Modern History Sourcebook:
The Constitution of the Iroquois Confederacy
ABOUT THE IROQUOIS CONSTITUTION:
by Gerald Murphy
During 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 John Rutledge 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
- Mohawk: People Possessors of the Flint
- Onondaga: People on the Hills
- Seneca: Great Hill People
- Oneida: Granite 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.
Here is their original Constitution, as best it can be reconstructed
from legend and spoken history. Read it and be amazed...keep in
mind it is over 500 years old!
Prepared by Gerald Murphy (The Cleveland Free-Net - aa300)
Distributed by the Cybercasting Services Division of the National
Public Telecomputing Network (NPTN).
Permission is hereby granted to download, reprint, and/or otherwise
redistribute this file, provided appropriate point of origin credit
is given to the preparer(s) and the National Public Telecomputing
THE CONSTITUTION OF THE IROQUOIS NATIONS:
THE GREAT BINDING LAW, GAYANASHAGOWA
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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. [ ed note: chestnut wood throws out sparks in burning,
thereby creating a disturbance in the council ] 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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 against them. No
council of the Confederate Lords shall be legal unless all the
Mohawk Lords are present.
7. 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.
8. 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
9. 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 judgement. The same process shall
obtain when a question is brought before the council by an individual
or a War Chief.
10. 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.
11. 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
12. 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.
13. 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.
14. 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.
15. 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.
16. 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
17. 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.
18. 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 title. No Lord shall
be asked more than once to attend the Confederate Council.
19. 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
"Mothers, as I have now deposed your Lord, I now return to
you the emblem and the title of Lordship, therefore repossess
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.
20. 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
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
21. 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.
22. 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.
23. 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 importance. 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.
24. 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 calm deliberation.
25. 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.
26. 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! "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
Every Confederate Lord shall speak words such as these to promote
27. 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.
28. 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 affairs. 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
29. 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.
30. 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.
31. 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
32. 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.
33. 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.
34. 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 rightful
owners. 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
35. 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
36. The title names of the Chief Confederate Lords' War Chiefs
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.
37. 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.
38. When a War Chief dies another shall be installed by the same
rite as that by which a Lord is installed.
39. 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
40. 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.
41. 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
42. 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.
43. 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.
44. 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.
45. The women heirs of the Confederated Lordship titles shall
be called Royaneh (Noble) for all time to come.
46. 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.
47. 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.
48. 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
49. 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.
50. 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.
51. 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.
52. 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
53. 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.
54. 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
55. 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.
56. 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
57. 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.
58. 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.
59. 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.
60. 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. [ ed note: This
is the Hiawatha Belt, now in the Congressional Library. ] 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.
61. 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
62. 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
63. 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 place. 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.
64. 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.
65. 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
Laws of Adoption
66. 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."
67. 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.
68. 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 decision.
69. 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.
70. 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
71. 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.
72. 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
73. 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
74. 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
75. 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.
76. 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.
77. 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."
78. 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
79. 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.
80. 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
81. 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 shall sing:
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!
82. 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
83. 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.
84. 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.
85. 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.
86. 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
87. 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.
88. 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.
89. 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.
90. 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.
91. 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
92. 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
93. 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.
94. 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.
95. 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.
96. 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.
97. 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.
98. 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 Great Peace.
Religious Ceremonies Protected
99. 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.
100. 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.
101. 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.
102. 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.
103. When the Ripe Corn Thanksgiving is celebrated the Lords of
the Nation must give it the same attention as they give to the
104. 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
105. 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 " "
Haii, haii It is good indeed " " (That) a broom, --
" " A great wing, " " It is given me "
" For a sweeping instrument."
106. 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
107. 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 permit.
108. 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
109. 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).
110. 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
111. 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).
112. 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).
113. 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).
114. 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).
[ Editors note: the above ellipses and 'etc.' remarks are transcribed
directly from the text I copied. ]
115. 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.
116. 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
117. Three strings of shell one span in length shall be employed
in addressing the assemblage at the burial of the dead. The speaker
"Hearken you who are here, this body is to be covered. 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."
Then at the expiration of ten days the speaker shall say: "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
Prepared by Gerald Murphy (The Cleveland Free-Net - aa300)
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(c)Paul Halsall Aug 1997