Historical Reprints History Iroquois Book of Rites

Iroquois Book of Rites

Iroquois Book of Rites
Catalog # SKU3268
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name Horatio Hale
ISBN 10: 1610336305
ISBN 13: 9781610336307


Book of Rites

Large Print

Horatio Hale

The chief value of the Book of Rites, however, is ethnological, and is found in the light which it casts on the political and social life, as well as on the character and capacity of the people to whom it belongs. We see in them many of the traits which Tacitus discerned in our ancestors of the German forests, along with some qualities of a higher cast than any that he has delineated. The love of peace, the sentiment of human brotherhood, the strong social and domestic affections, the respect for law, and the reverence for ancestral greatness, which are apparent in this Indian record and in the historical events which illustrate it, will strike most readers as new and unexpected developments.

--New Edition, large 15 point font



The circumstances attending the composition of this record and its recent discovery are fully detailed in the introductory chapters. There also, and in the Notes and Appendix, such further explanations are given as the various allusions and occasional obscurities of the Indian work have seemed to require. It is proper to state that the particulars comprised in the following pages respecting the traditions, the usages, and the language of the Iroquois (except such as are expressly stated to have been derived from books), have been gathered by the writer in the course of many visits made, during several years past, to their Reservations in Canada and New York. As a matter of justice, and also as an evidence of the authenticity of these particulars, the names of the informants to whom he has been principally indebted are given in the proper places, with suitable acknowledgment of the assistance received from each. He ventures to hope that in the information thus obtained, as well as in the Book of Rite's itself, the students of history and of the science of man will find some new material of permanent interest and value.


At the outset of the sixteenth century, when the five tribes or "nations" of the Iroquois confederacy first became known to European explorers, they were found occupying the valleys and uplands of northern New York, in that picturesque and fruitful region which stretches westward from the head-waters of the Hudson to the Genesee. The Mohawks, or Caniengas--as they should properly be called--possessed the Mohawk River, and covered Lake George and Lake Champlain with their flotillas of large canoes, managed with the boldness and skill which, hereditary in their descendants, make them still the best boatmen of the North American rivers. West of the Caniengas the Oneidas held the small river and lake which bear their name, the first in that series of beautiful lakes, united by interlacing streams, which seemed to prefigure in the features of nature the political constitution of the tribes who possessed them. West of the Oneidas, the imperious Onondagas, the central and, in some respects, the ruling nation of the League, possessed the two lakes of Onondaga and Skeneateles, together with the common outlet of this inland lake system, the Oswego River, to its issue into Lake Ontario.

Still proceeding westward, the lines of trail and river led to the long and winding stretch of Lake Cayuga, about which were clustered the towns of the people who gave their name to the lake; and beyond them, over the wide expanse of hills and dales surrounding Lakes Seneca and Canandaigua, were scattered the populous villages of the Senecas, more correctly styled Sonontowanas or Mountaineers. Such were the names and abodes of the allied nations, members of the far-famed Kanonsionni, or League of United Households, who were destined to become for a time the most notable and powerful community among the native tribes of North America.

The region which has been described was not, however, the original seat of those nations. They belonged to that linguistic family which is known to ethnologists as the Huron-Iroquois stock. This stock comprised the Hurons or Wyandots, the Attiwandaronks or Neutral Nation, the Iroquois, the Eries, the Andastes or Conestogas, the Tuscaroras, and some smaller bands. The tribes of this family occupied a long, irregular area of inland territory, stretching from Canada to North Carolina. The northern nations were all clustered about the great lakes; the southern bands held the fertile valleys bordering the head-waters of the rivers which flowed from the Allegheny mountains. The languages of all these tribes showed a close affinity.

There can be no doubt that their ancestors formed one body, and, indeed, dwelt at one time (as has been well said of the ancestors of the IndoEuropean populations), under one roof. There was a Huron-Iroquois "family-pair," from which all these tribes were descended. In what part of the world this ancestral household resided is a question which admits of no reply, except from the merest conjecture. But the evidence of language, so far as it has yet been examined, seems to show that the Huron clans were the older members of the group; and the clear and positive traditions of all the surviving tribes, Hurons, Iroquois and Tuscaroras, point to the lower St. Lawrence as the earliest known abode of their stock.

328 pages - 7 x 8½ softcover
ISBN-10: 1610336305
ISBN-13: 9781610336307

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