What Does Hiawatha Refuse to Do in the End

(also known every bit Hienwentha, Ayonwatha (He Who Combs), Aiionwatha, or A-yo-went-ha) is believed to accept lived circa 1525 to 1575. Contempo archaeological evidence points to a much earlier date of the union of the 5 tribes than the fifteenth century, thus dating Hiawatha’s life to an earlier fourth dimension, perhaps by 500 years.

A member of the Mohawk Nation, he was instrumental in founding the Iroquois Confederacy aslope the Prophet Deganawida, The Not bad Peacemaker, and creating for them a constitution known as the “Cracking Police force of Peace”
(Gayanashagowa). Many believe that the powerful constitution drawn by the Founding Fathers of the United States may well have been influenced by the Great Law of Peace of the Iroquois Nation.

A skilled and charismatic orator, Hiawatha was instrumental in persuading the Iroquois peoples, the Seneca, Onondaga, Oneida, Cayuga, and Mohawk, to accept The Smashing Peacemaker’south vision and band together to get the Five Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy. This powerful group, centered upon the laws of peace, rapidly became one of the strongest forces in seventeenth and eighteenth century northeastern Northward America. (In the eighteenth century, the Tuscarora nation joined the Iroquois Confederacy post-obit their defeat by British forces, and the confederacy became the
Six Nations).

Key to the story of Hiawatha is the lesson of forgiveness. Each of his daughters had been brutally murdered past his mortal enemy. It was during his catamenia of inconsolable grief that he met his spiritual teacher and began the procedure of healing and forgiveness, thus enabling him to again take his place every bit chief of his tribe. Had he been unable to forgive his enemy, he would not take been able to unite the tribes, bring peace among them and typhoon a constitution whose principles endure. Built upon the quality of forgiveness, the legacy and legend of Hiawatha endures almost a millennium after the end of his life.


  • 1
  • 2
    Partnership with The Great Peacemaker

    • two.1
      Ceremonial rituals
    • ii.2
      Formation of the confederacy
    • two.3
      The Hiawatha Chugalug
  • 3
  • four
  • 5
  • half dozen


Little is known of Hiawatha prior to his becoming a chief. Co-ordinate to some traditions, he had some other name before coming together The Great Peacemaker, who gave him the proper noun Hiawatha.

The exact years of Hiawatha’s life are not known, though the almost accepted years are those of the early on to mid-sixteenth century, but at that place is no written record of him until the seventeenth century. However, this is not unusual since Native American history was passed down orally. The Mohawk primary, Joseph Brant, wrote Hiawatha’s biography in the early 1800s, equally he had learned it from oral tradition. A more complete biography was written in 1885 by a man named Seth Newhouse. This is the version that is mostly accepted past the Mohawk people.

What is known for certain is that Hiawatha, along with The Neat Peacemaker-Deganawida, built the Iroquois Confederacy, establishing peace among the five tribes and forming what many credit every bit the model for afterward American political planning.

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Recent archaeological evidence points to a much earlier date of the union of the 5 tribes than the fifteenth century, thus dating Hiawatha’s life to an earlier fourth dimension. Co-ordinate to records of the Confederacy leadership and astronomical dating related to the lunar eclipse that coincided with the founding of the Confederacy, recent estimates date the confederacy’s founding and its constitution to between the years of 1090 and 1150.[1]

Partnership with The Great Peacemaker

It is said that Hiawatha was a prosperous chief with seven beautiful daughters. An enemy of Hiawatha named Atotarho, killed the daughters one by one as they refused his advancements. Grieving over the loss of his daughters, Hiawatha retreated to the forest. While in exile he met the prophet Deganawida, well-nigh properly referred to equally The Nifty Peacemaker.

The Dandy Peacemaker had been expelled from the Hurons, the tribe of his nascence, due to his pacifist beliefs. Hiawatha was the first chief to accept the vision of his new teacher. Hiawatha brought Deganawida’due south philosophy to the 5 nations; Seneca, Onondaga, Oneida, Cayuga and Mohawk. These tribes banded together and formed a confederacy.

It is told that The Great Peacemaker (much similar Moses before him) had a spoken language impediment. Hiawatha’due south charisma and great skills of oratory were the means of conveyance that the prophet needed. At the time of their coming together, Hiawatha was unable to part as a leader to his people due to his inconsolable grief. He was healed through spiritual ceremony taught to him past the prophet. Thus they empowered each other, and their partnership seemed predestined for the benefit of the Iroquois peoples.

Ceremonial rituals

The rituals that Deganawida passed on to Hiawatha for his healing proceed to exist used by the Iroquois today. They are the sequential use of the wampum, the condolence ceremony, and what is known equally the re-quickening anniversary.

  • The wampum is a string or belt made of white whelk-trounce beads and blackness or imperial sewant beads. The wampum is used for ceremonies, to record agreements, or for gifts or tributes. They are a tool used to remind 1 of the importance of promises or relationships. The white beat out beads of the whelk symbolized internal energies of peace, harmony, and contentment.
  • The condolence ceremony was crucial in the process of peacemaking. Prior to this concept existence taught to them, the Iroquois had been warring nations, seeking retaliation for injustice. In Hiawatha’due south instance, ritually mourning his daughters (with the aid of the wampum chugalug) helped him to overcome his grief and his desire for revenge.
  • The re-quickening ceremony is the ritual of adopting a member of another tribe as the re-embodiment of one’s loss. This provided a sense of remainder.[ii]

Formation of the confederacy

The formation of the Iroquois Confederacy was Hiawatha’s legacy. The five nations of the Seneca, Cayuga, Onandaga, Oneida and Mohawk (from west to east ) became a group of united autonomous communities with a common constitution. The cardinal nation, the Onandaga, had the concluding vox. Each tribe operated independently, nevertheless a human relationship of peace had been formed. The central nation of Onandaga was not a governing body, merely served more than of a spiritual leadership role.[ii]

or the
Great Constabulary of Peace
is the oral constitution created to serve the Confederacy. It ended the aboriginal wheel of enmity and continuous conflict between the separate tribes. The formation of the confederacy centered upon its constitutional laws brought peace amid the group which once warred with one another. Once this grouping ceased their in-fighting they quickly became one of the strongest forces in seventeenth and eighteenth century northeastern North America.

The Confederacy was autonomous in many of its principles. Power flowed up from the small-scale local units, hereditary chiefs were nominated by association matrons and elected by villages, and all member groups were given a representative voice.[three]

The traditions established at the time of the Confederacy’due south germination continue to be honored by the Iroquois into the twenty-kickoff century. When a new leader is selected to head the chiefs of the Yard Council he takes the proper name Tadadaho, and the primary who takes the position of Keeper of the Wampum assumes the name Hiawatha. Observance of this tradition reminds members of the Confederacy of its origins and its founding purpose.[iv]

The original wampum record of the confederacy—a central pine tree with two squares on either side—represents the matrimony of the five nations. Today’s flag of the Iroquois Confederacy is patterned after this original wampum belt.

The Hiawatha Chugalug

The Hiawatha Wampum Belt is a visual record of the cosmos of the Iroquois Confederacy. This belt is comprised of half-dozen,574 wampum beads—38 rows by 173 rows and has 892 white and 5682 purple beads. The purple represents the sky or universe that surrounds us, and the white represents purity and Proficient Mind (good thoughts, forgiveness, and understanding).

At the center of the Hiawatha Belt is the Confederacy’southward symbol, the “Great White Pine,” also known equally the “Tree of Peace.” The eye figure as well represents the Onondaga Nation where the central council fires reside—all issues involving the entire Confederacy are debated and decided there. The other Haudenosaunee nations are visualized as squares: on the outer edges are the Mohawks, guardians of the Eastern Door; and the Seneca, Keepers of the Western Door. The Oneida and Cayuga are depicted in the 2 inner squares (the Tuscarora, the sixth nation in the Confederacy, joined later on this Wampum was created).[v]

The white open squares are connected by a white ring that has no get-go or end, representing all fourth dimension at present and forever. The band, however, does not cross through the center of each nation, meaning that each nation is supported and unified by a common bond and that each is separate in its own identity and domain. The open center as well signifies the idea of a fort protected on all sides, merely open in the center, symbolizing an open middle and mind inside.

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Hiawatha was a Mohawk main who came to symbolize the whole concept of peace and unity. Though the details of his life are not known with absolute certainty, his name and legend accept survived for hundreds of years. This gives testimony to the importance and significance of his place in history, beyond his consequence on his own tribe.

There are towns, counties, schools, parks and streets named for him throughout the United states of america. In improver, there is the Hiawatha National Woods in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Information technology covers 880,000 acres (three,600 km²) and contains six designated wilderness areas. The forest has over 100 miles (160 km) of shoreline on Lake Superior, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.


  1. Charles C. Mann,
    1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus
    (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005).

  2. 2.0

    Harvey Markowitz and Carole A. Barrett,
    American Indian biographies, Magill’southward option (Pasadena, Calif: Salem Press, 2005), 213.

  3. Rhodes Educational Publications
    Hiawatha Retrieved May 23, 2008.

  4. Biographies, Answers Corporation, 2006, Hiawatha Retrieved May 24, 2008.

  5. PBS.org
    Ely Parker 1770-1844 Retrieved May 24, 2008.


ISBN links support NWE through referral fees

  • Leeming, David Adams, and Jake Page. 1999.
    Myths, legends, and folktales of America: an anthology. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195117837
  • Markowitz, Harvey, and Carole A. Barrett. 2005.
    American Indian biographies. Magill’s pick. Pasadena, Calif: Salem Press. ISBN 9781587652332
  • Porter, C. Fayne. 1964.
    Our Indian heritage; profiles of 12 great leaders. Philadelphia: Chilton Books.
  • Rhodes Educational Publications. Hiawatha Retrieved May 23, 2008.


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What Does Hiawatha Refuse to Do in the End

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