Contributions of the Iroquois, 13 - Conclusion

karl h schwerin (schwerin@UNM.EDU)
Tue, 2 Jul 1996 15:12:31 -0600

In reviewing the literature sent out over the past few days, there really
doesn't seem to be anything that show a direct connection between the
Iroquois Confederacy, The Constitution of the Five Nations, and the U.S.
Constitution, or the division of powers among the three branches of the

What is clear, is that the Iroquois played a central role in urging the
colonists to form a Confederation similar to their own. This did, indeed
ultimately result in formation of the United States in order to pursue
the Revolution (though the Iroqouis themselves tried first to discourage
the Revolution, and then to remain neutral), and in the formation of
the Continental Congress and the Articles of Confederation.

Beyond that, there were numerous principles of politics and society
employed by the Iroquois that deeply influenced the thinking of men like
Franklin and Jefferson and which were incorporated, in spirit at least,
in the founding documents of the United States, such as the Declaration
of Independence and the Articles of Confederation. These principles
included the general equality of citizens, attitudes about property, the
practise of democracy, and the central importance of public opinion as a
general check on authority and abuse of power (whether public or
private). The bottom line being that elected officials are answerable to
the citizenry that elected them. [A premise worthy of being kept before
us in this election year]

Karl Schwerin SnailMail: Dept. of Anthropology
Univ. of New Mexico Albuquerque, NM 87131

There are people who will help you get your basket
on your head because they want to see what is in it.
-- African proverb