Handsome Lake

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Handsome Lake,

1735?–1815, Seneca religious prophet; half-brother of CornplanterCornplanter,
c.1740–1836, chief of the Seneca. The son of a Native American mother and a white father, he acquired great influence among the Seneca and in the American Revolution led war parties for the British against the colonial forces, particularly against Gen.
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. After a long illness he had a vision (c.1800) and began to preach new religious beliefs. His moral teachings showed a similarity to Christian ethics and had a profound effect among the Iroquois. He advocated giving up the nomadic Native American life in favor of agriculture, much to the disgust of Red JacketRed Jacket,
c.1758–1830, chief of the Seneca, b. probably Seneca co., N.Y. His Native American name was Otetiani, changed to Sagoyewatha when he became a chief. His English name came from the British redcoat he wore as an ally of the English in the American Revolution.
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. Though Christian missionaries opposed Handsome Lake's religion, it nevertheless persisted alongside Christianity.


See The Code of Handsome Lake (tr. by A. C. Parker, 1913, repr. 1968); A. Wallace, The Death and Rebirth of the Seneca (1969, repr. 1972).

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Handsome Lake (b. Kaniatario)

(?1735–1815) Seneca political/religious leader, half-brother of Cornplanter; born near present-day Avon, N.Y. After experiencing a series of visions (1799), he began preaching the traditional values of sobriety, family, and community. Elected a tribal leader in 1801, he convinced the U.S.A. to guarantee Iroquois land boundaries and to stop liquor sales on the reservation; he also urged his people to take up farming. His principles, subsequently influenced by Quakers, were published in 1850.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.