Vision Maker Media/YouTube
Deganawidah and Hayawatha worked out the agreements that would bind the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, which would serve as a template of sorts for the U.S. government.

Native American Heritage Month: Video Explains How the Haudenosaunee Helped America Form


It is well known, at least in American Indian circles, that the U.S. government was modeled partly on the treaties and themes that comprised the Iroquois Confederacy. What better way to kick off Native American Heritage Month than with a video overview and detailed explanation of exactly how that came to pass?

“When settlers arrived in the New World, one of the first cultures they encountered was the Haudenosaunee, a confederation of tribes that had already been practicing representative democracy for hundreds of years,” notes the commentary for Injunuity’s video explaining how it all went down. “How much influence did that existing democracy have on our Founding Fathers and on documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution? More than you know.”

Donald Grinde, Professor of Native American Studies at the University of Buffalo, provides the voiceover for this video, released in November 2013. From Benjamin Franklin’s ears, to Independence Hall in Philadelphia circa 1776, the route and origin of these ideas is clear.

RELATED: American History Myths Debunked: No Native Influence on Founding Fathers

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alexjacobs's picture
Submitted by alexjacobs on
One way to explain : as with the Mohawk clans, the Turtles and Wolves would debate an issue, throwing issues across the fire, until they could come to an agreement or consensus, if they could not, the issue came to the Bears, who had been listening but not talking. The Bears then would offer a resolution that all sides would agree to, or start over. To me, the Turtles are the farmers, artisans, women, people of the land while the Wolves are warriors, diplomats, and the Bears are medicine people and mediators; so Turtles are House of Representatives, Wolves are the Senate, and Bears are Supreme Court. This is not exact but the Iroquois Constitution spoke in an oral tradition of poetic symbology detailing and defining the relationships among all the peoples, clans and societies...the Longhouse representing our common home and bearth and how we should keep our home, our laws, our relationships in good standing and constant repair.

Valerie Goodness
Valerie Goodness
Submitted by Valerie Goodness on
Nya Weh, (Thank you) Dr. Don Grinde, for your decades long work in proving that Indigenous voices and their own oral histories, have value in the WHOLE story of America. American history is Native American history. They are not separate.