F. W. (Frederick Wilkerson) Waugh.

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must be white meat, such as that of a white chicken.

Food which has been run over by mice, or by a small animal
which seems to be the skink, Eumeces quinqueUneatus (On.,
utskai^di'), will cause the teeth to decay and produce vomiting
of blood. Children are thought to be frequently killed in this

Other Ceremonial Usages.

Dog's* flesh was formerly consumed on special occasions and
as a ceremonial observance. Dog feasts,* in fact, are said to
have been offered to "Aireskoui," the Sun, who was also the god
or "demon" of war, this observance securing success in war or
hunting as well as the satisfactory interpretation of dreams and
the recovery of the sick. The burning of the white dog at
the Mid-winter Festival may be a survival of this. Stags and
bears were sometimes offered in the same way.

' Chief John Gibson.

' One chickadee was formerly said to make meat enough for five or six.
Informant, Peter John, On.

'John Jamieson, jun.

*Sagard, Voyages, vol. II, p. 215, remarks of the Huron dogs that they
"howl rather than bark, and have straight ears like foxes; otherwise they are
exactly like the medium-sized mongrels of the French villager. They serve
instead of sheep, to be eaten at feasts, they harry the moose, and discover the
lair of the beast, and are little expense to their masters." Regarding native
dogs see Darwin, Animals and Plants under Domestication, vol. I, pp. 20, 21.

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Ceremonial cannibalism was evidently quite a common
practice, the offering in this way of prisoners captured in war
being considered particularly acceptable. In some instances,
according to the Relations, the Sun was thought to be offended
and to withhold his favour because they had been remiss in tor-
turing and eating prisoners. Portions of the latter, such as the
heart, the lips, and other parts were apparently eaten from a
belief in sympathetic magic, or the ability to acquire the bravery
or other virtues of an enenly.'


The meat of the deer, bear, and the larger game animals is
said to have been boiled, after which the water was changed, the
meat subjected to another boiling, then removed from the pot,
and fried in grease. The soup remaining was thickened with corn
hulls or siftings. Whole corn was sometimes added instead.

A common way of preparing meat was to broil it on pointed
sticks. It was also dried on a sort of grating of sticks placed
over a fire. The fat or tallow was kept for cooking purposes.

The oil tried out in cooking the meat of bear, raccoon,
porcupine, and other animals is kept and used for medicinal
purposes, such as rubbing on the back and chest for "cramps"
and for application to newly-born infants. Deer's tallow is
particularly prized for certain purposes, such as for snow-snake
"medicine," the principle involved being the familiar one of
sympathetic magic. ^

Beaver was highly appreciated, especially the tail, the flesh
of the animal being used both fresh and smoked.'

Dried meat was sometimes boiled to soften it a little, after
which it was placed in the mortar and pounded to a sort of hash,
then boiled again, with the addition of grease and salt.

' Jesuit Relations, R. G. Thwaites ed., vol. XLI, p. 53, Le Mercier re
Onondaga (1653-54).

Ibid., vol. X, pp. 227, 229.

Ibid., vol. XXVI, pp. 19 and 33, Vimont re Iroquois (1642-44).
' John Jamieson, jun., David Jack, and others.

' The use of beaver meat was described by a Seneca informant, Chief
John Gibson.

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The skunk, Mephitis mephifica, is still eaten, the meat being
considered good for all kinds of ailments.' Other animals eaten
are the woodchuck {Arctomys monax), the muskrat {Fiber
zibethicus), rabbits, hares, and all kinds of squirrels.'' The
carnivorae, generally, seem to have been avoided.

Mice are said to have been used among the early Huron,
though the description given is suggestive of the short-tailed
vole {Microtus Pennsylvanicus) .


Among the principal birds eaten are: wild ducks, geese, the
larger owls, the partridge, quail, woodcock, snipe, plover, black-
birds, woodpeckers, the robin, the meadow-lark, and the mourn-
ing-dove. A number of others were no doubt utilized in case of
necessity. Cranes are said by Loskiel to have been "seldom
eaten." The loon was regarded as a "witch," and was conse-
quently avoided.

Owls are said to taste good. They are boiled until half
done, then roasted. The oil is saved as a medicine.

The wild turkey and pigeon were formerly found in Iroquois
territory, but have now disappeared.

Wild birds' eggs were frequently eaten, and included those
of the partridge, quail, wild duck, plover, and many others.
The young birds, just ready to hatch, are said to have been highly
esteemed.^ The number of eggs in a partridge nest are said by
John Jamieson, jun., to indicate how many years longer the finder
will live.

Batrachians and Reptiles.

Frogs of several kinds were an article of diet,^ particularly
the larger species, such as the bullfrog (Rana catesbiana) and the
leopard frog (Rana pipiens). The legs were skinned, broiled on
pointed sticks, then salted and eaten.

' David Jack (Ca.).

' John Jamieson, jun., says that he has often killed squirrels, which are
liked by the pigmies. He then offered tobacco to the latter and asked them
for luck in hunting or other such occupations. The squirrel's body was then
left upon the ground or hung up in a tree.

' Jesuit Relations, vol. XLIV, p. 299.

* Ibid., vol. XXXIX, p. 215.

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The wood frog {Rana cantabrigensis) was stated by an
Oneida^ to be eaten whole. It was formerly made into a soup,
though the informant preferred it fried in butter. The bodies
are dried and made into a broth, which is used medicinally.
Other small frogs were probably also employed.

Snakes were said by several informants to have been used in
former times, though this was denied by others. Charlevois
refers to the use of the rattlesnake by certain tribes, possibly
including the Hurons. The meat was cooked "like fish."^

Turtles and turtle eggs were employed quite generally, and
included such species as the snapping- turtle {Chelydra serpentina),
the painted turtle {Chrysemys picta), and the wood turtle
{Clemys insculptus).

Turtle's meat was said by Chief Gibson to be "good medi-
cine" made into either a soup or stew. The broth is considered
to be good for throat troubles, or for newly-born children.


Fish were everywhere a favourite food (Plates XXXVIII
and XXXIX), although, as in the case of other game, the supply
was often limited.' Nearly all kinds were eaten and formed a
common ingredient of hominy, corn soup, and other preparations.
Even the intestines were utilized in former times, though not at
present, this economy having been practised when the fish were
being preserved for winter use.' Reference has been made else-
where to decayed salmon as an ingredient of soups.

Eels were smoked or dried and used like fish. Mention is
frequently made to these in the Relations and the accounts of
early writers generally. During Bartram's visit to Onondaga,
for instance, his entertainers provided "great kettles of Indian
corn soup, or thin hominy, with dried eels and other fish boiled
in it."* According to this writer, also, "they cut a stick about

' Anthony Day.

' Charlevoix, Voyages, pp. 125 and 209, vol. III.

' Jesuit Relations, R. G. Thwaites ed., vol. XXXIX, p. 215.

* Martin, Life of Jogues, ed. by J. G. Shea, p. 123.

' Bartram, Observations, p. 60.

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three feet long, and as thick as one's thumb ; they split it about
a foot down, and, when the eel is gutted, they coil it between the
two sides of the stick, and bind the top close which keeps the
eel flat, and then stick one end in the ground before a good fire."*
Boiled Fish. A very simple method was to boil the fish until
tender, adding salt to suit the taste.

Fish Soup — u'nega'gei' (On.). Fish of any kind is boiled
in a pot with a quantity of water. It is then removed and coarse
corn siftings stirred in to make a soup of a suitable consistency.

Fish and Potato Soup. When potatoes are boiled, spread
the fish out on top, cover with a lid and cook. When done, re-
move the fish and add salt and pepper.

Fried Fish. Fish are sometimes fried in bear or deer grease,
salt and pepper being added. Among the kinds mentioned as
being best were some of the smaller ones, such as the stone-
carriers {Exoglossum maxillingua) and the sticklebacks {Gasteros-
teus bispinosus and Eucalia inconstans) .

Eels are usually fried. No grease is added, but just a little
water. Sturgeon is cooked in the same way, or made the basis
of corn soup, as previously stated.

Roasted Fish. The fish is cleaned and stretched open by
inserting a couple of small sticks. It is then impaled on another
sharp stick, which is stuck in the ground before an open fire.
The fish is salted before roasting.

Dried Fish. To preserve fish, cut and clean them, rub well
with salt and dry in the sun or over a fire, then place in a bark
box or other receptacle.

Another method is to roast in front of the fire, then hang in
the smoke from an open fire-place.

Additional terms {On.).

Fish, udjiii'da'.

The tail, uda"sa'.

Fins, una^wi'na'.

Scales, u'sda'.

Dried fish, ga^djigda'tha'di'.

1 Ibid., p. 33.

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Smoked fish, gai^'gwai'kdi'.
Roast fish, ga's^'yuda'.
Fried fish, g^djiQ'dag^'i'dawi'.
Boiled fish, g4djiQ*du''gwa'.
To clean fish, gaygwada^gu^.
To remove the scales, g^sd^^di'.


The only crustaceans eaten by the Iroquois were the cray-
fish (belonging to the genus Cambarus). These have very little
meat upon them and are seldom bothered with at present. The
Onondaga name, udjie'ie', signifies "feet that pinch."

Cooking Recipes. According to one recipe, furnished by
Chief Gibson, the tails only are used. These are skinned and
fried in butter or grease.

Crayfish may also be boiled to make a soup, salt and other
seasoning being added. Another method is to make a stew of
wild onions or leeks, add the crayfish, also butter, pepper, and

A simpler way is to salt the crustaceans, impale them on
pointed sticks, plant one end of the stick in the ground, and
roast them before an open fire.

Still another way was to place them whole under the hot
ashes or cinders, then cut them open along the back and eat them.

Insect Foods.

Information was obtained regarding several insect foods,
and it is evident from historical records that a number of others
were employed.

Ants of various species are said, by an Onondaga informant,'
to have been eaten raw on account of the acid flavour, though
more as a luxury than as a staple.

At Onondaga Castle, N.Y.,' the larvae of the seventeen-
year locust {Cicada septendecim) were formerly ploughed or dug

• Peter John and others.

' Baptist Thomas, informant.

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up and roasted in a pot, without water. They were stirred while
cooking and, when they were thoroughly done, a little grease
was added. Some of the older people are said to make use of
them still. They are considered to be "good for the health."
An Onondaga name given was ogw^yu^da'.'

Historical Mention. Mention is frequently made by various
writers of insect foods. Loskiel, in describing the foods of the
Iroquois and the Delaware, refers to locusts, although the use of
the popular name leaves us in doubt as to whether the grasshopper
or the cicada is meant.'

Du Perron, in the Relation of 1638-39, mentions the prepara-
tion by the Hurons of "a porridge made of the mealof Indian
corn and water. . . . Sometimes the savages put in pieces
of cinders, to season the sagamitd, at other times a handful of
little waterflies, which are like the gnats of Provence; they
esteem these highly and make feasts of them."'

Brickell, "Natural History of North Carolina," records the
use of "young wasps" among the tribes of that area.

Sagard, also, was "much disgusted and disturbed to see the
Huron women eat the lice from themselves and their children;
for they ate them as if they were both good and tasty."* The
Montagnais practised a similar custom, stating that it was "not
that they liked the taste of them, but because they want to bite
those that bite them."'


The various species of clams seem always to have been
favourite articles of food among the Iroquois. This is borne out
by the archaeological evidence found on village sites identified
as Iroquoian.* The genera include Anodonta, Unio, and Mar-
garitana. A Cayuga name given was ga'nu'sa'. The same name
is applied to oysters.

1 Informant, Baptist Thomas, Onondaga Castle, N.Y.
' Loskiel, Hist, of Mission, pt. I, p. 66.

• Jesuit Relations, R. G. Thwaites ed., vol. XV, p. 163.

• Sagard, Voyages, vol. I, p. 76.

' Jesuit Relations, R. G. Thwaites ed., vol. VI, p. 245.

• Wintemberg, W. J., The Use of Shells by the Ontario Indians, Ont.
Arch. Rep., 1907, pp. 38, 39.

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The bivalves are boiled and made into soup. Milk, salt, and
butter are frequently added.

Another method of cooking, according to Chief Gibson, is
to fry them in butter or grease.

Various land and water gasteropoda were no doubt em-
ployed, particularly in times of scarcity. An Onondaga name
for water gasteropods is dji's^w^ (brains). This is also applied
to the slugs or shell-less snails. An Onondaga name for shell-
bearing gasteropoda is ungsage^dt' (they carry a house). A
Cayuga term is dri'drp'wa' (having horns).

Among the historical references to this class of foods is one
by Loskiel, who mentions the employment of "mussels and oy-

Brickell also remarks of these that "they are only made use of
by the Indians, who eat them after five or six hours boiling to
make them tender."^ According to the same writer, certain
kinds were preserved by drying.'


Maple Syrup and Sugar.

The sap of the maple, birch, and several other trees was
employed prehistorically. Besides its use as a beverage, it was
boiled and thickened somewhat, though its manufacture into
sugar must have been exceedingly difficult, if not impossible,
with the crude utensils at hand.

References to the employment of sap are found in several of
the earlier Relations. Nouvel, for instance, refers to a "liquor
that runs from the trees toward the end of Winter, and which
is known as 'Maple-water.' "^ This was written in 1671, and
refers to the Ottawas of Ekaentouton. Le Jeune, in 1634,
observed that the Montagnais, when pressed by famine, eat
"the shavings or bark of a certain tree, which they call Michtan,
which they split in the Spring to get from it a juice, sweet as

' Loskiel, History, pt. I, p. 66.

2 Brickell, History of North Carolina, p. 249.

•Ibid., pp. 288, 367.

< Jesuit Relations, R. G. Thwaites ed., vol. LVI, p. 101.

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honey or as sugar; . . . but they do not enjoy much of it,
so scanty is the flow." Neither of the foregoing refer to sugar,
mention of which occurs only in later records.

Carr, with regard to sugar-making, considers that "As to
the maple sugar . . . there can be no doubt. It was made where-
ever the tree grew, and it found especial favour as an ingredient
in their preparation of parched corn-meal, or as we call it, nocake
or rockahominy."^ Charlevoix, on the other hand, states that
the Abnaki, "when the sap begins to rise . . . make a Jag or
Notch in the Trunk of the Maple, and by Means of a Bit of
Wood which they fix in it, the Water runs as by a Spout. . . .
It is certain that they did not know how to make a Sugar of it,
which we have since taught them. They were contented to let
it boil a little, to thicken it something, and make a Sort of Syrup."*
The latter observation seems to have been true throughout
the area occupied by the Iroquois and their neighbours, although,
with improved utensils, the making of sugar was quickly adopted.

Methods, within the historical period, appear to have
changed but little. Loskiel refers to the use of a "funnel made
of bark" which was used to convey the sap into "wooden troughs
or dishes." Basswood chips for spiles and wooden troughs are
still employed by some of the Iroquois (Plate X). Troughs
were also made of elm bark. A Cayuga informant' states
that an old-time method of tapping was by breaking the end
of a limb.

The sugar-moulds described by Loskiel were "broad, wooden
dishes of about two inches in depth." The crystallizing syrup
was "stirred about in these until cold." The sugar was also
allowed to crystallize in the kettles.* A model of a box-like
mould, held together by wooden clamps, was made for the
writer by one of the older Onondaga.' According to the latter,
the sugar was also run into small tin pans, forming cakes of a
certain weight.

'■ Carr, Food of Certain American Indians.

2 Charlevoix, A Voyage to North America, vol. I, p. 83.

' John Jamieson, jun.

'Loskiel, History, pt. I, pp. 72, 73.

' Peter John.

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The sap was stored, in preparation for boiling, in a large
wooden trough formed by hollowing out the trunk of a tree.

The hard or sugar maple {Acer saccharinum) was considered
best, although the soft maple {Acer saccharum) and the birch
were also used. Besides its food use, the sap of the soft maple is
considered valuable for sore eyes. It was stated by a Cayuga'
that hickory chips were sometimes boiled to obtain a "sweet
water," which was added to corn to make corn soup. According
to Charlevoix, the Abenaki also employed the sap of the plant or
buttonwood, the ash, walnut trees of different sorts, and the
wild cherry.'' Walnut sap is said to have been very sweet,
though the sugar made from the wild cherry is said never to have
lost its bitterness. The use of "les Noyers," or nut-bearing
trees, and the ash is confirmed by Lafitau, who remarks that the
sap of the ash, though delicate, was scanty in flow.'

Terms used {Onondaga).

Bark pot, ga'SQ''da' gana'djia'.

Sap trough, niga'hQ'wa'sa" g'gaieda'kwa'.

Sap, uwenowe'da'gei' (sweet juice), or wa'gae'da'.

Maple syrup, ohwa^da' use'sda'.

Maple sugar, ohwa"da' uwenow^'da' (or simply, uwe-

Spile, Q'gaieda'kwa' o'ga'e' (to stick in, chip).
Gash made in the tree, ga'o".
Sugar mould, eanaw§'daa'kwa' gahQ''saa' (to put sugar in,

box or trough).
Wooden storage trough for sap, t'negaa'kwa'.
The sap is running, ga'ne'gu's.
He is gathering the sap, hane'gai'ets.
He is boiling the sap, hoyaha"dg'.
They are boiling the sap, diuya'h^s.
He is making sugar, hainaw^'do'niaha'.
He is tapping the trees, ha'gaie'tha' (putting chips in the


' John Jamieson, jun.

' Charlevoix, A Voyage to North America, pt. I, p. 84.

' Lafitau, Moeurs des Sauvages Ameriguains, pt. II, pp. 155, 156.

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The tree is tapped, wa'ga'e'da'.

It is ready for sugaring, gondihe'do'niugk one (it is making
bubbles of steam).

Season for sugar-making, undanada'sania^ta' (fixing up the
sugar camp).


The honey-bee {,Apis mellifica) was a European importation.
Kalm, who visited the Iroquois country in 1748-50, remarks
that "the Indians likewise generally declare, that their fathers
had never seen any bees either in the woods or anywhere
else, before the Europeans had been several years settled here.
This is further confirmed by the name which the Indians give
them: . . . they call them English flies. . . . They
have not yet been found in the woods on the other side of the
Blue Mountains, which confirms the opinion of their being brought
to America of late."*

The honey used was principally that derived from escaped
swarms, while the methods employed in locating these resemble
those of the white settlers.

Bees in the act of swarming are stopped by throwing water
upon them, or shooting near them.

When a bee-tree is chopped down, a little honey is left for
the bees in order to secure "good luck;" otherwise a man is liable
to have his game stolen by other animals, or to meet with other

The honey is cleared of dirt and leaves by hanging it up in
a cotton bag to drain. Besides its use as a food, the honey is
considered medicinal.

A remedy for bee stings is to obtain some clover leaves, mash
them a little, and apply as a poultice. This appears to contain
the idea of sympathetic magic, the clover being the favourite
resort of bees.

* Kalm, Travels, vol. I, p. 288.

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Some Onondaga Terms.

Honey-bee, gpdianaw^donia'ha' (making honey or sweet

Bumble bee, na'ggda'gwa'ne'gona (big bee).
Honey, use'sda'.


Water was naturally the most common beverage. The
sites of villages everywhere are found to be in proximity to some
sort of water supply. Sometimes this was in the form of springs,
or spring creeks, rivers, or even pondholes or ditches, sources
which are still more or less in favour in many localities.

When a red blood-sucker or leech (On., djiagwai'c'nt*
utgw?"da' nigaia'do''d^') is seen in the water, the latter is
not considered fit for drinking. The people are warned
by the longhouse preachers against water contaminated in this
way and are told that it will cause them to waste away and die.*

Palisaded villages were frequently constructed so as to
provide a water supply, though the unfortunate results of neglect
in this respect were at times experienced.

One of the most easily prepared beverages was probably
that noted by Loskiel, who remarks that "the common drink of
the Indians at their meals is nothing but the broth of the meat
they have boiled, or spring water. "^ He also observed that they
"prepare a kind of liquor of dried bilberries, sugar and water,
the taste of which is very agreeable to them." These were
probably some one of several species of Vaccinium or blueberry,
although the name is sometimes popularly applied to the june-
berry, Amelanchier canadensis, and related species. The water
in which corn bread is boiled is likewise preserved for drinking

• John Echo and others, Grand River reserve.

^ Loskiel, Hist, of the Mission of the United Brethren, pt. I, p. 74.

' A Seneca name given by Parker is O'niyustagi'. N. Y. State Mus. Bull.,
144, p. 71; cf. also Beverly, Hist, and Present State of Virginia, p. 151.

Jesuit Relations, R. G. Thwaites ed., vol. XV, p. 159: "The usual sauce
with the food is pure water, juice of corn or of squashes."

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Berries were evidently quite frequently used in the prepara-
tion of drinks. These were not only noted historically, but are
popular at present. Blackberries or thimbleberries and water,
sweetened with maple sugar, is common both for home consump-
tion and in longhouse ceremonies. This drink was called uhia'-
get' (On.). The fresh berries are preferred when these are ob-
tainable, though they are also dried or otherwise preserved and
enjoyed throughout the winter. This drink is employed as a
refreshment at the meetings called hadi'hi'dus and the making
of niga'ne'gaa' medicine, as are also similar concoctions of straw-
berries and raspberries at their respective festivals. At certain
of these functions the juice is sometimes sprayed from the mouth
upon the heads of those desiring health and prosperity for the
coming season.^ In such cases the liquid must be made by those
undergoing the ceremony. Huckleberries may be used for the
same purpose. Fresh blackberries are particularly sought after
for the Big Green Corn Dance in the early autumn. The drinkers
in each case make an effort to get a share of the berries which
settle to the bottom. An active medicinal value, aside from
ceremonial uses, is ascribed to several varieties of berries and
other fruits or to beverages made from them.

Corn coffee, made after the following method, is a well-
known Iroquois beverage; whole ears of corn are dried, then
placed on the coals and turned carefully until they roast. These
are placed in a kettle of water and boiled. Sugar may be added
if desired, also buttermilk or ordinary milk. A name applied to
this by Chief Gibson is gan^hage^'da-'wi" d^yptnegQ'd^', mean-
ing "roasted corn to make a drink."

A sunflower coffee is said, by the same informant, to have
been made by roasting sunflower seeds, grinding them a little
in the mortar, sifting, and saving the shells. Boiling water
poured over the latter is said to make a beverage tasting just
like coffee. This was called q,yeditsha-'nia' (On.).

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