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The government of the Iroquois

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  1. Introduction.
  2. The Great Law of Peace.
    1. The origin of the League of the Iroquois: The establishment of the Great Law of Peace.
    2. The principles of the government.
  3. Social structure and political organization.
    1. Social basis.
    2. Social control and government.
  4. The government of the League: Components and functioning.
    1. The Grand Council.
    2. The ruling class.
  5. Conclusion.
  6. Bibliography.

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. [...]


[...] Indeed as we knew it, the two founding fathers of the League of Iroquois built the confederation by eliminating the government of Tadodaho based on intimidation and fear. In response to it they established a checks and balances system. Thus each nation had an equal voice in the General Council or and each possessed a sort of veto. A consensus had to be found. This system kept one nation from seeking to dominate others and helped to insure that consensus would arise from decision of the council and save unity. [...]

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