At Sapling & Flint, we were inspired for our Autumn 2019 addition to the Traditions collection by the Deer. Among the Haudenosaunee, the Deer is considered the Leader of the four-legged animals. In our Thanksgiving Address we give thanks to the Deer for laying down its life in order to feed the people. Haudenosaunee men look to the buck as a role model because he lays down his life for the doe and the fawns.
Often during recitals of the Haudenosaunee Great Law of Peace; a whitetail deer hide is used by the Speaker as an analogy of the “white roots of Peace” because a whole hide often bears a remarkable image of what looks like a profile of a White Pine tree; from the tree top to the roots, the white tail representing the white roots of Peace. It is often said that during the foundation of the Great Law, the Peacemaker used a whitetail deer hide to share his analogy of the White Pine tree representing Peace with the leadership in assembly. The first Clanmother, Tsikónsase, used the antlers of a buck to “crown” the first Confederacy Chiefs to represent them as Leaders, and prepared to lay down their lives for their People as a buck would for the doe & his children. To this day, a Condoled Chief is identified by the antlers protruding from his Kahstówa (headdress).
We are now getting to the time of year where the Sumac reddens, the air grows cold, the first frost arrives, and Haudenosaunee men are preparing for the first hunt of the season. Deer meat is foundational to the Haudenosaunee winter diet and is a staple for most longhouses for their wintertime ceremonies.