Contact us (519) 757-0910 or zig@realpeopleshistory.com

Western Hooves Q&A

Western Hooves Q&A
August 11, 2015 Zachary Murray

Supplemental Questions & Answers to Western Hooves of Thunder

1. What’s in a name?

Ayewate’s name and Catherine’s names were given to them in different ways. It is likely, as with your first name, that Catherine was named after someone special in her family like her mom or grandmother. Perhaps it was a name her mom and dad simply liked. She had a given name, surname and maybe a middle name.

Ayewate’s name could be given to him based on characteristics that best described him at the time it was given. His name was selected by his Clan Mother of his nation.

Refer to the books footnotes for the meaning of Ayewate’s name and Catherine’s Mohawk name.

Can you explain how their names were selected according to each of their cultures?

Can you find out where your given and surnames came from and what they each mean?

Maybe you are First Nations and have First Nations name. If so can you write down what it means and share that information with your class?

If you are not First Nations try describing yourself and see what name you might think would be given to you based on your own character. See if others can describe you and then create a phrase that best describes you. If you are lucky you may have a First Nations student in your class that could translate the phrase or maybe find someone who could.

Example: My given name is Zigmund /Zygmunt, in German, and means “a glorious protector”. Even though I am of Polish descent I was given this name.

In describing myself: I am very curious and interested in many things. Maybe my First Nations name could be explained as “he who looks for answers”.

2. Clothing and accessories

The First Nations People and new comers had distinct clothing and accessories prior to contact but after contact with Europeans they mixed clothing styles and materials using the best from both worlds. The First Nations then began using more cloth. The new comers found deer skin moccasins to be a practical foot wear. Leggings were worn to protect the legs in the forest and were made of cloth and leather.

Can you make a list, or draw, a Haudenosaunee boy or girl as you might have expected them to look, before contact, wearing what they would wear during the summer?

In actual fact little was worn by males or females. Often they went barefoot in and around their villages. Loin clothes were worn by the males and skirt like wraps worn by the females. Hair was worn long but often tied back or braided by both men and women. Men would have their heads shaven especially during time of war into scalp locks. Decorative items could be worn around their necks and items piercing their ears.

There were many different nations through out this part of the world and each had their own distinct appearance. There are differences between the nations of the Six Nations. They may not always be obvious to many but they are there in as much there are differences between Belgium and Dutch in Europe.

From the illustrations in the book analyze Ayewate’s and Catherine’s clothes and accessories. Can you name each item?

Catherine has a hair band, a woolen or linen shirt, decorated cloth skirt, cloth leggings and a pair of leather moccasins.

Ayewate has a hair band, material tying his hair back, a woolen or linen shirt, leather belt and buckle, long trousers of dyed cloth, and moccasins.

Can you list the items and then comment from which cultural background they came from?

Pre contact the moccasins and leggings would have been leather. A headband of leather and a belt but without the brass buckle would have been used and worn. In the summer as little as possible would be on the body but in the winter furs and heavier footwear was used.

The shirts were of European design. Skirt like wraparounds were used by the assorted First Nations but made of leather. Catherine’s skirt is cloth but depicts a wraparound style. A settler female would not be wearing a skirt only a full dress with a protective apron that was skirt like.

3. Spirituality

It is would very beneficial to refer to the Six Nations Iroquois Program Teachers Resource Guide and read about the Creation Story, formation of the Clans, coming of the Peace Maker.

What similarities and/or differences do you think Catherine and Ayewate had in their spiritual beliefs?

The stories describing the beginning of the world were different but they both believed in a Creator. They both acknowledge that all things were given to us as a gift to be cherished, protected, shared, and thanked for and given to us by our respective Creator. Both Ayewate and Catherine were sad when death occurred. Ayewate’s family had condolence ceremonies to deal with death and Catherine’s family had a church mass service. They each felt the pain of loss, they each rallied around family. They each knew that that their ancestors were with their respective Creators. Different symbols were used as related to spirituality. Prayer rosaries by Catholics, wampum strings by the Haudenosaunee. A book of condolence by Christians and oral words of condolence passed on through generations used by the Haudenosaunee. Elders in each culture led the communities in these areas.

Did a connection to nature play an important role?

A connection to nature played a very important role in each culture especially on this side of the world. Survival depended on the use of plants, animals, water, and all other things provided by Mother Earth below, on and above the ground. Unfortunately Europeans had evolved in a different way which led to the accumulation of things, by many for their own selves, rather than the sharing that was still basic to the First Nations at that time. Governance and spirituality were inseparable to the Haudenosaunee culture whereas church and state worked together in Europe only when mutually beneficial.

What connection do you have to nature today? Why?

More than ever we all know that we have strayed from the belief that “all things were given to us as a gift to be cherished, protected, shared, and thanked for and given to us by our respective Creator” and that this fact has led to many bad things. Our schools see this and are trying to work through many programs teaching our young where we went wrong and what we have to do to correct this.

Can you find the sections in the book Western Hooves of Thunder that make references to nature?

4. Female and Male roles

Centuries ago there were specific roles for men and women. Europe was based on a patriarchal system meaning that the children of a family took the fathers lineage. Here in this part of the world it was matriarchal where the children inherited their mothers family clan and nation.

Can you describe the role each played?

First Nations women were the keepers of life. They chose the chiefs, took care of the land, cultivated the youth for their roles in life, they assembled their clan and nation if necessary to discuss important issues. When grand councils took place the chiefs representing their clan and nation were directed by the women as to what was to be discussed.

I will leave it to the teacher and/or student to describe the role of women in Europe.

Can you describe what changes there have been from then and now?

First Nations, in large part, have been swayed by various means to take on the patriarchal system. Both women and men work outside the home and leave the care of the children to others. We do not, for the most part, cultivate and grow our own foods. Men and women have equal roles in politics.

Are they good or bad?

This has turned out to be bad for the First Nations, specifically the Haudenosaunee, as the men and women had their natural roles in their social network turned up side down. Their system worked very well for them. They had a social, spiritual balance and a system of governance that worked for the benefit of all. This role upheaval has led to problems within their own families and continues to this very day even though there is a strong effort to take back for themselves what was lost.

I will leave the “good or bad” answer as related to the other cultures of the world to be answered by the teacher and/or student.

5. Play

How did the children entertain themselves when not doing their chores?

Catherine and Ayewate having different cultural backgrounds however, they lived fairly isolated, but in a beautiful place, and took advantage of their natural surroundings. In the summer they played games, canoed, ran in the forest, watched the birds, fished and in the winter snow shoed, threw snow balls at each other, walked in the glistening forest and once again watched animals. In their respective homes each were entertained by their parents stories, very limited but perhaps some reading, and making assorted things. Ayewate’s family had many seasonal traditional celebrations that they attended with their families and Catherine’s family outings would have been at social functions or church on Sundays.

What kind of games did they play?

Ayewate liked lacrosse. Even though, at that time, it was only a mans game Catherine would throw the lacrosse ball to him. They also played at shooting an arrow from a bow, racing against one another and playing assorted stick games that their parents or they would have made.

What type of real life learning did they get from playing?

Most of the things they did required physical activity and that was very good for them. It helped them maintain their physical strength in the event of an illness or injury they might sustain. Physical and mental strength were crucial for survival in those days. Lacrosse had a special meaning for Ayewate and the Haudenosaunee. It was clearly a physical sport keeping the young men fit in the event they had to physically defend their people. Both Ayewate and Catherine learned much from playing in their natural surroundings. They would become aware of good and bad elements such as dangerous animals and valuable plants. While a canoe was used for play it was also vital for transportation. Both the children would have either watched how a canoe was made from tree bark, tree tar, and string made from trees or participated in making one.

6. Alliances

What historical events led to the First Nations, settlers, and British army being friends and allies?

Ayewate’s grandfather, in the book, talks about the American Revolution, 1775 to 1783, and how the Haudenosaunee were allied with Britain against the rebelling colonies. The French and Indian War, 1754 to 1763, also forced various First Nations to take sides and once again the Haudenosaunee, especially the Mohawks, sided with Britain. Unfortunately after each war the Haudenosaunee did not do that well as their lands continued to be taken or encroached upon.

7. Communication

Messages and information were passed on in several ways. Can you describe some of those ways?

In the book men on horse back seemed to deliver messages on a few occasions. They would be given verbal or written information that would have to be taken to a specific place and given to particular person or group. They would travel fast on the narrow forested roads and trails. Another way would be by use of water. Canoes and other boats would carry information. Carrier pigeons were used. Mirrors for signals as well as smoke from fires were used in specific ways. Passers by would stop and tell stories of their travels and the hosts would or course ask all kinds of other questions. Messages were delivered at Ayewate’s longhouse and Catherine’s church. Newspapers, though available in bigger communities, were not that common in the wilderness and when they were they would be many weeks or months old.

How is that different from today?

You really don’t have to say much about some forms of communication just pull your hand held device from your pocket or carrying bag and that tells the story. Clearly there are other ways such as the internet, television, radio, magazines, and newspapers. Believe it or not oral, that means word of mouth, is still a very highly used form of communication and this form has not changed since the existence of human kind.

How do you get your information?

This answer is best answered by the teacher and/or student.

8. Survival

Families and individuals had to do what was necessary to sustain themselves on a daily basis. What do you think some of the jobs were?

Wood had to be cut for fuel. Planting and harvesting. Hunting and fishing for food. Getting water for the house from a creek, river or well. Making wax for candles. Knitting, preserving food, maintaining the house, taking care of any animals such as cows, chickens, sheep and horses.

What do you think they had to make or grow to survive?

Vegetables from a garden. Fruit either from the forest or planted trees. Grain from harvesting wheat. Meat from cattle, chickens, rabbits and wild animals such as squirrels, deer, fish and assorted birds.  They had to make and/or repair their clothing. They made many of their tools, fences, dwellings, barns and had to maintain the paths or roads they used.

Do you think they traded often? Why?

If they had anything to trade they would have done so. Furs were traded for weapons, cooking utensils, cloth, oils, and other food supplements. If a trapper spent all his time trapping animals for food and meat he had to trade for things that he/she did not have time to make or couldn’t make. Gun powder and musket balls were often bought.

What do your parents do to sustain you and their family? Is it different today then before?

Do you think it’s easier or harder?

9. Take a trip

Take a trip to the Mohawk Chapel, the monument to the Six Nations in Victoria Park, walk along the Grand River, go to the town of Burford, Mt. Pleasant and Oakland, and walk along a forest path.

Do any or all of these activities and write down how little or how much has changed since the 1800′s.  Describe what you see based on the maps and sites shown in the book.

Do you think we have a rich history?

10. American Settlers

Why were there so many American settlers in this part of the world, Upper Canada?

Why was this a threat to the security of the Six Nations, British loyal settlers and the British army?

11. Fighting techniques

Describe how the British regulars fought. Describe how the First Nations warriors fought. Describe how the settlers fought. Why were there these differences?

The British regulars usually fought in groups that were shoulder to shoulder and marched in lines. They generally stood in open fields firing, and taking fire, over quite a long period of time. They were not allowed to duck or move but had to face the enemy firing back based on a sequence of commands. The First Nations warriors did not expose themselves in such a meaningless way. Each life to them was precious and their idea of fighting was always to have the advantage. They used natural surroundings to conceal themselves. They were among the most highly skilled fighters in the world. The militia was trained much the same way as the warriors because many of them lived amongst the First Nations for many years learning their natural skills in warfare as well as in wilderness survival.

How did they work to the benefit of each other in battle?

The British regulars shot volleys against their opponents with the hope that their ability to load and fire was quicker and more accurate than the enemies. They also used cavalry and cannons to inflict quick and large damage to the other side.  The use of bayonets at close quarter fighting and swords was devastating generally ending up with huge casualties on both sides. The First Nations and militia would strike quickly and quietly and then move away from the scene of the battle to regroup for another attack. They were highly skilled with bow and arrow, tomahawk, war club and knives. Muskets were also used but fired once for a shock affect before they ran right up and into their enemy.

Is it much different in war today?

Students need to study the difference from WW1 up to todays highly technological forms of war especially the equipment the modern soldiers uses such as night vision glasses and head phone communication devices. The weapons of today can be used to inflict casualties at great distances unlike during the War of 1812 where you would actually see the colour of your opponents eyes.

12. Maps

Use the maps in the book identifying places you have been and try and locate where you live now. View the Brantford/Brant/Six Nations and Niagara War of 1812 historic maps as well on this site.

What are some ways Ayewate and Catherine showed respect to their elders?

Why is this important to do so?

13. Trade Goods

Research some of the items that Europeans brought over to trade with the First Nations. Come up with a list of 5 to10 items.

Europeans brought metal tools, gun powder, guns, cloth, pigs, sheep, books, metal cooking utensils.

Research some of the items that First Nations had to trade with Europeans.

Furs, tobacco, moccasins, snow shoes, prepared hides from various animals and an assortment of natural medicines.

14. Wampum

What is wampum and where were its beginnings?

If you had to create a wampum for yourself or for your family what would it be?

Note: refer to Six Nations Iroquois Clans Program Teachers Resource Guide and/or the interactive wampum page on the web. Many say that it had its beginnings in the tube of a feather, branches from a sumac tree. The use of shells came from Hayenwah:tha.

15. The Eagle

The eagle is a very important animal to the First Nations. Can you describe why it is important to the Haudenosaunee/Six Nations?

It sits on the Tree of Peace and watches over the original Five Nations now known as the Six Nations. When it detects danger it alerts all the Haudenosaunee.

16. Joseph Brant

Research why Joseph Brant wore a British officers gorget. When did he first receive it?

Joseph received the gorget during the American Revolution. He became an officer in the British armies then called “Indian Department”. He received officers pay and a pension when he retired from the army.

17. Gustoweh

What did it mean to have a “gustoweh”? Can you research the six different gustoweh’s of the Six Nation? What did the deer antlers signify on a gustoweh?

Gustowehs were the traditional head dress of the Haudenosaunee. There was a specific style to each related to a specific nation. Three eagle feathers standing straight up was the Mohawk nation. Turkey feathers were used around the rest of the headdress. Its frame was woven like a basket.

Deer antlers on a gustoweh were only worn by the Royanni or chiefs that were selected by the clan mothers of each respective nation.

18. The Great Lakes

Name the Great Lakes. What do you think these lakes were used for by the First Nations?

Lakes Ontario, Erie, Huron, Superior, Michigan. They were used for food (fish), transportation, a source of water for drink, washing and cooking.

19. Nations of the Six Nations

Research the meaning of each of the nations of the Six Nations (Seneca, Tuscarora, Oneida, Mohawk, Onondaga, Cayuga). Match the Haudenosaunee name for each nation. (courtesy of Six Nations Indian Museum)

There are quite of few sites on the internet that describe the root meaning of each name. It is suggested that several reference be looked at to get a good cross section of meanings, even though they are quite often quite close in description. It is important to note that the translation to English never really describes what each nations name means and is more meaningful in the language of each nation.

20. Food

Why was corn used as such a staple food in the First Nations diet? What other edible foods and plants did they use?

Corn, or maize, was used for many things such as the making of a type of bread, roasting on its own, soup, and mush. Its husks were used in making rattles, baskets, and dolls. Squash and beans were among some of the others. Sometimes these three were referred to as the 3 sisters because of the way they could be grown together. Refer to the sketch in the Six Nations Iroquois Program Teachers Guide, section 5, illustrations.

Lots of berries, nuts, and fruit were picked from their natural areas of growth or they were planted for use around the villages. Many natural plants were picked and used for natural medicines.

Also refer to a wonderful DVD called “The Gift” a National Film Board Release. It describes corn/maize and its use by Indigenous People from the south to the First Nations of the north.

Note: see the drawing in the Six Nations Iroquois Program Teachers Resource Guide. Of course many other fruit was available such as strawberries, cherries, raspberries. All these plants were either edible, used for medicines or both.

21.Why did Ayewate’s and Catherine’s families decided to stay after the British and First Nations from the west passed through their lands having just been defeated in battle by the Americans, at the Battle of the Thames, in 1813?

They didn’t feel that the Americans would dare travel as far as the Grand River so soon after a battle and being ill equipped for a longer campaign. Ayewate’s and Catherine’s families felt relative safety being located along the river close to many others that lived in this area also British allies. Each family still had clear recollection of the American Revolution. They remember how hard they fought against the rebelling Americans, how they lost the war and had to migrate north to settle in this area. They were not prepared to leave their new found homeland quite so quickly and were prepared to stand and fight.

Imaging you had to leave your home quickly in the time of war – what would you pack to bring with you and why?

You may want to ask some veterans of wars that might be in your family. Most people brought food, utensils, clothing, and money. You would have to travel very light and take what you needed to survive all kinds of weather as well as something that would help you find food.

22. Musical Instruments of War

In Western Hooves of Thunder both the Americans and British soldiers used trumpets and drums often. Can you find out the reason?

Drums and trumpets were used as music to march by. Drums with or without trumpet were used to wake soldiers up, call them to form in rank, to move forward during an attack or retreat. You can imagine how loud the firing of musket fire and cannons would make human voice commands quite often hard to hear.

23. Warriors and Soldiers

If you were called upon to defend your country, would you? Explain why or why not?

Ayewate knew his role as a warrior was to fight against those that wanted to take his home, hurt his family and his nation. The answer to this question can be very sensitive and personal to each one of us. Speak to people you know that have been in the military service and/or wars and listen to how they describe their feelings when they were involved. It may surprise you to know that many were teenagers at that time.

What special characteristics do you think a warrior and/or a soldier should have?

When in groups they need to protect one another. They need to be able to see the enemy without being seen. They need survival skills in the wilderness. They would need to know how to use weapons to fight as well as use them to find food and make shelter. British soldiers had to work in large almost robotic groups and the power of this was what over ran their enemy. They did loose many because they had to stand in the open, close together, when firing or being fired upon. The warriors were more logical using the elements to protect themselves.

24. The importance of mills

When General McArthur’s troops burnt the mills in the area why did this deed affect the communities in such a bad way?

The mills in our area not only supplied the local inhabitants, Haudenosaunee and settler alike, with flour for food but also became an important source to the feed the British army. People cannot survive without food for too long. Mills have to have a very special combination of factors to be good mills so to begin with they were hard to build and now to rebuild them, with winter approaching, would and did make if tough all those dependent on them. Not only McArthur burn the mills but he took much of the supplies stored and destroyed the remainder. In addition smaller personal preserved goods and livestock were also confiscated. Can you image someone taking your refrigerator for a week?

25. Barn raising

Why was barn raising such an important event?

We can’t even image how difficult it would have been to make something without power tools or equipment. To cut wood, chop a tree, drill a hole, plow a field, harvest crops, water gardens and fields, and tend to the animals. This was an enormous physical challenge t for one person that’s why children at a very early age helped with adult choirs. One of the most beautiful communal gatherings came in the form of a “barn raising” during which an actual barn was made by neighbours from all around. Many had the same abilities but there were some that excelled in carpentry and other such trades. Men, women and children would all pitch in. This was based on an old saying “if everyone does a little no one person has to do a lot”. This was not limited to building a barn. Houses, fences, plowing of fields, clearing forest for fields, harvesting would fall under this “barn raising” title. What a wonderful concept. In the book the rebuilding of the mill, for everyone’s benefit, and restoring the miller’s home were critical.

Can you sight examples in your community, neighborhood, or family where you have seen this happen?

Examples would be family gatherings, such as birthdays, weddings, funerals, during which everyone would share in the preparation and clean up after. Neighbours building a fence together is a common one and on a global level lets reflect on catastrophic events caused by hurricanes, floods, volcanoes and earthquakes where we have seen not only money raised for relief but people arriving from all over the world to physically do work. Isn’t it too bad that it takes a traumatic event to bring us together?