THE IROQUOIS INDIANS                Victoria Sherrow               Chelsea House Publishers
New York            Philadelphia        1992

“Cornplanter's brother, Handsome Lake, became a great religious leader.  At one point in his life, Handsome Lake had become so ill from drinking alcohol that he had to stay in bed.  His condition worsened until it appeared that he was dead.  But then he arose and told the people about a vision in which he heard a message from the Creator.  The Creator wanted the Iroquois to live better lives, said Handsome Lake.  They must stay away from alcohol, take better care of their families, keep up their Indian religious ceremonies, and learn useful work, such as farming.

The new religion based on these ideas, called the Good Word, spread from the Senecas to other Iroquois.  It helped them meet the changing needs of their villages.  Today, this religion is called the New Religion.  Iroquois who follow traditional ways still base their religion on Handsome Lake's teachings."

BETWEEN TWO WORLDS: Native Americans‘ Struggle for Independence in Western Pennsylvania, 1700 — 1820               

Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania                1992

“The acceptance of Handsome Lake's teachings, around 1799, brought about a new hope for the Seneca. Over the next several decades there was a remarkable drop in the use of alcohol among the Seneca living in villages along the Allegheny River. Handsome Lake also approved the farmer’s role for men and the use of European farming tools (and their instruction in these methods by the Quakers). This helped the Seneca men establish them selves as the farmers. The Quakers were allowed to establish several mission schools to teach the Seneca children the English language.

Handsome Lake saw the importance of keeping alive the religion, language, and traditions of the Seneca people. He also knew that the Seneca must learn to live in a world controlled by Europeans. If the Seneca did not learn to speak English and farm on the few acres left to them, he knew they would not survive.”


Courtesy of the Warren County Historical Society