Votes • There were groups inside the League that acted a great like today's political parties. The war-like Mohawk and Oneida often teamed up in the debates. The peaceful Seneca and Cayuga speakers would team up to oppose them. The peace loving Onondaga held 14 seats in the council. That was a lot of seats. The Onondaga were able to keep peace simply by having more seats in the council. • Although each member's vote carried the same weight, there was a pecking order. The Mohawk, Onondaga, and Seneca were addressed as "elder brothers" and the Oneida, Cayuga, and Tuscarora were addressed as "younger brothers".
Who were the Haudenosaunee? • The most powerful group was the Haudenosaunee Nations - the Seneca, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, and Cayuga. Much later in their history, these five nations were joined by the Tuscarora Nation, bringing the League to a total of six The Haudenosaunee spoke the same language. They believed in the same gods. They had many similar customs. They were Haudenosaunee people.
Marriage/Family Life The husband had no real authority over his wife. Marriage was by mutual consent. The women of each clan owned the longhouse. When a man married, he moved into his wife's longhouse. The men only brought a few things with them, perhaps a weapon or two and some clothing. When a baby was born, that child was a member of the wife's clan. When the boys grew up and married, they left their home and moved to their wife's longhouse.
Women Women controlled life in the longhouse. The elder women were the ones who were in charge. The women tended gardens and harvested the crops. Men were busy hunting. Women raised the kids, made clothes, cooked food, and prepared food for storage.
The Clan Mother: The clan mother had a great deal of power. She selected the Council members. Before the Council met to make decisions for the clan, the clan mother offered each member advice. Council members were usually chosen for life.
Haudenosaunee Warriors: The men cleared the fields, and built and repaired the longhouses. Other than that, their time was spent in trading and hunting, and in war and preparing for war.
Wampum Wampum was never used as money by the Haudenosaunee. It was used to write things down, and used as a symbol of position and title. The great circle wampum, for example, was a belt worn only by a chief as a symbol of his position. Wampum was also given to seal a promise.
The League of Nations • The Haudenosaunee view of nature was based on sharing and cooperation. They took that same attitude into their daily life, history, and government. Because of their attitude, they were able to accomplish something spectacular, something that had never been done before. They were able to form the League of Nation
Written Constitution • The League had a written constitution, a set of rights and agreements that all the people had to honor. The constitution was recorded on 114 wampums. • The Haudenosaunee Nation had a unique form of representative central government. It was called the League of Nations.
Council • The League had a Council. Each Haudenosaunee Nation had a set number of seats on the Council. The decisions of the Council were binding on every person in all Haudenosaunee Nations.
The Great Law of Peace • Primary Purpose: The League's primary purpose was the Great Law of Peace. This law said that the Haudenosaunee should not kill each other.
Debates • :The League did not try to create rules for each tribe and village. That was the job of local government or regional government - the village council and the tribal councils. Only major issues were debated on the floor of the League of Nations. • Council speakers were eloquent and persuasive. Some members of the council were selected not because they were great warriors, but because they were great speakers.
Food • Food was attained by farming and hunting. • They ate a lot of vegetables, fruits, nuts and different kinds of meat and fish. • The main vegetables were known as the “Three Sister” and they were corn, squash and beans.
Longhouses • Because animal and plant life were plentiful, big groups could live together easily. Clans lived in longhouses. • Many families lived together in one longhouse. Each was assigned their own section. Fireplaces and fire pits ran down the middle of the longhouse for heat and for people to share as a place to cook food. Houses were not measured by feet. They were measured by camp fires.
Why Crows Are Poor After the Great Spirit had made the First Nations and had given them this beautiful land in which to live, he sent them a great gift—the gift of the corn. Gagaah, the Crow, claims it was he who brought this gift. He says he was called to the wigwam of the Great Spirit in the sky. A grain of corn was placed in his ear, and he was told to carry it to earth, to the First Nations. Therefore, as Gagaahbrought the gift, he claims he has a right to pull what corn he needs. Gagaahsays he does not "steal" corn. He simply takes what belongs to him, his rightful share. And surely Gagaahis not greedy! He never takes more corn than he wants for himself. He never hides or stores it away. He takes just what he wishes to eat at the time, and no more, for crows never think of tomorrow.
In summer, they are happy in the cornfields, guarding the roots from insect enemies, and pulling the tender blades whenever they are hungry. But when winter comes, the crows are sad. Many councils are held. Sometimes a council tree will be black with crows. All are so poor and so hungry that they get together to try to plan a better way to live. There is much noise and confusion at a crow council, for all the crows talk at once. All are saying, "No bird is so poor as the crow; he is always hungry. Next summer, let us plant and raise a big crop of corn, and gather and save it for the winter. Next winter, crows will not be hungry; they will have food.
"We will no longer take from the fields of the just enough corn for a meal today. We will raise our own corn, and tore it for the winter." And having agreed that this is a wise plan, the council ends. A few days later, another council will be called. At this, the crows will plan how and where to plant the corn. Some will be appointed to select a field, others to find seed, and still others to plant and tend the corn. But, alas! When spring comes, and skies are blue, and the sun shines warm, the crows forget the hunger of the winter, and the councils in the tree. They remember only that the skies are blue, and the sun shines warm, and now there is plenty of corn. Happy and content, they walk up and down the fields of the natives. "We have all we want today," they say, "Why should we think of tomorrow, or next winter? We had a good meal this morning, and we are sure of one tonight. Is not this enough for a crow? What more can he ask?"
And the next winter comes, and finds the crows as poor and as hungry as they were the last. Again they are holding noisy councils in the council tree. Again they are laying plans for the great crop of corn that they will raise next summer!