Bruce Elliott Johansen, Barbara Alice Mann, eds. Encyclopedia of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois Confederacy). Westport, Conn. and London: Greenwood Press, 2000. xvi + 366 pp. $95.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-313-30880-2.
Reviewed by Charles C. Kolb (National Endowment for the Humanities)
Published on H-AmIndian (October, 2000)
An Encyclopedia of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) by Native American Contributors
An Encyclopedia of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) by Native American Contributors
[Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are those of the reviewer and not of his employer or any other federal agency.]
Bruce Johansen, the volume's senior editor, comments that the modern discipline of American anthropology is founded in part on Lewis Henry Morgan's seminal work, League of the Haudenosaunee, or Iroquois published in 1851 -- regarded as the first scientific account of an Native American society (p. vii). The term Haudenosaunee translates as "People of the Longhouse," while the name Iroquois is of French origin. The editors and authors use the term Iroquois interchangeably with their own name for themselves, Haudenosaunee. Writing about the content of the book, Johansen also states that "this is the first one-volume college- and university-library reference work on the Haudenosaunee" (p. xiii). The encyclopedia contains 198 ethnohistoric and ethnographic entries that relate to the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, which has its traditional homeland in upstate New York. The Confederacy's constituent tribes include the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca, and, after 1722, the Tuscarora who had emigrated from present-day western North Carolina. The prehistoric era and archaeological cultures and sites are not covered in this encyclopedia.
Nonetheless, this volume is an impressive research tool co-edited by Bruce Johansen and Alice Mann, and includes entries by eight authors. Johansen is Robert T. Reilly Professor of Communication and coordinator of the Native American Studies Program, University of Nebraska at Omaha, and has written fifteen books and numerous professional articles. Barbara Mann completed her doctorate in 1997 at the University of Toledo (Ohio) and now professes there in the English department; she is an expert on gender issues and a contributor to the H-AmIndian list. The senior editor prepared 161 of the 198 encyclopedia entries, while Mann wrote 26 others.
Another six contributors wrote a total of eleven essays: one by John Kahionhes Fadden (associate curator, Six Nations Indian Museum, Onchiota, New York), three by Doug George-Kanentiio (Round Dance Productions and newspaper columnist), two by Barbara Gray or Kanatiyosh (a doctoral student in justice studies, Arizona State University), one by Brenda LaFrance (tribal trustee, St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Council), one by Kallen Martin (a doctoral student at Syracuse University and magazine contributor), and three by John C. Mohawk (associate professor, Native American Studies, State University of New York at Buffalo). Informative mini-biographies of the eight contributors appear on pages 365-366. The six-page Preface prepared by Johansen (pp. vii-xii) has eleven suggestions for further reading, and his Introduction (pp. xiii-xvi) lists two others. The encyclopedia's entries are listed alphabetically beginning with "Adodaroh" and ending with "Wyandot" (pp. 1-337). A very useful Selected Bibliography (pp. 339-353) has 301 entries, while an index (pp. 355-363) with 301 major headings emphasizes proper nouns. The two maps (p. vi) illustrate the Haudenosaunee homelands ca. 1500 and Haudenosaunee reservations in 1999.
In the Preface Johansen critiques the pioneering work of Lewis Henry Morgan (1851), pointing out that Morgan's volume is still the most comprehensive treatment of the Haudenosaunee despite the intervening 150 years. He rightly comments on Morgan's intense ethnocentrism and the conscious attempt to place Iroquois society into his own evolutionary schema of Euro-American political systems. Nonetheless, Johansen categorizes Morgan's League as a precursor to his Ancient Society (1877) in which a refined version of societal evolution is explicated. In sum, Johansen contends that the effect of Morgan's pioneering work in ethnology was a scientific parallel to the contemporary seminal research conducted by Charles Darwin in biology. Johansen goes on to chastise the academic establishment noting that these scholars and the modern Haudenosaunee peoples could not be more alienated from each other (p. xi).
He has justifiably harsh words for William N. Fenton ,author of The False Faces of the Iroquois (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1987), who offended traditional peoples by including photographs and drawings of sacred Grandfather masks which, as Iroquois scholars should know, are not to be photographed. Johansen concludes by stating that "the Haudenosaunee, who had been assigned by the intellectual heirs of Morgan to the subsidiary status of subjects in studies designed by non-Iroquois, have been working to find their own voice. In history, any complete description demands consideration of oral as well as written histories. I hope that this volume will help infuse a Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) voice into undergraduate library research" (p. xi).
Johansen's Introduction further elaborates the need for a one-volume reference work and he comments on the contributions of his colleagues, especially Barbara Mann, in detailing the roles and responsibilities of women. He also points out that commonly used terms such as Huron and Sioux derived from the French are actually derogatory. Huron from the French "hure" meaning "prickly wild boar's head" translates as "uncouth" (also p. 170), while Sioux denotes "snake." In addition he reports that the encyclopedia breaks new ground by documenting the origin date of the Confederacy as 31 August 1142, nearly three centuries earlier than had been thought (pp. 151-153) according to Barbara Mann who employs astronomical records to support her findings.
I shall make a few comments about the entries, the bibliography, and then summarize the importance of this work in terms of its goals.
As may be expected, some entries are brief (a few hundred words) but others are more expansive. The latter includes the especially valuable recounting of the tripartite history of the Iroquois beginning with "The First Epoch of Time" (pp. 83-97) authored by Johansen, followed by "The Second Epoch of Time" (pp. 265-284) and "The Third Epoch of Time" (pp. 307-312), both composed by Mann. The first part recounts creation myths and history through the missionary period, the second details Handsome Lake and the founding of the League, while the third documents the period since about 1800. There are entries dealing with the sacred, the profane, mythology, important native and Anglo personages, historic and contemporary events, including casino gambling.
Among the entries are: Akwesasne Mohawks; the Beaver Wars; the Canandaigua Treaty; the Jay Treaty; Lacrosse; Longhouse (with a drawing); the Mingo; the Salamanca (New York) Lease; Thanksgiving; Wampum; and Warrior Society. Important persons include, for example, Cornplanter (Seneca), Frederick Dockstader (an Oneida-Navajo anthropologist), Simon Girty (or Katepakomen, a Seneca-Wyandot), the visionary Handsome Lake (Seneca), Arthur C. Parker (Seneca), Ely S. Parker (Seneca), and the film actor Jay Silverheels (who was actually Harry Smith, a Mohawk), as well as explorer Jacques Cartier, political philosopher Friedrich Engels, Sir William Johnson, the author Thomas Paine, General John Sullivan, and the interpreter Conrad Weiser.
Significant phrases that have come into common usage include "bury the hatchet" and "sleep on it," and the lesser-known term "buttlegging" (cigarette bootlegging) are also documented. Splendid explanations are given for condolence, consensus, and the taxation disputes, while descriptions of present-day reservations are likewise informative. The reference to 97-year old Winona Esther Blueye (Tonawanda Seneca) documents her splendid effort to translate orally spoken Seneca into written form (p. 30). The birthdate of Douglas Mitchell George-Kanentiio (Mohawk), journalist and founder of radio station CKON at Akwesasne, however, is not 1995 (p. 108).
The selected bibliographic entries span works from Tom Abler, George Abrams (Seneca), and James Axtell to Edmund Wilson, Peter Wraxall, and Geoffrey York. Anglo and native authors are both represented: William Fenton (eleven publications), Donald Grinde, Larry Hauptman. J.N.B. Hewitt, Rick Hill, Lewis Henry Morgan (five citations), Arthur C. Parker (twelve references), Elizabeth Tooker (five entries), Bruce Trigger (four citations), and Paul Wallace (six publications). The only references to the monumental Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 15: Northeast or HNAI (Bruce Trigger, editor; Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1978) are in a Trigger reference and a citation to Elizabeth Tooker's article on the history of the League of the Iroquois (both on p. 351). The HNAI contains entries for each Iroquoian tribe and provides compelling essays on the prehistory, ethnohistory, and contemporary Haudenosaunee among other entries on Iroquois topics as well as a splendid bibliography that is essential for the interested student or scholar. Twenty-six of 73 chapters in HNAI Volume 15 relate directly to the Hadenosaunee. Dean R. Snow's The Iroquois (London and New York: Blackwell, 1996), a revisionist analysis on Iroquois origins which chronicles archaeological antecedents to the present, is not cited.
The reference to the JR, The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents: Travels and Explorations of the Jesuit Missionaries in New France, 1610-1791: The Original French, Latin, and Italian Texts, with English Translations and Notes (Rueben Gold Thwaites, editor and translator), is to the five hundred set reprint edition (New York: Pageant Book Company, 1959) not the original 73-volume compendium (Cleveland: Brown Brothers, 1896-1901) limited to 750 sets. The University of Toronto has a microfiche set for public use. Most libraries house the JR in rare book rooms or non-circulating stacks. Readers, therefore, should to know that 31 of 55 English-language translations of these important volumes are now available on line for reading or downloading through the courtesy of Rev. Raymond A. Bucko, S.J., Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Le Moyne College, the Jesuit College of Central New York. This effort is a joint project of Le Moyne College and Ste. Marie Among the Iroquois, a facility of Onondaga County Parks. The URL is <http:vc.lemoyne.edu/relations/>
Bruce Johansen's many past contribution to the literature on Native Americans have been extraordinary and he maintains a splendid publishing record with Greenwood Press, itself well known for is publications on Native American topics.
The contributors are to be commended for their eloquent scholarship and the editors are to be thanked for the clarity of the encyclopedia's entries, cross referencing, and error-free text. The authors have sought important references, including a LEXIS database citation (p. 30). Johansen's goal was to prepare a readable, up-to-date one-volume encyclopedia of the Haudenosaunee. In this effort he has succeeded admirably. The work chronicles much of Iroquoian life from the perspectives of ethnohistory, ethnography, and history. As noted, the archaeological antecedents are not considered, nor are some of the protohistoric or early historic/Colonial events such as the impact of the fur trade, the introduction of European firearms, the demise of the Erie peoples, the effects of Quaker missionization, and later dispersal of Haudenosaunee as far west as Oklahoma. Indeed, there is little to no consideration of the role of the Haudenosaunee in the War of 1812 or the American Civil War, nor their contributions to the building and maintenance of railroads systems in the Southern Tier of New York State. Their role in the American Revolution is summarized adequately (pp. 21-24). Music, arts, and crafts are peripheral to the focus of this encyclopedia.
You reviewer is often intrigued by the uses of the terms "encyclopedia" and "handbook." The former is normally considered to be a comprehensive reference work, usually arranged alphabetically, with articles on a broad range of subjects or on numerous aspects within a restricted field. Handbooks are concise reference works or manuals that present specific material on a particular subject. This distinction has, of late, been blurred. In the present review we have a one-volume encyclopedia of just over 380 pages, whereas the six-volume The New Handbook of Texas (Ron Tyler, editor in chief; Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1996) has more than 1150 pages per volume and occupies more than one and one-half feet of bookshelf.
Johansen and Mann and their six colleagues have prepared a very valuable, essential resource that is well written and expresses a contemporary view of aspects of the history and ethnography of the Haudenosaunee from a Native American perspective. It is a refreshing and delightful contribution that is essential to secondary school and college and university libraries and is a compelling resource for scholars of the Iroquois. This handbook prepared by Native American contributors and their colleagues is not exclusively for them, and we are fortunate to have the benefit of their scholarship and outlook.
Copyright (c) 2000 by H-Net, all rights reserved. This work may be copied for non-profit educational use if proper credit is given to the author and the list. For other permission, please contact H-Net@h-net.msu.edu.
If there is additional discussion of this review, you may access it through the network, at: https://networks.h-net.org/h-amindian.
Charles C. Kolb. Review of Johansen, Bruce Elliott; Mann, Barbara Alice, eds., Encyclopedia of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois Confederacy).
H-AmIndian, H-Net Reviews.
Copyright © 2000 by H-Net, all rights reserved. H-Net permits the redistribution and reprinting of this work for nonprofit, educational purposes, with full and accurate attribution to the author, web location, date of publication, originating list, and H-Net: Humanities & Social Sciences Online. For any other proposed use, contact the Reviews editorial staff at email@example.com.