The Iroquois story of the Great Peacemaker and Iroquois Great Law of Peace, GAYANASHAGOWA
Keep in mind the basis and creative source of the original US Constitution, The Great Law of Peace, Gayanashagowa, was a thousand year old “oral” tradition of the Iroquois Nations.
In the 18th Century, the Iroquois Confederation under the Great Law of Peace was the oldest, most highly evolved, participatory, self-representative government on Earth.
The Great Law of Peace was a 1000 year old vehicle for creating harmony, unity and respect among human beings. Its recognition of individual liberty and justice surpassed that of any government in existence.
One day, a canoe made of white stone carried a man, born of a virgin, across Onondaga Lake to announce The Good News of Peace had come and the killing and violence would end. He traveled from village to village over the course of years, preaching peace because peace was the desire of the Creator. Oral history says it may have taken him 40 years to reach everyone and get agreement from all five nations.This man became known as The Peacemaker. Eventually, the five nations agreed to the Great Law of Peace and became known collectively as the Haudenosaunee, which means People of the Long House.
The Iroquois story of the Great Peacemaker is an extraordinary epic packed with powerful symbolism and profound national and international influence. The Great Peacemaker and the Great Law of Peace, as we shall see, had a rich impact upon the foundations of the United States. Like the strength of the white pine central to the story, the Great Law has sprouted its roots across the globe. Just as roots grow deep and far, hidden from sight, so, too, seemingly has the story escaped the attention of most historians.
Centuries ago, probably in the mid-fifteenth century, the Great Peacemaker Deganawidah was born into the Huron tribe in modern-day eastern Ontario. As Deganawidah matured, he exhibited visionary qualities and grew quite handsome. His leadership qualities were, however, hampered by a stammering speech problem. One day he received a vision of great peace. In the vision he saw a large white pine tree in which humanity was peacefully protected in the shade of the tree’s branches. Its powerful roots sprouted in all directions while above the tree a great eagle stood guard. Deganawidah explained his vision and the wisdom he had gleaned to his native people but his words did not resonate with them in any meaningful way. He, thus, chose to leave his people and look elsewhere to “stop the shedding of blood among human beings.”
He headed east toward modern-day New York State where he found the territories of the Mohawk, Onondaga, Oneida, Cayuga, and Seneca. These were not peaceful times. There were frequent clashes between and within nations. Tribal codes of honor mandated that a life must be paid for by another life and so one murder begat another in a spiral of perpetual violence. Any proposal for peace would have, at best, put proponents of such ideas at odds with the code. At worst, such opinions could have been viewed as evidence of cowardice among proud warriors. Such were the dynamics that kept peace from being inculcated from within and so the killing continued unabated. A strong and righteous force from the outside was needed—one with no tribal loyalty.
In this foreign territory, Deganawidah met a special woman who lived at a well-traveled crossroads. She played no favorites among people. It was simply her ambition to feed travelers as they passed through. Deganawidah checked in for a meal and explained to the woman that he had come to provide a certain legal system to serve as the antidote to the spiral of violence created by the bravado of the code of honor. “Thinking shall replace killing, and there shall be one commonwealth,” stated the Great Peacemaker.
It is telling that Deganawidah sought out a non-judgmental woman to initiate his campaign. She chose no sides between embattled forces. Just as Lady Justice of the future America would be depicted in art as a blindfolded woman, the lady at the crossroads was depicted as “blind” to whoever crosses her threshold seeking food. The woman fully embraced this New Mind and was given the name Jigonhsasee, New Face. The warriors passing through would get a glimpse of her and be moved by her. She represents the passive aspect but that alone, of course, is not enough. The spiritual whole is completed by the feminine-passive combined with the masculine-active. Thus, the Great Peacemaker would need to journey deeper into his active quest—deeper into the wilderness of men’s hearts and deeper into the forest where he would need to confront his first demon.
Deganawidah thus ventured into the forest looking for a certain beast of a man who feasted on human flesh. One evening as the beast returned home with a body, Deganawidah climbed the roof of the beast’s home. He positioned himself near the smoke hole above the stewing kettle, facing down upon it. The beast approached the kettle with his kill and for a moment looked into the reflection of the water. In that brief moment the beast mistook the reflection of the Great Peacemaker for his own and became convinced that he possessed the wisdom, righteousness, and strength of the image he believed he reflected and resolved to change his ways.
Seizing the opportunity, Deganawidah entered. He listened to the beast recount his experience, and then offered counsel. Deganawidah explained that the New Mind had come to the man who wishes to change his ways. Boldly, the Great Peacemaker suggested they work together. Deganawidah, upon meeting the reformed man, immediately noticed how eloquent and articulate he was. This valuable oratorical skill was the one thing Deganawidah lacked and sorely required for his great vision to be universally understood and accepted. Together they would form a perfectly complementary alliance for peace.
The reformed man was also of the nation from which the greatest obstacle to peace stood. Not far from the reformed man’s home there lived an evil chief of the Onondaga Nation. Legend states he possessed supernatural powers and the human flesh he preyed and feasted upon nourished his twisted mind and body. So evil was he that his hair crawled of snakes and birds fell from the sky through the waving of his arms. His body was crooked in seven places. His name was Atotarho, “The Entangled.” Deganawidah challenged his new friend to go and articulate the vision of peace to the evil Atotarho, “Thou shalt be called Hiawatha, He Who Combs, for thou shalt comb the snakes out of Atotarho’s hair.”
Meanwhile, as the newly christened Hiawatha prepared for his harrowing mission, Deganawidah visited the Mohawks who received his vision with cautious approval. They set before him a challenge. He would need to climb a tall tree next to the Lower Falls of the Mohawk River after which the tree would be cut down. If he survived the test, the trustworthiness of his words would be clear. The Great Peacemaker accepted the challenge and survived the amazing feat as the Mohawks, thus, became the first nation to accept the Great Peace.
Meanwhile, Hiawatha went to Atotarho, but fared far worse. The wicked chief forcefully rebuffed him with sinister powers. After the encounter, Atotarho worked evil magic on Hiawatha. His three daughters fell ill and died. Soon thereafter his wife died, too. Distraught with deep grief, Hiawatha wandered the woodlands stripped of even the remotest hope of personal peace and wholly incapable of articulating the Great Peace any longer, especially to such a wicked man as Atotarho. Deganawidah, however, was perseverant. He found Hiawatha and, performing a condolence ritual with strings of wampum, asked Hiawatha to gaze at the sky to find peace. Hiawatha, thus, overcame his grief and returned to the New Mind.
The duo, renewed in conviction and with the Mohawks to support them, were able to bring the Oneida into the fold. Soon thereafter the Cayugas and Senecas agreed to join the League as well. The Onondagas, the last remaining hold out, were the key. Their chiefs supported the vision, but without Atotarho’s blessing, they would be powerless to endorse it and without the Onondagas’ participation, the strength of the League would be undermined and ineffectual.
Deganawidah and Hiawatha, sensing the opportunity to be rife, returned to Atotarho with men from the five nations in moral support. Deganawidah sang the Peace Song as Hiawatha, with his brilliant oration, recited the Great Law of Peace. The peace, they told Atotarho, would be crowned by the planting of the Great White Pine, which shall spread in all directions and eventually shelter all mankind. Moved but unconvinced, Atotarho questioned what was in it for him. In a stroke of brilliant diplomacy, Deganawidah and Hiawatha offered Atotarho the opportunity to preside over the Great Council that would represent the League of Five Nations—a power greater than even his current one. The offer was indeed one Atotarho could not refuse. The Great Peacemaker then laid his hands on Atotarho’s body and straightened the seven crooked places as Hiawatha combed the snakes from the once wicked chief’s hair. The painting depicts this climactic scene of the epic.
The seven crooks include Atotarho’s menacing hair, the unjust deeds done by his hands, the crooked paths traveled by his feet, the dark visions beheld by his eyes, the unkind words uttered through his throat, the twisted interpretations of his hearing, the unclean urges of his sexuality, and the wicked thoughts of his mind. The golden spiral is once again employed in this composition. Its eye is in the center of the snake tattoo on Atotarho’s arm. It follows the curve of the rock upon which he lays and is then picked up by his arching back. The spiral points to the Achilles heel of Atotarho, suggesting the vulnerable point for defeating the unconquerable warrior. Hiawatha wears a wampum belt draped from his shoulder across his torso. The Hiawatha belt, as it has since become known, symbolizes the Five Nations. The Great Peacemaker sings as he gazes upward. For, as he taught, we do our best thinking of peace when we gaze upon the sky. There are five onlookers, symbolic of the Five Nations. They lean and sit on a fallen tree, representing the toppling of the old war-faring paradigm and the venture into the new peace-seeking league.
After the vision of the league had, thus, been consummated, Deganawidah set to establish the Great Law. A white pine, as beheld in his vision as a child, was uprooted. All the weapons of war were buried where the tree had stood. The tree was then replanted atop the interred instruments of violence and the tree’s roots spread in all directions. Deganawidah then recited the Great Law, arguably the first constitution of a democratic confederation.
The Great Law of Peace preserved and protected the independence and liberties of each individual, each clan, and each nation while uniting the five nations into a confederacy, committed to inward well-being and outward strength. Raw materials and hunting grounds were to be shared. All religions were to be accepted. Unauthorized search was prohibited. Immigration into a nation within the League was welcomed regardless of ethnicity, but predicated upon acceptance of the Great Law.
The Iroquois lived in longhouses of some twenty or more matrilineal families. All the children of a given clan were related through uterine lines. Iroquois society was also matrifocal, meaning husbands married into the wife’s family. The Clan Matron nominated male candidates for leadership positions based on their perceived wisdom and capacity to maintain high standards. They also reserved the right to “knock the antlers off,” or impeach, any leader for misconduct. It was also the women who would generally approve decisions to go to war. Though property, as we shall see, was not an emphasis of Iroquois life, women owned nearly everything besides men’s weapons. Wives could also kick husband’s out of the longhouse, maintaining ownership to whatever might be left behind. As such the Great Peacemaker built checks and balances into genders. Interestingly, the example of Iroquois women would have a powerful influence on the Women’s Suffrage Movement in the United States. The fact that the Seneca Falls Convention (the first significant women’s suffrage event) took place in Iroquois country is not a coincidence.
Checks and balances were also built into branches of the Great Law through a bicameral legislature and executive body. The Mohawks and Senecas constituted the “elder brothers” and the Oneidas and Cayugas the “younger brothers.” The Onondagas filled the role of executive power, including calling the councils to order and maintaining the privilege of veto. An Onondaga chief with the title of Atotarho would remain forever as Head Chief of the Great Council.
One significantly notable aspect of Iroquois decision-making was that it relied not on majority, but rather consensus. The Iroquois believed profoundly in the inter-connectedness of everything. Therein, they believed, could be found the universal truth to any situation. Debate was, therefore, less about a competition of ideas and the battle to be right, but rather more about the inclusion of public opinion and the search for truth. Deliberations, thus, were slow, orderly, and well mannered. Brilliant oratory was particularly prized.
The Great Law instituted a system of federalism with limited power. Each longhouse resided as a territorial within one of the five nations. Each nation was to maintain its own council and manage its own internal affairs. The Kanonsionni, meaning Longhouse, was the given name of the League—the one roof over all. Deganawidah used the symbolism of five arrows to illustrate the fortitude of the Confederacy. He bound them together and showed no man could break them.
The house was meant to be adaptable and infinitely expansive. As new laws amended the Great Law, “new beams were to be added to the rafters.” As the Great White Pine’s roots grew further and further, additional nations would be added to the Longhouse and “new braces would be added.” Deganawidah, thus, envisioned the expansion of peace and abolition of war altogether. Indeed in 1715, the Tuscaroras were brought into the fold and the League became known as the Six Nations.
The New Mind of the Great Law would replace the bravado of vengeance. The Condolence Ceremony would replace “an eye for an eye” in the same manner that Deganawidah had returned Hiawatha to the New Mind after tragedy had befallen him. Violence would no longer spiral. Deganawidah admonished all who would interpret and apply the Law to do so with the selfless foresight of “skins seven thumbs thick.” Expounding on the reference, he closed his recitation of the Great Law by saying:
This is to be of strong mind, O chiefs: carry no anger and hold no grudges. Think not forever of yourselves, O chiefs nor of your own generation. Think of the continuing generations of our families, think of our grandchildren and of those yet unborn, whose faces are coming from beneath the ground.”
The contribution of Deganawidah and Hiawatha would be substantial enough if historically it only meant peace to the Iroquois. The influence, however, is much more vast and profound. In reading the Great Law of Peace many similarities between it and the U.S. Constitution become glaringly evident. As it turns out, this is no coincidence. Generations later, Europeans began arriving on Turtle Island, as the Iroquois called the land that would become known as America. Eager to put repressive forms of government behind them and vulnerable to life in a strange land, the early colonists interacted with the natives of the New World.
We are all familiar with the clashes between these civilizations, but the reality is that there was far more cooperative sharing of ideas than our war-focused history would lead us to believe. This was particularly true of the relationship with the Iroquois due primarily to a happenstance of geography. In the 18th Century, about 15,000 Iroquois populated a federation within the woodlands of the northeast that butted up against French and British colonies. Whoever maintained friendly alliance with the Iroquois held the key to a distinct existential advantage.
So began the celebrated diplomatic career of Benjamin Franklin and his immensely important impact on the birth of a nation. Franklin published Indian treaty accounts from 1736 to 1760 and attended Iroquois council meetings. He became intimately familiar with their culture and affairs. Franklin understood the strength of the Six Nations, particularly in contrast to the feeble disunity of the colonies.
As claim to primacy on the continent between France and Britain came to a head, British interest for an Iroquois alliance grew increasingly pertinent. In 1742, a charismatic Onondaga chief by the name of Canassatego (perhaps the Atotarho) pledged the Six Nations’ friendship to the British. In 1744, Canassatego attended the Treaty of Lancaster. In part because he wanted to deal with one authorized federal power rather than multiple disagreeing colonies and in part because he wanted the colonies to be strengthened through unity, he urged them to form a confederation of colonies:
Our wise forefathers established Union and Amity between the Five Nations. This has made us formidable; this has given us great Weight and Authority with our neighboring Nations. We are a powerful Confederacy; and by your observing the same methods, our wise forefathers have taken, you will acquire such Strength and power. Therefore whatever befalls you, never fall out with one another.
Unfortunately, the colonists demurred as little progress was made towards unity. Confounded, Franklin took up the cause. Seven years after Canassatego’s speech a frustrated Franklin lobbied the reluctant colonists to grasp the virtues of unity. He expressed how strange it would be if the Six Nations:
should be capable of forming such an union and be able to execute it in such a manner that it has subsisted for ages and appears indissoluble, and yet that a like union should be impractical for ten or a dozen English colonies, to whom it is more necessary and must be more advantageous, and who cannot be supposed to want an equal understanding of their interest.
Persisting on the theme in May 1754, he published the famous “Join, or Die” cartoon in his Pennsylvania Gazette. The cartoon became the first pictorial representation of colonial union produced by a British colonist in America. It featured a segmented snake with a colony initialed on each segment. The cartoon appeared two months before the Albany Congress would convene to once again take up the premise of creating a unified government. Again the Iroquois played a pivotal role in convening the meeting. This time, in place of Canassatego’s bundle of arrows, they used the imagery of the Covenant Chain with a link for each colony. Franklin called the deliberating members of the Plan the “Grand Council,” again a reference to the Iroquois. Franklin was commissioned to author the Albany Plan. It was accepted by the Congress attendees, but eventually struck down by the colonies.
Still Franklin would not relent. He often referenced the Covenant Chain, even including it on the two-thirds dollar currency he designed in 1776. In that same year Franklin participated in authoring the Articles of Confederation, which again aimed to achieve a constitution for union, at the Second Continental Congress. The following year the Congress approved the Articles, but they would not be fully ratified until March 1, 1781. It had been thirty-nine years since Franklin heard Canassatego’s speech. Franklin was now 75-years old. Nevertheless, at long last, he had lived to see the colonies choose unity.
Why then, in our bigger picture, is this important in “bending the arc” towards peace? Well, quite simply we take the idea of peaceful confederation supported by the rule of law completely for granted in our day. As we have seen, it took nearly forty years for the first such bold example to take hold in the “civilized” world. The Iroquois provided a living example that such a thing was possible. Theirs is the example by which the United States, the European Union, the United Nations, and others brought dissimilar peoples together under the rule of law for the express purpose of improved well being and peace.
It was also the living example of the Iroquois that gave the Enlightenment Age thinkers a tangible touchstone for their lofty ideas of natural law that ultimately brought republicanism to America and France by way of revolution. The Enlightenment movement led by Voltaire and Rousseau sought to organize societies based on reason, science, and natural law. Enlightenment thinkers in America such as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Thomas Paine among many others began to see first-hand how “natural law” and “natural rights” flowed logically from the “natural state” of the Iroquois.
Europe had no such laboratories of observation, but well imagined their own ancestors lived in just such a natural state prior to monarchial rule. John Locke wrote, “We must consider what state all men are naturally in…born to the same advantages of nature, and the use of the same faculties, should also be equal one amongst another.” This thinking, rooted in the natural world, gave rise to Locke’s famous philosophy that government existed for the sake of protecting life, liberty, and property. Thomas Jefferson adopted Locke’s list, but adapted it. To Thomas Jefferson mankind’s natural rights, or unalienable rights, included life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. To Jefferson property was a civil right, protected by government, but not a natural one. The pursuit of happiness, as Jefferson had witnessed among the Iroquois, was natural and deservedly unalienable.
In making this claim, Jefferson was tap dancing around a nettlesome issue, an issue that continues to dog mankind in its quest for peace. Our competitive striving for property in its various material manifestations and abstract forms is ironically and arguably our biggest impediment to shared freedom from need, or peace.
Franklin, Jefferson, Paine, and others recognized that the “primitive state” of Iroquois culture was rooted in collaborative behavior and the sharing of all things. In 1795, Paine wrote, “Poverty is a thing created by what is called civilization.” That is not to say the Iroquois were rich. Iroquois men owned no property whatsoever, save their clothes and weapons, and whatever women owned was mostly practical and modest. When chiefs were given gifts, they were shared communally. Slavery and all forms of servitude were completely non-existent in Iroquois culture. The Iroquois were so sociologically independent from personal gain that they would not work for compensation. To do so would be tantamount to servitude and surrendering one’s freedom.
Yes, these were a people deeply rooted in true liberty and honest republicanism. The roots tapped deeper, however, than the European colonists were likely to dig. At least that is the conclusion Franklin, Jefferson, and Paine came to. Yes, America would cast off the monarchial oppression of Europe, but it would need to settle on a happy middle ground, or a “happy mediocrity” as Franklin called it, between what laid east across the physical ocean and what laid west across a metaphorical ocean of cultural difference.
So, the Founding Fathers who authored the nation’s founding documents, including the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, did so with a radical heart and a practical mind—their radical heart beating with the “savage” freedoms of the natural state and the practical mind thinking with the “civilized” order of European culture.
As the years after the nation’s founding passed on, so, too, did the historical understanding of the Iroquois’ influence on the nation’s founding principles. A new, more Euro-centric narrative became more culturally palatable. The Founding Fathers, it was supposed, tapped the wellsprings of their collective genius, infused with the knowledge of ancient democracies of Greece and Rome, and brought forth on this continent a Novus Ordo Seclorum. This New Order of Ages would be ushered in and blazoned on the reverse side of the Great Seal of the United States. The front side of the seal would feature the bald eagle, the imagery of which originated with Deganawidah’s vision. The eagle holds an olive branch in his right talon. The Latin language and peaceful olive branch hark back to the perceived majesty of ancient Rome and its suggested foundational democratic ethos on the nation. In the left talon, the eagle grips thirteen arrows. Those arrows come not from Greece or Rome. They come straight from Iroquois imagery. Just as Deganawidah and Canassatego used five arrows to illustrate the strength of the Iroquois League and urged the colonies to likewise unite, the thirteen arrows represent the eventual uniting of the thirteen colonies.
It would take two centuries for the Iroquois to receive proper credit, but in 1988 the U.S. Congress formally recognized the contributions of the Iroquois Confederacy. That year marked the bicentennial of the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. House Concurrent Resolution 331 acknowledged the profound Iroquois influence:
Whereas the confederation of the original Thirteen Colonies into one republic was influenced by the political system developed by the Iroquois Confederacy as were many of the democratic principles which were incorporated into the Constitution itself;
Deganawidah, Hiawatha, and the Iroquois League, whether recognized or not, have certainly exerted an enormously positive influence on the lives of generations of Americans and by extension the world. Deganawida would be proud to know the impact The Great Law has had and continues to have on our, as he put it, “grandchildren and of those yet unborn, whose faces are coming from beneath the ground.”
The Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy Great Law of Peace includes: In the 12th Century, five nations in what is now the northeastern U.S. were constantly at war: the Mohawks, Seneca, Oneida, Onondaga and Cayugas. The wars were vicious and, according to tribal history, included cannibalism.
Outsiders refer to them as Iroquois.[In 1722, the Tuscarora joined the Confederacy so today it’s known as the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy].
The Great Law of Peace was a vehicle for creating harmony, unity and respect among human beings. Its recognition of individual liberty and justice surpasses that of any governments before that time.
Freedom of speech,
Freedom of religion,
The right of women to participate in government,
Separation of powers,
Checks and balances within government.
A government of “We the people” by the people and for the people”
”Three branches of government: Two houses and a Grand counsel,
A Women’s Council, which is the Iroquois equivalent of our Supreme Court – settling disputes and judging legal violations.
The central idea underlying Iroquois political philosophy is that peace is the will of the Creator, and the ultimate spiritual goal and natural order among humans.
The U.S. Constitution is modeled in both principle and form on the Great Law of Peace of the Native American nation known as the Iroquois Confederation.
This is absolutely, unequivocally historical fact.
In 1987, the United States Senate acknowledged that the Great Law of Peace of the Iroquois Nations served as a model for the Constitution of the United States. (U.S. S. Con. Res. 76, 2 Dec. 1987).
Acknowledges the historical debt of the United States to the Iroquois Confederacy and other Indian nations for their demonstration of self-government principles and their example of a free association of independent Indian nations.
And since the U.S. Constitution was a model for the charter of the United Nations, the Iroquois Great Law of Peace is also the fundamental basis of international law.
. As we have seen, it took nearly forty years for the first such bold example to take hold in the “civilized” world. The Iroquois provided a living example that such a thing was possible. Theirs is the example by which the United States, the European Union, the United Nations, and others brought dissimilar peoples together under the rule of law for the express purpose of improved well being and peace.
When the Founding Fathers looked for examples of effective government and human liberty upon which to model a Constitution to unite the thirteen colonies, they found it in the government of the Iroquois Nation.
In the 18th Century, the Iroquois League was the oldest, most highly evolved participatory self-government on Earth.
The Law of Nations: Or, Principles of the Law of Nature, Applied to the Conduct and Affairs of Nations and Sovereigns is a legal treatise on International Law by Emerich de Vattel, published in 1758.
The American Constitution is native American Indian Law and it was modified to work within the framework of the “Law of Nations”.
This is the Hiawatha Belt, now in the Congressional Library.
The Iroquois story of the Great Peacemaker and the
The Great Law of Peace
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 wood1, and Adodarhoh shall formally open 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.
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 against them.
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 judgement.
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 title.
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 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 summons 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 calm deliberation.
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!
“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.”
Every Confederate Lord shall speak words such as these to promote peace.
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 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 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 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
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 titles.
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.2
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,3, 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 law.
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.
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 decision.
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 shall sing: Now I am greatly surprised
And, therefore I shall use it —
The power 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 Great Peace.
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 Thanksgiving 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 permit.
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 remainderis 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).4
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. 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 been remembered.
Chestnut wood throws out sparks in burning, thereby creating a disturbance in the council.
This is the Hiawatha Belt, now in the Congressional Library.