A few years ago, I read somewhere that the Iroquois had a big impact upon the Founding Fathers when they set out to establish a nation separate from Great Britain. I did some research and came up with some amazing information. A teaser is at The United States Constitution: The Native American Source for the Declaration and the Constitution
for anyone interested in learning more about this.
Here's a general theory of how it worked.
In Iroquois society, the most important group was the family. The mother and father shared responsibility for the children - but, it was the grandparents who taught them and shared their wisdom. When families joined in a clan, they routinely held meetings to deal with mutual problems, each family taking part. If matters of a tribal nature came up for discussion, each clan sent a representative. And finally, if the general confederation was to deal with something, the tribes sent a representative to the gathering.
Does anyone see a theme in this? A basis for a representative form of government?
The Iroquois had TWO chiefs! A Peace Chief elected by the group who dealt with day-to-day business and a War Chief, elected from the warriors to deal only with those times when either they needed to defend themselves or the general council declared war.
Finally, when matters of law or tradition needed arbitration, the families, clans, tribes, and the confederation turned to the elders for their experience and wisdom. Their word was final.
Do we get the picture yet?
And yes, despite how Europeans depicted them, Native American WOMEN played a huge part in the decisions made by ALL Native American groups!!!!