ABOUT THE IROQUOIS CONSTITUTION:

     During the bi-centennial year of The Constitution of the
United States, a number of books were written concerning the
origin of that long-revered document.  One of these, The Genius
of the People, alleged that after the many weeks of debate a
committee sat to combine the many agreements into one formal
document.   The chairman of the committee was John Rutledge of
South Carolina.  He had served in an earlier time, along with
Ben Franklin and others, at the Stamp Act Congress, held in
Albany, New York.  This Committee of Detail was having trouble
deciding just how to formalize the many items of discussion
into one document that would satisfy one and all.  Rutledge
proposed they model the new government they were forming into
something along the lines of the Iroquois League of Nations,
which had been functioning as a democratic government for
hundreds of years, and which he had observed in Albany.  While
there were many desirable, as well as undesirable, models
from ancient and modern histories in Europe and what we know
now as the Middle East, only the Iroquois had a system that
seemed to meet most of the demands espoused by the many parties
to the debates.  The Genius of the People alleged that the
Iroquois had a Constitution which began: "We the people,
to form a union. . ."

     That one sentence was enough to light a fire under me,
and cause me to do some deep research into ancient Iroquoian
lore.  I never did find that one sentence backed up in what
writings there are concerning the ancient Iroquois.  But I DID
find sufficient data and evidence to convince me that the
Iroquois most certainly did have a considerable influence on
the drafting of our own Constitution, and we present-day
Americans owe them a very large debt.  At the time of the
founding of the Iroquois League of Nations, no written language
existed; we have only the early stories which were passed down
from generation to generation, until such time as there was a
written language, and interpreters available, to record that
early history.  One such document is listed below. 

     There are several other documents now available in various
places which refer to the original founding of the Iroquois,
and they seem to substantiate this document as probably
truthful and accurate.  This version was prepared by Arthur
C. Parker, Archeologist of the State Museum in New York in
1915, and published by the University of the State of New York
as Bulletin 184 on April 1, 1916.  It is entitled: The
Constitution of the Five Nations - or - The Iroquois Book of
the Great Law.  In it, you will find close parallels to our
Executive, Legislative and Judiciary branches of government
as originally described in our U. S. Constitution. 

     You will find it very difficult to keep in mind that it
survives after some 500 or 600 years, and was originated by
people that our ancestors mistakenly considered as "savages". 
Some sources place the origin of the Five Nation Confederacy as
early as 1390 AD, but others insist it was prepared about
1450-1500 AD; in any case, it was well before any possible
contamination by European invaders.  Early explorers and
colonists found the Iroquois well established, as they had been
for many generations: with a democratic government; with a form
of religion that acknowledged a Creator in heaven; with a
strong sense of family which was based on, and controlled by,
their women; and many other surprises you will soon discover.

     It must also be pointed out that this document refers to
to the "Five" Nations, while other references to the Confederacy
speak of the "Six" nations.  From the inception, there were the
Five Nations discussed in this Constitution.  In about 1715,
the Tuscarora Nation, once part of the Iroquois peoples in a
much earlier period of their history, moved up from North
Carolina to avoid warfare with the invading white settlers,
and were adopted into the Confederacy.  At this point in time,
the Iroquois controlled many parts of our now eastern states
from their homelands in what is now New York state.  The
original Five Nations were:

     Mohawk:    People Possessors of the Flint
     Onondaga:  People on the Hills
     Seneca:    Great Hill People
     Oneida:    Granite People
     Cayuga:    People at the Mucky Land

     Tuscarora: Shirt Wearing People became the Sixth Nation.

     The founder of the Confederacy of the Five Nations is
generally acknowledged to be Dekanawida, born near the Bay of
Quinte, in southeastern Ontario, Canada.  During his travels,
he associated himself with a Mohawk tribal lord in what is now
New York, and named him Hahyonhwatha (Hiawatha) (He who has
misplaced something, but knows where to find it).  Hiawatha
left his family and friends, and joined Dekanawida in his
travels, becoming his chief spokesman.  One legend has it
that Dekanawida, while brilliant, had a speech impediment,
and depended on Hiawatha to do his public speaking for him. 
Together, they traveled the length and breadth of the lands
on the south shores of Lakes Erie and Ontario, as well as the
river to the sea, now known as the St. Lawrence.  These were
the homelands of tribes with a common heritage, but who had
been warring with one another for many years.  Dekanawida
united them into a League of Nations that we now call the
Iroquois League.  Centuries later, Longfellow "borrowed" the
name of Hiawatha to be his hero in a fictional legend; there
is no other connection between the two Hiawathas nor their
stories.

     Here is their original Constitution, as best it can be
reconstructed from legend and spoken history.  Read it and be
amazed...keep in mind it is over 500 years old!

To The Constitution

 
Prepared by Gerald Murphy (The Cleveland Free-Net - aa300)
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