Influential pws: Dekanawida

Written by Jurjen

Did you ever hear of Dekanawida or, his nickname, ‘‘the Peacemaker’? Probably not. And that is OK. However, you will not forget him if you would know that he was a famous Native American who lived in the 15th century and stuttered. 

He is the founder of the Iroquois Confederacy. This was a unity between five and later six Native American nations. These six tribes were the Senecas, Cayugas, Onondagas, Oneidas, Mohawks, and Tuscarora people. The Iroquois played for 200 years an important role in the North American colonial policy, until the American Revolution, where they chose British sides and lost most of their territory after the war. As of today, there are still around 60.000 Iroquois.

Figure: Iroquois territory. Source: wikimedia commons

Dekanawida’s name means “Two River Currents Flowing Together”, which also reflects his mission to bring together people from warring tribes. He called, besides for unity, also for the end of cannibalism. Native Americans saw him as a spiritual leader or a prophet. Even today there are members from the Bahá’í Faith, who recognize Dekanawida as a Manifestation of God.

Deganawida was a great preacher, but because of his stutter, he used his follower Hiawatha as his spokesman. Together they teamed up and brought unity. Unfortunately, we don’t know much more about Deganawida’s personal life. It is even not sure when he exactly lived. However, we can see that even though he needed somebody as his spokesman, he didn’t give his life-mission up, despite that he had a stutter.


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