SIX NATIONS – For Iroquois Nations, getting themselves embroiled in wars not of their making didn’t necessarily mean these foreign conflicts were not of their concern. It was recognized soon after initial contact with explorers, adventurers and settlers that decisions made by the intruders were going to effect their lives as well, like it or not.
In both Canada and the U.S., there was an assumption that the American Indian population was something they could put all in one basket with one-size-fits-all policies and legislations arbitrarily made over them without the approval or even knowledge of the “Indians”.
In the early years of World War II, the Haudenosaunee in particular, stood up to this assumption, and in the U.S., refused to be forced to enlist for an army of a foreign state. The State Department didn’t know what to do about individual Iroquois enlisting on their own. Under whose flag would they fight? If they were not actually citizens of Canada or the U.S., how could they enlist without giving up their own sovereignty first?
The Confederacy had a simple solution.
On June 13, 1942, the Six Nations Confederacy, declared War on Germany. The next day, a spokesperson for the Confederacy read the following declaration on the steps of the United States Congress:
“We represent the oldest, though smallest, democracy in the world today. It is the unanimous sentiment among Indian people that the atrocities of the Axis nations are violently repulsive to all sense of righteousness of our people, and that this merciless slaughter of mankind can no longer be tolerated. Now we do resolve that it is the sentiment of this council that the Six Nations of Indians declare that a state of war exists between our Confederacy of Six Nations on the one part and Germany, Italy, Japan and their allies against whom the United States has declared war, on the other part.”
In this way, the Haudenosaunee entered World War II on its own consent and its own terms, but in fact, it was only a continuation of the declaration of War against Germany and the Axis powers that was made, for the same reasons, in 1918 during World War I.
The 1919 Peace Treaty that ending the war did not include the cessation of hostilities from the Confederacy. That declaration of war was never revoked and so, in 1942, it was more of a continuation of that earlier declaration that also included Italy and Japan.
Our research shows it wasn’t revoked after WWII either. Does that mean Six Nations is still at war with Germany?
But perhaps even more interesting today is a treaty, still on record, with Russia.
Angus Horn of Kahnawake was a spokesperson on the occasion, in 1942, when Joseph Stalin was reminded through a Russian envoy of their ancient alliance.
The original Russian Wampum goes back to 1710 when five chiefs met with Queen Anne in London along with 13 family monarchs in what is said to be the first ever, international peace conference on the law of the land of Turtle Island.
The Five Nations initiated this meeting of world leaders with wampum presented to each family. An envoy took the wampum and the message back with him to Russia’s Tsar Peter the Great Russia. That wampum is on display at the Moscow State Museum of Contemporary Political History.
Horn expressed gratitude to Stalin that Russia has never been a party to, what has been called the biggest holocaust in all humanity, when waves of European settler governments caused, endorsed, and encouraged an estimated 100-million Onkwehon:weh to be killed on orders of the Vatican through papal bulls issued in the 1400s.
What is called “the Doctrine of Discovery” as promoted in these bulls have remained in place ever since. They gave any Catholic or Catholic government, not only the right, but the “God given” duty to murder all “pagans” not willing to kneel-and-kiss-the-ring of the Pope, as it were.
The logic was, no people — no ownership, so once step number one is complete, you now have the “God given” right to “discover” this wilderness as real estate to be claimed and owned.
In 1942, a delegation of 11 Onkwehon:weh leaders visited the Vatican to officially ask the Pope to rescind three Papal Bulls of Discovery: Dum Divers of (1452), Romanus Pontifex (1455) and Inter Caetera (1493). The current Pope says the church is still seriously considering that request, but must be aware and conscious of the geo-political ramifications in the aftermath of such a wide sweeping, and historically entrenched decision. It is argued with cause, that the United States and Canada continue to use the papal bulls to dispossess and disempower Indigenous people today through the court system.