests to the Creator for personal and community strength are played out
within the game.