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Student Question

Secondary III • 1yr.

How does decision making work for the Iroquoians before 1608?


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Explanations (1)

  • Explanation from Alloprof

    Explanation from Alloprof

    This Explanation was submitted by a member of the Alloprof team.

    Team Alloprof • 1yr.

    Good eveningPracticalR2D2! :)

     The Iroquoian social structure being matrilineal, the selection of people living in a longhouse is not left to chance. This means that if a young Iroquoian woman from the Bear clan marries a young man from the Turtle clan, the latter will henceforth be part of the Bear clan and will move into the longhouse of his new wife’s mother. A matrilineal society is one in which the mother is a central figure. The child is associated with his mother's family. The clan is led by the oldest woman in the family.

    As mentioned above, among the First nations, getting older is considered a sign of wisdom. This is why the oldest members of the Native groups come together to form the council of elders. This council is responsible for making important decisions for the whole community.

    This council determines, among other things, the rules to be followed for the members of the clan and decides if a confrontation against enemies is necessary. Since each board member is experienced and wise, their opinions are highly valued. In a majority of nations, the council of elders also has the responsibility of choosing the chief.

    Among the Iroquoians, the sedentary way of life allows the development of a system that is more focused on dialogue and compromise than on survival. The civilian leader is appointed for his courage, his eloquence and his ability to convince others. Again, it is the council of elders that makes the major decisions. The role of the chief is therefore to explain to all the members of the council why his opinion is the right one. It is also he, and not the whole council, who is the representative of the village when the time comes to enter into contact with other nations.

    In this linguistic family, there is often another leader, the warlord. The latter, having distinguished himself because of his various exploits in the past, has the role of leading his colleagues if a war breaks out.

    There you go! :) Let us know if you have any other questions! :)


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