The Great Law of Peace of The Longhouse People
The following first appeared at:
No date of origin for this document has been confirmed by historians, although it is believed to be at least a thousand years old. Both the Charter of the United Nations and the Constitution of the United States of America are founded on the Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) Great Law of Peace.
The Constitution of the Six Nations Confederacy
I am Tekanawita.
1 With the statesmen of the League of Five Nations, I plant the Tree of Great Peace. I plant it in your territory, Atotarho, and the Onondaga Nation: in the territory of you who are Fire keepers. The name the tree Tsioneratasekowa, the Great White Pine.
Under the shade of this Tree of Great Peace, we spread the soft, white, feathery down of the Globe Thistle as seats for you, Atotarho, and your cousin statesmen, 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 Great Peace. There shall you sit and watch the Fire of the League of Five Nations. All the affairs of the League shall be transacted at this place before you, Atotarho and your cousin statesmen, by the statesmen of the League of Five Nations.
2 Roots have spread out from the Tree of Great Peace, one to the north, one to the east, one to the south, and one to the west. These are the Great White Roots, And their nature is Peace and Strength. If a man or any nation outside the Five Nations shall obey the laws of the Great Peace (Kaianarekowa), and shall make this known to the statesmen of the League, they may trace back their roots to the Tree. If their minds are clean, and if they are obedient and promise to obey the wishes of the Council of the League, they shall be welcomed to take shelter beneath the Tree of the Long Leaves.
We place at the top of the Tree of Great Peace an eagle, who is able to see afar. If he sees in the distance any danger threatening, he will at once warn the people of the League.
3 To you, Atotarho and the Onondaga statesmen, I and the other statesmen of the League have entrusted the caretaking and watching of the Five Nations Council Fire.
When there is any business to be transacted and the Council of the League is not in session, a messenger shall be sent either to Atotarho, Hononwirehton, or Skanawate, firekeepers, or to their War Chiefs, with a full statement of the business to be considered. Then Atotarho shall call his cousin chiefs together and consider whether the business is of sufficient importance to call the attention of the Council of the League. If so, Atotarho shall send messengers to summon all the chiefs of the League and to assemble beneath the Tree of the Great Peace.
When the statesmen are assembled, the Council fire shall be kindled, but not with chestnut wood, and Atotarho shall formally open the Council. Then shall Atotarho and his cousin statesmen, the Firekeepers, announce the subject for discussion.
The smoke of the Council Fire of the League shall ever ascend and pierce the sky so that other nations who may be allies may see the Council Fire of The Great Peace.
4 You, Atotarho and your thirteen cousin statesmen shall faithfully keep the space about the Council Fire clean, and you shall allow neither dust nor dirt to accumulate. I lay a long seagull wing (Tsiowatstekawe Onerahontsha) before you as a broom. As a weapon against a crawling creature, I lay a stick with you so that you may thrust it away from the Council Fire. If you fail to cast it out, then call all the rest of the united statesmen to your aid.
5 The Council of the Mohawks shall be divided into three parties: Tehanakarine, Ostawenserentha and Soskoharowane are the first. Tekarihoken, Ayonwatha and Satekariwate are the second. Sarenhowane, Teyonhekwen and Orenrekowa are the third. The first party is to listen only to the discussion of the second and third parties and if an error is made, or the proceeding 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 statesmen for their decision. When the Seneca statesmen have decided, in accord with the Mohawk statesmen, the case or question shall be referred to the Cayuga and Oneida statesmen on the opposite side of the house.
6 I, Tekanawita, appoint the Mohawk statesmen the head and the Leaders of the Five Nations League. The Mohawk statesmen are the foundation of the Great Peace, and it shall therefore be against the Great Binding Law to pass measures in the Council of the League after the Mohawk statesmen have protested against them. No Council of the League shall be legal unless all of the statesmen of the Mohawks are present.
7 Whenever the statesmen of the League shall assemble for the purpose of holding a council, the Onondaga statesmen shall open it by expressing their gratitude to their cousin statesmen, 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 and the lakes, to the maize and the fruits, to the medicinal herbs and trees, to the forest trees for their usefulness, and 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 reveals 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 statesmen declare the Council open. The Council shall not sit after darkness has set in.
8 The Firekeepers shall formally open and close all councils of the statesmen of the League, they shall pass upon all matters deliberated upon by the two sides, and render their decision.
Every Onondaga statesmen (or his deputy) must be present at every Council of the League, and must agree with the majority without unwarrantable dissent, so that a unanimous decision may be rendered.
If Atotarho or any of his cousin statesmen are absent from a Council of the League, 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.
9 All the business of the Five Nations League Council shall be conducted by the two combined bodies of Confederate statesmen. First the question shall be passed upon by the Mohawk and Seneca statesmen, then it shall be discussed and passed by the Oneida and Cayuga statesmen. Their decision shall then be referred to the Onondaga statesmen, the Firekeepers, for final judgment.
The same process shall be followed when a question is brought before the Council by an individual or a War Chief.
10 In all cases, the procedure must be as follows: when the Mohawk and Seneca statesmen have unanimously agreed upon a question, they shall report their decision to the Cayuga and Oneida statesmen, who shall deliberate upon the question and report a unanimous decision to the Mohawk statesmen. The Mohawk statesmen 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 Firekeepers shall then report their decision to the Mohawk statesmen who shall announce it to the open Council.
11 If through any misunderstanding or obstinacy on the part of the Firekeepers, they reach 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 Firekeepers, who are then compelled to confirm their joint decision.
12 When a case comes before the Onondaga statesmen, the Firekeepers, for discussion and decision, Atotarho shall introduce the matter to his comrade statesmen, who shall then discuss it in their two bodies. Every Onondaga statesmen except Hononwireton shall deliberate and he shall listen only. When a unanimous decision shall have been reached by the two bodies of Firekeepers, Atotarho shall notify Honowireton of the fact, then he shall confirm it. He shall refuse to confirm a decision if it is not unanimously agreed upon by both sides of the Firekeepers.
13 No chief shall ask a question of the body of chiefs of the League when they are discussing a case, question, or proposition. He may only deliberate in a low tone with the separate body of which he is a member.
14 When the Council of the Five Nation chiefs shall convene, they shall appoint a speaker for the day. He shall be a chief of either the Mohawk, Onondaga, or Seneca.
The next day, the Council shall appoint another, but the first speaker may be reappointed if there is no objection, but a speaker’s term shall not be regarded more than for the day.
15 No individual or foreign nation interested in a case, question, or proposition shall have any voice in the Council of the League except to answer a question put to him or them by the speaker for the chiefs.
16 If the conditions which shall arise at any future time call for an addition to or change of this law, the case shall be carefully considered and if a new beam seems necessary or beneficial, the proposed change shall be decided upon, and if adopted, shall be called, “Added to the Rafters”.
17 A bunch of certain shell (wampum) string each two spans in length shall be given to each of the female families in which the chieftain titles are vested. The right of bestowing the titles shall be hereditary in the family of females legally possessing the bunch of shell strings, and the strings shall be the token that the females of the family have the ownership to the chieftainship title for all time to come, subject to certain restrictions mentioned here.
18 If any chief of the League neglects or refuses to attend the Council of the League, the other chiefs of the nation of which he is a member shall require their War Chief to request the female sponsors of the chief so guilty of neglecting his duties to demand his attendance at the Council. If he refuses, the women holding the title shall immediately select another candidate for the title.
No chief shall be asked more than once to attend the Council of the League.
19 If at any time it shall be apparent that a chief of the League has not in mind the welfare of the people, or disobeys the rules of the Great Law, the men or the women of the League, or both jointly, shall come to the Council and scold the erring chief through his war chief. If the complaint of the people through the war chief is not heeded, on the first occasion, it shall be uttered again, and then if no attention is given, a third complaint and a warning shall be given. If the chief is still disobedient, the matter shall go to the Council of War Chiefs. The War Chiefs shall then take away the title of the erring chief by order of the women shall notify the chiefs of the League through their war chief and the chiefs of the League shall sanction the act. The women will then select another of their sons as a candidate and the chiefs shall elect him. Then the chosen one shall be installed by the Installation Ceremony.
When a chief is deposed, his war chief shall address him as follows:
“So you,…………, disregard and set at naught the warnings of your women relatives. You fling the warnings over your shoulder to cast them behind. 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 chieftainship 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 chief and say:
“Mothers, as I have deposed your chief, I now return to you the emblem and the title of chieftainship; therefore, repossess them.”
Again addressing the deposed chief, he shall say:
“As I have deposed and discharged you so you are no longer chief. You shall go
your way alone. The rest of the people of the League shall not go with you, for
we know not the kind of mind you possess. 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 chiefs of the nation to which the deposed chief belongs and say:
“Know you, my chiefs, that I have taken the deer’s antlers from the brow of …….,
the emblem of his position, and the token of his greatness.”
The chiefs of the League shall have no other alternative than accept to sanction the discharge of the offending chief.
20 If a chief of the League of Five Nations should commit murder the other chiefs of the nation shall assemble at the place where the corpse lies and prepare to depose the criminal chief. If it is impossible to meet at the scene of the crime the chiefs shall discuss the matter at the next Council of their nation and request their war chief to depose the chief guilty of the crime, to “bury his women relatives and to transfer the chieftainship title to a sister family.
The war chief shall address the chief guilty of murder and say:
“So you, ……….., did kill…………, with your own hands! You have committed a
grave crime 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 emblem of your chieftainship 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 League of Five Nations and nevermore return again. We, the League of Five Nations, moreover, bury your women relatives because the ancient chieftainship 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 a solemn and
important subject. I hereby transfer to you an ancient chieftainship title for a
great calamity has befallen it in the hands of the family of a former chief. We
trust that you, our mothers, will always guard it and that you will warn your chief
always to be dutiful and to advise his people to ever live in love, peace and
harmony that a great calamity may never happen again.”
21 Certain physical defects in a statesman of the League makes him ineligible to sit in the League Council. Such defects are infancy, idiocy, blindness, deafness, dumbness and impotency. When a statesman of the League is restricted by any of these conditions, a deputy shall be appointed by his sponsors to act for him, but in cases of extreme necessity, the restricted statesman may exercise his rights.
22 If a statesman of the League desires to resign his title, he shall notify the statesman of the nation of which he is a member of his intentions. If his co-active statesmen refuse to accept his resignation, he may not resign his title. A statesman in proposing to resign may recommend any proper candidate which recommendation shall be received by the statesmen but unless confirmed and nominated by the women who hold the title, the candidate shall not be considered.
23 Any chief of the League of Five Nations 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 a 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 his journey.
Any of the people of the Five Nations may use shells or wampum as the record of a pledge, contract, or an agreement entered into and the same shall be binding as soon as shell strings shall have been exchanged by both parties.
24 The chiefs of the League of Five Nations shall be mentors of the people for all time. The thickness of their skin shall be seven spans (tsiataniioronkarake), which is to say that they shall be proof against anger, offensive action, 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 League. With endless patience, they shall carry out their duty. Their firmness shall be tempered with a tenderness for their people. Neither anger nor fury shall find lodging in their minds and all their words and actions shall be marked by calm deliberation.
25 If a chief of the League should seek to establish any authority independent of the jurisdiction of the League 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 chiefs of the Nation to which he belongs.
If the offending chief is still persistent, he shall be dismissed by the war chief of his nation for refusing to conform to the laws of the Great Peace. His Nation shall then install the candidate nominated by the female name holders of his family.
26 It shall be the duty of all the chiefs of the League of Five Nations, from time to time as occasion demands, to act as teachers and spiritual guides of their people, and remind them of their Creator’s will and words. They shall say:
“Listen, 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.”
27 All chiefs of the League of Five Nations must be honest in all things. They must not idle nor gossip, but be men possessing those honorable qualities that make true leaders. It shall be a serious wrong for anyone to lead a chief into trivial affairs, for the people must ever hold their chiefs high in estimation out of respect to their honorable positions.
28 When a candidate chief 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 chiefs of the League 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 begin his address saying:
“Now behold him. He has now become a chief of the League. 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 opposite 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 chieftainship. 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. Your mind shall be filled with a yearning for the welfare of the people of the League. 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 lodging in your mind. All your words and actions shall be marked with calm deliberation. In all your deliberations in the Council of the League, in your efforts at law-making, in all your official acts, self-interest shall be cast away. Do not cast over your shoulder behind you the warnings of your 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 right and just. 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.”
29 When a chieftainship title is to be conferred, the candidate chief shall furnish the cooked venison, the corn bread and the corn soup, together with other necessary things and the labor for the Conferring of Titles Festival.
30 The chiefs of the League may confer the chieftainship title upon a candidate whenever the Great Law is recited, if there is a candidate, for the Great Law speaks all the rules.
31 If a chief of the League 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 chieftainship, 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 chief, 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 chieftainship title. The Great Law has decreed that no chief
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 chief of the League and you may again labor for the people of the League.”
32 If a chief of the League should die while the Council of the Five Nations is in session, the Council shall adjourn for ten days. No Council of the League shall sit within ten days of the death of a chief of the League.
If the Three Brothers (ahsennihontatekenah) (the Mohawk, the Onondaga, and the Seneca) should lose one of their chiefs by death, the Younger Brothers (iatatekanah) (the Cayuga and the Oneida) shall come to the surviving chiefs of the Three Brothers on the tenth day and console them. If the Younger Brothers lose one of their chiefs, then the Three Brothers shall come to them and console them. And the consolation shall be the reading of the contents of the thirteenth shell (wampum) strings of Ayonwatha. At the termination of this rite, a successor shall be appointed, to be appointed by the women heirs of the Chieftainship title. If the women are not ready to place their nominee before the chiefs, the Speaker shall say, “Come let us go out.” All shall then leave the Council or place of gathering. The Speaker shall lead the way from the house by saying, “Let us depart to the edge of the woods and lie in wait on our bellies.” (Tenshakonatioswentarhese).
When the women title holders shall have chosen one of their sons, the chiefs of the League will assemble in two places, the Younger Brothers in one place and the Three Older Brothers in another. The chiefs who are to console the mourning chiefs shall chose one of their number to sing the Song of Peace as they journey to the sorrowing chiefs. The singer shall lead the way, and the chiefs and the people shall follow. When they reach the sorrowing chiefs, they shall hail the candidate chief and perform the rite of Conferring the Chieftainship title. (Ohkeiontentshera).
33 When a chief of the League dies, the surviving relatives shall immediately dispatch a messenger, a member of another clan, to the chiefs in another locality. When the runner comes within hailing distance of the locality, he shall utter a sad wail, thusly: “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.” (rakwennikonriak). Then he shall tell them of the death of the chief. He shall deliver to them a string of shells or wampum and say, “Here is the testimony, you have heard the message.” He may return home.
It now becomes the duty of the chiefs of the locality to send runners to other localities and each locality shall send messengers until all chiefs are notified. Runners shall travel day and night.
34 If a chief dies and there is no candidate qualified for the office in the family of the women title holders, the chiefs of the Nation shall give the title into the hands of a sister family (Kentennonteron) in the clan until such time as the original family produces a candidate, when the title shall be restored to the rightful owners.
No chieftainship title may be carried into the grave. The chiefs of the League may dispossess a dead chief of his title even at the grave.
35 Should any man of the Nation assist with special ability or show great interest in the affairs of the Nation, if he proves himself wise and honest and worthy of confidence, the chiefs of the League may elect him to a seat among them, and he may sit in the Council of the League. He shall be proclaimed a Pine Tree, sprung up for the Nation, and be installed as such at the next assembly for the installation of chiefs. 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 from 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.
36 The title names of the war chiefs of the League shall be:
Ayonwehs: war chief under chief Takarihoken (Mohawk)
Kahonwaitiron, war chief under chief Otatsheteh (Oneida)
Ayentes, war chief under chief Atotarho (Onondaga)
Wenens, war chief under chief Dekaenyon (Cayuga)
Shoneratowaneh, war chief under chief Skanyatariio (Seneca)
The women heirs of each head chief’s title shall be the heirs of the war chiefs title of their respective chief. The war chiefs shall be selected from the eligible sons of the female families holding the head chieftainship title.
37 There shall be one war chief from each nation, and their duties shall be to carry messages for their chiefs, and to take up arms in case of emergency. They shall not participate in the proceedings of the Council of the League, but shall watch its progress and in case of an erroneous action by a chief, 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 chiefs of the League shall do so through the war chief of their nation. It shall always be his duty to lay the cases, questions, and propositions of the people before the council of the League.
38 When a war chief dies, another shall be installed by the same rite as that by which a chief is installed.
39 If a war chief acts contrary to instructions, or against the provisions of the Laws of the Great Peace, doing so in the capacity of his office, he shall be deposed by his women relatives and by his men relatives. Either the women or the men alone or jointly may act in such a case. The women title holders shall then choose another candidate.
40 When the chiefs of the League take occasion to dispatch a messenger in behalf of the Council of the League, they shall wrap up any matter they may send, and instruct the messenger to remember his errand, to turn not aside, but to proceed faithfully to his destination and deliver his message according to every instruction.
41 If a message borne by a runner is the warning of an invasion, he shall whoop, “Kwa-ah, Kwa-ah!” twice and repeat at short intervals, then again at a longer interval.
If a human is found dead, the finder shall not touch the body, but return home immediately shouting at short intervals, “Koo-weh!”
42 Among the Five Nations and their descendants there shall be the following Clans: Great Name Bearer, Ancient Name Bearer, Great Bear, Ancient Bear, Turtle, Painted Turtle, Standing Rock, Large Plover, Little Plover (or Snipe), 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 vested, as a birthright.
43 People of the Five Nations who are members of a certain clan shall recognize every member of the Clan, no matter what Nation, as relatives. Men and women, therefore, who are member of the same Clan are forbidden to marry.
44 The lineal descent of the people of the Five Nations shall run in the female line. Women shall be considered the progenitors of the Nation. They shall own the land, and the soil. Men and women shall follow the status of their mothers.
45 The women heirs of the chieftainship titles of the League shall be called Oianer or Otiianer (Noble) for all time to come.
46 The Women of the 48 (now 50) noble families shall be the heirs of the Authorized Names for all time to come.
When an infant of the Five Names is given an Authorized Name at the Midwinter Festival or at the Green Corn and Strawberry and Harvest 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 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 League.” As he sings the opposite cousinhood shall respond by chanting, “Hyen, Hyen, Hyen, Hyen” until the song is ended.
47 If the female heirs of a title of a chief of the League become extinct, the title shall be given by the chiefs of the League to a sister family whom they shall elect, and that family shall hold the name and transmit it to their female heirs, but they shall not appoint any of their sons as a candidate for a title until all the eligible men of the former family shall have died, or otherwise have become ineligible.
48 If all the heirs of a chieftainship become extinct, and so all the families in the Clan, then the title shall be given by the chiefs of the League to a family of a sister Clan whom they shall elect.
49 If any of the Otiianer women, heirs of a titleship, shall willfully withhold a chieftainship 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 sister family, or Clan, upon application and complaint. The chiefs of the League shall elect the family or Clan which shall in future hold the title.
50 The Otiianer women of the League heirs of the chieftainship titles shall elect two women of their family as cooks for the chief when the people shall assemble at his house for business or other purposes.
It is not good nor honorable for a chief of the League to allow his people whom he has called to go hungry.
51 When a chief holds a conference in his home, his wife, if she wishes, may prepare the food for the union chiefs who assemble with him. This is an honorable right which she may exercise, and an expression of her esteem.
52 The Otiianer women, heirs of the chieftainship titles, shall, should it be necessary, correct and admonish the holders of the 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.
53 When the Otiianer women, holders of a chieftainship 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, and supports his own family, if any, and who has proven a faithful man to his Nation.
54 When a chieftainship title becomes vacant through death or other cause, the Otiianer women of the Clan in which the title is hereditary shall hold a council, and shall choose one of their sons to fill the office made vacant. Such a candidate shall not be the father of any chief of the League. 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 chiefs of the League in the Clan. They shall decide which candidate shall be named. If the men and women agree to a candidate, then his name shall be referred to the sister clans for confirmation. If the sister clans confirm the choice, they shall refer their action to the chiefs of the League who shall ratify the choice and present it to their cousin chiefs, and if the cousin chiefs confirm the name, then the candidate shall be installed by the proper ceremony for the conferring of chieftainship titles.
55 A large bunch of shell strings, in the making of which the Five Nations League chiefs have equally contributed, shall symbolize the completeness of the union, and certify the pledge of the Nations represented by the chiefs of the League of the Mohawk, the Oneida, the Onondaga, the Cayuga, and the Seneca, 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 string is to be the symbol of the Council Fire of the League of Five Nations. And the chief whom the Council of Firekeepers 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 place the strings on an elevated place or pole so that all the assembled chiefs and the people may see it and know that the Council is open and in progress.
56 Five strings of shell tied together as one shall represent the Five Nations. Each string shall represent one territory, and the whole a completely united territory known as the Five Nations Territory.
57 Five arrows shall be bound together very strong and shall represent one Nation each. As the five arrows are strongly bound, this shall symbolize the complete union of the nations. Thus are the Five Nations completely united and enfolded together, united into one head, one body, and one mind. They therefore shall labor, legislate, and council together for the interest of future generations.
The chiefs of the League shall eat together from one bowl the feast of cooked beaver’s tail. While they are eating, they are to use no sharp utensils, for if they should, they might accidentally cut one another, and bloodshed would follow. All measures must be taken to prevent the spilling of blood in any way.
58 There are now the Five Nations League chiefs standing with joined hands in a circle. This signifies and provides that should any one of the chiefs of the League leave the Council and the League, his crown of deer’s antlers, the emblems of his chieftainship title, together with his birthright, shall lodge on the arms of the union chiefs whose hands are so joined. He forfeits his title, and the crown falls from his brow, but it shall remain in the League.
A further meaning of this is that if any time any one of the chiefs of the League choose to submit to the law of a foreign people, he is no longer in but out of the League, and persons of this class shall be called “They have alienated themselves.” (Tehonatonkoton). Likewise, such persons who submit to laws of foreign nations shall forfeit all birthrights and claims on the League of Five Nations and territory.
You, the League of Five Nations chiefs, be firm so that if a tree should fall upon your joined hands, it shall not separate you or weaken your hold. So shall the strength of the union be preserved.
59 A bunch of wampum strings, three spans of the hand in length, the upper half of the bunch being white and lower half black, and formed from equal contributions of the men of the Five Nations, shall be the token that the men have combined themselves into one head, one body, and one thought, and it shall symbolized their ratification of the peace pact of the League, whereby the chiefs 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 Chiefs. In case a part of the chiefs or all of them pursue a course not vouched for by the people and heed not the third warning of their women relatives (Wasenensawenrate), then the matter shall be taken to the General Council of the Women of the Five Nations. If the chiefs 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 Council to warn the chief or chiefs to return from the wrong course. If the chiefs heed the warning, they shall say, “We shall reply tomorrow.” If then an answer is returned in favor of justice and in accord with this Great Law, then the Chiefs shall individually pledge themselves again, by again furnishing the necessary shells for the pledge. Then shall the War Chief or chiefs exhort the chiefs, urging them to be just and true.
Should it happen that the chiefs refuse to heed the third warning, then two courses are open: either the men may decide in their council to depose the chief or chiefs, 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 chief or chiefs, saying,
“Since you the chiefs of the Five Nations have refused to return to the procedure
of the Constitution, we now declare your seats vacant, and we take off your horns, the token of your chieftainship, 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 errant chiefs sitting between 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 chiefs,
“So now, chiefs of the Five Nations, hearken to these last words from your men.
You have not heeded the warnings of the General Council of Women, and you
have not heeded the warning of the Men of the Nations, all urging you 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 drop the bunch of black wampum, and the men shall spring to their feet and club the erring chiefs to death. Any erring chief may become submissive 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 it may be raised up again by the men. It is buried, but when the occasion arises, they may pull it up and derive their power and authority to act as here described.
60 A broad 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 unity of the Five Nations.
The first of the squares on the left represents the Mohawk Nation and its territory, the second square on the left and near the heart represents the Oneida Nation and its territory, and the white heart in the middle represents the Onondaga Nation and its territory. It also means that the heart of the Five Nations is single in its loyalty to the Great Peace, and that the Great Peace is lodged in the heart (meaning with Onondaga League chiefs) and that the Council Fire is to burn there for the Five Nations. Further it means that the authority is given to advance the cause of peace whereby hostile nations out of the League shall cease warfare. The white square to the right of the heart represents the Cayuga Nation and its territory and the fourth and last square represents the Seneca Nation and its territory.
White here symbolizes that no evil nor jealous thought shall creep into the minds of the chiefs while in Council under the Great Peace. White, the emblem of peace, love, charity, and equity surrounds and guards the Five Nations.
61 Should a great calamity threaten the generations rising and living of the Five United Nations, then he who is able to climb to the top of the Tree of the Great Long Leaves may do so. When he reaches the top of the Tree, he shall look about it in all directions and should he see evil things indeed approaching, then he shall call to the people of the Five United Nations assembled beneath of the Tree of the Great Peace and say, “A Calamity threatens your happiness.”
Then shall the Chiefs 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 a Tree of Kahonkaahkona, the great swamp elm tree, 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.
62 When the League of the Five Nations Council 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 “honoring the importance of the law.”
63 Should two sons of opposite sides of the Council Fire (iatawa) agree in a desire to hear the reciting of the laws of the Great Peace and so refresh their memories in a way specified by the Founder of the League, they shall notify Atotarho. He shall consult with five of his cousin chiefs and they in turn shall consult their eight brethren. Then should they decide to accede to the request of the two sons from the opposite sides of the Council Fire, Atotarho shall send messengers to notify the chiefs of each of the Five Nations. Then they shall dispatch their War Chief to notify their brother and cousin chiefs of the meeting and its time and place.
When all have come and have assembled, Atotarho, in conjunction with his cousin chiefs, shall appoint one chief who shall repeat the laws of the Great Peace to the two sons. Then the chosen one shall repeat the laws of the Great Peace.
64 At the ceremony of the installation of chiefs, if there is only one expert speaker and singer of the Law and the Song of Peace 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 opposite side and reply to his own speech and song. He shall thus act for both sides of the Fire until the entire ceremony has been completed. Such a speaker and singer shall be termed “Two-faced’ because he speaks and sings for both sides of the Fire.
65 I, Tekanawita, and the United Chiefs, now uproot the tallest tree (skarenhesekowa) and into the hole thereby made we cast all weapons of war. Into the depths of the earth, down into the deep underneath currents of water (Tionawatetsien) 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.
66 The father of a child of great comeliness, ability or specially loved because of some circumstances may, at the will of the child’s Clan, select a name from his own (the father’s) Clan and bestow it by ceremony, such as is provided. This naming shall be only temporary, and shall be called, “A name hung about the neck.”
67 Should any person, a member of the League of Five Nations, especially esteem a man or a woman of another Clan or of a foreign nation, he may choose a name, bestow it upon that person so esteemed. The naming shall be in accord with the ceremony of bestowing names. Such a name is only temporary and shall be called, “A name hung about the neck.” A short string of shells shall be delivered with the name as a record and a pledge.
68 Should any member of the Five Nations, a family, or a 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 Chiefs of the Nation shall then consider the proposal and submit a decision.
69 Any member of the Five Nations, who through esteem or other feelings, wishes to adopt an individual, a family, or a number of families, may offer adoption to him or them, and if accepted, the matter shall be brought to the attention of the Chiefs for confirmation and the chiefs must confirm the adoption.
70 When the adoption of anyone shall have been confirmed by the chiefs of the Nation the chiefs shall address the people of the 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 depth of the earth. Henceforth let no one of our nation ever mention the original name or nation of their birth. To do so will hasten the end of our peace.”
71 When a person or family belonging to the Five Nations desires to abandon their Nation and the territory of the Five Nations they shall inform the chiefs of their Nation and the Council of the League of Five Nations shall take notice of it.
When any person or any of the people of the Five Nations emigrate and reside in a distant region away from the territory of the League of Five Nations, the chiefs 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 black shell and they shall know that this is an order for them to return to their original homes and to their Council Fires.
72 The soil of the earth from one end to the other is the property of the people who inhabit it. By birthright, the Onkwehonwe, the 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.
73 The Great Creator has made us of 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.
74 When any alien nation or individual is admitted into the League 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 League, the League statesmen shall order one of their War Chiefs to reprimand him or them. If a similar offense is committed, the offending party or parties shall be expelled from the territory of the League.
75 When a member of an alien nation comes to the territory of the League and seeks refuge and permanent residence, the statesmen 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 mentioned here.
76 No body of alien people who have been adopted temporarily shall have a vote in the Council of the chiefs of the League, for only they who have been invested with chieftainship 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 League, might go against the Great Peace. In this manner, the Great Peace would be endangered and perhaps be destroyed.
77 When the chiefs of the League decide to admit a foreign nation and an adoption is made, the chiefs 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. In no way should they cause disturbance or injury. Then shall the adopted nation disregard these injunctions, their adoption will be annulled and they will 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 chiefs 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 away from the League.”
78 Whenever a foreign nation enters the League 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 persuade the other nations to accept the Great Peace.
79 Skanawati shall be vested with a double office, duty and with double authority. One half of his being shall hold the statesman 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 League and command them to prepare for war and have the men ready at the appointed time and place for engagement with the enemy of the Great Peace.
80 When the council of the League 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.
81 When the men of the League, 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 League 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 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 a War Song, and he shall sing:
Onenhonkenenrenne Now I am greatly surprised
Nekati enkatieratakwe And therefore I shall use it,
Tsiniwakerennotenne The power of my War Song.
Wiskniwakonwentsiake I am of the Five Nations,
Ehtokatiienker ihwaneke And I shall make an appeal
Raonhane Rohshatstenserewane To the Might Creator.
Nerakwawi, nekati neakitiokwa He has furnished this army.
Rotiskenrakete, nekati ese My warriors shall be mighty in the strength of the Creator.
Sashatstenserowane Between him and my song they are,
Tiokenshen, nishonne For it was he who gave the song,
Ne kati ne takwawi This war song that I sing.
Ne karenna enkaterennoten.
82 When the warriors of the Five Nations are one an expedition against the 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 enemy’s lines when the War Chief shall approach with great caution and prepare for the attack.
83 When peace shall have been established by the termination of the war against a foreign nation, then the War Chief shall cause all the weapons of war to be taken from the nation. Then shall the Great Peace be established and that nation shall observe all the rules of the Great Peace for all time to come.
84 Whenever a foreign nation is conquered or has by their own will accepted the Great Peace, their own system of internal government may continue, but they must cease all warfare against other nations.
85 Whenever a war against a foreign nation is pushed until that nation is about exterminated because of its refusal to accept the Great Peace and if that nation shall by its obstinacy become exterminated, all their rights, property, and territory shall become the property of the Five Nations.
86 Whenever a foreign nation is conquered and the survivors are brought into the territory of the League of Five Nations 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 League in the body of chiefs.
87 When the War of the Five Nations on a foreign rebellious nation is ended, peace shall be restored to that nation by a withdrawal of all their weapons of war by the War Chief of the Five Nations. When all the terms of peace shall have been agreed upon, a state of friendship shall be established.
88 When the proposition to establish the Great Peace is made to a foreign nation, it shall be done in mutual council. The foreign nation is to be persuaded by reason, and urged to come into the Great Peace. If the Five Nations fail to obtain the consent of the nation at the first council, a second council shall be held and upon a second failure, a third council shall be held and this third council shall end the peaceful methods of persuasion. At the third council, the War Chief of the Five Nations shall address the chief of the foreign nation and request him three times to accept the Great Peace. If refusal steadfastly follows, the War Chief shall let the bunch of white lake shells drop from his outstretched hand to the ground, and shall bound quickly forward and club the offending chief to death. War shall thereby be declared, and the War Chief shall have his warriors to back any emergency. War must continue until the contest is won by the Five Nations.
89 When the chiefs 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 Chief who carries the proposals, and these warriors shall be especially cunning. Should the chief be attacked, these warriors shall hasten back to the army of warriors with the news of the calamity which fell through the treachery of the foreign nation.
90 When the Five Nations Council declares war, any chief of the League may enlist with the warriors by temporarily renouncing his sacred chieftainship title which he holds through the nomination 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 chief, if living, may resume his title and seat in the council.
91 A certain wampum belt of black beads shall be the emblem of the authority of the Five War Chiefs to take up the weapons of war and with their men to resist invasion. This shall be called a War in Defense of the Territory.
92 If a nation, part of a nation, or more than one nation within the Five Nations should in any way endeavor to destroy the Great Peace by neglect or violating its laws and resolve to dissolve the League, such a nation or such nations shall be deemed guilty of treason and called enemies of the League and the Great Peace.
It shall then be the duty of the chiefs of the League 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 League by the War Chief and his men.
93 Whenever an especially important matter or a great emergency is presented before the League Council and the nature of the matter effects the entire body of Five Nations, threatening their utter ruin, then the chiefs of the League must submit the matter to the decision of their people and the decision of the people shall affect the decision of the League Council. This decision shall be a confirmation of the voice of the people.
94 The men of every Clan of the Five Nations shall have a Council Fire ever burning in readiness for a Council of the Clan. When it seems necessary for the interest of the people, for a council to be held to discuss the welfare of the Clan, then the men may gather about the fire. This council shall have the same rights as the Council of Women.
95 The women of every clan of the Five Nations shall have a Council Fire ever burning in readiness for a council of the Clan. When in their opinion it seems necessary for the interest of the people, they shall hold a council, and their decision and recommendation shall be introduced before the Council of Chiefs by the War Chief for its consideration.
96 All the Clan Council Fires of a Nation or of the Five Nations may united into one general Council Fire, or delegates from all the Council Fires may be appointed to united in a general Council for discussing the interest 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 the League Council (as the case may require) by the War Chief or the War Chiefs.
97 Before the real people united their nations, each Nation had its own 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 chiefs of each Nation in the future shall settle their Nation’s affairs at this Council Fire governed always by the laws and rules of the Council of the League and the Great Peace.
98 If either a nephew or a niece see an irregularity in the performance of the functions of the Great Peace and its laws, in the League Council or in the conferring of chief 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 law of the Great Peace.
99 The rites and festivals of each nation shall remain undisturbed and shall continue as before, because they were given by the people of old times as useful and necessary for the good of men.
100 It shall be the duty of the chiefs of each brotherhood to confer at the approach of the time of the Midwinter Thanksgiving and to notify the 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 Tiskonah 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 chiefs shall preside over the Thanksgiving and address the people from time to time.
101 It shall be the duty of the appointed managers of the Thanksgiving festivals to do all that is needful 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 Corn Planting 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 Longhouses.
102 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.
103 When the Ripe Corn Thanksgiving is celebrated, the chiefs of the Nation must give it the same attention as they give to the Midwinter Thanksgiving.
104 Whenever any man proves himself by his good life and his knowledge of good things, he shall be recognized by the chiefs as a Teacher of Peace and Kariwiio and the People shall hear him.
105 The song used in installing the new chief of the League shall be sung by Atotarho and it shall be:
Haii, haii Akwa wiio (It is good indeed
Haii, haii Akonhewawatha That a broom,
Haii, haii Skaweiesekowa A great wing
Haii, haii Yonkwawi Is given me
Haii, haii Iakonhewatha For a sweeping instrument.)
106 Whenever a person properly entitled desires to learn the Song of Peace, 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 when no Chief is installed.
107 A certain sign shall be known to all the people of the Five Nations which shall denote that the owner or occupant of a house is absent. A stick or pole in a slanting or leaning position shall indicate this and be the sign. Every person not entitled to enter the house by right of living within upon seeing such a sign shall not enter the house by day or by night, but shall keep as far away as his business will permit.
108 At the funeral of a chief of the League, these words are said:
“Now we become reconciled as you start away. You were once a chief of the
League of Five Nations, 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 you lived
hinder you. In hunting, you once delighted; in the game of lacrosse, you once
took delight, and in the feast 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 are related to the 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 away to evil behavour. One year is the time that you must abstain
from unseeming levity, but if you can not do this for ceremony, ten days is the
time to regard these things for respect.”
109 At the funeral of a War Chief, say:
“Now we become reconciled as you start away. Once you were a War Chief of
the Five Nations League, and the United People trusted as their guard from the
(The remainder is the same as the address at the funeral of a chief.)
110 At the funeral of a warrior say:
“Now we become reconciled as you start away. Once you were a devoted
provider and protector of your family, and you were ready to take part in battles for the Five Nations. The United People trusted…”
(The remainder is the same as the address at the funeral of a chief.)
111 At the funeral of a young man say:
“Now we become reconciled as you start away. In the beginning of your career
you are taken away, and the flower of your life is withered away.”
(The remainder is the same as the address at the funeral of a chief.)
112 At the funeral of a chief woman say:
“Now we become reconciled as you start away. You were once a chief woman in the League of Five Nations. 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 chieftainship titles. Feastings were yours and you had pleasant occasions…’”
(The remainder is the same as the address at the funeral of a chief).
113 At the funeral of a woman of the people say:
“Now we become reconciled as you start away. You were once a woman in the
flower of life and the bloom is now withered away. You once held a sacred
position as mother of the Nation. (etc.) Looking after your family was a sacred
duty and you were faithful. Feastings…’”
(The remainder is the same as the funeral of a chief.)
114 At the funeral of an infant or young woman say:
“Now we become reconciled as you start away. You were a tender bud and
gladdened our hearts for only a few days. Now the bloom has withered
away…(etc.) Let none of these things that transpired on earth hinder. Let nothing that happened while you lived hinder you.”
(The remainder is the same as at the funeral of a chief.)
115 When an infant dies within three days, mourning shall continue only five days. Then shall you gather the little boys and girls at the house of mourning and at the funeral feast, a speaker shall address the children and bid them to be happy once more, though by death, gloom has been cast over them. Then shall the children be again in the sunshine.
116 When a dead person is brought to the burial place, the speaker on the opposite side of the Council Fire shall bid the bereaved family cheer their minds once more 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 they shall be at peace in the sunshine again.
117 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 her, this body is to be covered. Assemble in this place
again in ten days hence, for it is the decree of the Creator that mourning shall
cease when ten days have expired. Then a feast shall 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 mind must now be freed of sorrow as before the loss of your 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 will be repeated for everyone who assisted in any way until all have been remembered.)
On June 1, Canada’s domestic boarder force, known for rampant racism, was going to begin armed patrols at the Cromwell Island crossing. Harper it seems wishes very much to emulate the worst parts of America, including para-militarizing police functions.
Akwesasne is a unique community in that it is divided in the middle by an entirely artificial border between this thing presently called the United States and the British dominion of Canada. This is the same boarder crossing where MNN publisher Kahentinetha Horn was attacked and beaten by Canadian boarder troops for which she had to be hospitalized.
This border is in the middle of a thriving Mohawk community, and the last thing people want is armed checkpoints in the middle of their community, like for example you see in the West bank. The people of Akwesasne said no, and occupied the border post themselves after Harper’s goons retreated and vacated the post.
Today, this border post remains fully liberated territory, in the hands of the community and the Haudenosaunee nations, even while the entire community of Akwesasne been sealed and blockaded by armed forces from both Canada and the United States, since Tuesday.
I can guarantee the U.S. and Canadian armed standoff has not and will not be reported in the mainstream press, as all significant issues involving indigenous people is deliberately censored in the western press. More disturbing, those press ambitious enough to try and report this story, as well as international observers, have been denied access to the area by the U.S. and Canadian governments.
While this community is held hostage by hostile armed forces, it remains determined not to give in. Nor do those involved believe this conflict will be kept contained and silenced by these governments. There is an effort to internationalize this crisis through the United Nations and OAS, as well as to consider the question that holding civilian populations as armed hostages is a war crime. Certainly I have made the resources of my office as ambassador, meager as they are, available to the Haudenosanee nation in their struggle, and I may have a chance to discuss these efforts with supportive national governments on my next trip later this month (as some know I was in Spain last week…).
In a way, we, all of us on Turtle Island, are all Akwesasne, held hostage by criminal and illegitimate governments serving the greed of the few. The community of Akwesasne needs your support. If you are in the area, and can go there, please do. Bear witness if nothing else. If you can, bring in supplies, by boat at night, and break the blockage.