Pathfinder by Dominique T. Vyborny
The Iroquois Confederacy was an alliance, originally of five, and later a sixth, Native American tribes inhabiting what is now upstate New York. The League began as less of a political organization, and more as a pact calling for non-aggression between the tribes. Traditionally, American Indian societies were autonomous and egalitarian, existing in bands or villages, with no one person in a position of power. However, there was an increasing amount of intertribal violence around the year 1525, and they were in a continuous state of Mourning War. Smaller groups began to join together forming increasingly larger villages, some growing to have populations of around 1500 people or more. Eventually they began to build palasades to protect their villages.
††††††††††† Political structures are developed within cultures, and within any culture there are norms and rules and a prescribed behaviors. These cultural aspects influence and create a framework in which the political system will make sense and be effective.† It would be a disservice to describe the political structure of the Iroquois without looking at key points of the culture itself. The areas that Iíll be exploring are kinship and marriage, warfare, and religious beliefs.
I aim to look at what the strengths and weaknesses of the Alliance were, and discuss why it lasted as long as it did, and also why it was unable to withstand the incoming tide of European culture. Iíll also be looking at the cultural diffusion from the Native Americans to the Europeans, both with the formation of the United States Constitution and how the Indians helped ill-equipped European survive in their first few years on this continent. .
Blanchard, Rufus. The Iroquois Confederacy: Its Political System, Military System, Marriages, Divorces, Property Rights, Etc. Chicago: Rufus Blanchard, 1902
This is an interesting primary document, though Iím not sure Iíd trust it for a more serious paper without cross references, etc. It seems somewhat opinionated and lacking in its own resources, so the origins of the information is a bit questionable, although it mostly checks out with the general gist of other sources. †
A concurrent resolution 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 Indian tribes and the United States established in the Constitution. H.CON.RES.331, 100th Congress (1987 - 1988), The Library of Congress Thomas, http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d100:HC00331:@@@L&summ2=m& (Accessed on May 3rd, 2012)
The Library of Congress is a great place to find primary documents, and is a credible source.
Schoolcraft, Henry R. An Address Delivered Before the Was-ah Ho-de-no-son-ne or New Confederacy of the Iroquois. Rochester: Jerome & Brother, Talman Block, 1845
This was an interesting book because itís written in a more antiquated form of English, because of the year it was published, although itís still easy to understand.
Calloway, Colin G.† First Peoples: a Documentary Survey of American Indian History, Boston: Bedford/St. Martinís, 2008
This wonderful book should not be overlooked as a resource. Granted, itís our textbook for the course, but it has some amazing little gems of information. There is a ten page document on The Iroquois Great League Of Peace, and itís a gold mine for getting a good general overview of the League and also for finding other books on the topic by searching itís bibliography.
O'Neil, Dennis. ďKinship: Descent GroupsĒ, Palomar College. Copyright © 1997-2006. Last revised March 16, 2007. https://acconline.austincc.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_id=_2_1&url=%2fwebapps%2fblackboard%2fexecute%2flauncher%3ftype%3dCourse%26id%3d_68797_1%26url%3d (accessed May 2nd, 2012)
Palomar Anthropology Tutor is an extremely useful resource when it comes to learning about cultural terms and kinship structures. When speaking of the Iroquois in particular, who are known for their intricate kinship structures, itís very refreshing to have this as a solid foundation for communicating concepts.
Snow, Dean R. The Iroquois, Cambridge: Blackwell Publishers, 1994
This book spans a time period from a.d. 900-2000, and gives a thorough view of Iroquois culture. It covers topics such as the origins of language, mythology, and rituals, to the forming of the League, the arrival of Europeans and the struggles they began to face, loss of freedom and the splitting of the league, to the modern Iroquois incarnation. A very useful book on the Iroquois in all aspects