Native American Political Systems
and the Evolution of Democracy:
An Annotated Bibliography
Bruce E. Johansen
Professor of Communication and
Native American Studies
University of Nebraska at Omaha
1992Books, Scholarly, and Specialty Journals
_________. [Review of Oren Lyons, et. al., Exiled in the Land of the Free (1992)] Publisher's Weekly, September 14, 1992, p. 92.
"These impressive essays by eight Native American leaders and scholars present persuasive evidence that the American colonists and the U.S. founding fathers borrowed from the Iroquois Confederacy and other Indian political institutions in drafting the U.S. Constitution."Altherr, Thomas. [Review, Weatherford, Indian Givers, 1988.] American Indian Quarterly, Spring, 1992.
Weatherford's first of two trade books on Native American influences devotes three chapters to political factors, some of it cited from Forgotten Founders [1982, 1987]. Altherr: "The next three chapters dip us into politics. ... [Weatherford] underscore[s] a claim that these tribal peoples developed the concept of liberty..." Altherr criticizes Weatherford's analysis as too simplistic, and says he "would have profited enormously from reading Elisabeth Tooker's and Bruce Johansen's exchange on the subject in 1988 and 1990 volumes of Ethnohistory." Altherr had forgotten that in a book published in 1988, Weatherford could have had no knowledge of the Ethnohistory articles.Axtell, James. Beyond 1492: Encounters in Colonial North America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.
Pages 285-286: Axtell notes that "early Quincentennial issues of the Northeast Indian Quarterly were devoted to 'Indian Roots of American Democracy' and 'Indian Corn of the Americas: A Gift to the World.' These subjects are typical of the 'contributions' approach that has been a dominant theme of Native American Studies since their [sic] inception in the late '60s, a phrase that all minority studies tend to go through on their way to cultural assurance and self-definition." Axtell believes that such studies "marginalize their own group by making it conform or 'contribute' to the dominant culture and its standards of importance, rather than assert the integrity and value of their own cultures and histories." "Thus far," writes Axtell, "the discussion of the native contribution to American democracy has been limited to the alleged Iroquois influence on the Founding Fathers, though in Indian Givers and Native Roots, anthropologist Jack Weatherford seeks to describe, in the words of his subtitles, How the Indians of the Americas Transformed the World, and How the Indian Enriched America."Bardes, Barbara, et. al. American Government and Politics Today: The Essentials. West Publishing Co., 1992.
In the 1992-1993 edition of this introductory political science textbook for college students, a box on page 66 asks: "Did you know...that the federal government of the United States was modeled, in part, on the sixteenth-century Iroquois Confederacy...?" On page 140, in a larger box titled "The Iroquois Confederacy and American Democratic Principles," the idea is developed in more detail. The source is listed as "Jerry Stubben, Iowa State University." Stubben, professor of political science at Iowa State who is part Ponca, appeared on a 1991 Organization of American Historians panel with Grinde and Johansen, and exchanged information with them. In the 1994-1995 edition of the book, all references to the Iroquois and democracy were excised.Barreiro, Jose, ed. Indian Roots of American Democracy. Ithaca, N.Y.: Akwe:kon Press/Cornell University, 1992.
This collection of essays on the "influence" issue contains some from the earlier volume by the same name [see Barreiro, ed., 1988]. This volume adds updated material from Akwe:kon Journal(Northeast Indian Quarterly) by Venables, Wagner, et. al. The introduction, by Jose Barreiro, contains an analysis of the "influence" debate to 1992.Berman, Paul, ed. Debating P.C.: The Controversy Over Political Correctness. New York: Laurel Books/Dell, 1992.
Diane Ravitch contributes an essay to this book that opposes the "influence" idea. Reviewing the book in The New York Times, Frank Kermode comments: "...Ms. Ravitch is wrong to deny the influence of the Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) in Upstate New York on the Constitution....with rancor substituting for argument."(*) Berner, Robert. "American Myth: Old, New, Yet Untold." Genre: Forms of Discourse & Culture 25:4 (Winter, 1992), pp. 377-389.
Berner surveys the debate over Iroquois influence on the development of American democracy in the context of the intellectual ferment over the quincentenary of Columbus' first landfall in America. Berner dismisses most of the case as evidence of "The tendency toward the creation of new legends in our revisionist era" (p. 380). "In fact," writes Berner, "the structure of matriarchal clans and League council and the council's parliamentary procedures bear no resemblance whatever to the structure of the Constitution" (p. 381). With his mind set in such a manner, Berner finds Johansen's assertion that the Iroquois structure of "younger brothers" and "older brothers" resembled a two-house legislature "rather limp" (p. 382), although "his claims for generally [sic] Indian influences on the development of American notions of political freedom proceed from a premise that is worth considering" (p. 382). Forgotten Founders and Don Grinde's 1993 piece in AICRJ are cited.Bonvillian, Nancy. Hiawatha: Founder of the Iroquois Confederacy. New York: Chelsea House, 1992.
Page 103 quotes Benjamin Franklin's letter (1751), in which he says, in part, that "It would be a strange thing if six nations of [Indians] should be capable of forming such an union..." Drawing by John Kahionhes Fadden also used in Exemplar of Liberty .Churchill, Ward. Fantasies of the Master Race: Literature, Cinema, and the Colonization of American Indians. Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press, 1992.
In the chapter titled "The New Racism: A Critique of James A. Clifton's The Invented Indian," (pp. 163-184), reprinted from Wicazo Sa Review 6:2(Spring, 1991), Churchill takes up the "influence" debate through an analysis of Elisabeth Tooker's essay "The United States Constitution and the Iroquois League," first published in Ethnohistory . He writes (on p. 168) that Tooker attempts to "refute the 'myth' that the Six Nations Haudenosaunee Confederacy was a model of government which significantly influenced the thinking of the founding fathers in the process of conceiving the U.S. republic." Tooker, writes Churchill, "has spent several years vociferously repeating her theme in every possible forum, and has actively attacked the credibility of scholars such as Donald Grinde and Bruce Johansen, the results of whose research have reached opposite conclusions." Churchill says that "when questioned closely on the matter at a recent academic conference, this 'expert' was forced to admit not only that she had ignored all Iroquois source material while forming her thesis, but that she was [also] quite unfamiliar with the relevant papers of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Tom Paine, and others among the U.S. founders..." Churchill cites Grinde's The Iroquois and the Founding of the American Nation , Johansen's Forgotten Founders [1982, 1987], Grinde and Johansen, Exemplar of Liberty , and Barreiro, ed., Roots of Democracy , et. al.Clark, Joe. "Excerpts From Constitutional Minister Joe Clark's Address to Canada's First Peoples Conference." Akwesasne Notes 23:4(Fall, 1992), pp. 17-18.
In late February, 1992, representatives of the three federalist parties in the Canadian House of Commons signed the report of the Special Joint Commission on the Renewal of Canada. The report contains a strong statement supporting Native American self-government. Minister Clark supports this case by arguing that Native Americans in North America had democratic self-government while most of Europe was still feudal. He describes the Iroquois Confederacy's emphasis on consensus. "That system was so impressive that it served as a model for Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin as they grappled with designing the American Constitution. The separation of powers, the concept of impeachment, the design of the American confederation itself -- these find their parallels in the aboriginal governments of that day." Clark reminded his audience that the word "caucus" is not Latin, but Algonquin.(*) Delgado, Richard. "Rodrigo's Chronicle." Yale Law Journal 101 (Spring, 1992), p. 1357.
In this review of Dinesh D'Souza's Illiberal Education: the Politics of Race and Sex on Campus , Delgado, a law professor at the University of Colorado, lists a number of books on various multicultural themes that serve to refute D'Souza's arguments. He has a section on "Essays and books on the influence of American Indian ideas on the U.S. Constitution" which includes Felix Cohen's essay "Americanizing the White Man," , Johansen, Forgotten Founders [1982, 1987], and Weatherford, Indian Givers .Deloria, Vine, Jr. "Comfortable Fictions and the Struggle for Turf: An Essay Review of [James Clifton's] The Invented Indian: Cultural Fictions and Government Policies. [New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 1990]. American Indian Quarterly, Summer, 1992, pp. 397-410.
This book of essays contains an abridged version of Tooker's 1988 Ethnohistory article on the U.S. Constitution and the Iroquois League. Deloria comments, on pages 402-404: "Some years ago, Bruce Johansen published a little book entitled Forgotten Founders [1982, 1987]....A wave of nauseous panic spread through the old-boy's network of Iroquois studies since a commoner had dared to write in a field already dominated by self-appointed experts. Donald Grinde...published The Iroquois and the Founding of the American Nation , elaborating on this 'heresy' which was becoming an open scandal.(*) Hoeveler, J. David, Jr. "Original Intent and the Politics of Republicanism." Marquette Law Review 75 (Summer, 1992), p. 863.
"Damage control measures went into effect, and soon Grinde and Johansen found their NEH grant proposals turned down by readers who emphasized the orthodox interpretation of Iroquois studies. Conservative newspaper columnists, learning of the controversy, promptly marched into historical debates of which they had no knowledge whatsoever and chastised Johansen and Grinde and proposals by the two scholars to have an open debate over the topic were generally turned aside as if mere physical contact with the two would be a sign of incipient heresy.
"Into the fray rode Elisabeth Tooker...[who] demonstrated, to her satisfaction, the impossibility of the Six Nations having any relevance at all for American constitutional thinking. Tooker's argument is so wonderfully naive and anthro-centric that it makes the informed observer of the debate weep for her inability to free herself from the blinders which adherence to anthro doctrine has required she wear."
Deloria then recapitulates Tooker's argument [See Tooker, 1988, 1990], and says that "Johansen and Grinde have collaborated now to produce Exemplar of Liberty ...which further extends the scope of materials that must be considered to make any sense out of this issue."
Recalling a meeting of the American Anthropological Association at which he and Tooker debated this issue, Deloria writes that after he asserted that John Locke's attempt to set up a landed aristocracy in North Carolina discredited him in the eyes of the colonists, "Tooker bolted into the aisle, shrieking, 'Tell that to your friends! Tell that to your friends!'"
Deloria concludes: "This debate has not really been joined properly because what Johansen and Grinde are saying is simply that considerably more material must be examined before hard and fast conclusions are drawn. Tooker's argument, it seems to me, is simply that materials, and arrangement of these materials which the entrenched scholars of anthropology have amassed, are sufficient to answer all questions regarding the Six Nations -- period. The real debate, therefore, is over authority: to whom shall we listen -- about anything? Here the credentials of the past, no matter how valiantly won, are just not enough to dominate or close debate on a subject -- period."
Hoeveler, chair of the history department at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, is discussing liberal and conservative interpretations of the doctrine of original intent. In this context, he discusses Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.'s arguments in Disuniting of America . In a footnote, Hoeveler mentions the New York State "Curriculum of Inclusion," asserting that "the curriculum guide for American history demanded that that the 'Haudensaunee' [sic] (Iroquois) political system be acknowledged as influencing the development of the American Constitution."Jacobs, Wilbur. "The American Indian Legacy of Freedom and Liberty." American Indian Culture & Research Journal 16:4(1992), pp. 185-193.
In this commentary regarding the debate over the "influence" issue, Jacobs, professor emeritus at the University of California -- Santa Barbara, examines Exemplar of Liberty [Grinde and Johansen, 1991] in light of his readings in history while a research scholar at the Huntington Library. "Grinde and Johansen are doing pioneering work in Indian history, correcting the misdirected thinking of certain colonial historians and anthropologists. In so doing, they are spreading a new light of understanding and setting forth new themes for general American history and government." Jacobs examines the writings on the subject by Temple University anthropology professor Elisabeth Tooker, and finds support for Johansen and Grinde's construction of history in the works of Lawrence H. Gipson, who observed that European colonists were exposed to Native American diplomacy and forms of governance on a repeated basis from the earliest years of settlement, setting a precedent for Benjamin Franklin's use of an Iroquois confederate model in his Albany Plan of Union and Articles of Confederation. Jacobs also calls on his readings of Carl L. Becker and William Brandon.Jaimes, M. Annette. The State of Native America: Genocide, Colonization, and Resistance. Boston: South End Press, 1992.
Chapter 3 ("Self-Determination and Subordination: The Past, Present, and Future of American Indian Self-Governance," by Rebecca L. Robbins) begins with a brief description of the Iroquois Confederacy. Robbins observes that pre-contact political systems in the Americas were sophisticated and complex. She adds: (on page 87): "Certain of the structures and principles of indigenous governance, notably those drawn from the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy...were so advanced that they were consciously utilized as a primary model upon which the U.S. Constitution was formulated and the federal government created." Robbins cites Grinde and Johansen's early books [1977, 1982, 1987], as well as Exemplar of Liberty , Burton , and Barreiro, Roots of Democracy .James, Jewell Praying Wolf, in Kurt Russo, ed., Our People, Our Land. Bellingham, Washington: Lummi Tribe and Kluckhohn Center, 1992, pp. 32-35.
Page 33: "It is with irony [that] we note that the U.S. Congress has finally recognized that the American Indian confederacies and societies were a great influence in the the formation of America's form of constitutional democracy," said James, a lineal descendent of Chief Seath'l, in remarks prepared for a conference sponsored by the Lummis, et. al. in Seattle, during October of 1991. James lists a number of native contributions, such as the caucus system to reach consensus, the custom of giving the respect of silence to speakers (so unlike the British Parliament), checks and balances, and individual rights. "the next irony," says James, is "the motivating influence [that] Indian concepts of communalism had upon the evolution of Communism...and the duty of society to care for the old, the weak, and the war-injured." The "irony" to which James refers is that the United States has used its Constitution to justify the taking of native land and resources, while Communism also oppressed native peoples in the former Soviet Union.Johansen. "Remembering the Forgotten Founders." in Kurt Russo, ed., Our People, Our Land: Perspectives on the Columbus Quincentenary. Bellingham, WA: Lummi Tribe and Kluckhohn Center, 1992.
Printed proceedings of a conference held in Seattle during October, 1991. "Remembering the Forgotten Founders" is the written text of a presentation by Johansen at that conference.Johansen, Bruce E. "Commentary." Akwe:kon Journal 9:4(Winter, 1992), p. 3.
This is a reply to William Starna's allegations that assertions of Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) influence on the development of democracy are "nonsense." Editing and timely publication of the New York State Education Department curriculum guide Haudenosaunee: Past, Present Future is advised.Landsman, Gail H. "The 'Other' as Political Symbol: Images of the Indians in the Woman Suffrage Movement," Ethnohistory 39:1(Summer, 1992), pp. 247-284.
Using primary sources also used by Sally Roesch Wagner [1992 and earlier], Landsman describes the ways in which Native American (particularly Iroquois) examples helped shape the ideology of the women's movement from 1848 to 1920. Landsman then plugs the documentary record into an ethnohistorical framework, arguing that while the early suffragists utilized the Indian image extensively, they were activists who formed their opinions "not through the discovery of objective truth but in the context of validating and/or advancing the story of woman suffrage." (p. 252) This article indicates the important role that mythmaking has played in the shaping of ideological movements throughout history. Landsman mentions the overall "influence " debate (citing Grinde, Johansen, and Tooker), but says only that such ideas "are...open to scholarly debate and ethnohistorical research." (p. 252) [Files contain a letter from Landsman, dated Feb. 25, 1993, which assert her independence of work by Sally Wagner, as well as differences between her arguments and those of Starna, and other anthropologists].Landsman, Gail. H., and Sara Ciborski. "Representation and Politics: Contested Histories of the Iroquois." Cultural Anthropology 7(4) November, 1992, pp. 425-447.
This analysis of the controversy surrounding the New York State Department of Education curriculum guide Haudenosaunee: Past, Present, Future delves into "the politics of historical representation and the social construction of knowledge," [p. 425], asserting that Iroquois traditionalists and scholars who support their case for "influence" have adopted the tactics and standards of "objectivist history" (i.e. documentary research) to support the case. The essay then contradicts itself by calling the Iroquois' scholarly tactics "radical traditionalist ethnicity" [p. 441]. This confusion is compounded by an abundance of unattributed quotations from "mainstream Iroquoianists," who have criticized the guide and the "influence thesis" in general. Page after page asserting that "one scholar" at "a conference" said this or that gives the paper an air of small-town gossip rather than scholarship. Landsman and Ciborski also suffer from a problem that seems endemic among "mainstream Iroquois experts:" the temptation to package other scholars' (as well as Iroquois) motives to fit predetermined academic categories, as in their discussion of who is, and isn't, practicing "objectivist" history.(*) Leacock, Eleanor. "Women's Status in Egalitarian Society: Implications for Social Evolution." Current Anthropology, Feb., 1992 (Vol. 33, No. 1), pagination not available.
Lewis, Martin W. Green Delusions: An Environmentalist Critique of Radical Environmentalism. Durham, N. C.: Duke University Press, 1992.
On page 92 of Green Delusions, Lewis, an assistant professor of geography at George Washington University, argues that participatory democracy may not eliminate social repression. Instead, he believes it perpetuates "a tyranny of long-winded individuals [who are] immune to boredom." Lewis believes that the inefficiency of participatory democracy uses more of the earth's resources for decision making than other forms of government. "Unable to hold up their own or their forebears' experimental efforts in communal living," writes Lewis, "They [eco-radicals] have turned instead to indigenous American social organization. One popular model of participatory democracy is the Iroquois Confederacy..." Lewis finds the Iroquois to be "a particularly ill-considered exemplar. Admiring the Iroquois political system of that era for its democracy is akin to praising Nazi Germany for its enlightened forestry. The Five Nations not only engaged in a highly successful campaign of ethnocide against their competitors in the fur trade, the Hurons, but they also raised the torture of war captives (those whom they chose not to adopt, at any rate) to a high art."Limbaugh, Rush. The Way Things Ought to Be. New York: Pocket Books, 1992.
Page 204: "Multiculturalism is billed as a way to make Americans more sensitive to the diverse cultural backgrounds of people in this country. It's time we blew the whistle on that. What is being taught under the guise of multiculturalism is worse than historical revisionism. It's more than a distortion of facts. It's the elimination of facts. In some schools, kids are being taught that the ideas of the Constitution were borrowed from the Iroquois Indians and that Africans discovered America."Lyons, Oren, John Mohawk, Vine Deloria, Jr., Laurence Hauptman, Howard Berman, Donald Grinde, Jr., Curtis Berkey and Robert Venables. Exiled in the Land of the Free: Democracy, Indian Nations, and the U.S. Constitution. Santa Fe, N.M.: Clear Light Publishers, 1992.
Wide-ranging discussion of native democratic traditions, and how recognition of their precedence could shape present-day law affecting American Indians. This collection of essays is the perfect antidote to Clifton's Invented Indian [1990, reviewed by Deloria 1992, above]. The idea that Native American confederacies, principally the Iroquois, contributed to the evolution of democracy is mentioned in the book's preface, by Senator Daniel Inouye, and in its foreword, by Peter Matthiessen. The theme is raised again at the beginning of the Introduction, by Lyons and Mohawk, and developed extensively in essays by Venables ("American Indian Influences on the America of the Founding Fathers"), and Grinde ("Iroquois Political Theory and the Roots of American Democracy"). The debate over the idea is discussed in Mohawk's essay "Indians and Democracy: No One Ever Told Us."(*) Malloy, Robin Paul. "Letters From the Longhouse: Law, Economics, and Native American Values." Wisconsin Law Review (September/October, 1992), p. 1569.
These are personal reflections of Malloy, who is a Kahnawake Mohawk and Professor of Law and Economics at the Syracuse University School of Law. Malloy notes that the United States Senate and House of Representatives have passed resolutions recognizing Iroquois contributions to United States fundamental law. This piece outlines the origins and procedures of the Iroquois confederacy, and cites articles in Northeast Indian Quarterly by Grinde [1987, 1989], as well as another article by Robert W. Venables in the same publication . Malloy writes that "...Upon the shores of Onondaga Lake...democracy in its purist form flourished among the Haudenosaunee a thousand years...these first citizens of liberty enjoyed the freedom of religion, expression, conscience, speech, movement, and all the other freedoms that we all take for granted." Malloy makes an unattributed statement that "one third of the United States Constitution can be traced back to the five Iroquois nations' form of government." The bibliography of this article lists Johansen, Forgotten Founders [1982, 1987].Maybury-Lewis, David. Millennium: Tribal Wisdom and the Modern World. New York: Viking, 1992.
This survey of aboriginal cultures around the world, prepared by Cultural Survival of Cambridge, Mass., contains a well-developed description of the Iroquois League's origins and operations. It also mentions Cannassatego's advice to the colonies on unification in 1744, and Benjamin Franklin's use of the theme in the early 1750s. Both Franklin and Jefferson were impressed by Indians' political systems, especially regarding egalitarianism. "There is an argument raging currently over whether or not the founding fathers of the United States of America consciously modelled their new nation on the Iroquois Confederacy. It seems to me, however, that the important thing is not whether they did or did not, but the fact that they could have. There were, after all, no models in Europe at that time for the kind of federal republic that the Americans established." Maybury-Lewis cites Forgotten Founders.O'Donnell, J. H., III. [Review of Exemplar of Liberty (1991)]. CHOICE, July/August 1992, p. 1745.
O'Donnell outlines the contents of Exemplar of Liberty, but does not really review the book. He restates the authors' "admission" (his word) that the ideas in the book are "controversial," and recommends it for research libraries "where readers will find available the sources appropriate for comparison and analysis."Oshinsky, David M. [Review: Schlesinger, Disuniting of America] The New Leader, March 9, 1992, p. 19.
Again, a reviewer trumpets Schlesinger's errors of fact regarding the New York State "Curriculum of Inclusion" guide Haudenosaunee: Past, Present, Future. Again, we expect to see New York high school students learning that the Iroquois Confederacy was an important foundation for the U.S. Constitution. This is supposed to be part of "an all-out assault on our national core," and an indication that "assimilation was out; victimization was in." Somehow, the facts of the matter get lost in a collusional party of fabrication by author and reviewer.Royal, Robert. 1492 and All That. Washington, D.C.: Ethics and Public Policy Center, 1992.
This brief book raises the "influence" issue on pp. 152 and 153: "The Iroquois had perhaps the most highly developed Native American political association in North America....In 1987, the U.S. Congress formally proclaimed that the Iroquois played an important role in the creation of American democracy. As a result, American schoolchildren are taught today that the Iroquois Confederation was a model for the American Founders as they began to consider how to organize the thirteen independent former colonies...." Royal maintains that "a few--very few--passages" in historical records indicate this, and he quotes from Benjamin Franklin's 1751 letter to his printing partner James Parker to this effect. However, Royal believes that no one investigated the structure of the Confederacy until the 1840s, a reference to Lewis Henry Morgan, who is not named in his text. Consequently, he writes, the Iroquois role "in shaping the Constitution in any serious way is doubtful to say the least." Judging from his references, Royal seems unaware that any scholarly work has been done supporting the idea. He cites Tooker , calling her essay refuting the "influence thesis" "a valuable review of the claims and counterclaims." Royal also cites Clifton's Invented Indian [1990, reviewed by Deloria, 1992], and Schlesinger, Disuniting of America .Schlesinger, Arthur M, Jr. The Disuniting of America. New York: W.W. Norton, 1992.
Schlesinger (on pages 96-98) takes issue with "history-for self-esteem," or "feel-good history," by which, he says, self-interested minority groups seek to express their points of view in school curricula. His target here is the New York State "Curriculum of Inclusion," which includes a Native American study guide entitled Haudenosaunee [Iroquois]: Past, Present, Future. This curriculum guide had been the object of a bureaucratic ideological battle within the State Department of Education for at least five years by 1992. Scholars on both sides of the issue have worked as consultants to this study under contract with the New York State Education Department. Until 1992, the guide contained references to the "influence thesis," which were reportedly excised after complaints by people to whom Vine Deloria, Jr. referred in his essay  as "the old-boys' network of anthropology." Page 97: "In New York the curriculum for 11th-grade history tells students that there were three 'foundations' for the Constitution: the European Enlightenment, the 'Haudenosaunee political system,' and the antecedent colonial experience....How many experts on the American Constitution would endorse this stirring tribute to the 'Haudenosaunee political system'? How many have heard of that system? Whatever influence the Iroquois confederacy had on the framers of the Constitution was marginal; on European intellectuals, it was marginal to the point of invisibility. No other state curriculum offers this analysis of the making of the Constitution. But then no other state has so effective an Iroquois lobby."Stannard, David E. American Holocaust: Columbus and the Conquest of the New World. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.
Schlesinger's book contains no footnotes or endnotes, so it is unknown what works he consulted before composing the above statements. He read Forgotten Founders in 1982 and endorsed it: "Forgotten Founders is a tour-de-force of ingenious and elegant scholarship offering justice at last to the Indian contributions to the American Constitution." [see letter, Schlesinger to Lovell Thompson, publisher, Gambit, Inc., 1982].
Pages 28-30: "Probably the most common association that is made with the congregations of northeastern cultures concerns their sophisticated domestic political systems....such as the Five Nation Confederacy of the Iroquois. ... Many writers, both historians and anthropologists, have argued that the League was a model for the United States Constitution, although much controversy continues to surround that assertion. The debate focuses largely on the extent of Iroquois influence on Euro-American political thought, however, since no one denies that there was some influence." Other writers have discussed the impact of the new United States on Europe, writes Stannard. "In any case, however the controversy over Iroquois influence is decided, it will not minimize the Iroquois achievement..." [emphasis in original]. Stannard cites the Tooker-Johansen exchange in Ethnohistory [1988, 1990] and Johansen and Grinde, "Precedents," in American Indian Culture & Research Journal .Tack, Alan, review of Exemplar of Liberty , in Native Peoples [Phoenix], Summer, 1992, p. 72.
"Clearly, the pervasive and persistent influence of American Indian political systems on modern democracy and the American character lend this book its life and power. The authors' hope is that some day we may all 'join hands and celebrate the diverse roots of the American democratic tradition without the blinders of indifference and cultural arrogance.' This book nurtures that hope by helping us understand American democracy as a unique synthesis of Native American and European ideas..."Trosper, Ronald L. "Mind Sets and Economic Development on Indian Reservations," in Stephen Cornell and Joseph P. Kalt, eds., What Can Tribes Do? Strategies and Institutions in American Indian Economic Development. Los Angeles: UCLA American Indian Studies Center, 1992.
On page 327, Trosper is discussing Native American methods of building political consensus in systems with checks and balances. "The Iroquois, of course, are famous," he writes, footnoting Johansen and Grinde, "A Recent Historiography" .Wagner, Sally Roesch. "the Iroquois Influence on Women's Rights." Akwe:kon Journal (formerly Northeast Indian Quarterly) 9:1(Spring, 1992), pp. 4-15.
This is Sally Roesch Wagner's most detailed published description to date of how contact with Iroquois people helped shape the thoughts of Stanton, Gage, Anthony, and other founders of modern feminism. See also: Wagner [1988, 1989] and Grinde and Johansen, Exemplar of Liberty, Chapter 11 ("Persistence of an Idea") .(*) Weintraub, David. "Iroquois Influence in the Founding of the American Nation." Court Review 29 (Winter, 1992) pp. 17-32.
This is a very detailed summary of the Iroquois League and ways in which it helped to shape American concepts of democracy. Weintraub, a third-year law student at Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center, used this piece to win first prize in the American Judges Association/American Judges Foundation 1992 Law Student Essay Contest.Wolfson, Evelyn. The Iroquois: People of the Northeast. Brookfield, CT: Millbrook Press, 1992.
This children's book opens its first chapter (on page 9) by asking: "Did you know that America's founding fathers were inspired by the Iroquois in their search for a form of government for America's colonies?" The book outlines Iroquois culture, including their political system. Cannassatego's advice in 1744 that the colonists form a union like that of the Iroquois (p. 43). On p. 56, Wolfson notes the similarity of Franklin's Albany Plan of 1754 and the Iroquois Great Law of Peace. The book references Grinde , Johansen [1982, 1987] and Grinde and Johansen .Wright, Ronald. Stolen Continents: The Americas Through Indian Eyes Since 1492. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1992.
Pages 115-116: The Iroquois Confederacy "still survive[s], still fighting for recognition of a nationhood that they believe they never surrendered to the parvenus who built the United States and Canada around them. They also feel ironic pride that European colonists took the Iroquois Confederacy as a model when contemplating a union of their own." Wright then recounts some of the events in this chain of circumstances, such as the speech by Onondaga sachem Cannassatego at Lancaster in 1744 calling on the colonists to emulate the confederacy. Wright places Benjamin Franklin at that meeting, a factual error. Franklin, still a printer by trade in 1744, published the proceedings of the Lancaster Treaty Conference, so he was undoubtedly familiar with Cannassatego's words. He did not attend treaty councils personally until the 1750s, however. Wright correctly points out that the bundle of arrows on the U.S. Great Seal is an Iroquois symbol, and that originally the bundle was to have contained five arrows (for the five original Iroquois nations) rather than 13, one for each original state. Wright describes the operation of the Iroquois League and historic comment on it through page 120. He returns to the subject on pp. 320-342, ending with the 1990 confrontation at Oka, Quebec. Wright cites early books by Grinde and Johansen [1977, 1982, 1987], as well as Tooker's article, and Johansen's reply in Ethnohistory [1988, 1990].
Popular Magazines and Newspapers
__________. "The Archaeologists Discover the Last of the Philistines." Washington Times, October 3, 1992, p. B-2.
This editorial ridicules recent archaeological work indicating that the Philistines, whom the editorial calls "boors, uncultured wretches and barbarians" actually may have been Greeks possessed of a high culture. The editorial opens: "Historical revisionism seems to be getting entirely out of hand. First, we heard that Columbus wasn't the Renaissance man we were told he was. Then, 'multiculturalists' claimed that the Iroquois Indians influenced the Founding Fathers. Now...we learn that archaeologists are reconsidering the character of the Philistines..."(*) __________. "Feminist Connection to Iroquois Topic of SUNY Oswego Program." The Valley News, November 9, 1992, p. 15.
Announcement of a presentation by Sally Roesch Wagner on "The Iroquois influence in the 19th century women's-rights movement," Nov. 18, at the State University of New York/Oswego, sponsored by the student government. Similar articles appeared November 12 in The Oswegonian News, and November 16 in the Syracuse Post-Standard's Oswego section.__________. "Manhattan Neighborhoods." Newsday, January 13, 1992, p. 21.
"People Against Sexual Abuse has developed and produced, in conjunction with the Church Avenue Block Association, a workshop for formerly undocumented aliens applying for citizenship that explains the Bill of Rights. The program, called Roots of Democracy, was developed in observance of the bicentennial of the Bill of Rights, and stresses the relationship of the U.S. Constitution to the Iroquois Indians' Great Law of Peace."Associated Press, in Syracuse Post-Standard, January 12, 1992.
At a gathering of 55 tribes on the Seminole Indian reservation, Florida, James Jumper said: "the Constitution is based on the Iroquois Nation's philosophy."Beaton, Danny, and Lindsey Mitchell. "We Are the People Columbus Discovered." Toronto Star, January 3, 1992, p. A-17.
Before the arrival of Columbus, the two authors write in this opinion column, native nations in the Americas had sophisticated political systems which solved problems through consensus and were strongly influenced by women. "The United Nations bases its constitution on indigenous ideas," they write.Bosveld, Jane. "Forgotten Founders: Did the Great Law of Peace, the Constitution of the Iroquois Nation, Help Shape Democracy and Federalism?" Omni, Feb., 1992, p. 33.
Bosveld surveys the debate, then concludes, borrowing from Jack Weatherford, that "the Indian model of democracy was replaced [after 1800] by the Greek model, in which slavery was permitted. It was a shift in thinking that rationalized the fate of African-Americans and laid the foundation for displacement and genocide of Native Americans. Perhaps it is time to include the Great Law of Peace in American textbooks."Brookhiser, Richard. [Review of Schlesinger, Disuniting of America] National Review, May 11, 1992, p. 49.
With Schlesinger, Brookhiser takes aim at purveyors of multiculturalism, "...'Scholars' who claim that the Constitution was cribbed from the Iroquois, or that ancient Egypt was a black civilization whose wisdom was plundered by Alexander the Great and slipped to his tutor Aristotle."Buchanan, Patrick J. "America's Cultural War." Atlanta Constitution, September 15, 1992, p. A-15. See also: Patrick Buchanan. "Yes, A Cultural War is Raging...." St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 13, 1992, p. 3-B.
"The cultural war is already raging in our public schools. In history texts, Benedict Arnold's treason at West Point has been dropped. So has the story of Nathan Hale, the boy patriot who spied on the British and went to the gallows with the defiant cry, 'I regret that I have but one life to give for my country.' Elsewhere, they teach that our Constitution was plagiarized from the Iroquois, and that Western science was stolen from sub-Sahara Africa." Whew!(*) Cojean, Annick. "Desarrois Americains IX. Historie: du 'Melting Pot' au Saladier." Le Monde (Paris) October 30, 1992, n.p.
Cojean describes the debate over multicultural education in the United States, raising, as an example, "De l'influence du modele Iroquois."Dahl, Katherine. [Review, Lyons, et. al., Exiled in the Land of the Free(1992)]. Library Journal, vol. 117, No. 19 (November 15, 1992), p. 88.
"That the founding fathers were philosophically and culturally influenced by the Indian nations is explained...to any doubter's or disbeliever's satisfaction" by Exiled, says Dahl. "Truly a great book," she says of Exiled, which is "an effective antidote for the Columbus quincentenary hoopla."Diakiw, Jerry. "Our Culture's Native Roots." Toronto Star, July 21, 1992, p. A-19.
In an opinion piece, Diakiw surveys general Canadian culture's debt to native precedents, including Montaigne's use of information supplied him by visitors to the Iroquois. He also quotes Frederich Engels' surprise at reading Lewis Henry Morgan's accounts of Iroquois society with its lack of class structure. He asserts that Karl Marx's sense of feminism was shaped by studying Morgan on the matriarchal nature of Iroquois society. Of the Iroquois Confederacy, Diakiw says "it had a profound influence on both the American and Canadian systems of government." He details the remarks on colonial union by Cannassatego at the 1744 Lancaster Treaty Council, and Benjamin Franklin's use of it, asserting that the three-tier system of federalism used in both the United States and Canada are an inheritance of Iroquois inspiration. Canada, in particular, merged this system with the English parliamentary tradition, he says.Doxtater, Mike. "The Constitution of the Five Nations." The Indigenous Voices (Hamilton, Ontario, Canada), August/September, 1992, pp. 1, 3.
This article outlines the political structure and procedures of the Iroquois Confederacy, and briefly traces its influence on Benjamin Franklin, the German philosopher Hegel, as well as Marx and Engels. The article also notes that Marxian philosophy contains elements contrary to the philosophy of the Great Law of Peace. The article cites Weatherford, Indian Givers .Evans-Pritchard, Ambrose. "Down with DWEMs -- America's New Apartheid." The Daily Telegraph [London], August 30, 1992, Books, p. 15.
In this review of Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.'s book Disuniting of America, Evans- Pritchard comes out in defense of DWEMs -- Dead, White, European Males -- whom he says are suffering at the hands of "the American race-relations industry, [which is] amply subsidized by the public purse." "Education in America is becoming a form of therapy," he writes, with examples: "Black school children in Portland, Oregon, are taught that Africans discovered America. In New York, the curriculum guide for 11th-grade history tells students that the Haudenosaunee political system of the Iroquois Indians was the inspiration for the American constitution..." As has been pointed out elsewhere, the proposed curriculum over which Schlesinger and this writer are knashing their teeth was drafted, but never implemented by the state.Galbraith, Jane. "Costner to Bring Indian History to CBS in 1994..." Los Angeles Times, July 30, 1992, p. F-1 [Entertainment].
This is a background report on plans being made by Kevin Costner and associates, with $8 million of Coster's money, to produce a documentary series on American Indians to be broadcast on CBS. The producers are quoted as saying that "Democracy has roots in the Iroquois."Harjo, Suzan Shown. "Columbus: Discoverer or Despoiler? American Indians Still Reeling from Genocide." Dallas Morning News, October 11, 1992, p. 1-J.
In this 3,000-word survey of the five centuries since Columbus' first landfall in the Americas, Suzan Shown Harjo characterizes Columbus Day as "a holiday that represents native national, cultural, and family genocide." The myth of "discovery" often comes with a myth about democracy, despite the lack of practicing democratic models in Europe. "It was here, in the Iroquois, Muscogee, and other confederacies, where Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and other Founding Fathers found longstanding working models of Native nations united for peacetime purposes...The basic precept of democracy -- inherent sovereignty of the individual -- was found here." Ironically, she says, today the system to which Indians so vitally contributed refuses to recognize many native religious rights.Harris, John F. "Arthur Schlesinger's Education in Controversy..." [Review of Schlesinger, Disuniting America] Washington Post, June 1, 1992, p. B-1.
Another dump on the New York State Education curriculum Haudenosaunee: Past, Present, Future by an uncomprehending critic. "The state's official curriculum, for example, tells students that the thinking of the Iroquois Confederacy was an important influence on the framers of the U.S. Constitution." No one seems to have watched the history of this guide besides the Iroquois themselves, who watched it rot in the state's education bureaucracy after unfavorable reviews from various Iroquois "experts."(*) Hornback, Bert G. "The Paradise He and His Followers Destroyed." Louisville Courier-Journal, October 11, 1992, p. 1-D.
In this opinion piece, "he" is Christopher Columbus. Hornback, a professor of humanities at Bellermine College, writes that Columbus' voyages began an invasion that uprooted cultures which in some ways were superior to those of Europe. Without the European invasion, Native Americans might never have had electric hot-dog cookers, 9,000-decibel stereos, or atomic bombs, but, "Before we came...the Native Americans we call the Iroquois were the founders of what was called the Great Law of Peace....Benjamin Franklin thought the Great Law was the finest model of government he had seen, and recommended the Iroquois federation as a model for the new white nation about to be formed."Hume, Stephen. "Bigotry Wrapped in Nationalist Banner." Vancouver Sun, February 21, 1992, p. A-13.
Hume is addressing the question of Quebec's claim for "special status" in a newly defined Canadian confederation. He says that advocates of Quebec's sovereignty are being hypocritical when they refuse to allow sovereignty for First Peoples inside the province's borders. Orvide Mercredi is said to have recently made this argument, for which he was criticized by several Quebec politicians. "Consider the monumental insult Mercredi must feel in downtown Montreal where the first encounter between the founders [of Quebec] and the Iroquois is celebrated with a disgusting depiction of Paul de Chomeday blowing out a chief's brains with his pistol....The Indian he killed already had a constitution so sophisticated that the United States borrowed it..."(*) Innerst, Carol. "Cut and Paste History: 'PC' Texts Drop Some Big Names." Washington Times, April 26, 1992, p. A-1.
This lengthy front-page piece asserts that many school children can no longer identify Nathan Hale as they strive "to integrate the long-slighted experiences of women and members of minorities into a new and multicultural vision of Americans' heritage." As one example of this change, Innerst cites a textbook published in 1950 (America's History) on the Albany Plan of Union (1754) with Triumph of the American Nation (1986), which says: "The example of the Iroquois Confederation had an influence on Benjamin Franklin and his efforts to promote an intercolonial union."Jensen, Erik M. "Iroquois Didn't Write U.S. Constitution." Cleveland Plain Dealer, August 1, 1992.
Jensen, professor of Law at Case Western University, refutes assertions of influence along lines similar to his refutation of Greg Schaaf in The American Indian Law Review 15:2(1991), described below. Jensen names none of the scholars that he says are spreading this "bogus history," and the newspaper format allows no references, so it's tough to tell at whom Professor Jensen is aiming this barrage of buzzwords.Johnson, Gordon K. "Constitution is Inspired." [Letter to the editor] Calgary Herald, October 18, 1992, p. A-7.
Writing in the context of Canada's constitutional debate, Johnson says "There have been two streams of democracy," one from the European Enlightenment, the other from our tribal heritage, "which [has] been successful [in] ancient Greece, the Swiss cantons, and the Iroquois Confederacy." Canada faces the problem of how to accommodate diverse nationalities and other groups in a common territory, says Johnson. "We have no Thomas Jefferson, but we do have Orvide Mercredi and the Inuit mothers and grandmothers of confederation."Kaye, Mary. "The Road to Beauty." Sassy, October, 1992, pp. 76-78, 90-91.
Tucked among articles with titles such as "Axl Rose: Clothes Horse," and "Beauty Tips for Procrastinators," Kaye contributes an article headed (on the magazine's cover) "Why Our Screwed-up Planet Needs Native Americans." While most of the article relates the author's personal experiences among the Navajo, on page 78, she writes: "These days the brainwashing is more insidious...textbooks virtually ignore Native American contributions (did you know, for example, that parts of Iroquois law were incorporated into the American Constitution?)..."Kermode, Frank. "Whose History is Bunk." New York Times, February 23, 1992, Section 7, Page 3 [Book Review].
Kermode is reviewing several recent books on "political correctness," two of which [Schlesinger, Disuniting of America and Berman, Debating P.C.] take up the "influence" issue. Reviewing Schlesinger's book, Kermode paraphrases his argument but does not comment on it: "Honest history cannot regard the European origins of culture and Constitution as poisonous." [One wonders: who is regarding them as poisonous?] In the book edited by Berman, Diane Ravitch contributes an essay that opposes the "influence" idea. Kermode comments: "...Ms. Ravitch is wrong to deny the influence of the Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) on Upstate New York on the Constitution....with rancor substituting for argument."Knox, Bernard. "The Oldest Dead White European Males: Ancient Greece." The New Republic 206:21 (May 25, 1992), p. 27.
This is a survey of the debts that modern society owes to the Greeks, which also develops debates over male dominance and slavery in ancient Greek society. Near the end of his article, Knox appends this disclaimer: "All this does not entitle us, of course, to discard the results of the re-evaluation of Greek culture that has emphasized its 'otherness,' the attitudes and institutions that resemble those of Egypt and Babylon, not to mention those of Lafitau's Algonquins, Hurons, and Iroquois."Lunner, Chet. "A Primer On the First People." [Gannett News Service] October 12, 1992.
Released on the 500th anniversary of Columbus' first landfall in the Americas, this newswire piece contains a lengthy, detailed account of the circumstances which compelled Benjamin Franklin and other colonial leaders to meet Iroquois sachems and adopt some of their political practices. He begins with Cannassatego's advice that the British colonists unify in 1744, and Franklin's use of similar concepts in the Albany Plan of Union and Articles of Confederation. Lunner quotes Jack Weatherford and cites his Indian Givers.Mander, Jerry. "Wisdom from Other Cultures." [Review of Maybury-Lewis, Millennium, 1992] San Francisco Chronicle, April 26, 1992, Sunday Review, p. 3.
According to Mander, author of In the Absence of the Sacred , Millennium is "an immensely valuable collection of rare information about dozens of the world's still-viable native societies." The book "takes us through native medical practice and pharmacology, religious philosophy, and numerous examples of democratic forms of governance, notably the Iroquois,' whose Great Law was surely the main model for the U.S. Constitution."Mander, Jerry. [Review of Nabokov, Native American Testimony] The Nation, April 6, 1992, p. 461.
Mander observes that during the recent bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution, "not one word appeared in the official proceedings and damned few in the press about the critical role that Indian political thinkers and the Iroquois Confederacy Great Law (created centuries before Columbus' arrival) had in influencing the concepts of governance then being developed by our 'Founding Fathers.'" [I talked with Warren Burger, head of the bicentennial commission, at a conference in Vermillion, S.D., during October, 1988. He was interested enough to stay up late the same night reading a copy of Forgotten Founders I gave him. We were both staying at the Super 8 Motel. As I checked out, he came down the hall and asked me to stop -- he wanted to tell me how much he appreciated the new knowledge. He referred me to staff, who ignored the idea.](*) Maybury-Lewis, David. "Tribal Wisdom: Is it Too Late to Reclaim the Benefits of Tribal Living?" Utne Reader, July/August 1992, pp. 68-95.
On pages 76-77, in the context of a discussion of African tribes thrown together in European-designated nations, a sidebar notes that: "There has been intriguing talk in Uganda of a confederation of tribes based on the League of the Iroquois, where local power would be left to the tribes and state politics would be decided by a joint council in which each tribe, regardless of size, has an equal vote." [This is a sidebar to the main article by Jason W. Clay, originally published in Mother Jones, November/December, 1990.] Maybury-Lewis ends this article as he concludes his book Millennium (1992, above), calling for a "new federalism, which, after the manner of the League of the Iroquois, permits each people in the nation to keep its council fire alight," The Great Law, writes Maybury-Lewis, "was remarkable because it was [and still is -- ed. note] a constitution that had [and still has] the force of a religion." (p. 79)McGhee, Robert. "Time to Put the Facts Ahead of the Myths About Columbus." Ottawa Citizen, October 14, 1992, p. A-11.
In an op-ed column, McGhee is replying to Michael Berliner of the Ayn Rand Institute, who described Columbus as having brought "undreamed-of benefits" to the aboriginal peoples of the Americas. In his refutation of Berliner's arguments, McGhee says that "modern Western civilization is not a product developed solely by Europeans, as assumed by Berliner." McGhee cites a number of food crops first used by native peoples of the Americas. He adds: "The American constitution and its concept of democracy may owe much, it has been suggested, to the political concepts of the Iroquois and other Native American peoples." McGhee is an archaeologist with the Canadian Museum of Civilization.Menard, Louis. "School Daze: Multicultural Education." Harper's Bazaar, September, 1992, p. 380.
This 2,400-word discussion of the debate over multicultural education stakes out New York State as a major battle front, because of the "Curriculum of Inclusion," including its "recommendation that pupils be taught about the influence of the Haudenosaunee political system (of the Iroquois tribes in Upstate New York, in case you've forgotten) on the U.S. Constitution."Mitchell, Peter. "A Conversation With Buchanan." Orlando Sentinel, February 27, 1992, p. A-5.
What is a professor to do when he finds the subject of his Ph.D. dissertation used as campaign fodder by a stump-preaching politician? Patrick Buchanan is quoted here as saying: "When you see the idiocy that somehow the American Constitution is a direct descendant of the Iroquois Confederation documents -- this is all trash and nonsense. The effort is to turn future Americans into people who despise their own history and background..."Nells, Karen. "PEF Officials Confront Cuomo at State Museum," Albany Times-Union, October 6, 1992, pp. B-1, B-6.
New York State public employees confronted Governor Cuomo as he opened an exhibit on Iroquois life at the New York State Museum in Albany. In his speech opening the exhibit, Cuomo "credited the Iroquois people with developing the democratic principles that form the basis of the U. S. Constitution....'The evidence is strong that the Founding Fathers were greatly influenced by the framework of the Iroquois Nation.'" William Starna, chair of anthropology at the State University of New York at Oneonta, is quoted as saying that is "one of the damnedest, silliest ideas I've ever heard....The literature has absolutely devastated the argument that the Iroquois Constitution influenced the U.S. Constitution."Rethinking Schools, special issue, Rethinking Columbus, n.d.
Page 44 describes Iroquois influence on shaping of the Constitution, citing Forgotten Founders.Shah, Reena. "When the Melting Pot Breaks Down." [Review of Schlesinger, Disuniting of America] St. Petersburg [Florida] Times, April 5, 1992, p. 4-D.
Yet another reviewer bites on Schlesinger's assertion that high-school juniors in New York State are being force-fed fantasies of Iroquois political prowess. Such mileage out of a couple of unintentionally fictional sentences! "Why is it obligatory to insist that the Iroquois inspired the U.S. Constitution, but irrelevant to consider that W.E.B. Dubois admiringly devoured Pitt, Sheridan, Shakespeare, and Balzac?"Steele, Mike. "Heart of the Beast Offers Witty, Instructive Version of History of America." Minneapolis Star-Tribune, February 3, 1992, p. 5-E.
Steele reviews "Discover America," In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre's "alternative look at pre-and-post-Columbus America." He calls it "devilishly witty and seductively charming." This is a children's show that develops American history from a non-European point of view. The show takes its audience through history, and shows that Native American civilizations "are anything but savage and often quite creative and complex -- the Iroquois experimented with democracy long before royal Europe thought of it."Stoute, Lenny. "Buffy's Back With First Album in 15 Years." Toronto Star, March 17, 1992, p. C-4.
The singer Buffy Sainte-Marie is interviewed on the road in Toronto. She is quoted as saying that "Right now, people all over the world are dissatisfied and looking for new ways of government. They could learn, for instance, from the Iroquois Confederacy, from which the American Constitution derives." Sainte-Marie says that the Constitution "didn't go far enough. The Europeans couldn't handle the female roles in the Iroquois system and choose to ignore them. From there, it's a short jump to ignoring the rights of females altogether."Smith, Robert L. "Democracy, Indian Style." Syracuse Post-Standard, Dec. 28, 1992, pp. B-1, B-5.
This review of Oren Lyons, et. al., Exiled in the Land of the Free [see above] quotes Lyons' contention that the United States adopted only parts of Iroquois and other native democratic systems. The founders compromised with their European heritage by permitting slavery [in the southern states] and ignoring the rights of women, as well as making the vote initially contingent on property ownership. Reviewer Smith notes that most of the book's co-authors subscribe to the "influence school." "...[T]he authors point to Iroquois concepts, such as federalism, untested in Europe, that found their way into the Constitution." Benjamin Franklin's role is noted. Smith ignores the fact that some examples of confederation do exist in European history, although they were not practiced (as were Native American confederacies) within eyeshot of the United States' founders. European confederacies were analyzed in John Adams' Defence of the Constitutions..., along with the Iroquois system.Switzer, Norah L. "Parliamentary Democracy." [Letter to the editor] Los Angeles Times, August 25, 1992, p. B-6.
Switzer takes issue with an editorial in the Times suggesting that the United States consider a parliamentary system. The writer uses Jack Weatherford's assertion in Indian Givers  that "our nation's legislation [legislative system] was founded directly on the principles of the Iroquois League of Nations in which the 'purpose of debate...was to persuade and educate, not to confront...'" Switzer contends that the two major parties that evolved after the Constitution was ratified have effectively imposed a de facto parliamentary system, and that "our legislators would be wise to follow the example set by the Iroquois speakers, one good enough to impress the Founding Fathers into modelling our legislative system after it.Tallman, Valerie. "Tribal Nations Air Concerns Before the United Nations." Indian Country Today, December 24, 1992.
Tallman reports on a speech by Oren Lyons at the United Nations, part of proceedings to begin the 1993 Year of Indigenous Peoples. As part of her report on Lyons speech, Tallman notes that Lyons "is author of a new book, Exiled in the Land of the Free, which documents the Native origins of democracy and illustrates the link between the Iroquois Confederacy's Great Law of Peace and the U. S. Constitution."Tamblyn, Ian. "Country's Economic Ills Cited as Reason for Rejection of Deal." Calgary Herald, October 29, 1992, p. A-5.
This article surveys reactions to the defeat of the Charlottetown Accord in Canada. One of the people responding is Ruth Norton, education officer with the Assembly of First Nations. She says that the accord's defeat does not signal the end of debate over a new constitution for Canada. In native societies, she says, people "talk until the talking is done." Canada still has unfinished business. "How do you build a constitution," Norton asks, as she observes that European settlers of the United States "borrowed from the philosophy and principles of the Great Law of the Iroquois Confederacy." This gave them a connection to their new home. "Now," says Norton, "They are ready for the next step -- moving from principle to practice and respect for the First Peoples."Wandell, Grace and Jack. "Viewpoint: Native Americans Have Rich Lore." Albany Times-Union, March 31, 1992, p. A-10.
The authors critique a commentary on CBS' "Sixty Minutes" by Andy Rooney, whose home town is Albany. In response to Rooney's assertion that Native American lifestyles are "an anachronism," the Wandells list contributions of a material and intellectual nature, including an observation that "the...Haudenosaunee institution of government was surely one of the key factors contributing to the form of modern American republics."White, Timothy. "Native American Song, Then and Now." Billboard, May 9, 1992, p. 5.
This piece in the large-circulation entertainment industry trade organ Billboard discusses the music of John Trudell, a Santee Sioux who was one of the founders of the American Indian Movement, particularly his collection "AKA Graffiti Man." As part of his article, White briefly summarizes Native American contributions to general American society, including foods and medicines, citing Weatherford, Indian Givers . White writes: "Even our Founding Fathers' concepts for governing the wilderness settlements were shaped by the Iroquois Confederacy's Great Law of Peace..."Wittstock, Laura Waterman. "A Good Ol' (Native) American Civics Test." Fellowship, September, 1992, pp. 9, 17.
Grinde comments on Native American contributions to democracy, one aspect of history that the magazine thought it subscribers "should know before the Columbus Quincentennial year is over."
Scholarly Meetings and Public Forums
[January, 1992] University of Nebraska at Omaha. Johansen lectured on the debate surrounding the "influence issue" on the occasion of his promotion to full professor, at a reception hosted by the UNO College of Arts & Sciences.
[April, 1992] Four to five thousand citizens of Kansas City observed Earth Day by assembling a very large mosaic of materials to be recycled in the shape of a turtle, after the Iroquois reference to North America as "Turtle Island." The mosaic, which occupied the space of roughly a football field, was constructed in a Kansas City park, and dismantled the next day. Information on Iroquois life, including Constitutional influence, was distributed at the event. Organizer Marty Kraft provided an aerial photograph of the turtle mosaic with participants circling it.
[April, 1992] Grinde and Johansen presented papers based on Exemplar of Liberty at the Organization of American Historians annual meeting in Chicago.
[October, 1992] Johansen presented a paper, "Roger Williams, 'Soul Liberty,' and the Native Peoples of New England," at a conference called to air Native American viewpoints on the Columbian Quincentenary, University of California at Los Angeles.Other Items
- A fund-raising mailing by the Native American Rights Fund observed Native American contributions to American concepts of government.
- Alexander Sudak reported from Poland in September that he had completed a Polish translation of Exemplar of Liberty, and that he had forwarded the manuscript to the Polish-American Historical Society in Warsaw for publication. Sudak said he plans to translate the book into Russian as well.
- Permission request to utilize Johansen and Grinde, "The Debate Regarding Precedents"  for a book of readings compiled by Thomas Kavanagh, George Washington University, for Sociology 139. January 24.
- Oyons, an Onondaga member of the Iroquois Grand Council, appeared on "Bill Moyers' Journal" (Public Broadcasting Service), July 4, 1992; he discussed Iroquois ecological and political traditions, and asserted Iroquoian precedents for United States government.
- William A. Starna to George M. Gregory, Supervisor of Educational Programs, New York State Department of Education, November 20, 1992. Cover letter and 27-page critique of Haudenosaunee: Past, Present, Future, the Iroquois-composed curriculum guide that has become a flashpoint for disagreement over the "influence" issue. Starna [see also: 1990, 1991] says the second draft of the guide is "as badly flawed as the first." "Most troublesome," writes Starna "is the State Education Department's complete failure to address the erroneous views of American history, legal issues, anthropology and Indian-White relations presented in the guide. The most egregious of these is the bankrupt claim of Iroquois influence on the development and design of the United States Constitution." Starna asserts that Grinde and Johansen are "individuals who have a vested interest in seeing their own peculiar views of history presented in the guide." Sally Roesch Wagner [see 1992 and earlier], et. al. are named as fellow-travelers of Grinde, Johansen, and "traditional Iroquois." Starna demands that his name be taken off the list of reviewers, and that passages describing "this constitution nonsense" be removed from the guide. Files also contain a chronology of developments related to the curriculum guide (September 1986 through December 1992), compiled by John Kahionhes Fadden.
- James W. Herrick, "Iroquois League," Grolier Electronic Publishing. This appears to be an entry printout from a CD-ROM encyclopedia package. It provides an overview of the Iroquois Confederacy and its founding, and ends: "Some historians claim that the highly democratic political organization of the Iroquois League may have served as a model for the compilers of the United States Constitution."
- Transcript, "Notes for a Speech by the Right Honorable Joe Clark...President of the Privy Council and Minister Responsible for Constitutional Affairs." [At the annual meeting of the Canadian Manufacturer's Association] Toronto, June 12, 1992. In LEXIS. Clark addresses the problems of Canadian nationhood as they impinge on the present constitutional debate in that country. Clark asserts the right and ability of Native Canadians to govern themselves, pointing to the Iroquois: "Aboriginal self-government...was here when Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin looked to the Iroquois Confederacy when they were designing the American Constitution."
- (*) Videotape, "More Than Bows and Arrows," one hour, described in catalogue of Insight Media, New York City: "This award-winning documentary illuminates the impact that Native Americans have had on the political, social, and cultural development of the U. S. Narrated by N. Scott Momaday, it examines how government, agriculture and food, transportation, architecture, science and technology, the arts, medicine, and language all have benefitted from Native American contributions."
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