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Indigenous Peoples' Literature

The Constitutiion of the Iroquois Nations

The Great Binding Law


 1.  I am Dekanawidah and with the Five Nations' Confederate 

Lords I plant the Tree of Great Peace.  I plant it in your 

territory, Adodarhoh, and the Onondaga Nation, in the territory 

of you who are Firekeepers.

     I name the tree the Tree of the Great Long Leaves.  Under 

the shade of this Tree of the Great Peace we spread the soft 

white feathery down of the globe thistle as seats for you, 

Adodarhoh, and your cousin Lords.

     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 Peace.  There shall you 

sit and watch the Council Fire of the Confederacy of the Five 

Nations, and all the affairs of the Five Nations shall be 

transacted at this place before you, Adodarhoh, and your cousin 

Lords, by the Confederate Lords of the Five Nations.

 2.  Roots have spread out from the Tree of the Great Peace, 

one to the north, one to the east, one to the south and one to 

the west.  The name of these roots is The Great White Roots and 

their nature is Peace and Strength.

     If any man or any nation outside the Five Nations shall 

obey the laws of the Great Peace and make known their 

disposition to the Lords of the Confederacy, they may trace the 

Roots to the Tree and if their minds are clean and they are 

obedient and promise to obey the wishes of the Confederate 

Council, they shall be welcomed to take shelter beneath the 

Tree of the Long Leaves.

     We place at the top of the Tree of the Long Leaves an 

Eagle who is able to see afar.  If he sees in the distance any 

evil approaching or any danger threatening he will at once warn 

the people of the Confederacy.

 3.  To you Adodarhoh, the Onondaga cousin Lords, I and the 

other Confederate Lords have entrusted the caretaking and the 

watching of the Five Nations Council Fire.

     When there is any business to be transacted and the 

Confederate Council is not in session, a messenger shall be 

dispatched either to Adodarhoh, Hononwirehtonh or Skanawatih, 

Fire Keepers, or to their War Chiefs with a full statement of 

the case desired to be considered.  Then shall Adodarhoh call 

his cousin (associate) Lords together and consider whether or 

not the case is of sufficient importance to demand the 

attention of the Confederate Council.  If so, Adodarhoh shall 

dispatch messengers to summon all the Confederate Lords to 

assemble beneath the Tree of the Long Leaves.

     When the Lords are assembled the Council Fire shall be 

kindled, but not with chestnut wood, and Adodarhoh shall 

formally open the Council.  


      [ ed note: chestnut wood throws out sparks in burning, 

           thereby creating a disturbance in the council ] 


     Then shall Adodarhoh and his cousin Lords, the Fire 

Keepers, announce the subject for discussion.

     The Smoke of the Confederate Council Fire shall ever 

ascend and pierce the sky so that other nations who may be 

allies may see the Council Fire of the Great Peace.

     Adodarhoh and his cousin Lords are entrusted with the 

Keeping of the Council Fire. 

 4.  You, Adodarhoh, and your thirteen cousin Lords, shall 

faithfully keep the space about the Council Fire clean and you 

shall allow neither dust nor dirt to accumulate.  I lay a Long 

Wing before you as a broom.  As a weapon against a crawling 

creature I lay a staff with you so that you may thrust it away 

from the Council Fire.  If you fail to cast it out then call 

the rest of the United Lords to your aid.

 5.  The Council of the Mohawk shall be divided into three 

parties as follows: Tekarihoken, Ayonhwhathah and Shadekariwade 

are the first party; Sharenhowaneh, Deyoenhegwenh and 

Oghrenghrehgowah are the second party, and Dehennakrineh, 

Aghstawenserenthah and Shoskoharowaneh are the third party.  

The third party is to listen only to the discussion of the 

first and second parties and if an error is made or the 

proceeding is 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 Lords for their decision.  When the 

Seneca Lords have decided in accord with the Mohawk Lords, the 

case or question shall be referred to the Cayuga and Oneida 

Lords on the opposite side of the house.

 6.  I, Dekanawidah, appoint the Mohawk Lords the heads and the 

leaders of the Five Nations Confederacy.  The Mohawk Lords are 

the foundation of the Great Peace and it shall, therefore, be 

against the Great Binding Law to pass measures in the 

Confederate Council after the Mohawk Lords have protested 

against them.

     No council of the Confederate Lords shall be legal unless 

all the Mohawk Lords are present.

 7.  Whenever the Confederate Lords shall assemble for the 

purpose of holding a council, the Onondaga Lords shall open it 

by expressing their gratitude to their cousin Lords 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, the springs and the lakes, to the maize and the fruits, 

to the medicinal herbs and trees, to the forest trees for their 

usefulness, 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 reveal 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 Lords 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 Confederate Lords, and they shall pass upon all matters 

deliberated upon by the two sides and render their decision.

     Every Onondaga Lord (or his deputy) must be present at 

every Confederate Council and must agree with the majority 

without unwarrantable dissent, so that a unanimous decision may 

be rendered.

     If Adodarhoh or any of his cousin Lords are absent from a 

Confederate Council, 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 Confederate Council 

shall be conducted by the two combined bodies of Confederate 

Lords.  First the question shall be passed upon by the Mohawk 

and Seneca Lords, then it shall be discussed and passed by the 

Oneida and Cayuga Lords.  Their decisions shall then be 

referred to the Onondaga Lords, (Fire Keepers) for final 


     The same process shall obtain 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 Lords have unanimously agreed upon a 

question, they shall report their decision to the Cayuga and 

Oneida Lords who shall deliberate upon the question and report 

a unanimous decision to the Mohawk Lords.  The Mohawk Lords 

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 Fire Keepers shall then 

report their decision to the Mohawk Lords who shall announce it 

to the open council.

11.  If through any misunderstanding or obstinacy on the part 

of the Fire Keepers, they render 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 Fire Keepers who are then compelled to 

confirm their joint decision.

12.  When a case comes before the Onondaga Lords (Fire Keepers) 

for discussion and decsion, Adodarho shall introduce the matter 

to his comrade Lords who shall then discuss it in their two 

bodies.  Every Onondaga Lord except Hononwiretonh shall 

deliberate and he shall listen only.  When a unanimous decision 

shall have been reached by the two bodies of Fire Keepers, 

Adodarho shall notify Hononwiretonh of the fact when he shall 

confirm it.  He shall refuse to confirm a decision if it is not 

unanimously agreed upon by both sides of the Fire Keepers.

13.  No Lord shall ask a question of the body of Confederate 

Lords 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 Lords shall convene 

they shall appoint a speaker for the day.  He shall be a Lord 

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.

15.  No individual or foreign nation interested in a case, 

question or proposition shall have any voice in the Confederate 

Council except to answer a question put to him or them by the 

speaker for the Lords.

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 voted upon and if 

adopted it shall be called, "Added to the Rafters".

          Rights, Duties and Qualifications of Lords

17.  A bunch of a certain number of shell (wampum) strings 

each two spans in length shall be given to each of the female 

families in which the Lordship titles are vested.  The right 

of bestowing the title shall be hereditary in the family of 

the females legally possessing the bunch of shell strings and 

the strings shall be the token that the females of the family 

have the proprietary right to the Lordship title for all time 

to come, subject to certain restrictions hereinafter mentioned.

18.  If any Confederate Lord neglects or refuses to attend the 

Confederate Council, the other Lords of the Nation of which he 

is a member shall require their War Chief to request the female 

sponsors of the Lord so guilty of defection to demand his 

attendance of the Council.  If he refuses, the women holding 

the title shall immediately select another candidate for the 


     No Lord shall be asked more than once to attend the 

Confederate Council.

19.  If at any time it shall be manifest that a Confederate 

Lord has not in mind the welfare of the people or disobeys the 

rules of this Great Law, the men or women of the Confederacy, 

or both jointly, shall come to the Council and upbraid the 

erring Lord through his War Chief.  If the complaint of the 

people through the War Chief is not heeded the first time it 

shall be uttered again and then if no attention is given a 

third complaint and warning shall be given.  If the Lord is 

contumacious the matter shall go to the council of War Chiefs.  

The War Chiefs shall then divest the erring Lord of his title 

by order of the women in whom the titleship is vested.  When 

the Lord is deposed the women shall notify the Confederate 

Lords through their War Chief, and the Confederate Lords shall 

sanction the act.  The women will then select another of their 

sons as a candidate and the Lords shall elect him.  Then shall 

the chosen one be installed by the Installation Ceremony.

     When a Lord is to be deposed, his War Chief shall address 

him as follows:

     "So you, __________, disregard and set at naught the 

warnings of your women relatives.  So you fling the warnings 

over your shoulder to cast them behind you.

     "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 Lordship 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 

Lord and say:

     "Mothers, as I have now deposed your Lord, I now return to 

you the emblem and the title of Lordship, therefore repossess 


     Again addressing himself to the deposed Lord he shall say:

     "As I have now deposed and discharged you so you are now 

no longer Lord.  You shall now go your way alone, the rest of 

the people of the Confederacy will not go with you, for we know 

not the kind of mind that possesses you.  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 


     Then shall the War Chief address himself to the Lords of 

the Nation to which the deposed Lord belongs and say:

     "Know you, my Lords, that I have taken the deer's antlers 

from the brow of ___________, the emblem of his position and 

token of his greatness."

     The Lords of the Confederacy shall then have no other 

alternative than to sanction the discharge of the offending 


20.  If a Lord of the Confederacy of the Five Nations should 

commit murder the other Lords of the Nation shall assemble at 

the place where the corpse lies and prepare to depose the 

criminal Lord.  If it is impossible to meet at the scene of the 

crime the Lords shall discuss the matter at the next Council of 

their Nation and request their War Chief to depose the Lord 

guilty of crime, to "bury" his women relatives and to transfer 

the Lordship title to a sister family. 

     The War Chief shall address the Lord guilty of murder and 


     "So you, __________ (giving his name) did kill __________ 

(naming the slain man), with your own hands!  You have comitted 

a grave sin 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 

emblems of your Lordship 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 Five Nations 

Confederacy and nevermore return again.  We, the Five Nations 

Confederacy, moreover, bury your women relatives because the 

ancient Lordship 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 


     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 on a solemn and important subject.  I hereby 

transfer to you an ancient Lordship title for a great calamity 

has befallen it in the hands of the family of a former Lord.  

We trust that you, our mothers, will always guard it, and that 

you will warn your Lord always to be dutiful and to advise his 

people to ever live in love, poeace and harmony that a great 

calamity may never happen again."

21.  Certain physical defects in a Confederate Lord make him 

ineligible to sit in the Confederate Council.  Such defects are 

infancy, idiocy, blindness, deafness, dumbness and impotency.  

When a Confederate Lord is restricted by any of these 

condition, a deputy shall be appointed by his sponsors to act 

for him, but in case of extreme necessity the restricted Lord 

may exercise his rights.

22.  If a Confederate Lord desires to resign his title he shall 

notify the Lords of the Nation of which he is a member of his 

intention.  If his coactive Lords refuse to accept his 

resignation he may not resign his title.

     A Lord in proposing to resign may recommend any proper 

candidate which recommendation shall be received by the Lords, 

but unless confirmed and nominated by the women who hold the 

title the candidate so named shall not be considered.

23.  Any Lord of the Five Nations Confederacy may construct 

shell strings (or wampum belts) of any size or length as 

pledges or records of matters of national or international 


     When it is necessary to dispatch a shell string by a War 

Chief or other messenger as the 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 sumons he shall 

make ready for the 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 Lords of the Confederacy of the Five Nations shall be 

mentors of the people for all time.  The thickness of their 

skin shall be seven spans -- which is to say that they shall 

be proof against anger, offensive actions 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 

Confederacy.  With endless patience they shall carry out their 

duty and their firmness shall be tempered with a tenderness for 

their people.  Neither anger nor fury shall find lodgement in 

their minds and all their words and actions shall be marked by 

calm deliberation. 

25.  If a Lord of the Confederacy should seek to establish any 

authority independent of the jurisdiction of the Confederacy 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 Lords of the 

Confederacy of the Nation to which he belongs.  If the 

offending Lord is still obdurate 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 of the Five Nations 

Confederate Lords, from time to time as occasion demands, to 

act as mentors and spiritual guides of their people and remind 

them of their Creator's will and words.  They shall say:

     "Hearken, 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."

     Every Confederate Lord shall speak words such as these to 

promote peace.

27.  All Lords of the Five Nations Confederacy must be honest 

in all things.  They must not idle or gossip, but be men 

possessing those honorable qualities that make true royaneh.  

It shall be a serious wrong for anyone to lead a Lord into 

trivial affairs, for the people must ever hold their Lords high 

in estimation out of respect to their honorable positions.

28.  When a candidate Lord 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 Confederate Lords that he will live according to 

the constitution of the Great Peace and exercise justice in all 


     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 commence his 

address saying: "Now behold him.  He has now become a 

Confederate Lord.  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 oposite 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 Lordship.  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 and your 

mind filled with a yearning for the welfare of the people of 

the Confederacy.  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 lodgement 

in your mind and all your words and actions shall be marked 

with calm deliberation.  In all of your deliberations in the 

Confederate Council, in your efforts at law making, in all your 

official acts, self interest shall be cast into oblivion.  Cast 

not over your shoulder behind you the warnings of the 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 just and 

right.  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 Lordship title is to be conferred, the candidate 

Lord 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 Lords of the Confederacy may confer the Lordship title 

upon a candidate whenever the Great Law is recited, if there be 

a candidate, for the Great Law speaks all the rules.

31.  If a Lord of the Confederacy 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 Lordship, 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 Lord (or our relative Lord) 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 Lordship title.  The Great Law has decreed that no Lord 

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 Lord of the Confederacy and you may labor again for the 

Confederate people."

32.  If a Lord of the Confederacy should die while the Council 

of the Five Nations is in session the Council shall adjourn for 

ten days.  No Confederate Council shall sit within ten days of 

the death of a Lord of the Confederacy.

     If the Three Brothers (the Mohawk, the Onondaga and the 

Seneca) should lose one of their Lords by death, the Younger 

Brothers (the Oneida and the Cayuga) shall come to the 

surviving Lords of the Three Brothers on the tenth day and 

console them.  If the Younger Brothers lose one of their Lords 

then the Three Brothers shall come to them and console them.  

And the consolation shall be the reading of the contents of the 

thirteen shell (wampum) strings of Ayonhwhathah.  At the 

termination of this rite a successor shall be appointed, to be 

appointed by the women heirs of the Lordship title.  If the 

women are not yet ready to place their nominee before the Lords 

the Speaker shall say, "Come let us go out."  All shall leave 

the Council or the place of gathering.  The installation shall 

then wait until such a time as the women are ready.  The 

Speaker shall lead the way from the house by saying, "Let us 

depart to the edge of the woods and lie in waiting on our 


     When the women title holders shall have chosen one of 

their sons the Confederate Lords will assemble in two places, 

the Younger Brothers in one place and the Three Older Brothers 

in another.  The Lords who are to console the mourning Lords 

shall choose one of their number to sing the Pacification Hymn 

as they journey to the sorrowing Lords.  The singer shall lead 

the way and the Lords and the people shall follow.  When they 

reach the sorrowing Lords they shall hail the candidate Lord 

and perform the rite of Conferring the Lordship Title.

33.  When a Confederate Lord dies, the surviving relatives 

shall immediately dispatch a messenger, a member of another 

clan, to the Lords in another locality.  When the runner comes 

within hailing distance of the locality he shall utter a sad 

wail, thus: "Kwa-ah, 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."  Then he shall tell them of the death of the 

Lord.  He shall deliver to them a string of shells (wampum) and 

say "Here is the testimony, you have heard the message."  He 

may then return home.

     It now becomes the duty of the Lords of the locality to 

send runners to other localities and each locality shall send 

other messengers until all Lords are notified.  Runners shall 

travel day and night.

34.  If a Lord dies and there is no candidate qualified for the 

office in the family of the women title holders, the Lords of 

the Nation shall give the title into the hands of a sister 

family in the clan until such a time as the original family 

produces a candidate, when the title shall be restored to the 

rightful owners.

     No Lordship title may be carried into the grave.  The 

Lords of the Confederacy may dispossess a dead Lord of his 

title even at the grave.

                  Election of Pine Tree Chiefs

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, honest and worthy of confidence, the 

Confederate Lords may elect him to a seat with them and he may 

sit in the Confederate Council.  He shall be proclaimed a 'Pine 

Tree sprung up for the Nation' and shall be installed as such 

at the next assembly for the installation of Lords.  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 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.

              Names, Duties and Rights of War Chiefs

36.  The title names of the Chief Confederate Lords' War Chiefs 

shall be:

      Ayonwaehs, War Chief under Lord Takarihoken (Mohawk)

      Kahonwahdironh, War Chief under Lord Odatshedeh (Oneida)

      Ayendes, War Chief under Lord Adodarhoh (Onondaga)

      Wenenhs, War Chief under Lord Dekaenyonh (Cayuga)

      Shoneradowaneh, War Chief under Lord Skanyadariyo (Seneca)

     The women heirs of each head Lord's title shall be the 

heirs of the War Chief's title of their respective Lord.

     The War Chiefs shall be selected from the eligible sons of 

the female families holding the head Lordship titles.

37.  There shall be one War Chief for each Nation and their 

duties shall be to carry messages for their Lords and to take 

up the arms of war in case of emergency.  They shall not 

participate in the proceedings of the Confederate Council but 

shall watch its progress and in case of an erroneous action by 

a Lord 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 Lords in the Confederate Council 

shall do so through the War Chief of their Nation.  It shall 

ever be his duty to lay the cases, questions and propositions 

of the people before the Confederate Council.

38.  When a War Chief dies another shall be installed by the 

same rite as that by which a Lord 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 Lords of the Confederacy take occasion to 

dispatch a messenger in behalf of the Confederate Council, 

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 being is found dead, the finder shall not touch 

the body but return home immediately shouting at short 

intervals, "Koo-weh!"

                    Clans and Consanguinity

42.  Among the Five Nations and their posterity there shall be 

the following original clans: Great Name Bearer, Ancient Name 

Bearer, Great Bear, Ancient Bear, Turtle, Painted Turtle, 

Standing Rock, Large Plover, 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 it 

vested as a birthright.

43.  People of the Five Nations members of a certain clan shall 

recognize every other member of that clan, irrespective of the 

Nation, as relatives.  Men and women, therefore, members 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 the mother.

45.  The women heirs of the Confederated Lordship titles shall 

be called Royaneh (Noble) for all time to come.

46.  The women of the Forty Eight (now fifty) Royaneh families 

shall be the heirs of the Authorized Names for all time to come.

     When an infant of the Five Nations is given an Authorized 

Name at the Midwinter Festival or at the Ripe Corn 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 the 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 Confederacy."  

As he sings the opposite cousinhood shall respond by chanting, 

"Hyenh, Hyenh, Hyenh, Hyenh," until the song is ended.

47.  If the female heirs of a Confederate Lord's title become 

extinct, the title right shall be given by the Lords of the 

Confederacy to the 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 Lordship title become extinct, and 

all the families in the clan, then the title shall be given by 

the Lords of the Confederacy to the family in a sister clan 

whom they shall elect.

49.  If any of the Royaneh women, heirs of a titleship, shall 

wilfully withhold a Lordship 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 a sister 

family or clan upon application and complaint.  The Lords of 

the Confederacy shall elect the family or clan which shall in 

future hold the title.

50.  The Royaneh women of the Confederacy heirs of the Lordship 

titles shall elect two women of their family as cooks for the 

Lord when the people shall assemble at his house for business 

or other purposes.

     It is not good nor honorable for a Confederate Lord to 

allow his people whom he has called to go hungry.

51.  When a Lord holds a conference in his home, his wife, if 

she wishes, may prepare the food for the Union Lords who 

assemble with him.  This is an honorable right which she may 

exercise and an expression of her esteem.

52.  The Royaneh women, heirs of the Lordship titles, shall, 

should it be necessary, correct and admonish the holders of 

their 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 Royaneh women, holders of a Lordship 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, supports his own family, if 

any, and who has proven a faithful man to his Nation.

54.  When a Lordship title becomes vacant through death or 

other cause, the Royaneh women of the clan in which the title 

is hereditary shall hold a council and shall choose one from 

among their sons to fill the office made vacant.  Such a 

candidate shall not be the father of any Confederate Lord.  

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 Confederate Lords in the Clan.  They shall decide which 

candidate shall be named.  If the men and the women agree to a 

candidate his name shall be referred to the sister clans for 

confirmation.  If the sister clans confirm the choice, they 

shall refer their action to their Confederate Lords who shall 

ratify the choice and present it to their cousin Lords, and if 

the cousin Lords confirm the name then the candidate shall be 

installed by the proper ceremony for the conferring of Lordship 


                     Official Symbolism

55.  A large bunch of shell strings, in the making of which the 

Five Nations Confederate Lords have equally contributed, shall 

symbolize the completeness of the union and certify the pledge 

of the nations represented by the Confederate Lords of the 

Mohawk, the Oneida, the Onondaga, the Cayuga and the Senecca, 

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 strings is to be the symbol of the 

council fire of the Five Nations Confederacy.  And the Lord 

whom the council of Fire Keepers 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 

deposit the strings on an elevated place (or pole) so that all 

the assembled Lords and the people may see it and know that the 

council is open and in progress.

     When the council adjourns the Lord who has been appointed 

by his comrade Lords to close it shall take the strands of 

shells in his hands and address the assembled Lords.  Thus will 

the council adjourn until such time and place as appointed by 

the council.  Then shall the shell strings be placed in a place 

for safekeeping.

     Every five years the Five Nations Confederate Lords and 

the people shall assemble together and shall ask one another if 

their minds are still in the same spirit of unity for the Great 

Binding Law and if any of the Five Nations shall not pledge 

continuance and steadfastness to the pledge of unity then the 

Great Binding Law shall dissolve.

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 Confederate territory.

57.  Five arrows shall be bound together very strong and each 

arrow shall represent one nation.  As the five arrows are 

strongly bound this shall symbolize the complete union of the 

nations.  Thus are the Five Nations united completely and 

enfolded together, united into one head, one body and one 

mind.  Therefore they shall labor, legislate and council 

together  for the interest of future generations.

     The Lords of the Confederacy 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 


58.  There are now the Five Nations Confederate Lords standing 

with joined hands in a circle.  This signifies and provides 

that should any one of the Confederate Lords leave the council 

and this Confederacy his crown of deer's horns, the emblem of 

his Lordship title, together with his birthright, shall lodge 

on the arms of the Union Lords whose hands are so joined.  He 

forfeits his title and the crown falls from his brow but it 

shall remain in the Confederacy.

     A further meaning of this is that if any time any one of 

the Confederate Lords choose to submit to the law of a foreign 

people he is no longer in but out of the Confederacy, and 

persons of this class shall be called "They have alienated 

themselves."  Likewise such persons who submit to laws of 

foreign nations shall forfeit all birthrights and claims on 

the Five Nations Confederacy and territory.

     You, the Five Nations Confederate Lords, be firm so that 

if a tree falls on your joined arms it shall not separate or 

weaken your hold.  So shall the strength of the union be 


59.  A bunch of wampum shells on strings, three spans of the 

hand in length, the upper half of the bunch being white and the 

lower half black, and formed from equal contributions of the 

men of the Five Nations, shall be a token that the men have 

combined themselves into one head, one body and one thought, 

and it shall also symbolize their ratification of the peace 

pact of the Confederacy, whereby the Lords 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 


     This string of wampum vests the people with the right to 

correct their erring Lords.  In case a part or all the Lords 

pursue a course not vouched for by the people and heed not the 

third warning of their women relatives, then the matter shall 

be taken to the General Council of the women of the Five 

Nations.  If the Lords 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 concil to warn the Lord or Lords to 

return from the wrong course.  If the Lords heed the warning 

they shall say, "we will reply tomorrow."  If then an answer is 

returned in favor of justice and in accord with this Great Law, 

then the Lords shall individualy pledge themselves again by 

again furnishing the necessary shells for the pledge.  Then 

shall the War Chief or Chiefs exhort the Lords urging them to 

be just and true.

     Should it happen that the Lords refuse to heed the third 

warning, then two courses are open: either the men may decide 

in their council to depose the Lord or Lords 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 Lord or 

Lords, saying:  "Since you the Lords of the Five Nations have 

refused to return to the procedure of the Constitution, we now 

declare your seats vacant, we take off your horns, the token of 

your Lordship, 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 Lords, sitting bewteen 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 Lords: "So now, Lords of the Five United Nations, 

harken to these last words from your men.  You have not heeded 

the warnings of the women relatives, you have not heeded the 

warnings of the General Council of women and you have not 

heeded the warnings of the men of the nations, all urging you 

to return 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 let drop the bunch of black wampum and the men 

shall spring to their feet and club the erring Lords to death.  

Any erring Lord may submit 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 that it may be raised up again by the 

men.  It is buried but when occasion arises they may pull it 

up and derive their power and authority to act as here 


60.  A broad dark 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 the unity of the Five Nations.

    [ ed note: This is the Hiawatha Belt, now in the

               Congressional Library. ] 

     The first of the squares on the left represents the Mohawk 

nation and its territory; the second square on the left and the 

one near the heart, represents the Oneida nation and its 

territory; the white heart in the middle represents the 

Onondaga nation and its territory, and it also means that the 

heart of the Five Nations is single in its loyalty to the Great 

Peace, that the Great Peace is lodged in the heart (meaning the 

Onondaga Lords), and that the Council Fire is to burn there for 

the Five Nations, and further, it means that the authority is 

given to advance the cause of peace whereby hostile nations out 

of the Confederacy shall cease warfare; the white square to the 

right of the heart represents the Cayuga nation and its 

territory and the fourth and last white square represents the 

Seneca nation and its territory.

     White shall here symbolize that no evil or jealous 

thoughts shall creep into the minds of the Lords 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, then, he reaches the top of the tree he shall look 

about in all directions, and, should he see that evil things 

indeed are approaching, then he shall call to the people of the 

Five United Nations assembled beneath the Tree of the Great 

Long Leaves and say: "A calamity threatens your happiness."

     Then shall the Lords 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 

out a Tree of Ka-hon-ka-ah-go-nah, [ a great swamp Elm ], 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 Confederate Council of the Five Nations 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 the honoring of the importance of the 


63.  Should two sons of opposite sides of the council fire 

agree in a desire to hear the reciting of the laws of the 

Great Peace and so refresh their memories in the way ordained 

by the founder of the Confederacy, they shall notify Adodarho.  

He then shall consult with five of his coactive Lords and they 

in turn shall consult with their eight brethern.  Then should 

they decide to accede to the request of the two sons from 

opposite sides of the Council Fire, Adodarho shall send 

messengers to notify the Chief Lords of each of the Five 

Nations.  Then they shall despatch their War Chiefs to notify 

their brother and cousin Lords of the meeting and its time and 


     When all have come and have assembled, Adodarhoh, in 

conjunction with his cousin Lords, shall appoint one Lord who 

shall repeat the laws of the Great Peace.  Then shall they 

announce who they have chosen to repeat the laws of the Great 

Peace to the two sons.  Then shall the chosen one repeat the 

laws of the Great Peace.

64.  At the ceremony of the installation of Lords if there is 

only one expert speaker and singer of the law and the 

Pacification Hymn 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 oposite side and reply to his own speech and 

song.  He shall thus act for both sidesa of the fire until the 

entire ceremony has been completed.  Such a speaker and singer 

shall be termed the "Two Faced" because he speaks and sings for 

both sides of the fire.

65.  I, Dekanawida, and the Union Lords, now uproot the tallest 

pine tree and into the cavity thereby made we cast all weapons 

of war.  Into the depths of the earth, down into the deep 

underearth currents of water 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.

                   Laws of Adoption

66.  The father of a child of great comliness, learning, 

ability or specially loved because of some circumstance 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 Five Nations' 

Confederacy, specially esteem a man or woman of another clan or 

of a foreign nation, he may choose a name and bestow it upon 

that person so esteemed.  The naming shall be in accord with 

the ceremony of bestowing names.  Such a name is only a 

temporary one 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 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 Lords 

of the nation shall then consider the proposal and submit a 


69.  Any member of the Five Nations who through esteem or other 

feeling wishes to adopt an individual, a family or number of 

families may offer adoption to him or them and if accepted the 

matter shall be brought to the attention of the Lords for 

confirmation and the Lords must confirm adoption.

70.  When the adoption of anyone shall have been confirmed by 

the Lords of the Nation, the Lords shall address the people of 

their 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 depths of the earth.  Henceforth let no one of our nation 

ever mention the original name or nation of their birth.  To do 

so will be to hasten the end of our peace.

                      Laws of Emigration

71.  When any person or family belonging to the Five Nations 

desires to abandon their birth nation and the territory of the 

Five Nations, they shall inform the Lords of their nation and 

the Confederate Council of the Five Nations shall take 

cognizance of it.

72.  When any person or any of the people of the Five Nations 

emigrate and reside in a region distant from the territory of 

the Five Nations Confederacy, the Lords 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 

shells and they shall know that this is an order for them to 

return to their original homes and to their council fires.

                  Rights of Foreign Nations

73.  The soil of the earth from one end of the land to the 

other is the property of the people who inhabit it.  By 

birthright the Ongwehonweh (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.

     The Great Creator has made us of the 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 

Five Nations 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 Confederacy, the Confederate Lords shall order one of their 

war chiefs to reprimand him or them and if a similar offence is 

again committed the offending party or parties shall be 

expelled from the territory of the Five United Nations.

75.  When a member of an alien nation comes to the territory 

of the Five Nations and seeks refuge and permanent residence, 

the Lords 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 after mentioned.

76.  No body of alien people who have been adopted temporarily 

shall have a vote in the council of the Lords of the 

Confederacy, for only they who have been invested with Lordship 

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 Confederacy, might go against its 

Great Peace.  In this manner the Great Peace would be 

endangered and perhaps be destroyed.

77.  When the Lords of the Confederacy decide to admit a 

foreign nation and an adoption is made, the Lords 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.  That in no way 

should they cause disturbance or injury.  Then should the 

adopted nation disregard these injunctions, their adoption 

shall be annuled and they shall 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 Lords 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 from the Confederacy."

78.  Whenever a foreign nation enters the Confederacy 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 pursuade other nations to 

accept the Great Peace.

                   Rights and Powers of War

79.  Skanawatih shall be vested with a double office, duty and 

with double authority.  One-half of his being shall hold the 

Lordship 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 Confederacy and command them to prepare for war and have 

their men ready at the appointed time and place for engagement 

with the enemy of the Great Peace.

80.  When the Confederate Council of the Five Nations 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 Five Nations, 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 Five Nations 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 all 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 the War Song and he 

shall sing:

        Now I am greatly surprised

     And, therefore I shall use it --

     The powerr of my War Song.

        I am of the Five Nations

     And I shall make supplication

     To the Almighty Creator.

     He has furnished this army.

     My warriors shall be mighty

     In the strength of the Creator.

     Between him and my song they are

     For it was he who gave the song

     This war song that I sing!

82.  When the warriors of the Five Nations are on an 

expedition against an 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 

enemies' 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 Five Nations' Confederacy 

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 Confederacy 

in the body of the Lords.

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 at his back to meet any emergency.  War must 

continue until the contest is won by the Five Nations.

89.  When the Lords 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 Lord who carries the 

proposals and these warriors shall be especially cunning.  

Should the Lord 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 Lord of 

the Confederacy may enlist with the warriors by temporarily 

renouncing his sacred Lordship title which he holds through the 

election 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 Lord, 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.

                Treason or Secession of a Nation

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 Confederacy, such a nation or such nations shall 

be deemed guilty of treason and called enemies of the 

Confederacy and the Great Peace.

     It shall then be the duty of the Lords of the Confederacy 

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 Confederacy by 

the War Chiefs and his men.

            Rights of the People of the Five Nations

93.  Whenever a specially important matter or a great emergency 

is presented before the Confederate Council and the nature of 

the matter affects the entire body of the Five Nations, 

threatening their utter ruin, then the Lords of the Confederacy 

must submit the matter to the decision of their people and the 

decision of the people shall affect the decision of the 

Confederate 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 a council to be held to 

discuss the welfare of the clans, then the men may gather 

about the fire.  This council shall have the same rights 

as the council of the 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 

decisions and recommendations shall be introduced before the 

Council of the Lords by the War Chief for its consideration.

96.  All the Clan council fires of a nation or of the Five 

Nations may unite into one general council fire, or delegates 

from all the council fires may be appointeed to unite in a 

general council for discussing the interests 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 to 

the Confederate 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 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 Lords of each nation in 

future shall settle their nation's affairs at this council fire 

governed always by the laws and rules of the council of the 

Confederacy and by 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 Confederate Council or in the conferring of Lordship 

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 laws of the 

Great Peace.

                Religious Ceremonies Protected

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 Lords of each brotherhood 

to confer at the approach of the time of the Midwinter 

Thanksgiving and to notify their 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 Dis-ko-nah 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 Lords 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 needed 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 

Cornplanting 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 Long 


102.  When the Thansgiving 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 Lords 

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, naturally fitted as a teacher of good 

things, he shall be recognized by the Lords as a teacher of 

peace and religion and the people shall hear him.

                  The Installation Song

105.  The song used in installing the new Lord of the 

Confederacy shall be sung by Adodarhoh and it shall be:

      "Haii, haii Agwah wi-yoh

        "     "   A-kon-he-watha

        "     "   Ska-we-ye-se-go-wah

        "     "   Yon-gwa-wih

        "     "   Ya-kon-he-wa-tha

       Haii, haii It is good indeed

        "     "   (That) a broom, --

        "     "   A great wing,

        "     "   It is given me

        "     "   For a sweeping instrument."

106.  Whenever a person properly entitled desires to learn the 

Pacification Song 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 on an occasion when no chief is installed.

                   Protection of the House

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 it upon 

seeing such a sign shall not approach the house either by day 

or by night but shall keep as far away as his business will 


                      Funeral Addresses

108.  At the funeral of a Lord of the Confederacy, say:  Now we 

become reconciled as you start away.  You were once a Lord of 

the Five Nations' Confederacy 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 yet you lived 

hinder you.  In hunting you once took delight; in the game of 

Lacrosse you once took delight and in the feasts 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 were related to 

this 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 way 

to evil behavior.  One year is the time that you must abstain 

from unseemly 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.  You were 

once a War Chief of the Five Nations' Confederacy and the 

United People trusted you as their guard from the enemy."  

(The remainder is the same as the address at the funeral 

of a Lord).

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 ever ready to take part in battles for the Five Nations' 

Confederacy.  The United People trusted you."  (The remainder

is the same as the address at the funeral of a Lord).

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 Lord).

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 Five Nations' Confederacy.  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 Lordship titles.  Feastings were 

yours and you had pleasant occasions. . ."  (The remainder is 

the same as the address at the funeral of a Lord).

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 a mother 

of the nation. (Etc.)  Looking after your family was a sacred 

duty and you were faithful.  Feastings . . . (etc.)"  (The 

remainder is the same as the address at the funeral of a Lord).

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 the 

things that transpired on earth hinder you.  Let nothing that 

happened while you lived hinder you."  (The remainder is the 

same as the address at the funeral of a Lord).

[ Editors note:  the above ellipses and 'etc.' remarks are 

transcribed directly from the text I copied. ]

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 be happy once 

more, though by a death, gloom has been cast over them.  Then 

shall the black clouds roll away and the sky shall show blue 

once more.  Then shall the children be again in 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 again 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 shall they be in 

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 here, this body is to be covered.  

Assemble in this place again ten days hence for it is the 

decree of the Creator that mourning shall cease when ten days 

have expired.  Then shall a feast 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 minds must now be freed of sorrow as 

before the loss of a 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 shall be repeated for every 

one who assisted in any way until all have been remembered.

Prepared by Gerald Murphy (The Cleveland Free-Net - aa300) Distributed by the Cybercasting Services Division of the National Public Telecomputing Network (NPTN). Permission is hereby granted to download, reprint, and/or otherwise redistribute this file, provided appropriate point of origin credit is given to the preparer(s) and the National Public Telecomputing Network.

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