That’s not a typo. It’s a confirmed date for the founding of the oldest continuous democracy.
At the Cayugas’ annual picnic at their farm, Jack Rossen and Shannon Keller O’Loughlin filled me in on some good news, already known to some of the Cayugas, Onondagas and others.
Jack Rossen, an archaeologist, has been excavating the Levanna site, some two miles from the SHARE farm, also on the east side of Cayuga Lake. The artifacts he found were clearly Haudenosaunee, and included ceremonial pipes with false faces on them. The site had longhouses with no palisades around, so it was from a time of peace.
The carbon dating put it in the mid 900s. The Haudenosaunee have been saying for a long time that the Confederacy is over a thousand years old, and now they have the carbon-14 evidence to back them up.
The Confederacy of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and Seneca was completed when the Senecas came in, the last to join. The oral tradition was that the Peacemaker and Hiawentha had not quite persuaded the Senecas, during a time when the corn was high, until there was a total eclipse of the sun during one of their councils, which typically occurred around noon. Then they agreed to join.
Thanks to modern astronomy it has been possible to get a precise dating on total eclipses of the sun in late summer over Ganondagan, the main village of the Senecas. A previous fix was for the most recent total eclipse before the coming of Europeans.
However, Jack Rossen’s research on the site from the mid 900s prompted turning the astronomical clock back further to identify a total eclipse that passed over Ganondagan at 12:48 pm August 18, 909. Jack Rossen said the eclipse was also observed at Onondaga that day.
This is a more consistent date to the information about the Tadodaho. The first Tadodaho was named at the time of the founding of the Confederacy, and there have been over 130 successors. With the 909 date, that averages out to about an eight year term per person on average, which seems about right.
The artifacts from the mid 900s and the 909 date are very significant for the return of artifacts and human remains from the museums. New York State museums have a huge collection of human remains, carbon dated from before 1500. Heretofore the museums had refused to repatriate the remains, claiming a lack of connection to living natives. Euro-American archaeologists had dismissed much of the Haundenosaunee’s oral history.
Shannon Keller-O’Loughin, Esq., attorney specializing in cultural topics such as NEPA and NAGPRA law on behalf of the Onondagas, invited Jack Rossen to testify regarding the return of remains from an Onondaga burial site near Binghamton.
Research on the Engelbert site by others had shown Onondaga materials and burials over hundreds of years. Yet the State was using the 1500 CE (AD) date to resist repatriation of materials and remains. The distinctly Haudenosaunee materials from the Levanna site established a critical link between the ancient burials and the Haudenosaunee alive today.
The federal government, based on the solid evidence that the Haudenosaunee Confederacy has been here at least since the 900s, has determined that the State of New York must repatriate the human remains to the living Haudenosaunee.
The indigenous people have another name for themselves, Onkwehonwe, the people from here. That name goes back before the name Haudenosaunee, which refers to people building a longhouse (the confederacy). They were Onkwehonwe before they became Haudenosaunee, and are still Onkwehonwe.
The forthcoming August 18, 2009 will be the 1100th anniversary of the eclipse over Ganondagan and Onondaga. It is European of me to notice an anniversary that will happen in units of a millenium plus a century. Let’s honor the oldest continuously functioning democracy. (The Icelandic Parliament, the Althing, was founded in 930, so it is a close second.)
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Forwarded by Marcine Quenzer.