The Constitution of the Iroquois Nations around 1500
- I am Dekanawidah and with the Five Nations' Confederate
Lords I plant the Tree of Great Peace. I plant it in your
territory, Adodarhoh, and the Onondaga Nation, in the territory
of you who are Firekeepers.
I name the tree the Tree of the Great Long Leaves. Under the shade of this Tree of the Great Peace we spread the soft white feathery down of the globe thistle as seats for you, Adodarhoh, and your cousin Lords.
We place you upon those seats, spread soft with the feathery down of the globe thistle, there beneath the shade of the spreading branches of the Tree of Peace. There shall you sit and watch the Council Fire of the Confederacy of the Five Nations, and all the affairs of the Five Nations shall be transacted at this place before you, Adodarhoh, and your cousin Lords, by the Confederate Lords of the Five Nations.
- Roots have spread out from the Tree of the Great Peace,
one to the north, one to the east, one to the south and one to
the west. The name of these roots is The Great White Roots and
their nature is Peace and Strength.
If any man or any nation outside the Five Nations shall obey the laws of the Great Peace and make known their disposition to the Lords of the Confederacy, they may trace the Roots to the Tree and if their minds are clean and they are obedient and promise to obey the wishes of the Confederate Council, they shall be welcomed to take shelter beneath the Tree of the Long Leaves.
We place at the top of the Tree of the Long Leaves an Eagle who is able to see afar. If he sees in the distance any evil approaching or any danger threatening he will at once warn the people of the Confederacy.
- To you Adodarhoh, the Onondaga cousin Lords, I and the
other Confederate Lords have entrusted the caretaking and the
watching of the Five Nations Council Fire.
When there is any business to be transacted and the Confederate Council is not in session, a messenger shall be dispatched either to Adodarhoh, Hononwirehtonh or Skanawatih, Fire Keepers, or to their War Chiefs with a full statement of the case desired to be considered. Then shall Adodarhoh call his cousin (associate) Lords together and consider whether or not the case is of sufficient importance to demand the attention of the Confederate Council. If so, Adodarhoh shall dispatch messengers to summon all the Confederate Lords to assemble beneath the Tree of the Long Leaves.
When the Lords are assembled the Council Fire shall be kindled, but not with chestnut wood, and Adodarhoh shall formally open the Council.note
Then shall Adodarhoh and his cousin Lords, the Fire Keepers, announce the subject for discussion.
The Smoke of the Confederate Council Fire shall ever ascend and pierce the sky so that other nations who may be allies may see the Council Fire of the Great Peace.
Adodarhoh and his cousin Lords are entrusted with the Keeping of the Council Fire.
- You, Adodarhoh, and your thirteen cousin Lords, shall
faithfully keep the space about the Council Fire clean and you
shall allow neither dust nor dirt to accumulate. I lay a Long
Wing before you as a broom. As a weapon against a crawling
creature I lay a staff with you so that you may thrust it away
from the Council Fire. If you fail to cast it out then call
the rest of the United Lords to your aid.
- The Council of the Mohawk shall be divided into three
parties as follows: Tekarihoken, Ayonhwhathah and Shadekariwade
are the first party; Sharenhowaneh, Deyoenhegwenh and
Oghrenghrehgowah are the second party, and Dehennakrineh,
Aghstawenserenthah and Shoskoharowaneh are the third party.
The third party is to listen only to the discussion of the
first and second parties and if an error is made or the
proceeding is irregular they are to call attention to it, and
when the case is right and properly decided by the two parties
they shall confirm the decision of the two parties and refer
the case to the Seneca Lords for their decision. When the
Seneca Lords have decided in accord with the Mohawk Lords, the
case or question shall be referred to the Cayuga and Oneida
Lords on the opposite side of the house.
- I, Dekanawidah, appoint the Mohawk Lords the heads and the
leaders of the Five Nations Confederacy. The Mohawk Lords are
the foundation of the Great Peace and it shall, therefore, be
against the Great Binding Law to pass measures in the
Confederate Council after the Mohawk Lords have protested
No council of the Confederate Lords shall be legal unless all the Mohawk Lords are present.
Whenever the Confederate Lords shall assemble for the purpose of holding a council, the Onondaga Lords shall open it by expressing their gratitude to their cousin Lords and greeting them, and they shall make an address and offer thanks to the earth where men dwell, to the streams of water, the pools, the springs and the lakes, to the maize and the fruits, to the medicinal herbs and trees, to the forest trees for their usefulness, to the animals that serve as food and give their pelts for clothing, to the great winds and the lesser winds, to the Thunderers, to the Sun, the mighty warrior, to the moon, to the messengers of the Creator who reveal his wishes and to the Great Creator who dwells in the heavens above, who gives all the things useful to men, and who is the source and the ruler of health and life.
Then shall the Onondaga Lords declare the council open. The council shall not sit after darkness has set in.
- The Firekeepers shall formally open and close all councils of the Confederate Lords, and they shall pass upon all matters deliberated upon by the two sides and render their decision.
- Every Onondaga Lord (or his deputy) must be present at every Confederate Council and must agree with the majority without unwarrantable dissent, so that a unanimous decision may be rendered.
- If Adodarhoh or any of his cousin Lords are absent from a
Confederate Council, any other Firekeeper may open and close
the Council, but the Firekeepers present may not give any
decisions, unless the matter is of small importance.
- All the business of the Five Nations Confederate Council
shall be conducted by the two combined bodies of Confederate
Lords. First the question shall be passed upon by the Mohawk
and Seneca Lords, then it shall be discussed and passed by the
Oneida and Cayuga Lords. Their decisions shall then be
referred to the Onondaga Lords, (Fire Keepers) for final
The same process shall obtain when a question is brought before the council by an individual or a War Chief.
- In all cases the procedure must be as follows: when the
Mohawk and Seneca Lords have unanimously agreed upon a
question, they shall report their decision to the Cayuga and
Oneida Lords who shall deliberate upon the question and report
a unanimous decision to the Mohawk Lords. The Mohawk Lords
will then report the standing of the case to the Firekeepers,
who shall render a decision as they see fit in case of a
disagreement by the two bodies, or confirm the decisions of the
two bodies if they are identical. The Fire Keepers shall then
report their decision to the Mohawk Lords who shall announce it
to the open council.
- If through any misunderstanding or obstinacy on the part
of the Fire Keepers, they render a decision at variance with
that of the Two Sides, the Two Sides shall reconsider the
matter and if their decisions are jointly the same as before
they shall report to the Fire Keepers who are then compelled to
confirm their joint decision.
- When a case comes before the Onondaga Lords (Fire Keepers) for discussion and decsion, Adodarho shall introduce the matter to his comrade Lords who shall then discuss it in their two bodies. Every Onondaga Lord except Hononwiretonh shall deliberate and he shall listen only. When a unanimous decision shall have been reached by the two bodies of Fire Keepers, Adodarho shall notify Hononwiretonh of the fact when he shall confirm it. He shall refuse to confirm a decision if it is not unanimously agreed upon by both sides of the Fire Keepers.
- No Lord shall ask a question of the body of Confederate
Lords when they are discussing a case, question or
proposition. He may only deliberate in a low tone with the
separate body of which he is a member.
- When the Council of the Five Nation Lords shall convene
they shall appoint a speaker for the day. He shall be a Lord
of either the Mohawk, Onondaga or Seneca Nation.
The next day the Council shall appoint another speaker, but the first speaker may be reappointed if there is no objection, but a speaker's term shall not be regarded more than for the day.
- No individual or foreign nation interested in a case,
question or proposition shall have any voice in the Confederate
Council except to answer a question put to him or them by the
speaker for the Lords.
- If the conditions which shall arise at any future time
call for an addition to or change of this law, the case shall
be carefully considered and if a new beam seems necessary or
beneficial, the proposed change shall be voted upon and if
adopted it shall be called, "Added to the Rafters".
Rights, Duties and Qualifications of Lords
- A bunch of a certain number of shell (wampum) strings
each two spans in length shall be given to each of the female
families in which the Lordship titles are vested. The right
of bestowing the title shall be hereditary in the family of
the females legally possessing the bunch of shell strings and
the strings shall be the token that the females of the family
have the proprietary right to the Lordship title for all time
to come, subject to certain restrictions hereinafter mentioned.
- If any Confederate Lord neglects or refuses to attend the
Confederate Council, the other Lords of the Nation of which he
is a member shall require their War Chief to request the female
sponsors of the Lord so guilty of defection to demand his
attendance of the Council. If he refuses, the women holding
the title shall immediately select another candidate for the
No Lord shall be asked more than once to attend the Confederate Council.
- If at any time it shall be manifest that a Confederate
Lord has not in mind the welfare of the people or disobeys the
rules of this Great Law, the men or women of the Confederacy,
or both jointly, shall come to the Council and upbraid the
erring Lord through his War Chief. If the complaint of the
people through the War Chief is not heeded the first time it
shall be uttered again and then if no attention is given a
third complaint and warning shall be given. If the Lord is
contumacious the matter shall go to the council of War Chiefs.
The War Chiefs shall then divest the erring Lord of his title
by order of the women in whom the titleship is vested. When
the Lord is deposed the women shall notify the Confederate
Lords through their War Chief, and the Confederate Lords shall
sanction the act. The women will then select another of their
sons as a candidate and the Lords shall elect him. Then shall
the chosen one be installed by the Installation Ceremony.
When a Lord is to be deposed, his War Chief shall address him as follows:
"So you, __________, disregard and set at naught the warnings of your women relatives. So you fling the warnings over your shoulder to cast them behind you. "Behold the brightness of the Sun and in the brightness of the Sun's light I depose you of your title and remove the sacred emblem of your Lordship title. I remove from your brow the deer's antlers, which was the emblem of your position and token of your nobility. I now depose you and return the antlers to the women whose heritage they are."
The War Chief shall now address the women of the deposed Lord and say:
"Mothers, as I have now deposed your Lord, I now return to you the emblem and the title of Lordship, therefore repossess them."
Again addressing himself to the deposed Lord he shall say:
"As I have now deposed and discharged you so you are now no longer Lord. You shall now go your way alone, the rest of the people of the Confederacy will not go with you, for we know not the kind of mind that possesses you. As the Creator has nothing to do with wrong so he will not come to rescue you from the precipice of destruction in which you have cast yourself. You shall never be restored to the position which you once occupied."
Then shall the War Chief address himself to the Lords of the Nation to which the deposed Lord belongs and say:
"Know you, my Lords, that I have taken the deer's antlers from the brow of ___________, the emblem of his position and token of his greatness."
The Lords of the Confederacy shall then have no other alternative than to sanction the discharge of the offending Lord.
- If a Lord of the Confederacy of the Five Nations should
commit murder the other Lords of the Nation shall assemble at
the place where the corpse lies and prepare to depose the
criminal Lord. If it is impossible to meet at the scene of the
crime the Lords shall discuss the matter at the next Council of
their Nation and request their War Chief to depose the Lord
guilty of crime, to "bury" his women relatives and to transfer
the Lordship title to a sister family.
The War Chief shall address the Lord guilty of murder and say:
"So you, __________ (giving his name) did kill __________ (naming the slain man), with your own hands! You have comitted a grave sin in the eyes of the Creator. Behold the bright light of the Sun, and in the brightness of the Sun's light I depose you of your title and remove the horns, the sacred emblems of your Lordship title. I remove from your brow the deer's antlers, which was the emblem of your position and token of your nobility. I now depose you and expel you and you shall depart at once from the territory of the Five Nations Confederacy and nevermore return again. We, the Five Nations Confederacy, moreover, bury your women relatives because the ancient Lordship title was never intended to have any union with bloodshed. Henceforth it shall not be their heritage. By the evil deed that you have done they have forfeited it forever.."
The War Chief shall then hand the title to a sister family and he shall address it and say:
"Our mothers, ____________, listen attentively while I address you on a solemn and important subject. I hereby transfer to you an ancient Lordship title for a great calamity has befallen it in the hands of the family of a former Lord. We trust that you, our mothers, will always guard it, and that you will warn your Lord always to be dutiful and to advise his people to ever live in love, poeace and harmony that a great calamity may never happen again."
- Certain physical defects in a Confederate Lord make him
ineligible to sit in the Confederate Council. Such defects are
infancy, idiocy, blindness, deafness, dumbness and impotency.
When a Confederate Lord is restricted by any of these
condition, a deputy shall be appointed by his sponsors to act
for him, but in case of extreme necessity the restricted Lord
may exercise his rights.
- If a Confederate Lord desires to resign his title he shall
notify the Lords of the Nation of which he is a member of his
intention. If his coactive Lords refuse to accept his
resignation he may not resign his title.
A Lord in proposing to resign may recommend any proper candidate which recommendation shall be received by the Lords, but unless confirmed and nominated by the women who hold the title the candidate so named shall not be considered.
- Any Lord of the Five Nations Confederacy may construct
shell strings (or wampum belts) of any size or length as
pledges or records of matters of national or international
When it is necessary to dispatch a shell string by a War Chief or other messenger as the token of a summons, the messenger shall recite the contents of the string to the party to whom it is sent. That party shall repeat the message and return the shell string and if there has been a sumons he shall make ready for the journey.
Any of the people of the Five Nations may use shells (or wampum) as the record of a pledge, contract or an agreement entered into and the same shall be binding as soon as shell strings shall have been exchanged by both parties.
- The Lords of the Confederacy of the Five Nations shall be
mentors of the people for all time. The thickness of their
skin shall be seven spans -- which is to say that they shall
be proof against anger, offensive actions and criticism. Their
hearts shall be full of peace and good will and their minds
filled with a yearning for the welfare of the people of the
Confederacy. With endless patience they shall carry out their
duty and their firmness shall be tempered with a tenderness for
their people. Neither anger nor fury shall find lodgement in
their minds and all their words and actions shall be marked by
- If a Lord of the Confederacy should seek to establish any
authority independent of the jurisdiction of the Confederacy of
the Great Peace, which is the Five Nations, he shall be warned
three times in open council, first by the women relatives,
second by the men relatives and finally by the Lords of the
Confederacy of the Nation to which he belongs. If the
offending Lord is still obdurate he shall be dismissed by the
War Chief of his nation for refusing to conform to the laws of
the Great Peace. His nation shall then install the candidate
nominated by the female name holders of his family.
- It shall be the duty of all of the Five Nations
Confederate Lords, from time to time as occasion demands, to
act as mentors and spiritual guides of their people and remind
them of their Creator's will and words. They shall say:
"Hearken, that peace may continue unto future days!Every Confederate Lord shall speak words such as these to promote peace.
"Always listen to the words of the Great Creator, for he has spoken.
"United people, let not evil find lodging in your minds.
"For the Great Creator has spoken and the cause of Peace shall not become old.
"The cause of peace shall not die if you remember the Great Creator."
- All Lords of the Five Nations Confederacy must be honest
in all things. They must not idle or gossip, but be men
possessing those honorable qualities that make true royaneh.
It shall be a serious wrong for anyone to lead a Lord into
trivial affairs, for the people must ever hold their Lords high
in estimation out of respect to their honorable positions.
- When a candidate Lord is to be installed he shall furnish
four strings of shells (or wampum) one span in length bound
together at one end. Such will constitute the evidence of his
pledge to the Confederate Lords that he will live according to
the constitution of the Great Peace and exercise justice in all
When the pledge is furnished the Speaker of the Council must hold the shell strings in his hand and address the opposite side of the Council Fire and he shall commence his address saying:
"Now behold him. He has now become a Confederate Lord. See how splendid he looks."An address may then follow. At the end of it he shall send the bunch of shell strings to the oposite side and they shall be received as evidence of the pledge. Then shall the opposite side say:
"We now do crown you with the sacred emblem of the deer's antlers, the emblem of your Lordship. You shall now become a mentor of the people of the Five Nations. The thickness of your skin shall be seven spans -- which is to say that you shall be proof against anger, offensive actions and criticism. Your heart shall be filled with peace and good will and your mind filled with a yearning for the welfare of the people of the Confederacy. With endless patience you shall carry out your duty and your firmness shall be tempered with tenderness for your people. Neither anger nor fury shall find lodgement in your mind and all your words and actions shall be marked with calm deliberation. In all of your deliberations in the Confederate Council, in your efforts at law making, in all your official acts, self interest shall be cast into oblivion. Cast not over your shoulder behind you the warnings of the nephews and nieces should they chide you for any error or wrong you may do, but return to the way of the Great Law which is just and right. Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground -- the unborn of the future Nation."
- When a Lordship title is to be conferred, the candidate
Lord shall furnish the cooked venison, the corn bread and the
corn soup, together with other necessary things and the labor
for the Conferring of Titles Festival.
- The Lords of the Confederacy may confer the Lordship title
upon a candidate whenever the Great Law is recited, if there be
a candidate, for the Great Law speaks all the rules.
- If a Lord of the Confederacy should become seriously ill
and be thought near death, the women who are heirs of his title
shall go to his house and lift his crown of deer antlers, the
emblem of his Lordship, and place them at one side. If the
Creator spares him and he rises from his bed of sickness he may
rise with the antlers on his brow.
The following words shall be used to temporarily remove the antlers:
"Now our comrade Lord (or our relative Lord) the time has come when we must approach you in your illness. We remove for a time the deer's antlers from your brow, we remove the emblem of your Lordship title. The Great Law has decreed that no Lord should end his life with the antlers on his brow. We therefore lay them aside in the room. If the Creator spares you and you recover from your illness you shall rise from your bed with the antlers on your brow as before and you shall resume your duties as Lord of the Confederacy and you may labor again for the Confederate people."
- If a Lord of the Confederacy should die while the Council
of the Five Nations is in session the Council shall adjourn for
ten days. No Confederate Council shall sit within ten days of
the death of a Lord of the Confederacy.
If the Three Brothers (the Mohawk, the Onondaga and the Seneca) should lose one of their Lords by death, the Younger Brothers (the Oneida and the Cayuga) shall come to the surviving Lords of the Three Brothers on the tenth day and console them. If the Younger Brothers lose one of their Lords then the Three Brothers shall come to them and console them. And the consolation shall be the reading of the contents of the thirteen shell (wampum) strings of Ayonhwhathah. At the termination of this rite a successor shall be appointed, to be appointed by the women heirs of the Lordship title. If the women are not yet ready to place their nominee before the Lords the Speaker shall say,
"Come let us go out."All shall leave the Council or the place of gathering. The installation shall then wait until such a time as the women are ready. The Speaker shall lead the way from the house by saying,
"Let us depart to the edge of the woods and lie in waiting on our bellies."
When the women title holders shall have chosen one of their sons the Confederate Lords will assemble in two places, the Younger Brothers in one place and the Three Older Brothers in another. The Lords who are to console the mourning Lords shall choose one of their number to sing the Pacification Hymn as they journey to the sorrowing Lords. The singer shall lead the way and the Lords and the people shall follow. When they reach the sorrowing Lords they shall hail the candidate Lord and perform the rite of Conferring the Lordship Title.
- When a Confederate Lord dies, the surviving relatives
shall immediately dispatch a messenger, a member of another
clan, to the Lords in another locality. When the runner comes
within hailing distance of the locality he shall utter a sad
wail, thus: "Kwa-ah, Kwa-ah, Kwa-ah!" The sound shall be
repeated three times and then again and again at intervals as
many times as the distance may require. When the runner
arrives at the settlement the people shall assemble and one
must ask him the nature of his sad message. He shall then say,
"Let us consider." Then he shall tell them of the death of the
Lord. He shall deliver to them a string of shells (wampum) and
say "Here is the testimony, you have heard the message." He
may then return home.
It now becomes the duty of the Lords of the locality to send runners to other localities and each locality shall send other messengers until all Lords are notified. Runners shall travel day and night.
- If a Lord dies and there is no candidate qualified for the
office in the family of the women title holders, the Lords of
the Nation shall give the title into the hands of a sister
family in the clan until such a time as the original family
produces a candidate, when the title shall be restored to the
No Lordship title may be carried into the grave. The Lords of the Confederacy may dispossess a dead Lord of his title even at the grave.
Election of Pine Tree Chiefs
- Should any man of the Nation assist with special ability
or show great interest in the affairs of the Nation, if he
proves himself wise, honest and worthy of confidence, the
Confederate Lords may elect him to a seat with them and he may
sit in the Confederate Council. He shall be proclaimed a 'Pine
Tree sprung up for the Nation' and shall be installed as such
at the next assembly for the installation of Lords. Should he
ever do anything contrary to the rules of the Great Peace, he
may not be deposed from office -- no one shall cut him down --
but thereafter everyone shall be deaf to his voice and his
advice. Should he resign his seat and title no one shall
prevent him. A Pine Tree chief has no authority to name a
successor nor is his title hereditary.
Names, Duties and Rights of War Chiefs
- The title names of the Chief Confederate Lords' War Chiefs shall be:
Ayonwaehs, War Chief under Lord Takarihoken (Mohawk)
Kahonwahdironh, War Chief under Lord Odatshedeh (Oneida)
Ayendes, War Chief under Lord Adodarhoh (Onondaga)
Wenenhs, War Chief under Lord Dekaenyonh (Cayuga)
Shoneradowaneh, War Chief under Lord Skanyadariyo (Seneca)
The women heirs of each head Lord's title shall be the heirs of the War Chief's title of their respective Lord.
The War Chiefs shall be selected from the eligible sons of the female families holding the head Lordship titles.
- There shall be one War Chief for each Nation and their
duties shall be to carry messages for their Lords and to take
up the arms of war in case of emergency. They shall not
participate in the proceedings of the Confederate Council but
shall watch its progress and in case of an erroneous action by
a Lord they shall receive the complaints of the people and
convey the warnings of the women to him. The people who wish
to convey messages to the Lords in the Confederate Council
shall do so through the War Chief of their Nation. It shall
ever be his duty to lay the cases, questions and propositions
of the people before the Confederate Council.
- When a War Chief dies another shall be installed by the
same rite as that by which a Lord is installed.
- If a War Chief acts contrary to instructions or against
the provisions of the Laws of the Great Peace, doing so in the
capacity of his office, he shall be deposed by his women
relatives and by his men relatives. Either the women or the
men alone or jointly may act in such a case. The women title
holders shall then choose another candidate.
- When the Lords of the Confederacy take occasion to
dispatch a messenger in behalf of the Confederate Council,
they shall wrap up any matter they may send and instruct the
messenger to remember his errand, to turn not aside but to
proceed faithfully to his destination and deliver his message
according to every instruction.
- If a message borne by a runner is the warning of an
invasion he shall whoop, "Kwa-ah, Kwa-ah," twice and repeat
at short intervals; then again at a longer interval.
If a human being is found dead, the finder shall not touch the body but return home immediately shouting at short intervals, "Koo-weh!"
Clans and Consanguinity
- Among the Five Nations and their posterity there shall be
the following original clans: Great Name Bearer, Ancient Name
Bearer, Great Bear, Ancient Bear, Turtle, Painted Turtle,
Standing Rock, Large Plover, Deer, Pigeon Hawk, Eel, Ball,
Opposite-Side-of-the-Hand, and Wild Potatoes. These clans
distributed through their respective Nations, shall be the sole
owners and holders of the soil of the country and in them is it
vested as a birthright.
- People of the Five Nations members of a certain clan shall
recognize every other member of that clan, irrespective of the
Nation, as relatives. Men and women, therefore, members of the
same clan are forbidden to marry.
- The lineal descent of the people of the Five Nations shall
run in the female line. Women shall be considered the
progenitors of the Nation. They shall own the land and the
soil. Men and women shall follow the status of the mother.
- The women heirs of the Confederated Lordship titles shall
be called Royaneh (Noble) for all time to come.
- The women of the Forty Eight (now fifty) Royaneh families
shall be the heirs of the Authorized Names for all time to come.
When an infant of the Five Nations is given an Authorized Name at the Midwinter Festival or at the Ripe Corn Festival, one in the cousinhood of which the infant is a member shall be appointed a speaker. He shall then announce to the opposite cousinhood the names of the father and the mother of the child together with the clan of the mother. Then the speaker shall announce the child's name twice. The uncle of the child shall then take the child in his arms and walking up and down the room shall sing: "My head is firm, I am of the Confederacy." As he sings the opposite cousinhood shall respond by chanting, "Hyenh, Hyenh, Hyenh, Hyenh," until the song is ended.
- If the female heirs of a Confederate Lord's title become
extinct, the title right shall be given by the Lords of the
Confederacy to the sister family whom they shall elect and that
family shall hold the name and transmit it to their (female)
heirs, but they shall not appoint any of their sons as a
candidate for a title until all the eligible men of the former
family shall have died or otherwise have become ineligible.
- If all the heirs of a Lordship title become extinct, and
all the families in the clan, then the title shall be given by
the Lords of the Confederacy to the family in a sister clan
whom they shall elect.
- If any of the Royaneh women, heirs of a titleship, shall
wilfully withhold a Lordship or other title and refuse to
bestow it, or if such heirs abandon, forsake or despise their
heritage, then shall such women be deemed buried and their
family extinct. The titleship shall then revert to a sister
family or clan upon application and complaint. The Lords of
the Confederacy shall elect the family or clan which shall in
future hold the title.
- The Royaneh women of the Confederacy heirs of the Lordship
titles shall elect two women of their family as cooks for the
Lord when the people shall assemble at his house for business
or other purposes.
It is not good nor honorable for a Confederate Lord to allow his people whom he has called to go hungry.
- When a Lord holds a conference in his home, his wife, if
she wishes, may prepare the food for the Union Lords who
assemble with him. This is an honorable right which she may
exercise and an expression of her esteem.
- The Royaneh women, heirs of the Lordship titles, shall,
should it be necessary, correct and admonish the holders of
their titles. Those only who attend the Council may do this
and those who do not shall not object to what has been said nor
strive to undo the action.
- When the Royaneh women, holders of a Lordship title,
select one of their sons as a candidate, they shall select one
who is trustworthy, of good character, of honest disposition,
one who manages his own affairs, supports his own family, if
any, and who has proven a faithful man to his Nation.
- When a Lordship title becomes vacant through death or
other cause, the Royaneh women of the clan in which the title
is hereditary shall hold a council and shall choose one from
among their sons to fill the office made vacant. Such a
candidate shall not be the father of any Confederate Lord.
If the choice is unanimous the name is referred to the men
relatives of the clan. If they should disapprove it shall be
their duty to select a candidate from among their own number.
If then the men and women are unable to decide which of the two
candidates shall be named, then the matter shall be referred to
the Confederate Lords in the Clan. They shall decide which
candidate shall be named. If the men and the women agree to a
candidate his name shall be referred to the sister clans for
confirmation. If the sister clans confirm the choice, they
shall refer their action to their Confederate Lords who shall
ratify the choice and present it to their cousin Lords, and if
the cousin Lords confirm the name then the candidate shall be
installed by the proper ceremony for the conferring of Lordship
- A large bunch of shell strings, in the making of which the
Five Nations Confederate Lords have equally contributed, shall
symbolize the completeness of the union and certify the pledge
of the nations represented by the Confederate Lords of the
Mohawk, the Oneida, the Onondaga, the Cayuga and the Senecca,
that all are united and formed into one body or union called
the Union of the Great Law, which they have established.
A bunch of shell strings is to be the symbol of the council fire of the Five Nations Confederacy. And the Lord whom the council of Fire Keepers shall appoint to speak for them in opening the council shall hold the strands of shells in his hands when speaking. When he finishes speaking he shall deposit the strings on an elevated place (or pole) so that all the assembled Lords and the people may see it and know that the council is open and in progress.
When the council adjourns the Lord who has been appointed by his comrade Lords to close it shall take the strands of shells in his hands and address the assembled Lords. Thus will the council adjourn until such time and place as appointed by the council. Then shall the shell strings be placed in a place for safekeeping.
Every five years the Five Nations Confederate Lords and the people shall assemble together and shall ask one another if their minds are still in the same spirit of unity for the Great Binding Law and if any of the Five Nations shall not pledge continuance and steadfastness to the pledge of unity then the Great Binding Law shall dissolve.
- Five strings of shell tied together as one shall represent
the Five Nations. Each string shall represent one territory
and the whole a completely united territory known as the Five
Nations Confederate territory.
- Five arrows shall be bound together very strong and each
arrow shall represent one nation. As the five arrows are
strongly bound this shall symbolize the complete union of the
nations. Thus are the Five Nations united completely and
enfolded together, united into one head, one body and one
mind. Therefore they shall labor, legislate and council
together for the interest of future generations.
The Lords of the Confederacy shall eat together from one bowl the feast of cooked beaver's tail. While they are eating they are to use no sharp utensils for if they should they might accidentally cut one another and bloodshed would follow. All measures must be taken to prevent the spilling of blood in any way.
- There are now the Five Nations Confederate Lords standing
with joined hands in a circle. This signifies and provides
that should any one of the Confederate Lords leave the council
and this Confederacy his crown of deer's horns, the emblem of
his Lordship title, together with his birthright, shall lodge
on the arms of the Union Lords whose hands are so joined. He
forfeits his title and the crown falls from his brow but it
shall remain in the Confederacy.
A further meaning of this is that if any time any one of the Confederate Lords choose to submit to the law of a foreign people he is no longer in but out of the Confederacy, and persons of this class shall be called "They have alienated themselves." Likewise such persons who submit to laws of foreign nations shall forfeit all birthrights and claims on the Five Nations Confederacy and territory.
You, the Five Nations Confederate Lords, be firm so that if a tree falls on your joined arms it shall not separate or weaken your hold. So shall the strength of the union be preserved.
- A bunch of wampum shells on strings, three spans of the
hand in length, the upper half of the bunch being white and the
lower half black, and formed from equal contributions of the
men of the Five Nations, shall be a token that the men have
combined themselves into one head, one body and one thought,
and it shall also symbolize their ratification of the peace
pact of the Confederacy, whereby the Lords of the Five Nations
have established the Great Peace.
The white portion of the shell strings represent the women and the black portion the men. The black portion, furthermore, is a token of power and authority vested in the men of the Five Nations.
This string of wampum vests the people with the right to correct their erring Lords. In case a part or all the Lords pursue a course not vouched for by the people and heed not the third warning of their women relatives, then the matter shall be taken to the General Council of the women of the Five Nations. If the Lords notified and warned three times fail to heed, then the case falls into the hands of the men of the Five Nations. The War Chiefs shall then, by right of such power and authority, enter the open concil to warn the Lord or Lords to return from the wrong course. If the Lords heed the warning they shall say, "we will reply tomorrow." If then an answer is returned in favor of justice and in accord with this Great Law, then the Lords shall individualy pledge themselves again by again furnishing the necessary shells for the pledge. Then shall the War Chief or Chiefs exhort the Lords urging them to be just and true.
Should it happen that the Lords refuse to heed the third warning, then two courses are open: either the men may decide in their council to depose the Lord or Lords or to club them to death with war clubs. Should they in their council decide to take the first course the War Chief shall address the Lord or Lords, saying:
"Since you the Lords of the Five Nations have refused to return to the procedure of the Constitution, we now declare your seats vacant, we take off your horns, the token of your Lordship, and others shall be chosen and installed in your seats, therefore vacate your seats."
Should the men in their council adopt the second course, the War Chief shall order his men to enter the council, to take positions beside the Lords, sitting bewteen them wherever possible. When this is accomplished the War Chief holding in his outstretched hand a bunch of black wampum strings shall say to the erring Lords:
"So now, Lords of the Five United Nations, harken to these last words from your men. You have not heeded the warnings of the women relatives, you have not heeded the warnings of the General Council of women and you have not heeded the warnings of the men of the nations, all urging you to return to the right course of action. Since you are determined to resist and to withhold justice from your people there is only one course for us to adopt."At this point the War Chief shall let drop the bunch of black wampum and the men shall spring to their feet and club the erring Lords to death. Any erring Lord may submit before the War Chief lets fall the black wampum. Then his execution is withheld.
The black wampum here used symbolizes that the power to execute is buried but that it may be raised up again by the men. It is buried but when occasion arises they may pull it up and derive their power and authority to act as here described.
- A broad dark belt of wampum of thirty-eight rows, having a
white heart in the center, on either side of which are two
white squares all connected with the heart by white rows of
beads shall be the emblem of the unity of the Five Nations.note
The first of the squares on the left represents the Mohawk nation and its territory; the second square on the left and the one near the heart, represents the Oneida nation and its territory; the white heart in the middle represents the Onondaga nation and its territory, and it also means that the heart of the Five Nations is single in its loyalty to the Great Peace, that the Great Peace is lodged in the heart (meaning the Onondaga Lords), and that the Council Fire is to burn there for the Five Nations, and further, it means that the authority is given to advance the cause of peace whereby hostile nations out of the Confederacy shall cease warfare; the white square to the right of the heart represents the Cayuga nation and its territory and the fourth and last white square represents the Seneca nation and its territory.
White shall here symbolize that no evil or jealous thoughts shall creep into the minds of the Lords while in Council under the Great Peace. White, the emblem of peace, love, charity and equity surrounds and guards the Five Nations.
- Should a great calamity threaten the generations rising
and living of the Five United Nations, then he who is able to
climb to the top of the Tree of the Great Long Leaves may do
so. When, then, he reaches the top of the tree he shall look
about in all directions, and, should he see that evil things
indeed are approaching, then he shall call to the people of the
Five United Nations assembled beneath the Tree of the Great
Long Leaves and say: "A calamity threatens your happiness."
Then shall the Lords convene in council and discuss the impending evil. When all the truths relating to the trouble shall be fully known and found to be truths, then shall the people seek out a Tree of Ka-hon-ka-ah-go-nah, [ a great swamp Elm ], and when they shall find it they shall assemble their heads together and lodge for a time between its roots. Then, their labors being finished, they may hope for happiness for many days after.
- When the Confederate Council of the Five Nations declares
for a reading of the belts of shell calling to mind these laws,
they shall provide for the reader a specially made mat woven of
the fibers of wild hemp. The mat shall not be used again, for
such formality is called the honoring of the importance of the
- Should two sons of opposite sides of the council fire
agree in a desire to hear the reciting of the laws of the
Great Peace and so refresh their memories in the way ordained
by the founder of the Confederacy, they shall notify Adodarho.
He then shall consult with five of his coactive Lords and they
in turn shall consult with their eight brethern. Then should
they decide to accede to the request of the two sons from
opposite sides of the Council Fire, Adodarho shall send
messengers to notify the Chief Lords of each of the Five
Nations. Then they shall despatch their War Chiefs to notify
their brother and cousin Lords of the meeting and its time and
When all have come and have assembled, Adodarhoh, in conjunction with his cousin Lords, shall appoint one Lord who shall repeat the laws of the Great Peace. Then shall they announce who they have chosen to repeat the laws of the Great Peace to the two sons. Then shall the chosen one repeat the laws of the Great Peace.
- At the ceremony of the installation of Lords if there is
only one expert speaker and singer of the law and the
Pacification Hymn to stand at the council fire, then when this
speaker and singer has finished addressing one side of the fire
he shall go to the oposite side and reply to his own speech and
song. He shall thus act for both sidesa of the fire until the
entire ceremony has been completed. Such a speaker and singer
shall be termed the "Two Faced" because he speaks and sings for
both sides of the fire.
- I, Dekanawida, and the Union Lords, now uproot the tallest
pine tree and into the cavity thereby made we cast all weapons
of war. Into the depths of the earth, down into the deep
underearth currents of water flowing to unknown regions we cast
all the weapons of strife. We bury them from sight and we
plant again the tree. Thus shall the Great Peace be
established and hostilities shall no longer be known between
the Five Nations but peace to the United People.
Laws of Adoption
- The father of a child of great comliness, learning,
ability or specially loved because of some circumstance may, at
the will of the child's clan, select a name from his own (the
father's) clan and bestow it by ceremony, such as is provided.
This naming shall be only temporary and shall be called, "A
name hung about the neck."
- Should any person, a member of the Five Nations'
Confederacy, specially esteem a man or woman of another clan or
of a foreign nation, he may choose a name and bestow it upon
that person so esteemed. The naming shall be in accord with
the ceremony of bestowing names. Such a name is only a
temporary one and shall be called "A name hung about the
neck." A short string of shells shall be delivered with the
name as a record and a pledge.
- Should any member of the Five Nations, a family or person
belonging to a foreign nation submit a proposal for adoption
into a clan of one of the Five Nations, he or they shall
furnish a string of shells, a span in length, as a pledge to
the clan into which he or they wish to be adopted. The Lords
of the nation shall then consider the proposal and submit a
- Any member of the Five Nations who through esteem or other
feeling wishes to adopt an individual, a family or number of
families may offer adoption to him or them and if accepted the
matter shall be brought to the attention of the Lords for
confirmation and the Lords must confirm adoption.
- When the adoption of anyone shall have been confirmed by
the Lords of the Nation, the Lords shall address the people of
their nation and say: "Now you of our nation, be informed that
such a person, such a family or such families have ceased
forever to bear their birth nation's name and have buried it in
the depths of the earth. Henceforth let no one of our nation
ever mention the original name or nation of their birth. To do
so will be to hasten the end of our peace.
Laws of Emigration
- When any person or family belonging to the Five Nations
desires to abandon their birth nation and the territory of the
Five Nations, they shall inform the Lords of their nation and
the Confederate Council of the Five Nations shall take
cognizance of it.
- When any person or any of the people of the Five Nations
emigrate and reside in a region distant from the territory of
the Five Nations Confederacy, the Lords of the Five Nations at
will may send a messenger carrying a broad belt of black shells
and when the messenger arrives he shall call the people
together or address them personally displaying the belt of
shells and they shall know that this is an order for them to
return to their original homes and to their council fires.
Rights of Foreign Nations
- The soil of the earth from one end of the land to the
other is the property of the people who inhabit it. By
birthright the Ongwehonweh (Original beings) are the owners
of the soil which they own and occupy and none other may hold
it. The same law has been held from the oldest times.
The Great Creator has made us of the one blood and of the same soil he made us and as only different tongues constitute different nations he established different hunting grounds and territories and made boundary lines between them.
- When any alien nation or individual is admitted into the
Five Nations the admission shall be understood only to be a
temporary one. Should the person or nation create loss, do
wrong or cause suffering of any kind to endanger the peace of
the Confederacy, the Confederate Lords shall order one of their
war chiefs to reprimand him or them and if a similar offence is
again committed the offending party or parties shall be
expelled from the territory of the Five United Nations.
- When a member of an alien nation comes to the territory
of the Five Nations and seeks refuge and permanent residence,
the Lords of the Nation to which he comes shall extend
hospitality and make him a member of the nation. Then shall he
be accorded equal rights and privileges in all matters except
as after mentioned.
- No body of alien people who have been adopted temporarily
shall have a vote in the council of the Lords of the
Confederacy, for only they who have been invested with Lordship
titles may vote in the Council. Aliens have nothing by blood
to make claim to a vote and should they have it, not knowing
all the traditions of the Confederacy, might go against its
Great Peace. In this manner the Great Peace would be
endangered and perhaps be destroyed.
- When the Lords of the Confederacy decide to admit a
foreign nation and an adoption is made, the Lords shall inform
the adopted nation that its admission is only temporary. They
shall also say to the nation that it must never try to control,
to interfere with or to injure the Five Nations nor disregard
the Great Peace or any of its rules or customs. That in no way
should they cause disturbance or injury. Then should the
adopted nation disregard these injunctions, their adoption
shall be annuled and they shall be expelled.
The expulsion shall be in the following manner: The council shall appoint one of their War Chiefs to convey the message of annulment and he shall say,
"You (naming the nation) listen to me while I speak. I am here to inform you again of the will of the Five Nations' Council. It was clearly made known to you at a former time. Now the Lords of the Five Nations have decided to expel you and cast you out. We disown you now and annul your adoption. Therefore you must look for a path in which to go and lead away all your people. It was you, not we, who committed wrong and caused this sentence of annulment. So then go your way and depart from the territory of the Five Nations and from the Confederacy."
- Whenever a foreign nation enters the Confederacy or
accepts the Great Peace, the Five Nations and the foreign
nation shall enter into an agreement and compact by which the
foreign nation shall endeavor to pursuade other nations to
accept the Great Peace.
Rights and Powers of War
- Skanawatih shall be vested with a double office, duty and
with double authority. One-half of his being shall hold the
Lordship title and the other half shall hold the title of War
Chief. In the event of war he shall notify the five War Chiefs
of the Confederacy and command them to prepare for war and have
their men ready at the appointed time and place for engagement
with the enemy of the Great Peace.
- When the Confederate Council of the Five Nations has for
its object the establishment of the Great Peace among the
people of an outside nation and that nation refuses to accept
the Great Peace, then by such refusal they bring a declaration
of war upon themselves from the Five Nations. Then shall the
Five Nations seek to establish the Great Peace by a conquest
of the rebellious nation.
- When the men of the Five Nations, now called forth to
become warriors, are ready for battle with an obstinate
opposing nation that has refused to accept the Great Peace,
then one of the five War Chiefs shall be chosen by the warriors
of the Five Nations to lead the army into battle. It shall be
the duty of the War Chief so chosen to come before his warriors
and address them. His aim shall be to impress upon them the
necessity of good behavior and strict obedience to all the
commands of the War Chiefs. He shall deliver an oration
exhorting them with great zeal to be brave and courageous and
never to be guilty of cowardice. At the conclusion of his
oration he shall march forward and commence the War Song and he
Now I am greatly surprised
And, therefore I shall use it --
The powerr of my War Song.
I am of the Five Nations
And I shall make supplication
To the Almighty Creator.
He has furnished this army.
My warriors shall be mighty
In the strength of the Creator.
Between him and my song they are
For it was he who gave the song
This war song that I sing!
- When the warriors of the Five Nations are on an
expedition against an enemy, the War Chief shall sing the War
Song as he approaches the country of the enemy and not cease
until his scouts have reported that the army is near the
enemies' lines when the War Chief shall approach with great
caution and prepare for the attack.
- When peace shall have been established by the termination
of the war against a foreign nation, then the War Chief shall
cause all the weapons of war to be taken from the nation. Then
shall the Great Peace be established and that nation shall
observe all the rules of the Great Peace for all time to come.
- Whenever a foreign nation is conquered or has by their
own will accepted the Great Peace their own system of internal
government may continue, but they must cease all warfare
against other nations.
- Whenever a war against a foreign nation is pushed until
that nation is about exterminated because of its refusal to
accept the Great Peace and if that nation shall by its obstinacy
become exterminated, all their rights, property and territory
shall become the property of the Five Nations.
- Whenever a foreign nation is conquered and the survivors
are brought into the territory of the Five Nations' Confederacy
and placed under the Great Peace the two shall be known as the
Conqueror and the Conquered. A symbolic relationship shall be
devised and be placed in some symbolic position. The conquered
nation shall have no voice in the councils of the Confederacy
in the body of the Lords.
- When the War of the Five Nations on a foreign rebellious
nation is ended, peace shall be restored to that nation by a
withdrawal of all their weapons of war by the War Chief of the
Five Nations. When all the terms of peace shall have been
agreed upon a state of friendship shall be established.
- When the proposition to establish the Great Peace is
made to a foreign nation it shall be done in mutual council.
The foreign nation is to be persuaded by reason and urged to
come into the Great Peace. If the Five Nations fail to obtain
the consent of the nation at the first council a second council
shall be held and upon a second failure a third council shall
be held and this third council shall end the peaceful methods
of persuasion. At the third council the War Chief of the Five
nations shall address the Chief of the foreign nation and
request him three times to accept the Great Peace. If refusal
steadfastly follows the War Chief shall let the bunch of white
lake shells drop from his outstretched hand to the ground and
shall bound quickly forward and club the offending chief to
death. War shall thereby be declared and the War Chief shall
have his warriors at his back to meet any emergency. War must
continue until the contest is won by the Five Nations.
- When the Lords of the Five Nations propose to meet in
conference with a foreign nation with proposals for an
acceptance of the Great Peace, a large band of warriors shall
conceal themselves in a secure place safe from the espionage
of the foreign nation but as near at hand as possible. Two
warriors shall accompany the Union Lord who carries the
proposals and these warriors shall be especially cunning.
Should the Lord be attacked, these warriors shall hasten back
to the army of warriors with the news of the calamity which
fell through the treachery of the foreign nation.
- When the Five Nations' Council declares war any Lord of
the Confederacy may enlist with the warriors by temporarily
renouncing his sacred Lordship title which he holds through the
election of his women relatives. The title then reverts to
them and they may bestow it upon another temporarily until the
war is over when the Lord, if living, may resume his title and
seat in the Council.
- A certain wampum belt of black beads shall be the emblem
of the authority of the Five War Chiefs to take up the weapons
of war and with their men to resist invasion. This shall be
called a war in defense of the territory.
Treason or Secession of a Nation
- If a nation, part of a nation, or more than one nation
within the Five Nations should in any way endeavor to destroy
the Great Peace by neglect or violating its laws and resolve to
dissolve the Confederacy, such a nation or such nations shall
be deemed guilty of treason and called enemies of the
Confederacy and the Great Peace.
It shall then be the duty of the Lords of the Confederacy who remain faithful to resolve to warn the offending people. They shall be warned once and if a second warning is necessary they shall be driven from the territory of the Confederacy by the War Chiefs and his men.
Rights of the People of the Five Nations
- Whenever a specially important matter or a great emergency
is presented before the Confederate Council and the nature of
the matter affects the entire body of the Five Nations,
threatening their utter ruin, then the Lords of the Confederacy
must submit the matter to the decision of their people and the
decision of the people shall affect the decision of the
Confederate Council. This decision shall be a confirmation of
the voice of the people.
- The men of every clan of the Five Nations shall have a
Council Fire ever burning in readiness for a council of the
clan. When it seems necessary for a council to be held to
discuss the welfare of the clans, then the men may gather
about the fire. This council shall have the same rights
as the council of the women.
- The women of every clan of the Five Nations shall have
a Council Fire ever burning in readiness for a council of the
clan. When in their opinion it seems necessary for the
interest of the people they shall hold a council and their
decisions and recommendations shall be introduced before the
Council of the Lords by the War Chief for its consideration.
- All the Clan council fires of a nation or of the Five
Nations may unite into one general council fire, or delegates
from all the council fires may be appointeed to unite in a
general council for discussing the interests of the people.
The people shall have the right to make appointments and to
delegate their power to others of their number. When their
council shall have come to a conclusion on any matter, their
decision shall be reported to the Council of the Nation or to
the Confederate Council (as the case may require) by the War
Chief or the War Chiefs.
- Before the real people united their nations, each nation
had its council fires. Before the Great Peace their councils
were held. The five Council Fires shall continue to burn as
before and they are not quenched. The Lords of each nation in
future shall settle their nation's affairs at this council fire
governed always by the laws and rules of the council of the
Confederacy and by the Great Peace.
- If either a nephew or a niece see an irregularity in the
performance of the functions of the Great Peace and its laws,
in the Confederate Council or in the conferring of Lordship
titles in an improper way, through their War Chief they may
demand that such actions become subject to correction and that
the matter conform to the ways prescribed by the laws of the
Religious Ceremonies Protected
- The rites and festivals of each nation shall remain
undisturbed and shall continue as before because they were
given by the people of old times as useful and necessary
for the good of men.
- It shall be the duty of the Lords of each brotherhood
to confer at the approach of the time of the Midwinter
Thanksgiving and to notify their people of the approaching
festival. They shall hold a council over the matter and
arrange its details and begin the Thanksgiving five days
after the moon of Dis-ko-nah is new. The people shall
assemble at the appointed place and the nephews shall notify
the people of the time and place. From the beginning to
the end the Lords shall preside over the Thanksgiving and
address the people from time to time.
- It shall be the duty of the appointed managers of the
Thanksgiving festivals to do all that is needed for carrying
out the duties of the occasions.
The recognized festivals of Thanksgiving shall be the Midwinter Thanksgiving, the Maple or Sugar-making Thanksgiving, the Raspberry Thanksgiving, the Strawberry Thanksgiving, the Cornplanting Thanksgiving, the Corn Hoeing Thanksgiving, the Little Festival of Green Corn, the Great Festival of Ripe Corn and the complete Thanksgiving for the Harvest.
Each nation's festivals shall be held in their Long Houses.
- When the Thansgiving for the Green Corn comes the
special managers, both the men and women, shall give it
careful attention and do their duties properly.
- When the Ripe Corn Thanksgiving is celebrated the Lords
of the Nation must give it the same attention as they give
to the Midwinter Thanksgiving.
- Whenever any man proves himself by his good life and his
knowledge of good things, naturally fitted as a teacher of good
things, he shall be recognized by the Lords as a teacher of
peace and religion and the people shall hear him.
The Installation Song
- The song used in installing the new Lord of the
Confederacy shall be sung by Adodarhoh and it shall be:
"Haii, haii Agwah wi-yoh
" " A-kon-he-watha
" " Ska-we-ye-se-go-wah
" " Yon-gwa-wih
" " Ya-kon-he-wa-tha
Haii, haii It is good indeed
" " (That) a broom, --
" " A great wing,
" " It is given me
" " For a sweeping instrument."
- Whenever a person properly entitled desires to learn the
Pacification Song he is privileged to do so but he must prepare
a feast at which his teachers may sit with him and sing. The
feast is provided that no misfortune may befall them for
singing the song on an occasion when no chief is installed.
Protection of the House
- A certain sign shall be known to all the people of the
Five Nations which shall denote that the owner or occupant of
a house is absent. A stick or pole in a slanting or leaning
position shall indicate this and be the sign. Every person not
entitled to enter the house by right of living within it upon
seeing such a sign shall not approach the house either by day
or by night but shall keep as far away as his business will
- At the funeral of a Lord of the Confederacy, say:
Now we become reconciled as you start away. You were once a Lord of the Five Nations' Confederacy and the United People trusted you. Now we release you for it is true that it is no longer possible for us to walk about together on the earth. Now, therefore, we lay it (the body) here. Here we lay it away. Now then we say to you, 'Persevere onward to the place where the Creator dwells in peace. Let not the things of the earth hinder you. Let nothing that transpired while yet you lived hinder you. In hunting you once took delight; in the game of Lacrosse you once took delight and in the feasts and pleasant occasions your mind was amused, but now do not allow thoughts of these things to give you trouble. Let not your relatives hinder you and also let not your friends and associates trouble your mind. Regard none of these things.'
"Now then, in turn, you here present who were related to this man and you who were his friends and associates, behold the path that is yours also! Soon we ourselves will be left in that place. For this reason hold yourselves in restraint as you go from place to place. In your actions and in your conversation do no idle thing. Speak not idle talk neither gossip. Be careful of this and speak not and do not give way to evil behavior. One year is the time that you must abstain from unseemly levity but if you can not do this for ceremony, ten days is the time to regard these things for respect."
- At the funeral of a War Chief, say:
"Now we become reconciled as you start away. You were once a War Chief of the Five Nations' Confederacy and the United People trusted you as their guard from the enemy." (The remainder is the same as the address at the funeral of a Lord).
- At the funeral of a Warrior, say:
"Now we become reconciled as you start away. Once you were a devoted provider and protector of your family and you were ever ready to take part in battles for the Five Nations' Confederacy. The United People trusted you." (The remainder is the same as the address at the funeral of a Lord).
- At the funeral of a young man, say:
"Now we become reconciled as you start away. In the beginning of your career you are taken away and the flower of your life is withered away." (The remainder is the same as the address at the funeral of a Lord).
- At the funeral of a chief woman, say:
"Now we become reconciled as you start away. You were once a chief woman in the Five Nations' Confederacy. You once were a mother of the nations. Now we release you for it is true that it is no longer possible for us to walk about together on the earth. Now, therefore, we lay it (the body) here. Here we lay it away. Now then we say to you, 'Persevere onward to the place where the Creator dwells in peace. Let not the things of the earth hinder you. Let nothing that transpired while you lived hinder you. Looking after your family was a sacred duty and you were faithful. You were one of the many joint heirs of the Lordship titles. Feastings were yours and you had pleasant occasions. . ." (The remainder is the same as the address at the funeral of a Lord).
- At the funeral of a woman of the people, say:
"Now we become reconciled as you start away. You were once a woman in the flower of life and the bloom is now withered away. You once held a sacred position as a mother of the nation. (Etc.) Looking after your family was a sacred duty and you were faithful. Feastings . . . (etc.)" (The remainder is the same as the address at the funeral of a Lord).
- At the funeral of an infant or young woman, say:
"Now we become reconciled as you start away. You were a tender bud and gladdened our hearts for only a few days. Now the bloom has withered away . . . (etc.) Let none of the things that transpired on earth hinder you. Let nothing that happened while you lived hinder you." (The remainder is the same as the address at the funeral of a Lord).note
- When an infant dies within three days, mourning shall continue only five days. Then shall you gather the little boys and girls at the house of mourning and at the funeral feast a speaker shall address the children and bid them be happy once more, though by a death, gloom has been cast over them. Then shall the black clouds roll away and the sky shall show blue once more. Then shall the children be again in sunshine.
- When a dead person is brought to the burial place, the speaker on the opposite side of the Council Fire shall bid the bereaved family cheer their minds once again and rekindle their hearth fires in peace, to put their house in order and once again be in brightness for darkness has covered them. He shall say that the black clouds shall roll away and that the bright blue sky is visible once more. Therefore shall they be in peace in the sunshine again.
- Three strings of shell one span in length shall be
employed in addressing the assemblage at the burial of the
dead. The speaker shall say:
"Hearken you who are here, this body is to be covered.Then at the expiration of ten days the speaker shall say:
Assemble in this place again ten days hence for it is the decree of the Creator that mourning shall cease when ten days have expired. Then shall a feast be made."
"Continue to listen you who are here. The ten days of mourning have expired and your minds must now be freed of sorrow as before the loss of a relative. The relatives have decided to make a little compensation to those who have assisted at the funeral. It is a mere expression of thanks. This is to the one who did the cooking while the body was lying in the house. Let her come forward and receive this gift and be dismissed from the task."In substance this shall be repeated for every one who assisted in any way until all have been remembered.
About the Constitution of the Iroquois NationsDuring the bi-centennial year of The Constitution of the United States, a number of books were written concerning the origin of that long-revered document. One of these, The Genius of the People, alleged that after the many weeks of debate a committee sat to combine the many agreements into one formal document. The chairman of the committee was of South Carolina. He had served in an earlier time, along with Ben Franklin and others, at the Stamp Act Congress, held in Albany, New York. This Committee of Detail was having trouble deciding just how to formalize the many items of discussion into one document that would satisfy one and all. Rutledge proposed they model the new government they were forming into something along the lines of the Iroquois League of Nations, which had been functioning as a democratic government for hundreds of years, and which he had observed in Albany. While there were many desirable, as well as undesirable, models from ancient and modern histories in Europe and what we know now as the Middle East, only the Iroquois had a system that seemed to meet most of the demands espoused by the many parties to the debates. The Genius of the People alleged that the Iroquois had a Constitution which began: "We the people, to form a union. . ."
That one sentence was enough to light a fire under me, and cause me to do some deep research into ancient Iroquoian lore. I never did find that one sentence backed up in what writings there are concerning the ancient Iroquois. But I DID find sufficient data and evidence to convince me that the Iroquois most certainly did have a considerable influence on the drafting of our own Constitution, and we present-day Americans owe them a very large debt. At the time of the founding of the Iroquois League of Nations, no written language existed; we have only the early stories which were passed down from generation to generation, until such time as there was a written language, and interpreters available, to record that early history. One such document is listed below.
There are several other documents now available in various places which refer to the original founding of the Iroquois, and they seem to substantiate this document as probably truthful and accurate. This version was prepared by Arthur C. Parker, Archeologist of the State Museum in New York in 1915, and published by the University of the State of New York as Bulletin 184 on April 1, 1916. It is entitled: The Constitution of the Five Nations - or - The Iroquois Book of the Great Law. In it, you will find close parallels to our Executive, Legislative and Judiciary branches of government as originally described in our U. S. Constitution.
You will find it very difficult to keep in mind that it survives after some 500 or 600 years, and was originated by people that our ancestors mistakenly considered as "savages". Some sources place the origin of the Five Nation Confederacy as early as 1390 AD, but others insist it was prepared about 1450-1500 AD; in any case, it was well before any possible contamination by European invaders. Early explorers and colonists found the Iroquois well established, as they had been for many generations: with a democratic government; with a form of religion that acknowledged a Creator in heaven; with a strong sense of family which was based on, and controlled by, their women; and many other surprises you will soon discover.
It must also be pointed out that this document refers to to the "Five" Nations, while other references to the Confederacy speak of the "Six" nations. From the inception, there were the Five Nations discussed in this Constitution. In about 1715, the Tuscarora Nation, once part of the Iroquois peoples in a much earlier period of their history, moved up from North Carolina to avoid warfare with the invading white settlers, and were adopted into the Confederacy. At this point in time, the Iroquois controlled many parts of our now eastern states from their homelands in what is now New York state. The original Five Nations were:
|Mohawk:||People Possessors of the Flint|
|Onondaga:||People on the Hills|
|Seneca:||Great Hill People|
|Cayuga:||People at the Mucky Land|
|Tuscarora:||Shirt Wearing People became the Sixth Nation.|
The founder of the Confederacy of the Five Nations is generally acknowledged to be Dekanawida, born near the Bay of Quinte, in southeastern Ontario, Canada. During his travels, he associated himself with a Mohawk tribal lord in what is now New York, and named him Hahyonhwatha (Hiawatha) (He who has misplaced something, but knows where to find it). Hiawatha left his family and friends, and joined Dekanawida in his travels, becoming his chief spokesman. One legend has it that Dekanawida, while brilliant, had a speech impediment, and depended on Hiawatha to do his public speaking for him. Together, they traveled the length and breadth of the lands on the south shores of Lakes Erie and Ontario, as well as the river to the sea, now known as the St. Lawrence. These were the homelands of tribes with a common heritage, but who had been warring with one another for many years. Dekanawida united them into a League of Nations that we now call the Iroquois League. Centuries later, Longfellow "borrowed" the name of Hiawatha to be his hero in a fictional legend; there is no other connection between the two Hiawathas nor their stories.
This is their original Constitution, as best it can be recontructed from legend and spoken history. Read it and be amazed...keep in mind it is over 500 years old!