BIRTH OF A NATION - RELATIONS WITH OUR BROTHERS: 1613 to Today
HISTORY- Birth of a Nation
Over a thousand years ago on the shores of Onondaga Lake, in present day
central New York, democracy was born.
The Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, and the Mohawk people
had been warring against each other and there was great bloodshed. These
people (the 5 nations) had forgotten their ways and their actions saddened
the Creator. The Creator sent a messenger to the people so that the five
nations could live in peace. The messenger is referred to as the Peacemaker.
The Peacemaker carried the powerful words of peace to the five nations.
The Peacemaker traveled in a stone canoe to show to
these troubled people that his words are true. In order for the Creator's
message to spread, the Peacemaker sought out the warring leaders of the
people of the five nations. In searching for these people, the Peacemaker
came upon a woman. This woman had no alliances but did provide shelter
and food for the men as they passed to war upon each other. The Peacemaker
told her about the message and that her actions were also saddening the
Creator. After listening to the message she agreed to follow the message.
The Peacemaker set aside a special duty for the women of the five nations (Clan
Mother). The Peacemaker then traveled to all of the nations
spreading his words of peace.
One of the most feared men of the five nations was an Onondaga man named Tadadaho. Tadadaho
was said to be so evil that his body was twisted and snakes grew from
his head.The Peacemaker's message had begun to spread and was changing
the minds of the people. One of the people who had accepted the good
words of the Creator and decided to help the Peacemaker was Haionwhatha
(Hiawatha). Tadadaho was determined to stop this message of
peace. So determined that he killed Hiawatha's daughters. Grief stricken,
Hiawatha was no longer able to spread the Creator's words with the Peacemaker.
While grieving, Hiawatha found words that would help console others who
lost loved ones. He devised a method to remember these words by stringing
purple and white fresh water clamshells together on strings. Hence the
first wampum was made.
Once Hiawatha's mind was clear; he and the Peacemaker were able to confront
Tadadaho again. The message of peace was unstoppable. This time they
had the support of 49 other leaders from all of the five nations. It
is at this point when they "combed the snakes" from
Tadadaho's hair and he accepted Creator's message and became the 50th
chief. They symbolized this union of peace by uprooting a great white
pine tree and threw their weapons of war into the hole and a
mighty stream washed away their weapons of war. They replanted the tree
and the Peacemaker placed an eagle on top to warn the Haudenosaunee
(People of the Longhouse) of any dangers to this great peace.
The Hiawatha wampum belt was made to record the event of the Five nations
joining together in peace. Each nation is represented with the Onondagas
symbolized in the great white Tree of Peace.
After the tree was replanted, the Peacemaker stated
the following words:
the shade of this Tree of Peace ... there shall you sit and watch the
Fire of the League if Five Nations. Roots have spread out from the Tree
of Great Peace ... These are the Great White Roots, and their nature
is Peace and Strength. If any man or any nation shall obey the Laws of
Peace ... they may trace back the roots of the Tree ... They shall be
welcomed to take shelter beneath the Great Evergreen Tree.
The Peacemaker had spread the words of the Creator, this has been forever
known as the the Great Law. The Peacemaker also showed
the new Haudenosaunee people how to continue this process after a leader
has fallen. He bestowed the power to select the leaders to the women,
namely the Clan Mother. It is the responsibility of the women to look
over her people to see who would make a good leader. Together the Chief
and the Clan Mother work together for the people. The titles of these
first 50 chiefs have been preserved by the Clan Mother
as she is responsible for ensuring that the title continues to be used
wisely. This process of selecting chiefs has continued at Onondaga for
countless centuries and still continues today.
Read more History -
RELATIONS WITH OUR BROTHERS: 1613 to Today