This webpage is an online complement to Kathryn Labelle and Thomas Peace, eds., From Huronia to Wendakes: Adversity, Migrations, and Resilience, 1650-1900 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2016).
The authors who contributed essays to From Huronia to Wendakes are indebted not only to the ancestors of the Wendat/Wyandot people (who are the subjects of our research), but their modern descendants as well. It is these communities, who exist today in both Canada and the USA, that continue to grapple with the historical legacies of the studies highlighted throughout this text. Consequently, earlier drafts and outlines of chapters were submitted to community members for feedback. As we identify in the introduction, in cases where tribal governments were unable to respond to our requests (due to stretched resources) we reached out to Wendat/Wyandot friends and colleagues to comment on the text. These community members, elders and tribal historians were asked five questions to guide their reviews of our research:
- What are the strengths of the overall project?
- What are the strengths of particular chapters?
- How does the research of these emerging scholars contribute to the preservation and promotion of Wendat/Wyandot history?
- What is your reaction to the types of research methodology and topics covered in this book?
- Are there areas of research that are missing from this book? If so, what topics/themes would you like to see in future projects to address these gaps?
What follows are their responses. We hope that you will find them insight and helpful as we did!
Judtih Kukowski – Wyandot Nation of Anderdon
In chapter one it is noted that the Wendat had a clearly defined council system based on democracy. But even more telling is that women had their own council. This Women’s Elders Council was far more important than previously thought. The French governors and the Jesuits simply ignored this, I think, because they were from a paternalistic society.
I also agree that Bruce Trigger was incorrect in assuming that the Wendat ceased to exist after 1660. Every society changes. The Wendat of today certainly express their culture differently than those of 1650 or even 1710. Yet throughout all the years of Iroquois persecution, and wars with foreign invading governments, and the years of famine, we have survived. Can you hear me cheering!?
In chapter four, there is excellent discussion on the efforts of various Protestant denominations to bring Christianity to the Ohio Wyandots. Missing is an examination of those in Michigan and Ontario who were originally instructed by members of the Catholic Church. I would love to see a translation and thorough study of Father Pierre Potier’s writings in the 1700’s. His census of 1747 needs further study. I see it as the missing link in our Wendat history; the gap between the 1650 dispersal and the 1836 and 1843 dispersals. In particular there is no discussion on the Wyandot of Anderdon. We are those who refused to leave our homeland. Between 1836 and 1895 the Government in Canada forced the selling of our lands. Some refused enfranchisement. The influx of Anglo-Europeans forced our removal along with the Ohio Wyandots to Kansas and Oklahoma. Where is the discussion of their struggle for survival amid the pressures of an increasing Anglo population? I think Susan Sleeper-Smith in Indian Women and French Men sums it up best with the phrase “hiding in plain sight”. In chapter five, de Stecher observes that Johannes Kohl was surprised to find that although we were more educated we still identified as “Huron”. This is definitely true of the Wyandot of Anderdon. What we have is a strong family bond. If you check our family trees you will find that we are all related. Every one of us is cousin to the other. In fact, we still elect our Council by kinship, that is, by the Clan system. I am Deer Clan. Although we are of mixed ancestry we all self identify as Wyandot. How did this happen? My dear mother was of Polish ancestry and my father was of Wyandot and French ancestry. Yet I self-identify as Wyandot. You will notice that we are a family oriented Indigenous people. That is what I believe kept us together. To the casual observer our Green Corn Feast could resemble a family picnic. Was this an attempt to fit in with white society? If so, how did we still attract such distant family members from across a burgeoning USA? I believe our elders held the truth in their hearts and passed the knowledge to the children.
My own father maintained Wendat practices. When any of his children were ill he would bring out his pipe and waft the smoke about himself and the sick child. My first memory of this was at age five. I had been seriously feverish from an ear infection. The doctor was at the house but could do little. In my delirium I called for my father to “bring the pipe”. I have no memory of him smoking his pipe for me before. But who knows? Anyway, he got his pipe and performed a smudge ceremony. Within a few hours I was regaining strength. So ever after, when one of us was sick, mom would tell him to get the pipe. So to those who say we are assimilated, I say hogwash!
Jonathan Lainey – Nation huronne-wendat
An external and apolitical point of view
Claiming that history is neutral because the documents speak for themselves is simply a lie. Writing history is, by nature and definition, about choosing and selecting facts, according to a particular perspective and specific point of view. Would we dare say that the new, refreshing perspective that we find in Beyond Wendake is in part possible by the fact that many of these emerging researchers are not from Quebec, and therefore approach this subject without of the socio-political context that shapes Wendat history in Quebec? Would this apolitical point of view allow the authors to be “free” in their interpretation and understanding of the past?
Whether we like it or not, the answer could well be yes. Wendat history is highly political and often anchored in high-priced and legally oriented research. The place of the Wendat in Canadian history has a direct impact on the weight of contemporary land claims. Historical interpretations that view the Wendat as poor, dependent refugees seeking help from the French rather than as an influential people who moved within their territory and kept a central place in a vast, strong and ancient network of Native nations have present-day consequences. It is easy to guess, though, which scenario the Government of Quebec would rather consider as the “historical truth.”
Revisiting paradigms and past approaches
Too often historians select only a part of an archival document that supports an assertion or opinion. This approach diminishes the impact and influence of the Wendat on historical events without taking the time to fully contextualize the source and its broader significance. The authors in Beyond Wendake do not hesitate to do the opposite. They question a historiography that situates the Wendat as simple accessories during the European journey to the “New World” by revisiting the sources, facts, numbers, and data used to support these claims. In so doing, they have challenged the opinions circulating in the historiography, past and present. No more are the Wendat destroyed refugees, and passive victims with minimal influence.
Consultation with the Wendat communities
The vast majority of our history is still written by non-Wendat scholars. The Wendat can hardly control the image of their past. How often do we see researchers working on Wendat subjects as if it was a simple passive object of research, like rocks or flowers? As a society, the Wendat are still alive and have something to say about their past, its interpretation by others and its implications today. In this project, at many different stages, some authors have generously consulted with community members, not to seek their approval on their results, but to seek their advice, help, and opinions. We can only warmly applaud such a methodological approach.
Bringing new, fresh perspectives
For a long time, research on the Wendat has focused on the history of the sixteenth and seventeenth Wendat Confederacy. This field was defined by archaeologist Bruce Trigger’s important work, Children of Aataentsic. Current research in Wendat Studies is moving away from this period, however. The period after the Confederacy’s dissolution in the late-1640s is now being covered and studied from many different angles and approaches. Beyond Wendake is the perfect example of this new trend. This book brings together new work in archaeology, close and detailed studies of social and political networks and relationships in the eighteenth century, interpretation of the rich material culture of the nineteenth century and its political consequences alongside a focus on the Wendat economy during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Even if some solid studies were published on the post-1650 period before, the whole portrait has yet to be drawn and the full story remains to be told. Beyond Wendake is a brilliant step forward in that direction.
Linda Sioui – Nation huronne-wendat
When Dr. Labelle & Dr. Peace asked me to read & provide some comments about this collective work, I was pleasantly surprized to find out that I wasn’t reading just other accounts of Huron-Wendat & Wyandot history the way it was taught in school. From what I recall, after 1649, the Huron Confederacy was said to be vanished or extinct. This side of history has been perpetuated for way too long.
Instead, this book presents itself in a fresh & different light and attempts to provide insight into a Huron-Wendat & Wyandot perspective, since history didn’t only happen from a colonial point of view. The Huron-Wendat and Wyandot contingents reshaped, adapted to their new environment with attemps to re-establish their cultural and political pattern. As I have stated in my own research, the pressures by the global economy on cultures does not necessarily lead to the disappearance or assimilation of minority cultures. I can only agree with those that state that there exists a much needed call to reorient school curriculums and post-secondary lectures, to bring to light, and in spite of major global influence, the resilience and adaptation capacity of the people whose history is being told. Further on, Andrew Sturtevant states that colonialism had destroyed the separate identity of the Wendat. If this is the case, then decolonizing history would perhaps help us regain part of it.
Through some valuable insight in the lives of individuals, new chapters of Huron-Wendat and Wyandot history are hereby told. For all these reasons, I commend the efforts of all the authors.
This book is a definite MUST READ.
Tiahwenk ! (Thank you !)
John Nichols – Wyandot Nation of Kansas
To All the authors who have contributed to this book – Thank You!!!
I am afraid I know much more about our stay in Kansas than I do about our earlier history. You have each contributed greatly to my understanding of our people and for that I am personally indebted. There were several thoughts that came to mind as I went through your work. First, how fortunate we are to have such gifted and insightful people looking at our people. Second, how wonderful it is to have such scholars coming together to examine patterns and experiences of our past. This has been helpful in seeing some of the patterns which were not as visible to us before. Third, I wish to challenge you to keep up the good work. There is so much more to learn and by sharing our stories we may help others see things differently in the world today. Finally, I would like to thank you all for listening to our people and letting us share our views.
Many of the experiences and patterns discussed in this book are as demonstrable in Kansas as elsewhere. We were part of a Diaspora getting here and we struggled to survive as did our ancestors. We found ourselves being part of a “buffer zone” with the Permanent Indian Frontier. The same nations who had served as a defensive buffer in Detroit were our neighbors here. This time we were the buffer between other Emigrant (or Immigrant, depending on your view point) Tribes and the Plains Tribes on the one side and the citizens of the United States on the other. We found ways to control our own destinies and refused to simply be victims. Like our cousins we chose education as a tool to help us survive. We continued our tradition of mobility to continue linking our people.
When the Territory of Kansas was established we found ourselves in the front lines of a war we did not ask for. “Bleeding Kansas” and the struggle between free-state and pro-slave ideologies put us between the warring factions, geographically, culturally and ideologically. Traditionally the interpretation of our involvement in town companies such as Wyandott and Quindaro has focused on the difference between pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions within our tribe. The reality appears to be much more complicated on the outside as pro-slavery tribal members were part of an antislavery town company (Quindaro) and anti-slavery tribal members continued to be involved in Wyandott, considered a pro-slavery stronghold. Based in part on the research shown in this book I believe these actions were part of a traditional pattern in order to have members on both sides to protect the people. No matter who loses, there would still be Wendat on the winning side who can look to the good of the people. Finally, in spite of government treaties telling us we ceased to exist as a nation, we have continued to function as one based on our kinship and alliances.
Thank you all again and please keep up the good work. We truly appreciate it and owe you a debt of gratitude.
Darren English – Wyandot Nation of Kansas
This is a fantastic compilation.
I don’t have any critiques to add to what has already been stated by the others.
HOWEVER, I have to admit that this has triggered an interesting reaction in me. I love history for several reasons; the pragmatic – if you do not now history you are doomed to relive it; the ‘nationalistic’ – history is written by the victors, so we should better record our perspective; and the “what if…”. What if is my favorite subject but not very useful for research and recording history.
Chapter One especially triggered the “what if” reaction. What if the events that are recorded in the Relations are not exactly accurate. Of course we know this to be accurate – the Relations are edited versions of the original Galiases – the original letters sent back to France. The Jesuit High Command (or whatever they are called) added and retracted information and used the published material as fundraising tools and propaganda. We can safely assume that the British (backing the Haudenosaunee) had access to the Relations and read them and based some of their movements on the information supplied.
What if the original letters were intended as a campaign of disinformation – intended to confuse the Brits and Haudenosaunee, giving the Wendats some breathing room and get their people to safety. When they said that the Wendats were scattered to the winds there may have been more calculation involved. Almost every piece written gave me a bit of “what if”, but none as much as Chapter One.
I think the most important thing that books/articles about history can do is give a new perspective. Kathryn Labelle’s and Michael Cox’s chapters were especially effective. Before now, I did not know anything about the Presbyterians and Wyandots. All I knew before is that Tarhe had written a letter requesting their assistance. I had always assumed they had just ignored his request.
I think people will enjoy this book a LOT! I know I did. This collection is readable by scholars and the casual researcher alike which is something that is novel in scholarly work!
Thanks for the fresh perspective!
Beverlee Pettit – Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma
Initially, I attempted to perform an exhaustive research and review of the manuscript by cross-checking references with my own. That was the wrong approach. Then I determined just to read it, but that did not work as I had to take great effort in understanding the significance of some of the information. After much time and not really getting any closer to something that would satisfy me, I decided on a methodology for review. I highly commend the author(s) for the significant effort used to research historical information available on the history of our people; but most all, I appreciate the intellectual contemplation used to identify premises of logic to support conclusions drawn by that history.
For purposes of review, I determined not to rewrite the manuscript or go through my research to counter the research already accomplished by the author(s). Therefore I used the following methodology in my approach:
- I approach the manuscript as a Wyandotte woman.
- I approach the manuscript as a storyteller, poet and artist.
- I approach the manuscript as a historian.
- I approach the manuscript as an editor
- I approach the manuscript as though I am an outsider and know nothing about the material or the Wendat/Wandat tribe(s).
I am enthralled by the title. I was full of emotion and found the information soothing and confirming to my soul in that I have long believed our people, villages and communities were held together by culture, language, and deep social and spiritual bonds. All of which create “invisible” boundary lines, unlike the lines drawn on a map for only a specific region. Therefore, we can live anywhere and still be part of the greater village.
I was very excited when I read, “Overall, we contend that Wendat history, like all histories and people, is fluid and ever changing.”
Previous to reading your manuscript, I had not known about Joseph Badger. In Chapter four, I found the note that explained Mr. Badger “did not subscribe to the notion of boarding Indian students in white communities” and it proceeded with,
I have been convinced, that all attempts to diffuse knowledge among the aboriginals of this country, by taking them, either young men or children and educating them among white people, will prove not only unsuccessful, but highly injurious to the design. They will learn the vices of the people among whom they live: with these they return to their countrymen, distinguished by habit and vices equally new and odious. In this way, they soon become objects of contempt among their brethren; and thus prejudice them against every kind of instruction from white people.
I found this single statement as insightful and perhaps even wisdom from the divine. Had only his brethren listened to his good word, think where we might be today. But of course, one might argue that God knew man would not listen to the knowledge he gave to Badger, so he planted Barnet in the midst of the people so that he may bring them the word of God.
As a self-proclaimed historian, I have many areas of interest: who are my ancestors, who are my family, what is the history of the aboriginal people of the North American continent, who are the Americans, who is God…just to name a few. My intent is not just to find facts, but to search for an interpretation. I look for patterns and establish meaning by studying documents and artifacts left behind. For me, the ultimate purpose is to find truth, wisdom and knowledge which can be used to put those things back in place which were taken away.
In review of the manuscript I found the historical information sound, yet believe additional information obtained from recent scholars (such as with Georges Sioui) could enhance the work.
Bringing all methodologies together, I see a book with promise. A book with depth and book that is closer to presenting a truthful picture of the lives and thought processes of the peoples concepts toward life in the span of time from past to present than most other currently on the market for the Wendat people. Of course, there is always room for improvements (smile). This book is a beginning and I look forward to more.
Sallie Cotter Andrews – Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma
My comments are given chapter by chapter. Chapter 1 read like a good novel – Loved this chapter. An amazing story. One question came to mind when I was reading it was – when they were building the stone fort, were they not observed by the Iroquois? Didn’t the premise work both ways – they could tell if the Iroquois were coming – but couldn’t the Iroquois tell that they were building a fort? I also believe this chapter was very informative about the social structure and traditional ways of making decisions. I did pick up that the Wendat were still “their own people.” They strategized and made decisions that were best for them and used the Jesuits to get to their own end result. They were not the victims. I felt like this showed their strength as leaders and masters of their own lives even in the face of very bad times. Very good insight into the Wendat psyche, which I felt was accurate based on subsequent history. Other strengths of the chapter included a good analysis of the population, sources, and articulation of the Wendat role in the fur trade. I was also glad to see the information about the Wendat Confederates – which is important because there is talk now about that subject. Overall, this is a very good story that would make a good novel – it is certainly interesting and informative and would be a good one to teach the young people (and old people, too).
Chapter 2 was absolutely fantastic and inspirational to me and to the other Wendat people who are reviewing this book! Very interesting about the winter camps and their being spaced a day’s journey apart – the same with the settlement of the West in the US. I loved the idea that we were still one people who were strategically expanding their economic base – not the old story that we were divided in philosophy and distance. Yahoo!
One question I had was that I was under the impression (I could be incorrect) that the Wendat at Sandusky were more the Tionontate – and that the Detroit Wendat were more the ‘Huron’ (Attignawantan). So, there may need to be some more clarification on exactly who was who. The author says the “Tionontates who dominated the Detroit settlement.” Confusing to me. I do love the conclusion that these were separate nodes in an integrated Wendat political and social landscape! Awesome!! I appreciate it that the author determined that our unique social and cultural ties created a distinctive an exclusive Wendat identity – this is so important to us today – we are finding that we still are a unique people.
Another aspect that I loved is the argument that Detroit/Sandusky formed a “New Wendake” – very good thinking. I am glad that we still had diplomatic influence and maintained that characteristic through time. Glad that we could see both sides of issues.
The author points out that authority rested in Detroit/economic expansion rested in Sandusky. I am so pleased that the authors agree and point out that the Wendat thought strategically about what they were doing – even when oppressed.
I am so pleased that the author refers to our Clan system and how that gave the nation strength. That is so important today as there is a faction that says the clans are not important today – which traditionalists believe is not true – that the clans are indeed still important and useful.
I was particularly taken when the author wrote, “Sharing a sense of what it meant to be Wendat, which allowed them to maintain their community across an extended geographic space…tied together by ties of kinship and clan.” This is exactly where we are today in our culture. We are spread so far apart – yet we are at our gene level tied together by ties of kinship and clan – we cannot and should not get away from that. Today we also want our identity to be supple and durable – dynamic and responsive that gives coherence to the community. This is key to us today! I am proud we were successful farmers and therefore leaders – that defines us as an industrious people who, thinking strategically, had a level of authority and prestige over other tribes that were not as well prepared as the Wendat were. I do see, though, how this could make us haughty and prideful – characteristics which we still have.
I am not sure that I agree totally with the author’s feeling that the Wendats were all converted and followers of the Catholic Church. I have always heard/believed that we were respectful listeners and that was taken by the priests to be agreement. I loved the author’s observation that through “suffering of biblical dimensions” we gained strength – strength through suffering. This is true – when you remain with your group, and you suffer through something together, bonds are formed that cannot be broken. I think this is true even over time. Finally, our longhouse/clan system was the bedrock/strength of the nation…by having the women in the longhouse all related, and the men coming from different clans and inhabiting the same space – bonds of strength were forged that were super strong.
AWESOME, AWESOME CHAPTER! EXCELLENT!!
Chapter 3 provided good information regarding demographics. I would appreciate clarity on the definition of “Jesuit conniving” as well as “attachment to relatives living elsewhere” as this could be very important information. I believe there was very good information regarding how the Wendat responded to their transition in Jeune-Lorette – especially the reference to the Wendat at Detroit…maintained and strengthened ties with other Indian people; acquired legal title to land and forest; began manufacturing equipment; education.
I wonder if the mention of “continued to describe themselves as part of the village” could be emphasized more, because Wendat means “villager.” Community is everything to the Wendat people, and still is today.
The stories about Otehiondi and Sawatanen in this chapter are fantastic!!! This is so important and really unknown to most of us. The fact that Sawatanen went to Dartmouth is amazing. His role as a teacher is very significant. The fact that Otehiondi went to live among the Wendat at Detroit is important to us today as there is a theory being circulated right now which is attempting to deny the relationship of the Wyandotte Nation with the Wendat of Wendake. This chapter also emphasized that “mobility was a community strategy for survival.” I like the recognition of the strategic thinking of our people.
There were several other aspects worth noting that I liked very much. I like this sentence very much, for instance and it is important for us today: “Andre Otehiondi and Sawatanen maintained their connections and rights as community members to their village at Jeune-Lorette. One need not live in the village to be considered part of the community.” The mention of Toutsaint and Sohendinnon living in Detroit is also very important. And the fact that members of the communities traveled back and forth to Detroit is key – this shows that they were family. We do need this evidence today: “Although there is no direct evidence, it is reasonable to suggest that these connections reflect historic connections between families and clans broken up by the dispersal of the Wendat Confederacy.” (I wish we could find the evidence.) Another important note was that John Johnson, Superintendent of the Indian Department in Quebec, commented on “their connection with the Hurons of Detroit and the Wendat from Jeune-Lorette”… Our Mohawk connection is very interesting and important. Thank you for bringing this forward. It is believed that Joseph Brant was a Wyandot.
It is interesting and important that Sawatanen’s skill as a diplomat is mentioned. Also, working to get rightful resolution of land claims is an action that continues to go on even today. The resolution/settlement of the Ohio land claims was key to the Wyandotte Nation’s growth and economic position. Even today the Wyandotte Nation has “land held in trust” for various gaming operations and economic development – in a way, exhibiting the same skill set that Sawatanen had in his day. Sawatanen’s transition into the use of writing and also a shift in thinking to the “territorial nature of British diplomacy” shows a great transition in Indian education/application to continue the strategic work of defending our land rights. This is an important chapter with relevance to today’s needs and actions.
Chapter 4 is particularly interesting to me because Barnet(t) is a prominent name among Oklahoma Wyandottes and the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma, our neighboring nation in the northeastern corner of Oklahoma. It would be good to have a diagram of his family tree. It would be good to know the date/year of when he was converted. Also, we have quite a lot of knowledge about the work of the Quakers, Methodists and the Methodist Episcopals with us – but not too much general knowledge of the Presbyterians. So, this is of interest. More could be said about Hampton Northrop – Northrops were an influential Wyandot family in the early Kansas years.
The story of Barnet taking his son, John, from his mother under false pretences, but then becoming concerned about the “true motives of his white benefactors” is kind of laughable since Barnet was doing wrong but was worried about others doing wrong…then the mother and her family coming to get him…and the missionaries agreeing to give him back so not to thwart the work of the gospel. This could be a movie! Amazing.
I did like Badger’s comments regarding taking Indian children to boarding school! Excellent thinking on his part. “…educating them among white people, will prove not only unsuccessful, but highly injurious to the design. They will learn the vices of the people among whom they live: with these they return to their countrymen, distinguished by habits and vices equally new and odious. In this way, they soon become objects of contempt among their brethren; and thus prejudice them against every kind of instruction from white people.”
The question of whether Barnet was used by the Presbyterians to raise money could be further explored. The white man’s attitude towards American Indian religion is clear in this chapter – we were considered ”the most destitute heathen.” Glad, though, that we did exhibit “inherently redeemable qualities.” Barnet’s life did impact his own son’s life – which made the work of the Methodists easier. There was a ripple effect, in my opinion. I think also the issues of not operating the trading business fairly and the role of alcohol at this time could be explored more as well as more about Patterson and Badger.
Overall this was an interesting chapter with new information regarding the Presbyterians. On a personal note, my grandfather, Clarence Ray Cotter, Sr., (born 1898), was one of the charter members of the Yale Avenue Presbyterian Church in Tulsa, OK, in 1931, and my early Christian education was at that church in the 1950s.
I liked Chapter 5 very much – it was fascinating and I had no idea what had happened in Wendake. This should tie to the previous chapters’ emphasis on the Wendat being “strategic thinkers.” Wow! I liked looking at “production and consumption” in light of today’s consumer economy – we can relate to this study.
The author mentions that “they adapted to new pressures in similar ways to their non-Aboriginal neighbors.” This is the same situation that happened in Ohio, Kansas and Oklahoma. The Wyandot(te) were considered a civilized people. In Ohio we had a post office; in Kansas we had stores and businesses; in Oklahoma we accepted jobs like other people there. Only a few held on to the truly traditional ways – such as John Kayrahoo who saw himself as a Hunter until his last days. Similarly, “the role played in economic development by community-based consumption and finance while simultaneously considering the effects of state policy” – this phrase could be quoted in 2013 in Oklahoma and Kansas – this is exactly what is underway today (i.e., gaming and all of its ramifications).
The author also states “the perceived lack of indigeneity among the village’s inhabitants…physical attributes and material life…” — this is the same for us Wendat in the U.S. today – we are not a people who have a significant ethnic physical look and for most, we do not live a lifestyle that is traditional. However, that does not change any of our attributes on the inside and we, too, continuously “reinforce our political claims.” The parallels here are very significant in my opinion.
It is very interesting that the success in business lead to an increase in the pursuit of education – this ties to the previous chapters very well. In addition, the Wyandotte Nation has a large scholarship program and many Wyandotte students in higher educational pursuits.The study of consumption as well as production is very good and timely – today we are overly concerned with consumption and even our Wyandotte programs must address consumer needs. It is interesting that finance (lending) is part of the interconnectedness – finance, production and consumption. Today, the financial business (an economic development opportunity) is in place in Oklahoma – an interesting parallel.
Another interesting aspect is that among our Wendat people historically, there were those who were wealthy. This is in our Wendat history in the U.S. also (such as William Walker in Kansas – and Mathias Splitlog in Oklahoma, etc.)
Overall, I think that a portrait of Wendake economic activity would be very interesting – especially if it were tied back to the “strategic thinking” stressed in previous chapters.
Chapter 6 has a great title. I loved this study of the Wendat tradition of diplomacy. I think this ties very nicely to our Wyandotte Nation title that we are so proud of today which is “Keepers of the Council Fire.” This refers to our leadership among other nations and the high regard in which the Wyandots were and are held among other nations. Another very nice parallel is the giving of gifts. The Wyandot(te) people still do this today – we are generous with our gifts of Pendleton blankets, hand-made knives, etc. We also still have wonderful Wyandotte artisans who make beautiful gifts (such as jewelry, knives, pottery, etc.).
The author states, the Wendat “maintained their identity as a nation with distinct political structure and authority within their community through public performance of ceremonial diplomatic events based in Indigenous traditions and protocols.” This is very important – and it is done today. i.e., when we have a new building constructed for tribal business, Chief Friend (following Chief Bearskin’s example) will have a smoke ceremony and smoke the building to purify it and make it ready for business. This tradition is very visual and is often photographed and in the news – and it keeps in the public mind that we are a unique people with ceremonial and diplomatic protocol. Still true today in Oklahoma.
I found it very interesting that the Elgin trays were used strategically during times of change – and they were effective because they gave the community “greater political weight than their small population would have otherwise allowed.” This is also true today – the Wyandotte Nation is not a huge nation as compared to other native nations in the U.S. – but through leadership and statesmanship we have out shined our size!
Another interesting parallel between Wendat of the past and the Wyandotte Nation today is that we still take a political leadership role in the white community around us – i.e., Wyandotte Nation provides services to the town of Wyandotte, Oklahoma, where the headquarters of the nation is situated. The Wyandotte Nation supports the Wyandotte, Oklahoma, police department, school district, opens our fitness facility to the community and school, has a new recycling facility that will be available to the community, etc.).
I loved learning of the international diplomacy that was exhibited through the Bark Scrolls. The floral motifs, the strawberries, the thistles, the heraldry symbols, initials, etc., were artistically and strategically chosen and incorporated into the trays – there indeed are layers of meaning in their beauty and selection.
I liked the parallel between the gift of wampum and its meaning (i.e., “voice”), and the voice/and the similar meaning of the Elgin Trays to honor/seal diplomatically the relationship between the Wendat and the English – very good.
I also liked the reference to Marguerite Vincent as a businesswoman and as an artistic innovator and that her family was known for their diplomatic and political activism to further Wendat political aims. I am glad that the role of women is noted here, and that even when the Bark Scrolls were written upon by men, that the women still embroidered them and made them beautiful. The women and men were partners in the scrolls.
The author states that the fact that “through ceremonies that were memorialized by these gifts, the community maintained diplomatic relations with successive colonial governments in which they expressed their identity as a nation and their sovereignty in the face of settler hegemony” – this is still important for the Wendat people to remember today. The exchange of the Elgin Trays is a lasting memorial to us today to remind us how to act and how to get things done at a higher level – through strategic thinking (good, appropriate, significant gifts,) and true diplomacy (honoring the other person – recognizing what is important to him/her and making that understanding clear and visible. That effort is appreciated and goes a long way in diplomacy).
The pressure on the historic community is the same as the pressure that is on us today – and the example by the Marguerite Vincent La8inonke’s family of asserting their rights demonstrated their Wendat identity – they were a unique people — just as we are still a unique people. We can also be proud that we value education.
Strategies for the engagement with settler societies while refusing to be assimilated: (1) education; (2) standing up for territorial rights; (3) success in business and strategically looking at markets. This is the same as today. Still works.
The distinction between Wendat and European with regard to the acquisition of education was very interesting and well stated – the Wendat valued education within the European system as a means to an end – cultural continuity and sovereignty. The British colonial government saw education of Indigenous people as ”a means of assimilation.” The Wendat took it farther and saw education as a strategy for resistance…and that it was a “continuation of Great Lakes traditions.”
The author also mentions ‘At the same time, knowledge of Wendat traditions and beliefs was highly valued; the work of members of the community who were keepers of wampum, language, songs and traditions was highly valued and respected by the community.” This should be the same today – however, we need to work on this and come to respect and value this, in my opinion.
It is interesting that even though Lord Elgin received the tray, he still held on to his view of assimilation and was clearly at odds with Wendat identity and nationhood. This is also good to remember – you won’t win them all. But by being diplomatic and generous, you can still have their respect.
It is also interesting about Wendat students going to Darmouth and that the action of sending native children to boarding school and teaching them English was a “strategic decision” that enabled them to build relationships with the British government. Good to know about Louis Vincent. We should be as good leaders as he was – “setting up a school outside the influence of the Jesuit priests and moved forward with a legal process of land claims.” We, too, should do what is right for ourselves and pursue what is right for our nation. We should honor our distinction “at the core.” Good words!
I really liked the line, “The culture was rich in Indigenous visual arts, with strong traditions of trade and diplomacy, with the importance of community and a sense of the Wendat as a distinct nation at the core” should be what we strive for today – very good.
Johan Georg Kohl called the Wendat “educated and civilized: in 1856”… our children had “free, bold attitude.” He was surprised that their teacher was a Huron; he was surprised that the students knew what tribes they were from; he noted in his diaries that Europeans had difficulty understanding or even recognizing Indigenous people’s confident self-identification with their national heritage. Wendats used their education to support the sovereignty of the nation. i.e., becoming teachers, surveyors, attorneys, etc., to protect land rights. We have two members of the Longhouse Women who work for the BIA – one in Washington, D.C., as an attorney, and one in Alaska as a human resources executive. We have a number of Wyandotte citizens who are employed by the Wyandotte Nation.
The Wendat also highly valued those who were the cultural leaders. “This dual education for Wendat children (formal education/cultural education) suggests a strategy for cultural continuity.” This is so important today – and a formal cultural education program is being taught today by the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma, our neighboring nation. We must share our culture with future generations as did Chief Francois-Xavier Picard.
I liked the reminder of “the Wendat tradition of creating connections with other nations to improve their military and trade relations.” In Oklahoma, the chiefs of the nations who are headquartered in the northeastern corner of the state meet regularly to work together on issues affecting everyone. In addition, the chiefs of the Wyandotte Nation are often in Washington, DC, defending the rights and voicing the needs of the people.
It is worth noting that hospitality (Lord and Lady Elgin being received in the Picard family home) is also a long-standing tradition of the Wyandot(te) people in the U.S. This was noted in literature in the Ohio years and is still true today.
The discussion of oral tradition and writing was interesting. Public documents/private souvenirs was also an interesting view of the exchange of the scrolls during the giving of an honorary naming ceremony as were the terms “memory device/text documentation.” Oration is still an important part of Wyandotte ceremonies, such as the Green Corn, when the Thanksgiving Address is given. Gifts still remind us of important events. The act of giving honor gifts is an important part of the Wyandotte Pow-Wow, too. It is often not understood by outsiders.
The discussion of strawberries was very good – and their use on Lady Elgin’s tray in various stages of ripeness was very good suggesting the cycle of life and renewal – (usually appreciated by women!). The fact that Lady Elgin was a needleworker like Marguerite Vincent La8inonke again shows the strategic thinking behind the gift. I like this characteristic of our people.
In the end, the characteristics shown by our people go down through the centuries and are still exhibited today. The statement “Situated within the history of the diplomatic and commercial role of the visual arts and women as creators and entrepreneurs, the results of the Elgin trays study also foreground women’s continued responsibilities and influence within the community” could definitely be developed into a very strong theme, perhaps for another stand-alone book. “Micro history and object-based analysis” translates perfectly to me to macro history and common personal and national characteristics of the Wendat people through time.