Bury the Hatchet

Christmas tree vector - Illustration

As a final post about the Warrior archetype in relation to the life metaphor Life is an Ensemble Cast of Archetype Characters, it seems fitting to recall the story of Deganawida, the Peacemaker who along with Hiawatha established the great League of the Iroquois that served as a model of peaceful governance for the Articles of Confederation that presaged the US constitution.

The phrase “bury the hatchet” derives from an Iroquois ceremony whereby the Six Nations peoples literally buried their hatchets of warfare under the soil while planting a Great White Pine tree so as the tree grew they would be covered by its expansive branches spreading across the four directions.  Thus a warring, feuding peoples were united for peace and prosperity that lasted many generations. Warriors became peacemakers amongst their own peoples.

Native American Tomahawk Warrior Circle

The Iroquois League came about after many years of intertribal blood feuding amongst Iroquois speaking Native Americans at a time that predated the settling of White peoples in northeastern North America. As one version of this legendary story describes, Hiawatha was an Onandaga warrior whose wife and two daughters were murdered by a chief of his own village. Hiawatha wandered bereft in the woods in a state of desolation and grief; some say he feared he would become a cannibal, so great was his despair.

In the woods, some say while in a canoe on a lake, Hiawatha looked into the water and saw a godlike figure, Deganawida, looking back at him. (Another version says Deganawida was a man with a speech impediment that Hiawatha encountered while in the woods.) In any event, Deganawida shared the Condolence Ritual with Hiawatha to help him deal with his grief and to bring back to the Peoples to help them to allay their own grief. He also described how the tribes could unite to form a great League, with lifelong, wise delegates or sachems to be installed or deposed by the women of these matrilineal tribes. Deganawida also inspired the ritual for burying the hatchet, a symbolic putting aside of warfare for the sake of coming together as one Peoples, uniting in strength against their common enemies and fostering internal peace.

River reflection

This great League forged peace among the Six Nations of Iroquois that joined it; this peace lasted for many generations and still embues these Nations with deep principles of peace and democracy.

It has been said that the ceremonial act of burying the hatchet by the Iroquois peoples is one of the greatest examples of peacemaking in all of human history.

It took a Warrior who allied with and became himself a peacemaker to put aside warlike habits and attitudes in order to embrace unity, peace and the greater Good. If only West and East could BURY THE HATCHET today. At very least, you and I can do so. We can bury the hatchets brandished by any of our own feuding sub-selves, or within our outer community of fellowship. It takes only a CHOICE for the Warrior within you and me to stand up for Life and Peace, not Death or War.

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