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Historical pageant : Hudson-Fulton celebration, September 25 to October 9, 1909 online

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ican Revolution.

The American Period, so-called to distinguish it from the Indian,
Dutch and English Periods, but more properly called the United
States Period, of course began with the Declaration of Independence






on July 4, 1776. Prior to that date the colonies were fighting for their
rights as colonies, not for national independence; after that date they
were, by the terms of the Declaration, free and independent States.
So much has been written to popularize the history of the States east
and south of New York that comparatively few people realize how
many important events took place in New York during the Revolu-
tion. As we are celebrating the history of the Hudson River it is
interesting to recall that the possession of the Hudson was the great
central object of contention between the British and the Americans,
the British believing that if they could secure it they could cut the
colonies in two, defeat them in detail, and establish a safe route of
communication between their base of supplies in Canada and the
base of war in New York. Fulton's great achievement, twenty-four
years after the close of the Revolution, was the cardinal event of the
Nineteenth century, with reference to this celebration.

In depicting, in the great Historical Parade, important scenes in
these four periods, the Hudson-Fulton Celebration Commission has
aimed not only to present a spectacle which will be memorable but also
to give an impetus to historical research and to present historic scenes
so that they will impress themselves more clearly on the minds of the
spectators than could be done by books and pictures.

The work of building the floats for these moving tableaux has
been going on in New York City for many months, and the work of
construction has required the services of all kinds of artists and
artisans. The artist most familiar with this kind of work was sum-
moned to design the pageant, and for about a year nearly two hundred
workmen at a time have been engaged on the actual construction.

The general plan and every detail of the floats and costumes have
undergone the critical scrutiny of the Commission's Historical Com-
mittee, which has commanded the services of the best historical and
archeological authorities in the City of New York, and the Committee
has taken great care that everything in connection with the floats
shall be in accurate historical harmony in every respect.

The Committee has confined the subjects to events connected with
New York, and of necessity has been obliged to omit many interesting
scenes because it was impracticable to represent them on floats.




THE Title Car for the History of the Empire State represents the State of New
York from the day of the canoe to the modern steamboat and from the day
of the wigwam to the modern skyscraper.

This float will be followed by four divisions of the Historical Parade— namely,
the First Division, representing the Indian Period ; the Second Division, represent-
ing the Dutch Period; the Third Division, representing the English Colonial
Period, and the Fourth Division, representing the United States Period.

Each division will have its Title Car representing that particular period. With
the picture of each float in this book will be found a brief account which, if
carefully followed, will enable everybody thoroughly to understand the different
subjects portrayed in this moving display, beginning with scenes representing Indian
life and leading up in chronological order to historical events of New York City and
State easily remembered by the older generation.

The difficulties in presenting actual scenes in a pageant are very great. When
the interior of a house, for example, is shown, it is evident that the roof cannot cover
the float or the spectators looking down from a height would be unable to see the
characters.

The object of the parade is to bring before the minds of the onlookers a picture
of the main events which can be properly shown in tableau, and to depict the
spirit of the time.

To derive lasting benefit from a historical standpoint the scenes, wdiile still
fresh in the mind, should be studied in some history.




INDIAN PERIOD

THE first race in this great country was, naturally, the Indian. The territory
of New York was occupied by two great aboriginal families — the Algon-
quins on the coast and the Iroquois, or Five Nations, in the interior.
The object in presenting this short history of the Five Nations is to place in order
the material, gathered here and there, to enable the spectators better to understand
the lives and motives of the people who composed that powerful League which
controlled for so many years the policy of all the tribes hving in the Hmits of what is
now the North Central States of our country.

They stood as a strong bulwark between the French and Dutch, and later
between the French and English, and thus were largely influential in preserving
their hunting grounds for the Anglo-Saxon race. But slight mention is made
of them in our school histories, and little opportunity is given our boys and girls
to learn what an important part they played in the early history of our colonial
and national life.

The name Indian was given to the natives of the New World by Columbus, who
thought he had found the East Indies.

The Five Nations, who dwelt in northern New York, are represented on this float
by the totems, or symbols, of their tribes — the beaver, the tortoise, the bear, the
wolf and the deer.



10




THE Iroquois have a very pretty legend relating to their final union into a
confederacy. Many years ago they were confined under a mountain near
the falls of the Oswego, from whence they were led by the "Holder of the
Heavens" into the beautiful Mohawk Valley, along which and farther westward
they settled, each tribe in a different locality. These tribes kept up a continual
warfare with one another. In their great distress they called upon the "Holder of
the Heavens," affectionately called by the people Hiawatha — "The Very Wise
Man."

Hiawatha told them to call representatives from all the tribes to a great council
to be held on the banks of Onondaga Lake. The great council fire blazed for three
days and yet no Hiawatha appeared to help or to advise. At length, guided by the
Great Spirit, he was seen coming across the lake in a white canoe, bearing with him
his beautiful little daughter. Scarcely had they landed upon the shore when there
suddenly arose a mighty wind, and an immense bird, so large as to darken the land-
scape, swooped down upon the beautiful girl and crushed her into the earth.
Speechless with grief Hiawatha mourned for his daughter three days, then he said :
"I will meet you to-morrow and unfold my plans." On the following day he arose
in the council and formed the Iroquois Confederacy.

He then departed while the air was filled with beautiful music, which slowly died
away ; the beautiful white canoe rose slowly into the air and bore their good friend
and councilor far into the eternal blue. The league thus formed was the most
powerful aboriginal poHtical organization north of Mexico.



11



^




THE Indian tribes to whom the French gave the name Iro(iuois inhabited the
State of New York north and west of the Catskill Alountains and south of
the Adirondack group.

The Iroquois Confederacy was originally of five related families or nations, called,
respectively, Mohawk, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas and Senecas. They settled
themselves at various points in the country between the Hudson River and Lake
Erie, in the order in which they are above named.

These five families, though of the same blood, continually waged cruel wars
against each other, until Hiawatha, known as the "Holder of the Heavens," called
them together in one great council and advised them to enter into one common
band of brothers. Thus united, they were to drive all invaders back, all of which
they agreed to do, forming themselves into a confederacy called Ko-no-shi-oni,
the "cabin builders," or "Long House," which extended from the Hudson River to
Lake Eric.

The Mohawks guarded the eastern door and the Senecas the western. The
great council fire was with the Onondagas, near the present Syracuse.

This League was formed probably not earlier than 1540. The totems of the
Five Nations — the bear, the wolf, the deer, the tortoise and the beaver — were the
distinguishing mark of the delegate from each nation at the grand council and ap-
peared on his person.

In 1 7 14 the cognate Tuscaroras, driven out of North Carolina, were received
into the Iroquois Confederacy, which thereafter became known as the Six Nations.




12




THE first Sachem of the League was the venerable Ato-tar-ho, a famous Onon-
daga chief. The Indian traditions invest him with extraordinary attributes.
He is represented as hving at the time he was chosen in grim seclusion
in a swamp, where his dishes and drinking cups, like those of the old Scandinavian
warriors, were made of the skulls of his enemies slain in battle.

When a delegation of Mohawks went to offer him the symbol of supreme power
they found him sitting in calm repose smoking his pipe, but he was unapproachable
because he was clothed with hissing snakes. They finally invested him with a
broad belt of wampum as the highest token of authority.

The idea of the Five Nations was originally suggested by the Onondagas as a
means to enable them more effectually to war against the neighboring tribes, so it
was natural that their most famous warrior and Sachem should be chosen as the
first Sachem of the League.

After the formation of the League the Iroquois rose rapidly in power. Upon the
founding of the Dutch trading post at Fort Orange, now x^lbany, in 1615, their
influence greatly increased. They remained friendly to the Dutch and bartered
their furs for firearms, in the use of which they were afterward to become expert.
Renewing their friendship with the English they soon had absolute supremacy over
the other Indian nations, and extended their domination to the whole country
between Lakes Huron, Erie and Ontario and to the north bank of the St. Lawrence
River. The descendants of these Indians now reside in reservations set apart for
them in New York and Canada.








THE early records of the Indians before the advent of the white men were pic-
ture writings woven in wampum and they merely recorded feats of arms.
The rest were legends passed down by word of mouth.

The veins of the Redmen surged with poetry and imagination. Their speech
was poetic and picturesque. Their legends had a religious significance and no
serious undertaking' was begun without first invoking the Great Spirit. They were
intensely religious and every dance had a supernatural significance behind it. The
braves were frequently required to fast for days before they were allowed to partici-
pate in the dance.

The tableau of the Season of Blossoms, or spring, shows the Indians at work
manufacturing implements of war and the chase, the arrow heads and stone hatchets
or axes. The squaws are engaged in their family duties, making moccasins, etc.,
with ornamental bead work, tilling the fields preparatory to sowing the corn, beans
and squash, the fundamental vegetable food of that age, while the old warriors look
on in stolid contemplation.

At the back of the float is to be seen the younger warriors preparing for the
summer chase, making their birchbark canoes, the joints sewed together and then
sealed with pitch.

When birch canoes could not be made a large tree would be cut down, shaped on
the outside to the required form and then by fires built on the inside the wood was
charred until it could readily be scraped away by their rude instruments. This was
repeated until the canoe was ready for use.



14




THE summer season to the Indians was known as the Season of Fruits. The
two important crops were celebrated by the festivals " Ha-men-da-yo, " or the
Berry Festival, and " Ah-dake-wa-o, " or Green Corn Festival.

The Berry Festival was in the nature of a thanksgiving to the Great Spirit for
\i supplying the tribe with fruit for its needs. This dance was similar to the one
known as the Maple-Sugar Festival, and was concluded with a feast of straw-
berries, prepared with maple sugar in the form of a jelly and served on strips
of birch bark.

The second ceremony of the summer season was the Green Corn Festival. Corn,
beans and squash were the staple vegetables of the aborigines. Corn was called
"Our Life" or "Our Supporter," and was relied upon even more than the products
of the chase. The festival lasted for four days. On the first two days there were
held dances, speeches and games. The next was occupied in a Thanksgiving dance,
with chants and songs of a like nature given in the intervals. The trees, bushes and
shrubs which provided sustenance to the tribe were also individually addressed in
the flowery language of those people. The fourth and last day was concluded with
a game of chance played with peach stones and small bowls and called " Gus-ga-a,"
for the Indians loved above all else to gamble, x^t the close of each day the braves
feasted on great bowls of succotash, made of com and beans, which were passed
around the circle by the squaws. Not the least important plant to the Indians was
tobacco, a plant native to America, and which was smoked, mixed with willow bark,
in their stone or copper pipes at all ceremonies.



15




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THE Season of Hunting, when the wild turkey and game of all kinds were fat
and fit to be killed for food, was what we call fall. At this season hunting
was indulged in to the exclusion of all else. The meat was cured by cutting
into strips and hanging on long poles over a fire purposely made to give off large quan-
tities of smoke. When a sufficient supply of meat was cured it was buried in pits
lined with deer skins. Corn was parched by charring it over a fire and together with
dried beans and ripe corn was also buried for preservation in pits lined with bark.
Deer, elk, moose and bear, together with several species of wild birds, furnished
the principal game. The small fur-bearing animals supplied the peltries which
were the Indians' staple of trade with the white men.

The animals were frequently trapped singly or else by surrounding a section of
country and driving the game toward a rough V-shaped barricade, at which were
stationed warriors, who killed the frightened animals as they endeavored to
escape. Fish were also used for food and were caught in nets or by hooks made of
bone. In the rapids salmon and trout were speared.

The Indian chief thought labor demeaning and his main occupation was the
hunt. Parties of hunters frequently penetrated into Pennsylvania and even as far
as Ohio and Canada, returning ofttimes when the snow was on the ground.

The chief festival of the fall occurred at the beginning of the season and was the
Harvest Festival, whose Indian name signified "Thanksgiving to our Supporters."
It lasted four days and was very similar to the Berry and Green- Corn ceremonies,
which were described under the "Season of Fruits."



16




THE American Indians, being children of nature, were particularly susceptible
to the influences of the natural elements, and in their legends, myths and
religious ceremonies the natural forces are variously symbolized.

The Iroquois legend of the first winter informs us that at first the Redmen were
happy and contented and the Great Spirit smiled upon them continually. At last a
great chief declared himself mightier than the Great Spirit and persuaded his
brothers to mock Him. They claimed the Great Spirit was a cruel father, was un-
kind to them, and kept the Happy Hunting Grounds for their dead brothers where
they could hunt without weariness.

The old men feared to scoff at the Great Spirit but were laughed to scorn.

Gradually the path of the sun changed, so slowly at first that it was not noticed
except by the old men. The latter, fearing the gibes of the young men, kept silence,
but later the change of the sun became so marked that all noticed it. Each day
brought less and less of the Great Spirit's smile (that is, the sun) and terrible storms
arose. The spirit of the warriors was broken. Frosts and snows came upon them.
Then the Great Spirit had pity and day after day the few who survived the wintry
blasts saw with joy the return of the sun. The Great Spirit told his children that as
a punishment for their insults and lack of faith they should in the future feel for a
season the might of the power they had mocked.

From the bodies of those who had perished sprang poisonous plants to endanger
the lives of the Indians of all generations.

The float represents the dance to propitiate the Great Spirit.



17




THERE was in the life of the Indian much leisure, and a large part of it was
occupied in feasting, dancing and playing games. The corn festival, hunt-
ing and scalp dances were occasions of general rejoicing, sometimes lasting
for weeks. These dances were usually of religious or ceremonial significance. Each
section of the country had its peculiar dances — as the snake dance of the Hopis, the
green-corn dance among the Eastern tribes; on the Columbia River was the salmon
dance, while on the plains the tribal ceremony was the sun dance to the protecting
spirit of the buffalo.

The war and scalp dances occupied a secondary place in importance and were
common to all tribes, but no war party ever opened hostilities until the formal
war dance ceremony was performed.

The war dance, here depicted, was used to arouse the enthusiasm and to enlist
warriors for dangerous expeditions before the departure of war parties. The dance
was held in the evening, fifteen men being sufficient, but as many as twenty-five or
thirty could perform. Preliminary to the dance the braves assembled near by and
l)ainted and decorated themselves. While the tribe awaited them one of the re-
ligious men would make a stirring speech. The braves would then approach in
Indian file to the council fire or house, raising the warwhoop and accompanied by a
tomtom and rattles. After seating themselves in a circle for a moment one would
start a war chant and the warriors then, jumping to their feet, would dance with
a ])eculiar step, consisting of stamping the feet and swaying the body and arms
with distortions of the face. They finally worked themselves into a frenzy.



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Online LibraryHudson-Fulton Celebration CommissionHistorical pageant : Hudson-Fulton celebration, September 25 to October 9, 1909 → online text (page 2 of 5)