THE GREAT LAW OF THE IROQUOIS
THE CONSTITUTION OF THE IROQUOIS NATIONS
THE GREAT BINDING LAW, GAYANASHAGOWA
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
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,
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
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.