Posts

I am Attiwandaron... A Neutral... Who Are You?

Image
The Iroquoian Neutrals of Southern Ontario were the bullies of Rome-burning… an unknown race of great power.
It is 1625... and I have just stepped into the few recorded pages of the Iroquoian Neutrals. What I saw, riveted my attention. I was not prepared for the total nakedness of these people. Their skin was saturated by blood scarring with charcoal-pierced tattoos of snakes, monstrous beasts and “Oki” spirits. They were the tallest, finest bodied people among the Huron, Petun and Five Iroquois Nations. There were no hunchbacks, club feet or one-eyes in the villages. Unlike the other Iroquoians there was no specific style of hair… no head-dress... but curls were not allowed.
They were a “musket-less” people with war clubs, leather elk shields and arrows. Around there neck was a pouch of tobacco, flint, calumet and totems. Their skin was heavily oiled from head to toe and pungent. Their sight-detection was very keen. They could follow scent. Their endurance and aloofness to cold and h…

Experience a Pirate Birthday Party Near Toronto... Where Sometimes the Kids are Adults!

Image
Lots of birthday companies have pirate birthday party ideas. But outside of Toronto, this pirate birthday party isn't an idea... it's the real thing!

On this adventure groups don't just play pirate... they come dressed as pirates! These pirates, journey in a ship with other thieves at sea. With their map, each team searches for the clues to the buried treasure. And to the most clever, goes the chest of gold, awaiting at the end.

This birthday pirate adventure was designed for kids and men! It takes place on the Grand River, one hour west of Toronto. Each team gets a ship (a large self bailing raft), there is a chest with a map and tools, and a pilot-mate for hire. The only rule... everyone must come dressed as a pirate. The adventure can be played in one raft or competing rafts.

Once on the water, the team cracks open the chest, reads the lost letter and reviews the clues. There is an inventory of the tools, strategies are planned and a "haggling" o…

Please Don't Pee in the Boat!

Image
Every river guide has a legendary story... well this is mine... and it's true!

It was a windy Sunday afternoon and I was requested to take a woman called "Peggy-Sue" on a three hour guided canoe trip down the Grand River.

I put the canoe in the water and helped her in the front. When she was seated... I handed her a paddle. She looked at me in surprise and said "Oh, I won't be needing that!" I graciously smiled and launched the canoe into the wind.

Once on the river, my client turned sideways... put her feet in the water... dragging them in the river. She said she wanted to see me as she talked. I was informed she was marrying Sylvester Stallone's son and that she was doing this paddle to get in shape to have babies. (my lip started to bleed from biting it). She then informed me there were body guards following us along the river to keep her safe. She also mentioned that she was bipolar but no longer needed her medicine. (I am not sure if it was the wi…

Iroquois Corn Fields... as Far as the Eye Can See!

Image
When we think of the First Nations growing corn… many visualize quaint family plots growing outside the longhouse palisade. Actually the fields were so big that visiting priests complain about getting lost in them. We are talking about fields 100 to 1,000 acres in size.

The land was cleared in a three season split. First year all the brush and lower branches were cleared and put around the big trees which were girdled. In the next spring the girdled trees were burned and cut down. The third year is when corn would be planted. The first two years of corn was the best yields. If a field got too low in production it was left fallow for two years. Never were all fields growing crops at once.

Preparing the corn seed was done by soaking the seed in a corn medicine solution for one hour. Then put in a basket and wait until it started to sprout. The corn varieties used were flint corns adapted to the shorter growing season. There was also soft white & yellow corn… and gummy or sugar corn…

The Iroquois Corn Fields as Far as the Eye Could See!

--> When we think of the First Nations growing corn… many visualize quaint family plots growing outside the longhouse palisade. Actually the fields were so big that visiting priests complain about getting lost in them. We are talking about fields 100 to 1,000 acres in size. The land was cleared in a three season split. First year all the brush and lower branches were cleared and put around the big trees which were girdled. In the next spring the girdled trees were burned and cut down. The third year is when corn would be planted. The first two years of corn was the best yields. If a field got too low in production it was left fallow for two years. Never were all fields growing crops at once. Preparing the corn seed was done by soaking the seed in a corn medicine solution for one hour. Then put in a basket and wait until it started to sprout. The corn varieties used were flint corns adapted to the shorter growing season. There was also soft white & yellow corn… and gummy or sug…

Corn Whiskey, Corn Medicine, Corn Smut… Eat, Drink and Feel No Pain?

Image
Believe it or not, the black fungus smut that grows on sweet corn is a gourmet delicacy. The natives would collect the corn smut when young; boil in water for 10 minutes, than fry crisp in a hot pan.

The Iroquois favorite was roasted green corn. This was corn in the soft sugary stage. To cook they would dig a long trench and create a hot coal bed in it. They would then lay two long poles a cob length apart over the trench. The cobs were then placed across the two sticks and turned to roast over the coals.

Green corn was also a delicacy boiled, with animal marrow spread on.



In the green corn stage, corn kernels were often cut raw from the cob with a flint scrapper as shown above. The cut kernels were mixed with boiled beans, sunflower seeds and some meat. This blend was rolled together to make a delicious sticky corn ball called Indian Succotash. The Indians would sometimes add the oil from boiled crushed hickory nuts for a different creamy flavor.

For long term storage, green corn wa…

Indian Corn... Why Pilgrims Starved... and Indians Grew Fat!

Image
The Spanish discovery of Indian corn had a huge impact on feeding the world. But the racial prejudice of English settlers missed the mark.

In 1492 wheat was the mainstay food of Europe, Asia and Africa. It was the “King of the Mountain." But that changed in 1493. The hand on the left is the yield from one kernel of corn seed.

When Columbus returned from his first voyage he told his stories before the Spanish court about the land of the “Arawaks”. He told about the Arawaks piles of grain from which they made a cake-meal. He described the grain as having tapered ears longer then his hand, thicker then his wrist, with long rows the size of a pea. He spoke about how the black seeds when cooked, split open to create a tasty white fluff. He said the Arawaks called this strange grass plant “mahiz”.

Corn was non-existent in the rest of the world until Columbus saw it in the West Indies. Its productivity capabilities and ease of growing caught the world’s attention. Back then, wheat prod…

Neutral Attawandaron... What Happen to Them?

Image
To understand what happen to the Neutral Attawandaron, a chronological time chart of their records reveals the narrow time window in which this powerful Nation fell. In southern Ontario one can do a floating classroom rafting trip on the Grand River to learn more.

1615 Etienne Brule was held captive and released by Five Nations to the Neutrals. He lived among the Neutrals a short time. 1616 Champlain states over 4,000 Neutral warriors came against the Mascoutens. 1623 Neutral attack a Huron village 1625 Etienne Brule returned among the Neutrals and had a wife within the Neutrals… his daughter may have been a medicine woman. 1626 Dallion lived among Neutrals for a couple of months, made a diction of the language, but was brought back under guard because Neutral were going to kill him 1629 Neutral population was equal to the combined population of Hurons & Five Nations combined. The Neutrals were twice as large as the Erie, Petun and Susquehannock combined. 1630 Rec…