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
1994Books and Scholarly Journals
(*) Alschuler, Albert W. "A Brief History of the Criminal Jury in the United States." University of Chicago Law Review 61 (Summer, 1994), p. 867.
As an aside in his study of the jury system, Alschuler writes that "A few Native American governments may have been more democratic in some respects, particularly in the extent to which they permitted women to participate in governmental affairs." Alschuler is Wilson-Dickinson professor at the University of Chicago Law School.(*) Bennoune, Karima. "As-Salumu Alaykum: Humanitarian Law in Islamic Jurisprudence." Michigan Journal of International Law 15 (Winter, 1994), p. 605.
Bennoune describes Islamic contributions to international law, and decries attempts to trace world-wide standards for justice to any single (especially European) culture or geographic area. The author writes, in footnote 217, that "Such recognition of the multicultural roots of legal principles is occurring elsewhere in historical and legal studies. One such debate is that over the Native American, and most particularly Iroquois, roots of the U.S. Constitution." This article cites Stannard, American Holocaust (1992).(*) Bernstein, Richard. Dictatorship of Virtue: Multiculturalism and the Battle for America's Future. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994.
Bernstein, a long-time journalist with Time magazine and the New York Times, wanders wide-eyed through what he seems to regard as a brave new world of multicultural education. On his way, in Milwaukee, he visits an elementary school, Andersen Contemporary, which teaches Afrocentric and other multicultural curricula. Teachers at the school showed him a list of books that included Exemplar of Liberty  and Forgotten Founders [1982, 1987] "demonstrating that the Algonquin [sic] system of government, the confederation of the five Algonquin tribes, was a model for the framers of the U.S. Constitution."Boyd, Doug. Mad Bear: Spirit, Healing, and the Sacred in the Life of a Native American Medicine Man. New York: Simon & Schuster/Touchstone, 1994.
"Influence" is mentioned on page 242 in the context of Native American contributions to general North American culture. On pages 262 and 263, Russell Means, who is quoted in a speech, paraphrases Benjamin Franklin's 1751 letter which encourages emulation of Iroquois governing methods ("It would be a strange thing if six nations...") Means says the statement was made at a meeting in 1746. He seems to be referring to the Albany Congress of 1754.Caduto, Michael J. and Joseph Bruchac. Keepers of Life: Discovering Plants Through Native American Stories and Earth Activities for Children. Golden, Colo.: Fulcrum, 1994.
Page 8 briefly discusses the Iroquois use of a Great White Pine as a national symbol. On page 9, under a drawing of a Great White Pine by John Kahionhes Fadden, a caption observes that the Iroquois Tree of Peace [and the rest of the Iroquois political tradition] has helped inspire the United Nations Charter and the United States Constitution.Calloway, Colin G. The World Turned Upside Down: Indian Voices From Early America. Boston: Bedford Books/St. Martin's Press, 1994.
This book is part of the Bedford Series in History and Culture. It contains an excerpt from Cannassatego's 1744 speech at the Lancaster Treaty Council, at which he urged the colonists to unite on an Iroquois model. Comments the author: "Some people interpret Cannassatego's words as evidence that, forty-five years later, the Founding Fathers based the United States Constitution on that of the Iroquois."Champagne, Duane, ed. The Native North American Almanac. Detroit: Gale Research, 1994.
On pages 248 and 249, while describing Iroquois history and culture, this book provides a short overview of colonial-Native interaction, including advice by Iroquois leaders that the British colonies unite, as well as Benjamin Franklin's use of Iroquois precedents in the Albany Plan and Articles of Confederation. Comments by Jefferson and John Adams are included. Exemplar of Liberty  is cited as a source. Iroquois advice to the colonists is also included under "Cannassatego" and "Hendrick" in the biographical section of the Almanac.Champagne, Duane, ed. Chronology of Native North American History. Detroit: Gale Research, 1994.
An entry observing the birth of Hendrick (1680) on page 72 notes that his alliance with Anglo-americans helped shape United States political practices.Champagne, Duane, ed. Native America: Portrait of the Peoples. Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 1994.
On pages 61 and 62, this book briefly describes Iroquois contributions to the Albany Plan, as well as the writings of Thomas Jefferson and Tom Paine. Donald Grinde was a contributor to this book. The discussion of Iroquois contributions to democracy is illustrated with a drawing by John Kahionhes Fadden, depicting a ceremony at Independence Hall in 1776 during which a group of Iroquois sachems gave John Hancock an Onondaga name.Churchill, Ward. Indians Are Us? Culture and Genocide in Native North America. Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press, 1994.
In "P is for Plagiarism," (pp. 167-172), Churchill argues that much of Jack Weatherford's Indian Givers was taken from Warren Lowes, Indian Giver: A Legacy of North American Native Peoples , which includes a chapter titled "The Influence of Folk Democracy," outlining Iroquois contributions to the development of democracy. While Weatherford's general debt to Lowes' book is not known, on the "influence thesis," he also borrowed liberally (fairly, and with credit) from Forgotten Founders [1982, 1987]. The influence issue also arises in Churchill's review of Jerry Mander's In the Absence of the Sacred ; Grinde, The Iroquois and the Founding of the American Nation  is cited (pp. 147, 163).(*) Crawford, Neta C. "A Security Regime Among Democracies: Co-operation Among the Iroquois Nations." International Organization, Summer, 1994 (Vol. 48, No. 3) pp. 345-385.
This article, published in the journal of the World Peace Foundation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, outlines the formation and operation of the Iroquois Confederacy. Crawford compares the Iroquois League to the Concert of Europe, and says that it is an example of Immanuel Kant's idea of a system of "perpetual peace." The article conveys an erroneous impression that the Iroquois Confederacy ceased to exist in 1777, during the American Revolution. Regarding the United States' Founders' use of Iroquois ideas, this article cites Forgotten Founders [1982, 1987].Gentry, Carole M., and Donald A. Grinde, Jr. The Unheard Voices: American Indian Responses to the Columbian Quincentenary 1492-1992. Los Angeles: American Indian Studies Center, 1994.
This record of a 1992 conference at UCLA contains Bruce Johansen's essay on Roger Williams, reprinted from Exemplar of Liberty (1991).Grinde, Donald A., Jr. [Review of Gibson, John Arthur. Concerning the (Iroquois) League.] American Indian Culture & Research Journal 18:1(1994), pp. 175-177.
pp. 175-76: "Over the years, the League of the Iroquois has inspired the constitutional thought of founders such as Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams." Grinde writes that wider availability of this annotated text of the Iroquois Great Law of Peace in Onondaga and English will help increase understanding of Native American democratic practices.Grinde. "Teaching American Indian History: A Native American Voice." American Historical Association Perspectives 32:6 (September, 1994), pp. 1, 11-16.
A pointed debate between Grinde and James Axtell on the nature of historical scholarship, dominance and authority, and the likelihood that the Iroquois helped shape American democratic traditions. The debate, which takes place in the context of teaching standards for Native American history, includes a reply by Axtell and a rejoinder by Grinde in the December, 1994 edition of Perspectives, pp. 31-33.Haan, Richard. [Review of Lyons, et. al., Exiled in the Land of the Free.] The Journal of American History 81:2 (Sept., 1994), pp. 641-642.
According to Haan, "There is not much new," in this book's assertion of Iroquois influence on the development of the democratic tradition. Haan surveys the eight essays in the book, and contends that the authors "fail to ask how much of the present-day Iroquois tradition of the Iroquois League has been influenced by contact with mainstream American culture."(*) Harvey, Karen D. and Lisa D. Harjo. Indian Country: A History of Native People in America. Golden, Colorado: North American Press/Fulcrum, 1994.
This teachers' guide for primary and intermediate-grade pupils mentions "influence" on page 48: "Many contemporary scholars credit the contribution that the Iroquois made to the current U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights." On pp. 97-99, the Iroquois Confederacy is described, and, on p. 107, Benjamin Franklin's suggestion that the colonies emulate the Iroquois with a political union (in 1751) is mentioned on a timeline. Forgotten Founders [1982, 1987] is cited in the bibliography on p. 328.Hayden, Tom. "Running in Place: Pushing Past the Market in the Clinton Era..." Tikkun, January, 1994, p. 33.
Hayden, a founder of Students for a Democratic Society in the 1960s and a California state senator in the 1990s, invokes political decentralization as a way to dissemble the "special interest state." In Tikkun, a progressive Jewish journal, Hayden calls for a decentralization on "a Jeffersonian, or Quaker, or Iroquois" model in an economy based in an eco-system balanced for generations to come. A market-driven model is not adequate for such a future, writes Hayden. In politics, he says, "inspiration for such a vision can be taken from certain of the writings of Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson, not to mention the Iroquois and other tribes that preceded the European arrival."Henry, William, III. In Defense of Elitism. Doubleday, 1994.
Henry is annoyed that the Heath anthology of American literature now "pointedly begins with Native American chants...rather than Pilgrim rhetoric." He also says that it is "wicked for the State of New York [to teach]... that one of the two main sources for the U. S. Constitution was the organizing pact of the Iroquois Indian nation." This statement appears to be based on the New York SED curriculum Haudenosaunee: Past, Present, Future, which was a dead letter by the time this book came out.Jacobs, Wilbur. [Review of Lyons, et.al., Exiled in the Land of the Free (1992).] American Indian Culture & Research Journal 18:1(1994), pp. 177-179.
Jacobs calls Exiled in the Land of the Free "a splendid new book" (p. 177), and observes that "Donald Grinde's penetrating analysis of Iroquois political theory stresses the impact of the Six Nations upon emerging American concepts of governance leading up to the Constitutional Convention....Non-Indian Iroquois researchers have consistently ignored the impact of Indian people upon the growth of American concepts of freedom and liberty." (pp. 178-179). Grinde's chapter was condensed from Exemplar of Liberty .Jemison, G. Peter. "Setting the Record Straight," in Marta Moreno Vega and Cheryll Y. Greene, eds. Voices From the Battlefront: Achieving Cultural Equity. Trenton, N.J.: Africa World Press, 1994.
In this essay, part of a collection on multicultural themes, Jemison describes "the Indian roots of American democracy." He observes that Franklin, Rutledge, and Madison were among the Founders who were influenced by Iroquois democracy. "Strong counterforces were at work," Jemison says on page 26, to retain slavery and to favor some established interests, resulting in a Constitution that did not adhere strictly to Iroquois law, but contained vestiges of it.Johansen, Bruce E. [Review of Lyons, et. al., Exiled in the Land of the Free (1992)]. American Historical Review, 99:1(January, 1994) pp. 295-296.
Josephy, Alvin, Jr. 500 Nations: An Illustrated History of North American Indians. New York: Knopf, 1994.
On pages 50, 52 and 53, following a brief description of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) League, Josephy writes, "The confederacy envisioned by the Peacemaker...influenced enlightened seventeenth and eighteenth century philosophers and writers in the colonies and Europe who were seeking just ways for their people to be governed." Josephy says that Benjamin Franklin's Albany Plan of Union "drew inspiration" from the Iroquois League, and that its example had an "indirect influence" on debates during the Constitutional Convention in 1787. Josephy says that the way in which the two houses of the U.S. Congress use conference committees to reconcile differences resembles the procedures of the Iroquois League. This book was published in conjunction with a series on American Indians broadcast during 1995 by CBS News, hosted by Kevin Costner.Malone, John. The Native American History Quiz Book. New York: Quill/William Morrow, 1994.
On its back cover, the first question this books asks its readers is: "What confederation, first formed in 1570, had significant influence on the United States Constitution?" On page 76, this book also quotes from Exemplar of Liberty (although it is not cited) regarding Thomas Jefferson's characterization of Indians' use of public opinionPatterson, Lotsee and Mary Ellen Snodgrass, Indian Terms of the Americas. Englewood, Colorado: Libraries Unlimited, 1994.
This is a short (270 pages) encyclopedia-type work covering North and South America. On page 113, under "Iroquois League," the authors outline the history and structure of the confederacy, then write: "The representative government of the league is thought by some historians to have been a model for the U.S. government's representative democracy."Quinn, Arthur. New World: An Epic of Colonial America from the Founding of Jamestown to the Fall of Quebec. Boston: Faber & Faber, 1994.
Quinn is a professor of rhetoric at the University of California. In this book, he outlines the founding legend of the Iroquois Confederacy and argues that it helped shape the United States. He presents events involving Benjamin Franklin and the Iroquois in some detail (pp. 450-452), beginning with Cannassatego's advice that the colonists unite on an Iroquois model in 1744. Quinn makes a point of the fact that Franklin publicized the Onondaga sachem's advice by printing the treaty on his press. Quinn also points out that Franklin's 1751 letter to his printing partner James Parker advising the colonists to unite as had the Iroquois was not private correspondence -- it was also published and publicized. "The Iroquois, strange to say, were not only providing the opportunity for this [colonial union]; they had long been providing by their example the method -- or so Franklin thought." (p. 450) Quinn says that the Iroquois model provided proof that a confederation need not result in the type of oppressive centralized authority that was much feared in the colonies. Since 1751, Franklin had been looking for a way to express his ideas for colonial union, and he found his forum in the Albany Congress of 1754.Reeve, Christina S. Documents of Freedom: National School Celebration. Costa-Mesa, California: Celebration U.S.A., 1994.
This booklet was a result of the second National School Celebration in 1992, which stressed America's patriotic heritage for several million elementary-school children. The 1992 celebration was a centenary for the first, held in 1892, for which the Pledge of Allegiance was written. The booklet contains an essay by Elizabeth Christensen ("Our Founding Grandfathers," pp. 36-37) observing Iroquois roots of American democracy; Exemplar of Liberty [Grinde and Johansen, 1991] is cited as a source. On p. iii, the book lists month-by-month themes for celebration. The theme for October is "How did the political and social order of Native Americans influence American democracy?"(*) Snow, Dean R. The Iroquois. Oxford, U.K.: Blackwell, 1994.
In his history of the Iroquois, Snow, a professor of anthropology at the State University of New York -- Albany, says that while "Franklin's aborted Albany Plan of Union probably drew some inspiration from the Iroquois," and "this idea is very popular with the general public and most politicians....There is, however, little or no evidence that the framers of the Constitution sitting in Philadelphia drew much inspiration from the League." Snow argues, on p. 154, that "such claims muddle and denigrate the subtle and remarkable features of Iroquois government." However, concludes Snow, "the temptation to demonstrate that the United States Constitution was derived from a Native American form of government, for ephemeral political purposes, is too strong for some to resist." In a footnote (p. 238), Snow remarks that "I trust that, in the short term, but only in the short term, this paragraph [on p. 154, above] will be the most controversial offered in this book." He references Grinde and Johansen, Exemplar of Liberty , Tooker's article in Ethnohistory  and the Johansen-Tooker exchange in the same journal . In the footnote Snow says that a "complete exposition" of the controversy would take a book, "if popular interest in it does not fade by the end of the century."Stern, Kenneth S. Loud Hawk: The United States Versus the American Indian Movement. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1994.
On pp. 227-228, as this book describes how Dennis Banks was given sanctuary by the Onondagas in the early 1980s, Stern observes that the Iroquois Confederacy's "government flowed from a constitution that was older than ours which was a model for both Benjamin Franklin and Karl Marx." Stern notes that the confederacy still operates. The book has no references, which is unusual for a university press publication.Suagee, Dean B. and Christopher T. Stearns. "Indigenous Self-government: Environmental Protection...A Tribal Review." Colorado Journal of International Environmental Law and Policy, Winter, 1994, pp. 59-104.
Page 67: "A number of scholars have shown that the social philosophers who are credited with creating these ideas [liberty and inalienable rights] and the founding fathers of the American republic...drew upon their knowledge of how the Indian nations of eastern North America governed themselves (especially...the Haudenosaunee). This piece points out that the founders did not emulate the Iroquois' notions of women's political influence. They cite Forgotten Founders [1982, 1987] and Jacobs, "How the Founding Fathers Ignored the Clan Mothers" .(*) Versluis, Arthur. Native American Traditions. Shaftsbury, Dorset, Great Britain: Element Publishers, 1994.
This pictorial survey mentions the Iroquois Confederacy briefly on page 14, "with [its] confederacy, a governmental model that, it has been suggested, served as one source of inspiration for the form of government adopted by the United States."Wallace, Paul A. W. The White Roots of Peace: The Iroquois Book of Life. Santa Fe, N.M.: Clear Light Publishers, 1994.
This is a reprint of Wallace's 1946 title with an original introduction by Tadadaho Leon Shenandoah, and Epilogue by Seneca historian John Mohawk. New artwork is also included from John Kahionhes Fadden. For documentation of Wallace's references to Iroquois influence on the founding of United States fundamental law, see "Before 1975."(*) Williams, Robert A., Jr. "Linking Arms Together: Multicultural Constitutionalism in a North American Indigenous Vision of Law and Peace." California Law Review 82 (July, 1994), p. 981.
Williams describes in detail the origin and procedures of the Iroquois Confederacy and its Great Law of Peace, arguing, as his title indicates, that the Iroquois have an effective model for a multicultural society. He strives to "avoid overt engagement in the needlessly acrimonious debate about the degree of influence of Iroquois political ideas on the 'Founders' of the United States and their drafting of this nation's Constitution." Williams, a professor of law at the University of Colorado, and a Lumbee Indian, does mention the debate and lists sources on both sides, including Grinde , Tooker , Johansen [1982, 1987], Weatherford , and Barreiro .Wunder, John R. "Retained by the People:" A History of American Indians and the Bill of Rights. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.
On page 19, Wunder observes that "Recent scholarship argues that the Iroquois Confederation experience was on the minds of a number of delegates [to the Constitutional Convention] at Philadelphia, that several Constitutional Convention members who were in a position to shape the writing of the Constitution had observed the Six Nations republic." However, says Wunder, "Whatever amount of Iroquoian political theory was incorporated into the Constitution, the resulting document said little specifically about Native Americans." Wunder references Grinde, The Iroquois and the Founding of the American Nation  and Johansen, Forgotten Founders [1982, 1987].
Trade Magazines, Newspapers and Specialty Journals
Ahear, Lorraine. "Proposed Tribal Constitution Would Shift Power." Greensboro, N. C. News & Record, June 26, 1994, p. B-2.
This article discusses a proposed constitution for the Lumbees. It notes that some of its provisions are similar to the U.S. Constitution, "which was itself modelled after the tribal system of the Iroquois Indians of New York."Alexander, James. "Europeans, Not Indians, Gave Us Models for the Constitution." [Letter to the Editor] Washington Times, June 13, 1994, p. A-20.
Alexander, of Reston, Virginia, is replying to another letter to the editor, by Brian D. Brown (June 7, see below), in which "he implies that our federal government is modelled after the Iroquois Confederacy." He follows with a number of valid European precedents, not sensing that both could have worked in tandem.Anquoe, Bunty. "President Offers Hope." Indian Country Today, May 4, 1994, pp. A-1, A-2.
This report on President Clinton's speech to tribal leaders on April 29 (see 1994: "Other Items") includes a passage on Native democracy. Quoting Clinton: "So much of who we are today comes from who you have been for a long time. Long before others came to these shores there were powerful and sophisticated cultures and societies here -- yours. Because of your ancestors, democracy existed here long before the Constitution was drafted and ratified."Bialczak, Mark. "Shenandoah Opens Woodstock With Call for Peace." Syracuse Herald-Journal, August 12, 1994, pp. A-1, C-5.
Jim Davis, environmental director of the Wittenberg Center, Bearsville, New York, is credited with bringing Oneida folksinger Joanne Shenandoah to the attention of organizers for the 1994 "Woodstock" music festival, a reprise of a similarly named event in 1969. Shenandoah opened the three-day event before about 250,000 people. Davis said that his group has been working to get an indigenous voice in such events, and that, "...Not enough people realize that Franklin and Jefferson started our democracy after studying the Iroquois model."(*) Brown, Brian D. "Why We Need to Change the Way We Teach History." Washington Times, June 7, 1994, p. A-16.
In a letter to the editor, Brown, who identifies himself as "an African in America," takes issue with a May 24 op-ed piece by Samuel Francis titled "Giving Multiculturalism a Good, Swift Kick." "He needs to know," writes Brown, "...that civilizations throughout the world had participatory forms of government. In addition, the model of our current government came from one of the groups that Francis belittles as 'charming savages...'"Callinan, Veronica. "Egocentric 'Crusade' Mentality Still Lives." [Letter to the editor] Toronto Star, March 5, 1994, p. B-3.
Callinan is replying to a letter published Feb. 26 by Dominic DiStasi of the Grand Orange Lodge of Canada, in which he asserts that Christian values are being "chopped away" because of changes in the prayer that is cited daily by members of the Canadian parliament. Callinan lists evidence of civilization by peoples who were not Christian, including "the democratic system of the Iroquois Confederacy that was used as a model for the United States constitution."Carman, John. "TBS Series Beats its Breast in Series on Indians." San Francisco Chronicle, October 10, 1994, p. E-1.
Carman, a television critic at the Chronicle, asserts that Ted Turner's series of American Indians is part of "a rush to overcompensate for past sins." Carman says that the segment "The Broken Chain," which aired on October 10, is "a visual dud combined with a verbal scold....For example, viewers are told flat out that the Founding Fathers based their understanding of liberty on Indian life -- no mention here of the Enlightenment or British political philosophy -- and modelled the first confederation of states after the Iroquois Confederacy."Chasing Bear, Oowah Nah. [Letter to the editor] The Indianapolis News, October 21, 1994, p. A-13.
Chasing Bear is replying to a negative review of Ted Turner's "The Native Americans." (see Garmel, Marion, below) "Heaven forbid that Ben Franklin was inspired by Iroquois nations to form the constitution of a fledgling nation! If Garmel [the reviewer] can tear herself away from the soap operas, she might learn that the U.S. Constitution follows Iroquois law, but what savage mind could possibly create so superior a way of life?" She concludes: "Garmel's ignorance is glaring, but she is not alone. After all, it's what the schools teach. The media reinforce it by continuous Hollywood portrayals. The racism is insulting. But then, I've heard it all before -- in the land of the free and the home of [Ted Turner's!] Braves."Clinton, William [President]. "Guest Essay." Native Peoples. 7:4(Summer, 1994), p. 5.
Excerpts from President Clinton's speech to Native leaders at the White House April 29, 1994, including: "So much of what we are today comes from who you have been for a long time. Long before others came to these shores, there were powerful and sophisticated cultures and societies here -- yours. Because of your ancestors, democracy existed here long before the Constitution was drafted and ratified."Garmel, Marion. "The Other Side of History: Ted Turner's Three Channels Focus on Native Americans." Indianapolis News, October 10, 1994, p. D-1.
Marion Garmel says that "there are people who would argue" with the Turner series' portrayal of Native Americans (as he put it) in "a kind of Eden where self-sufficient, highly organized tribes frolicked before the white man came to destroy their world." Some claims of the Turner series "may be suspect," wrote Garmel, "such as the idea that the Articles of Confederation came to the Founding Fathers from the example of 'the sea of Indian confederacies' that surrounded them."George, Doug (Kanentiio). "Indian Reservations Have Reasons for Not Welcoming Anthropologists." Albany Times Union, November 15, 1994, p. A-14.
In a letter to the editor, George takes issue with statements attributed to Dean Snow, professor of anthropology at the State University of New York (Albany) in a feature article November 3 [See Karlin, Rick, below]. "It seems the anthropologists have once again managed to pick our bones for their own individual academic and economic gains," George writes. "We Iroquois have grown weary of having our culture, history and traditions taken apart by these social scientists. They have a nasty habit of treating us like bugs in a jar..."Goodman, Walter. "A Romantic Tribute to the First Americans." New York Times, October 10, 1994, p. C-16[Cultural Desk].
On Snow's dismissal of the idea that the Iroquois' political system helped shape American democracy, George says, "While the anthropologists grudgingly concede that our people exercised a revolutionary influence on the world through our foods, technology and architecture, they illogically insist that we had little or no influence on the minds of the American colonists....Of course the authors of the U.S. Constitution were profoundly impressed by the democratic traditions of the Iroquois. Where else in the world could they have looked for examples of the free nation they were creating? Autocratic England? Dictatorial France? Serf-ridden Russia? Snow's rejoinder appeared in the letters column of the Times Union November 28. Calling George by his first name Snow disavowed any association with the "professionals who, according to George, "have intruded upon our ancient ceremonies, stolen our wampum belts and adamantly opposed the return of our sacred items." Snow maintains that he has great respect for the Iroquois, and that his recently published book, The Iroquois, shows this respect.
In this review of Ted Turner's televised series "the Native Americans," Goodman faults "romantic pictures and expositions that mix fact with myth." One such mixture, writes Goodman, is "the view...[that] the political arrangements of the Iroquois Confederacy, a union of tribes in upper New York State, was a model for the framers of the United States Constitution. One Indian historian reports that the 'fundamental beginning of Western democracy as we know it' can be found in the Iroquois wampum belts. So much for John Locke."Hall, Steve. "Turner Series Shows Tribes' Side of History." Indianapolis Star, October 4, 1994, p. C-7.
"The documentary says that Native Americans gave Europeans such foods as potatoes, tomatoes, and corn, and even provided the framework for the U.S. Constitution in a 17th-century confederation of six Iroquois Indian nations in Upstate New York."(*) Holston, Noel. "Feelings Compete With Facts in TBS' 'Native Americans.'" Minneapolis Star-Tribune, October 10, 1994, p. 1-E.
This review of the Turner Broadcasting System's series "The Native Americans" finds it visually stunning and factually "impressionistic." "It conveys historical information about a variety of topics, from the impact of the Iroquois League on Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, to the Carlisle School..."Hopkins, John Christian. "Native Perspectives." Gannett News Service, June 30, 1994.
This article briefly surveys the American Revolution from a Native American perspective. It notes that the revolution caused a split in the Iroquois Confederacy, "whose constitution served as a model for the United States." Hopkins is a Narraganset who writes for the Norwich, Connecticut, Bulletin.Johnson, Nathan B. "Bulldozing the Religion of Indigenous Peoples." San Francisco Chronicle, July 22, 1994, p. A-23.
In this opinion piece, Johnson discusses the denial of constitutional protection for Native American religious practices, as well as the question of whether "industrialized society [can] recognize and integrate indigenous beliefs." Evidence suggests, writes Johnson, "that the highly democratic structures of the Iroquois Confederacy, including its multicameral legislature, had a strong influence on our founding fathers and the framework on the Constitution." [Note: the Iroquois Grand Council was unicameral, although its members comprised two groups -- older brothers and younger brothers -- which suggests a bicameral model. The Grand Council was not "multicameral."]Karlin, Rick. "Exploring Cures From the Iroquois...Author Shares Iroquois Discoveries." Albany Times-Union, November 3, 1994.
This is a review of Dean Snow, The Iroquois, (Blackwell Publishers, 1994), which is described as "a sweeping narrative that traces the Iroquois culture from its beginnings a thousand years ago to its survival in today's United States and Canada." According to Karlin, Snow believes that the idea that the Iroquois influenced the patriots who drew up the U. S. Constitution is a "myth." Snow is a professor of anthropology at the State University of New York -- Albany.(*) Kessler, Barbara. "How Aware Are You?" Dallas Morning News, April 25, 1994, p. 1-C.
Kessler offers a "multicultural awareness quiz" of 15 questions, one of which is: "Name the founders of the first representative government in what would become the United States." The answer is listed as "the Iroquois."Kowinski, William S. "White by Birth, Indian by Choice..." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, November 27, 1994, p. 6.
In this lengthy (4,370-word) piece on colonists who chose to live with Indians, the Iroquois League is described as a "...powerful confederacy whose intricate democratic system was studied by the Founding Fathers, and some elements incorporated into the U.S. Constitution."Leo, John. "On Society: The Junking of History." U.S. News and World Report, Feb. 28, 1994, p. 17.
In terms similar to his 1990 column "A Fringe History of the World," Leo assails beliefs of people he calls "Afrocentrists," as well as those who deny the Jewish holocaust, calling all "pure assertion [and] a growing contempt for the facts." He includes in his laundry list of attempts to "transform facts into opinion..." "the supposedly strong influence of Iroquois thought on the U.S. Constitution, now taught in many schools."Lipsyte, Robert. "Tonto: Onondaga Chief Oren Lyons, Native American..." Esquire, February, 1994, p. 39.
[Johansen's reply to Leo was published in U.S. News & World Report, April 18, 1994, p. 9. "We have a genuine need to factor the accomplishments of non-white people into our history..." In comparing advocates of Native American influence on American ideas to the debunkers of the Holocaust, writes Johansen, Leo "has the debilitating problem for a social critic of not being able to tell historical wheat from chaff."]
This lengthy article mentions Lyons' new book, Exiled in the Land of the Free , and describes it as "an attempt to advance the historical scholarship of the Indian's impact on American democracy and the U.S. Constitution."Palazzetti, Agnes. "Officials to Close Reservation Bingo Hall..." Buffalo News, March 19, 1994, n.p.
At issue is an order to close a bingo hall on the Tuscarora Reservation in Lewiston, New York, by Anthony J. Hope, chairman of the National Indian Gaming Regulatory Commission. The bingo hall, opened the previous week by Joseph, "Smokin' Joe" Anderson, was built without permission of the Tuscarora council of chiefs. In retaliation, Anderson and his allies formed their own council of chiefs. Timothy Toohey, a Lewiston attorney who has represented Seneca businessmen, is quoted as calling the traditional chiefs' denial of Anderson's bingo hall a dictatorial action. "Anderson can well make the argument that he and his supporters are part of the Tuscarora government," Toohey said. "He might remind the people in Washington that our Founding Fathers borrowed from the Iroquois Confederacy in forming our government. They borrowed its democracy. They did not borrow a dictatorship."Palmer, Louise. "Schools Feel Backlash to PC in Classrooms." Newhouse News Service, in Chicago Sun-Times, February 20, 1994, p. 36.
This piece is published in the news columns, but the author's point of view is evident vis a vis "politics insinuating its way into school curricula under the banner of 'multiculturalism,' 'environmentalism,' and 'diversity.'" An example of such, according to Palmer, is that in New York State, "11th-graders trace the roots of the U.S. Constitution to the practices of the Iroquois Native American tribes as well as the European Enlightenment." This statement is attributed to Diane Ravitch, probably from an earlier piece in the New York Times which quotes her.(*) Pine, Ed Kimmel. "Senator Hart Treated Unfairly." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 17, 1994, p. NV-5.
Pine is making a case that The Bible was more important to the founding of the United States than the Constitution. He concludes: "the Iroquois Indians were certainly not the basis of our Constitution."Reese, Charley. "Americans: Knowledge of Past is Key to Retaining Your Liberty." Orlando Sentinel, February 1, 1994, p. A-8.
Into the China shop that is the "influence" debate, like a bull, lumbers columnist Charley Reese, who says that ideas such as Iroquois influence on democracy lay a claim on gullible Americans because they don't know their own history. His version of history is simple: "All the institutions of American government are derived from our European culture. None comes from Africa or Asia or American Indians." Reese calls "ignorant" assertions in the recent Turner Broadcasting series "The First Americans" that "our forefathers derived the idea of the U.S. Constitution from the Iroquois Confederation." Reese is just getting warmed up. "It's not even worthy of comment, except to point out that only a person 100 per cent ignorant of American and European history could make such a dumb statement." Before leaving the scene, our bull leaves a 24-carat turd at the door: "The superbly educated authors of the American Revolution had nothing to learn from a primitive tribal alliance."Rheingold, Howard. "Singer On-line With Indian Culture." San Francisco Examiner, July 13, 1994, p. C-2.
The singer is Buffy Sainte-Marie; the story describes her efforts to educate Native American young people, especially using computer technology. One of the ideas she is promulgating is that Indians practiced ecology and consensus building a long time before they became popular among others. She says, "The Iroquois Confederacy used the kind of decentralized decision-making that modern 'network' organizations use today, just as the founding fathers of the United States borrowed key ideas from Iroquois statecraft when they framed the Constitution."Osborne, Lawrence. "Brutality and Chivalry in a Stormy New World." [Review of Arthur Quinn, New World: An Epic of Colonial America] Newsday, June 23, 1994, p. B-8.
Osborne writes that Quinn's portrayal of the Iroquois League's founding suffers from "sentimentalism." Osborne briefly describes the founding legend, and complains that Quinn portrays Deganawidah as "a kind of native Jesus." Osborne further complains that Quinn's assertions Iroquois statecraft's influence on the United States are "pretentious." Osborne says that the Iroquois were as brutal as other Indians, or the white colonists, and that Quinn has created a race of noble savages.(*) Seigel, Suzie. "Setting the Record Straight on Facts of Indian History." Tampa Tribune, November 14, 1994, p. 1 [Baywatch Section].
This news story details the efforts of Donna M. Allen, a Cherokee, to collect "facts to combat the myths about American Indians." Her findings include the fact that the word "caucus" comes from Algonquian and that "The first person to suggest that the 13 Colonies form a union was the Iroquois chief Canassatego....Benjamin Franklin pitched the idea at the Albany Congress in 1754." Allen also asserts that the practice of giving each political unit an equal voice (as in the U.S. Senate) is patterned on Iroquois practice.Vann, Dee. "Here to Stay." [Letter to the editor] San Francisco Chronicle, August 6, 1994, p. A-20.
O'Brien, who lives in Pacifica, California, writes to express her appreciation of an article by Nathan B. Johnson, "Bulldozing the Religion of Indigenous Peoples." She adds: "There are those of us who are still refusing to believe that our Constitution was copied after the Iroquois Confederacy. How could that be -- these people are savages, heathens, the vanishing tribe? Well, don't you believe it. The American Indian is here to stay."Walters, Colin. "Excellent Arguments for Elitism...[Review of William Henry III, In Defense of Elitism, 1994] Washington Times, September 11, 1994, p. B-6.
Walters cites approvingly Henry's assertion that it is "wicked" for the State of New York to make the "influence" issue part of its public-school curriculum. Says Walters: "This intellectual debt was not, to say the least, profusely acknowledged by our Founding Fathers. It is a latter-day scholarly discovery (or should be say invention?), prompted by the same sort of special pleader who will tell you in the next breath how the pioneer white man hated, cheated, and murdered the red man, never finding anything of value in his culture."Waters, Harry F. "On the Trail of Tears." Newsweek, October 10, 1994, p. 56.
In this review of Ted Turner's "the First Americans," Waters takes issue with the film's assertion that the Iroquois helped shape democracy: "As an exercise in history, 'The Native Americans' may not escape scholarly challenge. For openers, its claim that the Iroquois confederacy provided the model for the U.S. Constitution will come as a revelation to those who thought the Magna Carta had something to do with it." Waters overstates the case to discredit it, a common tactic of opponents; the film asserts that the Iroquois provided a model, not the model. -- there is an enormous difference. In a similar vein, Waters seems not to fathom the possibility that the Iroquois and Magna Carta both could have had influence.Weiskind, Ida. "America's Storied History Worth Telling...Native American Tribal Structure Contributed Much to Our Constitution." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 3, 1994.
"To their amazement, they [the founders] found that the Indians permitted free speech, free religion, and free assembly, and these freedoms formed the basis for our constitution." Weiskind briefly describes the Iroquois council's structure, and compares it with the U.S. Congress. This article appears to be written for children. A letter to the Post-Gazette dated July 17, 1994 argued that "the Iroquois Indians certainly were not the basis of our Constitution." The letter probably was signed, but LEXIS contains no name.Yoder, Edwin M. [Review of William Henry III, In Defense of Elitism, 1994]. Atlanta Journal and Constitution, October 9, 1994, p. N-8.
"I share Henry's annoyance that -- for instance -- the Heath Anthology of American Literature now 'pointedly begins with Native American chants...rather than Pilgrim rhetoric.' ...I agree that it is 'wicked for the State of New York be taught that one of the two main sources for the U. S. Constitution was the organizing pact of the Iroquois Indian nation.' This is arrant nonsense."
- Correspondence, Donald A. Grinde, Jr. and Carla Ponti, projects editor, Davidson and Associates Publishers, Torrance, California, January, 1994. Ponti is projects editor for Vital Links, an eighth-grade American history course in CD-ROM that the publisher is developing with several large state departments of education (California, Texas, Florida, et. al.), "a multimedia history of the U.S." Ponti requested material describing the Native American role in shaping democracy.
- Film: "Kahnasatake [Oka]: 270 Years of Resistance," National Film Board of Canada, film maker Alanis Obomsawin. This two-hour film chronicles the crisis at Oka, Quebec, which flared into violence during the summer of 1990. The film, which won an award as Best Canadian Film at the Toronto Film Festival (1993), describes Iroquois history and governmental structure, including an assertion that the Iroquois system "influenced the adoption of a democratic charter in North America." The film was shown on the Canadian Broadcasting System in early 1994.
- Correspondence, Jewell Praying Wolf James (Lummi), chair, Lummi Treaty Protection Task Force, to Johansen, March, 1994, requesting review of draft statement on U.S. Indian policy being readied for consideration by the Clinton White House under the aegis of the National Congress of American Indians. The statement contains assertion of the "influence thesis" in the context of constitutional law as it affects Native Americans. This statement was delivered to Clinton and officials of the Interior Department, including the Bureau of Indian Affairs, at a White House meeting with delegates of 545 recognized tribes April 29, 1994.
The mailing from James also contained a leaflet titled "Indian Pledge of Allegiance," which reads:
I pledge allegiance to my tribe,
To the democratic principles
of the republic;and to the individual freedoms
Borrowed from the Iroquois
and Choctaw confederacies,As incorporated into the
United States Constitution,So that my forefathers
shall not have died in vain.
The pledge was written by James and first read by Joseph de la Cruz, president of the Quinault Indian Nation, at the National Congress of American Indians (Tribal-states relations panel), Reno, Nevada, December 2, 1993, "dedicated to American Indian and Alaska Native veterans, leaders, people, and children."
- On April 29, 1994, the White House invited representatives of 545 Native tribes and nations to a conference to formulate a Clinton Indian Policy. This was the first time in the history of the United States that so many representatives had been invited to confer at once. In his remarks to the gathered Native leaders, Clinton referred to "our common heritage," including sophisticated cultures...[including] democracy...long before the U.S. Constitution." The speech was broadcast live on C-SPAN; video tape in files.
- Correspondence from John Kahionhes Fadden, Onchiota, N.Y., August 24, 1994: "A few days ago, I got a call from a woman from the NYC Museum of the American Indian. She was interested in using images of Ben Franklin and the Iroquois which I had generated in a touch-screen production earmarked for their eventual relocation in the Old Customs House."
- Correspondence from Fadden, September 9, 1994, regarding negotiation for use of eight images originally drawn for Exemplar of Liberty  by Turner Broadcasting System (TBS), Atlanta, Georgia, for use in a television documentary which will discuss the "influence issue." Fadden says that John Mohawk, Seneca historian, will be doing the voiceover with the artwork. The series of programs, "the Native Americans," was broadcast on TBS October 10, 11, and 13, 1994.
- E-mail from Grinde, December 4, 1994. While at an academic conference hosted by UCLA Indian Studies December 3, Grinde met with Tom Hayden. Hayden indicated that he had read The Iroquois and the Founding of the American Nation (1977), and Forgotten Founders (1982). Hayden, now a California state senator, bought all copies of Exemplar of Liberty (1991) offered at the conference by the UCLA American Indian Studies Center, the book's publisher. Grinde indicates that a second printing of Exemplar will take place soon.
- "Trends in the News," Trends Research Institute [Rhinebeck, N. Y.] July 1, 1994. [Found in LEXIS]. The Trends Research Institute forecasts that, by the year 2005, American notions of patriotism will be refigured to include Native American traditions. "Laws also will reflect newly discovered elements of early Indian cultures. In fact, some of these elements, especially those of the Iroquois Confederacy, will experience a rebirth. Many Iroquois principles are said to have influenced the framers of the Constitution more than 200 years ago." This forecast was composed by Gerald Celente, director of the Trends Research Institute.
- Transcript, "Talk Back Live," Cable News Network, October 28, 1994. This talk show, which aired at 1 a.m. Eastern time, contained a segment in which Lynne Cheney, conservative director of the National Endowment for the Humanities under President George Bush, debated with Suzan Shown Harjo. The exchange covered a number of topics, one of which was assertion of Iroquois influence on the evolution of democracy. Harjo began the exchange, with reference to what sort of material should be taught in mainstream history books: "I think it's awfully important to learn about the very great framers of the United States Constitution, who were...the Iroquois people, the Natchez people, the Muskogie people [who influenced] Benjamin Franklin, [George] Morgan, and Jefferson, [who] found camaraderie with...nations confederated for peacetime purposes. They didn't find that working model in Europe; they found it here with the native confederacies." Cheney replied: "It's not at all clear that this...is historically accurate. This is a hotly debated point. I think that if [this] type of thing is to go into our textbooks, we certainly need to point out to students that it's a hotly debated point."
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