For Lesson Four
Now it is time to synthesize what
you have learned in this unit and draw your own conclusions. Use the chart below
to compare the structure and content of The Great Law
of Peace and the US Constitution. The Note-Taking
guide may be used to help you organize your thoughts. Then, write an essay
that conveys your position about the influence of the Iroquois Confederacy on
the Founding Fathers.
Please remember, the Iroquois had an oral
tradition. When you compare the Great Law of Peace sections in the
chart with full text versions of the document there may be discrepancies.
These occur because the Great Law of Peace has been transcribed at different
times and preserved in different versions. Though some of the words may be different,
the meaning remains the same.
Birth of Frontier Democracy from an Eagle's Eye View:
Great Law of Peace and
The Constitution of the United States of America.
Gregory. (1987). The following chart is an excerpt from a Hearing statement
given before the Select Committee on Indian Affairs United States Senate in
Washington, DC. 2 December 1987.
Law of Peace
of the Haudenasuaunee, Iroquois Confederacy
by the Great Peacemaker,
I am, [the Peacemaker]...with the statesmen of the
League of Five Nations, plant the Tree of Peace. Roots have spread out...
their nature is Peace and Strength. We place at the top of the Tree
of Peace an eagle... If he sees in the distance any danger threatening,
he will at once warn the people of the League. If any man or any nation
outside the Five Nations shall obey the laws of the Great Peace. They
may trace back the roots to the Tree [and] be welcomed to take shelter.
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 [the eternal flame of liberty at the center
of the United Nations].
We the people of the United States, in order to form
a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility,
provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure
the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and
establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
9. Grand Council
are Vested in the Elder Brothers
and Younger Brothers
All the business of the Five Nations Confederate Council shall be conducted
by the combined bodies of the Confederate [Chief Statesmen]. First the
question shall be passed upon by the Mohawk and Seneca [Chief Statesmen
Elder Brothers], then it shall be discussed and passed by the Oneida
and Cayuga [Chief Statesmen, who later added the Tuscarora, thus the
Confederacy became the Six Nations].
are Vested in Senate and House
legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the
United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.
of Chief Statesmen
right of bestowing the title [of Chief Statesman] shall be hereditary
in the family.1 The females of the family have the proprietary
right to the [Chief Statesmanship] title for all time to come. Thus
the women nominate the chiefs who hold office as long as the women judge
him to be fulfilling his responsibility.
2. House of Representatives
House of Representatives shall be composed of members chosen every second
year by the people of the several states, and the electors in each state
shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous
branch of the Legislature.
OF CHIEF STATESMEN
of Chief Statesmen
27. All [Chief Statesmen] of the Five Nations Confederacy
must be honest in all things...men possessing those honorable qualities
that make true Royaneh [chief statesmen, literally “noble leaders who
walk in greatness”]. [There are no age limits, but statesmen with a
family and are citizens of one of the Five, now Six Nations, with exception
to the Pine Tree Chief. The clan mothers and women evaluate who is qualified
to be a chief statesman.]
53. When the Royaneh women, holders of a [chief statesman] title, select
one of their sons as a candidate, they shall select one who is trustworthy,
or good character, of honest disposition, one who manages his own affairs,
supports his own family, if any, and who has proven a faithful man to
person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the
age of twenty-five years, and been seven years a citizen of the United
States, and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that state
which he shall be chosen.
19. When the [Chief Statesman] is deposed [or vacates position] the
women shall notify the [Grand Council] through their [runner of their
clan], and the [Grand Council] shall sanction the act. The women will
then select another of their sons as a candidate and the [Chief Statesmen]
vacancies happen in the representation from any state, the executive
authority thereof shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies.
14. When the Council of the Five [Six] Nations [Chief Statesmen] convene,
they shall appoint a speaker for the day. He shall be a [Chief Statesman]
of either the Mohawk, Onondaga or Seneca Nation. The next day the Council
shall appoint another
speaker, but the first speaker may be reappointed if there is no objection,
but a speaker’s term shall not be regarded more than for the day.
House of Representatives shall choose their
and other officers;
19. If at any time it shall be manifest that a [Chief Statesman] has
not in mind the welfare of the people or disobeys the rules of this
Great Law, the men or the women of the Confederacy, or both jointly,
shall come to the Council and upbraid [unseat] the erring [Chief Statesman]
through [a man who has no pity].
of the House --
shall have the sole power of impeachment.
Council of the Mohawk shall be divided into three parties [each has
3 chiefs totaling 9 chiefs] [The Council of the Seneca shall be divided
into 4 parties [each has 2 chiefs totaling 8 chiefs].
the Mohawk and Seneca parallel the Senate. The chiefs are chosen by
the women and hold the position as long as they serve faithfully. Each
has an equal voice, but decisions are formed by consensus.]
Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each
State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six years; and each Senator
shall have one vote.
(Superseded by Amendment XVII) Proposed May /3,
1912; ratified April 8, /9/3; certified May 3/, 1913.
after they shall be assembled in consequence of the first election,
they shall be divided as equally as may be into three classes. The seats
of the Senators of the first class shall be vacated at the expiration
of the second year, of the second class at the expiration of the fourth
year, and of the third class at the expiration of the sixth year, so
that one third may be chosen every second; and if vacancies happen by
resignation, or otherwise during the recess of the Legislature of any
State, the executive thereof may make temporary appointments until the
next meeting of the Legislature, which shall then fill such vacancies.
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2001, Portland State University