Iroquois Indians: World Views And Stereotypes Essay, Research Paper
Iroquois Indians: World views and Stereotypes
The Iroquois Indians have a commitment to collective responsibility and also have related attitudes towards property ownership. These concepts have had great meaning to the Iroquois and have shaped and influenced their society greatly. It has shaped they way the Seneca formed their economic systems, political systems, social relationships, and ideology and religion. This has led to many stereotypes and many different worldviews about the Iroquois Indians.
The Iroquois believed and were committed to collective responsibility. Meaning the whole tribe took on responsibilities and knew what they had to do. Each individual in the tribe acted for the tribe but did it independently and on their own. They had individual responsibilities and carried them through with no problems. Each person grew up with the ideal of autonomous responsibility and being independent. The cultivation of the ideal of autonomous responsibility and the suppression of its antinomy, dependency — began early in life. Iroquois children were carefully trained to think for themselves but to act for others. In order for them to survive as a community they need to get the work done, and they only could do this by being and acting responsible and committed to their tribe. For example the Iroquois women knew that since the men went away on hunting tribes to get them meat, they had to hold the community together and gather food to keep their tribe from dying while the men were away. Sometimes the men did not even come back with anything, meaning the tribe had to survive only on what the women had collected for that week. The women had a lot of responsibilities and knew they had to get them done, so they did. The Iroquois Indians also had related and strong attitudes about property ownership. They felt that God owned the land because the land is a part of nature and God owns nature. So they believed that they did not own the land, it was God who did. They just felt they had a responsibility to protect it and keep it from going bad. The Iroquois also knew they had to protect the land because they had people living on the land and they had to protect their people and in order to protect the people they need to protect their land. So it is almost like they were renting the land from god and took on all the responsibilities need to maintain and protect the land for God and themselves. These concepts have both affected the way of life and the Iroquois society, as well as influencing the rest of the world s view of the Iroquois.
These views have also influenced the Seneca s economic system. The Iroquois Indians valued the economy, but not like, nor as much as the Europeans did. The Indians used trade like the Europeans did but they mainly traded with in a certain region and with other Indians. Where the Europeans traded across the sea, with many different countries, and in their region, within their country. The Iroquois society was an agricultural society, which relied greatly on corn. The Seneca nation alone raised as much as a million bushels of corn each year. The Indians did trade with the Europeans but they only received a limited amount of European goods and they were not that great of quality. The Iroquois society did not rely on money or legal documents they relied on trade and only trade. They were a trading society and that was what their economy was based on. Each Indian had their own role and were very committed to their jobs. The responsibility for carrying on this extensive agricultural establishment rested almost entirely on the women. Economic security for both the men and the women rest in a proper appreciation for one s obligation to the family, clan, community, and nation. The efficiency and cooperation of the tribe helped maintain a stable economy. The Seneca economy was built around leisure time and relaxation. The Iroquois felt it very important for one to be well rested and have time to just sit around and be with one another.
The concept of collective responsibility affected the Iroquois political system also. The Seneca men and women shared political power, with, men exerting influence in certain ways and women exerting it in others. The political organization of the Iroquois the system by which decisions were made about problems affecting village, tribe, or confederacy had three levels . At the base of the political structure there is the Village Chiefs Council, they are in charge of local issues, and make sure the tribe is cooperating and running smoothly. In the middle is the Seneca National Council or the Seneca Tribal Council; they take care of major policies and keep alliances with other villages, current and in good standing. At the top of the political structure is the Great Council of the Confederacy; they are in charge of crucial and major issues pertaining to all the Iroquois tribes, their main objective is to maintain peace and order. They dealt with issues of welfare and sale of territory. Although the Iroquois did not believe that the land was theirs to sell, they at some points needed to sell to keep the Europeans out of their hair and away from trouble. They knew that it was all right to do this because they were only protecting the welfare of their people in their village and surrounding Iroquois villages . The Seneca has both a matriarchy and a patriarchy. The matriarchy controls the economy and the social life and home matters, where the patriarchy controls more of the political parts of life, such as diplomacy and military. Each member of the Seneca tribe knows his or her role in the government and does it without complaining. There are both men and women on the council, when the men are away the women take over and when the men come back they regain their control. There is no written set of laws, but each person knows what is expected of them and what their specific political duty or assignment is and they do it.
The Iroquois were social within their tribe and nation of Iroquois, but they were not so social with other tribe of Indians and with the Europeans. Unlike the Europeans who in Europe had contact with a lot of its surrounding nations and also within it s own country. It is not that the Indians did not respect other civilizations and other people, because they did. It was more like they wanted to be left alone, so they thought the other groups of people wanted to be left alone too, so they did not really bother with them, unless they confronted the Indians. The Iroquois social relationships were independent from one another, but when it came down to it, it was all for the tribe and the village. Anything that was said was good for the tribe and could not be harmful in anyway, because each individual needed to protect the village and the people in it. In marriage both men and women are very loyal to one another, they would never cheat on each other or get a divorce from one another. The relationship is both spiritual and also very meaningful and is not taken lightly. Religion was one way the tribe could communicate within its village and with other Indian nations. Religion was the base for many social events and meetings.
The Iroquois Indians had an ideal that was known by everyone in the tribe and was taken very seriously. The Seneca were intolerant to external restraint and stressed individual independent and were indifferent to pain, hardship, and loneliness. They had a policy of no guilt, they acknowledged the responsibility for their actions and did the correct thing because things were expected to get done. One way the Iroquois could vent their feelings of anger, frustration, and hate was through rituals. Many of the rituals were from a religious background and had many spiritual meanings attached to them. For example dreams were thought to be a gateway to the mind and soul. So when an individual dreamt they needed to take care of what ever the dream had said or they could be in danger. The Iroquois have, properly speaking, only a single Divinity, wrote Father Fremin the dream. Ti it they render their submission and follow all its orders with the utmost exactness. This was a ritual of tradition and both a religious ritual too. Religion was taken very seriously, the Seneca did not joke around when it came down to it. Their religion was called the Handsome Lake religion, which was founded by the prophet Handsome Lake. Handsome Lake founded the religion; his followers organized its practice. The Handsome Lake religion is not Christian, although it includes some element s borrowed from Christianity; it is essentially an amalgam of ancient tradition and the innovations of the Seneca prophet named Handsome Lake. Each individual of the Handsome Lake religion prayed individually and for and with the village. They felt it necessary to pray by themselves and the again with the group. They prayed for themselves s as individuals and for the group, their selves included.
These concepts have led the outside world to view the Iroquois Indians as caring yet independent people, who work for the tribe and only the tribe. We see them as a group of people who like to be left alone and do not enjoy or want conflict. We see them as peaceful and good-natured people. Stereotypes and world views about the Iroquois Indians can change and probably are different in other parts of the world, but as an American stereotype, this is what most of Americans believe.