your internet resource on facebook on twitter on Google+ on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
The University of Tulsa College of Law - Master's in Indian Law
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
The myth of the Iroquois and the Constitution
Friday, November 24, 2006

"A group of Iroquois Indians gathered on the Mall in Washington this September to celebrate their emerging victory over American history books. With the help of a few renegade historians and a New York advertising firm, the Iroquois have been persuading the public that their ancestors guided Madison's hand in writing the Constitution. Indeed, in October the Senate and House passed resolutions acknowledging "the contribution of the Iroquois Confederacy of Nations to the development of the U.S. Constitution."

The Mall celebration was as hokey an affair as one would expect, complete with ritual incantations and an awkward, come-join-in dance. (About half of the 100 or so in attendance did join in.) Iroquois chiefs from three different tribes spoke at the ceremony, which was hosted by LaDonna Harris, president of a lobby group called Americans for Indian Opportunity. Before Mohawk Chief Jake Swamp took center stage to deliver his incantation, Harris asked the audience to refrain from taking photographs or using video cameras. She urged everyone to "get into the mood," to "keep harmony with nature." It was to be a primeval moment. Chief Swamp then stepped up to the microphone. "I don't mind," he said. "The video cameras can continue to roll."

The successes of the Iroquois campaign are impressive. The ceremony on the Mall was officially sanctioned by the U.S. Constitution Bicentennial Commission. The House and Senate resolutions passed easily. And in New York the Iroquois have almost succeeded in rewriting the history textbooks--their revision of a teacher's manual is awaiting approval from the state board of education. All this to further an idea with no discernible merit. The notion that the Iroquois somehow influenced the writing of the Constitution is dismissed by virtually every reputable historian with knowledge of the subject: Michael Kammen, author of A Machine That Would Go of Itself: The Constitution in American Culture, calls the idea "a colossal myth." A scholar of Indian history says the Senate vote "destroys my faith in the historical literacy of the Senate."

The myth isn't just silly, it's destructive. Whatever brief boost the rewriting of history may provide for Iroquois self-esteem, it steals attention from the many real and persistent problems now facing the country's 1.4 million Native Americans--the Iroquois included."

Get the Story:
Michael Newman: Founding Fathers (The New Republic Online 11/24)

Related Stories:
Opinion: Sacred grounds of the Haudenosaunee (11/23)

Copyright 2000-2006 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Indigenous activists reclaim nation's capital in defiance of Trump (4/28)
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe ends appeal in Dakota Access lawsuit (4/28)
Ute Tribe demands 'voice' as Trump orders review of Bears Ears (4/28)
Senate panel takes up bill to bring AMBER Alert funding to tribes (4/28)
Gun Lake Tribe prepares for grand opening of casino expansion (4/28)
Arne Vainio: We lost a fluent Ojibwe speaker in Larry Smallwood (4/28)
Native Sun News Today: Runners from Standing Rock head to Ohio (4/28)
James Giago Davies: People tell me it's better to read about pets (4/28)
Harold Monteau: Supreme Court stirs smelly pot of fish head stew (4/28)
Steven Newcomb: 'Picking Fights' book is a must-read for Natives (4/28)
Whiteclay liquor stores must close temporarily amid court battle (4/28)
Disputed leaders of Nooksack Tribe hit by Supreme Court decision (4/27)
Indigenous activists make presence known for climate march in DC (4/27)
Interior Department announces $5.7M in tribal preservation grants (4/27)
Mark Trahant: Senate candidate cites Standing Rock as 'awakening' (4/27)
Native Sun News Today: Battle over Whiteclay liquor just beginning (4/27)
Ivan Star Comes Out: Why are we still dealing with racism today? (4/27)
Albert Bender: Navajo family still waiting on justice for loved one (4/27)
Whiteclay liquor stores win surprise court ruling on liquor licenses (4/27)
Dakota Access firm faces fines for two spills of drilling fluid in Ohio (4/27)
Gathering of Nations gets ready for annual powwow in new venue (4/27)
Secretary Zinke lacks leadership team more than a month into job (4/27)
Republicans seek to avoid shutdown with temporary spending bill (4/27)
Supreme Court ruling seen as benefit to casino bus crash lawsuit (4/27)
Mashantucket Tribe charges off-duty officer for assault at casino (4/27)
Trump singles out Bears Ears as an 'abuse' of government's power (4/26)
Doug George-Kanentiio: Let's call Columbus by what he truly was (4/26)
Native Sun News Today: Lakota youth set up beekeeping business (4/26)
Cronkite News: Trump seeks to hire thousands of border officers (4/26)
Doug Pibel: New film teaches us about value of indigenous seeds (4/26)
Jenn Weddle: 'Best possible result' from court in sovereignty case (4/26)
Peter d'Errico: Oneida architect offers indigenous approach to law (4/26)
Whiteclay liquor stores aim to stay open pending fight for licenses (4/26)
Support for Standing Rock Sioux Tribe leads to recall in Alaska city (4/26)
Mishewal Wappo Tribe loses appeal in federal recognition lawsuit (4/26)
Police use tear gas & rubber bullets at indigenous protest in Brazil (4/26)
Mohegan Tribe wants gaming disputes resolved in judicial system (4/26)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.