Originally written in 2000.The Muhheakannuck, the people who ebb and flow, aka the good canoe people, were not the only ones who came to this area. Around the time of the submerging of our homeland and before, others had come to the same area and there were those who came later.
The Ojibwe lived in upper New York State and Canada, near the Odawa [Ottawas, the traders]. The Nippissing lived in the area at Oka where they let the Mohawk stay centuries later.
There were also many Iroquoian people. The Andesterunon, present day Mohawk, lived primarily in northern New York State and Canada. Today, there are also large numbers in the New York City. The Hurirunon (bear people), Eirerunon (panther people), the Neuter (tobacco growers) and the Peton all lived in Canada near the Odawa. The Onondauga, Cayuga, and Oneida had also moved up to Canada from the south.
The Leni Lenape also dwellt here. They like to travel and have come and gone repeatedly via the Great White Way for millennia. They often went by sleigh over the ice cap from Canada into Asia. As they journeyed, they left bands of people such as the Cheyenne, the Arapaho, Nez Perce, Chickahomminy and Powhattan along the way. According to Muhheakannuck story, the last time the Leni Lenape visited Asia, they did so in the company of the Nundauer-o (Onundauers), aka the Seneca. Upon their return, they settled along what was then called the “south” river and today is known as the Delaware.
Over time, the Lenape differentiated into more distinct groups.
There were the Munsee who eventually lived in all the land between the South [Delaware] River and the North River [Muhheakannituk], as far south as the Raritan. The ones along the Esopus, originally the rabbit clan, became a separate nation long before the Haudenosaunee considered being peaceful.
There were the Unami, who lived in what is now eastern Pennsylvania and much of New Jersey. Philadelphia was known as the place where the chiefs were made.
A few millennia ago, another group came to the Northeast by way of the Mississippi Valley. These are Mayan who combined with Micosuki during their journey. When they came to the Northeast, they were given land by the Algonquins in what is now eastern Connecticut. Today they are known as the Pequots.
These groups can be distinquished by their languages.
Although the Mayans speak a language understandable to Muhheakannuck, the combination with Micosuki does not seem to be as readily understood.
The Muhheakannuck and Lenape languages have some overlay due to long exposure to each other, particularly among the Munsee who live closer to and among the Muhheakannuck more than most others. For instance, wa-ni-si (thank you) is pronounced wa-nee-see by Muhheakanu and wa-nee-she by Lenape. Sepoo [see-poo] means river to a Muhheakanu and creek to a Lenape. The Munsee languages came to include a dialect close to Muhheakan.
Iroquoian groups, on the other hand, have languages that are not at all similiar to each other, never mind similiar to other peoples.
Many groups of indigenous people spoke several dialects and languages. The Cherokee, the southern gate of the Haudenosaunee, for example, had one dialect used only for conversing with the Iroquois and another for the Algonquins.
There are several reasons Muhheakannuck groups have the ability to understand each other. They have kept in close contact and have worked at preserving the languages so that all may communicate. Ease in communication is also due to a willingness to take in relative strangers and learn their languages. This can be seen in the history of the Tunxis. To enable full communication between the Pequots and others, the Tausy family went to Oneida territory and all the way to Wisconsin with the Stockbridge Munsee.
These language skills are also needed to be able to relate the stories accurately and recite the people’s history twice a year in order to follow the Muhheakannuck’s mission to remember.
A carefully kept secret is that not only are all Muhheakannuck leaders of the bear clan [the medicine people] but they are related to each other across nations. At the time of the European influx, the Sagamores in the Boston area were related to the Sagamores in the Greater New York City area and in the Albany area [first cousins] where Nu Schodack was then located.
Muhheakanu words usually express a complete thought.
There was relative peace among the Muhheakannuck and their neighbors. The Annirunon would call them “adirondacks” and they’d call the Annirunon ‘mugwas” as they shot arrows at each other cross a ravine. At the end of the day, everyone picked up their arrows and went home to eat. The war would continue another day.
Then there was the time the Tunxis received word that a group was on their way to attack them. The men got all dressed up in their finery and the women cooked up a feast. When the attackers arrived, they took one look at the two totem poles standing on the river bank and ran away screaming. The Tunxis were so disappointed they beat each other up, then everyone sat down to eat. This was the beginning of a tradition that was carried on at Agawam national reunions until the 1950s.
This doesn’t mean there weren’t some serious skirmishes and disagreements but they didn’t happen very often. Killing was reserved for very serious matters and was normally only done in battle. Even the killing done in hunting was only after asking permission of the spirit of the animal. It was only with the arrival of the Europeans with guns that death became a normal part of disputes and sometimes occurred for no good reason at all Many common curtesies and sacred laws were breached during this time, causing major disagreements, friction and unrest.
Today, as a result of major dietary changes and the lack of nutritious elements in the food eaten, nutrition imbalance can result in people of Muhheakan blood “snapping” and becoming killer mad with tremendous strength. This is also known as the Wapinu or Wappinger temper. Unfortunately, many are not aware of the tendency or that they are Muhheakanuck. This has resulted in the imprisonment of Muhheakannuck in violation of the treaties.
The coming of the Europeans in great numbers changed everything. They had come before but had always been absorbed. The Allegheny, the Beothunk, the Lumbee, etc. all adopted our ways, living in harmony with Mother Earth. However, it was known that it was only a matter of time before Europeans would come in overwhelming numbers. There was however, one consolation. It was foreseen that our way of life would one day prevail and would again be the dominant culture.
For this reason the Ojibwe decided to move west in order to maintain our ways for a longer time, to a time when there was a better chance of preserving them. They succeeded. The Ojibwe were not forcibly removed from their homes. Their way of life has been seriously disrupted and they continue to suffer much. They nevertheless have managed to maintain their traditional ways well into the 19th century, preserving their language and history which includes the story of their journey from the New York area. Some have lived the old ways even into the 20th century. And one of them, Winona LaDuke, ran for vice-president of the United States at the turn of the 21st century.