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The Constitution of the Five Nations
The US Constitution was modeled after an Indigenous constitution, created long before Columbus set foot on American soil.
Long before Columbus set foot on
American soil, five Iroquoian-speaking nations formed an alliance. This union,
now called the Iroquois League, originally consisted of the Cayuga, Mohawk,
Oneida, Onondaga, and Seneca Nations. The Five Nations Confederation called
themselves the "People of the Longhouse." The exact date of this
alliance is unknown, but most historians agree it occurred in the early 16th
The Five Nations Confederation developed a constitution to govern their coalition, and it was called the Constitution of the Five Nations. When the Tuscarora joined the league in the early 18th century, the confederation became known as the Six Nations.
According to Iroquois tradition, the Confederacy of the Five Nations was founded by Deganawidah, a spiritual leader, who persuaded the Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, and Seneca Nations to cease intertribal warfare and to unite. Hiawatha, Deganawidah's spokesman, traveled among the five tribes preaching unification. Under his influence, the tribes eventually formed a strong alliance that lasted until the American Revolution.
The Constitution of the Five Nations is a poetic democracy. The agreement was designed both to unite its members and to protect and maintain the freedom of individual tribal members. In many ways the Five Nations Constitution is very similar to the US Constitution. In fact, some historians claim that this democratic law served as a model for the United States Constitution.
In 1979, Donald A. Grinde collected written evidence about Iroquoian interchange with European Americans and published his findings in a book titled The Iroquois and the Founding of the American Nation. Grinde emphasizes the interaction of Franklin and Jefferson with the Iroquois, and urges a more in-depth look at how the Iroquois influenced the Articles of the Constitution.
• The Five Nations Constitution
• Leaders and Warriors
• Democracy in America - Alexis de Tocqueville
• The Influence of the Great Law of Peace On The United States Constitution
• The Six Nations: Oldest Living Participatory Democracy on Earth
• Iroquois History and the Constitution
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