Part 12 of the series Are Native Americans Relevant?
Canassatego, an Iroquois chief, first proposed a union of colonies to a Pennsylvania assembly negotiating the Treaty of Lancaster because the Haudenosaunee was tiring of negotiating treaties with each individual colony. He explained how the union could be created, using the League of the Iroquois as a model. Benjamin Franklin learned about Native political organization as Pennsylvania’s official printer. At the Albany Congress on 1754 Franklin proposed uniting the colonies and copying the League of the Haudenosaunee. John Hancock was also a proponent.
The Iroquois and the Lenni Lenape had a federal system of government before the American Revolution. The United States federal government followed their example of separating civilian and military authorities, and allowing impeachment and the addition of new states. In denying any role to women, they did not emulate the Native Americans. In later years the League of the Haudenosaunee would inspire the organization of the League of Nations and United Nations.
The United States Senate follows the Haudenosaunee practice of banning the use of personal names on the floor. Only one person is allowed to speak at a time. Indian councils’ use of persuasion and education to achieve agreement through compromise foreshadow the role of debate and compromise in Congress.
The American political caucus originates from Native American meetings to discuss issues without needing to vote.