Anthropology 209
Fall 2014
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.





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

            Arthur C. Parker, Seneca Myths and Folk Tales

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

            Annemarie Shimony, Conservatism Among the Iroquois at the Six Nations 

Anthony F.C. Wallace, Death and Rebirth of the Seneca





            Three exams & Final: each = 25% of the Final Grade (essay format)





            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: Tuesday, Dec. 16 (Noon-3:00)




Weeks 1 & 2              (Aug 26-Sept 4)


1. History, Media and Popular Culture: Placing the Iroquois in Western Frames-of-Reference


                                    Historical Images: Warfare; Indian Captives; “Savagery” in literature

                                    Current Issues and Controversies: media images of the Iroquois; gaming;

                                                tax-free gas & cigarettes; relations with New York State


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

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



Weeks 3 - 5                (Sept 9-25)


2. Myth Cycles: Placing the Iroquois in Native American Frames-of-Reference


  READING: Arthur C. Parker, Seneca Myths and Folktale


                                    Iroquois Myth Cycles

                                                - anthropological concepts: Culture vs. Society

                                                - Iroquois myth, ritual & symbol: meaning and experience


                                    Myth & folklore as cultural guides; myth as cultural truth

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

                                                - essential pattern and summary of the Iroquois grand myth cycle


                                    Case study: Iroquois Creation and Cosmological Myths

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

                                                - Bare Hill and the myths of autochthonous origin


TEST #1: Tues, Sept 30



Weeks 6 - 9                (Oct 2-28)


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


                                    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


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

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

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


                        Morgan & Parker and the invention of “Ethnography”

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

                        Mapping Iroquoia - New York State


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


TEST #2: Tues, Oct 28




Weeks 10-13  (Oct 30-Nov 18)


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


                                    Iroquois League or Confederacy in the American Revolution  

                                    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”

                                    Seneca communities of the Genesee Valley 1750 - 1825


READINGS: Anthony F.C. Wallace, Death and Rebirth of the Seneca


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


TEST #3: Tues, Nov 18




Weeks 13-15  (Nov 20 – Dec 4)


5. Traditional Iroquois in modern times: world and worldview           


READINGS: Annemarie Shimony, Conservatism among the Iroquois at the

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

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


Social structure

Longhouse roles and organization

Political titles and roles

Ceremonies and calendar

Witchcraft, medicine and wellness





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

                                    READINGS: “Shining Serpents stories and symbols;”

                                    End & Restoration of the world (articles TBA)



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)


Tuesday, December 16, Noon – 3:00 PM