Dekanawida — Great Peacemaker

 

Circa 1100  — 1500

 

As a sign of respect for his personal name, the co-founder of the Iroquois Confederacy is referred to simply as Great Peacemaker. He is accordingly credited with authoring The Great Law of Peace, a verbal constitution which established a lasting peace between Iroquois nations. In it, Great Peacemaker outlines early processes for referendum votes, a liberal immigration process, and conflict resolution among much more.

 

Essential Reading

 

The Great Law of Peace

 

Essential Thoughts

 

I, Dekanawida, and the Union Lords, now uproot the tallest pine tree and into the cavity thereby made we cast all weapons of war. Into the depths of the earth, down into the deep underearth currents of water flowing to unknown regions we cast all the weapons of strife. We bury them from sight and we plant again the tree. Thus shall the Great Peace be established and hostilities shall no longer be known between the Five Nations but peace to the United People.

 

When all the terms of peace shall have been agreed upon, a state of friendship shall be established.

 

When a member of an alien nation comes to the territory of the League and seeks refuge and permanent residence, the Statesman of the Nation to which he comes shall extend hospitality and make him a member of the Nation. Then he shall be accorded equal rights and privileges in all matters except as mentioned here.

 

When the Ripe Corn Thanksgiving is celebrated, the chiefs of the Nation must give it the same attention as they give to the Midwinter Thanksgiving.

 

Whenever an especially important matter or a great emergency is presented before League Council and the nature of the matter effects the entire body of Five Nations, threatening their utter ruin, then the chiefs of the League must submit the matter to the decision of their people and the decision of the people shall affect the decision of the League Council. This decision shall be a confirmation of the voice of the people.

 

— The Great Law of Peace