Muhheakannuck Nations at Nu Scodack
The Origins of the Muhheakannuck
2000 Version: as recorded in late 1999.
Here’s what really happened:
SilenceThen it happened. All was quiet. The animals were silent. The storms came. The earth moved and kept moving. As recorded on the story stick “The waters rose up and came down”. It was a long time before it was realized that the land shifted. Many were lost. The buffalo were hit by lightning. The wooly mammoths survived only by lying down in circles surrounded by rocks. The little ocean was now a big ocean. The little islands disappeared. Hearts were very heavy. People who had tried to come across the water drowned in the attempt. There was little chance of seeing those who had gone to other locations. Those who had stayed behind were never seen again. Then the rains came. It rained and rained and rained some more. It seemed the rain would never stop. The waters rose higher and higher still. It rained for weeks and months. Gradually, it rained less and less. It even went whole days without rain. Clouds covered the earth. Eventually, after a long time, we saw the sun again. Still the waters rose.
So they had the men walk after the deer. The first day, the men could only go a few yards. The next day, they went a little further. The day after, they went a little farther. The men continued following the deer day after day. They were soon running. Eventually they ran long distances after the deer, catching them with their hands. The Odawas (the traders) were the first to try this solution, which is why they became the traders. Millenia later, during the Revolutionary War, the Muhheakannuck served as George Washington’s post office for Ben Franklin, running hundreds of miles to deliver messages for the General and return with the responses. But these are other stories. There were many who did not survive this period for the hardships were great. Those who walked on were buried lying in a fetal position, in shallow graves, facing the rising sun, for that is the direction from which we had come. But we did not originally come from there. Life went on around the Muhheakannituck. The Muhheakannuck were an agriculture people and returned to this way of life. Seeds were planted and crops carefully harvested. The wildlife was carefully observed and conditions compared with those before the disaster. It was quickly realized that conservation in the use of this resource was a must. The Muhheakannuck had always been respectful of resources, taking care not to waste and not to overuse. Mother Earth was respected for all she provides and we kept in close contact with her. This is how we had come to know it would be necessary to move. But now, it was a matter of life and death. We would not survive as a people without careful stewardship of all resources by everyone.
Building the future
As you may have surmised, there was no question of ownership. Everything was shared as needed and available. Individuals owned their own housing, tools and clothing. However, if someone else had a need they were shared. All worked for the common good. This was not necessarily from altruism but because all had learned the lesson that the survival of the people depended on it. All were alive because they had listened to their heart.
Life went on around the Muhheakannituck. The population increased. The Pinnakook, the bird people moved northeast. Groups of families again moved up the Muhheakannituck on both sides, moving ever further north. They also moved to neighboring rivers east and west of the great river. Schodac, the fireplace (capitol) was moved several times, finally to the area around what is today Albany, New York. In the 1600s, it was the center of Muhheakan territory.
Spring is the time to plant. Everyone pitches in. Corn, beans, squash grow together, shaded from the strong sun by the trees. The squash family includes everything from cucumbers to pumpkins. First, a small fish or a part of a fish is put in a hole, covered over with a little dirt, then the seeds are put in and covered over. This is repeated until there is enough planted to feed the village and then some. The corn supports the beans and the squash spreads its vines. Other crops are potatoes, tomatoes, melons, rice and tobacco. Spring is also a time for the first major hunt of the year. Flowers used for healing and seasonal herbs are also gathered and dried now and later in the summer.
The early corn is harvested in the beginning of summer which is celebrated with a feast. More corn (mon) is planted. Summer is also the time for gathering berries [min] of all kinds: strawberries, raspberries, mulberries, blackberries, blueberries, etc. There is another major hunting trip and/or fishing expedition.
Autumn is harvest time. People hunt for winter meat, store root crops in the storage pits and cellars, and repair homes to withstand the winter storms.