1. I am Dekanawidah and with the Five Nations' Confederate Lords I plant
the Tree of Great Peace. I plant it in your territory, Adodarhoh, and the
Onondaga Nation, in the territory of you who are Firekeepers.
I name the tree the Tree of the Great Long Leaves. Under the shade of this
Tree of the Great Peace we spread the soft white feathery down of the globe
thistle as seats for you, Adodarhoh, and your cousin Lords.
We place you upon those seats, spread soft with the feathery down of the
globe thistle, there beneath the shade of the spreading branches of the
Tree of Peace. There shall you sit and watch the Council Fire of the
Confederacy of the Five Nations, and all the affairs of the Five Nations
shall be transacted at this place before you, Adodarhoh, and your cousin
Lords, by the Confederate Lords of the Five Nations.
2. Roots have spread out from the Tree of the Great Peace, one to the
north, one to the east, one to the south and one to the west. The name of
these roots is The Great White Roots and their nature is Peace and
If any man or any nation outside the Five Nations shall obey the laws of
the Great Peace and make known their disposition to the Lords of the
Confederacy, they may trace the Roots to the Tree and if their minds are
clean and they are obedient and promise to obey the wishes of the
Confederate Council, they shall be welcomed to take shelter beneath the
Tree of the Long Leaves.
We place at the top of the Tree of the Long Leaves an Eagle who is able to
see afar. If he sees in the distance any evil approaching or any danger
threatening he will at once warn the people of the Confederacy.
3. To you Adodarhoh, the Onondaga cousin Lords, I and the other
Confederate Lords have entrusted the caretaking and the watching of the
Five Nations Council Fire.
When there is any business to be transacted and the Confederate Council is
not in session, a messenger shall be dispatched either to Adodarhoh,
Hononwirehtonh or Skanawatih, Fire Keepers, or to their War Chiefs with a
full statement of the case desired to be considered. Then shall Adodarhoh
call his cousin (associate) Lords together and consider whether or not the
case is of sufficient importance to demand the attention of the Confederate
Council. If so, Adodarhoh shall dispatch messengers to summon all the
Confederate Lords to assemble beneath the Tree of the Long Leaves.
When the Lords are assembled the Council Fire shall be kindled, but not
with chestnut wood, and Adodarhoh shall formally open the Council.
Then shall Adodarhoh and his cousin Lords, the Fire Keepers, announce the
subject for discussion.
The Smoke of the Confederate Council Fire shall ever ascend and pierce the
sky so that other nations who may be allies may see the Council Fire of the
Adodarhoh and his cousin Lords are entrusted with the Keeping of the
4. You, Adodarhoh, and your thirteen cousin Lords, shall faithfully keep
the space about the Council Fire clean and you shall allow neither dust nor
dirt to accumulate. I lay a Long Wing before you as a broom. As a weapon
against a crawling creature I lay a staff with you so that you may thrust
it away from the Council Fire. If you fail to cast it out then call the
rest of the United Lords to your aid.
5. The Council of the Mohawk shall be divided into three parties as
follows: Tekarihoken, Ayonhwhathah and Shadekariwade are the first party;
Sharenhowaneh, Deyoenhegwenh and Oghrenghrehgowah are the second party, and
Dehennakrineh, Aghstawenserenthah and Shoskoharowaneh are the third party.
The third party is to listen only to the discussion of the first and second
parties and if an error is made or the proceeding is irregular they are to
call attention to it, and when the case is right and properly decided by
the two parties they shall confirm the decision of the two parties and
refer the case to the Seneca Lords for their decision. When the Seneca
Lords have decided in accord with the Mohawk Lords, the case or question
shall be referred to the Cayuga and Oneida Lords on the opposite side of
6. I, Dekanawidah, appoint the Mohawk Lords the heads and the leaders of
the Five Nations Confederacy. The Mohawk Lords are the foundation of the
Great Peace and it shall, therefore, be against the Great Binding Law to
pass measures in the Confederate Council after the Mohawk Lords have
protested against them.
No council of the Confederate Lords shall be legal unless all the Mohawk
Lords are present.
7. Whenever the Confederate Lords shall assemble for the purpose of
holding a council, the Onondaga Lords shall open it by expressing their
gratitude to their cousin Lords and greeting them, and they shall make an
address and offer thanks to the earth where men dwell, to the streams of
water, the pools, the springs and the lakes, to the maize and the fruits,
to the medicinal herbs and trees, to the forest trees for their usefulness,
to the animals that serve as food and give their pelts for clothing, to the
great winds and the lesser winds, to the Thunderers, to the Sun, the mighty
warrior, to the moon, to the messengers of the Creator who reveal his
wishes and to the Great Creator who dwells in the heavens above, who gives
all the things useful to men, and who is the source and the ruler of health
Then shall the Onondaga Lords declare the council open. The council shall
not sit after darkness has set in.
8. The Firekeepers shall formally open and close all councils of the
Confederate Lords, and they shall pass upon all matters deliberated upon by
the two sides and render their decision.
Every Onondaga Lord (or his deputy) must be present at every Confederate
Council and must agree with the majority without unwarrantable dissent, so
that a unanimous decision may be rendered.
If Adodarhoh or any of his cousin Lords are absent from a Confederate
Council, any other Firekeeper may open and close the Council, but the
Firekeepers present may not give any decisions, unless the matter is of
9. All the business of the Five Nations Confederate Council shall be
conducted by the two combined bodies of Confederate Lords. First the
question shall be passed upon by the Mohawk and Seneca Lords, then it shall
be discussed and passed by the Oneida and Cayuga Lords. Their decisions
shall then be referred to the Onondaga Lords, (Fire Keepers) for final
The same process shall obtain when a question is brought before the council
by an individual or a War Chief.
10. In all cases the procedure must be as follows: when the Mohawk and
Seneca Lords have unanimously agreed upon a question, they shall report
their decision to the Cayuga and Oneida Lords who shall deliberate upon the
question and report a unanimous decision to the Mohawk Lords. The Mohawk
Lords will then report the standing of the case to the Firekeepers, who
shall render a decision as they see fit in case of a disagreement by the
two bodies, or confirm the decisions of the two bodies if they are
identical. The Fire Keepers shall then report their decision to the Mohawk
Lords who shall announce it to the open council.
11. If through any misunderstanding or obstinacy on the part of the Fire
Keepers, they render a decision at variance with that of the Two Sides, the
Two Sides shall reconsider the matter and if their decisions are jointly
the same as before they shall report to the Fire Keepers who are then
compelled to confirm their joint decision.
12. When a case comes before the Onondaga Lords (Fire Keepers) for
discussion and decsion, Adodarho shall introduce the matter to his comrade
Lords who shall then discuss it in their two bodies. Every Onondaga Lord
except Hononwiretonh shall deliberate and he shall listen only. When a
unanimous decision shall have been reached by the two bodies of Fire
Keepers, Adodarho shall notify Hononwiretonh of the fact when he shall
confirm it. He shall refuse to confirm a decision if it is not unanimously
agreed upon by both sides of the Fire Keepers.
13. No Lord shall ask a question of the body of Confederate Lords when
they are discussing a case, question or proposition. He may only
deliberate in a low tone with the separate body of which he is a member.
14. When the Council of the Five Nation Lords shall convene they shall
appoint a speaker for the day. He shall be a Lord of either the Mohawk,
Onondaga or Seneca Nation.
The next day the Council shall appoint another speaker, but the first
speaker may be reappointed if there is no objection, but a speaker's term
shall not be regarded more than for the day.
15. No individual or foreign nation interested in a case, question or
proposition shall have any voice in the Confederate Council except to
answer a question put to him or them by the speaker for the Lords.
16. If the conditions which shall arise at any future time call for an
addition to or change of this law, the case shall be carefully considered
and if a new beam seems necessary or beneficial, the proposed change shall
be voted upon and if adopted it shall be called, "Added to the Rafters".
17. A bunch of a certain number of shell (wampum) strings each two spans
in length shall be given to each of the female families in which the
Lordship titles are vested. The right of bestowing the title shall be
hereditary in the family of the females legally possessing the bunch of
shell strings and the strings shall be the token that the females of the
family have the proprietary right to the Lordship title for all time to
come, subject to certain restrictions hereinafter mentioned.
18. If any Confederate Lord neglects or refuses to attend the Confederate
Council, the other Lords of the Nation of which he is a member shall
require their War Chief to request the female sponsors of the Lord so
guilty of defection to demand his attendance of the Council. If he
refuses, the women holding the title shall immediately select another
candidate for the title.
No Lord shall be asked more than once to attend the Confederate Council.
19. If at any time it shall be manifest that a Confederate Lord has not in
mind the welfare of the people or disobeys the rules of this Great Law, the
men or women of the Confederacy, or both jointly, shall come to the Council
and upbraid the erring Lord through his War Chief. If the complaint of the
people through the War Chief is not heeded the first time it shall be
uttered again and then if no attention is given a third complaint and
warning shall be given. If the Lord is contumacious the matter shall go to
the council of War Chiefs. The War Chiefs shall then divest the erring
Lord of his title by order of the women in whom the titleship is vested.
When the Lord is deposed the women shall notify the Confederate Lords
through their War Chief, and the Confederate Lords shall sanction the act.
The women will then select another of their sons as a candidate and the
Lords shall elect him. Then shall the chosen one be installed by the
Installation Ceremony. When a Lord is to be deposed, his War Chief shall
address him as follows:
"So you, __________, disregard and set at naught the warnings of your women
relatives. So you fling the warnings over your shoulder to cast them
"Behold the brightness of the Sun and in the brightness of the Sun's light
I depose you of your title and remove the sacred emblem of your Lordship
title. I remove from your brow the deer's antlers, which was the emblem of
your position and token of your nobility. I now depose you and return the
antlers to the women whose heritage they are."
The War Chief shall now address the women of the deposed Lord and say:
"Mothers, as I have now deposed your Lord, I now return to you the emblem
and the title of Lordship, therefore repossess them."
Again addressing himself to the deposed Lord he shall say:
"As I have now deposed and discharged you so you are now no longer Lord.
You shall now go your way alone, the rest of the people of the Confederacy
will not go with you, for we know not the kind of mind that possesses you.
As the Creator has nothing to do with wrong so he will not come to rescue
you from the precipice of destruction in which you have cast yourself. You
shall never be restored to the position which you once occupied."
Then shall the War Chief address himself to the Lords of the Nation to
which the deposed Lord belongs and say:
"Know you, my Lords, that I have taken the deer's antlers from the brow of
___________, the emblem of his position and token of his greatness."
The Lords of the Confederacy shall then have no other alternative than to
sanction the discharge of the offending Lord.
20. If a Lord of the Confederacy of the Five Nations should commit murder
the other Lords of the Nation shall assemble at the place where the corpse
lies and prepare to depose the criminal Lord. If it is impossible to meet
at the scene of the crime the Lords shall discuss the matter at the next
Council of their Nation and request their War Chief to depose the Lord
guilty of crime, to "bury" his women relatives and to transfer the Lordship
title to a sister family.
The War Chief shall address the Lord guilty of murder and say:
"So you, __________ (giving his name) did kill __________ (naming the slain
man), with your own hands! You have committed a grave sin in the eyes of
the Creator. Behold the bright light of the Sun, and in the brightness of
the Sun's light I depose you of your title and remove the horns, the sacred
emblems of your Lordship title. I remove from your brow the deer's
antlers, which was the emblem of your position and token of your nobility.
I now depose you and expel you and you shall depart at once from the
territory of the Five Nations Confederacy and nevermore return again. We,
the Five Nations Confederacy, moreover, bury your women relatives because
the ancient Lordship title was never intended to have any union with
bloodshed. Henceforth it shall not be their heritage. By the evil deed
that you have done they have forfeited it forever.."
The War Chief shall then hand the title to a sister family and he shall
address it and say:
"Our mothers, ____________, listen attentively while I address you on a
solemn and important subject. I hereby transfer to you an ancient Lordship
title for a great calamity has befallen it in the hands of the family of a
former Lord. We trust that you, our mothers, will always guard it, and
that you will warn your Lord always to be dutiful and to advise his people
to ever live in love, peace and harmony that a great calamity may never
21. Certain physical defects in a Confederate Lord make him ineligible to
sit in the Confederate Council. Such defects are infancy, idiocy,
blindness, deafness, dumbness and impotency. When a Confederate Lord is
restricted by any of these condition, a deputy shall be appointed by his
sponsors to act for him, but in case of extreme necessity the restricted
Lord may exercise his rights.
22. If a Confederate Lord desires to resign his title he shall notify the
Lords of the Nation of which he is a member of his intention. If his
coactive Lords refuse to accept his resignation he may not resign his
A Lord in proposing to resign may recommend any proper candidate which
recommendation shall be received by the Lords, but unless confirmed and
nominated by the women who hold the title the candidate so named shall not
23. Any Lord of the Five Nations Confederacy may construct shell strings
(or wampum belts) of any size or length as pledges or records of matters of
national or international importance.
When it is necessary to dispatch a shell string by a War Chief or other
messenger as the token of a summons, the messenger shall recite the
contents of the string to the party to whom it is sent. That party shall
repeat the message and return the shell string and if there has been a
sumons he shall make ready for the journey.
Any of the people of the Five Nations may use shells (or wampum) as the
record of a pledge, contract or an agreement entered into and the same
shall be binding as soon as shell strings shall have been exchanged by both
24. The Lords of the Confederacy of the Five Nations shall be mentors of
the people for all time. The thickness of their skin shall be seven spans
-- which is to say that they shall be proof against anger, offensive
actions and criticism. Their hearts shall be full of peace and good will
and their minds filled with a yearning for the welfare of the people of the
Confederacy. With endless patience they shall carry out their duty and
their firmness shall be tempered with a tenderness for their people.
Neither anger nor fury shall find lodgement in their minds and all their
words and actions shall be marked by calm deliberation.
25. If a Lord of the Confederacy should seek to establish any authority
independent of the jurisdiction of the Confederacy of the Great Peace,
which is the Five Nations, he shall be warned three times in open council,
first by the women relatives, second by the men relatives and finally by
the Lords of the Confederacy of the Nation to which he belongs. If the
offending Lord is still obdurate he shall be dismissed by the War Chief of
his nation for refusing to conform to the laws of the Great Peace. His
nation shall then install the candidate nominated by the female name
holders of his family.
26. It shall be the duty of all of the Five Nations Confederate Lords,
from time to time as occasion demands, to act as mentors and spiritual
guides of their people and remind them of their Creator's will and words.
They shall say:
"Hearken, that peace may continue unto future days!
"Always listen to the words of the Great Creator, for he has spoken.
"United people, let not evil find lodging in your minds.
"For the Great Creator has spoken and the cause of Peace shall not become
"The cause of peace shall not die if you remember the Great Creator."
Every Confederate Lord shall speak words such as these to promote peace.
27. All Lords of the Five Nations Confederacy must be honest in all
things. They must not idle or gossip, but be men possessing those
honorable qualities that make true royaneh. It shall be a serious wrong
for anyone to lead a Lord into trivial affairs, for the people must ever
hold their Lords high in estimation out of respect to their honorable
28. When a candidate Lord is to be installed he shall furnish four strings
of shells (or wampum) one span in length bound together at one end. Such
will constitute the evidence of his pledge to the Confederate Lords that he
will live according to the constitution of the Great Peace and exercise
justice in all affairs.
When the pledge is furnished the Speaker of the Council must hold the shell
strings in his hand and address the opposite side of the Council Fire and
he shall commence his address saying: "Now behold him. He has now become a
Confederate Lord. See how splendid he looks." An address may then follow.
At the end of it he shall send the bunch of shell strings to the opposite
side and they shall be received as evidence of the pledge. Then shall the
opposite side say:
"We now do crown you with the sacred emblem of the deer's antlers, the
emblem of your Lordship. You shall now become a mentor of the people of
the Five Nations. The thickness of your skin shall be seven spans -- which
is to say that you shall be proof against anger, offensive actions and
criticism. Your heart shall be filled with peace and good will and your
mind filled with a yearning for the welfare of the people of the
Confederacy. With endless patience you shall carry out your duty and your
firmness shall be tempered with tenderness for your people. Neither anger
nor fury shall find lodgement in your mind and all your words and actions
shall be marked with calm deliberation. In all of your deliberations in
the Confederate Council, in your efforts at law making, in all your
official acts, self interest shall be cast into oblivion. Cast not over
your shoulder behind you the warnings of the nephews and nieces should they
chide you for any error or wrong you may do, but return to the way of the
Great Law which is just and right. Look and listen for the welfare of the
whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the
coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of
the ground -- the unborn of the future Nation."
29. When a Lordship title is to be conferred, the candidate Lord shall
furnish the cooked venison, the corn bread and the corn soup, together with
other necessary things and the labor for the Conferring of Titles Festival.
30. The Lords of the Confederacy may confer the Lordship title upon a
candidate whenever the Great Law is recited, if there be a candidate, for
the Great Law speaks all the rules.
31. If a Lord of the Confederacy should become seriously ill and be
thought near death, the women who are heirs of his title shall go to his
house and lift his crown of deer antlers, the emblem of his Lordship, and
place them at one side. If the Creator spares him and he rises from his
bed of sickness he may rise with the antlers on his brow.
The following words shall be used to temporarily remove the antlers:
"Now our comrade Lord (or our relative Lord) the time has come when we must
approach you in your illness. We remove for a time the deer's antlers from
your brow, we remove the emblem of your Lordship title. The Great Law has
decreed that no Lord should end his life with the antlers on his brow. We
therefore lay them aside in the room. If the Creator spares you and you
recover from your illness you shall rise from your bed with the antlers on
your brow as before and you shall resume your duties as Lord of the
Confederacy and you may labor again for the Confederate people."
32. If a Lord of the Confederacy should die while the Council of the Five
Nations is in session the Council shall adjourn for ten days. No
Confederate Council shall sit within ten days of the death of a Lord of the
If the Three Brothers (the Mohawk, the Onondaga and the Seneca) should lose
one of their Lords by death, the Younger Brothers (the Oneida and the
Cayuga) shall come to the surviving Lords of the Three Brothers on the
tenth day and console them. If the Younger Brothers lose one of their
Lords then the Three Brothers shall come to them and console them. And the
consolation shall be the reading of the contents of the thirteen shell
(wampum) strings of Ayonhwhathah. At the termination of this rite a
successor shall be appointed, to be appointed by the women heirs of the
Lordship title. If the women are not yet ready to place their nominee
before the Lords the Speaker shall say, "Come let us go out." All shall
leave the Council or the place of gathering. The installation shall then
wait until such a time as the women are ready. The Speaker shall lead the
way from the house by saying, "Let us depart to the edge of the woods and
lie in waiting on our bellies."
When the women title holders shall have chosen one of their sons the
Confederate Lords will assemble in two places, the Younger Brothers in one
place and the Three Older Brothers in another. The Lords who are to
console the mourning Lords shall choose one of their number to sing the
Pacification Hymn as they journey to the sorrowing Lords. The singer shall
lead the way and the Lords and the people shall follow. When they reach the
sorrowing Lords they shall hail the candidate Lord and perform the rite of
Conferring the Lordship Title.
33. When a Confederate Lord dies, the surviving relatives shall
immediately dispatch a messenger, a member of another clan, to the Lords in
another locality. When the runner comes within hailing distance of the
locality he shall utter a sad wail, thus: "Kwa-ah, Kwa-ah, Kwa-ah!" The
sound shall be repeated three times and then again and again at intervals
as many times as the distance may require. When the runner arrives at the
settlement the people shall assemble and one must ask him the nature of his
sad message. He shall then say, "Let us consider." Then he shall tell them
of the death of the Lord. He shall deliver to them a string of shells
(wampum) and say "Here is the testimony, you have heard the message." He
may then return home.
It now becomes the duty of the Lords of the locality to send runners to
other localities and each locality shall send other messengers until all
Lords are notified. Runners shall travel day and night.
34. If a Lord dies and there is no candidate qualified for the office in
the family of the women title holders, the Lords of the Nation shall give
the title into the hands of a sister family in the clan until such a time
as the original family produces a candidate, when the title shall be
No Lordship title may be carried into the grave. The Lords of the
Confederacy may dispossess a dead Lord of his title even at the grave.
35. Should any man of the Nation assist with special ability or show great
interest in the affairs of the Nation, if he proves himself wise, honest
and worthy of confidence, the Confederate Lords may elect him to a seat
with them and he may sit in the Confederate Council. He shall be
proclaimed a 'Pine Tree sprung up for the Nation' and shall be installed as
such at the next assembly for the installation of Lords. Should he ever do
anything contrary to the rules of the Great Peace, he may not be deposed
from office -- no one shall cut him down -- but thereafter everyone shall
be deaf to his voice and his advice. Should he resign his seat and title
no one shall prevent him. A Pine Tree chief has no authority to name a
successor nor is his title hereditary.
36. The title names of the Chief Confederate Lords' War Chiefs shall be:
Ayonwaehs, War Chief under Lord Takarihoken (Mohawk)
Kahonwahdironh, War Chief under Lord Odatshedeh (Oneida)
Ayendes, War Chief under Lord Adodarhoh (Onondaga)
Wenenhs, War Chief under Lord Dekaenyonh (Cayuga)
Shoneradowaneh, War Chief under Lord Skanyadariyo (Seneca)
The women heirs of each head Lord's title shall be the heirs of the War
Chief's title of their respective Lord.
The War Chiefs shall be selected from the eligible sons of the female
families holding the head Lordship titles.
37. There shall be one War Chief for each Nation and their duties shall be
to carry messages for their Lords and to take up the arms of war in case of
emergency. They shall not participate in the proceedings of the
Confederate Council but shall watch its progress and in case of an
erroneous action by a Lord they shall receive the complaints of the people
and convey the warnings of the women to him. The people who wish to convey
messages to the Lords in the Confederate Council shall do so through the
War Chief of their Nation. It shall ever be his duty to lay the cases,
questions and propositions of the people before the Confederate Council.
38. When a War Chief dies another shall be installed by the same rite as
that by which a Lord is installed.
39. If a War Chief acts contrary to instructions or against the provisions
of the Laws of the Great Peace, doing so in the capacity of his office, he
shall be deposed by his women relatives and by his men relatives. Either
the women or the men alone or jointly may act in such a case. The women
title holders shall then choose another candidate.
40. When the Lords of the Confederacy take occasion to dispatch a
messenger in behalf of the Confederate Council, they shall wrap up any
matter they may send and instruct the messenger to remember his errand, to
turn not aside but to proceed faithfully to his destination and deliver his
message according to every instruction.
41. If a message borne by a runner is the warning of an invasion he shall
whoop, "Kwa-ah, Kwa-ah," twice and repeat at short intervals; then again at
a longer interval.
If a human being is found dead, the finder shall not touch the body but
return home immediately shouting at short intervals, "Koo-weh!
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