"The word "Iroquois" cames from the Algonquian word "Iriakoiw," which means "red adders." This most likely is how the Algonquians saw the Iroquois, since they often were their enemy. The French made it into "Iroquois", but we call ourselves "Hodenosaunee" or "People of the Longhouses." by Margaret Odrowaz-Sypniewska ...more

Six-Nations of the Grand River Reserve

Source: Six Nations of the Grand River Historical Summary, Indigenous Studies Program, McMaster University

The people who are from this reserve are called the Six Nations in English, or the Iroquois in French. The Six Nations was originally made up of five powerful Indian tribes or Nations: the Mohawk, Onondaga, Seneca, Cayuga and Oneida. These five groups founded The League of Peace or Iroquois Confederacy , which governed with a council of fifty chiefs elected by female elders from each Nation. This system of government was one of the earliest forms of democracy. Its organizational structure was used later as the basis of the United States government and the United Nations. In 1712, the Tuscarora Nation joined the Five Nations. more

The Constitution of the Iroquois Nations

The Great Binding Law


1. I am Dekanawidah and with the Five Nations' Confederate
Lords I plant the Tree of Great Peace. I plant it in your
territory, Adodarhoh, and the Onondaga Nation, in the territory
of you who are Firekeepers. ...more

Iroquois Confederacy and the US Constitution was developed, designed, and produced by:
Micki M. Caskey, Ph.D., Theresa J. Rapida, Ph.D., and Mark Wubbold.

This project was funded by generous grants from Portland State University's Faculty Enhancement Fund and the Mark O. Hatfield Public Service Grant Program

This curricular unit looks at the influence one Native American culture had on the "Founding Fathers" ideas about democracy, governmental structures, the rights of the individual and the public good. Using primary sources, students will compare and contrast the differences between Native American and European cultures and how this affected governance. This will lead to a systematic comparison of the Iroquois Confederacy's Great Law of Peace and the US Constitution. ...more