398: The Rotinonshonni by Brian Rice

by Gerard


398.20899755: Rice, Brian. The Rotinonshonni: A Traditional Iroquoian History Through the Eyes of Teharonhia:wako and Sawiskera. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2013. 310 pp. ISBN 978-0-8156-1021-2.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 300: Social Sciences
  • 390: Customs, etiquette, and folklore
  • 398: Folklore
  • 398.2: Folk literature
  • 398.208: Groups of people
  • 398.2089: Ethnic and national groups
  • 398.208997: Indians of North America
  • 398.20899755: Iroquois Indians

The Iroquois, or “the People of the Longhouse” and comprise the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Tuscarora nations. In Canada, they live near Brantford, Ontario and are known as the Rotinonshonni. Brian Rice’s The Rotinonshonni  is a vast undertaking—to collect, understand, and translate the complete folklore of a people and preserve it for the ages. As a member of Mohawk nation, he has spent the last fifteen years traveling to their historic sites, listening to elders tell the Creation Story and the Kayeneren:howa (“The Great Way of Peace”), the days-long recitation of the history of the Rotinonshonni.

This is the fundamental canon of the Rotinonshonni people and understandably carries a lot of spiritual weight. It tells the story of Rotinonshonni from the myths of the Sky World to the history of the Peacemaker and Ayenwatha (now remembered as Hiawatha) as they encountered French and British travelers. It is a rich tale and almost relentless in its gravitas. The language is naturally stilted because many concepts in the Rotinonshonni languages do not have a direct English translation. That being said, it is a collection worth telling and listening to. A dense but enlightening book.