On Saturday, July 25, 2015 Haudenosaunee from across the northern
hemisphere will travel in the early morning hours to Tyendinaga,
the birthplace of the Peacemaker. There a tobacco burning will take
place to mark the recital of the Great Law in Akwesasne from Sunday,
July 26, 2015 to Thursday, July 30, 2015. The Great Law of Peace;
Kaienerakowa is the "oral constitution by which the Haudenosaunee
is bound together. The protocols and principles within serve as
the foundation upon which our nation is built. The recitation of
the Great Law is a reminder of how our nations should be functioning
to maintain peace and prosperity."
This massive undertaking has been years in the planning and
for some people a lifetime. Several years ago a number of
Chiefs and Faithkeepers met to talk about the recital of the Great
Law. Those who remember, men such as Huron Miller and Jake Thomas,
could recite the Great Law and/or the Kariwiio entirely by themselves.
With such a massive undertaking it was decided that the learning
of the Great Law and the recital of it would be shared among the
group. After many meetings and countless practices, a Great Law
reading was held in Oneida. Interest soon flowed and when it was
brought to the Mohawk Nation Council, it was said, "if you
want to do this, then go ahead and organize it..."
Given the strength of Mohawk women, the recital will begin promptly
on Sunday at 9:00am at the former IGA building. After years of practice,
oftentimes listening to recordings of Jake Thomas, the speakers
will recite the Great Law, the speakers include; Richard Mitchell,
Tom Porter, Bob Brown, Leroy Hill, and Jamie Jacobs. Speakers in
the afternoon include Rick Hill, Ken Maracle and Bob Antone, and
Elder Advisor is Howard Elijah. The speakers gave themselves a five
year plan, after reciting the Kaienerakowa in Oneida and then Onondaga,
the speakers have become more confident, yet know this takes a lifetime
commitment to learn in its entity the Kaienerakowa.
Kaienerakowa is the second of gifts from the Creator, the first
being the Four Dances; Great Feather Dance, Atonwa, Peach Bowl and
Drum Dance. From the beginning, the recital will take the listener
to the beginning when the Peacemaker was still in the chosen woman's
womb and the struggles she endured to give birth to the Peacemaker
and the years soon after the Peacemaker's birth. It is said her
own mother tried to rid her daughter's child until she received
a visit from a man telling her how special and powerful her grandson
was. The next day the mother apologized to her daughter and from
here marks how the women were the first to accept the Peacemakers
From the Kaienerakowa, the listener will piece together the
foundation of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy; the journey the Peacemaker
takes in his stone canoe, the Circle of Wampum for the 50 titles
of Chiefs, and how the Chiefs all hold hands so tight and firm,
the Tree of Peace will not falter and will not fall to the ground;
we are stronger than one. If a Chief leaves, his horns, his clan
and his name will remain within the circle. The listener will hear
of how the Peacemaker arrived before the arrival of the first immigrants
and fighting was rampant among our own people, you will travel his
journey that takes you to each Nation, the Mohawks, Oneida, Onondaga,
Seneca and Cayuga and how he bound five arrows together strengthening
beyond the brittleness of just one arrow. And how the Tree of Peace
was planted and all weapons of war were buried and replaced with
a good mind; one eye, one head, one heart as all decisions to be
made would be considered through this. It was here how; Aionwatha
was comforted with words to wipe clear his eyes, ears and throat
during Aionwatha condolence after the death of his three daughters
using 15 strings of wampum to clear his mind and heart. And how
the creation of the Older Brothers, the Mohawk, Onondaga and Seneca
will comfort and later raised the hearts and chiefs of the Younger
Brothers: the Oneida, Cayuga and later the Tutelos and Tuscarora
and the same will be for the Clans.
It is here, where the listener will hear the roles of the Chiefs,
Clan Mothers and Faithkeepers and how above all, we must perform
our ceremonies to show our gratitude to the Creator, for as long
as we are performing our ceremonies, everything will be there for
According to Richard Mitchell, "The Creator has never forgotten
us. He gave us our beliefs, he gave us the Four Scared Songs. He
has given us the strength to uphold our ceremonies."
The afternoons will be for our youth, in Darryl Thompson words,
"It will be geared for the future. It will be very straightforward
and very clear about things." It is a shared hope that this
will help them understand their heritage and who they are and they
will no longer have the need to talk or imitate others. Speakers
will talk of our wampum belts and strings, decolonization and many
valuable and pertinent issues that relate to all of us today.
The Kaienerakowa is oral tradition, with depth and richness
to it. To thoroughly experience this and for the comfort of others,
the organizers requests are simple;
Please, the recital is being recorded, they ask that you DO
NOT record or take photos with recorders, cameras or cell phones.
And speaking of cell phones...
Please, turn your cell phones OFF within the building.
Please, in an effort to reduce waste, bring your own dish, bowl,
cup, and eating utensils.
Please, be on time.
Please, be quiet.
a recent Great Law Recital, a woman presented all of the speakers
with this drawing. L-R: Richard Mitchell, Tom Porter, Leroy
Hill, Bob Brown and Jamie Jacobs.
Again, in the words of Darryl Thompson, "this is the time
for your clan to shine and to work together as one." Volunteers
are welcomed and needed, if you are interested in volunteering please
contact your clan leader for this event. These clans are responsible
for the following days;
Sunday; Turtle (Joyce King)
Monday; Wolves (Florence Seymour)
Tuesday; Bear (Karoniatha and Kawehnahare)
Wednesday: Snipe and Deer (Debbie Solomon)
Thursday all Clans working together
Rick Oakes is responsible for security, Dave Arquette and Scott
Martin for waste management (reduce, reuse, recycle when possible
and water will be available for refillable containers), Bula Hill
and Val Terrance for financials, Florence Seymour for food, NNATC
for audio and video, Jessica Sargent for vendors (there are only
a select number of vendor tables available and vendors are requested
to set up AFTER 2:30pm), Elvera Sargent for communications and Maxine
Cole for general organization. The Kaienerakowa Logo is original
artwork created by Victoria Ransom. You can find information at
greatlawrecital.com and on Facebook.