Iroquoian nations had a well-defined political organization. It started with the clan, the structure that was closest to the daily lives of the people, and went all the way to the confederation, the most remote structure. Look at the diagram above. In order, from bottom to top, was the clan council, the village council, the nation council and finally, the confederation council.

To make this easier to understand, let’s look at the Bear Clan, which belongs to the Mohawk nation:

1. The Bear Clan council
The clan council elects a representative, called the civil chief.

2. The village council
The civil chiefs of all the clans in the village meet.

3. The nation council
The civil chiefs of the Mohawk (Kanienʼkehá꞉ka) nation meet to discuss issues.

4. The confederation council
The confederation was made up of representatives from the five Iroquois nations. By joining forces within a confederation, the Five Nations could help each other, whether for political or economic reasons.


Author: Service national du Récit de l’univers social




Important concepts and big ideas:

Power structure – Structure du pouvoir
Confederation – Confédération
Nation – Nation

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