Cask & Barrel

The Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy

Feb
08

Eagle Hill, located in the Bay of Quinte (Tyendinaga), is said to be the birthplace of Tekanawita, the Peacemaker who brought the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca Nations together under the Great Law of Peace in the 12th Century to form the Five Nations Iroquois Confederacy (Haudenosaunee). In 1722, the Tuscaroras were adopted into the Confederacy and the Iroquois became known as the Six Nations Confederacy.

The Great Law of Peace provides the guidelines for a political, social, and spiritual order for Haudenosaunee and its peoples. When the countries of Canada and the United States were being formed and their governments created, the founding fathers found inspiration in the Great Peace. The based the concepts of representational government and the division of governing bodies on the Iroquois system.

To symbolize the Great Peace and the unity of the Confederacy, the Peacemaker chose a tall white pine. The tree had long branches to cover the nations of the Confederacy, and long roots to reach out to other nations that would hear the laws of the Great Peace and want to follow them as well. Under the tree all the weapons of war would be buried, never again to be used by the nations of the confederacy to do battle against each other. On top of the tree sat an eagle, which would act as a guardian to the Great Peace, watching for anything that might be a threat.

The Peacemaker created a new clan system with nine clans that would be found across the Confederacy: Turtle, Bear, Wolf, Heron, Hawk, Snipe, Beaver, Deer and Eel. In this way, the Peacemaker reasoned, members of the same clan would develop familial ties, regardless of which nation they were from. Clans within the Mohawk nation are the Bear, Turtle and Wolf.

Mohawks are the “People of the Flint” within the Haudenosaunee.  The Mohawk Nation (Kahniakehaka) are considered the easternmost Nation within the Haudenosaunee and as such are referred to as the Keepers of Eastern Door.  Members of the Mohawk Nation include Kahnawake, Kanesatake, Akwesasne, Tyendinaga, Ganienkeh, Kanatsiohareke, the Kahniakehaka of Ohsweken, and Wahta.

 


“Culture.” Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte. <mbq-tmt.org/community/culture>.

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