That Amazing Iroquois Confederacy

horseheader11.jpgGood Morning!

For all of you who tend to follow my blogs, you’ll know that I’ve been talking about the incredible Iroquois Confederacy for a few blogs.  Having just finished my newest book which deals with the Iroquois, I have even more to share with you today.

...............................................................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 was founded.  It is dated by an eclipse.  Some historicans 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. 

300px-hiawatha_departure1 This picture by the way is an artist’s rendition of Hiawatha, one of the founders of the Iroquois Confederation.  Long ago — back in 1142 AD — there were problems with brother vs brother, clan vs clan, tribe vs tribe.  Wars were fought to avenge a dead relative — the dead themselves urging 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.  Two men, the Peacemaker and Hiawatha (the real one, not the one of Longfellow’s poem) came together to ease the suffering not only of the one who had lost a loved one, but to ease the suffering of the dead, as well — and they sought to end war forever.

rhk01480They introduced a beautiful ceremony called the Condolence ceremony that — using strings of wampum — would wipe away the grief of the deceased and his relatives and bring about in him a good frame of mind.  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 wiping away one’s grief, one would wipe away war forever from the face of what they called Turtle Island.

beltmast11Here is an example of wampum (white and purple beads) gotten from the website .  How many governments can you name that were started not by war, but to end war forever?  And how successful were they?  The Peacemaker and Hiawatha set up a government that was made By the People, Of the People, and For the People, long before our own American government was set into place.  There are certain laws within the Iroquois Conferation that were set down by the Peacemaker long, long ago.  From all calculations, it appears that this Confederation lived in relative peace for over 500 years before it began to crumble.  500 hundred years.  Wow!

img_4311This picture by the way if 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 again brother against brother in wars that the Europeans brought with them.  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 warned against.

trips-079There were also problems with trade.  The Iroquois became dependent on the trade goods from England and Holland and France.  This again pitted tribe against tribe bringing with it war after war after war, whereas before the coming of the European, the place called Turtle Island had been built on relative peace and independence and liberty, as well as built on love.  And as we all know, love is a potent force in this world of ours.  I wish there were more of it, and perhaps more understandings between peoples as well. 

180px-declaration_independence1America has a long tradition of freedom, independence and liberty.  It was here, put here by postulate, long, long ago, 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 knew as Turtle Island.

51obnqdgasl_sl500_aa240_1So 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.  And I will be giving away a copy of the book RED HAWK’S WOMAN to some lucky blogger today — only condition is that you must leave a comment and this contest is applicable only to the several states of the United States.  And please if you haven’t already done so, pick up your copy of BLACK EAGLE today, by Gen Bailey, my new pen name.

I look forward to your comments.red_3-crop-email.jpg

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KAREN KAY aka GEN BAILEY is the multi-published author of 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 for all contest rules.

80 thoughts on “That Amazing Iroquois Confederacy”

  1. This certainly gives us something to think about, doesn’t it? Growing up in Montreal, I learned a little about the Iroquois confederacy in history class, but we were told more about their conflicts with Europeans. You’ve made me want to know more about this wisely founded government. Thanks for the post!

  2. Karen,

    Nice to meet you — what an interesting story. I haven’t done much research on the Iroquois – out here in So California, we’re nestled right up on the Pechanga Nation – a Lusenio tribe – and I’ve had the opportunity to go to some of their counsel meetings.

    The principles you mention are still important – now more than ever. Thank you for this thoughtful post!

    Have a wonderful day.


  3. Hi Jennie!

    Thanks so much for your comments. Yes, one the things I like best about research is setting the record straight on history. It really does matter who writes the history books. : )

  4. Hello Ashley,

    So nice to meet you, too. I, too, live in So. CA — but more in the LA area. Wonderful that you’ve been able to attend council meetings.

    Thanks so much for your comments.

  5. Hi karen,Love the post,I just love historial novels involving Native Americans,I live near the Trail Of Tears ,im glad to read your post very good job!Thanks

  6. Hi Karen, very interesting post! I always thought that the eagle was a great symbol. They are so proud looking like the Native Americans are. I loved your post, thanks for sharing this bit of history with us!

  7. Hi Karen, I live about 20 miles from the Seneca Nation reservation. I’ve always loved the history. They have a small musuem that I enjoy visiting. Thanks for the great post.

  8. Hi Vickie C.!

    Thanks so much for visiting today. And you live near the Trail of Tears. Wow! My ancestors traveled that trail to the Mississippi.

  9. Hi Kay, as always, a fantastic post. I have long been intrigued by the Iroquois and their influence upon our own constitution. The Seneca were one of the five nations of the confederation, I think.

    Our local tribe is the Chumash and our area used to be called Shisholop.

    One of the things I want to do before I die is see an eagle fly.

    Keep up the wonderful research. oxoxoxoxoxo

  10. As is often the case with your blogs this one really gets me thinking. I love learning about all Native American tribes. It’s an area I’ve sorely lacked in. I wish people would pay more attention to the wise examples tribal leaders impart.

    Love the cover of Black Eagle. Great guy on the front! This book is on my too-buy list. Wishing you lots of success, my Filly sister!

  11. Thanks for this fascinating post. I live in an area where the Native American influence is evident in our culture, art and literature.

  12. I think it’s very cool that you have been doing so much with the Iroquois. I am interested to read your book on the Seneca, as they are local to where I live.

    I am descended from Mohawk on my father’s side. I’ve always wanted to look up more about our family, but people have been mum about it. I guess the next step would be to take a trip to Elmira (NY) where they are originally from and start doing research.

    Love your books!

    Kim R.

  13. What a amazing coincidence that you publish this blog on Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha feast day. I love learning more about the eastern tribes who were gentle tribe. As a Midwestern all my life all that is dwelt upon is the horrors of “Indians” by historical societies and our children do not realize each of the tribes were unique like European countries. Now as a grandmother I have more info to pass on to the next generation.

  14. Karen:

    Thank you so much for the beautiful story of the Condolence Ceremony. It made me feel a little more peaceful

  15. Loved you blog and the photos, Kay. Your grandfather has a beautiful, wise face.

    Is that you in the kiss photo?? Looks like it could be. Now that would make a nice romance book cover!!

  16. Greetings Kay,

    Thank you for the link, I’m very impressed as previously mentioned in our phone conversation, I’m glad I could assist, and KUDOS for taking interest in our fine “Iroquoian Confederacy” it’s about time someone invested time in realitic depictions of who we are..Hail to the 5 nations Iroquois Confederacy The Mohawk, Oneida, Onomdaga, Cayuga, and the Seneca (Tuscorora) who sit underneath the Seneca. If ever yoy need a picture for your book covers I am available and willing (wink)

    Mellanie (Mohawk Nation)

  17. I always enjoy your post they are so informative:)
    I must say (coming from left field) that picture of you lip locking w/ your hubby…You need to be selling skin care products!!!! Man does your skin look awesome What do you use on your skin and do not respond, if you say you use nothing because no one should have skin that good and taut with out working for it!! You know I love ya, but i do need to know what you’re using LoL!! XOXO Lori

  18. This was very interesting. I loved the information that I got. the pictures were very cool.
    lexeetoste at

  19. Hi Karen.
    I have read several your books and do enjoy them,But I am so happy you are now doing works on the “Iroquois Confederacy” it has been a passion of mine since I was a young teenager, a very long time ago.I am originally from upstate New York.
    My husbands family on his mother’s side are descendants of the Mohawks but we are finding it very hard to trace there history. I have picked up your latest book “Black Eagle and can not wait to start it. Keep up the good work.
    Your friend Lois Gosline Pomeroy

  20. Would that all our ancestors could have lived in agreement and continued in peace throughout all
    time! It’s not too late!!

    Pat Cochran

  21. I have to say i never realized how much research goes in to a good book i love the pictures and the back info on things i wouldnt of thought to check out so ty for this blog as well as all ur other ones

  22. Hi Karen, Thanks for the information, what a great post. I always love learning about native americans. I have some Chippawa blood in me and it’s always interesting learning about other tribes.

  23. I love to study and read fiction especially about the American Indian. I have a Cheyenne heritage.All I know is my great grandmother was a Cheyenne and she was very sober looking. LOL My mother said she picked who she liked and the rest didn’t matter. LOL I’m sure she had some good qualities. I just didn’t know her since she died before I met her. Would love to win this book. Has been a while since I have read an Indian novel and I would like to read one again.Please enter me in the contest.


    Lela Fox


  25. Hi Tanya!

    The Chumash — sorry about that spelling are close to me, too. Tanya, do you live in So. CA?

    Thanks for all you wonderful compliments, Tanya. Means a lot coming from you.

  26. Hi Ellie!

    Yes, here in America, it’s hard to get away from their influence, if only by feeling their presence, which is still there. : )

  27. Hi Kimberly!

    I used to live in Vermont, and very much felt the presence of the Native Americans all around me. Albany also was Mohawk territory. BLACK EAGLE centers in on the Mohawk. Thanks for your post.

  28. Hi Susan!

    I’m also originally from the MidWest, though when I was 18 I left home and have since lived in the East and the West. Susan, I’m not familiar with the Katen Tekakwitha feast day. If you come back to the blog, would you mind telling me about it?

    Thanks so much!

  29. Hi Virginia!

    Me too! It’s one of the most beautiful pieces of history I’ve ever come across. A society put into place to wipe after grief, and thus bring about an end to war. Beautiful.

  30. Hi Elizabeth!

    Yes, that’s yours truly in the kissing photo, with my darling husband. Grandfather George is adopted. We call him Grandfather because that’s what all Native tribes call their elders. : )

  31. Hi Mellanie!

    Wow, thank you so much for coming to the blog today. I am flattered. I only hope that I do justice to an influence that gave this country its feel of independence and freedom. May the wish that all men are free never die from this land.

  32. Hi Lori!

    My goodness what a compliment! Well, for one thing I never put drugs on my face — not anymore. The creams I use are raw kefir cream that I make myself and raw coconut oil. And I do facial exercises about 3 times a week — to tone those muscles. Here’s a website to find out more about the exercise: tell her I sent you:

    Thanks again for your compliment.

  33. Hi Lois!

    Thnak you so much for your compliments! I raised my kids in Vermont and we often traveled over Lake Champlain to upper state New York. What a beautiful part of the world.

    BLACK EAGLE is one of my favorite stories. Hope you’ll enjoy!

  34. Hi Beverly!

    Yes, there really is a lot of research that goes into the writing of a book, especially historical. One does want the past to come alive. And that’s often accomplished with research as well as other tools of the trade.

    Thanks so much!

  35. Hi Dena!

    Thanks so much for your post. I think Grandfather George is also Chippawa, but I’m not certain. I will have to ask him once again. : )

  36. Hi Lela!

    The Cheyenne were one of the most beautiful tribes. I’ve only written about them twice and each time I write about them, I’m struck by how beautiful a people they are. I’m Choctaw by blood and Blackfeet by adoption. And of course you’re entered into the contest. And if you don’t win — just ensure you check my blogs every two weeks, because I’ll be giving away books with each blog. With you, I would try to give away WAR CLOUD’S PASSION since it is about the Cheyenne.

  37. Oh Emma, what you said has really touched on my heart. Yes, when one says American, one really means Native American. I call the Civil War the War of Northern Aggression.

  38. Karen, thank you for sharing such important historical info with us… I love this blog, there is always something to learn about here… 😀

  39. Hi Karen Great post. BLACK EAGLE sounds wonderful.Have a great week.Please enter me in the contest.Thank you.

  40. Enjoyed reading your information on the Iroquois Confederacy. Being from the Southwest I tend to forget that there were many more Indian tribes in our country than those in my area.

  41. Hi Karen – that is a beautiful and sad post. The history is very interesting and if only peace could remain. It is certainly awful to have tribes against each other. Thanks for sharing today. Nice pictures too! Martha

  42. Another wonderful blog. It is nice to see the history of the Iroquois Confederacy brought to light. Peacemaker and Hiawatha were great men who did great things for their people. Unfortunately, divide and conquer has always been an effective strategy for defeating a nation. The Europeans did a very good job of it. What had stood for 5 centuries was destroyed in one.
    We head for Mohawk/Iroquois country in 2 1/2 weeks. I have my copy of Black Eagle packed. We will be covering some of the same territory on our trip visiting our relatives on the Mass./NH border, then heading across NH and VT to upstate NY. We’ll be taking our grandson and a visit to Ft. Ticonderoga is on the agenda. It figured prominently in the wars fought in that region during the 1700’s. We were lucky enough to be there last year when they had a Revolutionary War encampment and an evening cannon volley. They have done a wonderful job restoring it.
    Hope everyone has a great week.

  43. Hi Martha!

    Yes, it is indeed a beautiful history. I don’t find it sad as much as I think we should learn something from this. That is that those who mean you no good will use propaganda to separate you (divide and conquer) and that one must never give up.

    Another lesson is that by my consideration, our own history is tied to the Iroquois and in a sense, our own government came under the tree of the Iroquois — to be free. So in a strange sense, the Iroquois tradition married up with freedom, Greek style and continued on to this day. May tryanny never gain a foothold on America.

  44. Hi Patricia!

    Wow, I so envy you your trip. I lived in Vermont for 10 years — raised my children there — and so I have much affinity for that area of the country. Been to Ft. Ticonderoga also, but during a Revolutionary war enactment.

    Have Fun! 🙂

  45. It’s 7;30 pm here on the West Coast. In another couple of hours I’ll be selecting a winner — I put all the names of those who left a comment on slips of paper and have a drawing here — sometimes I draw the name and sometimes my husband does. So be sure to check back in a couple of hours.

  46. Karen,
    Just got your message…was gone….sorry I missed it…
    Got the postcards and delivered them to local bookstores…
    Take care and best of luck

  47. BTW… as for living in VT… I practically live there…I’m in Mass….15 minutes down from Brattleboro VT… I’m always there…shopping…lol

  48. I never realized that Indians had been pitted against one another so many times by different outsiders. I always considered the Indians to be more independent and not led by others.

  49. Thanks Karen for the info and in spite of what people say about coconut i’ve heard it’s very good for you and to cook with also, going to check out that site. What you said about drugs on your face makes alot of sense I tried a high dollar product line awhile back and i’m not kidding i added a wrinkle from using it. Be proud of yourself as much as you research things this does not surprise me not one bit that you’d find something that works : ) L/Y XO

  50. Hi Diana!

    You didn’t miss it — I haven’t done the drawing yet — just checking here before I do a drawing. Isn’t Vermont beautiful? I so love Vermont! When I used to walk in the woods there, I could always feel the presence of the Indians who were there before me.

    You’re entered in the contest, too!

  51. Hi Gladys!

    There were people there who were constantly trying to pit one tribe against another or to get them to fight the French or English for them. I call it a 3rd party. The English calling the French bad — come fight with us — or vise versa — come fight with us.

    Trade goods played a part in this, too.

  52. Hi Darlin’ Lori!

    Yeah, if I can’t eat it, it doesn’t go on my face. Whatever goes on your skin eventually finds its way into your body. So again, if I can’t eat it, it doesn’t go on my skin — and that goes for things that go on the skin for scrapes, etc.

    Try this site for coconut oil — for info an the best there is:
    or maybe its

    It’s one or the other of that.

    Have a wonderful evening!

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