Of all of the Host Nation Tribal Flags none has a longer history of representing its people than does Hiawatha’s Belt of The Iroquois League. The symbol has been in existence for over 400 years.
Six nations make up the league located in the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada. (Current population is 45,000 in Canada and 80,000 in the US).
The five original tribes, from east to west are: The Mohawks (The keepers of the eastern door); The Oneidas (The stone people); The Onondagas (The Name Bearers); Cayugas (The people of the marsh); The Senecas (Keepers of the western door). In 1722 a sixth tribe was accepted after they migrated into the territory: The Tuscaroras. The land of these tribes transformed a number of times throughout it’s history.
Known among themselves as the Hodinoshone (“People of the Long House) their unity was symbolized by a wampum belt in a pattern that became known as Hiawatha’s Belt. Each tribe had a unique wampum belt, combining them all into the design we know now as the Flag of the Iroquois League.
The flag is a purple field with five figures. At the center is the Sacred Tree where the Iroquois met in council. On either side of the central device are two different sized squares or rectangles connected to each other and to the Sacred Tree by a narrow band representing how the League was formed.
These are the Host Nation People who live and have their history where I live now. I do wonder why I didn’t learn anything about the Iroquois when I was in school here in Michigan. Maybe a cheesy drawing or two sentences about the ‘natives’ who lived here when the French first came, but nothing about the great nation that made up huge sections of this part of the country. As an Ally I proudly fly the flag of the Iroquois.