A lil’ History -Tribal Sovereignty law and American Law

Did you Know

Native Americans have contributed many things to the American way of life. One of the most important aspects is they were first to establish a government and apply democratic principles of fair representation, equality, and justice for all. The American governments’ foundation of democracy, equality, freedom and respect was hallowed from Indian culture. Notably, the founding fathers admired tribal governments so much they modeled the U.S. Constitution after the Constitution of the Seven Iroquois nations. An Indian called the “Great Peacemaker” instilled a peace agreement among the nations who were constantly at war with one another. He expressed and instilled from their constitution the “Great Law of Peace” that governed a union of tribes centuries old before the first settlers arrived.  The Great Law of Peace consisted of the Mohawk, Onondaga, Oneida, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora tribes. Later the Iroquois tribes was added becoming the Seven Iroquois.  http://www.flashpointmag.com/amindus.htm

The 3 principles of The Great Law of Peace

  1. Righteousness
  2. Health
  3. Power

The governing components of the Great Law that were implemented into the U.S. Constitution:

  • Freedom of speech
  • Freedom of religion
  • Right of women to participate in government
  • Separation of powers
  • Checks and balances in government
  • A government “of the people, by the people, for the people”
  • Three branches of government: Two horses and grand council
  • A woman’s council
The only parts that were not enacted :
  • The Seventh Generation Principle – Chiefs consider the impact of their decisions on the seventh generation to come
  • The role of women – the clan mothers choose male candidates as political leaders. The women maintain ownership of land and homes, exercise rights over any action resulting in war, and they can also impeach or expel any leader of improper conduct.

 Symbol of the Great Law of Peace

Symbol of Peacemaker Legend

  • White Pine tree- Shelter all committing to peace
  • Beneath the tree the 5 nations buried of war
  • Above the tree Eagle sees all
  • Bundle of five arrows tied together represent strength of five tribes
  • Four long roots stretch in four directions = whiter roots of peace


Thomas Jefferson adopted the symbols of the peacemaker legend:

  • Tree of Peace = Tree of Liberty on Colonial Flags
  • Eagle – remains the symbol of American Government
  • American Eagle – On the U.S. Great Seal
  • Eagle holding olive branch = U.S. has desire for peace but always ready for war


Founding Fathers

Native Americans and the Founding Fathers

Many historians and citizens believe Native Americans had little impact or played no role in the development of this country. It is historical fact that the Great Law of Peace served as a model for the Constitution of the United States. The Iroquois Nation had been a functioning democracy for centuries before the founding fathers appearance. The American colonists developed noteworthy diplomatic and trading relations with the American Indians for most of the 18th Century. Historians believe the Iroquois ideas of unity, balance of power, and federalism influenced the United States government system. This blog post focus is Native American’s contribution to the United States Constitution/Government; however it is not complete with research and a more thorough examination is a must.




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