What significance did the Grand Council, an experiment in democracy, have for the Iroquois?

1 Answer
Mar 28, 2017


The Grand Council brought peace between the original 5 nations of the Iroquois confederation.


Before the formation of the Grand Council also called the chief's council the tribes that later formed the Iroquois Confederation had been engaged in constant raids and warfare. After the formation of the Iroquois confederation the five tribes instead of fighting each other fought together against other tribes.

The formation of the Iroquois confederation brought peace between these previously waring tribes and made them a powerful and feared force in North America. The formation of the Grand Council is dated at approximately 1450 before the incursions of European nations on North America.

The Grand Council brought peace. When there were important matters to be decided the Grand Council of 50 chiefs would be called to decided the matter.

                                                                                                                     A lesser council would meet on a regular basis.  Each long house had a representative for the lesser council elected by women of the long house. This protected the interest of the larger tribes like the Mohawk and the Seneca who had a larger representation in the lesser council as these tribes had many more long houses. 
                                                                                                                   The Smaller tribes had equal representation in the Council of Chiefs. or the Grand Council. This protected the smaller tribes like the Oneida, Cayuga, and Onondaga from being overwhelmed by the larger tribes.

This was an early form of representative democracy that existed long before the United States. The Grand Council brought peace to the combined Iroquois tribes.

The United States of America copied the Iroquois model. The conflict in the Constitutional Convention between the large states and the small states was resolved using the model of Iroquois confederation. The House of Representative was based on population like the Council based on long houses. The Senate was based on the council of chiefs where each state had two members just like the council of chiefs.