Seneca Daily News on YouTube: Doug George-Kanentiio at the Women's March in Seneca Falls, New York

Doug George-Kanentiio: Protecting Mother Earth and our lifegivers

Seneca Falls Rally for Freedom

By Doug George-Kanentiio

Summation as delivered at the women's march in Seneca Falls, New York, on January 21, 2017.

Sekon Skenen:kowa.

Greeetings, May there be a great peace within you.

875 years ago, across this land, walked Skennenrahowi, the Great Peacemaker, to create among warring peoples a great league of nation founded upon the principles of peace, justice, equality and ecological balance. In an act of genius without parallel in the world he established a society in which the human spirit was liberated from the constraints of fear and oppression.

Using the power of persuasion and the application of reason he found a way to resolve human disputes without the use of retaliation and violence. This great league was governed by a set of principles called the Great Law of Peace which assured the citizens of the Iroquois Confederacy of governance responsible to the people with a legal obligation refrain from enacting any law which qualified the rights of those unborn unto to the seventh generation; among those inalienable rights were access to pure waters fertile lands and clean air along with the freedom to fulfill their inherent abilities and to take an active part in the social, spiritual and administrative activities of their respective nation unencumbered by gender, age or conditions of their birth.

It was here, in central New York State, on the sacred lands of the world's oldest union of free nations, that the lifegivers of the nations were assured of their natural rights to nominate all leaders, to impeach those in breach of the nation's laws, to hold custodial title to the land, to cultivate the soil, to distribute the collective fruits of the people's labors, to oversee all matters involving peace and war, to control all instances of capital punishment, to arbitrate disputes, approve or dissolve civil weddings, administer to those in need and lend their lineage to infants and naturalized citizens.

It was the lifegivers who took and active role in all the communal rituals, served as clanmothers and faithkeepers and insured all children were housed, clothed and fed without distinction in a society without artificial class barriers. It was a society unlike any other, a place of refuge and liberty where women were fierce in the protection of their ancestral freedoms and determined to share their traditional knowledge with whomever followed the gleaming white roots to find shelter beneath the Great Tree of Peace.

There is no question but that the Iroquois have changed the world in many bold and subtle ways from showing the eastern refugees the art of living upon Anonwarakowa, the Great Turtle to the essence of women's liberation from the constraints imposed upon them by unenlightened males. We now ask you to take this to the next step -- to enact such laws as will protect our Mother Earth by giving her formal constitutional standing and to give deliberate consideration in every instance of human endeavor.

From us comes the fire, to you we share the light. Do with it what you must.

Doug George-Kanentiio,Akwesasne Mohawk, is the vice-president of the Hiawatha Institute for Indigenous Knowledge. He has served as a Trustee for the National Museum of the American Indian, is a former land claims negotiator for the Mohawk Nation and is the author of numerous books and articles about the Mohawk people. He may be reached via e-mail at: or by calling 315-415-7288. His address is: 2 Elm Court, Akwesasne Mohawk Territory, Akwesasne, ON K6H 5R7.

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