Article Index

This number of 231 need not necessarily be taken as the total active membership of the Temperance Society, but it does indicate the growth of temperance sentiment among both traditionalists and Christians. Indeed, it is quite possible, even considering the limited accuracy of the Census figures, that the Longhouse members of the Temperance Society outnumbered the Christians. With the growth of the Mission and a newly established Baptist church after 1860, however, the better organized Christian element soon came to dominate the Temperance Society. 17

A high point in the hostilities between the Christian and non-Christian factions came when the church people burned down the Longhouse. It was never rebuilt. Clinton Rickard, who is the eldest member of the tribe, remembers that the foundation to the destroyed Longhouse was still visible when he was a boy, and children used to play in the field around it. With the destruction of their place of worship and the growth of the Christian churches, the Longhouse religion began to wane, even though there were sporadic attempts to revive it. The Temperance Society in later years had become a bulwark of Christianity in opposition to traditionalist beliefs and ceremonies.

More recently, the Temperance Society has abandoned its older emphasis on honesty, retaining only the four other principles of temperance, industry, education, and moral reform. This was done in order to make a sharper break with the Longhouse and attach the Temperance Society more firmly to the church-much to the distress of the Longhouse people, who felt that they were being pushed out. Honesty and keeping one's word had been so prominently associated with Longhouse teaching that the Christians, rather ironically, decided to undermine Longhouse influence in the Temperance Society by deleting this principle in the 1870's. Handsome Lake, who had revived the old religion, was also known as the temperance preacher among the Iroquois. The Christians could not very well drop this teaching, however, without disrupting the whole movement. Also, the fact that many of the Protestant churches in the United States had traditionally been strong propagators of the temperance principle meant that there would be adequate Christian precedent for such an emphasis. This dispute is a striking example of the often bitter struggle between the two religions for the allegiance of the Tuscarora people.

It was as a result both of their contact with their white neighbors and the retention of certain practices from their own traditional ways that the Tuscaroras developed the New Year festival. Through their association with the whites and consequent adoption of certain aspects of white culture had caused numerous tensions and disruptions within their community, it had also provided them with a means of meeting and resolving some of these tensions. Christianity and the temperance organization provided their own rewards and inner satisfactions for their followers. The New Year observance preserved desirable elements of both cultures and served as a unifying force in their society. It is a festivity which is still celebrated today and which promises to endure as long as the Tuscarora community endures.

The form of the New Year celebration is much the same today as it was in the early years. With the dissolution of the Temperance Band, there is no longer a parade and musical entertainment on New Year's Day; otherwise, the festival is observed in the same manner as it ever was. 18 A description of one of the recent celebrations will reveal the deep significance it has for the Tuscarora community.

On December 30, 1966-three days before the feast-the collectors went from house to house gathering food donations for the feast. The Tuscarora Temperance Society appoints these collectors at one of its regular meetings prior to the celebration. One collector is designated for each road on the reservation. The people donate any type of food they wish, or, occasionally, money. The latter will be used toward any additional expenses connected with the feast. (A husband and wife team stopped at Clinton Rickard's place and were given two strings of Indian corn. 19)

The hunt is usually held three days before Nu Yah. On this particular occasion, it took place on December 31, 1966. The feast was to be held on January 2, rather than January 1, 1967, since the latter date fell on a Sunday. The Temperance Society appoints the two captains for the hunt well ahead of time. Since the game the men bring in has to be counted in the Tuscarora language, the two men have plenty of time before the hunt to learn to count "in Indian," if they do not already know how. One captain is designated for the old men's side and another for the young men's side.

The men may start hunting any time after midnight on the day appointed for the hunt and continue until 9:00 p.m. that evening. Some of the more enthusiastic get up in the late evening of the night before and wait for midnight so they can get an early start. It is not at all unusual for men to hunt all night long, for rivalry between the two sides is keen.

Age is not the major factor in separating the young men from the old. A young man is one who has no children. He may be "a hundred years old," as my informant explained, but if he has no children, he is still classified as a young man. An old man is one who is married and has a child, no matter how youthful he may be. This achievement of old age by means of having offspring indicates the respect that the Tuscaroras accord the family status.

In the evening, all the game shot during the day is brought to the gymnasium, which, since the burning of the council house several years ago, now serves as the community center. There the count is taken. A long table to receive the game is already spread out at one end of the room. The young men are seated along the wall on one side of the building facing the old men on the other side. The captains of the respective teams stand facing each other at either end of the table, with their bags of game beside them.
The count. (left to right around table): Morley Claus, Jr. (light jacket), Harry Patterson, Edison Mt. Pleasant, Elton Greene, Franklin Patterson, Jr. [Photo by Barbara Graymont.]

The spectators begin to assemble a half hour or so before the count, socializing and waiting for the big event. At this particular count there were more onlookers than usual, for the word had gone out that one of the old men had shot an albino pheasant. Anything unusual arouses more than ordinary interest and there was a good-sized crowd present.

When chief Harry Patterson called out, "Ten minutes!" the people stopped milling around and began to assemble in the center of the gym. The crowd had to stand about fifteen or twenty feet clear of the tables and everybody sought as advantageous a position as possible to view the proceedings.

"Nine o'clock!" called Chief Patterson, and the count began immediately.

The tradition requires that the count be made in the Tuscarora language. Since fewer and fewer of the Tuscaroras, especially the young people, can now speak Tuscarora, this necessitates some adjustment. Neither of the two captains in 1967 was a Tuscarora speaker. The old men's captain was in fact not a Tuscarora at all but a Mohawk married to a Tuscarora. A native speaker stood by each captain ready to give assistance, and assistance was frequent. The count ran very smoothly, however.

Since last year's losing team always leads off first, the old men's captain began the count. The rabbits and pheasants were pulled out of the bags one by one, held up for the people to see, counted, and laid in a pile on the table. The old man pulled out his first piece of game, held it up, and called out, "Enchi." The young man followed, "Enchi." 20 Then the old man pulled out his second piece of game and counted, "Nakti." 21 The young man repeated after him. And so on in regular order until the bags were empty. Some of the rarer game animals carry more weight in the count, however. A deer, for instance, counts as fifty points. None of these rarer game animals were presented at this particular count.

After the young men's team reached thirty-five pieces of game, the captain's bag was empty. The old men's captain then proceeded to count alone, pulling out altogether forty seven pieces of game. The last piece was the albino pheasant, which the captain held up for all to see.

"It's a chicken!" called out some one jokingly from the young men's side, and everyone laughed.

Occasionally at these counts, one side will try to spring a joke on the other side by sneaking some inedible creature such as an owl or a crow into the opponent's game bag. Whenever this happened, it was always cause for much levity; and the side which was unfortunate enough to present an inedible offering automatically lost the count.

Tales are still being told about the time some mischievous young people secretly brought a live owl into the hall and released it at an appropriate point during the count. As the bird fluttered around overhead, the counting came to a halt while the two sides hotly debated who was responsible for bringing that creature in and who, accordingly, should lose the count much to the glee of the onlookers.

Many years ago, a woman and her daughter happened to catch a rabbit in a hollow log a few days before the hunt. They chased the rabbit into a bag and took it home, where the woman gave it to her husband. He saved it until the day of the hunt and then killed it in order to present it at the count. The story had meanwhile gone around the reserve that the old men were so feeble that they had to send their women out to hunt for them.

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