Legends XII: Legends of the Cayuga

Ohsweken, Six Nations Reserve

Ohsweken, Six Nations Reserve

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In their longhouses, the Cayuga tell stories of a world where hunters stalk a powerful bear in the sky, maple trees hold the secret to life, and a fearsome battle creates Niagara Falls. Dramatized, cast and recorded in Ohsweken, on the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory.

Legends of the Six Nations of the Grand River
Stories from the Longhouse
Spoken in the Cayuga Language

The four traditional stories in this program were originally told in the Cayuga language.  They were transcribed, dramatized, cast and recorded at the Six Nations Polytechnic in Ohsweken, on the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory.

The tales are of creation and survival; of a world where hunters chase a powerful bear into the sky, maple trees hold the secret to life, a giant snake battles with Thunder Being to form the magnificent waterfalls at Niagara, and seven young men dance into the sky to form the constellation known as The Pleiades.

Background

Today, as with other First Nations, the Cayuga struggle to preserve their traditions, and their language.  Fewer and fewer elders speak Cayuga, and a younger generation strives to become fluent before the language disappears completely.
 
Some of the Cayuga live on the Six Nations Reserve, near Brantford in southern Ontario, while other Cayuga live across the border, in upstate New York. But the Cayuga are just one of the Six Nations sharing the Grand River Territory with the Mohawk, Seneca, Tuscarora, Oneida, and Onondaga First Nations.

These stories are adapted from traditional oral legends that once were told as lessons, as history, and as a way of showing how to live in Cayuga society.  But all the members of the Six Nations told similar stories.

Many Cayuga speakers come to the language late, as second language learners, part of a small group fighting to keep it alive in a land where English saturates everyday life.
 
The producers would like to thank the Woodland Cultural Centre in Brantford, Ontario, and the Cayuga Language Maintenance Project, SSHRC grant #833-2009-1001.   

Special thanks to KEHTE Elijah Deer.
 

The Productions


Cultural and script consultants: Joanne Longboat, Alfred Keye, Tom Deer, Tracy Deer.
Music: Arnold Greene, Shelley Clark, and Cameron Hill and his son, Linden.
Adaptations by Barbara Worthy
Produced by Leah Shaw, Dave Redel and Barbara Worthy

Tom Deer and Elijah Deer
Cameron Hill and his son


Cast and Recordings

The Seven Dancers

From a legend told by Alfred Keye, Lottie Keye, Ima Johnson, Ruby Williams, Ariel Harris, Betty Henry, and Nora Carrier.

Cast:                   
Narrator            Alfred Keye               
Boy 1                Cameron Hill                       
Boy 2 & 4          Nathan Martin       
Boy 3 & 5          Andrew Martin       
Boy 6                Hazel Longboat   
Boy 7                Linden Hill         
Boy 8                Emily Longboat   
Mother              Lainie Longboat   
Father              Tom Deer       
Crowd               Everyone

Maid of the Mist

From a legend told by Alfred Keye, Lottie Keye, Ima Johnson, Ruby Williams, Ariel Harris, Betty Henry, and Nora Carrier.

Cast:                       
Narrator              Tom Deer               
Father                 Ely Longboat               
Mother                Tracy Deer       
Young Woman    Toni Johnson       
Hi'no'                   Carson Williams   

The Hunting of Ugly Bear

From a legend told by Lottie Keye

Cast:                   
Narrator              Joanne Longboat   
Hunter One         Elijah Deer           
Hunter Two         Zachary Strome   
Hunter Three      Arnold Greene       
Hunter Four        Dale Doxtator   
Sachem              Alfred Keye       

Maple Syrup
From a legend told by Ima Johnson

Cast:
Narrator             Tracy Deer
Woman 1          Joanne Lewis
Woman 2          Crystal Martin
Leader              Elijah Deer





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