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Great Law of Peace

Great Law of Peace

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Both a narrative and a constitution, the Great Law of Peace established the governance system of the Iroquois Confederacy. Its powerful themes of justice, cooperation, grief, health, and peace continue to inspire today.

An oral constitution, the Great Law of Peace was recorded on wampum belts and ratified by the Haudenosaunee (comprised of the Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Seneca, and later, the Tuscarora peoples) long before European settlers arrived in America.

Cultural heroes Haiwatha and the Great Peacemaker, Deganawida, are credited with creating the Great Law of Peace. It begins with a folklore-filled history of the Iroquois peoples dating back nearly a millennium.

The constitution portion of the Great Law of Peace institutes a federalist democracy with separation of powers, a bicameral legislature, equal rights for women, and many other notable attributes. The Great Law of Peace ends with descriptions of ceremonies such as funerals and appointing new chiefs.

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