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