Post by Keith. on Dec 2, 2017 11:46:58 GMT 10
Family By Robert Griffing.
Johannes Megapolensis was a thirty-nine-year-old Dutch minister who made his way to Fort Orange with his wife and four children in 1642. He had a six-year contract with Kilaen van Rensselaer, a director of the West India Company, to fill the spiritual needs of the inhabitants of the area. Megapolensis described his experience in a series of letters that were later published as a book. In the following excerpt, he provides a portrait of the Mohawks:
"The principal nation of all
the savages and Indians, hereabouts with which we have the most intercourse, is the Mohawks who have laid all the other Indians near us under contribution.
The people and Indians here in this country are like us Dutchmen in body and stature; some of them have well formed features, bodies and limbs; they all have black hair and eyes, but their skin is yellow. In summer they go naked, having only their private parts covered with a patch. The children and young folks to ten, twelve and fourteen years of age go stark naked.
In winter, they hang about them simply an undressed deer or bear or panther skin; or they take some beaver and otter skins, wild cat, raccoon, martin, otter, mink, squirrel or such like skins, which are plenty in this country, and sew some of them to others, until it is a square piece, and that is then a garment for them. . . They make themselves stockings and also shoes of deer skin, or they take leaves of their corn, and plait them together and use them for shoes.
They generally live without marriage; and if any of them have wives, the marriage continues no longer than seems good to one of the parties, and then they separate, and each takes another partner. I have seen those who had parted, and afterwards lived a long time with others, leave these again, seek their former partners, and again be one pair.
The women, when they have been delivered, go about immediately afterwards, and be it ever so cold, they wash themselves and the young child in the river or the snow. They will not lie down (for they say that if they did they would soon die), but keep going about. They are obliged to cut wood, to travel three or four leagues with the child; in short, they walk, they stand, they work, as if they had not lain in, and we cannot see that they suffer any injury by it. . .
The men have great authority over their concubines, so that if they do anything which does not please and raises their passion, they take an axe and knock them in the head, and there is an end of it. The women are obliged to prepare the land, to mow, to plant, and do everything; the men do nothing, but hunt; fish, and make war upon their enemies.