POSTPONED: George-Kanentiio speaks on adoption among the Iroquois

UPDATE: The talk by historian and journalist Doug George-Kanentiio on the history and traditions of the Iroquois Nations on the adoption and naturalization of non-Iroquois people scheduled for Jan. 29 at Oneida Public Library has been moved to 7 p.m. Feb. 7, 2019, due to anticipated inclement weather.

George-Kanentiio, himself a member of the Akwesasne Mohawk Nation, will address the cases not only of individuals but also of groups of people, including members of other Native American nations. In particular, he will present the fascinating and often romanticized histories of white Europeans who were abducted by Indian warriors in times of conflict with white settlers and yet who became full-fledged members of Iroquois nations.

Mary Jemison, for example, was a child of Irish immigrants who was captured at the age of 15 by a raiding party of French soldiers and Shawnee in 1758 at her parents farm near present-day Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Soon after she was adopted by a family of the Seneca Nation. Eventually she moved to the Genesee River Valley in the Seneca homeland, married a Seneca and bore several children. Jemison herself fully adopted the Seneca way of life and became a large landowner in the Seneca Territory around 1797, well-known for her generosity and energy even in old age. Jemison told her story to James Seaver, who in 1824 published the account as “Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Mary Jemison.” She died at the Buffalo Creek Reservation in 1833 in her 90th year.

George-Kanentiio is the author of “Iroquois on Fire” and “Iroquois Culture and Commentary.” He is also co-author with his wife Joanne Shenandoah of the picture book “Skywoman: Legends of the Iroquois,” published in 1998. A graduate of Syracuse University and the Antioch School of Law, he has been an editor of “Akwesasne Notes” and a contributor to many national newspapers.

The January 29 talk is free and open to the public. For more information, stop by the Oneida Public Library, 220 Broad St., or call 315.363.3050.

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