Mother of Nations

Jikonsaseh’s actions brought peace and reinforced Haudenosaunee women’s important responsibilities.

According to oral tradition, nearly 1,000 years ago, along a wooded ridge east of Lewiston, NY at Fort Kienuka, Jikonsaseh, a Neutral woman leader, held considerable skill in diplomacy, controlling the warriors who traveled along a nearby path. Within this leadership role where her decisions could create war, she was approached by the Peacemaker who brought a message of peace. As the first to accept this message and one who also bravely faced the formidable Onondaga leader, Tadodaho, her decision helped to unite the original five nations (Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, and Mohawk; Tuscarora later joined as the sixth nation) of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, bringing peace and stability.

In this act of alliance, the Peacemaker instilled in her the title of “Mother of Nations” and with it the responsibility of deciding the chiefs’ and clan mothers’ roles within the Confederacy. Clan mothers hold a great role as leaders and have the ability to choose the chiefs, give babies their names, and decide whether or not to go to war among many other essential responsibilities. Haudenosaunee traditions continue to uphold these practices and respect the women as leaders in a matrilineal society.

Discover over 200 inspiring, diverse local Changemakers by visiting our exhibit, open through spring 2021. Visit Today!

  1. Gibson, John A, Hanni Woodbury, Reginald Henry, Harry Webster, and Alexander Goldenweiser. Concerning the League: The Iroquois League Tradition As Dictated in Onondaga by John Arthur Gibson. Winnipeg: Algonquian and Iroquoian Linguistics, 1992. Print.  
  2. Parker, Arthur C. The Constitution of the Five Nations, Or, the Iroquois Book of the Great Law. Ohsweken, Ont: Iroqrafts, 2006. Print. 
  3. Williams, Kayanesenh P. Kayanerenkó:wa: The Great Law of Peace. , 2018. Print. 

Meet More Changemakers