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Mankind. A legend of the longhouse a study in authority a program in a series of mankind presented under the supervision of Walter Goldsmith at the University of California Los Angeles by the National Association of educational broadcasters a series designed to show how human beings live together in different times and places. A study in authority a legend of the longhouse. This is not an Indian legend but the legend about Indians. Some of it is the truth of legends and some of it is only the truth of fact. We should try and tell you which is which legend is all about the Iroquois the Six Nations the longhouse people the Indian tribes who once lived near the Great Lakes under a very
remarkable system of authority. The League of the Iroquois really existed that existed in one form or another for some hundreds of years and the Iroquois themselves had many legends about how their league was formed and how the six tribes were brought together. But this is not an Indian legend. It is a legend we have made up about the Indians to see how the league worked how authority was given and how authority was checked for whatever men lived together there must be some kind of authority and whatever that is authority. Two things are important. How it is given and how it is checked. Now once upon a time there were no six tribes not to talk. It was only the great and I was. So great as to be almost a god and his friend the newly Hiawatha was nearly so great as to be nearly almost a god. And these two sat by the Great Lakes one afternoon smoking
their pipes and finishing off the job of creating that they'd been ordered to do by the Great Spirit. How do you like this plant. It looks glossy and prosperous. What is its name. Poison Ivy. The quiet done vegetables with a bit of Speck did the more because of this shiny creeping fellow who is going to respect him. We must make man and he will respect poison ivy just as he will respect rattlesnake and mosquito. Now sprinkle to back when the fire and let us concentrate the salmon in the stone the black bears hide in the deep water in the shadow of his eyes. His private spirit should be strong and great and in the book of his name shall be written.
Greetings and welcome to the world. What am I. You are man. Man what is that is that good very good man is the highest form of life as you get. Are there other for many many other forms. Who is the leader. I don't understand. Am I in charge of the other things or is one of them in charge of me. You are all in charge of each other and and poison ivy a mosquito and rattlesnake will remind you of the rights of the smaller creatures as the photos tell you also the beasts of the hottest the lakes and streams are yours and in them the fish. Be brave be noble fire. Haven't been proud. I take my destiny. Nothing in the world shall be as ambitious as my own splendid day entered into your domain. Enjoy yourself and raise a family. Thank you I will. But how.
How they're going to have forgotten you have forgotten woman to live with man and be his comfort and his comfort to his mistress and his wife. His toilet and his autocrat his chattel and his choice as I take the slim white clouds flesh the dove the black birds gloss glittering and sweet fruit ripening the skin the black the pine tree shall be melted in her eyes. Private spirit shall be great and strong magic nature should be resilient and bright and in the book of the name shall be written woman. Nice Greetings my dear. I suppose you are a woman. You are the wife of this person here who is man everything you see is under my protection.
Everything you see is my property. Come along. I have my destiny to attend to. But what about my destiny. Your destiny is to attend to my destiny. I have no time to lose her but I can see we shall have to talk about destiny. Where should we go to live Hiawatha. Decide between you. Is that your best answer. Certainly and a very good answer. If you think so well then decide between you. Very well. But failing that well I am on a COBOL I survey. Oh just one thing. What's that. Watch out for the poison ivy. Degenaar Aida years and many years have passed since you and I sat and spoke on the shores of Onondaga Lake and made the fast man in the first woman. I wonder how many children they have. A great many I expect they will be very happy. And let them decide for themselves. That was my policy. Remember you can't go
wrong. He's perfect. What was that. He's perfect. Someone's in trouble. I thought they would be. Sooner or later why they didn't understand the thought of stop you. Don't throw that rock at your wife. She was like Oh no she won't. Both of you come here. Now then what's all this about. Your face is swollen poisoned I think I told him to make the lodge by the river but know he always knows best. He kept in the biggest patch of poison ivy I ever saw. All right shut up. Any man's entitled to make a mistake of course he is. Is this enough to take a club to your husband. Surely he is punished enough as it is. We always take clubs to each other for years we've been doing this and the children. I dread anything having to be decided. First we all scream at each other then the fighting starts.
Sometimes I think our children do not kill us only because we're stronger than they are for the time being. That is something you must learn what how to decide if people live together they must learn how to decide. They must know what is allowed and what is not to love. Teachers how to decide what is the way that is not one way that it is many ways that are stars. How do you build a log of wood or a long house with the door to the west and the fire at the other end down each side there are seeds. Then you and your wife and all parents must sit on one side of this long house of yours and your children and all children must sit on the other side. The father's side must have authority over the son's side but only so far as the son's own good. The son side must obedience to the father's side but only so far as the father asks what he is entitled to outside the lodge. The man should be mustered inside the lodge. The woman will be mistress. So whenever you went to your lodge and sit down in the long house the patterns on the one side
and the children on the other you will remember and know that each has authority and each has responsibility. Now go my children and be happy. So far so good. The League of the quad did in fact base its authority in the family on the principle of the longhouse. And you notice the woman was given a certain amount of authority to women in the six tribes had more authority than perhaps in any other society except authority than in the league of the big and in the family and was bound up with the idea of the longhouse office a more legit. I have created many more men and women. In fact I have created a number of families of Dr..
Yeah. Have you thought of a name for them. I created them and then they shall be called the Onondaga people. These people are coming to be told how to live together. Would you like to tell them how to do it. Nothing could be simpler. Let them decide for themselves. Cos they don't have to be talk and the proper way to decide that as many and all you need do is teach them one way then that would be the Onondaga way and they will live and nothing could be simpler. All right. BRING OUT THIS ON AND I GOT TIME. Let's begin. You open your ears and shut your mouth. I'm going to tell you something important. My colleague has created you people to be a tribe the Onondagas and you will live in the long houses according to the long house rule.
I go and be happy to hunt the DIA and the grouse and fish the lakes and the river and plant your crops and enjoy the growth of the ark. Oh about remember when it comes to crops that the spirit of the call and the spirit of the beans and the spirit of the squash sisters and these three young ladies don't like to be separated. So plant Kong beings and squash all together the three spirit will be happy and you will have much more to eat. Thank you for your confidence in my creating you and your patience in this thing to me. Go and be happy John. Watch your foot. Need to teach them how to decide. Remember what happened in the family. Oh yes. Stop stop. Come back again. Open your ears and shut your mouths. My colleague has just told me that he forgot something. I must teach you how to decide as a try.
Now let me see. Authority must go to somebody. What is your name my name. Oh then coated a hole. I usually have the authority of the tribe whatever you say shall be done. You all here now. Is that all. What else is there. I've now given the authority nothing else remains. Just you wait and see. Oh yeah. My colleague expresses his appreciation of the arrangements. Thank you very much and goodbye people of the hills and your commander no doubt I hope. Well I well thought I was told off his he said his factory as leader of the Onondagas. I haven't heard a word but when people are happy and industrious they're always wrapped up in their own affairs. Have you heard anything. Not up to the present. Who is this running through the forest and he looks like a man running for his life.
You know how. They're going to try to. Help me protect me. What's happened. Why is the leader of the Onondagas doubling through the forest like a hunted deer tick shy of. A man could bring all the troops. I did not create the people in the form of war. Total dollar. I only created a mirror and that is bad enough. Yes there was an I was me on an Irish tribe that you created while you were trying to kill your leader. He ordered us to leap off the bluffs into the river to test our bravery. We will not kill ourselves for him. I have to go find a teacher wanted him to do which he gave it to me so I did. Did you give him the authority to kill off the tribe if he felt like it. Don't know know why you were so you know what you have done. You gave the authority that is good but you forgot to check it. You forgot to say how much you thought of it. Now you have good intentions are not enough.
We must have a way of protecting ourselves against the thought of what we have had to give. Well. Men are always going to behave foolishly. Perhaps the authority had better not be with men at all. What on earth do you mean by that. Whom. Perhaps some article a talking tree talking rock. Something my dear Hiawatha do not make up stories. The acts of authority must rest in the hands of men. But men being what they are the shield of safeguard must rest death too. Now if any person here lives in a long house and in that house parents face their children and remember their rights and responsibilities then I say to authority over you. 4pm wise men more sanctions and these men will meet along the house like their home to be our remembrances to them of rights and responsibilities. Also I set a limit to their authority in this way. These sanctions shall be elected by all of you. They should say what is to be done and you shall do it. But again there should be a check on this authority.
Every one of you shall watch the sections carefully and since they should all be men let the women do the best part of the watching. Then if the CHL does bad or does not do what you feel is for the general good then you may recall him and choose another man to be raised up a statesman he's place also before anything is. On every single state Jim shell agreed this would be the government of the people of the heat is so much a part of these giving and in such a way that the thought of the exchange go on and die goes and peace go with you. How our way and why is the government of the tribes of the Iroquois was set up. We don't know but we do know how they worked and they worked as we have just heard each tribe was governed by the unanimous vote of a group of wise men say Jim's chosen by everybody and subject to recall if they happen to misbehave. And the family structure of the longhouse was
carried over to the Council of the tribe. And again you will notice that the women had a good deal of say in things. Now the dog has had 14 say times and the other tribes always find out about them in a moment we'll hear is dead you know why Ada hard at work creating them. You showed me the likers of the say goodbye as and you should be calling the people of the plain and the Mohawks. You're created on this mountain show because the people of the greater is the center because. You created in the land of the glittering rocks something called the people of the granite and they all made us. Go created among the swamps and lakes and the standing water. So they called the people of the
marshes the cut you does. And you come into this land as exiles from up place wedding out of the good skin shots. You shall be the sixth tribe and be known as the people of the shop the Tuscan autumn. God. So now the land is people. Every place has its proper drive. But this morning I saw some young men from the Mohawks meet some young guys on the trail of a deer or a moment there was death in the air and I do not think it was the death of a deer. These tribes cannot live next to each other in peace without some giving up of authority. Each tribe is ruled well enough by say chins the Onondagas have their 14 the Mohawks 9 the Yugas din and so forth. Each has a number suitable to the size of a tribe and each council seat she sits in the long house.
But then let all the states come together and let this grand council make the six tribes into a leak and let the Council of the League meet in a longhouse too. Which are the strongest tribes the Mohawks the Onondagas the city because then let their SH sit on the parent's side of the Long House of the league and let the UN aid as the Cayugas and the Tuscaroras sit on the children side then each man may continue to remember his rights and responsibilities concerning those who are sitting opposite him. You know Iowa I think by this idea that you would indeed have we must all land and I flatter myself that I learn faster than most people I think I understand the way men operate halfs because all men are put it alike. But all the same that it is many ways of giving and taking authority as that are leaves in the forest. This is only one of them. Now I understand that quite well and I found I sound oh don't let me flatter you instead. You have made a very good suggestion. There is only one thing that what is me and you we have a suggestion for that too. Anything I can suggest I say and we will use it and it will indeed Now
come along with me. Look through the trees. Yes. What do you see in WA. Paint with his quiver full of arrows. He's crouching behind a tree looking across the river that river divides the land of the youngest and the end of the Onondagas. Let us go across the river. Look behind those rocks there. What do you see an R&R guy in OUAT paint with his coat off of arrows. He's crouching behind a boulder and he too is looking across the river that river indeed divides the land of the Onondagas that is asking why isn't God. Greetings friend greetings. While you're watching across the river is the enemy approaching. I'm on duty
watching the Cayugas just because you want to know what they're doing. I can tell you that you see the pine tree between the two sugar maple behind that tree that is brave also pained and still carrying his weapons is there and we were right to watch them each watching the other. They had nothing to fear from us but who knows what we have to fear from them. Thank you for telling me. I was reported to our council of stations at once. You yourself are surely one of the Sixers Surely if you were to meet in the longhouse there will be no need for the suspicion. Think of the land indeed the Holy Land as a great long house. Perhaps but we live in our territory where the people of the hills and they live in there is there the people of the swamp. We don't mix much and I think we'd feel safer just keeping a good lookout all the same. So certainly we'd always be happy to talk things over. Now what are you going to do with those two tribes I just huddled up behind their boundaries glaring at each
other. It's going to take a very wise council to make those to relax. I don't think it is just those two. Wherever two tribes meet you will find the sentries peering at each other suspiciously ridiculous and I've been told You will not understand men if you think everything that you wouldn't do is ridiculous what they are doing is dangerous and may be disastrous. But it is not ridiculous. You see each tribe is so proud and delighted with the country what it lives that it thinks that all the other tribes must necessarily feel envious and suspicious. And what can we do. I think I have an idea. And tonight when I have told the people about the Grand Council of the league I will tell them what else they must do so that the six tribes may live together in peace. The Council of the children made up of the 50 states of the tribes who will
sit together in the long house of the council. As I have coded every decision must be unanimous so that any say to may veto what is wished for by the others. This will help to check the authority of the council. But remember this the council is not to be a battleground for arguing say choose the best teach him is not he who argues best. It is rather he in whose presence men find it easiest to arrive at the truth so much then for the counsel of the B. Now open your ears and close your mouths. But I am going to tell you something else very important. Every person belongs to a tribe. Everyone is a mohawk and a cynical whatever. And everyone loves his tribe and its territory and he's anxious to defend it to the death so that those who belong to a tribe are drawn together by a bomb. Now I say to you this but every man should belong not only to a tribe not to a clan. I'm the clam should be the family made larger and spread wider and like the family taken from the mother's
side there should be eight clams. The will the bear the beaver the Turk to the DIA the snipe the head and the whole each clan will extend across all six tribes and each tribe will extend across all 8 clams so that the Mohawk will also be a beaver on a snipe and fine brother beavers in every other tribe. This stand will be another bond just as strong as the bond of the tribe so that you will be drawn together one way by your pride by being for instance a mohawk and the other way by your plan by being for instance a beaver. The clan shall be a trick of the tribe. The cry shall be a check upon the clam. Now you want all the warlike people though you will never walk upon each other. And what is to be done about those chiefs would not see him but will become proud and him. Degen awide I must have taken all night to explain his league. We haven't time to tell you
about all the refinements and details such as the one you've just heard. The vertical division into tribes and the horizontal division into clans. All we have time to tell you is to say once again that the League of the Iroquois which really existed is one of the most remarkable examples of the organization of primitive authority and legend about the league has tried to make clear the two points about authority. First that whenever men live together authority has to be given and second that goodwill is not enough to prevent abuses. Authority must not only be given it must also be mocked out and checked. Perhaps it's unfortunate the government has not handed down by the gods but it isn't.
Governments everywhere are the products of human thought and experience. And modern man is constantly seeking an answer to this problem. How to provide leadership. And how to limit the power. Which leadership demands. Of course there are as many different kinds of governmental machinery as there are societies. Each culture has to work out its problems in terms of its own traditions and its own particular needs. In primitive societies of small population the needs of government are relatively simple. Perhaps all that is required is a somewhat formal leadership of the old man. In many cases the family structure is built out into a larger group like the Iroquois clan. So the leadership rests on the authority of family ties. In the larger society the problem is more complex. Our own modern society needs an elaborate organisation to provide leadership and preserve checks against its power. The Iroquois League was a remarkable Federation
for unity and peace among separate sovereign tribes. The Constitution of the Iroquois required unanimity in modern terms the power of the veto. As with the veto of the United Nations Organization the requirement of unanimity of decisions preserve tribal or national sovereignty but deprive the organization of certain powers such as taxing and policing. The Citron of the Iroquois were tribal representatives rather than league officials. And the league serve the Iroquois for two or three centuries. It never became a nation because of this jealous guarding of sovereignty among the tribes. In the same way the United Nations does not provide world government but serves only as a means of maintaining peace among sovereign nations. Authority after all is a tricky business. When the individual recognizes a leader in his own group he gives up a certain amount of freedom. In the knowledge that more can be accomplished by his group through unity. But there is always the danger that the leader will try to run things for his own interest and not consider the needs of
the members. The same dangers are inherent in every form of government. To prevent power from being mishandled there must be clear and effective checks placed upon the leaders so that real power remains in the hands of the people. Some form of leadership seems to be essential. But the people must be able to select and recall their leaders and review their actions. The people must formulate clear directives to which the leaders are bound. The dangers I think are too for. A society without adequate leadership finds itself unable to take the necessary decisive action in times of crisis. A society that does not provide adequate and formalized checks upon our leadership. Finds that the necessary allocation of authority degenerate into authoritarianism. Dr. Walter Goldschmidt of the department of anthropology and sociology of the University of California Los Angeles has concluded a legend of the longhouse a study in authority a program in the series ways of mankind
designed to show dramatically how human beings live together in different times and places. The script was written by a lister center and produced in the studios of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Toronto by Andrew Allen. Original music by Augustine E.. These programs are presented and distributed by the National Association of educational broadcasters. The program you have just heard is made possible under a grant from the fund for adult education an independent organization established by the Ford Foundation. This is the end E.B. Radio Network.
Ways of mankind
Legend of the longhouse
Producing Organization
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
"A Legend of the Longhouse" is a study in authority, based on an Iroquois legend.
Series Description
This series is an exploration into the origin and development of cultures, customs and folkways in various parts of the world.
Broadcast Date
Iroquois mythology
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Composer: Agostini, Lucio, 1913-
Funder: Fund for Adult Education (U.S.)
Producer: Allan, Andrew, 1907-1974
Producing Organization: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Producing Organization: National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Writer: Sinclair, Lister
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: cpb-aacip-c6425c66932 (Filename)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:12
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Chicago: “Ways of mankind; Legend of the longhouse,” 1964-01-24, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 25, 2024,
MLA: “Ways of mankind; Legend of the longhouse.” 1964-01-24. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 25, 2024. <>.
APA: Ways of mankind; Legend of the longhouse. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from