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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Code of Handsome Lake

By Michael Keene
Copyright © 2012 by the author. All rights reserved.



Handsome Lake
In early June 1799, a young Seneca woman sat outside the door of her family’s home. She was waiting for her father to die. He had been sick for nearly four years and was now little but “yellow skin and dried bones.” Suddenly, she heard him call out “Niio” and then he burst out the door. He swayed and she stood quickly to catch him as he fell into her arms. She took him back to his bed. Then she dressed him in burial clothes and sent for his closest male relatives, Blacksnake and Cornplanter. By the time they arrived, it appeared that the old man was dead: There was no breathing, no heartbeat, and the body was cool to the touch.