Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Once-Proud Tribe....


(By Achas L'maala V'Sheva L'Matta)

Long ago, before the Europeans reached the New World, in what is now central New Jersey, lived a great tribe of Indians. These were the Govoha Indians. The Govohas were a very proud tribe and considered themselves the highest tribe upon the continent. Legend has it that the Govohas grew out of a very small tribe that was exiled from the White Plains. The Govohas were not a homogeneous nation. They would accept young braves from other tribes as long as these tribes were descendants of an ancient sect of Native Americans known as the Litwaukee Indians. Many came from the long beaches of Nassau, from Ramapo and the Spring Valley, the Phila delta where the Schuylkill and Delaware rivers meet, from the Scranton tribe on the banks of the Lackawanna, from Chesapeake Bay, from the Cuyahoga plains, and even some from the Great Lakes region and the Western territories in the Colorado Rockies. Though they were a very friendly tribe, the Govohas kept to themselves. They would have nothing to do with the Irigoys whom they considered to be of anothercreed.

Even from among their creed they also had some rivals with which they were
constantly at war. Among their opponents were the members of the loathed Mizrache tribes. Another opponent was the Lupapache Tribe that originated at the crowning Heights of the Eastern Darkway and, from there, spread to the West, East, North, and South. Their leader was the revered Chief Son of Daughter-In-Law who they referred to as Chief Oil on Head the Immortal Savior. He was renowned as a master of Wisdom, Understanding, and Knowledge. He would sit at large gatherings and hand out fire water and green tobacco leaves that would be valued today at around one dollar. His spirit is long departed but there remain many legends. Even after he had not been seen for many, many rains, some Lupapache elders claimed that his body and spirit still walk. This group would imbibe on peace pipes and fire water. Many Govohas shun them as they do the Irigoys.


Their most fiercest opponent were the M.O.hicans whose empire stretched from the lower Hudson Valley near Fort Washington and Fort Lee, all the way North to Plymouth Rock and Massachusetts Bay where the great warrior Chief Jay Bear of the Solapachik tribe once reigned. After Chief Jay Bear's spirit departed, his brother, Arrow Horn, former chief of the Skokies, was summoned from the Blackhawk lands on the shores of Lake Michigan to lead the tribe. Though claiming to be a true M.O.hican, Arrow Horn of the Solapachiks was noted to display tendencies that mirrored the Govohas such as prohibiting the November Thanksgiving at Plymouth Rock because the grains of the new harvest cannot be eaten until the following spring and opposing the ancient Indian custom of surrounding the villages with totem poles joined by thin ropes to unite all the teepees as one. As such, Chief Arrow Horn was not accepted by all. In fact, since the death of Chief Jay Bear, the tribe has never been able to produce a warrior capable of filling his moccasins and so he is known as "the last ofthe great M.O.hicans."

The Govohas were a relatively primitive people who shunned ideas and philosophies that were foreign to their ancient lifestyle. They would spend most of their time discussing the origins of their tribe and their ways. How to practice their rituals, how to settle disputes, and the Laws of the Squaws. Of major concern was how to deal with the crazy ideas and newfangled devices that many of the rival tribes were picking up from the abominable white man. Often these discussions would escalate into fiery debates and trigger one of their frequent pow-wows. The Govohas were great hunters and traders. They fished in the lakes and hunted in the woods. One of their rituals was to dip all their arrows, hunting knives and tomahawks in Lake Carasaljo before initiating their use. The most precious commodities were the scalps of their enemies and dark hats made of rabbit and beaver furs. The scalps would adorn the heads of their wives and many competed to obtain the fairest scalps. No price was too high. The Govohas would often travel up the trade routes to do business with the white men in New Amsterdam. Early attempts to establish trade routes met with failure, but they had great success on the 9th attempt - and so, for many generations, they traveled mainly on trade route number 9.

Of great interest is the family lives and mating rituals of the Govohas. There were actually two classes within the Govohas. One who had not yet taken a wife was a brave and one who had a wife was a worrier. The braves lived in large caves full of bats, foxes, raccoons, and other loathsome creatures. The worriers lived with their wives and children in individual tepees in colonies. Typically the openings of each tepee faced another teepee so everybody could know what's going on in everyone else's tepee. Some of the worriers were in a Golden state but most weren't. The Govohas were generally a monogamous tribe. Only the great Chief Milky Eel was allowed two wives (this, by a special counsel of 100 elders). In a bit of historical irony, his first wife was descended from the same Solapachik tribe as was Chief Jay Bear.

The Govohas had some unique mating rituals. One was that they would store up snow and ice from the harsh winters. When a new brave was accepted into the tribe, he would be packed into the ice for a period of four months or until the first signs of spring in the middle of the month of Shawatte. Only after this ritual was he allowed to unfreeze and search for a squaw. The motto was, "No squaw until after the thaw!" To thaw them out, they would need large doses of fire water. So they would head northward up the trade routes to the area near Fort Hamilton or the Great Spring Valley where there were plenty of maidens. Indian maidens from every corner of the continent would congregate there for it was a great privilege to be chosen as a squaw for one of the Govohas. They would choose a maiden and bring them to the Island of Manhattan. (The name Manhattan is derived from the word manahachtanienk which in the Munsee dialect of Lenape means: "place of general inebriation" - Wikipedia). There they would drink much fire water to thaw themselves out and to win over the heart and the gold of the maiden.

The Govohas also had a belief that a mouse is impure. And as such, anyone or anything that is attached to a mouse is impure. Even touching a live mouse would make the one who touches it impure. To rid themselves of these mice, they would try to trap them in nets. Of course this would immediately render the Net impure. When they did trap a mouse in the Net, they were required to inform a special band of witch doctors that "I have a mouse In the Net!" and the witch doctors would use special incantations and spells to rid the Worrier of his impurity. The Worrier would be required to detach himself from the mouse and the Net. If he was unable to do so, he would have to dwell outside of the village until he could be free of the Net. In extreme cases, his children would not be allowed to the village schools until he expunged the mouse and the Net. Such were the ways of the Govohas. All this was before the White man came and drove the Indians out. The Govoha tribe is now extinct. But what a proud nation they were. There is a memorial to the Govohas between the Forest and Private Way close to where Squankum Trail meets the old trade Route number 9. Some of the white men still have the rabbit fur hats and adorn their wives with thoseprized scalps. And so, their legacy lives on.

21 comments:

Twistelton-Twistelton said...

Very funny. But not extinct, florishing as never before.

Anonymous said...

tzig - Is was worth finding you blog just for this post. Hilarious!

From a proud Govoha

LkwdGuy said...

Brilliant

Crawling Axe said...

Very FrumSatiresque. :)

Chaim Berlin tragedy said...

Indeed, such ingenious wit and genuine humor is a rarity. Congratulations on this literary triumph!

And obviously twistelton, the "Govohas" are still very much around, just like the other "tribes" mentioned in this fascinating essay, are not in danger of extinction, this is just a literary flight of the imagination that makes some interesting and thought-provoking points in a very funny and satirical way.

zalman said...

In fact, since the death of Chief Jay Bear, the tribe has never been able to produce a warrior capable of filling his moccasins and so he is known as "the last ofthe great M.O.hicans."

?!, what, is Reb Ahron Lichtenstein mashed potatoes?

SatmarTC said...

HEY!
and my tribe?

Snag said...

Ok, that was genuinely funny.

From a member of the Bobo tribe that split when the elders could not divine the messages left by their leader Naptulchak.

Payshe Der Baal Agoleh said...

אייזען!!

Anonymous said...

Gut gezukt!

yoshe kalb said...

You forgot the Litwaukee's spiritual leader Alta Kocka who lived for more than 100 winters on the other side of the big water before riding on his legendary horse Pony Witch into the happy hunting grounds.

baalbatish said...

Didn't the Magyaremba tribe infiltrate all these tribes to destroy them?

Snag said...

That was the Oonga tribe, they were known for scalping their women and forcing them to walk on the other side of the reservation (in this respect, the tribe is similar to the Squiwa group, a secretive group who pack themselves into a tiny, dirty enclave north of what we know as New York, and they call Inshtootaraan)

Occasionally, a strong woman would take charge of the group, surround herself with loyal acolytes, and fight bitter and protracted wars with all the male pretenders to the throne.

baalbatish said...

Isn't the Squiwa tribe realy the Oonga tribe? The chief is the only fullblooded Squiwa. Same with the Govohas. The leader is a Siouxslavitz/Govoha the rest are Ooongas.

LkwdGuy said...

But not extinct, florishing as never before.

TT,

As any Govoha elder can tell you, the original Govohas are quite extinct. There is a flourishing memorial to them that preserves some of their beliefs and rituals but they are hardly true blooded Govohas.

Hirshel Tzig said...

Baalbatish

you're confusing the Oongas with the Ongaras. Quite different.

yekke potz said...

And the Poiwlishas don't count?

Hirshel Tzig said...

they don't.

Anonymous said...

Please leave your comments as well at the blog where it was written.

http://achaslmaala.blogspot.com/2008/11/proud-govoha-indians.html

BenDavid said...

I hear that the Weimandrer tribe has deciphered the message of the original essay, and found that by recording every eighth letter you can figure out when Mashiach will come - go to it!

Anonymous said...

The post didn't mention that the Great Milky Eel, who married two wives, did so with the permission of the Great Lion Judge, a member of the "Dead Indian" tribe, from the area of Munsee.