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Survival Strategies
Digital History ID 650

Author:   Handsome Lake
Date:1799

Annotation: Handsome Lake, a Seneca religious leader, experienced a series of visions and began to preach a new religion that blended Quaker and Iroquois beliefs. The Handsome Lake religion helped the Iroquois adapt to a changing social environment, while maintaining many traditional practices and religious tenets.


Document: Four words tell a great story of wrong, and the Creator is sad because of the trouble they bring, so go and tell your people.

The first word is One'ga [alcohol]. It seems that you never have known that this word stands for a great and monstrous evil and has reared a high mound of bones. [Other circumscribed practices included abortion and witchcraft]....

Three things that our younger brethren [the Americans] do are right to follow.

Now, the first. The white man works on a tract of cultivated ground and harvests food for his family....
Now, the second thing. It is the way a white man builds a house....
Now the third. The white man keeps horses and cattle...there is no evil in this for they are a help to his family.

Source: Arthur C. Parker, The Code of Handsome Lake (Albany, 1913), 27, 38.

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