THE GREAT LAW OF THE IROQUOIS
THE CONSTITUTION OF THE IROQUOIS NATIONS
THE GREAT BINDING LAW, GAYANASHAGOWA
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
"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 bellies."
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
Kahonwahdironh, War Chief under Lord Odatshedeh
Ayendes, War Chief under Lord Adodarhoh
Wenenhs, War Chief under Lord Dekaenyonh
Shoneradowaneh, War Chief under Lord Skanyadariyo
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