Lessons of Life from the Great Law of Peace

The President’s Perspectives on Peace Campaign presents the Inaugural Lecture of the McMaster Laureates of Peace Lecture Series: Lessons of Life from the Great Law of Peace with an introduction by Patrick Deane, President and Vice Chancellor of McMaster University.


Gayanashagowa, or “the Great Law of Peace”, is the oral constitution through which the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy were bound together. By way of symbolic imagery on wampum belts, the Law was conceived by The Great Peacemaker, and his spokesperson Hiawatha. The Great Law unveiled a new form of government—participatory democracy—with its core teaching that “peace is the law, and the law is for peace.” Heralded as the basis for North America’s first peace movement, historians claim that its democratic ideals inspired the framers of the US Constitution.


Rick Hill, of the Indigenous Knowledge Centre at Six Nations Polytechnic, will share “lessons of life” from the Gayanashagowa and how North America’s oldest constitution continues to serve as a lesson in peace-building among nations.

Elizabeth Doxtator’s installation of handmade corn husk dolls tells the story of the Peacemaker and serves as a visual representation of the Great Law’s empowerment of the Haudenosaunee people.


Date: Monday, February 23rd, 2015

Time: 3:30 pm – 6:30 pm

Location: The Great Hall, University Club

Registration: hres@mcmaster.ca


*Refreshments will be served