What we owe the Iroquois

Happy New Year and I hope 2017 will be good to you – better than it’s been for me so far. I began the year with my left forearm in a cast due to a broken wrist sustained in mid-December and it ain’t fun, especially when you need two hands to type, never mind negotiating buttons and shoelaces. I don’t recommend this sort of thing, but it’s what happens when old men continue to play hockey.

Still, 100 years ago things were worse. The Great War (a.k.a. World War I) was raging on the seas and across three continents, the Russian Revolution was a month away, and we were in the early stages of what would be a catastrophic half-century. Back in 1917 the average American male lived to age 48 and the average female to 54. Incredibly, one year later those figures would drop precipitously to only 37 and 42!

Our world in 2017 is much different. All the more reason we should not dismiss history.

On Tuesday, January 24 I’ll be doing a presentation on that very topic for the Scarborough Historical Society at Toronto’s Bendale Library. It’s about the research that went into my new novel MEDICINE MAN which, as mentioned in an earlier blog, focuses on the history and legacy of the Iroquois. The key element of this presentation will be the old Seneca village that once stood near the mouth of the Rouge River on the shore of Lake Ontario.

The Seneca were one of the Six Nations of the Iroquois and played a major role in the development of Canada and the United States. They originated in the Finger Lakes of New York State, and at one time the north and south shores of Lake Ontario were ringed with Seneca villages.

Ganondagan, a Seneca village near what is now Rochester, NY, was destroyed by the French in a war over the fur trade in 1687. New York State has made it an historic site with museum included, and even built a replica Iroquois longhouse on the very spot.

On this side of the lake things are different. There is no recognition about the Seneca village that once stood near the mouth of the Rouge; that village and what happened there over the centuries is the basis of my novel.

Did you know …

  • That the Iroquois Confederacy was the first democracy in North America?
  • That the U.S. Constitution borrowed heavily from the Iroquois, taking some things the American forefathers liked but not others – such as the rights of women?
  • That in 1779 General George Washington, before he became President, had his troops destroy 40 Seneca communities in the Finger Lakes during the American Revolutionary War?
  • That ancient Iroquois medical botany may help with some of those nasty ills that trouble you today?

Didn’t think so. Well, now it’s time to find out. The Iroquois had a long and fruitful history until they were uprooted by the white man, and that is a sorry tale indeed. If you want to know more, please join me. It all begins at 7.30 p.m. on Tuesday, January 24 at the Bendale Library, 1515 Danforth Road, in the east end of Toronto.

I will also discuss and have for sale my earlier novels The Last Witness, Qumran, and Gift of the Bambino.

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