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The Great Law of Peace of the Iroquois (or Haudenosaunee) Six Nations (Oneida, Mohawk, Cayuga, Onondaga, the Seneca and Tuscarora) is the oral constitution whereby the Iroquois Confederacy was bound together. The law was written on wampum belts, conceived by Deganwidah, known as The Great Peacemaker, and his spokesman Hiawatha. The original five member nations ratified this constitution near present-day Victor, New York, with the sixth nation (the Tuscarora) being added in ca. 1720.
Historians once thought the Iroquois Confederacy started in the 16th century, but a more recent estimate dates the confederacy and its constitution to between 1090 and 1150 CE. These estimates were based on the records of the confederacy leadership and astronomical dating related to a total solar eclipse that coincided with the founding of the Confederacy.
Historians, including Donald Grinde of the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, have claimed that the democratic ideals of the Gayanashagowa (Great Law of Peace) provided a significant inspiration to Benjamin Franklin, James Madison and other framers of the United States Constitution. Franklin circulated copies of the proceedings of the 1744 Treaty of Lancaster among his fellow colonists; at the close of this document, the Iroquois leaders offer to impart instruction in their democratic methods of government to the English. John Rutledge of South Carolina, delegate to the Constitutional Convention, is said to have read lengthy tracts of Iroquoian law to the other framers, beginning with the words "We, the people, to form a union, to establish peace, equity, and order..." In October 1988, the US Congress passed Concurrent Resolution 331 to recognize the influence of the Iroquois Constitution upon the US Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Anybody heard of this?
They call me the Can man cuz anybody CAN Get It...DominiCANS...Puerto RiCANS...MexiCANS...AfriCANS...Anybody CAN GET IT!
Scholars, such as Jack N. Rakove and Elizabeth Tooker, challenge the thesis. Stanford University historian Rakove writes, "The voluminous records we have for the constitutional debates of the late 1780s contain no significant references to the Iroquois" and notes that there are ample European precedents to the democratic institutions of the United States. Historian Francis Jennings noted that supporters of the thesis frequently cite the following statement by Benjamin Franklin: "It would be a very strange thing, if six Nations of ignorant savages should be capable of forming a Scheme for such a Union … and yet that a like union should be impracticable for ten or a Dozen English Colonies," but he disagrees that it establishes influence. Rather, he thinks Franklin was promoting union against the "ignorant savages" and called the idea "absurd". The anthropologist Dean Snow stated that though Franklin's Albany Plan may have drawn some inspiration from the Iroquois League, there is little evidence that either the Plan or the Constitution drew substantially from this source. He argues that "...such claims muddle and denigrate the subtle and remarkable features of Iroquois government. The two forms of government are distinctive and individually remarkable in conception."
Tooker, a Temple University professor of anthropology and an authority on the culture and history of the Northern Iroquois, believes the "influence" thesis is myth rather than fact. He does not think that the Iroquois League was a democratic culture; such a conclusion is not supported within historical literature. The relationship between the Iroquois League and the Constitution is based on a portion of a letter written by Benjamin Franklin and a speech by the Iroquois chief Canasatego in 1744. Tooker concluded that the documents cited indicate that some groups of Iroquois and white settlers realized the advantages of a confederation, but he thinks there is little evidence to support the idea that 18th century colonists were knowledgeable regarding the Iroquois system of governance. Historic evidence suggests that chiefs of different tribes were permitted representation in the Iroquois League council, and the leadership positions were hereditary. The council did not practice representative government and had no elections. Deceased chiefs’' successors were selected by the most senior woman within the hereditary lineage in consultation with other women in the clan. Decision making occurred through lengthy discussion and decisions were unanimous, with topics discussed being introduced by a single tribe.
Tooker concludes, "...there is virtually no evidence that the framers borrowed from the Iroquois." He thinks the myth resulted from exaggerations and misunderstandings of a claim made by the Iroquois linguist and ethnographer J.N.B. Hewitt after his death in 1937.
Curious rule here: There is an exception to every rule.
The above rule, if true, would mean it was true for each rule (as by it's own words it specifies "every rule"), thus becoming the exception to itself, thus further solidifying its own truth / validity / veracity.
The formation of the US is an outgrowth of the English Age of Reason and, unless the Iroquois knew about Greco-Roman political history, the Bible, Christianisty, deism, ancient Israel, Anglo-Saxon common law, the rulings of Anglo-Norman jurists, Oliver Cromwell, etc. ad naseum, the idea that the Iroquois influenced the Founding Fathers is pathetically obtuse. Not once to my knowledge do any of the Founders, in any of their writings, mention the Iroquois, the Great Peacemaker, the Great Law of Peace, etc.
I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.