Difference between revisions of "Huron"

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The Huron do not worship spiritual beings, even the very important ones who created the Island (North America). They do hold them in high respect, however.<ref>Barbeau, C. M. “Supernatural Beings of the Huron and Wyandot.” ''American Anthropologist'' 16, no. 2 (1914): 288–313. </ref>  
The Huron do not worship spiritual beings, even the very important ones who created the Island (North America). They do hold them in high respect, however.<ref>Barbeau, C. M. “Supernatural Beings of the Huron and Wyandot.” ''American Anthropologist'' 16, no. 2 (1914): 288–313. </ref>  


===Mythology===
==Mythology==


==== The Sky World ====
==== The Sky World ====

Revision as of 19:11, 26 September 2021

The Wyandot (Originally referred to by themselves as the Ouendat and also referred to as the Wendat and Huron) are a Iroquoian-speaking peoples who emerged in North America. The Wendat (Huron) origins are initially believed to be around the St. Lawrence Valley, then based around the Northern areas near Lake Ontario. Pre-contact and up to Early modern period Wendat were a horticultural people (mainly farmers who supplemented their diets with hunting and fishing, they also gathered berries and vegetables.) comprised of a confederation of four (or more) tribes who spoke mutually intelligible, and similar languages.

Related Terms

Huron > Arendiwane, Gonennoncwal, Oki, Ondinoc

Indigenous Spiritualities

Indigenous Spiritualities > Huron

Notes

The Huron do not worship spiritual beings, even the very important ones who created the Island (North America). They do hold them in high respect, however.[1]

Mythology

The Sky World

The pristine Sky-world, the ultimate origin of which remains unexplained, was the very picture of North America with its native inhabitants. Human-like people, to whom life and death were still unknown, were leading a peaceful existence in their villages, distributed all about the solid sky-land. At the head of their society were chiefs, seers, and shamans; and they depended mainly upon their fruit trees and the yield of their Indian corn patches for their subsistence.[2]

The Interior/Underworld

Created when a a chief's daughter fell through a hole into the interior world, just a sheet of water with no land. Various reasons are given, punishment for destroying a crop, guilt and shame, etc.

Initially, only water-fowls and quadrupeds lived in the water. These rescued the falling women. A council of animals decided they'd make land on Big Turtle's back for the woman. " Otter, Muskrat, Beaver, and all the best Divers perished in their futile attempts to secure some of the earth clinging to the roots of the sky-tree lying at the bottom of the sea. The obscure and ridiculed Toad was the one that finally succeeded and brought back a mouthful of earth, with which "the Island" (North America) was made. It is believed by some that the Little Turtle3 made "the Island" by rubbing and spreading the earth around the edge of the Big Turtle's shell until it had become a large island."[3]

The Little Turtle went into the sky to create luminaries, fashioning "the sun out of flashes of lightning and, having made him a living being, she gave him the mood to wife." These had many children (stars).[4]

Denizens of the Spirit World

Three types: "The mythical beings of the Huron and Wyandot pantheon may conveniently be classified into three groups, namely: (i) The primeval deities and the races of giants and dwarfs of their cosmogonic myths about the origin of the world; (II) the less homogeneous group of sky gods (Hamendiju, the Sun and the Moon, the Thunderers), also belonging to the religions of many foreign tribes, and accounted for in various ways by the Iroquois and Huron; (III) and the multiplicity of good and bad monsters-the uki-said to dwell everywhere and mingle with the Indian folks for their benefit or detriment."[5]

Three Types of Primeval Deities

Superhumans in the Sky-world before creation of "the Island" (North America) on ''Big Turtle's back''.

The anthropomorphic animals of the inferior water-regions who made the Island for the Indigenous

  • Little Turtle: Made the sun and moon.
  • Big Turtle: Upon whose back the earth was created
  • Otters, Muskrats, Beavers, and birds who could live in water (later Deer, Wolf, Bear, Hawks, etc.). Formed a council that made decisions about the Underworld.

The Races of Giants and Dwarfs.


Aataentsic. In Huron cosmology, God is female, Aataentsic. "The mythic structures of the Huron cosmology were complex and multifaceted. Aataentsic was regarded as the great progenitress of the "island" or natural world upon which all human beings lived. A primary source of life, she also manifested as the moon. She was a powerful, sacred figure reflecting the matriarchal structures of Huron social order and could reveal herself through dreams to a chosen woman; on one such occasion, she claimed to be the one who ruled over all the Huron."[6]

Aataentsic created the earth on the back of Big Turtle, who was assisted by aquatic animals who provided mud which became the land.

Aataentsic gave birth to a female child, followed by male twins, one of which killed the mother because of its violent birth. The mother's body enriched the Earth and from which grew the most important garden plants.

Aronhaite, Sky, controlled the seasons of the year, winds, waves on lakes, ,

The Nature of the Soul

According to Huron ontology, the soul is independent of the physical body and exists before and after. [7]

The soul had various powers and ability.[8]

Khiondhecwi the soul power which animates the body. Remains with body until it dies.

endionrra the ability to think and delibrate

oki andaerandi - paranormal perception

gonennoncwal - innate attraction to a variety of specific objects

esken a soul separated from the body, can move around in dreams and visions, connect with others

atisken part of the soul that remains with the bones

"The souls of the living were vulnerable to the powers of the master shamans (arendizuane) through both rites of healing and through acts of witchcraft."[9]

All living beings have souls, including animals, which can be communicated with after death [10] through speech and ritual behaviour. [11]

Good versus Evil

The Huron have no conception of good versus evil. The closest they get in in the conception of the male twins, Iouskeha/Tijuska'a/Tse'sta, (the good twin) and Tawiscaraon/Taweskare (the bad twin). The bad twin kills his mom in the sky. From her body grow cereals, pumpkins, maize, beans, etc.[12]

The twins create the Earth. One creates a garden paradise while the other strives to make things difficult for humans.

Thus the Good One made the surface of the earth smooth or with slight undulations, with park-like woods, rivers with a two-fold current running in opposite directions, so that the Indians might travel without paddling. He lavishly created berry patches loaded with berries, trees with large and juicy fruits, the maple, the sap of which was like syrup, Indian corn with a hundred ears on each stalk, and bean-pods growing on trees and long as the arm.' The Bad One following his brother, sadly damaged all these things. He tore up from every river its returning current, remarking," Let them at least have to work one way up stream."2 He covered the surface of the earth with flints, boulders, and rocks, pulling up huge mountains here and there, and obstructing the land by means of marshes and thick forests strewn with vines, thorns, and brambles. He also spoiled the fruit trees by scattering them far apart and making the fruits and berries small, stony, and sour. The Good One had brought forth gentle game animals for the people, and large fishes without scales; but his wretched brother covered the fish with hard scales, and imprisoned the animals in a cave, frightening them and making them wild. Besides, he made fierce animals that were to be the enemies of mankind, and monsters of all kinds with which the earth has ever after been infested. He made an immense Frog3 that drank all the fresh water of the earth. The only thing that the Good Twin could do was to reduce the extent of such evils. He released the animals from the cavern, and drew the water forth by cutting the frog open, or simply making an incision under her arm- pit, after having overcome her.[13]

The bad twin isn't so much evil as just an asshole who tries to make things difficult for humans.

Also, there are the Uki which are "good and bad monsters" created by the twins which can help or hinder the Huron.[14]

Justice, Judgment, and Punishment

Does not exist. These ideas where introduced by Jesuit priests.

The Jesuit myth of heaven and hell made a strong impression on the Huron because it introduced an idea of judgment that was wholly alien to their own beliefs. As Le Jeune recorded in 1635: "They make no mention either of punish ment or reward, in the place to which souls go after death. And they do not make distinction between the good and the bad, the virtuous and the vicious; and they honor equally the interment of both." The preaching of the doctrine of heaven and hell, one of the primary catechizing tech- niques of the Jesuits, reflected a Christian ontology of guilt (original sin) which was utterly foreign to the Huron. The Huron were called "head- strong" when they refused to believe and responded with perhaps one of the first statements of cultural relativism to be found in the New World, saying to Le Jeune that "this [doctrine of heaven and hell] is good for our Country and not for theirs; that every Country has its own fashions." When told that "the souls of reasonable beings" descended into hell if they failed to accept baptism and the sacraments of the Church, many Huron remained silent and continued to follow their own beliefs. The failure of the Jesuits to emphasize the benefits of paradise and its pleasures and their overemphasis on the fires of hell was sharply criticized by Huron elders. Threat was not part of the process by which the young were to be taught according to Huron values. [15]

Only the Chosen

No conception that some people are more worthy than others.

Oki were believed to be accessible to any individual through dreaming and visionary experience.[16]

Elder Brothers, the highest authority amongst all members of a particular animal species. [17]

Etiological Myths

Big Turtle (Strong, sturdy, dependable. Hold all others upon its back)

Connections

Note below under sacred powers, it is the union with oki that results in the manifestation of sacred Arendi.

"The mythic structure of the Huron world was such that the intrinsic powers of that world freely interacted with every individual through dreaming and the medium of that interaction was conceptualized as a distinctive, experiential aspect of the identity of the individual."[18] (Deloria Vine quotes)

No mind/body dualism. Fluid connection with all things!!

Dreaming

Dreaming is a central feature of the "formation and dynamics of the Huron religious worldview..." Indeed, amongst the Huron, dreams are "regarded as a religious phenomenon." Dreams are an essential aspect of communication with the spirit world (see Huron cosmology)[19]

"Dreams provided one of the most fundamental means by which communication was maintained with the various sacred beings, either mythic or animal, that constituted the ultimate sources of spiritual empowerment in the Huron cosmology. Through dreams traditional values and teachings were validated and functioned to sanction the immediacy of a mythically defined cosmology. Dreams also3 provided a basis for ceremonial enactment and social interactions that reinforced the sacred character of the Huron world order." [20]

Dreaming provides transfer of Oki powers of healing. Dreams are recognized as direct form of communication with spiritual world.

Shamans possessed a special knowledge of the symbolic significance of dreams.

Equality and Sharing

The Harmony of Reciprocity [21]

Huron dreaming emphasized reciprocity and sharing. "the Huron practice of dreaming involved the continual redistribution of wealth among members of the community...Such actions expressed reciprocity on the human plane that in turn reflected the cosmological order which also involved the giving of "gifts" by the sacred beings. Such "gifts" also helped to balance social inequality and the dynamics of such redistribution grounded the social world in a dynamic pattern of sacred relations that had the highest religious sanctions..." [22]

Power and Authority

"Authority was a matter of personal empowerment through greater intimacy with the sacred powers, manifested paradigmatically as esoteric knowledge and the demonstration of consistent and mysterious ability by the master shaman." [23]

"The Huron religious life was not constrained by either dogma or a systematized theology, but proceeded through precedent, example and sacred narrative to illustrate the appropriate use of power, primarily for the benefit of others. " [24]

Sacred Powers

Arendi "Sacred power, or arendi, given by the oki, was manifested as any unusual or extraordinary ability or as the power to heal through the use of rituals and sacred objects obtained in dreams or visions. Because the dream was believed to be the medium through which power and success was revealed, a dream oki manifested as a specific figure which acted as a validating presence of the mythically defined cosmos. Dreaming was framed in an interpretive context of religious experience that attributed a sacred knowledge and authority to the oki which in turn inspired the dreams that revealed the means by which dreamers might actualize their power. In such a case, the power of the oki and the power of the individual were regarded as one in the same and the union of the individual with the sources of empowerment represented the strongest possible affirmation of the sacred character of the world" [25]

Reincarnation

The Huron believe in reincarnation[26] and have a complex view of the soul as having multiple powers and abilities..

Further Reading

Barbeau, C. M. 1914 "Supernatural Beings of the Huron and the Wyandot." American Anthropologist, Vol. 16: 288-313.

Barbeau, C. M. 1915 Huron and Wyandot Mythology. Department of Mines and Geological Survey, Anthropological Series #11. Ottawa: Government Printing Bureau.

Hewitt, J.N.B. 1885 "The Iroquoian Concept of the Soul." Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 8:107-116.

Kinietz, W. V. 1940 "The Indian Tribes of the Western Great Lakes." Michigan University, Museum of Anthropology, Occasional Contributions, Vol. 10:1-160.

1939 The Long Journey to the Country of the Hurons. G. M. Wrong, ed. and H. H. Langton, trans. Champlain Society, Pub. 25. New York: Greenwood Press. [Orig. 1632]

Tooker, Elizabeth. 1964 An Ethnography of the Huron Indians, 1615-1649. Bureau of American Ethnology, Bull. 190. Washington: Smisonian Institute.

Trigger, Bruce G. 1976 The Children of Aataentsic: A History of the Huron People to 1660, 2 Vols. Montreal: McGill University Press.

Footnotes

  1. Barbeau, C. M. “Supernatural Beings of the Huron and Wyandot.” American Anthropologist 16, no. 2 (1914): 288–313.
  2. Barbeau, C. M. “Supernatural Beings of the Huron and Wyandot.” American Anthropologist 16, no. 2 (1914): 288–313. p. 289.
  3. Barbeau, C. M. “Supernatural Beings of the Huron and Wyandot.” American Anthropologist 16, no. 2 (1914): 288–313. p. 290.
  4. Barbeau, C. M. “Supernatural Beings of the Huron and Wyandot.” American Anthropologist 16, no. 2 (1914): 288–313. p. 290.
  5. Barbeau, C. M. “Supernatural Beings of the Huron and Wyandot.” American Anthropologist 16, no. 2 (1914): 288–313. p. 288.
  6. Irwin, Lee. “The Huron-Jesuit Relations: Contesting Dreams, Confirming Worldviews.” Religion 22 (1992): 259–70. p. 260.
  7. Irwin, Lee. “Myth, Language and Ontology among the Huron.” Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses 19, no. 4 (December 1, 1990): 413–26. https://doi.org/10.1177/000842989001900403.
  8. The following from Irwin, Lee. “Myth, Language and Ontology among the Huron.” Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses 19, no. 4 (December 1, 1990): 413–26. https://doi.org/10.1177/000842989001900403. p. 416-7.
  9. The following from Irwin, Lee. “Myth, Language and Ontology among the Huron.” Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses 19, no. 4 (December 1, 1990): 413–26. https://doi.org/10.1177/000842989001900403. p. 416-7.
  10. Irwin, Lee. “Myth, Language and Ontology among the Huron.” Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses 19, no. 4 (December 1, 1990): 413–26. p. 419. https://doi.org/10.1177/000842989001900403.
  11. Irwin, Lee. “Myth, Language and Ontology among the Huron.” Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses 19, no. 4 (December 1, 1990): 413–26. https://doi.org/10.1177/000842989001900403. p. 419.
  12. Barbeau, C. M. “Supernatural Beings of the Huron and Wyandot.” American Anthropologist 16, no. 2 (1914): 288–313. p. 292.
  13. Barbeau, C. M. “Supernatural Beings of the Huron and Wyandot.” American Anthropologist 16, no. 2 (1914): 288–313. p. 292-3.
  14. Barbeau, C. M. “Supernatural Beings of the Huron and Wyandot.” American Anthropologist 16, no. 2 (1914): 288–313. p. 288.
  15. Irwin, Lee. “Myth, Language and Ontology among the Huron.” Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses 19, no. 4 (December 1, 1990): 413–26. https://doi.org/10.1177/000842989001900403. p. 423-4.
  16. Irwin, Lee. “Myth, Language and Ontology among the Huron.” Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses 19, no. 4 (December 1, 1990): 413–26. https://doi.org/10.1177/000842989001900403.</r

    Mythological Figures

    Aronhiaté, or Sky who controlled the seasons of the year, the winds, the waves of the great lakes, and assisted them in times of need or danger (JR 10:161; 33:225). Many of the animals also gave special abilities to human beings through dreams and each species had an "elder brother" who was the highest authority among all other members of that species (JR 6:158). The earth, rivers, lakes and rocks contained powerful spirits which might aid or hinder human beings. All of these sacred beings were called oki and those who had communication with such beings or who had power from such beings might also be addressed as oki.<ref>Irwin, Lee. “The Huron-Jesuit Relations: Contesting Dreams, Confirming Worldviews.” Religion 22 (1992): 259–70. p. 260.

  17. Irwin, Lee. “The Huron-Jesuit Relations: Contesting Dreams, Confirming Worldviews.” Religion 22 (1992): 259–70. p. 260.
  18. Irwin, Lee. “The Huron-Jesuit Relations: Contesting Dreams, Confirming Worldviews.” Religion 22 (1992): 259–70. p. 260.
  19. Irwin, Lee. “The Huron-Jesuit Relations: Contesting Dreams, Confirming Worldviews.” Religion 22 (1992): 259–70. p. 260.
  20. Irwin, Lee. “The Huron-Jesuit Relations: Contesting Dreams, Confirming Worldviews.” Religion 22 (1992): 259–70. p. 260.
  21. Irwin, Lee. “The Huron-Jesuit Relations: Contesting Dreams, Confirming Worldviews.” Religion 22 (1992): 259–70.
  22. Irwin, Lee. “The Huron-Jesuit Relations: Contesting Dreams, Confirming Worldviews.” Religion 22 (1992): 259–70.
  23. Irwin, Lee. “The Huron-Jesuit Relations: Contesting Dreams, Confirming Worldviews.” Religion 22 (1992): 259–70.
  24. Irwin, Lee. “The Huron-Jesuit Relations: Contesting Dreams, Confirming Worldviews.” Religion 22 (1992): 259–70.
  25. Irwin, Lee. “The Huron-Jesuit Relations: Contesting Dreams, Confirming Worldviews.” Religion 22 (1992): 259–70. p. 260.
  26. Irwin, Lee. “Myth, Language and Ontology among the Huron.” Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses 19, no. 4 (December 1, 1990): 413–26. https://doi.org/10.1177/000842989001900403.