INDIAN SURVIVAL CRISIS BULLETIN
NO. 17 MARCH/APRIL, 1986
5TH INSTALLMENT: FUN AND FROLIC IN HISTORY
(In our last issue, the Iroquois Confederacy was worried about being attacked by neighboring Indian Nations) Our worthy missionaries had gotten among these protected Indian nations and coaxed, cajoled, incited, urged and wheedled them into attacking their protectors. It took them a quarter of a century to succeed. "You have no voice in their councils," they told them. They treat you like women." The holy men of God pointed out that they would have French, Algonquins and the Hurons as allies.
The situation points out why empires crumble and fall. The weakness of empires is in the subject nations. They revolt and gain independence. In the case of the Iroquois, instead of establishing subject nations, they should have given the nations in their protectorate equal status, which was in keeping with the design and wishes of Deganawida, founder of the Iroquois Confederacy. Instead, some elitists in the Grand Council wanted to keep them in subjection. The missionaries promised the protectorate Indian nations that it would only be a matter of months before the Long House is destroyed and they would be free and under the protection of the French. The men of God started a war that did not end in months but went on for over a hundred years. After the smoke had cleared and the battle had been won (the Mohawks gained the title "having the greatest capacity") the French had lost their land holdings in Canada and the protectorate Indian nations had become mostly extinct. The Iroquois, greatly reduced and weakened, were still erect, roaring and defiant. The Jesuit missionaries were suppressed by their own superiors. Got to big for their robes. It looked like the black robes were trying to take over the Holy Mother. Can't have that! After Napoleon was defeated and the pope was released from durance vile wherein Napoleon had placed him, the first action by the pope upon being released was to reinstate the Jesuits. They were a military order and the greatest fighters the Church ever had. The Church regained part of great power and influence, thank you, but they lost their power to burn people at the stake.
Information reached the Iroquois that the French organized Indian forces were getting ready to attack the Long House and wipe them off the face of the earth. In fact, the French had already announced in Europe that it was now just a matter of months when the Iroquois Long House would be destroyed finally and completely by all the forces of so many nations arrayed against them. The Grand Council at Onondaga was alerted and the War Chiefs got together with their officers for a Council of War. They assessed correctly that the Hurons were the most powerful of the nations they would have to fight. They decided that the best defense was a powerful attack. It wasn't going to be a cinch as the Hurons alone, outnumbered all the Iroquois nations put together. The War Chiefs (Asarekowason) and the Warrior Council planned a lightning type war and overrun all enemy territories by storm. The show was later copied by a feller named Hitler and he even called his men storm troopers. He said he admired the Iroquois. It's a good time to introduce a noted character who played an important role in twhistory because of his people's religious beliefs.
THE BOY WHO WANTED TO BECOME A SAINT
Some people may have been born to become saints. They entertained no such ambitions. Others become saints by accident. Some were tricked into it. How many started out with the intention of becoming a saint and succeeded? Sainthood as a goal may be the hardest achievement of all. One has to perform a couple of miracles or cause events regarded as miracles, depending on the convictions of the judges if one is lucky enough to have the right judges.
A boy, Jean de Brebeuf of France, had such an ambition. He started by becoming a priest. By being sent to New France he would work among the "savages" of the new world and if he could work things out they could make him a saint. He would leave the sophisticated savagery of the old world. It was no longer the age of saints in France. The Holy Mother was now burning saints and sinners alike at the stake and recognizing none of them as saints. No way of becoming a saint in France any more. It was too civilized. It was already two centuries since the Church burned Joan of Arc and it took almost another three centuries for another age to recognize her as a saint. Young Jean wanted faster action. The only way he saw to achieve his ambition was to die a horrible death for his religion in a foreign land. The Church would surely perk up and take notice and at once give him a saint status. He had heard of the ferocious Iroquois and he felt sure he could employ their ferocity to achieve his most earnest desire. Before leaving France, Reverend Jean de Brebeuf vowed he would be martyred and go down to posterity as a saint.
In time, young Reverend Brebeuf arrived in Quebec and got permission to work in Iroquois country to bring God to those "barbarians". Yes, they still tell us exbarbarians that the white man brought God to America. Just think, O Indians! if the white man hadn't decided to come to America and steal the red man's land, God would still be in Europe! God can't go anywhere unless Sir Caucasian brings him. If the white man had been satisfied with what he had, Europe, he never would have brought God to America. But Sir Caucasian get heap greedy, decided to steal the red man's land in the name of God. That's why he brought God along. It wouldn't be good form to take the land of the Indians in the name of God and leave God behind in Europe. God couldn't come to America by himself. Needed white man's permission. Sir Caucasian gives no permission. Very bossy man. Wants everything. Gotta have everything. Even took over heaven which is why it's now paleface heaven. He makes the rules and decides who goes there. Only those who obey the white man on earth shall go to paleface heaven. Let us all good people unite and make the white man give heaven back to God.
So, we see Reverend Jean de Brebeuf in Iroquois country, drawing pictures of the various forts with diagrams of the strengths and weaknesses thereof. He also marked the numbers of the fighting men in each place. He even wrote reports giving details. He even kept all this incriminating material on his person hoping to be caught in the act of espionage and so become a martyr. He would surely be executed.
Time went by and not a single town suspected the giant priest (8' 6') as being a spy. The time came when he was no longer young and he was still a non-saint. Disgusted, he left the Iroquois country and became a teacher among the Hurons, which was the best move he could have made for his purpose.
The Dutch and other informants had been warning the Iroquois about the black robes and how they had gotten their Protectorate Nations subverted and organized to attack their protectors. Appraised of the dangerous position they were in and convinced of the need for instant action, the Iroquois army put into operation their projected lightning type war. According to twhistory, they hit the strongest ally of the French, the Hurons, with "paralyzing speed and ferocity" and carried the battle to a quick end. Reverend Jean de Brebeuf who had just about given up all hopes of being martyred, was then living with the Hurons. He feel into the hands of the Iroquois warriors as did Reverend Gabriel Lalemant, also a Jesuit missionary. Both carried incriminating evidence that they had spied on the Iroquois. Brought before the military tribunal of War Chiefs and charged with espionage, the two missionaries were found guilty and sentenced to death. The usual mode of Iroquois execution is a blow on the head with a war club which caused instant death, the two missionaries demanded to be burned at the stake which was the Church's favorite of method of execution in Europe. This greatly surprised the Iroquois warriors, but more was yet to come. This affair was to be the most bizarre in the experience of the people of the Iroquois Confederacy.
We have read of explanations of the causes of the ecstasy which accompanied each burning and death of these particular missionaries. Three other missionaries had already been executed for espionage but had not demanded to be burned at the stake. They died by a blow on the dead with a war club. It is common knowledge these days of people who "get their kicks" by being tortured. They are known as masochists. The men on whom fell the task of executing the two missionaries were to tell the story over many a camp fire and debates in the Long Houses, how they conducted the executions upon instructions of the condemned themselves! Close to nature, the Indians had no concept of sex aberrations and could only stare, no doubt with open mouths as the giant Jean de Brebeuf enjoyed his torments. Torture is like copulation to the masochists and they Iroquois saw Brebeuf take several flights into ecstasy (orgasm) before succumbing to the flames, which he had directed to be slow, so as to prolong the torture (which was a pleasure to him) and not cause a quick death. Lalemant being much less strong lasted less than half as long. But, he too died in ecstacy. The two missionaries enjoyed themselves to death. The masochists to today would have been envious of those ancient cool cats of yesteryear, who were certainly with it that day.
Francis Parkman, in his twhistory, relates that the "inhuman savages" cut out Brebeuf's heart and ate it before his horrified eyes. Now, Parkman was a writer and should have been intelligent enough to know that the heart, as soon as it's cut, stops functioning and the victim can not see his own heart being eaten as he would be dead. That would be shortening his life. Brebeuf directed a long slow death. That story of Indians eating the missionary's heart was plainly hate propaganda. It is to be remembered that they were at it for a quarter of a century.
After the terrible Les Iroquois left the Huron country, the pious French propagandists who started all the trouble gathered the remains of the two missionaries, boiled the meat off the bones and kept them as relics in a glass case. When you're civilized, you don't bury your heroes. You boil them and keep the bones as souvenirs. It also happened to the French General Montcalm. The bones of the Indian saint, Kateri Tekakwitha is kept in a black box in the Roman Catholic Church in Kahnawake and shown to pious tourists. The bones are so big one curious Indian was heard to remark: "What the hell is that, elephant bones?"
Reverent Jean de Brebeuf wanted to be a saint right off, but it took his holy congregation almost 300 years to canonize him. However, he must be happy now, up there in the roster of saints in paleface heaven. He is now St. Jean de Brebeuf. The Iroquois stopped making saints.
Twhistory does not relate what happened to the Iroquois Protectorate of Indian nations except to say they no longer exist, done in by the Iroquois the propagandists say. Their names are even forgotten. The Neutrals are remembered as beautiful people. Their average height was over six feet tall. Even most of the girls were over six feet tall. The Neutrals were regarded as the most powerful of the Indian nations in the Iroquois Protectorate. They too outnumbered the Iroquois Confederacy and were said to be next in power to the Hurons. As such, they were next to be invaded by the lightning war. A very handsome people and all gone because they listened to pious propaganda. The Eries, Cat Nation and others to the number of 28 Indian nations are seen no more. There is no mention of what happened to the Christian missionaries who incited them to fight and destroy the Iroquois Confederacy. Even the French made their last attack on the Iroquois country in 1696 when Frontenac was carried out on a litter and the whole French army running for their lives back to the safety of the strong forts of Montreal and Quebec.
One of the mysteries of the time was why didn't the Iroquois follow up and wipe out the entire French colony? The Jesuit Relations relates that the Iroquois had the opportunity to put an end to New France and for some reason failed to take advantage of it. Iroquois warriors raided New France in 1689 and in two months wiped out half of the population and then retired to their home fires. Jesuit missionaries asked each other "what's holding them back?" One explanation advanced was that the Iroquois had become sick with revulsion at all the slaughter they had to perform. Even if it was in the defense of their country. Ferocious? The very people they could have wiped out were then calling them chicken hearted for failing to finish them all off. The should have been happy. But then you can never please foreigners.
OTHER HEROES OF NEW FRANCE
The next French hero was Governor De La Barre, who was instructed by the King to invade the Iroquois country and give them a taste of French arms. The Iroquois got a hint that something was being planned against them when the missionaries began to leave the Iroquois towns. Apparently, they had no wishes to become saints. Governor De La Barre started up the river with 900 men (trained soldiers) and when he reached Fort Frontenac he demanded a council with the Long House. Instead of the Grand Council Chiefs, De La Barre found himself facing War Chief Garangulah who defied the French to do their worst. "You did not come here on an errand of peace with 900 armed men. You came for war." The Iroquois warriors disarmed the French and seized their munitions. Garangulah ended with - "and our old men are not afraid of war. We shall trade with whom we choose. We are born free we neither depend on Onondio (French King) or Corla (British Government). We may go where we please and buy and sell what we please, if your allies be your slaves, use them as such." De La Barre war enraged but powerless and his great expedition came to naught. The native accounts have it that the great Garangulah turned the Governor of Canada around, kicked him in the pants and sent him home. De La Barre claimed sickness of the men to excuse his failure. In the light of what was to happen later, War Chief Garangulah and his men should have imprisoned the Governor and his men.
Protecting other nations is contagious. Even the King of England at that time decided to make a protectorate of the Iroquois Confederacy. "We have thought fit to own the Five Nations (it was before the Tuscaroras joined) or Cantons of Indians as our subjects and resolved to protect them as such"!!!
A modem authority said the Iroquois "probably thought this a mere alliance and treated it as such." Likely, the Indians cared little what the English called them, as long as they received their share of the agreed mutual protection and help to fight the French according to treaty of peace and friendship signed by the English and the Iroquois Confederacy. The Indians were not to learn the true meaning of the word "subject" until a long time later. Even white Canadians did not know they wee British subjects until I brought up the subject at the "work shop on Indian Affairs" in Ottawa about 20 years ago. They were shocked to learn they were British subjects while being citizens of Canada. They wondered how this born again savage knew what they did not know. A lawyer had to explain before they accepted the fact. Subject is a tricky word. One of the meanings is an object being owned by subject makers who seldom tell you they have made you a subject.
For example, the following communication from the Iroquois reveals that the word hadn't been explained to them: "Brother Corla (after the first Dutch Governor Corlaer, the name kept as title) you say that we Five Nations are the King of England's subjects, well Brother, be it so, but if the French should make war upon us and molest us as they have, pray let us have assistance in reality and not be deluded with false words as we have been formerly." The English used the word "subject" tightly and the word "protection" very loosely, for, as it transpired, the English colonies were actually and in reality under the protection of the Iroquois. Yes, boys and girls, the Iroquois had to babysit the English colonies for more than a century, a thankless job as it turned out.
Governor Dongan wrote to his home governments: "The Five Nations (before the Tuscaroras joined) are the most warlike people in America and a bulwark between us and the French and all other Indians. All the Indians in these parts are tributaries to them." In brief, the English colonies owed their peace and uninterrupted progress to the Iroquois.
We now return to New France heroes. King Lois of France was displeased with Sigur De La Barre. He conferred the usual reward for failure. He got rid of De La Barre. He elevated Marquis de Dennonville to his job. The new Governor was instructed to aid the Illinois and to humble the Iroquois. Dennonville made much use of the missionaries the Iroquois had permitted to roam their country at will. One jesuit, Jean de Lamberville was especially active as an informant of the situation and circumstances in the Iroquois country and it was he who was instrumental in gathering forty of the Chiefs of the Confederacy - the Senecas had refused to come as they suspected a trick - to Fort Cataraqui where they were to meet with the new Governor of Canada, who said he wanted peace with the Iroquois Confederacy. This new French Governor better be prepared. We had 2,500 men, all fuming for revenge. De La Barre's ineptitude had humiliated them.
Some of what happened can be explained in a letter the missionary De Lamberville write some years later, which explains how very important to the French were the missionaries travelling in complete freedom in the Iroquois country: "I gathered together forty of the Iroquois Chiefs and gave them the word of the Governor, that being a Christian and chosen by the King to be his lieutenant general in this country, they should believe him to be incapable of failing to keep his word or to act against the law of nations. When they heard what I said, they consented to my wishes and faithfully promised to be at Cataraquis at the time appointed. When Dennonville was nearing the fort with his troops, the Indian delegates were also seen approaching in their bark canoes laden with furs as presents and pledges for the French."
When the Long House delegation of peace stepped ashore, they were grabbed and taken prisoners. Among them was a Cayuga Chief who had been befriended by the subtle De Lamberville and had helped to talk the Iroquois Chiefs into participating in this "peace" parley with Governor Dennonville. He was one of the forty Confederate Chiefs who were taken to Quebec and later shipped to France where being "strong and robust" the French king had them included among his galley slaves.
The Cayuga Chief paid very dearly for his friendship with the missionary as did the Confederate people who, at last, had enough of missionaries to last them for good. The Jesuit, De Lamberville made good his escape from the Onondagas and the other missionaries quickly retired from the Iroquois country. They did not have the martyrdom complex. In a work entitled HISTORIC CAUGHNAWAGA, the author, Reverend E. J. Devine, S.J. (Society of Jesus or Jesuits), on page 80, admits that the Jesuit missionaries acted as spies for the French. The Dennonville treachery serves to show that the overglorified and overpaid European religion cannot make good people out of its followers. (to be continued)
INDIAN SURVIVAL CRISIS BULLETIN