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and rude age of the Republic, and affirms that it loses nothing by the comparison. He thus describes i

another counci

t: "It is a greasy assemblage, sitting sur leur derrière, crouched like apes, their knees as high as their ears, or lying, some on their bellies, some on their backs, each with a pipe in his mouth, discussing affairs of state with as much coolness and gravity as the Spanish Junt

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a or the Grand Council of Venice." [49] [49] Lafitau, I. 478. The young warriors had also their coun

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cils; so, too, had the women; and the opinions and wishes of each were represented by means of deputies before t

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he "senate," or council of the old men, as well as before the grand confederate council of the sachems. The government of this un

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ique republic resided wholly in councils. By councils all questions were settled, all regulations established,—social, politi

cal, military, and religious. The war-path, the chase, the council-fire,—in these was the life of the Iroquois; and it is hard to say to which of the three he was most devoted. The great council of the fifty sachems formed, as we have seen, the government of the lea

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gue. Whenever a subject arose before any of the nations, of importance enough to demand its assembling, the sachems of that nation might summon their colleagues by means of runners, bearing messages a

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nd belts of wampum. The usual place of meeting was the valley of Onondaga, the political as well as geographical centre of the confederacy. Thither, if the matter were one of deep and general in

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terest, not the sachems alone, but the greater part of the population, gathered from east and west, swarming in the hospitable lodges of the town, or bivouacked by thousands in the surrounding fields and forests. lix While the sachems deliberated in the council-house, the chiefs and old men, the warriors, and often the women, were holding their respective councils apart; and their opinions, laid by their deputies before the council of sachems, were never without influence on its decisions. The utmost order and deliberation reigned in the council, with rigorous adhere

nce to the Indian notions of parliamentary propriety. The conference opened with an address to the spirits, or the chief of all the spirits. There was no heat in debate. No speaker interrupted another. Each gave his opinion in turn, supporting it with what reason or rhetoric he could command,—but not until he had stated the subject of discussion in full, to prove that he understood it, repeating also the arguments, pro and con, of previous speakers. Thus their debates were excessively prolix; and the consumption of tobacco was immoderate. The result, however, was a t

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to their civilized contemporaries. "It is by a most subtle policy," says Lafitau, "that they have taken the ascendant

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over the other nations, divided and overcome the most warlike, made themselves a terror to the most remote, and now h

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old a peaceful neutrality between the French and English, courted and feared by both." [50] [50] Lafitau, I. 480.—Ma

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ny other French writers speak to the same effect. The following are the words of the soldier historian, La Potherie, a

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fter describing the organization of the league: "C'est donc là cette politique qui les unit si bien, à peu près com

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me tous les ressorts d'une horloge, qui par une liaison admirable de toutes les parties qui les composent, contribuent

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toutes unanimement au merveilleux effet qui en resulte."—Hist. de l'Amérique Septentrionale, III. 32.—He adds: "Les Fran?ois ont avoüé eux-mêmes qu'ils étoient nez pour la guerre, & quelques maux qu'ils nous ayent faits nous les avons toujours estimez."—Ibid., 2.—La Potherie's book was published in 1722. Unlike the Hurons, they required an entire unanimity lx

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in their decisions. The ease and frequency with which a requisition seemingly so difficult was fulfilled afford a striking illustration of Indian nature,—on one side, so stubborn, tenacious, and impracticable; on the other, so pliant and acquiescent. An explanation of this harmony is to be found also in an intense spirit of nationality: for never s

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ince the days of Sparta were individual life and national life more completely fused into one. The sachems of the league were likewise, as we have seen, sachems of their respective nations; yet they rarely spoke in the councils of the subordinate chiefs and old men, except to present subjects

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of discussion. [51] Their influence in these councils was, however, great, and even paramount; for they commonly succeeded in securing to their interest some of the most dexterous and influential of the conclave, through whom, while they themselves remained in the background, they managed the debates. [52] [51] Lafitau, I. 479. [52] The following from Lafitau is very ch

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aracteristic: "Ce que je dis de leur zèle pour le bien public n'est cependant pas si universel, que plusieurs ne pensent à leur interêts particuliers, & que les Chefs (sachems) principalement ne fassent joüer plusieurs ressorts secrets pour venir à bout de leurs intrigues. Il y en a t


el, dont l'adresse jou? si bien à coup s?r, qu'il fait déliberer le Conseil plusieurs jours de suite, sur une matière dont la détermination est arrêtée entre lui & les principales têtes avant d'avoir été mise sur le tapis. Cependant comme les Chefs s'entre-rega

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d'autrui, qu'à y dire le leur; mais chacun a un homme à sa main, qui est comme une espèce de Br?lot, & qui étant sans consequence pour sa personne hazarde en pleine liberté tout ce qu'il juge à propos, selon qu'il l'a concerté avec le Chef même pour qui il agit."—M?urs des Sauvages, I. 481. There was a class of men among the Iroquois always put forward on public occasions to speak the mind of the na

tion or defend its interests. Nearly all of them were of the number of the subordinate chiefs. Nature and training lxi had fitted them for public speaking, and they were deeply versed in the history and traditions of the league. They were in fact professed orators, high in honor and influence among the people. To a huge stock of conventional metaphors, the use of which required nothing but practice, they often added an astute intellec

t, an astonishing memory, and an eloquence which deserved the name. In one particular, the training of these savage politicians was never surpassed. They had no art of writing to record events, or preserve the stipulations of treaties. Memory, therefore, was tasked to the utmost, and developed to an extraordinary degree. They had various devices for aiding it, such as bundles of s

ticks, and that system of signs, emblems, and rude pictures, which they shared with other tribes. Their famous wampum-belts were so many mnemonic signs, each standing for some act, speech, treaty, or clause of a treaty. These represented the public archives, and were divided among various custodians, each charged with the memory and interpretation of those assigned to him. The meaning of the belts was from time to time expounded in th

eir councils. In conferences with them, nothing more astonished the French, Dutch, and English officials than the precision with which, before replying to their addresses, the Indian orators repeated them point by point. It was only in rare cases that crime among the Iroquois or Hurons was punished by public authority. Murder, the most heinous offence, except witchcraft, recognized among them, was rare. If t

he slayer and the slain were of the same household or clan, the affair was regarded as a family quarrel, to be settled by the immediate kin on both sides. This, under the pressure of lxii public opinion, was commonly effected without bloodshed, by presents given in atonement. But if the murderer and his victim were of different clans or different nations, still more, if the slain was a foreigner, the whole community became interested

to prevent the discord or the war which might arise. All directed their efforts, not to bring the murderer to punishment, but to satisfy the injured parties by a vicarious atonement. [53] To this end, contributions were made and presents collected. Their number and value were determined by established usage. Among the Hurons, thirty presents of very considerable value were the pric

e of a man's life. That of a woman's was fixed at forty, by reason of her weakness, and because on her depended the continuance and increase of the population. This was when the slain belonged to the nation. If of a foreign tribe, his death demanded a higher compensation, since it involved the danger of war. [54] These presents were offered in solemn council, with prescribed formalities. The relatives of the slain might refuse them, i

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f they chose, and in this case the murderer was given them as a slave; but they might by no means kill him, since, in so doing, they would incur public censure, and be compelled in their turn to make atonement. Besides the principal gifts, there was a great number of less value, all symbolical, and each delivered with a set form of words: as, "By this we wash out the blood of the s

lain: By this we cleanse his wound: By this we clothe his corpse with a new shirt: By this we place food on his grave": and lxiii so, in endless prolixity, through particulars without number. [55] [53] Lalemant, while inveighing against a practice which made the public, and not the criminal, answerable for an offence, admits that heinous crimes were more rare than in France, where

the guilty party himself was punished.—Lettre au P. Provincial, 15 May, 1645. [54] Ragueneau, Relation des Hurons, 1648, 80. [55] Ragueneau, Relation des Hurons, 1648, gives a description of one of these ceremonies at length. Those of the Iroquois on such occasions were similar. Many other tribes had the same custom, but attended with much less form and ceremony. Compare Perrot

, 73-76. The Hurons were notorious thieves; and perhaps the Iroquois were not much better, though the contrary has been asserted. Among both, the robbed was permitted not only to retake his property by force, if he could, but to strip the robber of all he had. This apparently acted as a restraint in favor only of the strong, leaving the weak a prey to the plunderer; but here the

tie of family and clan intervened to aid him. Relatives and clansmen espoused the quarrel of him who could not right himself. [56] [56] The proceedings for detecting thieves were regular and methodical, after established customs. According to Bressani, no thief ever inculpated the innocent. Witches, with whom the Hurons and Iroquois were grievously infested, were objects of utter

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abomination to both, and any one might kill them at any time. If any person was guilty of treason, or by his character and conduct made himself dangerous or obnoxious to the public, the council of chiefs and old men held a secret session on his case, condemned him to death, and appointed some young man to kill him. The executioner, watching his opportunity, brained or stabbed him unawares, usually in the dark porch of one of

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