Native American

Native American Influence


on American  Government


Did you know, as Americans, that the Native Americans had an important development of our federal government pretty much as we know it today? Even though my people have been miss-

treated by the federal government, American society, jealously and injustice for two hundred years---I have to admit that I am, indeed, a proud American. I am proud because I have taken the time to learn how the Founding Fathers became acquainted with the Indian leaders of that time.

First, let’s offer on example of the way Native Americans managed their affairs. When one studies, as I have, the Six Confederate Tribes of the Iroquois Nations, one would find that this alliance had a highly sophisticated  system of government.  The framers of the U.S. Constitution used the principles of the confederacy as a model when they began to draft the American Constitution.  The framers became familiar with the tribes around their areas, and especially took an interested in the Iroquois Confederacy. They observed, within this system, a group known as the Fire Keepers, which functioned similar to the Executive Branch of the U.S Government; then there were the Elder Brothers, a group that functioned similar to the Senate, and then they saw the Younger Brothers, which served in the capacity of the House of Representatives. 

Another concept the colonist used from the Confederacy was how war was determined. Women participated in the tribal councils, and when there was a conflict between tribes, it was the Clan Mothers who decided whether a tribe should war against another tribe.  The offense had to be very serious otherwise thumbs down was given on the idea.  The reason why women were allowed to make these decisions is because it is natural for a male’s ego to rule his decision making when a tribe offended another tribe.  As a man, wouldn't be natural for you to be inclined to stike back? However, your wife under natural conditions, would think more intelligent because it would be her husband, son or the young men who would go into battle. 

If they thought that there was good reason to go to war, then the issue would be turned over to the War Chief; it would be his job to lead his men into battle.  If there were no good reason for battle, then the problem would be delegated to the Peace Chief, whose job it would be to diplomatically settle the dispute. The War Chief, then, functions similar to the Secretary of Defense in the American political arena; the Peace Chief is correlated with the Secretary of State. 

Even though these bodies served their purposes in the confederacy the tribal councils, which originated from the villages, was the source of which important issues are first discussed.  In other words, when something of importance had to be addressed it was first brought before the tribal councils, and then it worked its way up the ladder to be considered in the confederation as a whole. This is an important concept. Abraham Lincoln  understood this to mean government of the people, by the people and for the people.  

One of the most important things the Founders understood was the benefit of the Confederacy, and they used the concept when they formed the Thirteen Colonies. In fact, because many ideas the Founders incorporated in their deliberations  was taken from the Six Confederate Tribes of the Iroquois Nations, the Founders original intent was to allow the Confederacy to be included as a Fourteenth Colony.  At this time the Indian nations were willing to participate in this manner because, believe it or not, they considered the colonists to be a part of the land (since they had been established in the Americas for two hundred years already).  However talks had broken down when word of this wasn't communicated in time to the frontiers people who were engaged in small battles with the Indians over land claims in the prairies.  In a short time, there was a severe schism between the founders of the colonies in Philadelphia and the near by  Indian leaders. When the Revolutionary War was ended the split was so far apart that the Indians were no longer considered as part of the new America.  Instead they were mentioned in the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution, and this interprets to mean that they would be considered as a nations of their own and to be dealt with in that manner.  Treaties became the guiding principles in which to follow, which most, as we know, were never honored.  Being placed on reservations removed these people from their natural setting, and today we struggle to bring back into our lives the concept of self-government.  Aside from broken treaties, having to tolerate early policies that threatened extermination and termination, the Native Americans, even though the Commerce Clause in the U.S. Constitution, says that we will be treated as nations of our own, tribal members were addressed by Congress in ways that prevented us from thriving in our natural environment; however today serving as atribal leader for twelve years, I believe we are making steady advances in that direction.

 I have a ligitimate reason to be a proud American.

And so should you----

Whoever you are----

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