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What does the Tree of Great Peace represent in the Iroquois constitution?

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Quick Answer

The Tree of Peace is a symbol of unity among the Five Nations of the Iroquois people, and its place within the Iroquois Constitution lends permanence to their bonds. In Iroquois tradition, the Creator sent a Peacemaker who convinced the Iroquois nations to stop fighting.

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Iroquois tradition teaches that after the Peacemaker had secured an agreement from all five of the Iroquois nations to lay down their weapons, he found a tree so tall that it pierced the sky. The needles on the tree branches grew in clusters of five needles, and this became a symbol of the unity of the five nations. He pulled up the tree and had the warriors throw their weapons in the hole that appeared, and then he replaced the tree, from which the Great White Roots of Peace grew, as stated by First People.

In the Iroquois Constitution, the first two sections refer to the establishment of this tree. Firekeepers are to sit beneath the shade of the tree and make sure that the Council Fire of the Confederacy of the Five Nations always burns. Taken together, the fire and the tree symbolize the peaceful union that the Peacemaker brokered among the Iroquois people.

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