Signed in as:
Signed in as:
“I received the name of Ka-ron-ien-ha-wi, or ‘Sky Carrier,’ or as Mrs. Converse said the Senecas would express it, ‘She who holds the sky.'” This is the way Matilda Joslyn Gage described her honorary adoption into the Wolf Clan of the Mohawk Nation in 1893.
Her Mohawk sister “said this name would admit me to the Council of Matrons, where a vote would be taken, as to my having a voice in the Chieftainship,” Gage wrote. How amazing this must have been to a woman who, that same year went on trial
for voting in a local school board election. Considered for full voting rights in her adopted nation,
she was arrested in her own nation for voting.
You are in the aboriginal territory of the Onondaga Nation, the center of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy, where women have had political voice for 1000 years. The Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and Seneca nations came together in 909 and formed a political alliance on the shores of nearby Onondaga Lake. Joined later by the Tuscarora, this confederacy, based on peace, absolute equality and thankful acknowledgment of the connection of all life, is arguably the oldest continuing democracy in the world. The Haudenosaunee provided a model of democracy for the Founding Fathers, as Gage knew.
She was appalled by the United States’ disregard for Native American treaty rights, and recognized the sovereignty of Native nations, which was an unpopular position to hold during that time. The Haudenosaunee balance of responsibilities shared by women and men provided a model of women’s rights for the suffragists.
Haudenosaunee women had – and still have -- an equal voice in political leadership, the clan mother nominating, holding in office and removing, if necessary, the male chief to represent their clan. Lineage is through the female. Before churches and government attempted to force Christianity and capitalism on the Haudenosaunee, women had final authority on decisions of war, and oversaw the economy of the community, through creating and allocating the food supply. Gage observed the resulting harmony, and came to believe that without equality, no culture could be truly civilized.
Sisters in Spirit: Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Influence on Early American Feminists by Sally Roesch Wagner is available through our online store and in our Gift Shop.