The League of Five Nations, also known as the Six Nations Confederacy of Grand River is an ancient and authentic government installed by the Great Peacemaker ages ago. Although it has deteriorated due to the ever present attack by colonialism over the last three centuries we should all be proud it still exists.
By all accounts the Haudenosaunee were quite healthy, populous and peaceful in 1612 as Dutch explorers wandered in from New Amsterdam which was established at the southern tip of Manhattan. The Confederacy was strong then.
Over 150 years later the treasonous colonists betrayed their King and fought a war of Independence with England. Although the Confederacy tried to stay neutral, the Council Fire was split with some following Joseph Brant to Upper Canada and some staying in the Haudenosaunee finger lake homelands.
According to Chief Jake Thomas, a revision of the Great Law took place after the death of the prophet Handsome Lake. His nephew started preaching the Code (Gaihwi:yo) and by 1850 it started to gain prominence amongst certain Confederacy people. Some historians say this evolution was a survival mechanism.
In modern times Confederacy Chiefs, the Hodiyaneso, meet once a month at the Onondaga Longhouse on Six Nations in a continuation of successive governance. Starting at 10am every first Saturday of the month the Chiefs use the ancient system of consensus given by the Peacemaker.
Last Saturday July 4th 2015, something different happened. A tobacco ceremony was put through for Ganigohiyo, the Good Mind, because the previous council ended badly. It was insinuated by some that Chief Sam General of the Cayuga Wolf and Chief Arnie General’s stand-in Steve Hill of the Onondaga Beavers didn’t have a Good Mind because they asked questions – and a ceremony was needed to get them in line.
Does having a Good Mind mean agreeing with everything?
The problem with that reasoning is the Onondaga and Cayuga Chiefs spoke calmly and respectfully during May’s Council meeting. Although they did not agree with the Elder Brothers bench, they maintained their integrity. However it is true that two unruly Mohawk members, Brian Doolittle and Lynda Powless, could be heard shouting accusations across the council floor during the disagreement.
In this situation both sides of this Tobacco Law matter, all feel they are doing what is best for the unborn faces; the coming generations. That is a true stalemate. Hundreds of years ago our great orators would speak for hours using the Ganigohiyo – Logic, Reason, and Common Sense. An elder once said that thinking with Ganigohiyo is thinking like the Creator would think – Impartial, Objective and with Good Intent.
As it stands now our people are still picking up the pieces of our once great society and we still aren’t sure how to adapt our ancient model with modern capitalism. Taking a step back and realizing that we shouldn’t be enemies, we buried our weapons of war, is perhaps a positive next step. What a tragedy it would be if everything fell apart now after making it through so much struggle, pain and loss.