The Six Nations
Gayanashagowa or the Great Law of Peace of the Iroquois (or Haudenosaunee) Six Nations (Oneida, Mohawk, Cayuga, Onondaga, the Seneca and Tuscarora) is the oral constitution whereby the Iroquois Confederacy was bound together.
- Mohawk (Kanienkahagen) – The People of the Flint
- Oneida (Onayotekaono) – The People of the Upright Stone
- Onondaga (Onundagaono) – The People of the Hills
- Cayuga (Guyohkohnyoh) – The People of the Great Swamp
- Seneca (Onondowahgah)– The People of the Great Hill
- Tuscarora (Ska-Ruh-Reh) – The Shirt Wearing People
Tree of Peace
The Tree of Peace is a symbol of peace in the Iroquois culture. The Tree of Peace is an important symbol of peace in Iroquois tradition and in the historical record of diplomacy between the Iroquois and Westerners. Weapons would be buried under a tree to seal a peace agreement.
After his family is killed in a raid by the dreaded Onodaga chief, Tadodaho, Hiawatha retreats in bereft solitude. A man in a glowing white stone canoe approaches. Stuttering softly, he shares his message of peace and reconciliation with Hiawatha, asking him to help carry and amplify this message during visits to warring tribes. The pair travels in succession to the Mohawk, Cayuga, Seneca, Oneida, and Onondaga tribes. With difficulty, they overcome resistance, laying groundwork for what would become, by 1722, the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy. Hiawatha’s first-person narration reveals his own transformation, from grief-stricken vengeance to self-forgiveness, from hatred to joy. Tadodaho, disfigured by evil, is depicted as a scaly wretch, snakes entwined in his hair. Hiawatha prepares a curative medicine for him and his recovery and eventual transmogrification as an eagle.
The Author: Canadian Singer Robbie Robertson