"In this fascinating book, Powless writes of his experiences living for over eighty years on traditional Onondaga territory. He tells of the teachings passed down through generations and shares traditional knowledge of environmental challenges and sustainability. This book not only provides a better understanding of the Onondaga people, it creates a bridge between the Onondaga and non-Onondaga communities and promises to enhance knowledge of the historical and contemporary issues concerning both communities."—Brian Rice, associate professor of education, University of Winnipeg
"The narrative of Chief Powless provides unique insights into contemporary Haudenosaunee life from one of the most respected Native leaders of our time. His book is entertaining, informative, and essential if one is to know who we are."—Doug George-Kanentiio, Akwesasne Mohawk and author of Iroquois on Fire
"Chief Irving Powless Jr. is one of the most eloquent and earth-based speakers I have ever known. It is with great honor I recommend this book, which takes you through his life with stories and belief systems of the Iroquois. A must read!"—Joanne Shenandoah, PhD, Oneida Iroquois
"Chief Irving Powless, Jr, leader, historian and storyteller, combines oral history of formal treaties and informal encounters between Haudenosaunee Nations and Europeans. This is history as stories and stories of history. Chief Powless recalls the curious, sometimes amusing and sometimes horrific, behavior of the European newcomers. Editor Lesley Forester has captured well the cadence and flow of his teachings."—Jack P. Manno, Ph.D., Professor of Environmental Studies, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
"Who Are These People Anyway tells the stories of a community with close ties to the earth, of a childhood love of lacrosse, and the varied sentiments that have arisen from interactions with neighbors outside the nation."—Casey Rose Frank, contributing writer, Syracuse.com
"The vignettes make for appealing reading material: much like a conversation with an old friend, once started, it is difficult to set the book aside."—New York History
In the rich tradition of oral storytelling, Chief Irving Powless Jr. of the Beaver Clan of the Onondaga Nation reminds us of an ancient treaty. It promises that the Haudenosaunee people and non-Indigenous North Americans will respect each other’s differences even when their cultures and behaviors differ greatly.
Powless shares intimate stories of growing up close to the earth, of his work as Wampum Keeper for the Haudenosaunee people, of his heritage as a lacrosse player, and of the treaties his ancestors made with the newcomers. He also pokes fun at the often-peculiar behavior of his non-Onondaga neighbors, asking, “Who are these people anyway?” Sometimes disarmingly gentle, sometimes caustic, these vignettes refreshingly portray mainstream North American culture as seen through Haudenosaunee eyes. Powless illustrates for all of us the importance of respect, peace, and, most importantly, living by the unwritten laws that preserve the natural world for future generations.
Irving Powless Jr. has been a chief of the Beaver Clan of the Onondaga Nation since 1964. An historian, statesman, actor, musician, and veteran, he has lectured about Indigenous culture and sovereignty, and has been a key spokesperson for the Haudenosaunee nations.
Lesley Forrester is the editor of And Grandma Said . . . Iroquois Teachings: as passed down through the oral tradition.
Series: The Iroquois and Their Neighbors
6 x 9, 216 pages