Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Iroquois

If nothing is at risk, nothing is established.

Brian Ferneyhough
Across the avenue from where I used to live in New York was a simple restaurant, The Morning Star, open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all year round. It had a small counter with about 5 stools and a flock of tables and chairs. Everything on the menu, from breakfast to dinner, was available at all times. During the overnight the waiter was a mild medium height middle aged Greek man.

One block away a very tall building was going up. I could see the construction from my window and noted that the final structure was just about finished.

I was in The Morning Star having dinner one night at about midnight when the door opened and in burst four big, rowdy men, acting as if they were about to turn the tables over and beat up everyone in the place. They made their way to a table by the window and sat down. One man had a Mohawk haircut and by the way they were dressed it was plain they were Native Americans. The waiter, risking a confrontation, calmly took four menus over to the table and in one minute had them relaxed and quiet.

The men at that table were Iroquois. The Iroquois Nation, also known as Haudenosanee (the people of the long house) consists of six main tribes: the Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Seneca and Tuscarora. They were known as the Five Nations until the Tuscarora joined them. They figured prominently in the history of Northeastern America. They are a closely unified and successful nation. Their League of Peace and Power is a document which many historians believe was a great influence on the founding fathers and parts of it inspired some of the Articles of Confederation and the U.S. Constitution.

In the 1920's the Iroquois developed their own passport, which has been recognized by many nations at many times, except recently by the British. In the early 1940's the Iroquois Nation declared war on Germany.

There have been many well known Iroquois. Among them: the boxer Henry Armstrong, George Armstrong of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Hiawatha (a real person), Graham Greene, Ely Parker, a Union officer in the Civil War and Commissioner of Indian Affairs under President Grant, Robbie Robertson of The Band and Jay Silverheels (Tonto) just to name a few.

In 1876 it was discovered during the building of a bridge that the Iroquois have no acrophobia, fear of heights. As a result they are much sought after for high constructions jobs. So when the skyscrapers go up in New York and the building gets too high for the average worker, builders get on the phone and call the Iroquois who come down to New York City to finish the job and then some of them have their late night dinner at the The Morning Star.

DB - The Vagabond
(This is not a contest.)

Who are the 2 (two) most important people alive today? Why?

Only 7 responses so far. Summer is about to close her gates. Get with it. Don’t be left out in the heat.

Thank you.


Gerry said...

I heard of those people when I was in New York. The men working on the dams out west had to conquer a certain fear of heights, but the ironworkers on those NY skyscrapers had to have a fearlessness I could not imagine. Fascinating characteristic especially after seeing a city of skyscrapers like New York.

Beth said...

That's interesting! I didn't know all those people were of Native American descent.

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Did not know that about working at heights.