Anthropology 209
Fall 2015
Dr. Judkins




            This course involves study of the social organization and world-view of the various Northern Iroquoian groups, with special emphasis on the Seneca-Iroquois of western New York State during the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  Particular attention is paid to the position of Iroquois culture in the Northeastern Woodlands, as well as to its adaptability and persistence.  The cultural vitality and contributions of the Iroquois people are central themes.  Special attention is given to world-view, knowledge and intellectual accomplishments of the Iroquois people.





            James Seaver, A Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Mary Jemison

            Russell A. Judkins (ed.), Morgan’s League of the Iroquois (map needed)

            Annemarie Shimony, Conservatism Among the Iroquois at the Six Nations

            Ted C. Williams, Big Medicine from Six Nations





            Four book reviews & Final Exam: each = 20% of the Final Grade (essay format)

            Optional 10 page research paper in place of Final Exam (Instructor’s permission required)





            Bailey 149

            Tues & Thurs: 11:30-1:00; Wed: 11:12:30 (by appt. only on Wed.)

            Phone: 245-5433






            Milne Library has a very useful Iroquois collection. 

Interlibrary loan requests must be made well ahead of deadline needs; plan accordingly. 




FINAL EXAM DATE: Wednesday, Dec. 16 (8:00-11:00)




Weeks 1 & 2              (Sept 1-10)


1. Introduction to ethnographic Iroquois Studies



                                    READINGS: James Seaver, A Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Mary Jemison

                                    VIDEO: PBS/POV: “Honorable Nations” Seneca and the Salamanca Lease


                                    Reading and seeing culture: history is not culture; culture is not history

                                    Learning to think ethnographically, to think and see like an anthropologist



Weeks 3 - 5                (Sept 15-Oct 1)


2. Mythology: the axiomatic place and role of myth and folklore: Iroquois Creation Stories




                                    Myth & folklore as cultural guides; myth as cultural Truth

                                                - A.C. Parker’s “Axiomatic Iroquoian Cultural Themes”

                                                - Summary outline of the 3 [4] stage Iroquois grand myth cycle


                                    Iroquois mythology

                                                - anthropological concepts: Culture vs. Society

                                                - Iroquois myth, ritual & symbol: meaning and experience


                                    Case study: Iroquois Creation and Cosmological Myths

                                                - Seneca Creation Myth: “The Myth of the Earth-Grasper”

Chief John Arthur Gibson and JNB Hewitt

                                                - Bare Hill and the myths of autochthonous origin



Weeks 6 - 8                (Oct 6-22)


3a. Fundamental Patterns of Traditional Iroquois Social Structure and Organization


            READINGS: R. Judkins, Morgan’s League of the Iroquois.  (Intro - Book II)

            VIDEO: “The Longhouse People” National Film Board of Canada



                                    Horticultural Systems: fundamental logic, pattern, and organization

                                    Kinship: Lineage, Descent & Moiety; adaptive nature of descent rules

                                    Political Processes: segmentary opposition, factionalism, and alliance

cf. self-regulating processes of accusation, resolution in witchcraft

Cultural Themes of Complementarity & Alliance

Confederacy: Peacemaker, the Deganiweda Myth

                                    Confederacy: Origins, prevalence and nature of Iroquoian “leagues”

                                    Structure & Function: change and continuity/adaptation and process



3b. Morgan, Ethnography, Material Culture, and Maps


            READINGS: R. Judkins, Morgan’s League of the Iroquois.  (Book III & map


                        Morgan & Parker and the invention of “Ethnography”

                        Morgan and the invention of “Material Culture” studies: Iroquois collections

                        Mapping Iroquoia - New York State




Weeks 9-12    (Oct 27-Nov19)


4. Handsome Lake and Revitalization: Cultural Renewal and Social Transformation


READINGS: Shimony, Conservatism among the Iroquois at the

Six Nations Reserve, pp 11-205; 261-292

VIDEO: “Oren Lyons the Faithkeeper” (PBS: interview with David Moyers)



                        The Myth of Handsome Lake

                        Revitalization Movements: social and cultural adaptation

                        Handsome Lake and the Longhouse Religion

                        Religious myth, ritual & symbols and cultural renewal

                                                - Persistence of axiomatic Iroquois cultural themes, images,

                                                            knowledge, realities and interpretations of reality, vs.

                        “Explanation” by non-Iroquois, e.g. AFC Wallace and the problem of

                                                        “explaining” the Iroquois world by “explaining it away”

Longhouse roles and organization

Political titles and roles

Ceremonies and calendar

Witchcraft, medicine and wellness




Weeks 13-15  (Nov 24 – Dec 10)


5. Traditional Iroquois in Modern Times: World and Worldview       


READINGS: Williams, Big Medicine from Six Nations

VIDEO: “Raccoon and Crawfish” (Oneida) [tradition or acculturation?]



6. Prophecies of Final Times, Renewals & Restorations: Completion of the Mythological Cycle         


                        Handsome Lake, Mad Bear Anderson, Tom Porter

                        Shining Serpents myths: ancient mythology & contemporary prophecy



7. A Continuing Tradition of Iroquois Intellectuals, Writers & Artists and Their Contributions


                                    David Cusick

                                    Ely S. Parker

                                    Arthur C. Parker

                                    Chief John Arthur Gibson

                                    JNB Hewitt

                                    Ernest Smith

                                    Jesse Cornplanter

                                    Stan Hill

                                    Ted Williams

                                    John Mohawk

                                    Tom Porter

                                    Oren Lyons                                                                                                        



FINAL EXAM:  (Cumulative; Essay format)


Wednesday, December 16, 8:00-11:00 AM