Page:American Indian Freemasonry.djvu/14

This page has been validated.

indeed a Freemasonry but not the Accepted Masonry. But we may perhaps understand our Masonry better if we understand more of the Indian's Freemasonry.

First let us examine the inherent capacity of the higher members of the various Indian tribes to receive the teachings of Masonry, and such of their fundamental beliefs as may be in harmony with it. With the Iroquoian family of Indians at least, the sacred number is four. We find that there are four basic beliefs of the Iroquois. Other tribes and nations of Red Men held these same truths as supremely evident.

1. GOD. The Red Man believed a Supreme Deity. Many authorities have denied this, perhaps for three reasons. Confusion of terms may have led to misunderstanding. The words that the explorer translated gods, spirits, powers, may have seemed to have precluded a Supreme God, Spirit or Power. But, we may well believe that in some instances at least the ignorance of the informant or of the inquirer or both led to the failure to discover a statement of a Supreme Power. And, thirdly, sad to say, in some cases there seems to be a prejudice against admitting that natural man can know of one God, in order to emphasize the degradation of the unregenerate. But though the native Indian spoke of spirits of nature and of gods, those who were instructed by the sages of their race knew that there was one Supreme Spirit who governed and directed all others. Whether it was the Gitche Manitou of the Algonquin, Tirawa of the Pawnee, or the Haweniu of the Iroquois, the same idea prevailed,—that of one Great Spirit. The Indian would no more think of denying the existence of a Supreme Being than he would of disputing his own exist-