Celebrating Ongwehowe authors
Today when teachers and education consultants visit GoodMinds.com in person or attend a book display, they most often request a title written by a First Nation author. Since the opening of GoodMinds.com in 2000, our website has tried to identify Indigenous authors and illustrators whenever possible. The following reviews offer an overview of our bestsellers from the Six Nations Iroquois category.
And Grandma Said: Iroquois Teachings as Passed Down Through the Oral Tradition is a 2008 book written by Tom Sakokwenionkwas Porter, Mohawk, Bear Clan. This compilation is edited by Lesley Forrester, who worked with Tom to allow his truly unique voice to be heard.
The book includes oral history and traditions, as well as personal experiences and teachings of the Six Nations Haudenosaunee (Iroquois), especially the Mohawk Nation. The book is organized into chapters that cover the essential understandings and teachings of the Iroquois, including Creation, the Opening Address or Thanksgiving Address, Colonialism, Language, the Clan System, the Four Sacred Rituals, the Four Sacred Beings and the Great Law of Peace.
Additional information about funerals, weddings, pregnancies, child rearing methods, leadership and tobacco is included. The book also includes commentary about casinos, prayer and the future. Appendices include what grandma’s great-grandchildren have learned, directions for Atenaha (the Seed Game), a glossary of Mohawk words and a glossary of Mohawk passages.
The book is supplemented with black and white family photographs and illustrations by John Fadden. This is a remarkable and important contribution to the cultural teachings of the Iroquois. Highly recommended.
Basic Call to Consciousness is a collection of essays in which leaders of the Six Nations Iroquois discuss the importance of honouring the sacred Web of Life and describe the spiritual roots of their traditional government and cultural traditions.
This 120-page book presents a compelling critique of Western culture and an eloquent text on the rights of Indigenous nations. Presented here are three position papers delivered to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland in 1977.
New contributions by John Mohawk, Chief Oren Lyons, and Jose Barreiro provide an overview on the struggle for self-determination before and since the Geneva meetings. An important inclusion in this volume is the chapter about Deskaheh, including his last speech.
Sotsisowah, John Mohawk, a scholar, authored the position papers presented at the UN and wrote the foreword in this edition. Jose Barrerio, who wrote the afterword in this edition, was a long time editor at Akwesasne Notes. Oren Lyons is a traditional Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan and a member of the Council of Chiefs of the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy. Highly recommended.
Big Medicine from Six Nations is a series of reminiscences and essays by the late Ted Williams on the themes of medicine (physical/spiritual/psychic healing). Williams intertwines the stories and culture of his Tuscarora upbringing, illustrating the dynamic encounter of tradition and innovation at the heart of contemporary Haudenosaunee people.
He writes with a unique voice full of irreverence, irony and good humour. Coloured by his wry wit, Big Medicine from Six Nations amply fulfills the promise of its title. It offers an essential introduction to herbal medicine, prayers, prophecies, feasts, vision quests, sweat lodges, spirits and the sacred teachings of the Great Law of the Peace.
Ted Williams died in September 2005 having just finished this book. He is the author of The Reservation (also published by Syracuse University Press), a modern classic of Iroquois storytelling. Highly recommended.