THE GREAT LAW OF THE IROQUOIS
THE CONSTITUTION OF THE IROQUOIS NATIONS
THE GREAT BINDING LAW, GAYANASHAGOWA
Rights and Powers of War
79. Skanawatih shall be vested with a double
office, duty and with double authority. One-half of his
being shall hold the Lordship title and the other half shall
hold the title of War Chief. In the event of war he shall
notify the five War Chiefs of the Confederacy and command
them to prepare for war and have their men ready at the
appointed time and place for engagement with the enemy of
the Great Peace.
80. When the Confederate Council of the Five Nations has
for its object the establishment of the Great Peace among
the people of an outside nation and that nation refuses to
accept the Great Peace, then by such refusal they bring a
declaration of war upon themselves from the Five Nations.
Then shall the Five Nations seek to establish the Great Peace
by a conquest of the rebellious nation.
81. When the men of the Five Nations, now called forth to
become warriors, are ready for battle with an obstinate opposing
nation that has refused to accept the Great Peace, then one
of the five War Chiefs shall be chosen by the warriors of
the Five Nations to lead the army into battle. It shall be
the duty of the War Chief so chosen to come before his warriors
and address them. His aim shall be to impress upon them the
necessity of good behavior and strict obedience to all the
commands of the War Chiefs. He shall deliver an oration exhorting
them with great zeal to be brave and courageous and never
to be guilty of cowardice. At the conclusion of his oration
he shall march forward and commence the War Song and he shall
Now I am greatly surprised And, therefore I shall use it
-- The power of my War Song. I am of the Five Nations And
I shall make supplication To the Almighty Creator. He has
furnished this army. My warriors shall be mighty In the strength
of the Creator. Between him and my song they are For it was
he who gave the song This war song that I sing!
82. When the warriors of the Five Nations are on an expedition
against an enemy, the War Chief shall sing the War Song as
he approaches the country of the enemy and not cease until
his scouts have reported that the army is near the enemies'
lines when the War Chief shall approach with great caution
and prepare for the attack.
83. When peace shall have been established by the termination
of the war against a foreign nation, then the War Chief shall
cause all the weapons of war to be taken from the nation.
Then shall the Great Peace be established and that nation
shall observe all the rules of the Great Peace for all time
84. Whenever a foreign nation is conquered or has by their
own will accepted the Great Peace their own system of internal
government may continue, but they must cease all warfare against
85. Whenever a war against a foreign nation is pushed until
that nation is about exterminated because of its refusal to
accept the Great Peace and if that nation shall by its obstinacy
become exterminated, all their rights, property and territory
shall become the property of the Five Nations.
86. Whenever a foreign nation is conquered and the survivors
are brought into the territory of the Five Nations' Confederacy
and placed under the Great Peace the two shall be known as
the Conqueror and the Conquered. A symbolic relationship shall
be devised and be placed in some symbolic position. The conquered
nation shall have no voice in the councils of the Confederacy
in the body of the Lords.
87. When the War of the Five Nations on a foreign rebellious
nation is ended, peace shall be restored to that nation by
a withdrawal of all their weapons of war by the War Chief
of the Five Nations. When all the terms of peace shall have
been agreed upon a state of friendship shall be established.
88. When the proposition to establish the Great Peace is
made to a foreign nation it shall be done in mutual council.
The foreign nation is to be persuaded by reason and urged
to come into the Great Peace. If the Five Nations fail to
obtain the consent of the nation at the first council a second
council shall be held and upon a second failure a third council
shall be held and this third council shall end the peaceful
methods of persuasion. At the third council the War Chief
of the Five nations shall address the Chief of the foreign
nation and request him three times to accept the Great Peace.
If refusal steadfastly follows the War Chief shall let the
bunch of white lake shells drop from his outstretched hand
to the ground and shall bound quickly forward and club the
offending chief to death. War shall thereby be declared and
the War Chief shall have his warriors at his back to meet
any emergency. War must continue until the contest is won
by the Five Nations.
89. When the Lords of the Five Nations propose to meet in
conference with a foreign nation with proposals for an acceptance
of the Great Peace, a large band of warriors shall conceal
themselves in a secure place safe from the espionage of the
foreign nation but as near at hand as possible. Two warriors
shall accompany the Union Lord who carries the proposals and
these warriors shall be especially cunning. Should the Lord
be attacked, these warriors shall hasten back to the army
of warriors with the news of the calamity which fell through
the treachery of the foreign nation.
90. When the Five Nations' Council declares war any Lord
of the Confederacy may enlist with the warriors by temporarily
renouncing his sacred Lordship title which he holds through
the election of his women relatives. The title then reverts
to them and they may bestow it upon another temporarily until
the war is over when the Lord, if living, may resume his title
and seat in the Council.
91. A certain wampum belt of black beads shall
be the emblem of the authority of the Five War Chiefs
to take up the weapons of war and with their men to
resist invasion. This shall be called a war in defense
of the territory.