August 2015 The Great Law of Peace

The Great Law of Peace


Over a thousand years ago, The Peacemaker came across what is now called Lake Ontario into what is now called upstate New York with the mission to unite the warring peoples who lived there. He traveled among them for perhaps 40 years meeting great skepticism and resistance to his message of peace, strength through unity and the power discipline of the good mind. Eventually, he was able to persuade 50 leaders from the Mohawks, Oneida, Cayuga and Seneca and finally the Onondaga, Tadodaho. They buried their weapons of war beneath an Eastern White Pine. The Peacemaker taught them the principles of the Great Law of Peace, assigned roles to leaders, established clans, selected Clan Mothers uniting the 5 Nations and creating a social order which continues to this day among traditional Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) peoples. Being a leader is a responsibility to listen and reason using the Good Mind for the welfare of the people for whom they have responsibility. Peace for them is not an absence of war but state of mind effecting how we do things and our sense of self. Haudenosaunee means “People of the Long House”, a metaphor for the bringing together in one house the people of the Confederacy. The Great Law, their founding constitution, is an oral tradition codified in wampum belts explaining the duties and structure of the Grand Council ' as well as teaching ways to maintain peace among themselves.

Because theirs is an oral tradition the Haudenosaunee people were unable for many years to gather and hear the recitation of the Great Law due to a lack elders with the memory and language to share it in its entirely. But now they are in the process of bringing it back and recently gathered to listen to The Great Law of Peace with individuals from each of the Nations contributing parts in their own languages. Oral tradition requires knowledge, language and symbols in the form of wampum belts. It has taken great effort through times of unbelievable strife to preserve and retain the cultural tradition of the The Great Law recitation. The Haudenosaunee Confederacy and The Great Law of Peace are still here despite everything.

What can we take away from the example of the Peacemaker and the values of the Great Law of Peace? What lessons can we learn? The Peacemaker and the Haudenosaunee both show us that sometimes a task can seem impossible and take great perseverance. Sometimes sweeping changes are needed but it can be a real challenge to convince others and enlist them in what is needed. While we often hear that we have a lot to learn from native people's relationship with environment, what lessons does their concept of peace teach us? Do we bring a Good Mind to our dealings with each other in an attempt to be responsible for peace and each other?

Thoughts on the meaning of what the Great Law of Peace and what it can teach us today came from Peace is Action By Damian Webster, Onödowa'ga: at

This description of the The Great Law of Peace is a very abbreviated version. There are many details that have been omitted but can be found in various publication.

Skä*noñh Great Law of Peace Center Will Open in 2015 with construction set to begin next week.

Fundraising is complete for the renovation of the site formerly known as Sainte Marie Among the Iroquois into the Skä*noñh Great Law of Peace Center. Construction is set to begin in August with the opening of the new center scheduled for November 21st of this year.

Renovations will include the fabrication and installation of new exhibits along with the production of six educational films that reflect the oral history tradition of the Haudenosaunee according to the Longhouse tradition.

As of January 1st 2013, the Onondaga Historical Association took over management of the Onondaga County facility located on the eastern shore of Onondaga Lake. Onondaga Lake is one of the most important places for the founding of the Haudenosaunee, or "People of the Longhouse" with the coming together of the Peacemaker, Hiawatha and the Tadodaho thousands of years ago.


    Do refer to Columbus’ “arrival in,” “visit to,” “voyage to,” or “invasion of America.” Columbus did not discover America. People who were obviously aware of its existence already inhabited the Americas. There were other Europeans who sailed to America before 1492. Columbus was greeted hospitably but reciprocated by committing atrocities and imposing slavery.

Kay Olan, Mohawk/Wolf Clan

Thoughts on Being An Ally

Last week I spent a relaxing hour with a Native woman I have long admired and had little chance to get to know before now. We sat on a swing in her front yard, and she shared a little slice of her life. As I drove home later, I was reminded of how much we gain when we set out to give.

See, I had taken something over to share with her, expecting to turn around and head home after dropping it off. But she wanted to reciprocate, giving me a gift as well, and then, as she walked me to my car, we detoured to her front yard and visited. That was the best gift of all.

When we give, service or our goods, we receive. Every time! It is the miracle of service, of giving openly expecting nothing in return, that we get more than we give. I am grateful that I grew up enjoying the opportunities to give of myself and my time; it has put me in a place where not only do I get to enjoy giving, but I am then gifted with friendship and knowledge beyond my expectations, beyond what would come to me if I set out to get it. Being a good ally, a good friend, is seeing and seizing these opportunities to give. Friendships are forged of gifts of time; generosity has no substitute in this world where we often think time moves too quickly. Giving, to our children, our colleagues, our neighbors -- priceless.                 By Linda Rosekranz


Hand Drum Open Mic, Saturday, August 15, 4-6PM, Seneca Iroquois National Museum, 814 Broad St, Salananca, NY. Admission free.

34th Annual Iroquois Indian Festival, September 5 & 6 Iroquois Museum
The annual festival centers on the celebration of Iroquois creativity and self-expression by featuring an all Iroquois Indian Art Market open to Iroquois artists by special invitation only. Both traditional and contemporary arts are showcased. The Sky Dancers from Six Nations Reserve in Ontario will perform traditional Iroquois social dances, and may invite the public out onto the dance floor to participate, as well. The Children’s Activity area will feature arts & crafts activities including beadwork and cornhusk doll making. Local wildlife rehabilitator Kelly Martin will be available to discuss wildlife conservation in our bioregion and will present a variety of wild animals including birds of prey. The Museum’s archeology department will be available to help identify archeological finds and give demonstrations of flintknapping and other early technologies.


NOON Steering Committee Meeting, August 11, 7-8:30 pm, Syracuse Peace Council, 2013 E. Genesee St., Syracuse, open meeting. Since new people often have a lot of questions, we recommend talking with Carol Baum, Syracuse Peace Council Staff (315-472-5478, or Sue Eiholzer, NOON Volunteer (315-492-2684, before the meeting.


Passport Impasse Blocks Haudenosaunee Lacrosse Team

Doctrine of Discovery Petition to Pope Francis: The Romero Institute is requesting signatures on a petition to Pope Francis to repudiate the papal bulls and the Doctrine of Discovery while he is in the U.S. this September. Please spread the word to go to and add your name to the petition. They are working on a way to deliver the petition to him in person while he is here. If you have not signed the petition yet, please consider doing so and forwarding through social media. Thank you!

Whitesboro Insensitive City Seal Petition: NOON sent an email to bring this petition to your attention. Since then the number of signatures grew from around 800 to over 8700. If you signed, thank you. Have you forwarded to your social media connections? If you haven't signed, please consider doing so now.

American Indian Law Alliance (AILA ): Betty Lyons (Onondaga Nation), President & Executive Director of the AILA, presented a joint intervention on April 29, 2015 at the Fourteenth Session of United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY, North America. This intervention was presented under Agenda Item 8: Future work of the Permanent Forum. You can view it at

AILA staff, board and advisory board attended the 2015 Keeping the Homefires Burning gathering organized by the Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples, in Schitsu'umsh Territory, Coeur d’Alene Nation. During the gathering, Betty Lyons joined Tadodaho Sidney Hill and Onondaga Nation Legal Counsel Joe Heath on a panel entitled "Banning Fracking in Haudenosaunee Territory." This panel shared our lessons on banning fracking with our Indigenous family from around the world who are facing similar threats in their territories. The entire Keeping the Homefires Burning gathering was truly remarkable, and we were happy to be with such amazing Indigenous leadership from around the world.

AILA web site:

New Onondaga Nation Fire House was built with the environment in mind.

DC Trip Trip to National Museum of the American Indians NOON and the Onondaga Nation are organizing a bus trip to Washington to leave early Saturday, August 29 and return to Syracuse late Sunday, August 30. Plans are still being made but costs and further details will be available soon.

New Onondaga Lake Park Sign A new sign teaching about the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy on one side and connections between their government and the United States government on the other has been installed on Hiawatha Point at Onondaga Lake Park. With the help and support of an Onondaga Clan Mother, NOON brought an old 1930s inaccurate sign to the attention of park officials, developed text in cooperation with scholars and consulted with the Onondaga Council for their approval of content. The sign includes reference to the 1988 joint congressional resolution (H Con. Res. 331) acknowledging the contribution of the Haudenosaunee's contribution to the United States principle of governance.


2015 FIL World Indoor Lacrosse Championships, Sept. 18-27. The Onondaga Nation will host The Federation of International Lacrosse World Indoor Championships. Games featuring 13 nations will be played at three venues: War Memorial Arena at The Oncenter, Onondaga Nation Arena and the Carrier Dome. Several events are being planned.

FDR POWWOW, Redhawk Native American Arts Council, September 19-20, 2015, Saturday & Sunday 11am – 7pm, Grand entry of dancers at 1pm and 4pm, FDR State Park, 2957 Crompond Rd, Yorktown Heights, NY 10598 (Westchester). $12 Adults & Teens(plus fees if purchasing online, $8 Children 6-12 years old, $10 Seniors 65+ and Students(Plus fees if purchasing online),. Free for Children 5 years old and under. $8 Parking

Polishing the Silver Covenant Chain: Building Relationships for the good of the Earth, Ancient Voices - Contemporary Contexts Forums, September 25-27, 2015, Six Nations Grand River Reserve, Ontario, Canada. A sub-theme to this Forum is Reaching Consensus on Commitments to Action. During the previous six Forums we have talked about problems and needs. Now, we will create plans to act. Participants will implement Six Nations-like protocols for consensus-based decision-making to create action plans to foment change.... change in our families, change in our communities, change in the U.S., and change in the way the Earth is treated. This Forum is limited to 60 participants so if you're planning to attend, act now. Register at or call 406-587-1002 or email Eric Noyes,

Seneca Art & Cultural Center Grand Opening, Gonandagan, Saturday, October 3, 2015. 17,300 square foot center will transform your visitor experience at ganondagan state historic site. With an entry hall featuring the Thanksgiving Address, changing gallery space, an orientation theater, multi-use auditorium, catering kitchen, and gift shop, the Seneca Art & Culture Center will take its place as a permanent, year-round interpretive facility sharing 2,000 years of Seneca and Haudenosaunee art, history, and culture.

CELEBRATE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' DAY, Redhawk Native American Arts Council, Monday October 12, 7am-2pm, Randals Island, New York City. Celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day rather than Columbus Day. Reclaim and redefine this day to celebrate the rich cultures and histories of indigenous people in the Americas, rather than a day dedicated to the forced colonization of native peoples. The day will start with a Sunrise Ceremony followed by performances from Indigenous people around the world. It will be a day of healing, sharing and celebrating indigeneity. Help redefine this day into a positive and powerful day in celebration of the survival and resistance of 500 years of oppression and colonization. If you are a poet or musician interested in being apart of Indigenous Peoples Day please email at or call 718.686.9297.

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