Iroquois refers to the ancient unification of the six tribes that thrived before the Europeans arrived in North America. It is a political consolidation of tribes that include Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, and Mohawk (Simpson, 2016). The listed five tribes were the first group to form the alliance that would become a union that guaranteed peace between them. At the time of the formation of the Iroquois, they went by the title Haudenosaunee. The sixth tribe that joined the newly formed confederation was called Tuscarora (Simpson, 2016). Together, these tribes were brought together by a legend known as Hiawatha. He was one from the Onondaga tribe who had felt despaired with the frequent wars that ravaged the communities before their alliance.
Hiawatha is categorically described as one of the instrumental founders of the Iroquois League. His story recaptures the frequent warfare that existed as the correlation between the tribes. The five tribes thrived on invading one another and stealing from them while also killing women and children. This quagmire went on through a model of capturing the defeated side and making their people become enslaved people and warriors of the other tribe, as told by Simpson (2016). Hiawatha stems from a defeated community that had his wife and daughters all massacred by the other tribes. His rage and incessant lack of peace caused him to wander across other tribes until his encounter with a man only known as the Great Peacekeeper (Simpson, 2016). The idea of creating a confederacy was inspired by this peacekeeper and enhanced by Hiawatha. His name remains legendary for ultimately stopping the war among the six tribes.
The ‘Great Law of Peace’ meant that the tribes would not return to the same place of war that previously galvanized every aspect of their lives and relationship. Peace meant that waging war would only be commenced on an outsider but not any member of the community in which they lived. For instance, the leading opposer of the confederation at first was a mystical chief known as Atotarho, as told by the author (Simpson, 2016). He used witchcraft to cause fear among warriors and defunct the role of the council of elders. As a result, he opposed the federation to remain in sole power and an element of war with the rest of the warriors. The ‘Great Law of Peace’ has implications for this because the founders of the union seconded the fact that no stain of violence or war would shadow the newfound union (Simpson, 2016). Therefore, they included Atotarho in the union through peace talks and compromises. In a nutshell, the law enhanced peace and binding agreement between the six tribes.
Because the Belt is a symbol of the unification of the league that binds the named tribes, it is estimated to have been formed towards the end of the 1400s. No circumstantial evidence pinpoints the formation of the Belt in any particular year. However, the fact that it reiterates the more comprehensive picture means that when the league breathed its first existence, so did the Belt. Furthermore, the image of the Belt has been used in both oral literature as part of educational discourses and political implications of the native tribes, as connoted by Simpson (2016). In the educational sector, the symbolism embedded in the Belt reflects canopies of early life and past culture practiced by the early tribes. The presupposition of the Belt rides on the significance of cultural knowledge of the people of North America as it should be when conforming to factors of cultural identity (Bossman, 2003). Essentially, it is viewed that Hiawatha has always continued on the Cayuga as well as the Seneca that they have equally signed on the gospel regarding that of the great peace maker. For example, the moment the four nations collectively got aligned, they ended up approaching Atotarho that being influenced by the anger of blood crisis as well as his individual power and desires ended up denying to join such confederacy (Austeen, 2018). Hence, the individual members of such four linked nations ended up communicating with Hiawatha on the belief that they remained stronger as opposed to before due to their united front as already expressed.
Lastly, the Belt is used in the political discourses to make culturally sound policies. The source from which the history of the tribe has been derived denotes that some of the democratic principles that the Iroquois people practiced have been incorporated into the Federal Constitution of the United States, as denoted by Simpson (2016). It means that some of the guiding principles that regulated the confederacy were influential enough to have them determine how modern American society should be governed. In a nutshell, the story of Hiawatha and the Iroquois League are blueprints for understanding American social and political principles.
Simpson, J, M. (2016). Hiawatha. The Canadian Encyclopedia. Available at https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/hiawatha
Austeen, L. (2018, September 4). Welcome to the Museum of Ontario Archaeology. Museum of Ontario Archaeology. https://archaeologymuseum.ca/
Bossman, D. M. (2003). A Season for Thanks Giving. Biblical Theology Bulletin: Journal of Bible and Culture, 33(3), 86–87. https://doi.org/10.1177/014610790303300301
B.F. DeCosta, Hiawatha: Story of the Iroquois Sage (New York, NY: Anson D.F. Randolph & Co., 1873).