Iroquois Prayer for Peace

Good Morning!

For all of you who follow my blogs, you’ll know that I’ve been talking about the incredible Iroquois Confederacy. With the release of BLACK EAGLE and SENECA SURRENDER (both of them deal with the Iroquois Indians), I thought I’d post a little bit about what the Iroquois thought of peace — the way they set about achieving it, and how beautiful was the society they had gained because of it.  I’ll also be giving away a free copy of the e-book, BLACK EAGLE to some lucky blogger.

...............................................................The eagle here is the symbol of the Iroquois Confederation, and is supposed to be on watch for any who would try to bring the Confederacy down.

Long ago, and it appears that it was as long ago as August 31st, 1142 AD, the Iroquois Confederacy came into being. It is dated by an eclipse. Some historians date it later — around 1451 and others dated later — depending on the eclipse. But for me, I believe that it was founded August 31st, 1142 AD. The reason I say this is because when the white man first met representatives of the Iroquois Confederation, notation was made (and this was in 1600’s) that the Confederation was centuries old.  And most of the Iroquois sites that I’ve visited date its foundation at 1142 AD.

300px-hiawatha_departure1 This picture to the right is an artist’s rendition of Hiawatha, one of the founders of the Iroquois Confederation. So…back in 1142 AD, there was trouble in the land they called Turtle Island (America).   Killing was the standard of the day, not the exception and worse, the fighting was often between brother vs brother, clan vs clan, tribe vs tribe. Wars were usually fought to avenge a dead relative — the dead themselves were known to urge their loved ones on to avenge them. But imagine –someone is killed through evil doing or through a mistake. A clan member then kills a member of the offending clan — this is then repeated by the “offending clan,” which is then repeated over and over and over.  It’s a never ending scheme.

Well, two men, the Peacemaker and Hiawatha (the real one, not the one of Longfellow’s poem) thought to end this “game” that had become such a problem.  These two — With the Peacemaker’s urging — came together to ease the suffering not only of he or she who had lost a loved one, but to ease the suffering felt by the dead, as well — and they sought to end war forever by doing this.

rhk01480The Peacemaker and Hiawatha introduced a beautiful ceremony called the Condolence ceremony.  Using strings of wampum, they could wipe away the grief of the deceased and his relatives and bring about a good frame of mind for everyone.  They would say the Three Bare Words that would relieve one of his grief and would open up his eyes and his heart to the beauty of the sky. Thus, by wiping away the insanity of grief (this is what the Peacemaker and Hiawatha called grief — an insanity — for it makes a person do deeds that he normally wouldn’t do) — and by healing this grief, one would wipe away war from the face of their land, Turtle Island, (America).

beltmast11Here is an example of wampum (white and purple beads) that I got from the website http://www.wampumchronicles.com .

So here’s the question of the day: How many governments can you name that were started not by war or revolution, but by making peace in order to end war forever?  I can name no other.  Can you?

So let’s have a look at how successful they were. The Peacemaker and Hiawatha set up a government that was made By the People, Of the People, and For the People, long before (1142 AD)  our own American government was set into place.   There are certain laws within the Iroquois Confederation that were set down by the Peacemaker at this time.  Laws for the men.  Laws for the women. And from all observations, it appears that this Confederation lived in relative peace for over 500 years before it began to crumble.  Five hundred. Wow!  Compare our Republic — only a little over two hundred years old…and with many, many wars.  For my part, I think the Iroquois Confederation set  a very good record.

img_4311This picture by the way is of Grandfather George Randall, who lives with us. He is a Native American actor and elder. Okay, so not until the incoming Europeans came to America did the Iroquois Confederation begin to crumble. The cause? There were many. Propaganda from the incoming culture, pitting brother against brother as each took sides in the European wars.  Not only the English, but the French and the Dutch went from town to town, village to village, to recruit Indians to fight for them in their causes. Also, incoming priests began to divide brother against brother, and the French and Indian war — particularly the battle at St. George — pitted Mohawk against Mohawk — a condition that the Peacemaker and Hiawatha had warned against.

trips-079There were also problems with trade. The Iroquois became dependent on the trinkets and things from England and Holland and France. While this might have gained them a little ease (maybe), it had the effect of pitting tribe against tribe as each contended with the other for the friendship and trade of the English and French.  But before the European came to the Americas, the Indians, themselves, had made peace amongst themselves as well as with many of their neighboring tribes.  This peace and well-being brought about a strong and firm inclination toward independence and liberty.  And so it was that a free people (the Iroquois) met the English and French.  But these newcomers had a long history of oppression and taxation.  Was it any wonder, then, that the two had a difficult time understanding the other?

It wasn’t long, however, before the Iroquois left their mark on the newcomers   And soon the Americas became filled with the voices of freedom and liberty.  It was even commented upon abroad.

180px-declaration_independence1America has a long tradition of freedom, independence and liberty. It was here, established by postulate, by the inhabitants of this beautiful land long, long ago; it was put here by two men who wished to wipe away grief from the world at large and thus bring about an end to war. It’s a beautiful start; it’s a beautiful thought. May that postulate (decision/wish) go on and on and on and may no tyranny ever come to roost here on what the Iroquois called then, and still call today, Turtle Island.

 

I hope you have enjoyed this little bit of history. I find it utterly beautiful and very inspiring. Please come on in and tell me your thoughts.  I’ll be giving away the e-book, BLACK EAGLE to some lucky blogger.  So come on in.

I look forward to your comments.

Karen Kay
KAREN KAY aka GEN BAILEY is the author of 17 American Indian Historical Romances. She has written for such prestigious publishers as AVON/HarperCollins, Berkley/Penguin/Putnam and Samhain Publishing. KAREN KAY’S great grandmother was Choctaw Indian and Kay is honored to be able to write about the American Indian Culture.
Please refer to http://petticoatsandpistols.com/sweepstakesrules for all contest rules.
Updated: March 21, 2017 — 1:14 pm

16 Comments

  1. I look forward to your posts. I always learn something. We could all learn something from this. I do wish we would.

    1. Hi DebraG!

      Me, too. Me, too.

  2. Unfortunately, any nations which even espouse peace in their founding philosophy seem to either die, be absorbed by another power, or end up embroiled in conflict. It seems paradise is always lost. But my encouragement comes from the fact that generations still attempt to find the path to peace.

    1. Ah, Karen. So well written. I think there is always hope — always.

  3. Utterly fascinating. I love the idea of “healing this grief, one would wipe away war from the face of their land”. In this way they were more “advanced than us today”! I’ll admit I used to read, Cassie Edwards Indian romances and loved them. I love reading about the different Indian tribes and their culture.Black Eagle sounds fascinating and I know I’d enjoy reading it.

    1. Hi Deanne!

      I love this idea, too. So unusual in this world of ours, and in this way, I believe they were more advanced in the humanities than our society is. I loved Cassie Edwards work, also. I also love Cassie Edwards as a person. We definitely agree on this. : )

  4. This was an interesting post as always. Thanks for sharing with us today. I think we could all use a little prayer for peace right now.

    1. Boy, Janine, I think so, too. : )

  5. What a beautiful post, Karen. I love learning about the Iroquois Nation and their traditions. Your posts always go into such depth. Are there Native Americans today who can trace their roots back to the Iroquois?

    1. Hi Kathryn!

      What a very sweet thing to say. Oh, yes. The Iroquois are still alive and well. There are people living today who can trace their lineage directly to the Iroquois. Definitely, definitely. And they keep these things alive even today. Mass media just doesn’t comment on it at all. It would be nice to go to a pow-wow sometime in Iroquois country. You know, the long trail — the Iroquois trail — still exists and people still hike on it.

  6. Very interesting post. Wow, a government that lasted for 500 years. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Hi Nancy!

      Yes, when I ran across this info, I was fascinated. Of course, I had to write about it.

  7. Interesting. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Hi Kim!

    You bet. Thanks for the post.

  9. People with common interests and goals can usually work out their differences. They manage to establish relationships and rules that help them live together peacefully. It is usually when outside forces come in and disrupt these relationships for their own interests that the system breaks down. The only good thing that came out of the disruption of the Iroquois Confederacy was the recognition of its value in governing. We have their example to thank of many of the best parts of our founding documents.
    Thanks for an interesting post and the giveaway.

  10. Hi Patricia!

    Thank you so much for your insights. I always look forward to hearing your thoughts on these things. Yes, we have that Confederation to thank for our idea of freedom of thought and for our own Articles of Confederation and Constitution…the Iroquois and Thomas Jefferson, George Mason, George Clinton and Ben Franklin to name but a few. : )

    Thanks so much.

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