In the modern world, both the Iroquois Constitution and US Constitution pertain to many areas regarding personal and government affairs; however, one has almost been abandoned while the other is still alive and thriving. Both Constitutions are controversial; moreover, one can find many similarities and differences among them through the features of human equality, personal rights, and security of self and state. Each document has more to it than what meets the eye, therefore, by comparing and contrasting, an understanding is pursued through deep analyzation of the principles.
The Iroquois Constitution fulfills a belief that all humans have the ability to become equal, at least if you affiliate with one of the clans. Within the Council of the Five Nations, several clans were assembled, each containing an abundance of policies and standards to withhold. Anyone was permitted to join if they followed the rules within their chosen clan. Even outside tribes and nations were allowed equity, but only by compliance. Obedience and abiding by the commands resulted in comfort and shelter under the leaves of the Iroquois’ greatest symbol, the Tree of the Great Peace.
The constitution stated, “If any man or any nation outside the Five Nations shall obey the laws of the Great Peace and make known their disposition to the Lords of the Confederacy, they may trace the Roots to the Tree and if their minds are clean and they are obedient and promise to obey the wishes of the Confederate Council, they shall be welcomed to take shelter beneath the Tree of the Long Leaves,” (Constitution of the 2). Once the individual became a member, they were given equal rights and privileges as long as they respected the protocols.
Members were able to voice their opinion(s) in national affairs, take part in the system of checks and balances, and ultimately procure their political and religious freedom; however, gaining power was prohibited from the outsiders. Since their knowledge was limited on how things functioned, it was only fair to keep the newcomers out of the hierarchy (Constitution of the 95-97). The Iroquois were looking to extend their nation, so fairness was the key to population expansion. Egalitarianism also resided in political power.
Women, who were considered the “keepers” in the Five Nations, were responsible for nominating and impeaching chiefs, owning soil and land, and making sure the men fulfilled their duties (Iroquois Women). In return, men acquired the War Chief positions. They took on the responsibility of family protection from any raiding Indian tribes or attacks by nature, specifically animals (The Iroquois). Society was well balanced for the Iroquois; both females and males played a momentous role rather than one gender dominate the majority of power.
As for personal rights, each nation centered around Council Fires and the people’s decisions. One section of the Rights of the People of the Five Nations states that whenever a huge emergency affects the entire population, the Lords of the Confederacy must rely on the people’s decision in order for the Confederate Council to come to a final agreement (Constitution of the 93). Council Fires were traditional for the Iroquois; in fact, they held one quite frequently for discussing the people’s interests and recommendations.
If one general council fire was called into order, many things were examined such as the welfare of the clans, unity of the nations, and the right of people to, “make appointments and delegate their power to others of their number,” (Constitution of the 96). By birthright, clan members were also entitled to land ownership. However much land one resided on was their own property. The Iroquois approached all five of the nations as one family. In other words, the sharing of soil came with identical blood, and eventually one unified nation proposed by the Great Creator himself.
Another personal right proposed by the Iroquois was marriage restriction. Since all men and women within one clan were declared relatives, one could not marry within their own clan, but were able to find a relationship among representatives of other clans. The Iroquois were never stripped of their personal rights. They were still granted freedom of speech, the right to marry anyone who wasn’t a direct relative, land ownership, and the verdict to “vote” through opinions being thrown out at traditional Council Fires. As long as rules weren’t broken, the people could go about their business without question or doubt.
Security of self and state was essential to the Iroquois. For self protection and defense purposes only, each nation had the right to bear arms. Fighting within the nations was prohibited; generally speaking, the Five Nations centered around peace. In the Iroquois’ depiction of their tree, they contained an eagle at the top of the Tree of the Long Leaves. The eagle promoted sanctuary and early warning against invaders; therefore, the Iroquois had a strong connection with nature. Nature provided security and unity for the nation, so there was no need for weapons.
Dekanawida, the peacemaker, buried every weapon under the Peace Tree, so everyone would fight for peace within rather than with furiosity. The Iroquois Constitution reads: I, Dekanawida, and the Union Lords, now uproot the tallest pine tree and into the cavity thereby made we cast all weapons of war. Into the depths of the earth, down into the deep underearth currents of water flowing to unknown regions we cast all the weapons of strife. We bury them from sight and we plant again the tree. Thus shall the Great Peace be established and hostilities shall no longer be known between the Five Nations but peace to the United People. Constitution of the 65). Since there were no weapons, there must be peace, in which the tree brings from being the actual protector. The Tree of Great Peace portrayed strength within the nations too. A wampum was created within each of the Five Nations to symbolize coming together as a whole, also known as the Union of the Great Law. As a union, the Iroquois were all for protection of their Five Nations from harm of outside tribes and invaders. Skanawatih, the Commander in Chief, contained double authority and the power to declare war against any enemies of the Great Peace.
Ironically, the constitution’s promotion of peace was of the greatest importance, but clans became extremely furious another nation came to them and refused to accept the Great Peace, so they declared war almost immediately. The constitution states that the nation must select one of the five war chiefs to lead the battle. The chosen one then makes sure their men use good behavior and listen by strict obedience (Constitution of the 81). After hollering their pre-battle symbolic cry, also known as the War Song, the chiefs proceed into battle.
As soon as termination occurs, the peace suddenly reigns and all weapons are cast out of the nation. Great Peace reestablishes throughout the Five Nations, leaving every clan to follow the original rules proposed from there on out. Proceeding on to the second document, the U. S. Constitution had their own interpretation of human equality; furthermore, the 14th Amendment introduced the concept for the first time. The first section states that anyone born in the United States is a resident of the country, and the state that they inhabit.
The Constitution of – U. S. 14. 1). States were not allowed to strip people of their rights, discriminate against certain groups of people, or pass unfair laws. Citizenship was also not able to be taken away unless one lied to the government in the process of becoming a citizen, therefore, newly-freed slaves were capable of containing a legal status (Sagal 2013). Ratification of the Three Fifths Clause emerged on Congress representation; consequently, slaves were now counted as a whole individual in the population rather than three-fifths a person.
The 14th Amendment declared that all people would be provided jurisdiction, “the equal protection of the laws,” (The Constitution of – U. S. 14. 1). By law, all persons must be provided equal treatment by the state (Equality and the). Originally, rich, white males were the only ones able to contain power, leaving women unable to obtain leadership positions in the late 1700s. Eventually, this was ratified. At first, only white males over the age of twenty one were allowed to vote, but suffrage was eventually made equal in the 19th Amendment.
Citizens of any race or color were already allowed to vote by the 15th Amendment, but both genders were now justly able to take part in elections (The Constitution of – U. S. 19). In regards to personal rights, the U. S. Constitution used the Bill of Rights (which was the first ten amendments) to catechize the lack of individual liberty protection. Originally credited to James Madison for writing 17 sections, the constitution was actually comprised of 27 Amendments (The Amendments in). The First Amendment articulated protecting many rights for every American including freedom of religion, speech, and press.
Other rights promised by the ratifications were the right to own weapons, ability to secure a fair and legal trial, to obtain power that the government is not given, protection from soldier invasion in homes, innocence until proven guilty, prohibition of unreasonable bail or fines, speedy trial by jury, and many more (Celebrate the Constitution). Even to this present day, federalists still argue that a Bill of Rights is not necessary because the people and states are allowed powers not retained by the federal government.
If the subject alternates to security of self and state, the U. S. Constitution describes defensive standards and protection towards the country as a whole. The 2nd Amendment states that the security of a free state must include a regulated militia and the right to bear arms for bearing arms (The Constitution of – U. S. 2). Individuals are allowed to own weapons for self defense purposes and when enlisting into a military branch, but do not necessarily have the right to construct an offensive attack on someone who has done no such harm to them.
A secure nation can only be slightly guaranteed with strong soldiers and defensive weapons such as knifes, guns, bombs, etc. Although there are many rules that limit the people to what they are allowed to do and not do, security of the state(s) and people is drafted through the constitution itself. The amendments are a safeguard from the government; moreover, they are kept from gaining too much power and having the ability to strip freedoms from the people. Instead, foundation is provided for the government to keep things running efficiently.