Trading Post Times
The history of the Iroquois Confederacy goes back to its formation by the Great Peacemaker
(see below) in 1142, bringing together five distinct nations in the southern Great Lakes area
into "The Great League of Peace." Each nation within the Iroquoian family had a distinct
language, territory and function in the League. Iroquois influence extended into what is now
Canada, westward along the Great Lakes and down both sides of the Allegheny mountains
into present-day Virginia and Kentucky and into the Ohio Valley.
The League was governed by a Grand Council, an assembly of fifty chiefs or sachems, each
representing one of the clans of one of the nations. The original Iroquois League (as the
French knew them) or Five Nations (as the British knew them), occupied large areas of pre-
sent-day New York State up to the St. Lawrence River, west of the Hudson River, and south
into northwestern Pennsylvania. The League was composed of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onon-
daga, Cayuga, and Seneca Nations. In or close to 1722, the Tuscarora tribe joined the
League, having migrated from the Carolinas after being displaced by Anglo-European settle-
ment. Also an Iroquoian-speaking people, the Tuscarora were accepted into what became the
Sadly a great number of American Indians are incarcerated in United States pris-
ons. It could be for something as simple as a speeding ticket to something as seri-
ous as domestic violence or murder. Whatever the reason, it is a very sad situation
that seems to be pervasive in many parts of Native America.
Each year we receive letters from Native American people who find themselves
behind bars. Many times, prisoners like Gabby (Western Shoshone) send us notes
along with sketches that they created in their cells, and sent to us in envelopes that
name the correctional facility.
Gabby is spending her time at the Community Correctional Facility in McFarland,
California. McFarland Community Correctional Facility is a state prison. It is
operated by the state of California Department of Corrections (DOC) and is used
to house and rehabilitate criminals sentenced by a judge to a specific commitment
term. In Gabby’s case, this is through 2019. Behind bars, Gabby sketches with her
pens. As part of her rehabilitation, Gabby is studying philosophy at the Coastline
Community College. This is just one sad tale, and we wish Gabby well.
Be Blessed With Our Great Creator.
Prison Art. Pen
sketch on folded paper by Gabby.
The Great Peacemaker's name
means "Two River Currents
Flowing Together." Some of the numerous legends about the Great Peacemaker have con-
flicting information. It is reported that he was born a Huron, and by some accounts, his
mother was a virgin, making the birth miraculous. Others say he was born an Onondaga
and later adopted by the Mohawk. By all accounts, he was a prophet who counseled peace
among the warring tribes, and he called for an end to the violence and ritual cannibalism.
According to some legends, his first ally was Jigonhsasee. She lent her home for the meeting
of the leaders of the rival tribal nations, as they formed and acted as a kind of United Na-
tions. The Great Peacemaker's follower, Hiawatha, an Onondaga renowned for his oratory,
helped him achieve his vision of bringing the tribes together in peace.