Iroquois Cosmology and the Clan System

By Tom Keefer

SIX NATIONS – Tehahenteh is a Turtle Clan Kanien’kehà:ka elder from Six Nations who teaches the Kanien’kéha language. On February 3rd, 2016 he sat down to speak with Real Peoples Media about Iroquois Cosmology and the basis of the Clan system established by the Peacemaker. This system of organizing the people in matrilineal extended families is the basis for Iroquoian democracy – the longest running direct democracy in existence in the world today.

This way of organizing people came about as a result of the efforts of the Peacemaker and his companion Hiawatha who brought the message of how to live together in peace and harmony to Iroquoian people and other indigenous peoples on Turtle Island.

Tehahenteh speaks about the message of the Peacemaker and the ways in which the Iroquoian understanding of life is based on the idea of a great intelligent natural energy that is connected to everything in the universe. This understanding is inherent to the Kanien’keha language and is embedded in the Iroquois creation story.

Listen to the audio file linked below to hear Tehahenteh discuss how Iroquoian cosmology approaches such important issues as quantum physics, the original instructions given to all life forms, and the role of the spirit beings in the Iroquois creation story.

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