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To the native of the Eastern Woodlands the family was the center of all things. The native family itself frequently included not only parents and children, but grandparents, aunts and uncles. Among some nations the village itself was arranged according to family ties. The French officer Pierre Pouchot tells us in 1755 "The huts of the Indian village are scattered along a river or a lake, some over a distance of over one or two leagues. Each hut contains the family head, his sons, grandsons and often his brothers and sisters. As a result, some of them hold as many as 60 persons. The fire is placed under the opening in the ridge and there are as many fires as their are families."

    All things were perceived in terms of family. Relations with other nations were understood in these terms. One tribe may be cousins or uncles to another. The crown heads of Europe were called Fathers and the natives referred to themselves as children. The natives even viewed their place in the natural order of the world in terms of these ties. The moon, sky and constellations were often referred to as grandmother or grandfather. Animals and plants were their uncles, cousins, brothers and sisters. Beyond the daily routine the family helped the nation endure. The family was the spirit that kept native society together.

    The family was life, and life was the nation. Increased pressure from white expansion and warfare threatened the nations at their very core. As the Eastern Indian retreated before the oncoming whites they became confined to ever-smaller tracts of land. Subsequently hunters were required to travel further and further afield to take game. Councils and treaties negotiations with the whites became more frequent and of longer duration. European armies make warfare a year round threat keeping warriors in the field longer than they had ever been before. More and more hunters, warriors and Sachems were forced away from their homes and families. Native families experienced longer separations and increased pressure at home. The prolonged absence of family members meant that many domestic chores were neglected. Slowly the family itself began to crumble under the weight. In "Leaving" we see the man of the family as he prepares for a journey. He is father, husband and son to those around him. The eldest child seems to cling not only to him, but also to the family, as her eyes convey the sadness of the knowledge that possibly more than just Father is leaving. — Geo Irvin