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The Enlightenment of Handsome Lake Essay

During the mid eighteen century a change in thinking accumulated. This new way of thinking is called Enlightenment. The Enlightenment was a time of insightfulness, finding a meaning and way to understand the universe. There were many Enlightenment speakers who wanted to share bright new ideas to the people. Such as Handsome Lake whom in “How America Was Discovered” had a vision regarding a change for his people. Handsome Lake enlightenment was a new approach for the traditional religion of his people.

According to Handsome Lake his people way of life was perishing. The family togetherness had become a distant memory. The willingness to help a fellowman was null and void at this time. Due to the white man’s many gifts including poison (alcohol), and also the witches was corrupting them. Several new teachings were needed for the Iroquois people. First they had to know how the evil came about in order to correct it and move forward. Secondly, they had to understand how they were living was not of God (religion tradition).

Third they had to realize life that they once new were no more; they had to adapt to the evolving universe. He enlightens with a story of a young minister seeking the face of God. In his wavering the young man found the devil according to Handsome Lake. The devil tells the man of a place where it was plentiful. Where he would become a rich man and have position of power. This proposal was very enticing for a young man wanting to do God’s will.. After the corruption had taken over, Handsome had a vision come to him with direction and defined the sin that his people had to repent of. )

Their previous way of life was virtuous, no evil habits or appetites for evil. At this point Handsome Lake visions and teaching included the talk of witchcraft, in love magic, in abortion and in drunkenness. These sinful acts gave concern for the people of Iroquois salvation. () Handsome knew the world was moving fast and leaving his people to destruction. The new teaching was called Gai’wiio and is believed to be practice today. The attempt to open the people mind to allow them to understand what was happening to them as a people.


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