Mohawk False Faces  
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Death Finds a Way: A Janie Riley Mystery
by Lorine McGinnis Schulze

Janie Riley is an avid genealogist with a habit of stumbling on to dead bodies. She and her husband head to Salt Lake City Utah to research Janie's elusive 4th great-grandmother. But her search into the past leads her to a dark secret. Can she solve the mysteries of the past and the present before disaster strikes? Available now on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca

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Mohawk False Faces

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My ninth great-grandmother, Ots-Toch or Alstock, who was born circa 1620 in the Mohawk village of Canajoharie, New York, was the reason for my delving into the culture and traditions of the Mohawk nation. Ots-Toch married a Dutch settler, Cornelis Van Slyke, but never left the Mohawk village. I became intrigued with her story and wanted to know more about her heritage and mine. Brian Brown generously shared his own research, much of which you can read on these pages.

False Faces

"False faces" are frequently associated with the Iroquois. They were the most prominent of a number of curing societies (others used corn husk masks, etc.). Someone who felt a need (frequently expressed in a dream) for a cure by the false faces would request the society to perform a ritual in his longhouse. Joining a false face society was also the result of a dream.

The rituals were very short. A team of false face members, wearing their masks and thus impersonating spirits, entered the longhouse, sealing the doors. No one could enter during the ritual, else the ritual was ruined and must be performed again. After a short dance, the false faces left, with the patient believing he had been cured. Since suggestion is such a powerful force and since the false faces frequently treated conditions such as depression or sadness, it would frequently work. The Iroquois also relied upon healers who used herbal remedies, some of which seem to have been beneficial. Willow bark was used to treat fevers, and contains the same substance found in aspirin. The healers also set broken bones skillfully and even performed minor surgery. They were probably at least as good as the European doctors of the era.


 
 

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