Midwinter Rites of the Cayuga Long House

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U of Nebraska Press, 1995 M01 1 - 192 pages
"The charm of [Dr. Speck's] book is matched only by the quiet dignity and poetic imagery of the Cayuga. Immersing himself in the native scene, the author entered sympathetically into the spirit of their thought. . . . Both the prayers and myths are remarkable for their power and loveliness".-Canadian Historical Review. "Since Speck's attitude towards native religion was charged with the highest respect and sympathy, he always was extremely successful in eliciting the cooperation of informants in securing reliable information. . . . Speck's linguistic gifts also facilitated such inquiries".-American Anthropologist. During his last years ethnohistorian Frank G. Speck turned to the study of Iroquois ceremonialism. This 1950 book investigates the religious rites of the Cayuga tribe, one of six in the Iroquois confederation that occupied upstate New York until the American Revolution. In the 1930s and the 1940s Frank Speck observed the Midwinter Ceremony, the Cayuga thanksgiving for the blessings of life and health, performed in long houses on the Six Nations Reserve in Ontario. Collaborating with Alexander General (Deskaheh), the noted Cayuga chief, Speck describes vividly the rites and dances giving thanks to all spiritual entities. Of special interest are the medicine societies that not only prescribed herbs but used powerfully evocative masks in treating the underlying causes of sickness. In a new introduction, William N. Fenton discusses Speck's distinguished career. Fenton, a Distinguished Professor Emeritus of anthropology, SUNY at Albany, is the author of The False Faces of the Iroquois.
 

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Contents

CHAPTER PAGE
1
THE SOUR SPRINGS LONG HOUSE
15
CONTROLLING SPIRIT FORCES
29
CEREMONIAL OFFICIARIES Foods INSTRUMENTS AND Cos
39
TIMING AND PREPARATORY RITES OF THE MIDWINTER
49
THE MEDICINE SOCIETIES
56
The RESTRICTED MEDICINE SOCIETIES AND THEIR RITES
64
THE UNRESTRICTED SOCIETIES CURING RITES AND DANCES
115
THE FOUR SACRED CEREMONIAL RITES
127
WORSHIP RITES ADDRESSED TO Food SPIRITS
147
The Reversing Dance
156
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About the author (1995)

William N. Fenton, a Distinguished Professor Emeritus of anthropology, SUNY at Albany, is the author of The False Faces of the Iroquois.

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