There are 3 founders for the Iroquois Confederacy. These 3 people would come together to form the longest running democracy in North America. This article goes over the 3 founders of the Iroquois and why they are important.
The 3 founders of the Iroquois Confederacy are The Great Peacemaker, Hiawath, and Jigonsaseh. Each of these founders helped to form the culture of the Iroquois Confederacy and helped to join the 5 warring tribes together under one banner.
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Without further ado, here are the 3 founders of the Iroquois Confederacy.
Founder 1: The Great Peacemaker
The first founder of the Iroquois League was a spiritual prophet called the Great Peacemaker who arrived miraculously to the Iroquois Land.
There have been several attempts to figure out more about this hidden figure but historians have conflicting results. We have stories that he was Huron, or that instead he had no tribe but wandered.
Initially the differing Iroquois tribes would not listen to his request to unify the people. After traveling for many months the Great Peacemaker ended up in the territory of the Mohawk tribe.
The Mohawk did not want to listen to the Great Peacemaker. Insistent that the Mohawk begin the process of unifying the Iroquois people, the Great Peacemaker climbed up a tree overlooking the Cohoes Falls and instructed the Mohawk warriors to cut it down.
Thinking they would never see him again, the Mohawk warriors were astonished to find the Great Peacemaker the next morning alive. Because of this the Mohawk became the first of the 5 nations to push to create the Iroquois Confederacy.
As such one of the 3 main founders of the Iroquois Confederacy was the Great Peacemaker.
Founder 2: Hiawatha
The second founder of the Iroquois Confederacy was Hiawatha.
Experts debate on the time that Hiawatha lived. While most western historians date him to sometime around 1450 AD recent evidence has dated the foundation of the Iroquois Confederacy to much older around 1150 AD.
Hiawatha himself was a wildman who was converted by the Great Peacemaker on his way across the Iroquois lands. According to legend the Great Peacemaker suffered from a speech impediment and as such Hiawatha was instrumental to the spreading of the prophets message of the Great Peace.
Hiawatha was a skilled orator that managed to gain the respect of all 5 tribes of the Iroquois people. From this he would help to unify the nations of the Iroquois under one banner of the confederacy.
The major accomplishment of Hiawatha came when he convinced the last tribes chief Tadodaho that the nation of Onondaga would become the capital for the newly created Iroquois Confederacy.
Hiawatha comes from the Mohawk tribe which to this day hold special oratory history surrounding his legend. Legend also tells of how Hiawatha was the first to string together Wampum to be used to tell a story.
As such Hiawatha was one of the 3 main founders of the Iroquois Confederacy
Founder 3: Jigonhsasee
The third and final founder of the Iroqouis Confederacy is named Jigonhsasee.
Before the Iroquois Confederacy there existed a foot road that traveled from east to west across Iroquois land. This land would connect the different tribes and allow for warriors to easily raid their neighbors. As such this road came to be known as the warrior’s path.
Jigonhsasee lived off this warrior’s path and would provide housing and food for passing warriors. Doing this she would eventually encounter the Great Peacemaker who instructed her on his vision of the Iroquois Confederacy.
This vision according to the Great Peacemaker would have a matriarch that would seek to place men in positions of power and aid in creating society. Jigonhsasee recognized the power in this new peace movement and became the first aid to the Great Peacemaker.
From this she was given the name “Mother of Nations.” This instilled a tradition of a women’s role in Iroquois government. This tradition extends down to the modern day in the Iroquois Confederacy.
Because of this Jigonhsasee is the third founder of the Iroquois Confederacy.
There you have it; an entire article going over the 3 founders of the Iroquois Confederacy.
The Iroquois Confederacy is a fascinating subject of discussion. Not only did they have a very unique government that was centered around democracy and representation by chiefs, they also had a thriving economy. Recent historical evidence has also started to debate the actual founding of the Iroquois League to around 1152 AD, which would make it the oldest standing democracy in the world.
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