Native American Historical Information about Huron Creation Story, De-Ka-Nah-Wi-Da and Hiawatha, Keteri Tekakwitha, Jsoeph Bryant, The Story of Creation - Six Nations Beliefs, Tekakwitha, Sawiskera, Longhouse Religion (The Gaiwi:yo of Sganyadai:yoh), Six nations Confederation, SYMBOLISM OF THE LONGHOUSE, Mohawk Nation Life and Culture, clan mothers, Sachems, war chiefs, clans, men's and women's councils.





Huron Creation Story

In the beginning there was only one water and the water animals that lived in it. Then a woman 

fell from a torn place in the sky. She was a divine woman, full of power. Two loons flying over the 

water saw her falling. They flew under her, close together, making a pillow for her to sit on. The 

loons held her up and cried for help. They could be heard for a long way as they called for other 

animals to come.

The snapping turtle called all the other animals to aid in saving the divine woman's life. The 

animals decided the woman needed earth to live on. Turtle said, "Dive down in the water and 

bring up some earth." So they did that, those animals. A beaver went down. A muskrat went down. 

Others stayed down too long, and they died. Each time, Turtle looked inside their mouths when 

they came up, but there was no earth to be found. Toad went under the water. He stayed too long, 

and he nearly died. But when Turtle looked inside Toad's mouth, he found a little earth. The woman 

took it and put it all around on Turtle's shell. That was the start of the earth.

Dry land grew until it formed a country, then another country, and all the earth.. To this day, Turtle 

holds up the earth. Time passed, and the divine woman had twin boys. They were opposites, her sons. 

One was good, and one was bad. One was born as children are usually born, in a normal way. But the 

other one broke out of his mother's side, and she died. When the divine woman was buried, all of the 

plants needed for life on earth sprang from the ground above her. From her head came the pumpkin vine. 

Maize came from her chest. Pole beans grew from her legs. The divine woman's sons grew up. The evil 

one was Tawis-karong. The good one was Tijus-kaha. They were to prepare the earth so that humans 

could live on it. But they found they could not live together. And so they separated, with each one taking 

his own portion of the earth to prepare.

The bad brother, Tawis-karong, made monstrous animals, fierce and terrifying. He made wolves 

and bears, and snakes of giant size. He made mosquitoes huge, the size of wild turkeys. And he made 

an enormous toad. It drank up the fresh water that was on the earth. All of it. The good brother, Tijus-kaha, 

made proper animals that were of use to human beings. He made the dove, and the mockingbird, and the 

partridge. And one day, the partridge flew toward the land of Tawis-karong. "Why do you go there?" Tijus-kaha asked the partridge. "I go because there is no water. And I hear there is some in your brother's land," said the partridge.

Tijus-kaha didn't believe the bird. So he followed, and finally he came to his evil brother's land. 

He saw all of the outlandish, giant animals his brother had made. Tijus-kaha didn't beat them down. 

And then he saw the giant toad. He cut it open. Out came the earth's fresh water. Tijus-kaha didn't 

kill any [more] of his brother's creations. But he made them smaller, of normal size so that human beings 

could be leaders over them. His mother's spirit came to Tijus-kaha in a dream. She warned him about his evil brother. And sure enough, one day, the two brothers had to come face to face. 

They decided they could not share the earth. They would have a duel to see who would be master 

of the world. Each had to overcome the other with a single weapon.

Tijus-kaha, the good, could only be killing if beaten to death with a bag full of corn or beans. 

The evil brother could be killed only by using the horn of a deer or other wild animal. then the 

brothers fixed the fighting ground where the battle would begin. The first turn went to the evil brother, 

Tawis-karong. He pounded his brother with a bag of beans. He beat him until Tijus-kaha was 

nearly dead. But not quite. He got his strength back, and he chased Tawis-karong. Now it was his turn. 

He beat his evil brother with a deer horn. Finally, Tijus-kaha took his brother's life away. But 

still the evil brother wasn't completely destroyed. "I have gone to the far west," he said. "All the 

races of men will follow me to the west when they die." It is the belief of the Hurons to this day. 

When they die, their spirits go to the far west, where they will dwell forever.

From the Archives of Blue Panther  




De-Ka-Nah-Wi-Da and Hiawatha


In the late nineteenth century, the Iroquois Six Nations Council asked their six hereditary Chiefs to write in English for the first time the traditional oral history of the formation of the League of Five nations. It was formed about 1390, 100 years before Columbus discovered America. (The Tuscaroras joined the League conditionally in 1715.)

The traditional history was dictated by the six ceremonial Chiefs, one from each of these tribes: the Mohawks, Oneidas, Cayugas, Senecas, Onondagas, and the Tuscaroras. Two subchiefs were appointed secretaries, and the typewritten report was prepared by an Indian. On July 3, 1900, the completed history was approved by the Council of the Confederacy.

About 1390, an Iroquois mother living near the Bay of Quinte had a very special dream: A messenger came to her and revealed that her maiden daughter, who lived at home, would soon give birth to a son. She would call him De-ka-nah-wi-da (De-kah-a-wee-da). When a grown man, he would bring to all people the good Tidings of Peace and Power from the Chief of the Sky Spirits.

De-ka-nah-wi-da was born, as the dream foretold. He grew rapidly. One day he said to his mother and grandmother, "The time has come for me to perform my duty in the world. I will now build my canoe."

When it was completed, and with the help of his mother and grandmother, he dragged the canoe to the edge of the water. The canoe was made of white stone. He got into it, waved good-bye, and paddled swiftly away to the East. A group of Seneca hunters on the far side of the bay saw the canoe coming toward them. De- ka-nah-wi-da stepped ashore and asked, "Why are you here?"

The first man replied, "We are hunting game for our living."

A second man said, "There is strife in our village."

"When you go back," De-ka-nah-wi-da told them, "you will find that peace prevails, because the good Tidings of Peace and Power have come to the people. You will find strife removed. Tell your Chief that De-ka-nah-wi-da has brought the good news. I am now going eastward."

The men on the lakeshore wondered, because the swift canoe was made of white stone. When they returned to their village and reported to their Chief, they found that peace prevailed.

After leaving his canoe on the east shore, De-ka-nah-wi-da travelled overland to another tribal settlement and asked the Chief, "Have you heard that Peace and Power have come to earth?"

"Yes, I have heard," answered the Chief. "I have been thinking about it so much that I have been unable to sleep."

De-ka-nah-wi-da then explained, "That which caused your wakefulness is now before you. Henceforth, you will be called Chief Hiawatha. You shall help me promote peace among all the tribes, so that the shedding of blood may cease among your people."

"Wait," said Hiawatha. "I will summon my people to hear you speak." All assembled quickly.

"I have brought the good tidings of Peace and Power from the Chief of the Sky Spirits to all people on earth. Bloodshed must cease in the land. The Good Spirit never intended that blood should flow between human beings."

Chief Hiawatha asked his tribe for their answer. One man asked, "What will happen to us if hostile tribes are on either side of us?"

"Those nations have already accepted the good news that I have brought them," replied De-ka-nah-wi-da. Hiawatha's tribe then also accepted the new plan of peace.

When the Messenger departed, Hiawatha walked with him for a short distance. "There is one I wish to warn you about because he may do evil to you," confided De-ka-nah-wi-da. "He is a wizard and lives high above Lake Onondaga. He causes storms to capsize boats and is a mischief-maker. I go on to the East."

Hiawatha had three daughters. The eldest became ill and died. Not long afterward, the second daughter died. All of the tribe gathered to console Hiawatha and to help him forget his great sorrow. One of the warriors suggested a game of lacrosse.

During the game, the last of Hiawatha's daughters went to the spring for water. Halfway there, she saw a beautiful high-flying bird of many bright colors. She called for the people to look at the bird. Then the huge creature swooped down toward her. In fear, she started to run back to her lodge. At the same time, the people came running to see the bird. Hiawatha's daughter was knocked down in the confusion. They did not see her and she was trampled to death.

"Has the wizard sent that bird and caused the death of my daughter?" wondered Hiawatha. Deeper in sorrow, he decided to leave his tribe and go away.

A few days later, he met De-ka-nah-wi-da, who commissioned him a Peacemaker. Henceforth, Hiawatha would spend his time going from village to village and spread the good Tidings of Peace and Power, so that the children of the future would live in peace.

The Mohawk Nation was the first to accept the peace plan, and they invited Hiawatha to make his home with them. One night De- ka-nah-wi-da appeared outside Hiawatha's sleeping room. "It is now urgent," he said softly, "that you come with me. We must go at once to another settlement. I have been there before and I promised to return."

On their way, they came to a large lake. De-ka-nah-wi-da asked Hiawatha to choose between paddling across the rough water and flying over it. Remembering the warning about the wizard, he chose to fly over the lake. De-ka-nah-wi-da used his supernatural power and turned both of them into high-flying birds.

When they reached the opposite shore, they resumed their natural bodies. Then they journeyed to the top of a very high hill to see the one chief, the great wizard, who had not yet accepted the good news of peace. Upon seeing him, Hiawatha was startled--the wizard's head was a mass of writhing snakes. His hands and feet were claw-like and twisted. He used his power to persecute others.

After a long time of discussion and gentle persuasion, Hiawatha noticed that the wizard began to smile! He exclaimed, "I do want to accept your plan of Peace and Power."

At once the wizard began to change. His hands and feet straightened. Hiawatha combed the snakes from his hair. Soon other chiefs arrived to help in the wizard's regeneration.

De-ka-nah-wi-da then asked all the chiefs and their chief warriors and assistants to meet on the shores of Lake Onondaga for a Council. Hiawatha, Chief of the Mohawks, asked the Oneida, Seneca, and Cayuga chiefs to bow their heads with him before the reformed wizard, who was the Onondaga Chief Atotarho (A-ta-tar'- ho). This was their way of showing their acceptance of him and their willingness to follow his leadership when called upon.

The Messenger stood before the Council and explained a plan for the Constitution of the Iroquois League of Peace:

"Let us now give thanks to the Great Chief of the Sky Spirits, for our power is now complete. 'Yo-Hen, Yo-Hen,"' he said, meaning praise and thanksgiving.

The Great Spirit created man, the animals, earth, and all the growing things. I appoint you, Atotarho, Chief of the Onondagas, to be Fire-Keeper of your new Confederacy Council of the Five United Iroquois Nations.

"Chief Warrior and Chief Mother will now place upon your head the horns of a buck deer, a sign of your authority.

"Hiawatha shall be the Chief Spokesman for the Council. He will be the first to consider a subject and to give his opinion. He shall then ask the Senecas, Oneidas, and the Cayugas for their opinions, in that order. If not unanimous, Atotarho's opinion will be considered next. Hiawatha shall continue the debate until a unanimous decision is reached. If not accomplished within a reasonable time, the subject shall be dropped.

"Let us now make a great white Wampum of shell beads strung on deer sinews. Each bead will signify an event and create a design of memory. We shall place it on the ground before the Fire- Keeper. Beside it we shall lay a large White Wing. With it, he can wash away any dust or spot--symbolic of destroying any evil that might cause trouble.

"We shall give the Fire-Keeper a rod to remove any creeping thing that might appear to harm the White Wampum or your grandchildren. If he should ever need help, he shall call out in his thunderous voice for the other Nations of the Confederacy to come to his aid.

"Each Chief shall organize his own tribe in the same way for the peace, happiness, and contentment of all his people. Each Chief shall sit at the head of his own Council and matters shall be referred to him for final decision.

"In the future, your Annual Confederacy Council Fire shall be held here at the Onondaga village of Chief Atotarho. It will be your Seat of Government.

"Let us now plant a symbolic tree of long leaves destined to grow tall and strong. It will represent your unity and strength. When other nations wish to accept the good Tidings of Peace and Power, they shall be seated within the Confederacy Council. Atop the tall tree will proudly sit an all-seeing eagle to watch and warn you of any danger.

"Let each Chief now bring one arrow to form a bundle of arrows. Tie them together so tightly that they cannot be bent or broken apart. Place the bundle of arrows beside the Council Fire as another symbol of your unity and strength.

"Let us join hands firmly, binding ourselves together in a circle. If a tree should fall upon the circle, your circle cannot be broken. Your people can thus be assured of your unity and peace.

"If a Council Chief should ever want to remove himself as Chief, then his Horns of Authority shall be placed upon the head of his hereditary successor.

"You Chiefs must now decide what you will do with your war weapons," said De-ka-nah-wi-da.

Hiawatha then led the thoughtful discussion of the subject. The men agreed to dig a deep chasm where there was a rushing river beneath. Into this river the chiefs and their chief warriors threw all of their armaments of war. Then they closed the chasm forever.

De-ka-nah-wi-da reconvened the Council and stated:

"I charge you never to disagree seriously among yourselves. If you do, you might cause the loss of any rights of your grandchildren, or reduce them to poverty and shame. Your skin must be seven hands thick to stand for what is right in your heart. Exercise great patience and goodwill toward each other in your deliberations. Never, never disgrace yourselves by becoming angry. Let the good Tidings of Peace and Power and righteousness be your guide in all your Council Fires. Cultivate good feelings of friendship, love, and honor for each other always.

"In the future, vacancies shall be filled from the same hereditary tribes and clans from which the first Chiefs were chosen. The Chief Mother will control the chiefship titles and appoint hereditary successors. New Chiefs shall be confirmed by the Confederacy Council before the Condolence Ceremony. At that time, the Horns of Authority shall be placed upon the head of the new Chief.

"All hunting grounds are to be in common. All tribes shall have co-equal rights within your common boundaries. I now proclaim the formation of the League of the Five Iroquois Nations completed. I leave in your hands these principles I have received from the Chief of the Sky Spirits. In the future you will have the power to add any necessary rules for the safety and well-being of the Confederacy.

"My mission is now fulfilled. May your Confederacy continue from generation to generation--as long as the sun will shine, the grass will grow, the water will run. I go to cover myself with bark. I will have no successor and no one shall be called by my name." De-ka-nah-wi-da departed from the Council Fire.

Chief Spokesman and Lawgiver Hiawatha arose before the Council and stated, "Hereafter, when opening and closing the Council Fire, the Fire-Keeper shall pick up the White Wampum strings and hold them high to honour all that has gone before. He will offer praise and thanksgiving to the Great Spirit. In Annual Council, the Chiefs will smoke the Pipe of Great Peace.

"If a chief stubbornly opposes matters of decision before the Council, displaying disrespect for his brother Chiefs, he shall be admonished by the Chief Mother to stop such behavior and to act in harmony. If he continues to refuse, he shall be deposed.

"If a family or clan should become extinct, the Chief's title shall be given to another chosen family within his Nation, and the hereditary title will remain within that family."

All of the Chiefs of that first Council Fire agreed with Hiawatha's plan as a part of their new Constitution.

Chief Fire-Keeper Atotarho arose before the Council with his arms outstretched, holding the White Wampum strings high in praise and thanksgiving to the Holder of the Heavens. Herewith, he closed the historic first Confederacy Council Fire of the Iroquois League of Five Nations. "Yo-Hen, Yo-Hen!" he solemnly concluded, "thank you."

The Five Chiefs then smoked the Pipe of Great Peace! Top



Kateri Tekakwitha

Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha was born in 1656 in Aurielville, New York, to a Mohawk father and 

an Algonquin mother (a Christian). At age four (4) a smallpox epidemic killed her parents, her 

baby brother, and left her scarred with pock marks and nearly blind for the rest of her life. She was raised 

by her two aunts and her uncle, who was also a Mohawk chief. The Auriesville shrine stands 

on a hill overlooking the Mohawk River. Many Jesuits were killed here during their missionary work. The 

shrine attracts thousands of pilgrims, both white and Native American.

A few miles up the Mohawk River from Aurielsville is Fonda. Fonda, New York, is where Blessed Kateri 

had her first encounter with Christianity. To resist her uncle's attempts to marry her off, Tekakwitha was 

baptized on Easter Sunday, April 5, 1676, into the Christian Church and was given her name Kateri 

(Catherine). There is a wooden shrine at Fonda and a Native American Museum under the Church. Her 

new religion was not accepted by her relatives, and they refused her food on Sundays, her Christian 

"day of rest."

On the Kahnawake Mohawk reserve, near Montreal, Canada, is the site where Blessed Kateri 

fled in July 1676. The Jesuit mission shielded her from the non-Christian Mohawks. Her remains 

are at the St. Francis- Xavier Mission on the banks of the St. Lawrence River. Kateri walked 200 miles 

to reach St Francis Xavier. This trip took her two months, as she was very weak most of her 

life. But because of her faith in God, she somehow made it there.

Blessed Kateri took a vow of chastity on March 25, 1679, and lived a devout and pious life, for her last 

three years, in Kahnawake. She died at age twenty-four (24), in 1680. Her last words were: "Jesus, 

I love you." Witnesses to her death say that when she died her pockmarks left her face, and she looked 

very serene and at peace.

Blessed Kateri Tekawitha is the patroness of ecology and the environment. Her feast day is 

July 14th in the U.S.A.

I remember as a small child visiting a small mission school I believe it was while on a trip to visit 

my relatives in Montreal Quebec.  





Midwinter Festival 

Ceremonies are a way of life for the Six Nations people. Tradition holds that the Creator has 

given the Six Nations many ceremonies and customs to bring them closer to their natural environment. 

Ceremonies -- like the Sap Ceremony, the Moon Ceremony, the Strawberry Ceremony, and the 

Midwinter Festival -- are all practiced to show thankfulness to the Creator. 

Midwinter Festival:
The Midwinter Festival is an important Six Nations celebration of renewal. It is a six-day event 

beginning at dusk when the Pleiades are directly overhead (usually around the New Year). 

The purpose of the festival is to celebrate the struggle between Teharonhiawako (Holder of the Heavens) 

and Sawiskera (Mischievous One); it is an opportunity to give thanks to the Creator and hail the new 

solar cycle. At the beginning of the festival, the participants extinguish all household fires and then 

rekindle them. Many other traditional Six Nations ceremonies take place during the Midwinter Festival: 

the Great Feather Dance, the Drum Dance, the Ceremony of Chanting, and the Great Betting. 
One of the most important components of the Midwinter Festival is dream renewal and dream sharing. 

Everyone gives thanks for the dreams that have provided them with guidance in the previous year and 

they discuss dreams they have difficulty understanding.   





Born around the late 1500's to one of Chief Powhatan's many wives, of the Algonquian nation, 

she was considered a Indian Princess...however, princess was a term given in part by the whites 

denoting any women single women without a husband particularly a daughter of a chief. Among the 

native Americans there is no such title given. 

She was called Matoaka although she is better known to many as Pocahontas. Loosely translated i

t means a troublesome child who gets into everything.

It was around the early 1600's when Englishmen came to Jamestown that Pocahontas probably 

had her first encounter with white men and the legendary Captain John Smith and here the story 

of the romance the two of them shared was born. Whether it was in his eyes or hers that this 

existed the story goes that he was captured by natives and brought to Powhatan. 

In his account of what happened, he claimed to at first be welcomed and served a great feast 

and later was grabbed and was about to be beaten with clubs by the Indians when a little girl rushed 

to his side, this of course being Pocahontas, and saved him from certain death. Then once again 

the story takes a twist and it would seem because of Powhatan's daughters actions he adopted 

Captain John Smith as a son. Soon afterwards Pocahontas and the Captain became friends.

Relationships generally remained friendly at this time and often Pocahontas would go to Jamestown 

with her father or would bring messages from her father with other members of the tribe when they 

went to town to trade goods. By today's standards she was a bit of a tomboy and totally uninhibited as young children were at that time. This endearing her to the young men with her antics, is what also 

attracted Capt. John Smith to her. 

Her beguiling child like antics and her poise set her apart from the other young girls of her time...

she had wit, charm, and was a bit mischievous.

As time progressed though, things began to worsen with the whites and the natives. Trading out 

of necessity still continued but it was less often as the hostilities increased. Her visits to Jamestown became 

less frequent because of these things. Somewhere along the line Capt. John Smith also became injured 

and had to return to his homeland England, and when finally Pocahontas returned to Jamestown she was 

told he was dead.

Pocahontas soon afterward married, and lived in the Potomac region among the Indians. It would appear

 though that her encounters with the English was not yet over. 

It seemed a zealous English Capt, Samuel Argall, learned of her whereabouts and plotted to kidnap 

Pocahontas and hold her for ransom. With the assistance of a lesser chief of the Patowomeck Indians, 

Argall was able to lure her onto his ship, and was told she would not be able to leave the ship. After 

a period of adjustment to captivity she eventually became calm and got accustomed to her fate. 

Word was sent to Pocahontas father his daughter would be returned, if he would release the English prisoners he was holding, he goods they had stolen and some corn to boot.

Powhatan eventually sent part of the ransom and asked that they treat Pocahontas well. 

It is reported that Capt. Argall returned to Jamestown sometime in 1613 with Pocahontas and 

she eventually moved to a new settlement. It was in this new place her education began and she 

learned of the Christian faith. She also met John Rolfe, a successful business man here, and she was allowed certain freedoms in this new settlement. A year had passed since Pocahontas was captured 

and 150 armed men brought Pocahontas into Powhatans territory to demand the rest of the ransom. 

The Englishmen were attacked by the Indians and during the confrontation burned many houses, and destroyed many villages and killed many of the native men. Pocahontas was eventually reunited with 

her two brothers and spoke of John Rolfe to them saying she was in love with him and wanted to 

marry him. Powhatan gave his blessings to his daughter and the prospect that this marriage would 

finally bring some peace to the area again. They never did receive the full ransom.

John Rolfe on the other hand wasn't to sure about marriage to a Indian woman and for many weeks 

tried to decide what to do about it all. He finally decided to marry Pocahontas because she had been converted to Christianity. Pocahontas was baptized and named Rebecca and married John Rolfe on 

April 5, in the year 1614. As was hoped by all...a general peace returned between the English 

and the Indians.

The story doesn't end here though.

Along with a handful of Algonquian Indians, including Pocahontas among them, Sir Thomas Dale, 

who was in charge of the settlement where Pocahontas now lived, set sail on a voyage back to England 

hoping to gain some financial support, bringing with him the Algonquins to make a impression to his 

would be supporters. Pocahontas husband and their young son accompanied them. Their arrival was 

anticipated with much publication of the voyage and its purpose. She was there presented to King James 

the first, the royal family, the whole of the cream of the crop to society. At the same time Capt. John Smith 

was there whom she had not seen for eight years and thought dead. When she first saw him again she 

was in shock and was unable to even speak. After a time, she would speak of old times with him, and 

at one point addressed him as "father" and when he objected to that she became defiant and said...

"Were you not afraid to come into my fathers country and cause fear to all the people? And fearing you 

here, I shall call you father, and you shall call me child, and so it will be forever and ever your countryman. 

This was their last meeting.

After several months Pocahontas, and John Rolfe once again set sail to return home to Virginia. 

Along the way, Pocahontas became seriously ill from pneumonia and it became apparent she would not 

survive the trip. She was taken ashore, and as she lay dying, she confronted her husband saying, 

"all must die. Tis enough that the child liveth." She was buried in a churchyard in Gravesend England. 

She was only 22years old.

Pocahontas played a significant role in American folklore as the compassionate little girl that 

always saw to it that the strangers ..Englishmen received food from the Indians. She intervened 

on more than that one occasion with Capt. John Smith to save lives of individual colonist. In her behalf, 

John Smith later wrote, "Pocahontas was the instrument to preserving this colony from death, starvation, 

and utter confusion." She was a vital link between Indians of Virginia and the colonist. 

Whatever her contributions, it is her romantic adventures that will no doubt stand out in Virginian history 

between the Indians and the English colonist.  





Joseph Brant (1742-1807) 

Names Thayendanega 
Band Mohawk 
Highlights Accused of dividing the Six Nations Confederacy 
Led natives warriors to fight alongside the British in the U.S. Revolution 
Translated the Bible into Mohawk 

Joseph Brant was born on the banks of the Ohio River in 1742. He was the stepson of Brant 

Canagaraduncka, an influential Mohawk leader. In 1753, Joseph Brant's sister, Molly, met and married 

William Johnson, a British agent for Indian Affairs. Their relationship would have a profound impact on 

Brant's life. Joseph Brant was 13 when he first met William Johnson. Following fighting in the war against 

the French, Brant spent much of his time at the Indian Charity School in Lebanon, Connecticut. 

There he learned how to speak English and studied Western history. He left school after a year to 

do some work as a translator for the Anglican Missionary. Soon after, he began working for 

Johnson, as his secretary. 
Joseph Brant quickly became the most reliable interpreter in the region. In 1774, following the 

death of William Johnson, Brant became secretary to Johnson's nephew and successor - Guy Johnson. 

Brant soon began playing a crucial role in Mohawk-British relations. He traveled to England with Johnson to negotiate the return of Mohawk land. In exchange, they offered native support throughout the U.S. Revolution. 

The English received Brant well for various reasons including his familiarity with Western culture and his 

command of the English language. 

By 1776, Joseph Brant became the principal War Chief of the Mohawk. At the same time, the 

British appointed him captain of the allied native forces. Brant spent much of his time trying to 

amass the support of his people, but many natives resented his fidelity to the British Crown. 

In fact, revisionists often hold Brant accountable for dividing his people and destroying the Six Nations. 

While nations such as the Mohawks and the Seneca sided with Britain; the Oneida and 

the Tuscarora supported the Americans throughout most of the Revolutionary period. 
When the American Revolution ended in 1784, the British defeat included the cessation of all Six Nations territory to the Americans. Brant faced the challenge of finding a new homeland for his people. Frederick Haldimand, Governor in Chief of what was to become Canada, granted Brant 

and his people land along the Grand River. Haldimand left office before the land grant was legal. 
Joseph Brant lived out the rest of his days with his third wife, Catherine Croghan in the Grand River region. He spent much of his time trying to establish the Mohawks legal title to the land. He also worked on translating the Bible into Mohawk and raising his seven children. He died on November 24, 1807. 

"I bow to no man for I am considered a prince among my own people. But I will gladly shake your hand."  





Six Nations Beliefs 
In one version of the creation story, the Six Nations people tell of a great woman who died while 

giving birth to male twins; the right-handed twin was named Teharonhiawako (Holder of the 

Heavens) and the left-handed one was named Sawiskera (Mischievous One). Teharonhiawako

was the more righteous of the two. Sawiskera had a great capacity for evil and was deceitful 

enough to convince his grandmother that he was really the righteous one. When their grandmother died, 

the twins could not agree on what to do with her body. Sawiskera just wanted to discard it, but Teharonhiawako had other plans; he honored his grandmother by placing her up in the night 

sky; this is how the Moon came to be.

Teharonhiawako went about busily creating life -- making birds, flowers, and all types of 

creatures -- Sawiskera worked hard trying to undo his brother's accomplishments. One day they 

decided to battle to determine who would be Ruler of the World. The long and grueling fight ended with Teharonhiawako disabling his brother. Instead of eliminating him, Teharonhiawako's righteousness 

prevailed and he generously offered his brother half the world, the nighttime. After the brothers split up, Teharonhiawako created four types of beings: whites, yellows, blacks, and 

reds. They all began fighting amongst themselves so Teharonhiawako separated them 

throughout the world, leaving the red beings (the ancestors of the Six Nations) in their place of origin.

Longhouse Religion (The Gaiwi:yo of Sganyadai:yoh)
The Gaiwi:yo (Good Message) was revealed to Sganyadai:yoh (Handsome Lake) through a 

series of visions between 1799 and 1804. Four Messengers -- the spirits of the four cardinal 

points -- brought the Gaiwi:yo to Sganyadai:yoh when he lay in a coma as a result of his excessive 

drinking habits. These four guardians, sent by the Creator, gave Sganyadai:yoh messages that 

would emancipate his people from the stranglehold of the Europeans.
One of the guardians went to inform the Creator that Sganyadai:yoh had responded to the vision. 

The remaining three told Sganyadai:yoh that he was to be in charge of disseminating the 

Gaiwi:yo - the words of which encouraged people to return to more traditional ways. The Gaiwi:yo 

outlawed - among other things - alcohol, witchcraft, and abortion. While all of these were 

raditionally permitted, they were threatening the survival of the community.

Today Following Sganyadai:yoh's death, the Longhouse religion saw many changes. As 

Christianity gained popularity among the Six Nations people, the Gaiwi:yo was no longer 

revered; people began regarding it as heresy. Those who remained devoted to the Longhouse religion generally had political motivations; it became an act of protest against European domination. 

At present, less than one-third of the Six Nations people on reservations still acknowledges the word 

of the Gaiwi:yo.
"There was a time when our forefathers owned this great island (North America). The Great Spirit 

had made it for the use of the Indians. He had created the Buffalo, the Deer, and other animals for food. 

He had made the Bear and the Beaver. Their skins served us for clothing. He has scattered them over the country, and taught us how to take them."  





Today when you see a picture drawn of a longhouse, the artist usually draws the longhouse with 5 

smoke holes in the roof. The artist does this to symbolically represent the founding of the Haudenosaunee (or Iroquois) Confederacy, which originally included Five Nations. The Five Nations are as follows: The Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca. These Five Nations accepted the Great Law of Peace from the Peacemaker and joined together, in peace, like one longhouse. Actually the Peacemaker, in approximately 1140 AD, told the Five Nations that he envisioned the coming together of the Five Nations, in peace, as one long house. In approximately 1714, the Tuscarora Nation joined the Haudenosaunee and made the Confederacy Six Nations strong. The Mohawk people are the eastern door keepers while the Seneca are the western door keepers. This in accordance with how the lands were laid out for each tribes use. Interestingly 

enough, even the land plots were laid out in longhouse fashion for each tribe. ie:the designated areas 

given to each tribe were longer rather than wider and ran from north to south with each area having their 

own water supply so that none would have to venture from their own 

lands for even water.  






Most historians acknowledge the democratic principles of the Six Nations Confederacy influenced 

the shaping of the Constitution of the United States. 

Mohawk Nation > Life & Culture 

The duties and privileges of every member of the Mohawk Nation were clearly laid out in 

Gayanashagowa or the Great Binding Law of the Iroquois / Six Nations Confederation. 

Clan Mothers
If the chosen Sachem proved unworthy, the Clan Mothers had the power to chastise him. 

A key basis of Mohawk community structure rested with Clan Mothers. The Clan Mothers are 

known as Gontowisas. It was they who met in council to decide which of their male relatives would 

become Sachem (Chief). If the chosen Sachem proved unworthy, the Clan Mothers had the power 

to chastise him. They could also take his title away and bestow it upon another male relative. 
The Mohawk traced their ancestry through the matrilineal line, with children automatically belonging 

to their mother's clan. The women eligible to become Clan Mothers were called "Royaneh," a term 

best translated as "noble." Royaneh women passed down their title to their daughters. 

The word "Sachem" is often translated as "Chief," though "Lord" may be more accurate. It was the Sachem's duty to uphold the laws of the clan and the Confederacy. He acted as arbitrator of disputes between clan members. He attended tribal and Six Nations councils. To help him carry out day-to-day clan affairs, 

the Clan Mothers appointed a War Chief. 

War Chiefs
The War Chief's duty was threefold; he carried out the Sachem's wishes, he led the warriors in wartime, 

and he served as a check to the Sachem's power. He listened to people's concerns and brought them 

to the Sachem's attention. Furthermore, if the Clan Mothers were displeased with the Sachem, it was the War Chief's duty to tell him so. If the Clan Mothers became unhappy with the way the War Chief carried 

out his duty, they could take away his title and give it to another male relative. 

All Mohawk belonged to extended families or clans named for spirit ancestors. Some Mohawk 

clans were Great Bear, Painted Turtle, and Standing Rock. All the members of a clan were considered 

close relatives. One couldn't marry a member of one's own clan. This taboo applied to members of the 

same name clan within the Six Nations Confederacy. 

Men's and Women's councils
Men's and women's councils were held separately. Every man and woman was expected to 

attend. They discussed matters relating to the welfare of the clan. The councils relayed their 

decisions to the War Chief, who made sure they were taken up with the Sachem or the Federation 

council. The men's and women's councils also had the power to remove the Sachem and the War Chief 

if necessary. If this happened, the Clan Mothers chose the replacement.  






& Hiawatha












Clan Mothers




War Chiefs



















& Hiawatha












Clan Mothers




War Chiefs






















& Hiawatha












Clan Mothers




War Chiefs





















& Hiawatha












Clan Mothers




War Chiefs





















& Hiawatha












Clan Mothers




War Chiefs





















& Hiawatha












Clan Mothers




War Chiefs






















& Hiawatha












Clan Mothers




War Chiefs





















& Hiawatha












Clan Mothers




War Chiefs





















& Hiawatha












Clan Mothers




War Chiefs































DSES 2004