The Haudenosaunee have never had a government, anyone who tells you so does not understand what the word “govern” means and how our society truly operated before colonization began for us in the horrible 16th century.
We had something better than a government. There isn’t a proper English word for it but we were a giant web of relationship, family and connectivity. No one ruled over another because we did not subscribe to systems of hierarchy. We each had, and still have, our own personal autonomy, clan autonomy and national autonomy. Nothing was delegated and we represented ourselves with our own voice that was equal to everyone else’s no matter if you were young, old, disabled, or just plain weird.
It’s both funny and sad that our Canadian and American visitors still imagine us as barbaric savages because the truth actually contradicts most North American history books — our futuristic society was pretty much Utopian. Don’t believe the lies of a blood thirsty continent of cannibalism, war and death — that’s all revisionism by our colonial haters. They controlled the narrative for quite a long time.
Some historians labelled Haudenosaunee society as egalitarian but if you look at the definition for “anarchy” you may be surprised to learn that it doesn’t mean total chaos like we were led to believe. Anarchy means “without chiefs or rulers”. We needed no kings. It’s possible that we enjoyed thousands of years of peaceful anarchy, by governing ourselves according to our wampum and oral tradition.
That got all busted up when the Six Nations Reservation Number 40 got their first Chief in 1924, by way of a Mr. Hilton M. Hill. Before that we had thousands of years of Royanni/Hoyane representation. These ancient words translate to “good men”. Ackland Davey taught that these men were chosen by clan mothers as speakers for each of the 49 clan families (not kings or chiefs). Today many of those titles sit vacant because the families themselves have forgotten who they are. We must remind each other that our communal loss of identity is not our fault — we are victims of 150 years of abuse.
There is a national news story showing a First Nations Indian Chief wearing a Sioux War Bonnet as he signs paperwork sitting next to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The PM tweeted “At the AFN-Crown meeting in Ottawa this morning — building a true nation-to-nation relationship between Canada and First Nations.” I think the Chief-ruler was Perry Bellegarde or someone — it doesn’t matter, it’s another token Indian being manipulated under duress to perform.
The glaring error that is being noticed by the internet is this: The AFN isn’t a nation.
The AFN doesn’t have land, laws, culture or a language. How can they sign nation-to-nation agreements? The next huge problem is that Canada may not be a proper nation either. How does a corporation become a colony and then a full country built right on top of an existing one?
Because the Mohawks were the eastern most nation of the Confederacy our treaties were made in the 17th century with pre-colony settlers. These treaties weren’t for us back then, we gave them the guest pass so they wouldn’t be completely annihilated like the Vikings were. Later, we were divided from our western cousin nations who signed the “numbered treaties” with Canada much later in the 1800s.
According to their website the AFN is a national advocacy organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. We are in the big mess we are in today because there have always been token “Chief-rulers” that have been installed by Canada and called upon by Canada to sign documents. Certain indigenous loyalists would rather die than identify as a First Nation citizen of Canada.
The next thing to remember is that AFN isn’t your bro.
In early 2013, documents revealed that the AFN had been operating in conjunction with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to provide information and conduct surveillance on indigenous peoples the government didn’t like. People you know are probably on that “Mohawk terrorist” list. For the grassroots people who have been fighting colonization the AFN is an assembly of rats.
The Mohawk, Cayuga, Onondaga, Seneca, Oneida and Tuscarora are not First Nations of Canada — we are much older than that and there’s no need for new relationships when we already have one that is broken and in dire need of repair.