Strawberry Festival


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Strawberry Festival

June
The Strawberry Festival is one of several annual festivals held by Iroquois Indians. At Tonawanda, N.Y., the people congregate in their longhouse to hear a lengthy recitation of the words of Handsome Lake (Ganio "Día Io," 1735-1815). In 1799 this Seneca prophet delivered a message calling for cooperative farming, abstention from hard drink, abandonment of witchcraft and magic, the prohibition of abortion, and other instructions. This is the basis of today's Longhouse religion.
Following the recitations and speeches are ceremonial dances accompanied by chants and the pounding of turtle-shell rattles. Lunch follows, with a strawberry drink and winding up with strawberry shortcake. The Iroquois say, "You will eat strawberries when you die," because strawberries line the road to heaven.
Other traditional Iroquois celebrations include the Iroquois Midwinter Festival, a Maple Dance held when maple syrup and sugar are made, a Planting Festival, and the Green Corn Dance, at which the principal dish is succotash, made not just with corn and lima beans but also with squash and venison or beef.
CONTACTS:
Tonawanda Band of Seneca
7027 Meadville Rd.
Basom, NY 14013
716-542-4244; fax: 716-542-4008
SOURCES:
DictWorldRel-1989, p. 533
EncyNatAmerRel-2001, p. 289
EncyRel-1987, vol. 6, p. 191
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.
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