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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 the CreateSpace eStore
The Peer Family in North America in 6 Volumes are available for sale!
 
 
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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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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.

Warfare
The Iroquois had a reputation, ill-deserved, for being naturally war-like. One of the reasons for this was that they engaged in a period of warfare from about 1645 to 1680 when they were much more war-like than normal.

This is not to say that they did not fight a lot. They were no more war-like though, than their Iroquoian neighbours (e.g. - the Huron) and only slightly more war-like than their Algonquian neighbours. Still, they were not out to destroy other tribes. Look at a map showing tribal areas: prior to 1645, the Iroquois lived in close proximity to the Huron, the Wenro, the Neutral, the Conestoga, the Petun, the Erie, the Susquahanna, etc. and had lived close to them for generations, if not always in peace. After 1645, within a generation or so, all these tribes were destroyed, scattered or subjugated. What happened?

First, new diseases were introduced by the Europeans. Some tribes were hit worse than others. Apparently the Iroquois were affected less than some of their neighbours, since they went on the attack rather than the other way around. The diseases destroyed the balance of power which had existed for generations between tribes.

Second, guns, which were a more efficient way to kill, became available.

Third, prior to the coming of the Europeans, native warfare had been chronic but relatively low tempo. There was nothing to gain by destroying a neighbouring tribe. Doing so would entail such casualties to one's own tribe that it would expose them to attack. Therefore, warfare was a "sport", which killed a few people every year, but never escalated to the level of mass destruction.

Then came the desire and the need for beaver, or more specifically, beaver fur. One could trade beaver for European trade goods. Since the most important trade goods were guns, the tribes began an arms race. To survive and maintain power, they needed more guns, which meant trading more beaver. The guns were used to seize territory from a neighbour, depriving him of his beaver and increasing one's own supply. This meant more guns and thus, more aggression. The neighbor would fight back desparately to retain and extend his control of the supply of beaver. Wars escalated.

Traditional Iroquoian warfare (pre-1645) was a summer-time activity. Basically, the tribe fought someone every summer with 'the enemy' varying from time to time. War-parties were formed of volunteers and usually averaged 20-40 strong. A war-dance was held, which served the same function as a modern "pep rally' before a highschool football game. A dog was sacrificed to insure success and was then eaten by the warriors.

The war-party traveled light, either jogging through the woods or else by canoe. The Jesuits and the French did not go out too often with the war-parties, so we don't know much about the actual fighting. Casualties per war-party were light. Many apparently resulted in no fatalities for either side, but were considered successful, since everyone involved got a chance to win some glory. Of course, not all war-parties were bloodless and the toll mounted steadily. Since most adversaries lived reasonably close, the war-party would not be gone too long, often not more than a few weeks at most.

Scalps were taken. There have been some commentators who claimed that scalping was introduced by Europeans but there is enough early archaeological evidence of the practice to suggest that the practice predated European contact, at least in the Iroquoian area. Judging from later practices, scalps were tanned and displayed in hoops in the longhouses. A scalp was painted with colours and designs which revealed the tribe, approximate age, sex and manner of death of the former owner.

Torturing war prisoners was a very widespread practice among the woodland Natives. The torture was actually a human sacrifice to the sun and to the god of war . Captives were expected to show extreme courage and to sing their tribe's "death songs" while being tortured, invoking the god of war to witness that they died bravely. The torture was conducted publicly in the village and the entire population watched and participated.


 
 

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