The Iroquois Indians were a tribe headed primarily by the females in the group, yet they conquered many lands because of their extremely unified tauter. The Cree Indians were a more nomadic group who had individual bands, each headed by a male chief.
Although the Iroquois families were headed by women, they had a political council (handpicked by the women) comprised of 50 male sachems known as peace chiefs, while the Cree had less political organization and conquered lands strictly by being aggressive and warlike.The Iroquois tribes are a relatively small group, while the Cree Indian Nation is one of the largest. Possibly as a result of these great difference in their numbers, the Iroquois participated with the Europeans in lattice issues while the Cree integrated the French into their own society. The original home of the Iroquois Indian was upstate New York, between the Adirondack Mountains and Niagara Falls. They then migrated and conquered lands and gained control over most of the northeastern United States and eastern Canada.
In 1 680 their lands extended west from the north shore of Chesapeake Bay through Kentucky to the junction of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. The American invasion of their homelands in 1779 sent many of the Iroquois into southern Ontario where they remain to this day, ND today, roughly half of the Iroquois population lives in Canada.
The Iroquois are, arguably, the most important native group in our North American history. Their society was primarily matriarchal with the women owing all property.The Iroquois were divided into three clans which were the turtle, bear and wolf, with each clan being headed by a clan mother. When a marriage occurred, the man moved into the woman’s home, and their children became members of the mother’s clan. The Iroquois can be considered the first example of feminist liberty, and in 1914, only six years before the first national election in which women had the vote, the following was published in “Exemplar of Liberty. ” (Six Nations p. 1).
Savagery to Civilization We the women of the Iroquois Own the Land, the Lodge the Children Ours is the right to adoption, life or death; Ours is the right to raise up and depose chiefs; Ours is the right to representation in all councils Ours is the right to make and abrogate treaties; Ours is the supervision over domestic and foreign policies; Ours is the trusteeship of tribal property; Our lives are valued again as high as a man’s. (Six Nations p. 2). The Iroquois depended largely on agriculture for their basic diet. Corn, beans and squash were called “Dakota” or “life supporters. There were six annual agricultural festivals held each year which were full of prayers of gratitude for their harvest. The women owned and took care of the fields while the men left the village in the fall for the annual hunt, returning about midwinter, with Spring being the fishing season.
(Iroquois p. 9). The most interesting aspect of the Iroquois Indian remains their political system. Although the numbers of the Iroquois were not that great, and the enemies they routinely defeated were nearly twice their number, the Iroquois prevailed due to their “unity, sense of purpose, and superior political organization. The Europeans actually based their political organizations on those of the Iroquois, which had an elaborate system of “checks and balances and supreme law. The Iroquois actually had a Constitution which Was recorded with special beads called wampum which served as money in other cultures. This Constitution presumably took place as early as 1 1 00, with many “arguing for August 31, 1142, based on a coinciding solar eclipse.
” (Crystalline During the time the question of Independence was being debated (1776), the Iroquois Indian Chiefs were formally invited into the meeting hall of Continental Congress. There was a speech delivered in which they were addressed as “Brothers,” and told of the delegates wish that the friendship between them would continue as long as the sun shall shine and the waters run. The speech went on to express the hope that the Americans and Iroquois would “act as one people and have but one heart. ” (Six Nations p. 3). Again, this shows that the Iroquois partnered with their American counterparts ether than strictly maintaining their own culture.The Plains Cree lived on the northern edge of the Great Plains in what is known as the Park Belt which is commonly recognized as the transitional area between the forests and plains.
The earliest sighting of the Cree Indians by the white man occurred roughly in 1 640 by the Jesuits, and the established first period of contact with the whites was be;en 1690 and 1 740 in which they are depicted as a powerful tribe. Contrarily, the Cree Indians were characterized by the Jesuit priests as being of “kind, docile disposition, but such more nomadic than the other tribes.They have no fixed abode, no fields, no villages, living upon hunting and a little wild rice which they gather in swampy places. This account by the Jesuits contrasts with other accounts of the Ceres being very aggressive and prone to unprovoked attacks and wars. The Jesuit priests noted that the Cree Indians were notoriously difficult to convert to Christianity as they were very nomadic. Today, the Cree Indians are mostly settled on twenty-four small reserves in Saskatchewan and Alberta, and one reserve in Montana, and number some 200,000. Each band of theCree was headed by a leading chief, who determined how cohesive the group was by his strength as a leader.
“An influential leader attracted more families and held their allegiance better than a weaker man. ” (Mandela p. 7). The Cree Indians, contrary to the farming Iroquois, depended largely on trapping and hunting buffalo. The Cree carried out their commerce with the Hudson Bay Company, exchanging buffalo hides, furs and pemmican for the items they needed in return. The buffalo hunting is likely what brought the Cree Indians into the plains, and set their migratory path as it coincided with he migration of the buffalo.Unfortunately, in the 1 ass’s the Canadian government re-engineered over three million acres of Cree Indian land for the construction of a hydroelectric dam.
This has literally destroyed much of the Manitoba Cree rivers, leading one of the elders to state that “They poured filth over the clean dish I once had… ” (Mandela p. 9). In conclusion, with all the many differences between the two tribes, the Iroquois people, being a much smaller tribe, allowed themselves to be assimilated into the American and Canadian traditions and language, while roving invaluable contributions to our current democratic system.