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.)
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
“We are working towards complete freedom in a lawful, non-violent, non-aggressive way.”
- Russell Means
The Lakotah’s 158 Year Long Struggle for Justice
In December of 2007, the Republic of Lakotah was formed by the formal withdrawal from its Treaties of 1851 and 1868. This was the latest step in the longest running legal battle in the history of the World.
This was not a “cessation” from the United States, but a completely lawful “unilateral withdrawal” from the Treaties as permitted under the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, of which, the United States is a signatory.
The purpose of the Republic of Lakotah is to follow the Instructions given by the Elders at the first International Indian Treaty Council in 1974. The Council held a “Western Hemisphere” Conference at Wakpala on the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation. Over 5000 delegates of 97 Indigenous Peoples from the Americas gathered. The “manifesto” that was created on that occasion supports the rights of all Indigenous Peoples to live free and take whatever actions are necessary to uphold our sovereignty. This was the largest gathering of Indian People in the 20th Century where Indians paid their own way.
It was here that the Declaration of Continuing Independence was created. The conference was attended by numerous elders, including Chief Frank Fools Crow, pictured left. These were not your ordinary elders; most of them were born in the 1800’s to parents who had been born free, they had never been to schools. The majority spoke no English, and the rest spoke broken English. Russell Means was made a permanent trustee of the International Indian Treaty Council by the elders and the conference.
These Elders Gave the Conference and the Newly Formed International Treaty Council Two Mandates:
1. The first mandate was to become recognized by the International Communities. On September 2007, when the United Nations passed the Declaration of Indigenous Rights, that mandate was fulfilled.
2. We were to remember the words of Noble Red Man (Matthew King, pictured below), “We must always remember that we were once a free People, if we don’t, we shall cease to be Lakotah.” This second mandate is to return to our original status as free and Independent Nations. On December 17, 2007, the Lakotah Freedom Delegation presented to the Department of State of the United States of America, we are unilaterally withdrawing from all Treaties and Agreements entered into between the United States of America and Lakotah.
Leading up to the 2007 Unilateral Treaty Withdrawal, Russell traveled all over the five state area meeting with key people over a seven month period. Now in his seventieth winter, he is working on achieving better conditions for the Indian people for over forty years. Russell was appointed by the conference and the elders as a permanent trustee of the Indian Treaty Council.
The 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty was considered by some commentators to have been a complete victory for Red Cloud and the Sioux. In 1904 it was described as “the only instance in the history of the United States where the government has gone to war and afterwards negotiated a peace conceding everything demanded by the enemy and exacting nothing in return.”
As a result of the long running litigation between the Lakotah and the United States, the U.S. has made some telling statements:
“A more ripe and rank case of dishonorable dealings will never, in all probability, be found in our history,…” U.S. Court of Claims, 1975
“ It is clear that, based on the representations of the United States negotiators, the Indians cannot have regarded the 1868 Treaty as a treaty of cession. Nowhere in the history leading up to the treaty negotiations themselves is there any indication that the United States was seeking a land cession or that the Sioux were unwilling to consent to one. On the contrary, the evidence is overwhelming that the Sioux would never have signed the treaty had they thought they were ceding any land to the United States.” Sioux Tribe v. United States, 42 Indian Claims Commission, 1978
“Here, there is no doubt that the Black Hills were “taken” from the Sioux in a way that wholly deprived them of their property rights to that land. The question presented is whether Congress was acting under circumstances in which that “taking” implied an obligation to pay just compensation, or whether it was acting pursuant to its unique powers to manage and control tribal property as the guardian of Indian welfare, in which event the Just Compensation Clause would not apply.” U.S. Supreme Court, UNITED STATES v. SIOUX NATION OF INDIANS, 1980
The court also remarked upon President Grant’s duplicity in breaching the Government’s treaty obligation to keep trespassers out of the Black Hills, and the pattern of duress practiced by the Government on the starving Sioux to get them to agree to the sale of the Black Hills.
“That there was tragedy, deception, barbarity, and virtually every other vice known to man in the 300-year history of the expansion of the original 13 Colonies into a Nation which now embraces more than three million square miles and 50 States cannot be denied. But in a court opinion, as a historical and not a legal matter, both settler and Indian are entitled to the benefit of the Biblical adjuration: ‘Judge not, that ye be not judged.’” Hearing before the committee on Indian affairs, united states senate session on Tribal Sovereign Immunity 9-24, 1996
The Historical Facts that Form the Basis of the Lakotah’s Claim to Sovereignty
1824 – Indian Service Department (BIA) created in the War Department.
1849 - Indian Service Department (BIA) transferred to the Department of the Interior.
1851 – Treaty of Fort Laramie marks turning point in U.S.-Indian relations on the northern plains creating the Great Lakotah (Sioux) Nation
1853-56 – The United States acquires 174 million acres of Indian lands in a series of 52 treaties, all of which are subsequently broken by the U.S. Government
1854 - U.S. Indian Affairs commissioner calls for end of Indian removal policy – IGNORED
1862-63 – Santee Sioux uprising in Minnesota under Chief Little Crow ends with the hanging of 38 Santees on Dec. 26, 1863, the largest mass execution in U.S. history was ordered by President Lincoln without a hearing just two days after he signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
1864 - Nov. 29, Army Colonel (and United Methodist Reverend) John M. Chivington’s hastily assembled volunteers massacre more than 300 Cheyenne men, women and children peacefully camped at Sand Creek.
1866 – U.S. Congress appropriates Indian lands (without consultation or consent as required by the Treaty of 1851) as right-of-way for construction of transcontinental railroad
1866-68 – U.S. TREATY VIOLATION: In direct violation of the Treaty of 1851, the U.S. government allowed the Bozeman trail to go through the Heart of the Lakotah Nation as a short-cut to the gold fields in Montana. Soon, the Army began, in another gross violation of the 1851 Treaty, to construct and man a string of forts along the Bozeman Trail. Cheyenne, Lakotah and Arapaho forces led by Chief Red Cloud soundly defeat the U.S. Army on the field of battle. The war ended when the U.S. sued for peace and made the promises documented in the Treaty of 1868. This will remain the only full-scale “Indian War” won by the Indians, a victory formalized in the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty
1868 - The United States pledged that the Great Sioux Reservation, including the Black Hills, would be “set apart for the absolute and undisturbed use and occupation of the Indians herein named.”
The Fort Laramie Treaty included several agreements central to the issues presented in this case. First, it established the Great Sioux Reservation. The United States “solemnly agree[d]” that no unauthorized persons “shall ever be permitted to pass over, settle upon, or reside in [this] territory.”
Second, the United States permitted members of the Sioux tribes to select lands within the reservation for cultivation. Id., at 637. In order to assist the Sioux in becoming civilized farmers, the Government promised to provide them with the necessary services and materials, and with subsistence rations for four years.
Third, the U.S. Government fraudulently claims, that in exchange for the benefits conferred by the treaty, the Sioux agreed to relinquish their rights under the Treaty of September 17, 1851, to occupy territories outside the reservation, while reserving their “right to hunt on any lands north of North Platte, and on the Republican Fork of the Smoky Hill river, so long as the buffalo may range thereon in such numbers as to justify the chase.” The Indians also, allegedly, expressly agreed to withdraw all opposition to the building of railroads that did not pass over their reservation lands, not to engage in attacks on settlers, and to withdraw their opposition to the military posts and roads that had been established south of the North Platte River.
Fourth, Art. XII of the treaty provided: “No treaty for the cession of any portion or part of the reservation herein described which may be held in common shall be of any validity or force as against the said Indians, unless executed and signed by at least three fourths of all the adult male Indians, occupying or interested in the same.”
1868 - The U.S.A. Treaty Commission, upon returning to Washington, D.C., stopped in Chicago and altered the text of the Treaty to eliminate all land now used by the State of Nebraska.
1869 - Transcontinental railroad completed. Among other uses, this transported large numbers of hunters to kill off the Buffalo herds.
1871 – Congress ratifies last of 372 treaties made with Indian tribes since 1778; later accords will not have treaty status, which recognizes tribes as sovereign nations – General Sheridan issues orders forbidding western Indians to leave reservations without permission – White hunters in Unites States begin wholesale killing of buffalo
1874 – U.S. TREATY VIOLATION: Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer led the expedition of close to 1,000 soldiers and teamsters, and a substantial number of military and civilian aides. By the end of JULY, they had reached the Black Hills, and by mid-August had confirmed the presence of gold fields in that region. The discovery of gold was widely reported in newspapers across the country. Custer’s florid descriptions of the mineral and timber resources of the Black Hills, and the land’s suitability for grazing and cultivation, also received wide circulation, and had the effect of creating an intense popular demand for the “opening” of the Hills for settlement. The only obstacle to “progress” was the Fort Laramie Treaty that reserved occupancy of the Hills to the Sioux.
In an interview with a correspondent from the Bismarck Tribune, published September 2, 1874, Custer recognized the military’s obligation to keep all trespassers off the reservation lands, but stated that he would recommend to Congress “the extinguishment of the Indian title at the earliest moment practicable for military reasons.”
Quoting the 1874 annual report of Lieutenant General Philip H. Sheridan, as Commander of the Military Division of the Missouri, to the Secretary of War: “Having promised the Sioux that the Black Hills were reserved to them, the United States Army was placed in the position of having to threaten military force, and occasionally to use it, to prevent prospectors and settlers from trespassing on lands reserved to the Indians.”
For example, in September 1874, General Sheridan sent instructions to Brigadier General Alfred H. Terry, Commander of the Department of Dakota, at Saint Paul, directing him to use force to prevent companies of prospectors from trespassing on the Sioux Reservation. At the same time, Sheridan let it be known that he would “give a cordial support to the settlement of the Black Hills,” should Congress decide to “open up the country for settlement, by extinguishing the treaty rights of the Indians.”
Sheridan’s instructions were published in local newspapers. Eventually, however, the Executive Branch of the Government decided to abandon the Nation’s treaty obligation to preserve the integrity of the Sioux territory. In a letter dated November 9, 1875, to Terry, Sheridan reported that he had met with President Grant, the Secretary of the Interior, and the Secretary of War, and that the President had decided that the military should make no further resistance to the occupation of the Black Hills by miners, “it being his belief that such resistance only increased their desire and complicated the troubles.”
These orders were to be enforced “quietly,” , and the President’s decision was to remain “confidential.” (letter from Sheridan to Sherman). With the Army’s withdrawal from its role as enforcer of the Fort Laramie Treaty, the influx of settlers into the Black Hills increased. The Government concluded that the only practical course was to secure to the citizens of the United States the right to mine the Black Hills for gold. Toward that end, the Secretary of the Interior, in the spring of 1875, appointed a commission to negotiate with the Sioux. The commission was headed by William B. Allison. The tribal leaders of the Sioux were aware of the mineral value of the Black Hills and refused to sell the land for a price less than $70 million. The commission offered the Indians an annual rental of $400,000, or payment of $6 million for absolute relinquishment of the Black Hills. The negotiations broke down.
Winter of 1875-1876 – Many of the Sioux were hunting in the unceded territory north of the North Platte River, reserved to them for that purpose in the Fort Laramie Treaty. On December 6, 1875, with blatantly hostile intentions, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs sent instructions to the Indian agents on the reservation to notify those hunters that if they did not return to the reservation agencies by January 31, 1876, they would be treated as “hostiles.”
Given the severity of the winter, compliance with these instructions was impossible. On February 1, the Secretary of the Interior nonetheless relinquished jurisdiction over all hostile Sioux, including those Indians exercising their treaty-protected hunting rights, to the War Department.
1876 – Sioux War for the Black Hills waged by Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho forces under Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. On June 25, 1876, Custer’s 7th Cavalry is crushed at Battle of the Little Bighorn while on the way to ambush a Lakotah village. That victory, of course, was short-lived, and those Indians who surrendered to the Army were returned to the reservation, and deprived of their weapons and horses, leaving them completely dependent for survival on rations provided them by the Government. Sitting Bull and followers seek refuge in Canada.
1876 – U.S. TREATY VIOLATION: “GIVE UP THE LAND OR STARVE CAMPAIGN”: August, Congress enacted an appropriations bill providing that “hereafter there shall be no appropriation made for the subsistence” of the Sioux, unless they first relinquished their rights to the hunting grounds outside the reservation, ceded the Black Hills to the United States.
A commission, headed by George Manypenny, arrived in the Sioux country in early September and commenced meetings with the head men of the various tribes. The members of the commission impressed upon the Indians that the United States no longer had any obligation to provide them with subsistence rations. The commissioners brought with them the text of a treaty that had been prepared in advance. The principal provisions of this treaty were that the Sioux would relinquish their rights to the Black Hills and other lands west of the one hundred and third meridian, and their rights to hunt in the unceded territories to the north, in exchange for subsistence rations for as long as they would be needed to ensure the Sioux’ survival.
Hagan, The Reservation Policy: Too Little and Too Late, in Indian-White Relations: A Persistent Paradox 157-169 (J. Smith & R. Kvasnicka, eds., 1976). In words applicable to conditions on the Sioux Reservation during the years in question, Professor Hagan stated: “The idea had been to supplement the food the Indians obtained by hunting until they could subsist completely by farming. Clauses in the treaties permitted hunting outside the strict boundaries of the reservations, but the inevitable clashes between off-reservation hunting parties and whites led this privilege to be first restricted and then eliminated. The Indians became dependent upon government rations more quickly than had been anticipated, while their conversion to agriculture lagged behind schedule. The quantity of food supplied by the government was never sufficient for a full ration, and the quality was frequently poor. But in view of the fact that most treaties carried no provision for rations at all, and for others they were limited to four years, the members of Congress tended to look upon rations as a gratuity that should be terminated as quickly as possible. The Indian Service and military personnel generally agreed that it was better to feed than to fight, but to the typical late nineteenth-century member of Congress, not yet exposed to doctrines of social welfare, there was something obscene about grown men and women drawing free rations. Appropriations for subsistence consequently fell below the levels requested by the secretary of the interior….That starvation and near-starvation conditions were present on some of the sixty-odd reservations every year for the quarter century after the Civil War is manifest.” The Government’s “sell or starve policy” was not effective.
According to the terms of the one-sided Manypenny arrangement, the Sioux were to surrender claims to the Black Hills region, which stretched across five states and covered 47 million acres of land stuffed with gold and other resources that would enrich American industrialists and financiers while impoverish the indigenous people who lived there.
In setting out to obtain the tribes’ agreement to this treaty, the commission ignored the stipulation of the Fort Laramie Treaty that any cession of the lands contained within the Great Sioux Reservation would have to be joined in by three-fourths of the adult males. Instead, the treaty was presented just to Sioux chiefs and their leading men. It was signed by only 10% of the adult male Sioux population.
The provision of rations was to be conditioned, however, on the attendance at school by Indian children, and on the labor of those who resided on lands suitable for farming. The Government also promised to assist the Sioux in finding markets for their crops and in obtaining employment in the performance of Government work on the reservation.
Three years after the agreement that bore his name was ratified, George Manypenny wrote a book entitled Our Indian Wards. There he wrote that:
It can not be denied, that from the period when the first infant settlements were made upon the Atlantic sea-board by European colonies, until the present time, there have been constant, persistent, and unceasing efforts on the part of the white man to drive the Indian from his hunting ground and his home.
1877 – Feb. 28, – Congress “resolves” the “3/4 of adult males” problem by enacting the 1876 “agreement” into law as the Act of(1877 Act), 19 Stat. 254. The Act had the effect of abrogating the earlier Fort Laramie Treaty, and of implementing the terms of the Manypenny Commission’s “agreement” with the Sioux leaders. The passage of the 1877 Act legitimized the settlers’ invasion of the Black Hills, but throughout the years it has been regarded by the Sioux as a breach of this Nation’s solemn obligation to reserve the Hills in perpetuity for occupation by the Indians secured by the Sacred document of the white man and the Constitution of the United Sates of America!
1877 – Crazy Horse is killed while in custody after he surrenders.
1881 – Sitting Bull and 187 followers surrender to U.S. officials at Fort Buford, North Dakota
1885 – The last great herd of buffalo in the United States (at one time 60,000,000) is exterminated. In this chapter of history eliminated from the history books, the government took sixty years to accomplish this most damning genocidal policy!
1887 - Congress passes the General Allotment Act (the Dawes Act), which ends communal ownership of reservation lands, distributing 160-acre “allotments” to individual Indians and disposing of the surplus. Tribes lose millions of acres. (Much of this land is now in the hands of white ranchers.)
1888 – Congress begins the outlawing of the entire Indian Way of Life and our Spiritual and Prayer Ceremonies.
1890-1910 – U.S. Indian population reaches low point: less than 250,000. The population of the Indigenous People prior to the invasion in 1492, has been estimated at 14,000,000 in the contiguous 48 states!
1890 – On Dec. 15, 1890, Sitting Bull is killed at the Standing Rock Reservation, South Dakota, increasing tensions there.
1890 - Dec. 28, U.S. troops massacre more than 300 Sioux prisoners of war at what is now known as Wounded Knee who were traveling to to visit Red Cloud. After disarming the Indians, the U.S. Army used for small arms and four of their newest weapons, the Hotchkiss revolving canon which fired 1.25 inch exploding shells. This “battle” as it’s recorded in the U.S. history books resulted in the awarding of twenty Congressional Medals of Honor for Valor which were bestowed on the 7th Calvary. To this day, this day, this is the most Medals of Honor EVER awarded for a battle. More than any of the atrocious battles in the Pacific during World War II.
1891 – Indian Education. A Congressional Act authorized the Commissioner of Indian Affairs “to make and enforce by proper means” rules and regulations to ensure that Indian children attended schools designed and administered by non-Indians. Children were literally ripped from their parents’ arms and sent to federal and missionary boarding schools all over the West. This genocidal campaign continues to this day as children are unlawfully and manipulatively taken from their parents all over the U.S. under the 1978 “Indian Child Welfare Act.”
1891 – Amendment to the Dawes Act. This amendment modified the amount of land to be allotted and set conditions for leasing allotments.
1891 – Congress authorizes the leasing by whites of allotted Indian lands
1893 - Indian Education. This Congressional Act made school attendance for Indian children compulsory and authorized the BIA to withhold rations and government annuities to parents who did not send their children to school.
1898 – Curtis Act. This Congressional Act ended tribal governments practice of refusing allotments and mandated the allotment of tribal lands in Indian Territory – including the lands of the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Seminole nations.
1898 – TREATY VIOLATION: Curtis Act seeks to extend allotment policy to “Five Civilized Tribes” by dissolving tribal governments, requiring abolished Indian nations to submit to allotment, and instituting civil government in Indian Territory
1903 - Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock, 187 U.S. 553, 23 S.Ct. 216, 47 L.Ed. 299 (1903) Supreme Court decision. The Kiowas and Comanches sued the Secretary of the Interior to stop the transfer of their lands without consent of tribal members which violated the promises made in the 1867 Treaty of Medicine Lodge. The Court ruled that the trust relationship served as a source of power for Congress to take action on tribal land held under the terms of a treaty. Thus, Congress could, by statute, abrogate the provisions of an Indian treaty. Further, Congress had a plenary – or absolute – power over tribal relations.
1906 - Antiquities Act. This Congressional Act declared that Indian bones and objects found on federal land were the property of the United States. This unleashed a flood of of anthropologists and archaeologists as well as ghoulish profiteers to rob our graves with impunity.
1906 – Burke Act. This act amended the Dawes Act to give the secretary of War the power to remove allotments from trust before the time set by the Dawes Act, by declaring that the holders had “adopted the habits of civilized life.” This act also changed the point at which the government would award citizenship from the granting of the allotment to the granting of the title.
1908 – TREATY VIOLATION: Supreme Court defines rights of the federal government to reserve water for the use of Indian tribes
1910 – TREATY VIOLATION: Federal government forbids the Sun Dance among the Plains Indians, giving the use of self-torture as the reason.
1923 - The Lakotah, after years of lobbying, succeeded in obtaining from Congress the passage of a special jurisdictional Act which provided them a forum for adjudication of all claims against the United States “under any treaties, agreements, or laws of Congress, or for the misappropriation of any of the funds or lands of said tribe or band or bands thereof.” Pursuant to this statute, the Sioux, in 1923, filed a petition with the Court of Claims alleging that the Government had taken the Black Hills without just compensation, in violation of the Fifth Amendment. This claim was dismissed by that court in 1942. The case was re-filed after the establishment of the Indian Court of Claims in 1946. Subsequently, the case went to the Supreme Court three times, before finally being ruled on in 1980, thus making the “Black Hills Claim” the longest running litigation in U.S. history, 58 years. As the money awarded has still not been accepted by the Lakotah, one could say that the claim is yet unresolved. The Lakotah asked for the return of all lands according to the treaties and the Constitution. However, once the lawyers go to Washington, D.C., they violated the Lakotah’s instructions and and sought not the return of the land, but “just compensation.”
1924 – The Indian Citizenship Act, also known as the Snyder Act, was proposed by Representative Homer P. Snyder of New York and granted full U.S. citizenship to America’s indigenous peoples, called “Indians” in this Act. (The Fourteenth Amendment guarantees citizenship to persons born in the U.S., but only if “subject to the jurisdiction thereof”; this latter clause excludes certain indigenous.) The act was signed into law by President Calvin Coolidge on June 2. However, to this day, Indians are not granted the protections granted all other citizens under the Bill of Rights. This was done without the consent of Indians!
1927 – Grand Council of American Indians:
The white people, who are trying to make us over into their image, they want us to be what they call “assimilated,” bringing the Indians into the mainstream and destroying our own way of life and our own cultural patterns. They believe we should be contented like those whose concept of happiness is materialistic and greedy, which is very different from our way.
We want freedom from the white man rather than to be integrated. We don’t want any part of the establishment, we want to be free to raise our children in our religion, in our ways, to be able to hunt and fish and live in peace. We don’t want power, we don’t want to be congressmen, or bankers….we want to be ourselves. We want to have our heritage, because we are the owners of this land and because we belong here.
The white man says, there is freedom and justice for all. We have had ‘freedom and justice,’ and that is why we have been almost exterminated. We shall not forget this.
1930’s – Adolph Hitler patterns his genocidal techniques after the American Indian Policy of the U.S. Government. “Adolf Hitler”, John Toland, Publisher: Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden City, New York 1976.
“Hitler’s concept of concentration camps as well as the practicality of genocide owed much, so he claimed, to his studies of English and United States history. He admired the camps for Boer prisoners in South Africa and for the Indians in the wild West; and often praised to his inner circle the efficiency of America’s extermination-by starvation and uneven combat-of the red savages who could not be tamed by captivity.” Pg 702
1934 – TREATY VIOLATION: U.S. Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) reverses U.S. policy of allotment, providing for tribal self-government and landholding and launching an Indian credit program.
1943 - The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the Court of Claims dismissal of the Black Hills claim under the 1920 jurisdictional statute by denying the Sioux bands’ petition for a writ of certiorari (Sioux Tribe v. United States, 318 U.S. 789 ).
1946 - Indian Court of Claims established by the US. creating a new forum to hear and determine all tribal grievances that had arisen previously.
1950 – Counsel for the Sioux resubmit the Black Hills claim to the Indian Claims Commission. The Commission initially ruled that the Sioux had failed to prove their case. The Sioux filed a motion with the Court of Claims to vacate its judgment of affirmance alleging that the Commission’s decision had been based on a record that was inadequate, due to the failings of the Sioux’ former counsel. This motion was granted and the Court of Claims directed the Commission to consider whether the case should be reopened for the presentation of additional evidence.
1954 – Indian Claims Commission dismissed Docket 74, a part of the Black Hills claim.
1958 – Indian Claims Commission entered an order reopening the case and announcing that it would reconsider its prior judgment on the merits of the Sioux claim. Following the Sioux’ filing of an amended petition, claiming again that the 1877 Act constituted a taking of the Black Hills for which just compensation had not been paid, there ensued a lengthy period of procedural sparring between the Indians and the Government.
1960 – Indian Claims Commission agreed to allow the Sioux tribes to amend their original Docket 74 petition by substituting two separate petitions to be designated as Docket 74-A and 74-B.
Docket 74-A involved claims for Sioux property outside of western South Dakota that was, according to the United States, voluntarily “ceded” by the Sioux bands under article 2 of the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty! Docket 74-A consisted of the following claims:
1. A recognized title claim for 34 million acres of Sioux lands located west of the Missouri River (outside of western South Dakota) in the states of Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, and Nebraska; and
2. An aboriginal title claim for 14 million acres of Sioux lands located east of the Missouri River (in the states of North Dakota and South Dakota).
Docket 74-B involved claims for Sioux property confiscated by Congress under the 1877 act in violation of the Just Compensation Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Docket 74-B consisted of the following claims:
1. A claim for 7.3 million acres of the Great Sioux Reservation (the Black Hills) confiscated under article 1 of the 1877 act;
2. A claim for article 11 hunting rights confiscated under article 1 of the 1877 act;
3. A claim for placer (surface) gold removed by trespassing gold miners with U.S. government connivance prior to 1877; and
4. A claim for three rights-of-way confiscated under article 2 of the 1877 act.
1962 – After the Sioux tribes succeeded in reopening Docket 74 in 1960, they attempted three times to amend their petition to allege a wrongful taking under the 1868 treaty. All three amendments were denied by the ICC on May 11,1960, February 28, 1962, and October 29,1968.
1964 – South Africa copies the U.S. Reservation Scheme: The Bantu Laws Amendment Act of 1964 gave the government complete authority to banish blacks from any urban area and from white agricultural areas. During the 1970′s, the government stripped thousands of blacks of their South African citizenship when it granted nominal independence to their homelands. Most of the homelands had few natural resources, were not economically viable, and being both small and fragmented, lacked the autonomy of independent states.
1965 – The Indian Claims Commission ruled that the 1851 treaty recognized title in the “Sioux or Dahcotah Nation” to approximately 60 million acres of territory situated east of the Missouri River in what is now the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Montana.
1969 – Indian Claims Commission allows the Docket 74 Sioux Tribes to intervene in the suit with the Yankton Sioux (Docket 332-C) and include their claims for aboriginal title lands located east of the Missouri River. It also allowed the Yankton Sioux, for the first time, to assert a recognized title claim west and north of the Missouri River on the basis that it was a party to the 1851 Fort Laramie Treaty.
1969 – American Indian activists occupy Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay to call attention to the plight of contemporary Indians. The occupation lasts until 1971.
1969 – Vienna Convention on Treaties:
Scope of the present Convention: The present Convention applies to treaties between States.
Article 49- Fraud
If a State has been induced to conclude a treaty by the fraudulent conduct govern questions not regulated by the provisions of the present Convention, Have agreed as follows:
Use of terms
1. For the purposes of the present Convention:
(a) ‘treaty’ means an international agreement concluded between States in written form and governed by international law, whether embodied in a single instrument or in two or more related instruments and whatever its particular designation;
(b) ‘ratification’, ‘acceptance’, ‘approval’ and ‘accession’ mean in each case the
international act so named whereby a State establishes on the international plane its consent to be bound by a treaty;
(c) ‘full powers’ means a document emanating from the competent authority of a
State designating a person or persons to represent the State for negotiating, adopting or authenticating the text of a treaty, for expressing the consent of the State to be bound by a treaty, or for accomplishing any other act with respect to a treaty;
(d) ‘reservation’ means a unilateral statement, however phrased or named, made by a State, when signing, ratifying, accepting, approving or acceding to a treaty, whereby it purports to exclude or to modify the legal effect of certain provisions of the treaty in their application to that State;
(e) ‘negotiating State’ means a State which took part in the drawing up and adoption of the text of the treaty;
(f) ‘contracting State’ means a State which has consented to be bound by the
treaty, whether or not the treaty has entered into force;
(g) ‘party’ means a State which has consented to be bound by the treaty and for which the treaty is in force;
(h) ‘third State’ means a State not a party to the treaty;
(i) ‘international organization’ means an intergovernmental organization.
Termination or suspension of the operation of a treaty as a consequence of its breach:
1. A material breach of a bilateral treaty by one of the parties entitles the other to invoke the breach as aground for terminating the treaty or suspending its operation in whole or in part.
2. A material breach of a multilateral treaty by one of the parties entitles:
(a) the other parties by unanimous agreement to suspend the operation of the treaty in whole or in part or to terminate it either:
(i) in the relations between themselves and the defaulting State, or
(ii) as between all the parties;
(b) a party specially affected by the breach to invoke it as a ground for suspending the
operation of the treaty in whole or in part in the relations between itself and the defaulting State;
(c) any party other than the defaulting State to invoke the breach as a ground for
suspending the operation of the treaty in whole or in part with respect to itself if the treaty is of such a character that a material breach of its provisions by one party radically changes the position of every party with respect to the further performance of its obligations under the treaty.
3. A material breach of a treaty, for the purposes of this article, consists in:
(a) a repudiation of the treaty not sanctioned by the present Convention; or
(b) the violation of a provision essential to the accomplishment of the object or purpose of the treaty.
4. The foregoing paragraphs are without prejudice to any provision in the treaty applicable in the event of a breach.
5. Paragraphs 1 to 3 do not apply to provisions relating to the protection of the human person contained in treaties of a humanitarian character, in particular to provisions prohibiting any form of reprisals against persons protected by such treaties.
1970 – Nixon’s “Special Message on Indian Affairs.” President Nixon delivered a speech to Congress which denounced past federal policies, formally ended the termination policy, and called for a new era of self-determination for Indian peoples.
1972 – Trail of Broken Treaties. Over 500 Indian activists traveled across the United States to Washington, DC where they planned to meet with BIA officials and to deliver a 20-point proposal for revamping the BIA and establishing a government commission to review treaty violations. When guards at the BIA informed the tribal members that Bureau officials would not meet with them and threatened forcible removal from the premises, the activists began a week-long siege of the BIA building. The BIA finally agreed to review the 20 demands and to provide funds to transport the activists back to their home. Shortly thereafter, the FBI classified AIM as “an extremist organization” and added the names of its leaders to the list of “key extremists” in the US.
1972 – White vigilantes beat Raymond Yellow Thunder to death in Gorden, Neb. A ruling of death by suicide causes protests by more than 1,000 Sioux from Pine Ridge Reservation. Officials, forced to perform an autopsy, change their finding to manslaughter; two of the killers are subsequently tried and convicted
1973 – Members of AIM and about 200 armed Oglala Sioux occupy site of the Wounded Knee Massacre on Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota for 71 days.
1974 – In Minnesota, the first trial stemming from the occupation of Wounded Knew takes place. In 1975 AIM leaders Dennis Banks and Russell Means are convicted on assault and riot charges. In 1978 Gov. Jerry Brown gives Banks sanctuary in California
1974 - By a 4-to-1 vote, the Commission reached a preliminary decision on the 1968 questions it posed. The Commission first held that the 1942 Court of Claims decision did not bar the Sioux’ Fifth Amendment taking claim through application of the doctrine of res judicata. The Commission concluded that the Court of Claims had dismissed the earlier suit for lack of jurisdiction, and that it had not determined the merits of the Black Hills claim. The Commission then went on to find that Congress, in 1877, had made no effort to give the Sioux full value for the ceded reservation lands. The only new obligation assumed by the Government in exchange for the Black Hills was its promise to provide the Sioux with subsistence rations, an obligation that was subject to several limiting conditions. Under these circumstances, the Commission concluded that the consideration given the Indians in the 1877 Act had no relationship to the value of the property acquired. Moreover, there was no indication in the record that Congress ever attempted to relate the value of the rations to the value of the Black Hills. The Commission concluded that Congress had acted pursuant to its power of eminent domain when it passed the 1877 Act, rather than as a trustee for the Sioux, and that the Government must pay the Indians just compensation for the taking of the Black Hills.
1974 – Indian Claims Commission ruled that the 1877 act constituted an unconstitutional taking of the Black Hills and three rights of way under the Just Compensation Clause of the Fifth Amendment; that the Congress acted pursuant to its power of eminent domain and was required to pay Just Compensation to the Docket 74 Sioux. The ICC then awarded the Docket 74 Sioux $17.1 million for the 7.3 million acres of Black Hills land that the United States confiscated, plus 5 percent simple interest from the time of the taking. The ICC also awarded the Docket 74 Sioux compensation for placer (surface) gold removed by trespassing miners prior to 1877, and for the three rights of way across the reduced Great Sioux Reservation (Sioux Nation v. United States, 33 Ind. Cl. Comm. 151 ). The total award in Docket 74-B was $105 million.
1975 – Shoot-out on Pine Ridge Reservation between AIM members and FBI agents results in the death of two agents. Leonard Peltier is later convicted, a verdict that remains controversial.
1975 – On appeal, the Court of Claims, without deciding the merits, dismissed the Indian Claims Commission’s 1974 final judgment on the basis that the appeal was barred by res judicata since the Black Hills Claim had been previously decided against the Sioux in 1942. The Docket 74 Sioux argued that the earlier dismissal was for lack of jurisdiction, not a dismissal on the merits of their claims.
1975 - The court’s majority recognized that the practical impact of the question presented was limited to a determination of whether or not an award of interest would be available to the Indians. This followed from the Government’s failure to appeal the Commission’s holding that it had acquired the Black Hills through a course of unfair and dishonorable dealing for which the Sioux were entitled to damages, without interest, under §2 of the Indian Claims Commission Act, 60 Stat. 1050, 25 U.S.C. §70a(5). Only if the acquisition of the Black Hills amounted to an unconstitutional taking would the Sioux be entitled to interest. 207 Ct.Cl., at 237, 518 F.2d, at 1299. The court affirmed the Commission’s holding that a want of fair and honorable dealings in this case was evidenced, and held that the Sioux thus would be entitled to an award of at least $17.5 million for the lands surrendered and for the gold taken by trespassing prospectors prior to passage of the 1877 Act.
The court also remarked upon President Grant’s duplicity in breaching the Government’s treaty obligation to keep trespassers out of the Black Hills, and the pattern of duress practiced by the Government on the starving Sioux to get them to agree to the sale of the Black Hills. The court concluded: “A more ripe and rank case of dishonorable dealings will never, in all probability, be found in our history, which is not, taken as a whole, the disgrace it now pleases some persons to believe.”
1976 – The Indian Claims Commission determined that, as of February 24, 1869, the fair market value of both the recognized title claim (34 million acres) and the aboriginal title claim (14 million acres) in Docket 74-A was $45,685,000.00. This valuation was broken down as follows:
* East of Missouri West of Missouri
* Agricultural $11,135,000 $ 3,790,000
* Grazing $ 9,760,000 $21,000,000
* Total $20,896,000 $24,790,000
See Sioux Tribe v. United States, 38 Ind. Cl. Comm. 485 (1976).
1977 - Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (SCIA). This Senate resolution re-established the SCIA. The Committee was originally created in the early nineteenth century, but disbanded in 1946 when Indian affairs legislative and oversight jurisdiction was vested in subcommittees of the Interior and Insular Affairs Commission of the House and Senate. The Committee became permanent in 1984. Its jurisdiction includes studying the unique issues related to Indian and Hawaiian peoples and proposing legislation to deal with such issues – issues which include but are not limited to Indian education, economic development, trust responsibilities, land management, health care, and claims against the US. government.
1977 – Report of the American Indian Policy Review Commission. The Commission, established in 1975, issued its report in which it called for a firm rejection of assimilationist policies, increased financial assistance to the tribes, and a reaffirmation of the tribes’ status as permanent, self-governing institutions.
1978 – Indian Claims Commission rendered its final decision on the merits, land valuation, and offsets. The matter came before the ICC on a motion filed by the Sioux Tribes for “an order that no offsets, either payments on the claim or gratuities, be deducted” from the award in Docket 74-A (Sioux Nation v. United States, 42 Ind. Cl. Comm. 214 ).
After examining the history behind the Sioux Claim, the ICC found that:
The Indian Peace Commission presented the proposed treaty to the Sioux Bands in a series of councils held in the spring of 1868…..At these councils, after hearing an explanation of the terms of the treaties, the Sioux generally voiced these sentiments;… 2–they were unwilling to cede any of their lands [emphasis added]….
[I]t is clear that, based on the representations of the United States negotiators, the Indians cannot have regarded the 1868 Treaty as a treaty of cession. Nowhere in the history leading up to the treaty negotiations themselves is there any indication that the United States was seeking a land cession or that the Sioux were unwilling to consent to one. On the contrary, the evidence is overwhelming that the Sioux would never have signed the treaty had they thought they were ceding any land to the United States. (Sioux Tribe v. United States, 42 Ind. Cl. Comm. 214 )
1978 – Indian Child Welfare Act. This Congressional Act addressed the widespread practice of transferring the care and custody of Indian children to non-Indians. It recognized the authority of tribal courts to hear the adoption and guardianship cases of Indian children and established a strict set of statutory guidelines for those cases heard in state court. (As of 2009, coerced and forced adoptions of Indian children are rampent)
1978 – American Indian Religious Freedom Act. This Congressional Act promised to “protect and preserve for American Indians their inherent right of freedom to believe, express, and exercise” traditional religions, “including but not limited to access to sites, use and possession of sacred objects, and the freedom to worship through ceremonial and traditional rites.” Although the enactment seemed to recognize the importance of traditional Indian religious practices, it contained no enforcement provisions.
1978 - US v. Wheeler, Supreme Court decision. The Court considered the question of whether the power to punish tribal offenders is “part of inherent tribal sovereignty, or an aspect of the sovereignty of the Federal Government which has been delegated to the tribes by Congress.” He concluded: “The sovereignty that the Indian tribes retain is of a unique and limited character. It exists only at the sufferance of Congress and is subject to complete defeasance. But until Congress acts, the tribes retain their existing sovereign powers. In sum, Indian tribes still possess those aspects of sovereignty not withdrawn by treaty or statute, or by implication as a necessary result of their dependent status.” In short, Indian nations were sovereign, but such sovereignty was limited and subject to Congressional whim.
1978 – Congress passesa special jurisdictional statute allowing the Court of Claims to review the Indian Claims Commission’s 1974 judgment de novo (Act of March 13, 1978 [92 Stat. 153]). The Black Hills Claim (Docket 74-B) was refiled in the Court of Claims under the 1978 jurisdictional statute as 148-78. The parties to Docket 148-78 thereafter stipulated that the Indian Claims Commission’s record in Docket 74-B could be used by the Court of Claims to decide the merits of the Black Hills Claim.
1979 - Court of Claims hearsthe merits of the Black Hills Claim de novo, and affirmed the Indian Claims Commission’s 1974 judgment (United States v. Sioux Nation of Indians, 220 Ct. Cl. 442, 601 F2d 1157)-
1980 – Court of Claims remanded Docket 74-A to its trial division (United States Claims Court), since the life of the Indian Claims Commission terminated in 1978 and all pending cases in the ICC were transferred to the Court of Claims. The Claims Court determined on remand that the only issue remaining in the case concerned the amount of offsets to be allowed against the $43,949,700 land valuation award. The United States made an offer to the tribal claims attorneys (Lazarus/Sonosky/Payne) in 1978 to settle the offset issue in docket 74-A for $4,200,000. The attorneys accepted the offer with conditions. The conditions were rejected by the United States, but the original offer was left open. The claims attorneys subsequently recommended acceptance of the offer to the Sioux tribes. See Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe v. United States, 806 F.2d 1046 (Fed. Cir. 1986). The Sioux tribes rejected the offer and demanded (among other things) the return of all federal lands to the 48 million acre area.
1980 – Supreme Court affirms the 1979 judgment of the Court of Claims (United States v. Sioux Nation of Indians, 488 US 371 ). The Docket 74 Sioux were awarded $102 million for Black Hills land ($17.1 million in principle and $85 million in simple interest from 1877 to 1980), and $3 million for the placer gold and three rights of ways. (Note: The Court of Claims subsequently awarded the claims attorneys [Lazarus/Sonosky/Payne] 10 percent of the final $105 million judgment as attorney’s fees.)
The Supreme Court of the United States agreed that the “sale” of the Black Hills had not been conducted legally. It refused, however, to return the land to the Lakota people and ordered them to accept belated financial compensation instead.
The Committee observed: “The facts are, as the Commission found, that the United States disarmed the Sioux and denied them their traditional hunting areas in an effort to force the sale of the Black Hills. Having violated the 1868 Treaty and having reduced the Indians to starvation, the United States should not now be in the position of saying that the rations it furnished constituted payment for the land which it took. In short, the Government committed two wrongs: first, it deprived the Sioux of their livelihood; secondly, it deprived the Sioux of their land. What the United States gave back in rations should not be stretched to cover both wrongs.”
The dissenting opinion suggests, post, at 2750-2751, that the factual findings of the Indian Claims Commission, the Court of Claims, and now this Court, are based upon a “revisionist” view of history. The dissent fails to identify which materials quoted herein or relied upon by the Commission and the Court of Claims fit that description. The dissent’s allusion to historians “writing for the purpose of having their conclusions or observations inserted in the reports of congressional committees,” post, at 2750, is also puzzling because, with respect to this case, we are unaware that any such historian exists.
A further word seems to be in order. The dissenting opinion does not identify a single author, nonrevisionist, neorevisionist, or otherwise, who takes the view of the history of the cession of the Black Hills that the dissent prefers to adopt, largely, one assumes, as an article of faith. Rather, the dissent relies on the historical findings contained in the decision rendered by the Court of Claims in 1942. That decision, and those findings, are not before this Court today. Moreover, the holding of the Court of Claims in 1942, to the extent the decision can be read as reaching the merits of the Sioux’ taking claim, was based largely on the conclusive presumption of good faith toward the Indians which that court afforded to Congress’ actions of 1877.
1980 – Bradley Bill (Senator Bill Bradley, D-NJ). The prime mover behind the Bill was a young Lakota man named Gerald Clifford. Unfortunately, a non-Indian named Phil Stevens (a retired millionaire) claiming to be Sioux from California attempted to introduce a Bill of his own and muddied the waters enough that Bradley withdrew his sponsorship and the Bradley Bill died a quiet death. Under the Bradley Bill the tribes of the Great Sioux Nation would get 1.3 million acres of the 7.5 million acres returned to them. The 1.3 million acres would be strictly U. S. National Forest Service land. No municipalities, no state owned land, no private land or no federal monument lands would have been threatened. Of course, the local media played it to the hilt. “Sioux seek return of the Black Hills” was a common headline. This frightened a lot of non-Indians even though the headline was clearly wrong. Sentiment did turn against the Indians.
In the meantime, South Dakota’s elected officials and the federal government itself believes that all claims to the land were extinguished when the money was awarded. In a way its like telling the Indians, “Here is money for your house and whether you want to sell it or not, here is the money and the house is now ours.”
1982 – Congress abolishes the Indian Court of Claims.
1983 – Dennis Banks, the AIM leader, still under indictment in South Dakota for 1973 Wounded Knee occupation, takes refuge on the Onondaga Reservation in New York State. In 1984 Banks surrenders to officials in South Dakota; he is sentenced to three years in prison
1985 – On February 22, 1985, the Claims Court, without considering the remaining three motions for summary judgment, entered an order implementing the government’s settlement offer of $39,749,000 as its final judgment and terminated Docket 74-A (Sioux Tribe of Indians v. United States, 8 Cl. Ct. 80 ). The court concluded that Docket 74-A had become “an uncontrolled quagmire” and that “[t]he simple fact that four of the reservation tribes are refusing to accept any settlement or award of this court, which does not include the return of their land, is indicative of the plaintiffs [sic] refusal to comprehend, after 35 years of litigation, that this Court can only award money judgments.”
1987 – Senator Bradley reintroduced the “Bradley Bill” as S. 705 in the One Hundredth Congress. A Companion bill H.R. 1506, was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman James Howard of New Jersey. No hearings were held on S. 705 or HR 1506.
1990 - Congressman Matthew Martinez of California introduced the Black Hills Bill (HR 5680) developed by the Grey Eagle Society in the One Hundred and First Congress. The bill was an amended version of the Bradley Bill, S. 705. The bill was referred to the committee on Interior and Insular Affairs. No hearing was held on the bill. Congressman Martinez was also one of the cosponsors of the House version of the Bradley Bill (HR 1506) in 1987.
1994 – President Clinton invites leaders of all 547 federally recognized American Indian and Alaska native tribes to the White House, the first-ever meeting of its kind. Tribal leaders and U.S. officials identify issues for follow-up conferences.
1996 – Congressman Bill Barrett of Nebraska introduced HR 3595 in the US House of Representatives. The bill proposed to pay out the Santee Sioux Tribe of Nebraska’s “proportionate share” of Docket 74-A.
A Hearing was held on HR 3595 on August 1, 1996, before the Resources Subcommittee on Native American and Insular Affairs. Congressman Barrett and Santee Sioux Tribal Chairman Arthur “Butch” Denny submitted written testimony in support of the bill. Deborah J. Maddox, director of the Office of Tribal Services, US Department of the Interior, submitted written testimony indicating that the Interior Department had no position on the bill “because it affected eight other tribes.”
Johnson Holy Rock of the Oglala Sioux Tribe submitted written testimony on behalf of the Oglala Sioux Tribe opposing the bill, and testified against the bill at the hearing. Others testifying at the hearing against the bill were John Yellowbird Steele, President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, Greg Bourland, Chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe; and William Kindle, President of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. The bill died in Committee.
1998 – Docket 74-A: The larger Sioux tribes continue to reject the cram down of the final $40,245,807.02 judgment in Docket 74-A, demanding instead that the United States return all federal lands to the Sioux tribes in the 48 million acre area.
Docket 74-B: The Anti Indian forces in South Dakota (such as the Open hills Association organized by Senator Tom Daschle) still continue to oppose land restoration proposals to settle Docket 74-B.
As of April 8, 1998, the total award for both the 1868 Treaty claim (Docket 74-A) and the Black Hills Claim (Docket 74-B, aka Docket 148-78), according to the US Department of Interior’s Division of Trust Fund Services, is as follows:
1. Docket 74-A……………. $67,073,267.88
2. Docket 148-78……….. $473,161,163.29
U.S. Code Cong. & Admin. News 1974, p. 6115. See also R. Billington, Introduction, in National Park Service, Soldier and Brave xiv (1963):
The Indians suffered the humiliating defeats that forced them to walk the white man’s road toward civilization. Few conquered people in the history of mankind have paid so dearly for their defense of a way of life that the march of progress had outmoded . . . In three tragic decades, between 1860 and 1890, the Indians suffered the humiliating defeats that forced them to walk the white man’s road toward civilization. Few conquered people in the history of mankind have paid so dearly for their defense of a way of life that the march of progress had outmoded. This epic struggle left its landmarks behind, as monuments to the brave men, Indian and white, who fought and died that their manner of living might endure.
2000 – Head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs admits to crimes, “Remarks of Kevin Gover, Assistant Secretary–Indian Affairs, Department of the Interior, at the Ceremony Acknowledging the 175th Anniversary of the Establishment of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.” Full text at Web site: http://eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/custom/portlets/recordDetails/detailmini.jsp?_nfpb=true&_&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=ED445851&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=no&accno=ED445851
“Immediately upon its establishment in 1824, the Office of Indian Affairs was an instrument by which the United States enforced its ambition against the Indian nations. As the nation expanded West, the agency participated in the ethnic cleansing that befell the western tribes. War begets tragedy, but the deliberate spread of disease, the decimation of the bison herds, the use of alcohol to destroy mind and body, and the cowardly killing of women and children made for tragedy on a scale so ghastly that it cannot be dismissed as merely the inevitable consequence of the clash of competing ways of life. After the devastation of tribal economies, the BIA set out to destroy all things Indian by forbidding the speaking of Indian languages, prohibiting traditional religious activities, outlawing traditional government, and making Indians ashamed of who they were. Worst of all, the BIA committed these acts against the children entrusted to its boarding schools. The trauma of shame, fear, and anger has passed from one generation to the next, and manifests itself in the rampant alcoholism, drug abuse, and domestic violence that plague Indian country. The BIA expresses its profound sorrow for these wrongs, extends this formal apology to Indian people for its historical conduct, and makes promises for its future conduct. (TD)
2007 – Unilateral withdrawal of the Lakotah from the Treaties of 1851 and 1868 as permitted under the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, of which, the United States is a signatory.