The Constitution of the Iroquois Nations
Rights, Duties and Qualifications of Lord.
17. A bunch of a certain number of shell (wampum) strings each two spans in length
shall be given to each of the female families in which the Lordship titles are vested. The
right of bestowing the title shall be hereditary in the family of the females legally
possessing the bunch of shell strings and the strings shall be the token that the females
of the family have the proprietary right to the Lordship title for all time to come,
subject to certain restrictions hereinafter mentioned.
18. If any Confederate Lord neglects or refuses to attend the Confederate Council, the
other Lords of the Nation of which he is a member shall require their War Chief to request
the female sponsors of the Lord so guilty of defection to demand his attendance of the
Council. If he refuses, the women holding the title shall immediately select another
candidate for the title.
No Lord shall be asked more than once to attend the Confederate Council.
19. If at any time it shall be manifest that a Confederate Lord has not in mind the
welfare of the people or disobeys the rules of this Great Law, the men or women of the
Confederacy, or both jointly, shall come to the Council and upbraid the erring Lord
through his War Chief. If the complaint of the people through the War Chief is not heeded
the first time it shall be uttered again and then if no attention is given a third
complaint and warning shall be given. If the Lord is contumacious the matter shall go to
the council of War Chiefs. The War Chiefs shall then divest the erring Lord of his title
by order of the women in whom the titleship is vested. When the Lord is deposed the women
shall notify the Confederate Lords through their War Chief, and the Confederate Lords
shall sanction the act. The women will then select another of their sons as a candidate
and the Lords shall elect him. Then shall the chosen one be installed by the Installation
When a Lord is to be deposed, his War Chief shall address him as follows.
"So you, __________, disregard and set at naught the warnings of your women
relatives. So you fling the warnings over your shoulder to cast them behind you.
"Behold the brightness of the Sun and in the brightness of the Sun's light I
depose you of your title and remove the sacred emblem of your Lordship title. I remove
from your brow the deer's antlers, which was the emblem of your position and token of your
nobility. I now depose you and return the antlers to the women whose heritage they
The War Chief shall now address the women of the deposed Lord and say.
"Mothers, as I have now deposed your Lord, I now return to you the emblem and the
title of Lordship, therefore repossess them.".
Again addressing himself to the deposed Lord he shall say.
"As I have now deposed and discharged you so you are now no longer Lord. You shall
now go your way alone, the rest of the people of the Confederacy will not go with you, for
we know not the kind of mind that possesses you. As the Creator has nothing to do with
wrong so he will not come to rescue you from the precipice of destruction in which you
have cast yourself. You shall never be restored to the position which you once
Then shall the War Chief address himself to the Lords of the Nation to which the
deposed Lord belongs and say.
"Know you, my Lords, that I have taken the deer's antlers from the brow of
___________, the emblem of his position and token of his greatness.".
The Lords of the Confederacy shall then have no other alternative than to sanction the
discharge of the offending Lord.
20. If a Lord of the Confederacy of the Five Nations should commit murder the other
Lords of the Nation shall assemble at the place where the corpse lies and prepare to
depose the criminal Lord. If it is impossible to meet at the scene of the crime the Lords
shall discuss the matter at the next Council of their Nation and request their War Chief
to depose the Lord guilty of crime, to "bury" his women relatives and to
transfer the Lordship title to a sister family.
The War Chief shall address the Lord guilty of murder and say.
"So you, __________ (giving his name) did kill __________ (naming the slain man),
with your own hands! You have comitted a grave sin in the eyes of the Creator. Behold the
bright light of the Sun, and in the brightness of the Sun's light I depose you of your
title and remove the horns, the sacred emblems of your Lordship title. I remove from your
brow the deer's antlers, which was the emblem of your position and token of your nobility.
I now depose you and expel you and you shall depart at once from the territory of the Five
Nations Confederacy and nevermore return again. We, the Five Nations Confederacy,
moreover, bury your women relatives because the ancient Lordship title was never intended
to have any union with bloodshed. Henceforth it shall not be their heritage. By the evil
deed that you have done they have forfeited it forever..".
The War Chief shall then hand the title to a sister family and he shall address it and
"Our mothers, ____________, listen attentively while I address you on a solemn and
important subject. I hereby transfer to you an ancient Lordship title for a great calamity
has befallen it in the hands of the family of a former Lord. We trust that you, our
mothers, will always guard it, and that you will warn your Lord always to be dutiful and
to advise his people to ever live in love, poeace and harmony that a great calamity may
never happen again.".
21. Certain physical defects in a Confederate Lord make him ineligible to sit in the
Confederate Council. Such defects are infancy, idiocy, blindness, deafness, dumbness and
impotency. When a Confederate Lord is restricted by any of these condition, a deputy shall
be appointed by his sponsors to act for him, but in case of extreme necessity the
restricted Lord may exercise his rights.
22. If a Confederate Lord desires to resign his title he shall notify the Lords of the
Nation of which he is a member of his intention. If his coactive Lords refuse to accept
his resignation he may not resign his title.
A Lord in proposing to resign may recommend any proper candidate which recommendation
shall be received by the Lords, but unless confirmed and nominated by the women who hold
the title the candidate so named shall not be considered.
23. Any Lord of the Five Nations Confederacy may construct shell strings (or wampum
belts) of any size or length as pledges or records of matters of national or international
When it is necessary to dispatch a shell string by a War Chief or other messenger as
the token of a summons, the messenger shall recite the contents of the string to the party
to whom it is sent. That party shall repeat the message and return the shell string and if
there has been a sumons he shall make ready for the journey.
Any of the people of the Five Nations may use shells (or wampum) as the record of a
pledge, contract or an agreement entered into and the same shall be binding as soon as
shell strings shall have been exchanged by both parties.
24. The Lords of the Confederacy of the Five Nations shall be mentors of the people for
all time. The thickness of their skin shall be seven spans -- which is to say that they
shall be proof against anger, offensive actions and criticism. Their hearts shall be full
of peace and good will and their minds filled with a yearning for the welfare of the
people of the Confederacy. With endless patience they shall carry out their duty and their
firmness shall be tempered with a tenderness for their people. Neither anger nor fury
shall find lodgement in their minds and all their words and actions shall be marked by
25. If a Lord of the Confederacy should seek to establish any authority independent of
the jurisdiction of the Confederacy of the Great Peace, which is the Five Nations, he
shall be warned three times in open council, first by the women relatives, second by the
men relatives and finally by the Lords of the Confederacy of the Nation to which he
belongs. If the offending Lord is still obdurate he shall be dismissed by the War Chief of
his nation for refusing to conform to the laws of the Great Peace. His nation shall then
install the candidate nominated by the female name holders of his family.
26. It shall be the duty of all of the Five Nations Confederate Lords, from time to
time as occasion demands, to act as mentors and spiritual guides of their people and
remind them of their Creator's will and words. They shall say.
"Hearken, that peace may continue unto future days!
"Always listen to the words of the Great Creator, for he has spoken.
"United people, let not evil find lodging in your minds.
"For the Great Creator has spoken and the cause of Peace shall not become old.
"The cause of peace shall not die if you remember the Great Creator.".
Every Confederate Lord shall speak words such as these to promote peace.
27. All Lords of the Five Nations Confederacy must be honest in all things. They must
not idle or gossip, but be men possessing those honorable qualities that make true
royaneh. It shall be a serious wrong for anyone to lead a Lord into trivial affairs, for
the people must ever hold their Lords high in estimation out of respect to their honorable
28. When a candidate Lord is to be installed he shall furnish four strings of shells
(or wampum) one span in length bound together at one end. Such will constitute the
evidence of his pledge to the Confederate Lords that he will live according to the
constitution of the Great Peace and exercise justice in all affairs.
When the pledge is furnished the Speaker of the Council must hold the shell strings in
his hand and address the opposite side of the Council Fire and he shall commence his
address saying: "Now behold him. He has now become a Confederate Lord. See how
splendid he looks." An address may then follow. At the end of it he shall send the
bunch of shell strings to the oposite side and they shall be received as evidence of the
pledge. Then shall the opposite side say.
"We now do crown you with the sacred emblem of the deer's antlers, the emblem of
your Lordship. You shall now become a mentor of the people of the Five Nations. The
thickness of your skin shall be seven spans -- which is to say that you shall be proof
against anger, offensive actions and criticism. Your heart shall be filled with peace and
good will and your mind filled with a yearning for the welfare of the people of the
Confederacy. With endless patience you shall carry out your duty and your firmness shall
be tempered with tenderness for your people. Neither anger nor fury shall find lodgement
in your mind and all your words and actions shall be marked with calm deliberation. In all
of your deliberations in the Confederate Council, in your efforts at law making, in all
your official acts, self interest shall be cast into oblivion. Cast not over your shoulder
behind you the warnings of the nephews and nieces should they chide you for any error or
wrong you may do, but return to the way of the Great Law which is just and right. Look and
listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present
but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the
ground -- the unborn of the future Nation.".
29. When a Lordship title is to be conferred, the candidate Lord shall furnish the
cooked venison, the corn bread and the corn soup, together with other necessary things and
the labor for the Conferring of Titles Festival.
30. The Lords of the Confederacy may confer the Lordship title upon a candidate
whenever the Great Law is recited, if there be a candidate, for the Great Law speaks all
31. If a Lord of the Confederacy should become seriously ill and be thought near death,
the women who are heirs of his title shall go to his house and lift his crown of deer
antlers, the emblem of his Lordship, and place them at one side. If the Creator spares him
and he rises from his bed of sickness he may rise with the antlers on his brow.
The following words shall be used to temporarily remove the antlers.
"Now our comrade Lord (or our relative Lord) the time has come when we must
approach you in your illness. We remove for a time the deer's antlers from your brow, we
remove the emblem of your Lordship title. The Great Law has decreed that no Lord should
end his life with the antlers on his brow. We therefore lay them aside in the room. If the
Creator spares you and you recover from your illness you shall rise from your bed with the
antlers on your brow as before and you shall resume your duties as Lord of the Confederacy
and you may labor again for the Confederate people.".
32. If a Lord of the Confederacy should die while the Council of the Five Nations is in
session the Council shall adjourn for ten days. No Confederate Council shall sit within
ten days of the death of a Lord of the Confederacy.
If the Three Brothers (the Mohawk, the Onondaga and the Seneca) should lose one of
their Lords by death, the Younger Brothers (the Oneida and the Cayuga) shall come to the
surviving Lords of the Three Brothers on the tenth day and console them. If the Younger
Brothers lose one of their Lords then the Three Brothers shall come to them and console
them. And the consolation shall be the reading of the contents of the thirteen shell
(wampum) strings of Ayonhwhathah. At the termination of this rite a successor shall be
appointed, to be appointed by the women heirs of the Lordship title. If the women are not
yet ready to place their nominee before the Lords the Speaker shall say, "Come let us
go out." All shall leave the Council or the place of gathering. The installation
shall then wait until such a time as the women are ready. The Speaker shall lead the way
from the house by saying, "Let us depart to the edge of the woods and lie in waiting
on our bellies.".
When the women title holders shall have chosen one of their sons the Confederate Lords
will assemble in two places, the Younger Brothers in one place and the Three Older
Brothers in another. The Lords who are to console the mourning Lords shall choose one of
their number to sing the Pacification Hymn as they journey to the sorrowing Lords. The
singer shall lead the way and the Lords and the people shall follow. When they reach the
sorrowing Lords they shall hail the candidate Lord and perform the rite of Conferring the
33. When a Confederate Lord dies, the surviving relatives shall immediately dispatch a
messenger, a member of another clan, to the Lords in another locality. When the runner
comes within hailing distance of the locality he shall utter a sad wail, thus:
"Kwa-ah, Kwa-ah, Kwa-ah!" The sound shall be repeated three times and then again
and again at intervals as many times as the distance may require. When the runner arrives
at the settlement the people shall assemble and one must ask him the nature of his sad
message. He shall then say, "Let us consider." Then he shall tell them of the
death of the Lord. He shall deliver to them a string of shells (wampum) and say "Here
is the testimony, you have heard the message." He may then return home.
It now becomes the duty of the Lords of the locality to send runners to other
localities and each locality shall send other messengers until all Lords are notified.
Runners shall travel day and night.
34. If a Lord dies and there is no candidate qualified for the office in the family of
the women title holders, the Lords of the Nation shall give the title into the hands of a
sister family in the clan until such a time as the original family produces a candidate,
when the title shall be restored to the rightful owners.
No Lordship title may be carried into the grave. The Lords of the Confederacy may
dispossess a dead Lord of his title even at the grave.
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