Thursday, April 21, 2011


An unusual event was written up in “The Wilderness War” which took place in 1715.

From Niagara Falls to Lake Champlain, the warriors of the mighty Iroquois ruled supreme. Not even the savagery of the French and Indian Wars could cool their fury or halt their power. But by 1770, the restless white men were warring once again. Thayendanegea, the valiant Iroquois war Chief, allied his fierce tribes with the one white man the Indians loved and trusted, Sir William Johnson. Once more the frontier would erupt; pitting the Indians’ unvanquished spirit against the white settlers relentless challenge.

The fact that Joseph Brant disliked school does not mean he disliked education, especially the sort he received from Chief Tiyanoga. Even now, the thought of the grand old leader of the Mohawks could bring a lump to Joseph’s throat and dampen the corners of his eyes. It was Tiyanoga who had taught him the history of his tribe and that of the Iroquois League; and it was he who had taught Joseph the art of war.

In his deeply resonant baritone voice, Tiyanoga had spoken of how he Iroquois were proud people, but that before the League was formed the Five Nations has been separate, unallied tribes constantly fighting one another. So terrible was the carnage that it became necessary to erect strong palisades around each village for protection. Among their chief villages the remnants of these fortifications yet remain, and when the white men first saw these they called them castles.

At last, Tiyanoga had told him, some two and a half centuries ago, (that would be in the 1500’s) a remarkable thing occurred. A Being from the skies came to the earth and spoke to them, telling them to cease their fighting and unite themselves in a league for both defense and attack. Another Being was there, too -- a man called Atotarho, a great Onondaga chief. Both an astounding warrior and great magician, he was bound in some indefinable way to the unnamed Being from above. Finally there came a third Being, again a man and a chief and yet somehow supernatural, who appeared to various influential tribesmen in their dreams and bade them for this League. His name was Taounyawatham; he was also known to his people as Hiawatha. For a long time he traveled among the five tribes, explaining in detail to their leaders the idea of the League. It was not, he told them, a league that would prevent them from destroying themselves, as they were on the brink of doing. And should any one of them be attacked, they would all rise as a single body to beat off and destroy the attackers.

This is from the book “The Wilderness War” taken from actual diaries of the time. A true story which is quite fascinating!

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