The Warrior Maiden Essay

1788 words - 7 pages

The Oneida tribe is a Native American people that belong to the Iroquois Confederacy, which settled originally in upstate New York. The name that the people give themselves is derived from "Onayotekaono", meaning the "People of the Upright Stone". The story of the "Warrior Maiden" is not necessarily specific to the Oneida tribe, but it is actually a rather common legend among the Native American peoples. However, the story is to be found in different versions that are, for their most part, dissimilar and adapted to the particular tradition of each tribe. The Southern tribes, such as the Hopi people who are based in Mexico, have an almost entirely different version of the "Warrior Maiden" story. The Oneida version of this legend offers a memorable and very beautiful example of a true heroine: the young maiden, named Aliquipiso saves the Oneidas from their rival tribe, the Mingos, through unsurpassed courage and self-sacrifice. The legend has a great significance for the history and the culture of the Iroquois and of the Oneida people especially.Thus, first of all, the story gives an example of a perfect heroine of the people, a maiden that was respected not only by those that knew her and saw her brave heart and her pure spirit, but also by all the following generations that remembered her name. Aliquipiso literally saves her people from dying of hunger, during a war with their most dangerous enemies, the Mingos. The legend is set evidently to a time before the arrival of the white colonizers. As the story has it, after a devastating invasion, the Oneida people found refuge from their enemies in the depths of the forests, in caves and desolate mountains where they were indeed protected but where they could die of hunger because of the lack of provisions. The only option for the tribe seemed to be either to perish in their hiding places by starving or to go out and get killed by their invaders. During the council, the young maiden named Aliquipiso came forward and told them that she herself is willing to sacrifice her life in order to lure the Mingos up to where the Oneida people were hiding, and thus get them all killed and deliver her people. The warrior maiden acts according to her plan, and, in order to enhance her credibility in the eyes of the enemies, she even takes the fire torture that the latter submit her too, pretending to surrender in the end because of the unbearable pain. Her valor and her willingness to be sacrificed for the safety of her people are so great that she lets herself be killed in the attack along with the enemy tribe, as it was inevitable. Thus, the warrior maiden stands out as an example of wisdom, courage, purity (as the fact that she was a maiden indicates), moral integrity and self-sacrifice in the name of her people. The young woman fits therefore a pattern common to most of the Native American legends: she represents strength combined with purity, as the title that is given to her also indicates. She is a maiden,...

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