That Amazing Iroquois Confederacy

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Let me start the blog today with a reminder that I will be giving away a free e-book of BLACK EAGLE today.  Yesterday (Monday) I gave away a free e-book and today I’ll continue in the same manner. I’ll be posting the winners for both days tomorrow — Wednesday — so please check back Wednesday evening for the winners for both days.  Remember that all rules apply for the drawing — contest is limited to the United States and you must be 18 to enter.  All you have to do to enter into the drawing is to leave a message.


Black Eagle has only recently been released.  It is the first book in the Iroquois Warrior series.  And in doing the research for this book, I came across some extraordinary information that I thought I’d share with you.  Most of this info was completely unknown to me when I started my research, and I was almost overwhelmed by the beauty of this discovery.

So let me share some of it with you.

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 many centuries old.

300px-hiawatha_departure1 This picture to the left, 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 by doing  this to end war forever.

They 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 to the left is of Grandfather George Randall, who is now 95 years old.  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.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the blog today and don’t forget to come on in and leave a comment, and enter into the drawing for a free e-book of BLACK EAGLE.


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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.
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32 thoughts on “That Amazing Iroquois Confederacy”

  1. That was…wow! The history is so beautiful and sad at the same time. Thank you so much for sharing your information with everyone! I’ve been fascinated by Native Americans since I was a young teen and found out that I have some Micmac in my own heritage. The cultures of each tribe is really something to learn about!

    • Hi Candy!

      It is a beautiful history, isn’t it? Okay, Micmac — that was East Coast, wasn’t it? Am not sure of the area of the country where they were — but it seems as though it were East Coast? Thanks for your comment.

  2. I also have been fascinated with the Native- American lore since I read Blood On The Feather By Melinda Elmore and your book Red Hawk’s Womam! Both books kept me spell-bound! Your post was very interesting and makes me want to read Black Eagle!

    • Hi Kimberly!

      I can understand. It really wasn’t until Michael Badnarik shoved my nose in the history of 1776 that I discovered the beauty of the Iroquois — and then I was fascinated.

  3. Thanks for sharing! Wars are horrible but brother against brother has to be the worst.

    I’ve heard of wampum but never knew what it was.

    I’m glad our forefathers followed the Iroquois Confederation when they made our country’s constitution.

    • Hi Laurie G!

      Yes, me, too. It was Benjamin Franklin’s influence that brought the wisdom of the Iroquois to light, and pushed to put certain principles into our own Constitution. Thomas Paine, also, studied the Iroquois — if I remember correctly, he lived with them for a bit.

  4. There’s really nothing new under the sun, is there? It’s easier to conquer someone once you make people want the new things you bring with you and pit neighbours against each other.

  5. Kay, another perfect post! I always love reading about the Iroquois Confederacy. Upon it our own Constitution was based..separated but united states. Thanks again for the great info. xoxo

  6. Hi Karen. Good interview. So you moved again. I had a new great-grandson on New Years Day. #19 Love your Indian books and would love to have another. hoping to win. have a great New Year and GOSD bless you. Maxie > mac262(at)me(dot)com <

    • Hi Maxie!

      Yes, we moved. But this is still the same move, because although I’ve been on the East Coast now for about 3 years, it’s taken my husband all this time to get his business all in order and to join me here, if that makes sense. Congratulations on great-grandson #19. Wow! You are blessed!

  7. I am glad you keep educating people on the Iroquois Confederacy. Since I grew up in that area, I am very familiar with it. However, it seems to be little more than a footnote in most history books not given credit for its importance. Not only did it give structure and maintain peace for so many years, but it is considered a resource for Thomas Jefferson when declaring our country’s independence and forming its constitution.

  8. Thanks so much, Patricia! That’s right — and Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine. I believe that it was Thomas Paine who went and lived with the Iroquois in order to learn about their form of government. : )

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