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The Iroquois Constitution - Page 22 of 22 - Incunabulibrary

The Iroquois Constitution

110. At the funeral of a Warrior, say: “Now we become reconciled as you start away. Once you were a devoted provider and protector of your family and you were ever ready to take part in battles for the Five Nations’ Confederacy. The United People trusted you.” (The remainder is the same as the address at the funeral of a Lord).

111. At the funeral of a young man, say: “Now we become reconciled as you start away. In the beginning of your career you are taken away and the flower of your life is withered away.” (The remainder is the same as the address at the funeral of a Lord).

112. At the funeral of a chief woman, say: “Now we become reconciled as you start away. You were once a chief woman in the Five Nations’ Confederacy. You once were a mother of the nations. Now we release you for it is true that it is no longer possible for us to walk about together on the earth. Now, therefore, we lay it (the body) here. Here we lay it away. Now then we say to you, ‘Persevere onward to the place where the Creator dwells in peace. Let not the things of the earth hinder you. Let nothing that transpired while you lived hinder you. Looking after your family was a sacred duty and you were faithful. You were one of the many joint heirs of the Lordship titles. Feastings were yours and you had pleasant occasions. . .” (The remainder is the same as the address at the funeral of a Lord).

113. At the funeral of a woman of the people, say: “Now we become reconciled as you start away. You were once a woman in the flower of life and the bloom is now withered away. You once held a sacred position as a mother of the nation. (Etc.) Looking after your family was a sacred duty and you were faithful. Feastings . . . (etc.)” (The remainder is the same as the address at the funeral of a Lord).

114. At the funeral of an infant or young woman, say: “Now we become reconciled as you start away. You were a tender bud and gladdened our hearts for only a few days. Now the bloom has withered away . . . (etc.) Let none of the things that transpired on earth hinder you. Let nothing that happened while you lived hinder you.” (The remainder is the same as the address at the funeral of a Lord).

[ Editors note: the above ellipses and ‘etc.’ remarks are transcribed directly from the text I copied. ]

115. When an infant dies within three days, mourning shall continue only five days. Then shall you gather the little boys and girls at the house of mourning and at the funeral feast a speaker shall address the children and bid them be happy once more, though by a death, gloom has been cast over them. Then shall the black clouds roll away and the sky shall show blue once more. Then shall the children be again in sunshine.

116. When a dead person is brought to the burial place, the speaker on the opposite side of the Council Fire shall bid the bereaved family cheer their minds once again and rekindle their hearth fires in peace, to put their house in order and once again be in brightness for darkness has covered them. He shall say that the black clouds shall roll away and that the bright blue sky is visible once more. Therefore shall they be in peace in the sunshine again.

117. Three strings of shell one span in length shall be employed in addressing the assemblage at the burial of the dead. The speaker shall say: “Hearken you who are here, this body is to be covered. Assemble in this place again ten days hence for it is the decree of the Creator that mourning shall cease when ten days have expired. Then shall a feast be made.”

Then at the expiration of ten days the speaker shall say: “Continue to listen you who are here. The ten days of mourning have expired and your minds must now be freed of sorrow as before the loss of a relative. The relatives have decided to make a little compensation to those who have assisted at the funeral. It is a mere expression of thanks. This is to the one who did the cooking while the body was lying in the house. Let her come forward and receive this gift and be dismissed from the task.” In substance this shall be repeated for every one who assisted in any way until all have been remembered.

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