A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE SIX NATIONS OF THE GRAND RIVER
Did you know the only place in North America where all Haudenosaunee nations live together is Six Nations of the Grand River territory?
Our traditional system of rule, The Haudenosaunee Confederacy, is comprised of six member nations including the Onondaga, Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Seneca, and Tuscarora.
Haudenosaunee translates literally to “They Build Houses.” Up to 20 of our families, all related through the women, lived in enormous structures called “Longhouses”— forming cities in the middle of huge swaths of wilderness.
Today, about 12,000 people live on Six Nations territory, while 80,000 Haudenosaunee live on reserves throughout North America.
The Haudenousanee Confederacy is known also as the Iroquois League. The alliance formed during ancient times by a man known now as The Peacemaker.
With a powerful mind and a superhuman ability to positively influence people, The Peacemaker brought peace to the Haudenosaunee by changing minds, subverting constant war and chaos, and uniting us in a spiritual-political system: The Great Law.
The Great Law system organizes families into clans, with clan-identify passed down through the mother. We were and still are matrilineal. Each clan family has a chief and clan-mother, whose responsibilities including taking care of the law, and serving the people.
Chiefs pass titles down to successors who are chosen by Clan-mothers. Clans include three animals from the water, the land, and the sky. They are turtle, eel, and beaver; bear, wolf, and deer; and heron, hawk, and snipe.
The Great Law emphasizes care, living life with a good mind and good intentions, abiding by the laws of nature, and individual freedom through the wellbeing of whole communities.