Page:American Indian Freemasonry.djvu/26

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to the world above the sky, our Ga-o-ya-geh." So did they return to the Father but they ever watch over us for we are their children and because they were we are.

Such is the Indian's Genesis, and though briefly told, there will be few who cannot see in it a wonderful symbolism and a real recognition of man's divine origin. The last great test of the Good Minded, we observe, is not alone to overcome earth and water and fire and air, which are material, but to banish evil and all its distortions.

By a series of religious tales, such as this, the Iroquois were taught the great essentials of moral life and a recognition of man's relation to his Creator. The lessons of these unwritten gospels teach Fortitude, Loyalty, Patriotism, Tolerance, Fraternity and Gratitude.

The Iroquois was religious in every act of his life, for was not the Creator in all that he had created? Sin thus became a thing that man could commit against himself, against his fellows, human and non-human, and against the interests of the tribe. It was not believed that the Creator could be sinned against for he was above an injury by man. Nor was it possible for a sin to be forgiven for effect always follows action. What we have done we have done and not even divinity can say it was not done, nor can the effects be wiped away. For the guilty there was no escape through forgiveness by the Creator. Sins against self and society must be paid for by restitution in some form.

The religious ceremonies of the Iroquois were many but the great ceremonies were those of the seasonal thanksgiving, of which there were six each year. Gratitude to the Creator was the underlying principle of the