People have survived being scalped. There are a ton of examples of Native and White Americans who have been scalped and survived, though it's visually gruesome.
Maybe towey goat wool could be used to make caps with soft inner linings. A sort of visual statement that you've been through a lot for your city-state's sake.
 
Last edited:
Modern scholarship relies much on Saga of the Lands of Dawn, for Qwinishtis is practically our only source on the indigenous history of Eastern North America. He collected numerous stories, recorded many placenames and even phrases in indigenous languages. Without Qwinishtis, much of the history and even the very names of countless places in Eastern North America would have been lost, for little Misebian writing survives north of the Gulf. Qwinishtis paints a picture of a healthy, thriving civilisation, albeit one often torn by warfare and petty feuds, one far different than the cold, analytical descriptions favoured by Maya merchants or the dying lands portrayed by Spanish conquistadors.
I also wonder about this.

Take a sort of imaginary Mesoamerican battle. Both city states here commit a big part of their (and their tributaries') resources for a big punch-up. The loser can't quickly resupply from his distant homeland, the porters are only human, so if he loses it's really over for him-- but also, the winner can't garrison such a distant territory, the porters are only human. So after taking many captives to impart the message of defeat, he leaves the loser as a tributary. The tributary has to supply both offensive power if a campaign is taking place near him, and is the first line of defense; and economically, if his territory is one of the few sources of some resources or can produce it in a disproportionately high volume (cocoa from Soconusco), then his liege now benefits from the power to determine how that resource is distributed, he can lay claim to a big slice of production and decide where it will be allocated. Of course the problem with this is that the tributaries are so important to the overall structure that if they defect, they take pretty much all of the empire's offensive, defensive, and economic strength with them. And that's what happened in the Spanish conquests in Mesoamerica and the Andes.

A similar tributary model was used to develop Wayam and played a part in its fall-- Chemna sort of conquistador-ing Wayam with a prison-riot of the tributaries-- but I wonder if Native polities generally would be a little more centralized and robust than the OTL models just due to the loser's ability to resupply faster, and the winner able to impose a more total control, due to draft animals being present on both sides. Not only this, but regular trade across the Gulf may mean that it's harder for a hegemonic empire on either side of the Gulf to control all sources of a valuable resource-- it can just be imported from the other side. So to keep the economic value of tribute they'd have to limit imports, or they could earn that value back by governing and taxing the ports more effectively-- either way that's a different government than existed before, and I would expect the effects of all this on statecraft in Mesoamerica and Misebia to maybe be even more extreme than in Fusania.

Edit: And another thing-- siege machinery. In a prior exchange you said the Fusanian reindeer could pull sleds. Well, put a sled on roller logs (which should be used to cart around stone for the mounds and pyramids already, the Aztecs used rollers) and you have a wheeled vehicle of sorts-- and even if reindeer can't be present as far south as Mesoamerica and it's not great territory for towey goats either (maybe the local ones are pretty small and slow), maybe you could yoke a team of them to a sled on rollers, and on the sled there's a raised platform or a small siege tower, and on it (or in it) there's people with slings or atl-atls using their extra height and range to deadly effect. Or catapults (but especially trebuchets) evolved out of the principles well known to sling/spear-throwers. If you could pull such a machine up to an altepetl (after constructing it nearby out of parts borne on the backs of goats to the field of battle) it would at least spur the development of higher walls, and with the same principles behind mound building (pile of earth with outer shell of stone) you can build enormous Chinese-style walls which are impregnable even to cannon and all but require self-sacrificing assaults on the city gates (the only weak points) or revolt/starvation in the besieged city for a siege to be won, a contributor to the mass death of the Taiping rebellion and its suppression (siege of Anqing). Sunzi never liked siege warfare and the Spanish might lose their taste for it as well, especially if they don't have bodies to throw at the gates (or mine under the walls) or enough men to surround the city (which may be bigger than already large OTL equivalents, better agriculture balancing against more disease) and keep supplies from getting in.

The Spanish will probably still win if they keep pouring in more resources (the mule is even more decisive than the horse-- you find the most isolated Native village in Mexico or Peru/Bolivia and it will probably still have mules), which they have on hand and stand to gain more of through the tax base/extraction industries of their initial conquests. And once they do that, they'll abolish the local literary tradition as an impediment to proselytization, and then invent a new literary tradition as an aid to proselytization-- they did this with Nahuatl, Quechua, Aymara, and Tagalog. But for it to be so sweeping, to extend across the whole of the Misebian basin and wipe out all documentation, I'm not sure if the Spanish would do that well. New World colonialism wouldn't be this sideshow prelude to more strenuous wars in Europe-- the Misebians and Mesoamericans have the potential to make them bleed and struggle for every city and province. It would recall the Crusades or the Reconquista. I guess the Japanese might compare their Fusanian experience to the long war against the Emishi.
 
Last edited:
People being scalped while alive... is it possible to survive a scalping? I don't want to think about that...
Some survived being scalped. Here is a 19th century picture of a man who was scalped as a child (obviously somewhat graphic).
The interesting thing about Mesoamericanization here is-- even while they impart their own practices, they are being confronted with a whole universe of unfamiliar things, and in adapting to them they make their own practices more robust and useful. The systems of Postclassic Maya writing and Nahua semasiography-- especially the latter-- can be used to record all the animals of the north, or some of the medical experimentation that is going on, some comparative treatises on warfare or army organization, the emerging field of naval warfare against the Taino pirates... and bring that knowledge down to the calmecacs of the south. I wonder if a syncretic deity could also arise in connection with livestock or medicine, depicted in Maya or Nahua literary and artistic terms but venerated through Misebian styles of worship.
Probably not a deity related to livestock (in Mesoamerica it's presumably Chichimec-influenced since they would have introduced the ducks and towey goats) since to Misebians those are indigenous. I could see a Misebian sailing deity having Mesoamerican traits given there'd be a lot of communication between Misebian sailors/fishermen and Mesoamerican ones.
Even before writing/semasiography I think that under the influence of Maya and Nahua poetic forms (Natchez calques of the Nahua dual-word kennings, like water-mountain for "polity")-- maybe the merchants aren't big poets but if they're settling down they might import educators from the old country for their children-- we should see a lot of Misebian oral literary/poetic/musical experiments. Different cities might see the promotion of their dialects as a sign of prestige, a soft power that parallels or even supersedes the religious significance of a multi-mound paramount center. Kind of a Provencal/Tuscan dynamic-- and so they might sponsor increasingly ambitious collations of local histories and mythologies into grand epics, stuff that might survive conquest in the way the Popol Vuh did. "Sponsorship" in this case being the troubadour deal of "here's a house and servants to attend to all your needs" or "here's some beef jerky, now get lost".
I could definitely see those calques used in certain Misebian languages (probably those in the OTL Deep South i.e. Gulf/South Appalachian), although whether they'd spread to the whole region, who knows. And the dialect thing might actually fit with OTL. There's some evidence Tunica may have been a prestige language/culture at OTL Spiro [Nakuhmitsa] and a few associated sites in that region (theories range from Tunica merchants/founders to that actually being the Tunica homeland before the 15th century) and Muskogean languages clearly held some prestige OTL given their distribution and their rapid adoption across much of the region in the 16th-18th century (possibly related to proto-Mobilian Jargon). And OTL Cahokia clearly had influence with soft power, so Maya/Nahua arts could be highly praised if assimilated to local forms for their novel nature.
A similar tributary model was used to develop Wayam and played a part in its fall-- Chemna sort of conquistador-ing Wayam with a prison-riot of the tributaries-- but I wonder if Native polities generally would be a little more centralized and robust than the OTL models just due to the loser's ability to resupply faster, and the winner able to impose a more total control, due to draft animals being present on both sides. Not only this, but regular trade across the Gulf may mean that it's harder for a hegemonic empire on either side of the Gulf to control all sources of a valuable resource-- it can just be imported from the other side. So to keep the economic value of tribute they'd have to limit imports, or they could earn that value back by governing and taxing the ports more effectively-- either way that's a different government than existed before, and I would expect the effects of all this on statecraft in Mesoamerica and Misebia to maybe be even more extreme than in Fusania.
There is one OTL comparison--coastal polities in Mesoamerica which could resupply faster thanks to large canoes which could proportionately carry more than porters and at a comparable or even faster speed. Presumably this was also true regarding Inca logistics along the Peruvian coast. Draft animals merely increase the volume of resupply (and in Mesoamerica aren't as revolutionary as elsewhere since they only have small towey goats and no reindeer).

As for resources in Mesoamerica, I suspect gold production would be limited in the Misebian world (lesser developed mining and a more limited supply) so Central America/northern South America would still be the best source. For pelts (deer, towey goat, bison) there is still the Pacific/overland route. This does mean northwestern Mexico doesn't control so much copper, although I can't imagine Appalachian copper is cheaper. I alluded to conflict between inland polities and ports in my Mesoamerica entry, so this will add an additional dimension I'll be sure to consider.

For Fusania, I've thought draft animals are among the good explanations for why North Fusania's states are larger and seemingly more centralised despite the rougher terrain and rivers being choked with rapids. It could also be a good explanation for why South Fusania's religious societies can be fairly homogenous despite the otherwise anarchic political structure.
Edit: And another thing-- siege machinery. In a prior exchange you said the Fusanian reindeer could pull sleds. Well, put a sled on roller logs (which should be used to cart around stone for the mounds and pyramids already, the Aztecs used rollers) and you have a wheeled vehicle of sorts-- and even if reindeer can't be present as far south as Mesoamerica and it's not great territory for towey goats either (maybe the local ones are pretty small and slow), maybe you could yoke a team of them to a sled on rollers, and on the sled there's a raised platform or a small siege tower, and on it (or in it) there's people with slings or atl-atls using their extra height and range to deadly effect.
That could be done with human manpower too, so I'll attribute their lack of presence to no one hitting on the idea to use them. This makes sense because you'd be risking porters/animals which is a bit of a pain when both (especially the latter) might be considered someone's valuable property in addition to imperiling logistics. As to whether it shows up in the future, that's a different matter.

Although nitpick, Mississippian (and earlier) mounds seem to have been constructed solely with people using baskets to haul dirt from a nearby borrow pit.
Or catapults (but especially trebuchets) evolved out of the principles well known to sling/spear-throwers. If you could pull such a machine up to an altepetl (after constructing it nearby out of parts borne on the backs of goats to the field of battle) it would at least spur the development of higher walls, and with the same principles behind mound building (pile of earth with outer shell of stone) you can build enormous Chinese-style walls which are impregnable even to cannon and all but require self-sacrificing assaults on the city gates (the only weak points) or revolt/starvation in the besieged city for a siege to be won, a contributor to the mass death of the Taiping rebellion and its suppression (siege of Anqing). Sunzi never liked siege warfare and the Spanish might lose their taste for it as well, especially if they don't have bodies to throw at the gates (or mine under the walls) or enough men to surround the city (which may be bigger than already large OTL equivalents, better agriculture balancing against more disease) and keep supplies from getting in.
I've mentioned city walls made of earth numerous times, but never much on how thick or tall they are (other than Wayam having an impressive set of walls). I did mention there are some cities with stone walls in Fusania, especially among the Whulchomic peoples who constantly find themselves being raided. These would be risky because of earthquakes but do make good prestige symbols. Misebian walls probably are thicker TTL and supplement palisades, since more people means larger wars and mound-building losing the prestige.

Catapults I've not been sure about since for some reason I've always thought they wouldn't work without a device similar to the wheel like a pulley, but I guess they would be the natural evolution of the staff sling.
The Spanish will probably still win if they keep pouring in more resources (the mule is even more decisive than the horse-- you find the most isolated Native village in Mexico or Peru/Bolivia and it will probably still have mules), which they have on hand and stand to gain more of through the tax base/extraction industries of their initial conquests. And once they do that, they'll abolish the local literary tradition as an impediment to proselytization, and then invent a new literary tradition as an aid to proselytization-- they did this with Nahuatl, Quechua, Aymara, and Tagalog. But for it to be so sweeping, to extend across the whole of the Misebian basin and wipe out all documentation, I'm not sure if the Spanish would do that well. New World colonialism wouldn't be this sideshow prelude to more strenuous wars in Europe-- the Misebians and Mesoamericans have the potential to make them bleed and struggle for every city and province. It would recall the Crusades or the Reconquista. I guess the Japanese might compare their Fusanian experience to the long war against the Emishi.
I don't know if the average polity is that strong. My numbers (6-15K for a town-state, several times as many for confederation) state the average Misebian polity is about 3-4 times more populous than the average Mississippian polity in De Soto's age (which in turn is about the same as it was in the OTL 12th-13th century). Same is true for larger Misebian polities vs OTL ones of De Soto's era like Coosa. They may have somewhat more influence over distant outlying towns compared to the largest OTL ones (like again, Coosa) but probably aren't too overbearing. Obviously local allies would be needed, but it's clear from OTL that local allies aren't hard to find. Spain OTL had pretty good success against many politically fragmented parts of the Americas such as the Western Mexico, the Yucatan, or Colombia, even if it took a generation to subdue and there were holdouts until almost 1700. I don't have the figures on hand/remember off the top of my head, but I suspect your average indigenous polity in OTL Colombia or Yucatan competed well with TTL Misebian numbers.
I guess the Japanese might compare their Fusanian experience to the long war against the Emishi.
I have a decent model for how that might work and a lot of interesting drafts and stories for that era of cultural collision, since that's a huge part of why I started posting this TL to begin with, since I had a cool idea and the more I expanded it and the more I did research to back it, the more I thought of making it into a TL to share here.

As to whether I'll ever get to posting it here, I have no idea. I'm halfway tempted sometimes to just skip straight to part 2 (I now understand why LORAG did not go into huge detail of the history of each individual polity), but there's still plenty of interesting things I'd like to write.
 
Although nitpick, Mississippian (and earlier) mounds seem to have been constructed solely with people using baskets to haul dirt from a nearby borrow pit.
That works for dirt, and my confusion here-- I saw the description of palisades guided in copper and assumed the mounds themselves were being coated in some outer layer. I guess they could build an outer layer of stone around the mounds and derivatives (e.g. rammed earth walls) with hand-portable cobblestones, but for big rocks they'd need rollers.
 
Chapter 86-In the Shadows of Only the Sun
-LXXXVI-
"In the Shadows of Only the Sun"

Much as the great cultures of Europe and Japan were but peripheries to the great cultures of Mesopotamia and China, the same held true in North America. While the Mayan cities and Teotihuacan raised great pyramids to the sky and advanced culture as none had before, all of North America beyond the Bravo River from Fusania to Leivsland [1] lived in small villages. Centuries later, as Fusanians built great cities like Wayam or Koru and the people of the Misebi raised higher and higher earthen pyramids, those of the eastern portion of the continent far from centers like the Imaru Basin or Valley of Mexico lived much as they had for centuries, yet even their own lives began changing by 1200 thanks to external influences seeping into their society.

Divided into hundreds of tribes, there were countless villages scattered throughout this eastern land from the Outer Banks to just south of the Arctic Circle. The total population likely numbered no more than 1 million people at its height around 1200. All but the northernmost tribes practiced agriculture, some quite intensively, although no true cities existed. Maize, squash, and beans gradually spread north in the 1st millennium AD as Fusanian crops such as river turnip, bistort, omodaka, and water amaranth crept in from the west. Fusanian crops were fairly marginal, as all were either labour intensive or took more than one year to grow, but in colder regions such as the area north of the Great Lakes or the mountain meadows of Appalachia served as a valuable supplement to the diet.

The most important change in their cultures came with animal domestication. Domestication arrived in the east by the 11th century and accelerated during the subsequent two centuries as locals developed new breeds of reindeer and towey goats suitable for the local environment (moose herding never arrived in eastern North America). Domesticated animals granted perpetual access to valuable tools, meat, and skins, removing the need to undertake uncertain hunting expeditions. They served as valuable stores of wealth, reorienting the dynamics of individual groups. The need to find new grazing areas for these animals increased the territoriality of each group, forcing social institutions to evolve to mediate disputes and enforce claims.

Reindeer and towey goat herding served as the basis for regional economies. Because lowlanders often lacked these animals (especially reindeer which only thrived at higher altitudes), the people of the highlands gladly sold them reindeer and towey goats in exchange for all manner of goods. The lowland peoples often processed the animals for them, "returning" them as leather, blankets, and cloaks.

Aside from these larger animals, the most important and widespread were dogs and turkeys, for only a few groups at the fringes of this region raised ducks or geese. Dogs served in hunting and defense and often were ritually sacrificed among some groups. Domesticated turkeys arrived from the Misebians around 1150--by 1300 they spread across the entire region and were an important source of protein and feathers. Like in Oasisamerica, priests commonly sacrificed turkeys at festivals.

The pastoralist lifestyle impacted the patterns of land use. Forests became meticulously maintained, with destruction of white-tailed deer (carrier of brainworms fatal to reindeer) populations common as well as methods of maximising populations of preferred animal feed such as lichens and nut-bearing trees. Agriculture was kept to limited areas near riverbanks and swamps, fertilised by animal dung, dead fish, and slash and burn agriculture.

In the east, most villages and towns shifted generationally. Because of the buildup of pests from mites to rodents and gradual depletion of soil fertility, villages and towns would be abandoned every 30-40 years and left to revert to forest, reinhabited perhaps another few decades later. Villages lasted longer by the 13th century compared to the past where 10-20 years was the norm, for nicotine, a pesticide, was increasingly employed and fertilisers employed more efficient and widespread. Typically the population was no more than 500 people, clustered into several longhouses.

Regardless, a few larger commercial centers emerged at strategic trading points. In the southernmost and westernmost regions, these are likely influenced by Misebian cultures, but other developments are truly local. Nearly all of these were located along major rivers on the Fall Line where portages were necessary and distances not too far from the mountains. Supported largely by shifting farms and villages nearby, these centers thrived on trade in livestock and metals.

The largest of these commercial centers might have up to 2,000 people, but without knowledge of sanitation and because of local exhaustion of resources, they rarely lasted more than 25 years before their abandonment in favour of a nearby location. Despite their ephemeral nature, these centers served as the seats for powerful rulers and attracted trade from hundreds of kilometers away. The advancing technology ensured that by 1300, there were far more of these larger centers than ever before.

The Appalachian region, largely unsuitable for agriculture, was dominant among the eastern peoples for their livestock, mining operations, and the rich goods they received or raided from peoples to the west. Those east of them who wanted access needed to pay the exhorbitant prices with their own livestock, metals, or sometimes slaves. Nowhere else, besides perhaps among the middlemen traders living along the Kanada River [2], did such wealth exist in eastern North America.

The many valleys of Appalachia kept the region ethnically diverse, particularly in the southern areas where the climate was best for agriculture and thus lifestyles other than pastoralism. From north to south, the peoples associated with the region were the Andasti, the Massawomeck, the Shawanoki, the closely linked Tottero and Ofo Confederacies of Mountain Siouans [3], and the Chisca. Each of these groups spoke different languages and practiced distinct yet related customs, united only by common economies and their relation with the lowlanders.

The Appalachian tribes vigorously protected their hunting and grazing grounds, a problem for the western peoples whose population growth forced them closer to them. They also clashed with eastern peoples over the same issues, in particular tribes who sought to supplant them as masters of the mountains. Livestock raids were common in their culture--any youth who sought to become a warrior was typically required to steal at least one or two reindeer or towey goats before the older warriors would even consider training them further.

The 13th century saw these peoples take part in increasing numbers of wars, a result of the epidemics, increasing conflicts with lowlanders (especially the Misebians), drought, and the onset of the Little Ice Age. Towns in river valleys were progressive abandoned and moved into increasingly inaccessible locations of the mountains and fortified with all sorts of palisades and watch towers. While this reduced the threat from reprisal raids, it ironically led to the decline of their strength. They now grew less food and their food required more transport in the form of their livestock. With more effort devoted toward gaining food, populations stagnated and they sold fewer and fewer reindeer, towey goats, and other goods, resulting in a decline of their influence regionally by 1300.

The coastal region was relatively unpopulated and backward. Those at the at the Misebian periphery based their economies on bringing coastal goods (including shells, preserved fish, shark leather, turtles, and yaupon, whose northern range was just south of Chesepeake Bay) to the mountains. The latter was a luxury good as far north as Cape Code, drank during ceremonies yet often not in the form of the "black drink". They also ran a strong coastal trade, bringing luxury goods to other coastal towns with their large canoes. The Maya may have visited some of these towns before 1300 and their goods often appear, but these groups would trade with intermediaries or occasionally travel all the way to Zama, the furthest north port frequented by the Maya.

Aside the Arctic, the least developed region of North America was perhaps the Mid-Atlantic, sparsely inhabited by perhaps no more than 25,000 people of the related Algonquian Renappi tribes. Even in the 13th century, towey goat herding had only recently arrived in the northern areas and was unheard of around Chesepeake Bay, with their only domestic animals being turkeys and dogs. The people did not know metal smelting unlike those to the south or north and planted no Fusanian crops. They concentrated in defensive alliances centered around trading centers on the coast to protect what they had from the aggressions of the powerful mountain confederations. Their lives were almost entirely coastal, centered around fishing, farming, and harvesting shells.

Yet even this region benefitted from the wealth found elsewhere in North America. As tributaries of the powerful Massawomeck, they adapted towey goat herding and in the north, even reindeer herding by the end of the 13th century. Their reliance on a maritime lifestyle led to increasing connections between the various Renappi peoples. As Massawomeck power declined, the Renappi took advantage and reversed the situation, allying with the Andasti to crush Massawomeck power in coastal regions and supplanting it with the new Renappi Confederation.

BNzIQCc.jpg

Villages stood by lakes like this in Northeastern America. Villagers created water gardens in the shallows, take fish and birds nearby, and herd reindeer and towey goats in the nearby forest

The peoples northeast of the Mid-Atlantic were wealthier, maintaining large herds of reindeer and goats since the 12th century. The many ponds and lakes of this region gave them access to easy trade routes and grounds for fishing and raising ducks and geese and most crucially, aquaculture. Unlike the Upper Misebians who lived in a similar environment, the northeastern peoples did not intensively farm or modify their environment. As a result, only the more tolerant river turnip, omodaka, and water amaranth were present, yet these produced far greater harvests than the marginal strains of maize, beans, and squash.

By 1300 as the climate cooled, land crops were abandoned, for the growing season was too unpredictable, the soil too rocky, and farming the land took potential forest land away. No doubt some part of it was for the safety of the women and children who maintained those fields in a time of increasing war--it was easier to hide in the water among the lilies and reeds than hide in a field. Neighbouring peoples found this lack of maize cultivation strange, as did English travelers such as John Smythe [4] who in 1614 remarked with astonishment that the natives of this area "knowe not the taste of corne but only the plants of their lakes and streames."

West of these peoples lived the various Iroquoian-speaking nations. These tribes were notoriously warlike, often clashing with each other or nearby Algonquians for captives and animal herds. Mixed cultivators of maize, beans, and squash as well as aquaculture of Fusanian origin, they were skilled reindeer herders. Their large reindeer herds, fertile lands, and occupied a strategic location, making them wealthier than the groups along the coast. Their largest towns, temporary as they might be, held up to 2,000 people.

The strongest among them were the Kanadiers, the Vændat, and the Haudenosaunee, each divided into several separate nations [5]. Their greatest trading partners were with those Innu tribes in the north--from them they imported much copper, tin, bronze, and gold to become the most important supplier of those metals in the northeastern woodlands. In exchange, they sold them their agricultural surplus, salt, and slaves who would be worked to death in the mines.

Their most notable trade good was perhaps maple syrup, taken from the sap of the sugar maple. All peoples of the northeast and Great Lakes gathered maple syrup and produced maple sugar, which they exported as far north as Markland and as far south as the lower Ohio. Widespread adoption of copper pots by 1200 aided in making maple sugar feasible to produce in large quantities compared to prior birch bark equipment.

In the 13th century Iroquoian nations discovered a unique property of maple syrup--it might ferment like anything else, and if managed correctly, this fermentation was both potent and delicious. The discoverer is unknown, although stories of its origin seem to point to it being discovered by merchants. The Iroquoians thus produced the first maple mead in the world, which like palm wine in Africa was a celebrated drink for rituals and feasts, consumed at winter and spring ceremonies and exported widely as a ritual drink for this purpose.

Unfortunately, maple mead was occasionally abused among the Iroquoians, who unlike groups to the west did not drink anything beyond very light alcohol. Conventionally around 15% ABV, some drank it heavily at feasts, ceremonies, and even daily life which naturally brought addiction and violence. Iroquoian nations were reputed as drunkards by outsiders, for they were the main producers of the drink. Traditional history claims it became such a problem that wars were started by drunkards--for this reason, in later centuries consumption of maple mead would be strictly regulated by the Great Law of Peace.

West of them, the Great Lakes Algonquians were marginal and diverse peoples living in the shadows of the wealthier Misebians to their south and west and Innu to their north. Their economy centered on reindeer pastoralism, although they also conducted much aquaculture (especially of Vinland rice) and served as middlemen in the metal trade. Somewhat influenced by the Misebians to their south, they frequently raided them over access to grazing ground, retreating into their dense forests to avoid reprisals.

The strongest confederation in the area was the Council of Three Fires, traditionally founded in the 8th century, but whatever ancient alliance existed did not fully assemble until around 1300, when the three nations represented united to oppose increasing encroachment from the raids of the maritime Tejana nation of Upper Misebians. In particular this concerned the city of Kechangkhetera, located on an island in the Straits of Mackinac the people of the Three Fires considered the birthplace of the world.

Oral history tells the Three Fires sacked Kechangkhetera around that date, but the local warriors put up a fierce resistance and killed many warriors of the Three Fires. However, the rulers of the Tejana refused to believe their feats in battle, so the Tejana warriors defected and made peace with the Three Fires, becoming the Teagra. In return for their bravery, the Three Fires permitted them to occupy the island on the condition the Teagra never make war on them again and give them perpetual access to the island. While the Teagra never joined the Three Fires, their island served as its meeting place and the Teagra themselves acted as mediators.

Other groups in this area were no less effective. The Mascouten, Menominee, and other groups were equally effective at navigating the diplomatic situation regarding the Ohio Misebians and the Upper Misebians. Each group was more agricultural than the Three Fires to their north, farming much Vinland rice, yet their reindeer herds were in constant need of expansion. To the Upper Misebians they were among the most dangerous enemies.

On the Atlantic Coast, lay peoples such as the Migmak and Havnaki. They lived similar lifestyles centered around aquaculture and pastoralism, although never adopted maize agriculture to begin with. They were somewhat wealthier, deriving their wealth from both trade with various Iroquoian nations and especially contact with the Norse. This periodic trade gave them access to many exotic goods and led to reputations of wealth.

Norse traders largely focused on this northeastern fringe of this region. While the Norse are recorded to have explored the lower reaches of the Kanada River in the early 13th century at the height of their early trade in North America, they rarely sailed this far from their bases in Markland. Most Norse goods in this region likely passed through the hands of the local Migmak people or especially the Ilinu people of Leivsland, the closest major society to the Norse who practically monopolised trade with them.

While the trade was small-scale and sparse compared to later standards, Norse goods reshaped native societies. Beads, jewelry, and Norse fabrics served as prominent luxury goods among the peoples of the Kanada and northeast coast. The Algonquian and Iroquoian peoples of the St. Lawrence region developed increasingly complex art and aesthetics thanks to this wealth, with rulers in particular wearing richly ornamented and dyed robes and fur turbans gleaming with beads. The Migmak and Havnaki further adopted sails from the Norse, the southernmost groups to do so.

Sailing technology was fairly primitive yet functional. Dugout canoes and birchbark kayaks were still widely used and only the Innu and northeastern peoples used sails, the latter almost certainly borrowed from the Norse. Innu sails were flamboyant in colour and attached to the largest ships that cruised inland rivers. Originating from similar sails among the interior Dena peoples, these likely were used as prestige symbols by wealthy men. They offered little mechanical benefit, and their main role in history was their inspiring of the far more productive sailing technology of the Misebian peoples.

Before the 14th century, the only other group in Eastern North America employing large sailing ships were those north of Cape Cod [6], whose origins date to around 1200. Their ships were larger and more seaworthy, with larger sails of tehi. Because traditional ship designs superficially resembled a Norse knarr, it is speculated these ships were at the very least inspired by Norse designs although claims they were introduced by Norse merchants are inaccurate. These ships were ocean-going vessels capable of making long journeys and were used primarily to exploit the rich fishing waters of the Grand Banks and Georges Bank. Coastal peoples caught cod in bulk and preserved them with salt they produced from seawater or at salt springs, while other fishing boats operated lobster traps.

The increasing wealth and population in the 12th and 13th century prompted complex political organisations among the eastern peoples. The chief, termed a sachem [7], was a hereditary position elected from the village nobles by his council of nobles from among the sons of the previous chief's sisters. They held little actual power and was responsible for settling disputes and keeping his people prosperous by persuasing through words and gifts. The council itself consisted of the heads of each clan, one or two senior warriors also who commanded military operations and defense, and occasionally other men respected for their services.

The war chiefs were the only exclusively male positions--powerful women (nearly always the widows of powerful sachems) were occasionally elected to the council or to position of sachem itself. Among the Iroquoians, the seniormost woman of each clan were even responsible for nominating the sachem and at the same time, removing him from office if necessary.

A sachem's territory consisted of only a single village or town of rarely more than 500 people. However, because people had relatives in other towns and villages, these sachems often worked together in councils and assembled into greater confederations, centered at either a religious site or local trade center. They helped negotiate with other powers, although rarely held the power to make war, that power granted only to the entire tribe. Each sachem was typically equal in rights to the others at these great meetings, yet might differ in roles or prestige.

The specifics of these groups varied. Among the southerly groups, Misebian influence no doubt led them to crown a single sachem (there often called names like weroance) as a supreme ruler (there termed names like mamanatowick [8]), although his influence over towns in the confederation limited to only persuasion. Among Iroquoians, the confederations acted democratically, with chiefs appointed to the council representing their entire nation. As warfare grew more intense by the end of the 13th century, these confederations even began tentatively uniting into broader assemblies through alliances with nearby confederations [9].

Among most peoples, the decision to declare war required consent of the all men and women. It arose out of petitions to sachems, who in turn summoned the people and asked them if they wanted to fight. If enough warriors volunteered, then war was declared. Once war was declared, warriors who refused to fight would often be shamed into joining the conflict. Conflicts were led by dedicated war chiefs--sachems were generally forbidden from spilling blood.

Warfare in eastern North America was similar to that among the Misebians, where men fought in small groups from the same clan and avoided lengthy sieges. Warriors focused on feats of bravery that included capturing or scalping opponents. These captives would be ritually tortured, sacrificed and then cannibalised with jewelry made out of his skull, as the main justification for war was avenging one's tribe. Women and children taken prisoner would almost always be adopted into the tribe as replacements for deceased kin, yet this was not universally the case. A small number of people were for varying reasons never adopted, either because of their continued rejection of their new society or for future trade to other groups--the latter was especially common among Norse-influenced groups.

Weapons consisted of the bow and arrow, axes, and maces. These copper headed maces replaced war clubs of wood, bone, and stone by 1200 and served as symbols of prestige. Poorer warriors occasionally still fought with stone weapons, but by the end of the 13th century, copper or bronze weapons were nearly universal and among some northern peoples, even iron weapons, traded from the Norse. Tomahawks made of bronze or iron were popular close-quarters weapons. Asymmetric access to these weapons allowed northerly peoples to make many successful raids against those who lacked them. Armour included long tunics made from leather and wooden rods and wicker shields, but some men eschewed armour entirely, fighting mostly naked for mobility out of belief in their strength.

Religion was highly diverse in the eastern woodlands. In the southern and northwestern regions, Misebian-derived cults prevailed. The high priest tended eternally-burning fires and made offerings to spirits while conducting rituals that connected people to their ancestors and ensured proper passage to the afterlife. In contrast, the Iroquoians and some Algonquians were sky worshippers, who worshipped an ancestral deity (often personified as an old woman) and controlled the infinite spirits of nature by conducting proper rituals to the lesser deities and spirits by following correct conduct, dances and offerings.

Like Fusania, acquisition of guardian spirits was common in this region, as were secret religious societies, not the least among them the Midewiwin ("Medicine Society"). These societies controlled religious rituals and constituted a network of ritualists who helped unite the tribe as one, although unlike South Fusania they never usurped public power. Qwinishtis mentions these beliefs in Saga of the Lands of Dawn:

"It was no surprise the Marukhatkhs [Algonquian] [10] warriors saved our expedition against Yits'iniit for their leader called out to me with his guardian spirit, a spirit from the same family as my own. I had not felt a spirit of this intensity among these Hillmen in some time and indeed so many of his people possessed these strong spirits, not just their priests. Yet I became wary, for the spirits who aid the Hillmen are corrupt even if they speak to their brothers among us civilised people [11]. The warrior refused to speak more of his people's rituals, for they are the property of priests who wander the land and gather in secretive lodges, much as the fanatics of those lands far to our country's south."

These secret societies used birch bark scrolls replete with simple depictions of natural objects as devices for passing down their teachings. Reading these scrolls was a carefully guarded secret. Their origin is unknown--some claim Norse origin, but the tradition appeared among even societies with little contact with the Norse. To what degree they function as writing is unknown, but their system was simpler than either Mesoamerican codices or Fusanian totem writing.

Shamans played a crucial role in governance, especially in the north. They were always consulted in decision-making and presided over healing and divination ceremonies, ensuring their connections and wealth. They were feared and respected for their supernatural powers, valuable traits for a sachem to have. In the northeast and north, shamans and sachems were often one and the same. Yet there were always those wary of shamans holding too much influence over society, and the distinction between the traditionalist "shamanistic" faction and the more innovative "secular" factions was a mainstay of indigenous politics in Eastern North America.

The Norse tried and failed to introduce Christianity among the natives. St. Jon Hallgrimsson, a Greenlandic saint famed as the Apostle to Vinland, is recorded to have sent native acolytes to the south accompanying merchants. Likely these men appeared among the Innu, and Migmak peoples. While religious syncreticism was common in some areas of Markland and Helluland frequently by the Norse, in Vinland it failed entirely. The Norse way of life, including Christianity, seemed to be at odds with native religion.

However, traces of Christianity were present. The Salmon Clan, present among the Innu, Migmak, and Havnaki preserved aspects of Christianity in heavily distorted form. A few Salmon Clan members were of Norse descent, although the majority were descended from baptised natives or mixed-race people assimilated into other native groups. Their beliefs centered around headless winged spirits each person was born with that observed everything one said, did, and thought. They report to their master, the sky god, who after consulation with his nephew and heir chooses to either damn the soul forever or permit it to pass into paradise based on one's conduct. Those chosen by the sky god as his workers on Earth are granted the power to heal, control natural spirits, and predict the future.

The Salmon Clan's religion was just as secretive as the medicine societies. Members used cross iconography, Christian-inspired hymns, a local variety of incense and annointing oil, and crossed themselves in their rituals and worship. It was not popular outside their clan and those who married into it, with much of its knowledge restricted to members they baptised and bestowed new names (often of Christian origin or symbolism) upon, names kept secret to outsiders. Yet it carried much sway, for the Salmon Clan were sailors and merchants and often quite wealthy. Among fishermen throughout the eastern woodlands, their incense was famed for its ability to drive away bad weather and lure fish while the sign of the cross was made before fishing expeditions to ensure spiritual success.

Small, limited, and remote as their operations were, the Norse and their legacy would be the dominant force acting on Eastern North America from 1200-1500. The Leivian exchange brought both rats and cats to this region. The former posed a greater threat to food reserves than native rats, while the latter ironically helped spread introduced rats as cats preferred slower, ecologically naive American rodents. Cats especially spread by trade, acquiring a reputation as the animals of merchants and especially shamans for their ability to eliminate rodent pests--allegedly cats were only able to hunt rats because a benevolent shaman controlled their actions, for rats were ranked among insect pests as a spiritual curse against humans.

The greatest impact of the Leivian exchange was of course the three epidemics of chickenpox, mumps, and whooping cough, all of which first struck Eastern North America in the first decade of the 13th century. At least 10% of the population died and practically every major town was burnt and abandoned by its residents. Because so much territory was left abandoned and unused, warfare sharply increased as tribes fought to establish new boundaries. In addition to these epidemics, strains of seal flu arrived from Fusania that although not as deadly as the initial outbreak still produced death rates of up to 5% once a generation.

Yet for the average person of the Eastern Woodlands, those valuable trade goods and skills brought by the Norse would continue to play an undue role in society for centuries to come. Long before the vast majority of people ever saw a European man, their societies already fell under Europe's influence in the form of iron and beads. Had they been able to trace it to the source, perhaps they would have been much more wary of the changes coming their way in 1500. Those few societies in contact with the Norse, at the remotest fringes of the eastern woodlands, certainly knew that, for they were to inherit far greater gifts from those European interlopers.

---
Author's notes

This entry covers primarily Algonquian and Iroquoian peoples of the east coast and Great Lakes, perhaps the groups most often thought of as the typical "Indian." Much of the society encountered by the Pilgrims, Puritans, Jamestown colonists, etc. is the product of increasing European influence in the form of greater wealth and shifting economies since even before the first European settlement. I suspect reindeer pastoralism plus access to Norse trade goods would more or less cause these societies to look uncannily similar to the typical post-contact natives of the late 17th century, yet far more advantaged as this shift is on their own terms.

I'm breaking from my usual orthographic conventions for this entry as many languages of Eastern North America are incredibly poorly attested (usually just badly transcribed word lists, if that) and their phonology uncertain. I also don't know what my plans for the East Coast are TTL aside from some things with the Norse.

I decided to cover Newfoundland [Leivsland] along with the Norse in my next chapter, since its society becomes rather Norse influenced thanks to constant interaction and the emergence of a particular Metis group.

As ever, thank you for reading. As this entry comes out on (American) Thanksgiving, please have a happy and understanding holiday.

[1] - Leivsland is Newfoundland, TTL eventually renamed for Leif Eriksson with Vinland coming to mean all of Norse America
[2] - The Kanada River is the St. Lawrence, "Kanada" of course the same root as "Canada", which was the river's name at one point
[3] - TTL term for Ohio Valley Siouan languages. Despite their name, many speakers of these languages lived in the Appalachians before they were largely destrouyed/absorbed into other groups in 17th century wars with whites and other Indians
[4] - I'm not sure yet if I want this to be OTL John Smith (who sometimes spelled his name like this) or someone else by that name, but given the sheer number of 17th century Englishmen who spelled their name "John Smythe", another explorer having a name like that isn't implausible
[5] - I will use the native names (although the conventional colonial names such as "Huron" and "Iroquois" are still widely used in the literature), as these nations will be most described by the Norse rather than the French. The Kanadiers correspond to the St. Lawrence Iroquoians, the Vændat the Huron, and the Haudenosaunee the Iroquois--each group was historically a confederacy divided into several nations, but this arose later so the Mohawk, Seneca, etc. would still be far more separate.
[6] - This area, OTL Upper New England and the Maritimes, seems to have been culturally distinct even in pre-contact times from Lower New England. Naturally trade with the Norse makes this even more the case.
[7] - I'll use "sachem" for this office as it is the most common English term besides "chief" ("sagamore" is just a variant, although I should make the long belated note that I've done the same thing some writers in the past have done with sachem vs sagamore with my own alt-Sahaptins and miyawakh vs miyuukh--for now I don't plan on retconning this)
[8] - The title Chief Powhatan of Jamestown fame likely used, often translated in English as "paramount chief".
[9] - This appears to be the system the League of the Iroquois (which had analogues among the Wyandot and some other Iroquoian nations) evolved out of
[10] - Qwinishtis calls them Marukhatkhs, a corruption of "woruha" (a generic term meaning "enemy" in Dhegihan Siouan).
[11] - Generally Fusanians believe guardian spirits are related to each other, like for instance two people with otter guardian spirits inherited sibling or cousin spirits.
 
Top