The Iroquois confederation, also called the League of Nation was a confederation of five Nations. These Nations of Iroquois were the Mohawks, the Oneidas, the Onondagas, the Cayugas and the Senecas). A sixth Nation (the Tuscaroras) joined the confederation in the early eighteenth century. They occupied a belt of country extending across the present State of New York from the Hudson River to Lake Erie. We do not know exactly at what date the League had been formed. A wide range of estimates exist, the scholars have different opinions concerning the date of the foundation. Iroquoian sources fixed it at between 1000 A.D and 1400 A.D. But most of the historians prefer to place the origin of the Iroquois League at about 1450 A.D. When the first Europeans arrived, they met a strong, well organized Iroquois League. Iroquois confederation was powerful and controlled both Hudson-Mohawk and St. Lawrence valleys, and controlled access to the Great Lakes. They had a strategic position on passages into North America gave. They played a major role in North American history. But the thing that caught the eyes of the first Europeans and of all the people who met them was their political system, their government.
[...] If the great Law provided the rules for the government of the Iroquois there was not specialized instruments or institutions in charge of the application of the law and of the control of the people. In these conditions we can wonder how Iroquoian society could be governed. Instead of it the Iroquois governed behaviour by instilling a sense of pride and connectedness to the group through common rituals. It should assure tribal loyalty. The Iroquois did not have the same conception as we have of authority. [...]
[...] The origin of the League of the Iroquois: the establishment of the Great Law of Peace In order to understand the essence of the government of the Iroquois Confederation, it is necessary to come back to the formation of the Iroquois League and the establishment of its constitution, the Great Law of Peace. Obviously the story of the creation of this constitution is rich in legends and allegories. As Iroquoian society did not use to record history in books, the, the origin of the League is obscure. [...]
[...] In many fields the Iroquois system of government was far more egalitarian and democratic than European nations in those times. It also had the characteristics of tribal societies. It was a kinship state based on a chieftain and clan system. As a result there was a strong link between the social structure and the political system. II. Social structure and political organization . In this kind of society in which there was not a real differentiation between those in powers and the people and in which a specialized administration did not exist, it is necessary to study the social basis and its link with the government. [...]
[...] The government of the confederation was an oligarchy at the beginning because it was the government of the few. But soon a new kind of chief appeared and their power increased during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and they became equal to the sachems. They were called the pine-tree chiefs. They were elected because of their special abilities and no because of a title hold by a family as it is the case for the sachems. There was also a war chief for each nation represented in the grand Council. [...]
[...] The government of the League: components and functioning The Council of the League (the Grand Council) was the ruling body, in which resided the executive, legislative and judicial authority. It was the masterpiece of the political system and the place of the political life of the League. The ruling class which sat at the council was composed of different kind of chiefs. A. The Grand Council The political system of the League of the nations was a confederation. For all purposes of a local and domestic, and many of a political character, the nations were entirely independent of each other. [...]
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