The selections of this section come from six tribes whose home‑ lands cover the majority of the United States’ eastern seaboard as well as regions in the midwest and southwest. The Micmac or Mi’kmaq tribe belonged to the Wabanaki Confederacy and occupied a region in southeastern Canada’s maritime provinces as well as parts of New York and New Jersey. One of the oldest political entities in the new world, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy were called the Iroquois by the French and the Five Nations by the English. The latter refers to the five tribes that made up the confederacy: the Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, and Seneca tribes. The name was changed to Six Nations when the Tuscarora tribe joined in the eighteenth century. Their territory covered the majority of New York with some inroads in southern Canada and northern Pennsylvania. Called the Delaware by Europeans, the Lenape tribe’s territory included what became New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania, southeastern New York, northern Delaware, and a bit of southern Connecticut. The Cherokee tribe occupied the southeastern United States as far north as Kentucky and Virginia and as far south as Georgia and Alabama. The Winnebago, or the Ho‑chunks, lived in Wisconsin. Finally, the Zuni or the A:shimi were descendants of the ancient Anasazi and Mogollon cultures of the southwestern United States and occupied the area called New Mexico.
Image 1.1. Flag of the Wabanaki Confederacy
Missionaries and ethnologists were some of the first collectors of Native American tales. The missionaries often learned Native American languages and customs as a way to better proselytize the tribes, and some became at least as interested in these studies as in their religious missions. Moravian missionary John Heckewelder recorded the Lenape account of first contact before the American Revolution and published it early in the next century as part of the transactions of the American Philosophical Society, an outgrowth of the Federal era’s zeal for knowledge and scientific study. Baptist missionary Silas Rand ministered to the Micmac tribe and recorded the first contact story told to him by Micmac man Josiah Jeremy. A self‑taught linguist, Rand also published a Micmac dictionary. Toward the latter half of the nineteenth century, the developing field of ethnology—the analytic study of a culture’s customs, religious practices, and social structures—fueled the study of Native American culture. The Cherokee accounts recorded by James Mooney and the Zuni accounts recorded by Ruth Bunzel were first published as part of the annual reports produced by the Bureau of American Ethnology, a federal office in existence from 1879 to 1965 that authorized ethnological studies of tribes throughout America. Paul Radin—like Bunzel, a student of cultural anthropology pioneer Franz Boas—did his fieldwork for his doctorate among the Winnebago and there recorded the tribe’s trickster tales. While many of the accounts come from outsiders embedded for a time within tribes, some accounts were recorded by tribe members themselves. Though previously recounted by others, the Haudenosaunee creation story here is from Tuscarora tribal member David Cusick. A physician and artist, Cusick was one of the first Native American writers to preserve tribal history in his Sketches of the Ancient History of the Six Nations (1826). The Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address comes from University of Victoria professor Gerald Taiaiake Alfred, a member of the Kahnawake (Mohawk) tribe. Alfred has published several works about Native American culture in the early 21st century.
Image 1.2. Wampum Belt Commemorating the Iroquis Confederacy