Handsome Lake The Life and Legacy of..., Charles River Editors
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Handsome Lake: The Life and Legacy of the Iroquois Prophet

Narrator: Colin Fluxman

Unabridged: 1 hr 33 min

Format: Digital Audiobook Download

Published: 11/21/2022


The name "Iroquois", like many Native American tribal names, is not a name the people knew themselves by, but a word applied to them by their enemies the Huron, who called them “Iroquo” (rattlesnake) as an insult. The French later added the suffix “ois.” Moreover, the Iroquois are not even a single tribe but a confederation of several different tribal nations that include the Seneca, Oneida, Onondaga, Mohawk, Cayuga and the Tuscarora, who didn’t become part of the union until the early 1700’s. The name Haudenosaunee (pronounced “ho-den-oh-SHO-nee”) is the name the people use for themselves, which translates as “the People of the Longhouse.” They are also commonly known as the Six Nations. Despite their own cultural differences, the nations that comprised the Iroquois Confederacy established their political dominance across much of America’s East Coast and Midwest through conquest, and it is that aspect which has perhaps best endured among Americans in terms of the Iroquois’ legacy. European settlers who came into contact with the Mohawks in the Northeast certainly learned to respect their combat skills, to the point that there were literally bounties on the Mohawks’ heads, with scalps fetching money for colonists who succeeded in slaying them and carrying away the “battle prize”. Handsome Lake (1735-1815) lived through the confederacy’s most turbulent time. His long life started when the Iroquois were powerful and widely feared and respected by all the tribal peoples in the region, and also by the French and the British. He lived through wars, some victories and some defeats, as well as the disunity and the collapse of traditional ways. Handsome Lake experienced his visions late in his life, at a time when the Six Nations, and his own life, were at their nadir.