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
1996Books, Scholarly, and Specialty Journals
(*) __________. "Iroquois Confederacy Formed Basis for U.S. Constitution." Indian Life Magazine 17:1 (March/April, 1996), p. 9.
This brief piece, adapted from the Cherokee Advocate, notes that the Cherokees "belong to the Iroquois language family," and that "the Iroquois were extensively studied and praised by Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. They often referred to it as the basis for the United States Constitution."(*) __________. "The Iroquois Confederacy." Peace Research Review 14:1 (January, 1996), pp. 100-104.
This description of the Iroquois Confederacy is numbered "XVIII," indicating that it is part of a worldwide survey of federal systems of government. This piece says that even the most conservative estimates of the Iroquois League's origins (about 1500 A.D.) make it older than the Swiss cantons, and "in a modern study of federations the Iroquois Confederacy is particularly relevant because of its influence on the Founding Fathers of the American constitution." (p. 100) "When looking at the number of countries that have constitutions based on the American model, the influence of the Iroquois Confederacy can be felt." (p. 104) Much of the factual support for this survey piece is drawn from Forgotten Founders [1982, 1987], Exemplar of Liberty , and Donald Grinde's The Iroquois and the Founding of the American Nation .Birchfield, Dan and Mark Sachner, eds. The Encyclopedia of American Indians. New York: Marshall Cavendish, in press.
This 10-volume work contains references to the influence thesis in several entries, among them "Cannassatego," "Hendrick," "Iroquois Confederacy," "Franklin, Benjamin," "Bill of Rights, "First Amendment," et. al. The entries were written by Bruce Johansen.(*) Bordewich, Fergus M. Killing the White Man's Indian: Reinventing Native Americans at the End of the Twentieth Century. New York: Doubleday, 1996.
Bordewich, a roving editor for the Readers' Digest, provides a short take on the influence issue on page 298 of this combination travel narrative and polemic: "Indians are now commonly taught to believe that American democracy is based on the Iroquois Confederation, a curious notion that relies on a handful of rhetorical remarks by Benjamin Franklin." Elsewhere in this book, the author writes that the Lakota claim to the Black Hills is "recent and contrived," and that environmental metaphors in Chief Sea'thl's speech were "invented." Bordewich also calls Oren Lyons an advocate of "Indian superiority." On "influence," Bordewich lists as bibliographic sources Johansen, Forgotten Founders [1982, 1987], Weatherford, Indian Givers , and Oren Lyons, et. al., Exiled in the Land of the Free (*) Bork, Robert H. Slouching Toward Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and American Decline. San Francisco: ReganBooks/HarperCollins, 1996.
One of the many ways in which modern liberalism is destroying United States culture, according to neoconservative lawyer Bork, is "curriculum changes to accommodate multiculturalist pressures." (p. 306). "We have already seen this in feminist and Afrocentric studies," whines Bork, "but it is everywhere." (p. 306) Sounding so much like earlier assertions of this theme that he borders on plagiarism of George Will, et. al. as long as seven years earlier, Bork hauls out the notion that "In New York State it is official educational doctrine that the United States Constitution was heavily influenced by the political arrangements of the Iroquois Confederacy." (p. 306) Bork strains to find a word that expresses the type of "political arrangement" maintained by the Iroquois, as he also ignores the fact that a lively debate has grown up over the issue, as he pontificates: "The official promulgation of this idea was not due to any research that disclosed its truth..., but because of the Iroquois an intensive lobbying campaign." Bork is so ignorant of the actual facts of the matter that he rests his case on assertions that agree with him by John Leo, in his own polemic Two Steps Ahead of the Thought Police [New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994, p. 307.] and Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.'s Disuniting of America (1992).(*) Churchill, Ward. From A Native Son. Boston: South End Press, 1996.
On page 343, Churchill notes "the influence of the Haudenosaunee [Iroquois] on the formation of the democratic ideals expressed by the founding fathers." He cites Donald Grinde.(*) Fedr, Don. "Victim Nation Meets Public Ed." Boston Herald, October 14, 1996, p. 25.
In an editorial column, Fedr observes that the previous week New York Gov. George Pataki signed legislation mandating that the Irish potato famine be taught in New York Public Schools. Fedr argues that education is becoming political turf for "victimologists" to the point that "New York also instructs its students that the U.S. Constitution was heavily influenced by the politics of the Iroquois, a politically correct fantasy for which the state's Indians successfully lobbied." Fedr is in error; the Iroquois curriculum on which this statement is based has not been implemented. Fedr, who identifies himself as Jewish, wonders how he got through school with his self-esteem intact, without the benefit of being told of the uniqueness of his people's suffering. He is concerned that "multiculturalism is dividing us into warring clans, hypersensitive, hyphenated Americans." Besides, he concludes, "Europe just happened to originate democracy, capitalism, the rule of law, science, advanced technology, and other aspects of civilization whose flowering on these shores has made America the place where everyone else on earth wants to be."(*) Francis, Lee. Native Time: A Historical Time Line of Native America. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1996.
This reference book contains, on p. 117, description and quotation of Canasatego's speech at the Lancaster Treaty (1744) advising the colonists to form a union on the Iroquois model. On pp. 328-329, the book's "Prologue, 1994 and beyond" quotes extensively from a speech given by President Bill Clinton at a tribal summit in Washington, D.C., May 2, 1994: "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." the evening before he gave this speech, Clinton had been given a copy of Exemplar of Liberty  as part of a gift-giving ceremony at the White House.(*) Grinde, Donald A., Jr. and Bruce E. Johansen. "Sauce for the Goose: demand and definitions for 'Proof' Regarding the Iroquois and Democracy." William & Mary Q. Third Ser. LIII, No. 3(Summer, 1996), pp. 621-636.
After editors of The William & Mary Quarterly accepted for publication two articles opposed to the "influence" thesis [see Levy (1996) and Payne (1996), below], they invited Grinde and Johansen to rebut in a forum titled "The 'Iroquois Influence' Thesis -- Con and Pro. " The result is a detailed discussion of standards of proof in the debate in one of North America's most venerable historical journals.(*) Jennings, Francis. Benjamin Franklin: Politician. New York: W.W. Norton, 1996.
On page 86, Jennings quotes Franklin's 1751 letter to his printing partner James Parker: "It would be a very strange thing if six Nations of ignorant Savages should be capable of forming a Scheme for such an Union, and be able to execute it in such a Manner, as that it has subsisted ages, and appears indissoluble, and yet that a like Union should be impracticable for Ten or a Dozen English Colonies..." Jennings, who reads Franklin without nuance, then writes that "some Iroquois propagandists" have "seized upon" this quote to "claim Franklin as an endorser of their traditional tribal league." Jennings, who does not name the "Iroquois propagandists," writes that: "How this contempt for `ignorant Savages' can be twisted into praise for them is beyond my comprehension."(*) Iverson, Peter. [Review of Hauptman, Tribes and Tribulations] Ethnohistory 43:4(Fall, 1996), pp. 729-731.
Iverson notes that Hauptman "proceeds to add his voice to what appears to be a never-ending procession of individuals who wish to comment on the Iroquois contributions, or lack thereof, to the writing of the U.S. constitution." Iverson writes that Hauptman uses James Wilson to suggest "that those who have supported the idea of significant Iroquois influence have overstated the case...[which he says is] 'speculative at best.'"Johansen, Bruce E. and Donald A. Grinde, Jr. The Encyclopedia of Native American Biography. New York: Henry Holt, in press, proj. late 1996.
This compilation of about 700 biographies includes references to the influence idea under "Cannassatego," Hendrick," "Franklin, Benjamin," and others.Johansen, Bruce E., Donald A. Grinde, Jr., and Barbara Mann. Debating Democracy: The Iroquois Legacy of Freedom. Santa Fe: N.M.: Clear Light Publishers, 1996.
Blow-by-blow narrative of the late-twentieth century debate to win acceptance of the "infliuence" thesis in American history.(*) Johansen, Bruce E. "Debating the Origins of Democracy: Overview of an Annotated Bibliography." American Indian Culture & Research Journal, Vol. 20, No. 2 (Summer, 1996), pp. 155-172.
Summary of Johansen, Native American Political Systems and the Evolution of Democracy: An Annotated Bibliography [1996, below].(*) Johansen, Bruce E. The Encyclopedia of Native American Legal Tradition. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, proj. 1998.
(*) Johansen, Bruce E.: Native American Political Systems and the Evolution of Democracy: An Annotated Bibliography. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1996.
Roughly 450 published items on the debate drawn from this database to late 1995.(*) La Vere, David. [Review: The Native Americans, 1994] Journal of American History 83:3(December, 1996), pp. 1113-1114.
This review of Turner Entertainment's The Native Americans notes in passing that the TV series includes "contributions made by Indians, such as the high status of Indian women and the influence of the Iroquois Confederacy in the creation of the U.S. Constitution."(*) Levy, Philip A. "Exemplars of Taking Liberties: The Iroquois Influence Thesis and the Problem of Evidence." William & Mary Q., Third Ser., LIII, No. 3(Summer, 1996), pp. 588-604.
Levy and Samuel B. Payne [1996, below] critique the work of Grinde and Johansen, who offer a rebuttal in this forum, "The 'Iroquois Influence' Thesis -- Con and Pro." See also, Grinde and Johansen, 1996, above.(*) Manus, Peter M. "The Owl, the Indian, the Feminist, and the Brother: Environmentalism Encounters the Social Justice Movements." Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review 23 (Winter, 1996), p. 249.
In footnote 112, Manus, associate professor at the New England School of Law, writes: "It is interesting to note that a number of scholars have observed that the philosophers and politicians credited with having developed the concept of United States democracy...drew heavily on their study of how the Indian nations of Eastern North America governed themselves." Exiled in the Land of the Free (1992) is cited.(*) Markoff, John. Waves of Democracy: Social Movements and Political Change. Thousand Oaks, Ca.: Pine Forge Press, 1996.
In this study of ideological change in democratic thought, Markoff writes, on page 39, "In the centuries that followed the voyages of Columbus, European discussion of political institutions sometimes showed significant awareness of the non-European world....It is certain...that some were quite fascinated by, say, the Indians of North America (as were Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, for the latter of whom the world's outstanding model of decentralized federalism was the Iroquois." Forgotten Founders [1982, 1987] is cited.(*) Mihesuah, Devon A. American Indians: Stereotypes and Realities. Atlanta, Georgia: Clarity Publishers, 1996.
This book takes up various stereotypes attributed to Native Americans, one of which is "Indians had nothing to contribute to Europeans or to the growth of America." The author writes, on page 55, that "the American Founding Fathers (such as Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Benjamin Franklin)...were influenced not only by European writers such as Locke, Rousseau, and Montesquieu, as well as ideas found in the Magna Carta and the Greek and Roman empires, but also by the powerful, well-organized Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Kaianerekowa (Great Law of Peace)."(*) Newhouse, David R. and Ian D. Chapman. "Organizational Transformation: A Case Study of Two Aboriginal Organizations." Human Relations 49:7(July, 1996), p. 995.
This paper is based on the authors' perception of how two Canadian Native groups tried to change their organizational structures from those imposed by the Canadian government to "those based on traditional aboriginal values more typically found in collectivist societies." In this context, the authors note that "Historically, many tribes had elaborate traditional forms of government, some so sophisticated that they were one source of the U.S. constitution." Grinde and Johansen, Exemplar of Liberty (1991) is cited.(*) Nies, Judith. Native American History. New York: Ballentine, 1996.
On pp. 80-81, this book recounts in some detail (with some phrasing from Exemplar of Liberty ) Benjamin Franklin's observations of the Iroquois League in operation during the early 1750s, and his use of the Iroquois as a model in the Albany Plan of 1754, as he "began to contemplate a political instrument of unity for the colonies based on some of the ideas of the On pp. 184-185, Nies develops the "influence" idea in greater depth, quoting Oren Lyons.(*) Norgren, Jill. The Cherokee Cases: The Confrontation of Law and Politics. New York: Macgrwa-Hill, 1996.
Page 28: "[American Indian law]...was, however, thoroughly grounded in the Europeans' belief in the preeminence of their values even though some founders of the republic were familiar with the Great Law of the Iroquois, and might have incorporated [it] into the developing Anglo-American legal system. This legal system, some argue, provided a legal facade for the denial of Indian rights." Norgren cites Renee Jacobs, "The Iroquois Great Law and the United States Constitution: How the Founding Fathers Ignored the Clan Mothers." (*) Parillo, Vincent N. Diversity in America. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Pine Forge Press, 1996.
This survey of ethnic diversity in North American history briefly discusses Iroquois consensus building on p. 31, noting that some historians "have identified this primitive democracy form as a prototype for such provisions of the United States Constitution as reconciliation of differing Senate-House legislation, impeachment, and expansion of new partners." Parillo cites Weatherford, Indian Givers (1988).(*) Payne, Samuel B., Jr. "The Iroquois League, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution." William & Mary Q., Third Ser., LIII, No. 3(Summer, 1996), pp. 606-621.
Payne and Philip A. Levy [1996, below] critique the work of Grinde and Johansen, who offer a rebuttal in this forum, "The 'Iroquois Influence' Thesis -- Con and Pro." See also, Grinde and Johansen, 1996, above.(*) Pratt, Scott L. "The Influence of the Iroquois on Early American Philosophy." Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 32:2(Spring, 1996), pp. 275-314.
Pratt examines "possible connections between what we might call a Native American philosophical perspective and what we recognize as early American philosophy," finding that no published studies make this connection. Pratt studies the writings of Cadwallader Colden, Benjamin Franklin, Alexis de Toqueville, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and others. He finds that philosophical discussion of Native America was copious in the writings of the period, centering often on the Iroquois Confederacy. Along the way, Pratt considers Iroquois influence "in the development of the form of the United States government." (p. 278). Scott cites Forgotten Founders [1982, 1987] and mistakenly attributes to it an assertion that "U.S. political structures were all but copies of the Iroquois confederate structure." This essay also cites Barreiro  and Venables  on the 'influence" issue.(*) Stubben, Jerry. [Review of Hauptman, Tribes and Tribulations (1995)]. American Indian Culture and Research Journal 20:1(1996), pp. 253-256.
Stubben praises Hauptman's collection of nine essays as well written and documented, but "Hauptman's use of the psychological profile of James Wilson to rebut Donald Grinde's and Bruce Johansen's argument that the Iroquois and other Native American nations influenced the founding fathers in their development of democracy in America is less than convincing." By concentrating on Wilson, "a minor player in Iroquois/colonial relations," writes Stubben, "Hauptman overlooks the the influence of Native American political thought on major players such as Franklin, Jefferson, and Rutledge."(*) Thompson, William N. Native American Issues: A Reference Handbook. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO/Contemporary World Issues Series, 1996.
In an overview of Native American political sovereignty (on p. 5), Thompson notes that "the federal union of the five Iroquois nations and the Tuscarora not only preceded the union formulated by the founding fathers of the U.S. Constitution, but it was a model closely studied by the likes of Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and other founding fathers of the United States..." On page 90, on an historical timeline, Thompson writes that Franklin "followed the structure of the Iroquois Confederation" in his Albany Plan of 1754. Thompson cites Felix Cohen (1942), Johansen (1982), and Jose Barreiro (1992).(*) Wagner, Sally Roesch. The Untold Story of the Iroquois Influence on Early Feminists: Essays by Sally Roesch Wagner. Aberdeen, S.D.: Sky Carrier Press, 1996.
This 50-page booklet contains Wagner's four earlier-published articles tracing intellectual debts of nineteenth century feminists such as Matilda Joslyn Gage and Elizabeth Cady Stanton to their experiences with Iroquois women. The four articles are republished from On the Issues (1995), Northeast Indian Quarterly (1992), Akwesasne Notes (1989), and Changing Men (1989).(*) Zimmerman, Native North America: Living Wisdom. Boston: Little-Brown, 1996.
This survey of Native American cultures briefly describes the Iroquois League, and then adds, on p. 41: "They [The Iroquois] also set an example to the leaders of the United States through their political acumen."Newspaper and Magazine Articles
(*) _________. "Book Notes." Omaha World-Herald (Entertainment), September 8, 1996.
Brief mention of Johansen's work on Debating Democracy (1996) and Native American Political Systsems and the Evolution of Democracy: An Annotated Bibliography (1996).(*) __________. "Considering Indigenous Equity." Links: Women's Studies Program. [University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign] February, 1996, p. 11.
Brief announcement that Sally Roesch Wagner's article "Is Equality Indigenous?" is available on the Reading Rack at Women's Studies House.(*) __________. "Family: Entertaining Options...Children's Books." Cleveland Plain Dealer, September 14, 1996, p. 3-E.
This piece contains a review of Trudy Griffin-Pierce's Encyclopedia of Native America (New York: Viking, 1995), which is being marketed for children 10 years of age and older. The review says that in the encyclopedia, "The reader learns that the Six Nations' League of the Iroquois influenced Benjamin Franklin's conception of the American Constitution."(*) __________. "Leon Shenandoah." The Glasgow [Scotland] Herald, July 24, 1996, p. 16.
This obituary of Leon Shenandoah, who died July 22, notes that he was Tadadaho (speaker) of the Iroquois Confederacy, an office that can be "traced back in an unbroken line to Hiawatha, who helped [with Deganawidah, the Peacemaker] to bring the "Great Peace" that formed the confederacy sometime between the years 900 and 1350. Many historians believe that America's founding fathers based the United States Constitution and form of government on the Iroquois system." The same piece also appeared in The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel on the same date, p. 5.(*) _________. "Test Your Knowledge of Women's Accomplishments in History." Idaho Falls Post-Register, March 13, 1996, p. B-3.
Question 14 of this quiz on women's history asks: "In the 1600s, the constitution of the Iroquois Confederacy guaranteed women the sole power to regulate war and peace. True or false?" A similar test appeared March 6, 1996 in the St. Petersburg (Florida) Times, on page 5-D. Some of the questions are different, but the question on the Iroquois Confederacy is the same, but as question 8 on this list. the Times piece is under the name of Jennifer L. Stevensonse.(*) __________. "What's On-line." Houston Chronicle (Business Section), December 29, 1996, p. 6.
This survey of on-line information resources includes a description of resources on the University of Oklahoma Law Center's U.S. Historical Documents home page at http://www.law.uoknor.edu/ushist.html. The database is said to include, among many other things, the text of the Magna Carta, President Clinton's latest state of the union address, as well as the inaugural addresses of each U.S. president. This website also contains, according to this article, "...the first constitution written on North American soil -- that of the Native American Iroquois nation."(*) Ackerman, Todd. "Radio Host Recuperates After Being Hit By Driver." Houston Chronicle, March 9, 1996, p. A-29.
(*) No byline, "staff" indicated.
University of Houston Professor John Lienhard, host of the National Public Radio show "The Engines of Our Ingenuity," [See Ackerman, 1995] was recovering in hospital after his legs were broken by a motorist who hit him deliberately. Lienhard, 65, was walking his two dogs near his home when the unidentified motorist swerved off the adjoining street and hit him. Police are speculating that Lienhard was the victim of a gang initiation rite. This article concludes: "Its [Lienhard's show] 3 1/2 minute essays have considered everything from manhole covers to the invention of chewing gum to the debt the U.S. Constitution owes to the Iroquois nation's political system."(*) Atkinson, Nancy. "Our Debt to Native Americans." [Letter to the Editor] Minneapolis Star-Tribune, April 13, 1996, p. 22-A.
Atkinson agrees with an April 3 commentary by Katherine Kersten that American history curricula need "study of diverse cultural heritages that came together to create our country." She finds, however, that Kersten omitted Native Americans from her analysis: "...[S]he failed to mention that the flowering of democracy came not so much from the ideals of the ancient Greeks and Romans, but from the ideals of a nation that the founders witnessed right here on this continent: the League of the Iroquois." Atkinson points out that the Iroquois had a federal system, that women had a part in it, and that "caucus" is an Algonquian word.(*) Carpenter, Paul. "The Directive Avoids Focus on Ourselves." Allentown [Pennsylvania] Morning Call, September 29, 1996, p. B-2.
Sally Roesch Wagner provided a second (unpublished) reaction to the same column from Sanford Berman, head cataloguer of the Hennepin County Library, Minnetonka, Minnesota. Berman wrote, in part: "Before extolling White, Western civilization as the sole source of American democracy, Katherine Kersten (April 3) might have done a subject search in Hennepin County Library's on-line catalogue under "Democracy -- United States -- Native American Influences." Berman writes that several books have been written on the subject that Kersten could have read at local libraries, including Exemplar of Liberty (1991), Exiled in the Land of the Free (1992), and Indian Roots of American Democracy (1992).
This column brought another unpublished letter from Susan M. Breedlove, a teacher at Patrick Henry High School in Minneapolis. She wrote to Kersten, in part: "Your article does not address the concept of democracy in the U. S. in a holistic manner. You have left out a major factor...how the American Indian helped shape democracy." She advises that Kersten read Forgotten Founders [1982, 1987], providing a citation for that book and several others, along with a letter on the same subject that Breedlove wrote to Hillary Rodham Clinton.
In an editorial column, Paul Carpenter of the Morning Call discusses a Pennsylvania state resolution requiring that students in that state be taught about "organized attempts to eliminate certain ethnic groups." The Jewish Holocaust, the Irish potato famine, and slavery are specifically mentioned, but Carpenter finds that nothing is said about American Indians. Phil Armstrong, a history teacher at Allentown's Whitehall High School, is quoted as saying that the state directive does not even mention the Wounded Knee massacre of 1890. Carpenter, visiting Armstrong's classes, was asked to tell the students something they didn't know about American Indians. "I told them that the U.S. Constitution is based largely on the governmental system of a particular Indian group. Which group? That stumped them....The class had focussed on Plains Indians, and I'm originally from New York state, where we learned a lot about the Iroquois."(*) Erdrich, Louise. "Read Their Lips! Three Novel Ideas for a Clinton Speech." Washington Post [Outlook], June 23, 1996, p. C-1.
The editors of the Washington Post Outlook section asked three novelists to write their version of President Bill Clinton's acceptance speech for renomination at the Democratic National Convention. One of the three was Erdrich, who included the following in her version of the speech: "Brothers and sisters, let us bend eagerly to the task before us and not allow the partisanship of the campaign to deter us from our essential work. The men and women of the League of the Iroquois, our earliest political organization, from which Benjamin Franklin drew inspiration for our form of government, based decisions not on short-term political gain, but considered what the effect of each act would have upon the seventh generation."(*) Henry, Elisabeth. "This Holiday in Native American Terms." Tannersville [New York] Mountain Eagle, November 27, 1996, n.p.
This article on the Native American roots of Thanksgiving quotes John Kahionhes Fadden on the influence of women in Iroquois society, and adds: "Our Founding Fathers borrowed from the governments of the Six Nations (Iroquois) in forming our own enlightened Constitution."(*) Hoshikawa, Jun. "Native Nations." International GEO 3:9 [In Japanese] September, 1996, p. 66-69.
This survey of American Indian history, published in Japan, includes material linking the Iroquois great law to the development of democracy in the United States, from Exemplar of Liberty (1991). Author Hoshikawa also postulates that Iroquois law had an influence on the development of other social ideas and movements, including communism, feminism, and environmentalism.(*) Jacobs, Alex. "Tribes Victims Again." Indian Time 14:1 (January 12, 1996, p. 6.
In a letter to the editor of Indian Time, a newspaper serving the Akwesasne Mohawk reservation, Jacobs protests proposals to tax goods and services on Indian lands. He asserts: "What about your missing $100 million in [state] uncollected taxes? We are still missing millions due us by treaty in health and education cutbacks; we are missing land-claims settlements..." Jacobs says that "The Iroquois were inspirations for the Constitution, the concept of separation of powers and democracy itself." The irony, argues Jacobs, is that "these 'concepts' do not seem to apply to us."(*) Johansen, Bruce E. "A Political Correctness Horror Story," Nuestro Mundo (Omaha), March, 1996, p. 2.
Part one of a two-part series of columns on the debate regarding the Iroquois and the evolution of democracy.(*) Johansen. "More on Iroquois Law and American History," Nuestro Mundo (Omaha), April, 1996, p. 2.
Part two of a two-part series of columns on the debate regarding the Iroquois and the evolution of democracy.(*) Pelphrey, Jonathan. "Johansen's Expertise, Book Spark Interest, Debate." University of Nebraska at Omaha Gateway, August 30, 1996, pp. 1, 2.
Summary of Johansen's work on Debating Democracy (1996) and Native American Political Systsems and the Evolution of Democracy: An Annotated Bibliography (1996).(*) Phillips, Steve. "'Multicultural' Must Include Whites." San Francisco Examiner, May 20, 1996, p. A-19.
Phillips, president of the San Francisco Board of Education, asserts that "While there exists a growing acknowledgement that education should reflect the cultural diversity of the student population, we rarely discuss the implications of such changes for whites." He notes that 50 per cent of San Francisco's population (but only 13 per cent of its public school students) are white. Phillips writes that "A narrow Eurocentric curriculum not only alienates, it does a significant disservice to white students....A student who understands the annexation of the Southwest, Reconstruction, the Chinese Exclusion Act and the Iroquois influence on the U.S. Constitution will have a much better grasp of history than someone who studies only George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Andrew Carnegie."(*) Ryan, Grace. "The Voice of Indigenous Women: Today and Yesterday." HONOR Digest [Milwaukee, Wisc.] January/February, 1996, p. 5.
The newsletter of HONOR (Honor Our Neighbors' Origins and Rights), a Native American support group, describes Iroquois influence on nineteenth-century feminists Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and Matilda Joslyn Gage, as researched by Sally Roesch Wagner. Parallels are drawn to the Fourth World Conference on Women in Bejing.(*) [Sloan-Spice, Shannon.] "Wouldn't it be Nice if..." HONOR Digest, March/April, 1996, p. 10.
This newsletter of HONOR (Honor Our Neighbors' Origins and Rights) carries an account of a paper that was dropped off at its office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin by Shannon Sloan-Spice, "student activist and HONOR member." The paper, titled "The Great Law of Peace and the American Constitution," describes the role of women in the Iroquois Confederacy, and advocates more equal treatment of women in mainstream American society.(*) Strait, Douglas E. "Iroquois League Served as Basis for Constitution." Columbus [Ohio] Dispatch, March 26, 1996, p. 6-A.
In a letter to the editor, Strait, of Columbus, takes issue with J. Matthew Todd's remarks in a recent letter to the editor that the United States was "founded on Christian principles" and that the U.S. Constitution was "based on biblical principles." Strait writes that the founders took their inspiration from many sources, including the Iroquois League. He mentions the Albany Plan of Union, but dates it at 1744, not 1754. The Albany Plan was based on the Iroquois system, Strait asserts. "Franklin's proposal languished for several decades until, at Philadelphia, the delegates turned to its provisions and based the final Constitution on much of the Iroquois ideals."(*) Thomas, Jane Resh. "Children's Books: Kids Can Avoid a Sketchy Sense of the Past...Native American Encyclopedia Makes History Vivid." Minneapolis Star-Tribune, February 11, 1996, p. 15-F.
This is a review of Trudy Griffin-Pierce's Encyclopedia of Native America (Viking, 1995), for ages 10 and up, in which "The reader learns that the Six Nations League of the Iroquois influenced Benjamin Franklin's conception of the Constitution."(*) Washburn, Wilcomb E. "Clear-eyed View of Indian Life." Washington Times, February 18, 1996, p. B-7.
This review of Fergus M. Bordewich's Killing the White Man's Indian: Reinventing Native Americans at the End of the Twentieth Century (Doubleday, 1995) praises the author for following in the steps of James Clifton's Invented Indian in debunking what Washburn takes to be erroneous beliefs about American Indians. The book, written by a roving staff reporter for Reader's Digest, states, according to Washburn, that the Lakota claim to the Black Hills is "recent and contrived," and that environmental metaphors in Chief Sea'thl's speech were "invented." Washburn also reports that Bordewich "dismisses the notion that the Iroquois Confederation provided American colonial statesmen with the basic ideas underlying the American Constitution." Bordewich also "ridicules Bill Moyers for seeming to swallow whole the charismatic Onondaga Oren Lyon's [sic] assertion [on his Public Broadcasting series, 'Bill Moyers' Journal'] that the Iroquois had foreseen most of the political and ecological problems confronting the white man." Washburn is director of the American studies program at the Smithsonian.(*) Worthington, Bob. "Questions About Local Water Supply." [Letter to the editor] Tampa Tribune, October 12, 1996, p. 17.
"Watching our county planners and managers address our consumable water problem concerns me about our future," Worthington writes to the editor of the Tampa Tribune. "Once again, it seems that nearsighted greed has led us to ignore the wisdom that Ben Franklin gained from the Iroquois League (American Indian Democracy) and subsequently used for the basis of our Constitution: a successful democracy must have at its foundation the premise that individuals do not act for individual gain alone, but rather for the good of the whole union, in both short and long terms, meaning the need to respect [the] physical limits of Mother Earth."
- Copy of curriculum, K-6, Rochester, New York Public Schools. The curriculum lists goals for its "Iroquois Heritage Studies Program." One of these is: "It reinforces the influence that the Iroquois Confederacy had on the Constitution." A contact name and phone number is supplied. Sent by Sally Roesch Wagner; received March 2, 1996.
- Indications that the New York State Education Department Curriculum guide Haudenosaunee: Past, Present, Future may be revived is contained in correspondence from John Kahiohes Fadden, received April 4, 1996, in files. Fadden obtained a copy of the guide as edited by SED's George Gregory, and set it side by side with the last draft compiled by a team of Iroquois writers. He lists omissions in the "new," version, downsized from 610 to 235 pages by Gregory. Among the textual casualties were several pages on which Iroquois influence on United States political institutions was discussed. This package of correspondence also contains suggestions that Iroquois traditionalists are planning to raise the money necessary to publish their original version of the guide independently of the state educational bureaucracy.
- Book catalogue, "Native American Books, Book Publishing Company [Summertown, TN], Spring/Summer, 1996." Description of Akwesasne Notes, Basic Call to Consciousness says of the Iroquois: "This is a people that perfected participatory democracy hundreds of years before the American Revolution. From their social and political institutions has come inspiration for some of the most vital institutions and political philosophies of the modern world. Some of the principles from their 'Great Law of Peace' are embodied in the United States Constitution."
- By 1996, the Library of Congress cataloguing system included the heading: "United States -- Civilization -- [American] Indian Influences."
- The Six Nations Iroquois Museum, Onchiota, New York, describes the Iroquois system of government and ways in which it shaped United States institutions in the text accompanying a painting created by John Kahionhes Fadden, June, 1996. Text is in files.
- Letter from Sarah Pletts Dance Theatre, Aspen, Colorado, June 14, 1996: "We...invite you to join us in the fourth annual gathering of Native Americans, Government, and Community leaders at Council Circle....On Thursday, July 4, Native representatives and others will participate in the Independence Day festivities. This event is held on July 4th every year to recognize the joint efforts of the country's forefounders with Native Americans in forming the American democracy." The letter is signed by Pletts and John Bennett, mayor of Aspen.
- Advertisement, Greenwood Press, in American Political Science Review, June, 1996, for Native American Political Systems and the Evolution of Democracy: an Annotated Bibliography. "Prepared by a major participant in the debate, this is the first bibliography on the controversial issue of the Native American influence on American democracy."
- World Wide Website: http://thebeadsite.com/frontier5.html, in a detailed discussion of wampum's indigenous roots and adaptions by English and Dutch colonists in the New World, observes that while Native Americans did not use wampum as money, it was adopted early as legal tender in most or all of the European colonies in North America. Wampum, which was used in ceremonies and as part of diplomatic protocol by many native people (particularly the Iroquois) was adopted because of a scarcity of European legal tender in America; in 1679, guests in New Amsterdam hotels paid their bills in wampum. Part of this piece observes that "The rules of the Iroquois Confederacy were admired by Benjamin Franklin and others and...many of its provisions were used as a basis for the Constitution of the United States of America." Electronic text supplied by John Kahionhes Fadden, received July 22, 1996.
- World Wide Website, The Cleveland Freenet, aa300, Cybercasting Services Division, National Public Telecomputing Network, supplied by John Kahionhes Fadden, received August 2, 1996. Gerald Murphy wrote a 10,000-word piece on the "Iroquois Constitution," noting that he "found sufficient data and evidence to convince me that the Iroquois most certainly did have a considerable influence on the drafting of our own Constitution." Murphy's search was begun by a reference to the idea in Charles Mee's The Genius of the People .
- Prepared testimony, Henry Cagey, Chairman, the Lummi Indian Nation, before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, September 24, 1996. Cagey builds an historical case for the constitutional roots of Indian treaties, reminding legislators along the way that House and Senate resolutions passed in the late 1980s "proclaimed the intent 'to acknowledge the contribution of the Iroquois Confederacy of nations to the development of the United States Constitution, and to reaffirm the continuing government-to-government relationship between the Indian tribe and the United States established in the Constitution.'"
- (*) Proclamation, State of New York, signed by Gov. George E. Pataki, Sept. 12, 1996. The proclamation observes that "Native Americans are the original inhabitants of the lands that now constitute New York State. New Yorkers are the beneficiaries of the rich cultural heritage of the Iroquian and Algonquian peoples who continue to live in this great state." The statement notes Native American contributions to settlers' foods and forms of shelter, as well as governmental institutions: "The early settlers dealt with Indian nations on a government-to-government basis. The Iroquois Confederacy (Haudenosaunee) developed principles of freedom of speech and separation of powers in government, which principles form the foundation of our government today." The proclamation sets aside the fourth Saturday of September as "Native American Day" in New York State. A copy of the proclamation was received from John Kahionhes Fadden via Irving Powless, Tadadaho (Speaker) of the Iroquois Grand Council, January 30, 1997.
- (*) Letter from Richard P. Mills, New York Education Commissioner, to Irving Powless, Tadadaho (Speaker) of the Iroquois Grand Council at Onondaga, New York, returning rights to the curriculum guide Haudenosaunee: Past, Present, Future to the Grand Council from the State of New York. Mills observes that while he appreciates the philosophical differences between the Haudenosaunee authors of the guide and the "scholars" (e.g., "Trolls") who reviewed it, compromise was not possible. Mills also writes that the New York State Education Department does not have funds to print it.
- (*) Internet postings: The "Anthro-L Archives," a discussion group mainly for academic anthropologists, contains several discussions of the "influence" issue with headings such as "The Iroquois and the Constitution" and "The Iroquois and Radical Feminists." Commentary ranges widely, and includes support from Prof. Joseph O'Neal, University of Colorado at Denver, and skepticism by Thomas W. Kavanagh, Curator of Collections at the William Hammond Mathers Museum, citing several works by Grinde, Johansen, and Wagner. See, for example, http://www.anatomy.su.oz.au/danny/anthropology/anthro-l/archive/july-1996/0357.html
- (*) Forgotten Founders was used as a required textbook in Political Science 317-517, "American Indian Government and Politics," at the University of South Dakota, Professors David L. Aronson and Leonard Brughier.
- (*) Forgotten Founders was used as a required textbook in Political Science 317-517, "American Indian Government and Politics," at the University of South Dakota, Professors David L. Aronson and Leonard Brughier.
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