Iroquois Democracy & American Revolution

Week 16: Iroquois Democracy & American Revolution


WATCH: K – 8:  500 Nations A Jack Leustig Film Hosted by Kevin Costner

Disc 3 Episode 5:

Watch Scene 9 “Haudenosaunee Democracy” to end of Episode 5.

 Note: Many Native Americans at this time wore very little clothing.  Drawings accompany this documentary showing men and women wearing their traditional clothing.  (i.e. There are many images of almost naked male and female Native Americans.)  This documentary is excellent but may be a bit hard for kids in grades K – 3 to understand.)



  • Which Native American group had the oldest democracy in America? (Haudenosaunee or Iroquois)
  • How many tribes were part of this democracy? (5)
  • How did their democracy begin? (“The PeaceMaker” saw the 5 nations often warring against each other; brought message of peace and the “Great Law” which was moral teachings.)
  • Describe the 5 arrows symbolism? (1 arrow can be easily broken; 5 joined together remain strong)
  • What great American was inspired by their democracy? (Ben Franklin)
  • What were their houses like?  Did they live well? (Longhouses – housed up to a dozen families; had fruit trees, corn, dishes, etc.  They lived well.)
  • Who picked the chief of each clan? (women)
  • What was the Great Council? (Each of the 5 clan chiefs met and talked together to make decisions.)
  • What was the council’s decision on the Revolutionary War? (to remain neutral)
  • Who was Joseph Brant? (Native American w/ ties to British; wanted to fight against Americans; defied council and persuaded many Mohawk and Seneca to do the same.)
  • Did the rest of the tribes remain neutral? (no, some sided w/ Americans)
  • What did George Washington’s men do to the neutral Onandaga? (burned houses, fruit trees, corn, etc.)
  • Why did many Native Americans die? (Civil War; hunger, disease, cold)
  • When the British surrendered, did they make provisions for the Iroquois’s land in their peace agreement? (no)

ACTIVITIES: K – 3: Draw your own picture of a scene of the Iroquois (Haudenosaunee)  in the Revolution.

4 – 6: Do you think the Iroquois could have remained neutral if Joseph Brant hadn’t come back from England?  Explain your answer in a paragraph.

7 – 8: Write an essay (5 paragraph- 3 proof)  telling about 3 new things you learned about the Iroquois during the Revolution.


Copyright August 2nd, 2013 by Gwen Fredette

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Filed under Colonial America, Revolutionary War

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