« AnteriorContinuar »
the principal means invented by the Indian for transportation by land. For water travel they had the invaluable bark canoe. Birch bark suitable for the purpose did not grow in the Iroquois territory; hence the boats of their own manufacture were generally made of elm bark. A large piece of the latter material was shaped in canoe form, strengthened by a rim and ribs of white ash, stitched into place with thread or twine, and splints. Both ends of the canoe were alike sharp and vertical. The size varied from twelve to forty feet in length, with a seating capacity of from two to thirty people. Mr. Morgan says that such a canoe would last several years if well cared for; but Lafitau, who knew the Iroquois well, affirms that it could not last more than one season, because of the poorness of the workmanship. The framework, he says, was nothing but unfinished branches, and the whole thing was so badly done that “la vue seule en fait mal au coeur."2 Lafitau's statement is perfectly credible, since the Iroquois much preferred the more durable birch bark canoes they bought of the Algonquins, and were not likely to spend much time upon the easily warped elm bark affair of their own manufacture. The canoe was nevertheless one of their most important possessions. Light and easily propelled, it was to the fisherman and the traveller what the snow-shoe was to the hunter. Travelling, in fact, was done as much as possible in the warm season, when the many streams and lakes of the region offered the best of highways, and the canoe the most convenient of vehicles.
To recapitulate :—the production-goods of the Iroquois were primarily such as were needed to aid in the obtaining of raw materials; in other words, they were the implements of special use in hunting or in fishing, or in agriculture: among their possessions was also a stock of secondary production-goods, some of which were used to work up raw materials into finished goods, and others to be of service in transportation.
Morgan, “ League," p. 367. · Lafitau, II, 216–217.
• The Hurons were such expert canoemen that during the fishing season they often descended the St. Lawrence River to the Gulf. Schoolcraft, “ Hist. Ind. Tribes,” I, 305.
The consumption-goods of the Iroquois were such as a knowledge of their various productive activities and the nature of their implements would lead us to expect.
foremost were articles of food. The list included maize preparations, beans and squashes, meat and fish, fruits, nuts, roots, Waple syrup and sugar, and non-intoxicating beverages of vario:s/ sorts. There were many varieties of maize preparations—mcre than twenty-according to one of the Jesuits. Among the Senecas three kinds of corn were raised; the white flint for høminy, the red for storing—charred or dried—and the white fox'grinding into flour and making bread.? Sagamité, or corn parched in ashes, ground, and boiled with water formed the standard food of the Iroquois. This “mush" generally scasoned with dried or fresh fish or meat, with dried fruii,* or, for lack of better things, with powdered fish bones or wood-ashes. One of their most delicious preparations was sagamité served in a wooden plate, with two fingers of bear, sunflower, or nut oil poured over.' Maple syrup was also eaten with sagamité.8 Corn meal was also often made into bread. The corn was hulled by boiling in ashes and water. It was then pounded into meal and sifted and made with water into loaves or cakes about one inch thick and six inches in diameter. These cakes were then wrapped in corn husks and baked in the ashes or boiled in water.' Maize was also eaten green, roasted in the husk or boiled with beans. Next to maize in the village bill of fare came beans, pumpkins and squashes. Pumpkins were often boiled in water and eaten as a sort of porridge,10 while squashes were considered especially good when baked in hot ashes. 11 On the hunt and the
Jes. Rel., X, 103.
Sagard, p. 286.
fishing expedition, meat and fish became the chief basis of subsistence.
It is a savage's supreme good to have fresh meat, says Father b.uyas. Of that good, however, they tasted only during the three ur four months of the hunting season, and occasionally at other times. The surplus product was smoked and dried and taken home to he consumed mainly as seasoning for maize dishes. Several different beverages were in use among the Iroquois. First came water ;? next came the broth of meat, 3 and even pure
oil. There were alsu two or three different kinds of tea ;t for instance, the tips of hemlock boughs boiled in water and seasoned with maple sugar, boiled maple sap seasoned with sassafras root, and a drink made of dried fruit with sugar and water. As yet, the Iroquois had not advanced far enough into the agricultural stage to invent an intoxicating drink.
Besides their food for daily consumption, the Iroquois generally had on hand large stores of all kinds, particularly of maize. The latter was preserved in various ways. Green corn was shaved off the cob, baked over the fire in pans or earthen dishes, and dried in the sun.5 Red corn was often picked when green, and the ears set up on end in a row to roast before a long fire. They were then shelled and dried in the sun. These parched grains, pounded into flour and mixed with maple sugar, formed the main food of warriors on expeditions when hunting and fishing were impossible. Green corn was also boiled in the husk, after which the corn was parched, shelled from the cob, and dried in the sun. This method had especially good results and the product was kept to be made into sagamité for extraordinary occasions. Other grain was harvested when ripe, and the ears, tied in bunches, hung up to dry. When dry enough, the corn was shelled and put away for future use.? Corn to be used for seed was left hanging in the cabin. Fish and meat were also stored up for
1 Jes. Rel., LI, 129.
use during the year. Drying and smoking were the only means of preservation. In spite of the fact that they possessed find salt springs, the Iroquois do not seem to have made the least use of salt until after their acquaintance with the Europeans. They thought, in fact, that the waters of the springs were poisonous, and that the Europeans got salt from them by a miracle. Besides their stores of fish and meat, the Iroquois also kept quantities of dried raspberries, huckleberries, mulberries, and strawberries, and nuts of various kinds.3 Finally, animal and vegetable oils were tried out and preserved in lumps or in little round birch bark boxes. All these supplies of grain, meat, fruit, and vegetables were put away in bark cases kept in or near the house, or were buried in caches not far away. Corn was generally preserved by the former method. Packed in bark barrels, it was put on a high scaffolding where it would be safe from moisture, or else in the garrets or vestibules of the houses. Squashes and other vegetables were always buried in bark-lined pits four or five feet deep. There they were perfectly preserved untouched by frost. Smoked meat and fish were generally made up into bundles and wrapped in bark or packed in bark cases, which were hung up in the cabin or buried under the floor near the fire-place. At times, however, cured meat was buried in pits lined with deer-skins. Thus in times of plenty, the Iroquois bill of fare was no mean one. Fresh meat and fish abounded in the hunting season, while in the village, maize dishes seasoned with dried meat or fruits of some sort usually afforded an ample basis of subsistence. In all seasons
Jes. Rel., XLI, p. 125, note 6; X, 101.
Beauchamp, N. Y. St. Mus. Bul., No. 16, p. 75—“Salt they did not use, and it was distasteful to them. The Iroquois now ascribe their degeneracy and lack of manly vigor to using salt meat, instead of obtaining all its fresh juices, as their ancestors did.”
2 Loskiel, pp. 65–66; Beauchamp, N. Y. St. Mus. Bul., No. 32, p. 97; Jes. Rel., XLI, 256.
• La Potherie, III, 20; Jes. Rel., II, 123; Bartram, “Observations,” p. 73.
* La Potherie, III, 19–20; Jes. Rel., XLIII, note 19.
5 Carr, “Mounds,” Sm. Inst. Rep., 1891, p. 516; Lafitau, II, 79-80; Morgan, “League,” pp. 372–373; Beauchamp, N. Y. St. Mus. Bul., No. 16, pp. 54-55; Sagard, pp. 250–251.
there was in the village a generous stored surplus to be relied upon in case of need.
Next to food in the list of consumption-goods were clothing and coverings of various sorts. Textiles were rare among the Iroquois. A few manufactures of reeds and corn-husks, bags made of hemp fibre, and some other articles of the sort, exhausted the catalogue. For most of their articles of clothing and many of their mats and hangings, the Iroquois utilized the skins which they secured in hunting. Lafitau describes the dress of the ordinary Iroquois as consisting of about five pieces,—the breechcloth, the tunic, the leggings, the moccasins, and the robe or blanket. Of these the breech-cloth for the men, and the short petticoat for the women, were considered the only absolutely indispensable garments. The others were worn or not, according as inclination or the weather made them desirable. The tunic was a sort of sleeveless chemise made of two deer skins, fringed at top and bottom. When they were travelling or in very cold weather, the Iroquois often wore a pair of sleeves.
These were not attached to the tunic, but were tied together by two thongs which passed behind the shoulders. The leggings were made of a piece of skin, folded and sewed to fit the leg. The Iroquois shoe or moccasin into which the footless stockings were tucked, was also of skin, without sole or heel, but shaped to fit the foot. Sometimes they used for this purpose the skin of the elk's hind leg, cutting it above and below the gambrel joint, and taking it off entire. As the hind leg of the elk inclines at this point nearly at a right angle, it was naturally adapted to the foot," says Mr. Morgan. “The lower end was sewed firmly with sinew, the upper part secured above the ankle with deer strings." 2 The robe mentioned by Lafitau was a sort of blanket of skins. Upon some of these garments the hair was left untouched, while others had been cured and tanned in the Iroquois way. All sorts of skins were used. One of the favorite sorts was that of the black squirrel. Several of these were sewed together, and a border of tails left along the lower edge of the garment. The * Lafitau, II, pp. 27–31. Morgan, “League," p. 361.