Transcript Iroquois Confederacy - Winston Knoll Collegiate
How First Nations Helped Shape the Modern World
Who are they?
The Iroquoian Confederacy is NOT a tribe/nation it is a political and cultural union of several different nations/tribes As you can see in the map these nations are based in what is now the provinces of Ontario and Quebec as well as the state of New York
The original confederacy consisted of 5 nations the: Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and Seneca peoples. The Mohawk tribe lived along the Mohawk River of the Mohawk Valley in upstate New York to South Quebec and East Ontario - Possessors of the Flint. The Seneca tribe lived in New York State south of Lake Ontario and were the were the largest nation of the Iroquois Confederacy - Great Hill People The Onondaga tribe lived between Lake Champlain and the Saint Lawrence River - People on the Hills The Oneida tribe lived east of Lake Ontario, around Oneida Lake - Granite People The Cayuga tribe lived around Cayuga Lake in New York State - People of the Great Swamp
Prior to the confederacy the various nations were often at war with each other For warriors honor could only be gained through bravery and aggression in battle, weakness was not tolerated The constant warfare between the nations was weakening all of them which helped lead to the formation of the Confederacy in around 1450
Politics in the New World
According to tradition the two people most responsible for the formation of the confederation were Deganawida, sometimes known as the Great Peacemaker and his disciple Hiawatha
◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ The primary reasons for the formation of the Confederacy include: To eliminate incessant intertribal warfare To create peace and give united strength To create a powerful force of tribes To safeguard existing Iroquois territory and defend against invasion To expand their territories To establish a democratic government with representatives from each of the tribes to ensure fairness and equity
The Confederation’s constitution, sometimes called the Great Law of Peace, was recorded on the Hiawatha Wampum Belt (see top picture) It is also symbolized in the tree of peace (see bottom picture)
There were to be 50 chiefs, these chiefs had to be married and have children but there was no age limit and are appointed for life The 50 people th chief is the league’s spiritual leader, and is the only one selected by the entire The Clan Mothers (a group of women leaders) were the only people who could remove a chief, after having given him a warning In addition the head of the 50 chiefs is appointed by the Clan Mothers
Iroquois political and diplomatic decisions are made on the local level, and are based on assessments of community consensus. Unanimity in public acts was essential to the Council, no Iroquois treaty was binding unless it was ratified by 75% of the male voters and 75% of the mothers of the nation.
In revising Council laws and customs, a consent of two-thirds of the mothers was required.
How the Iroquois helped to change the world
◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ While no historians argue that the Iroquoian Confederation was the basis for the US Constitution a number argue that it influenced the US Constitution Those arguments include: American government divided into 2 houses (House of Representatives and Senate), the Grand Council is divided into 3 (Elder Brothers, Younger Brothers and Onondaga) Both groups had ingrained checks and balances in their governments Both documents stress prosperity and liberty as goals for their people Both groups had a federation style government with a focus on local rather than centralized power
France would become involved in the American War of Independence in 1778 This involvement would bring many French military leaders into close ties with America’s founding fathers and their ideals Further one of the more influential American founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin, became America’s Ambassador to France from 1776-1783. His writings would catch the imagination of the new French thinkers The high debt France incurred directly supporting the Americans, in addition to fighting the British on the sea were one of the most important factors leading to the French Revolution. At least part of this debt was incurred fighting the Iroquois who were allies of the British