Native American language
American Indian cultures
American Indian nations
Legendary Native American Figures: The Great Peacemaker
Name: The Great Peacemaker
Tribal affiliation: Iroquois
Native names: Skennenrahawi, Hononhsoni:donh, Deganawida, Dekanawida, Deganawidah, Dekanawideh, Tekanawita
Pronunciation: varies by language: in Mohawk it is pronounced skun-nun-lah-hah-wee. Deganawida is a more reverent
name and is not usually spoken aloud except in ceremonial contexts.
Type: Native American hero, legendary leader, peace maker
The Great Peacemaker (Skennenrahawi or Deganawida) is a revered mythological leader from the traditions of the
Iroquois tribes. He is considered by most communities to be the founder of the Iroquois Confederacy and the establisher
of the Great Peace and Great Law that governed the Confederacy, although in many stories he shared that honor with the
and a female Seneca chief named Jigonsaseh (sometimes called the Peace Queen.)
According to many versions of the story, Deganawida and Hiawatha forbade violent previous practices such as
cannibalism, human sacrifice, and black magic.
The details of the Peacemaker's story vary significantly between different Iroquois communities.
In some stories, he is portrayed as a lionized historical figure, similar to George Washington; in others, as a
mythic hero with magical powers, more similar to Odysseus.
His spiritual name, which is rarely pronounced aloud, means "Two Rivers Flowing Together." His Mohawk title,
Skennenrahawi, literally means "Peace-Maker," which is generally used as his translated name in English.
Another commonly heard title is Hononhsoni:donh, which means "Strengthens the Longhouse" in Cayuga.
The Peacemaker The Peacemaker and the Tree of Peace:
Haudenosaunee legends about the Peacemaker and the founding of the Iroquois League.
De-Ka-Nah-Wi-Da and Hiawatha Birth of a Nation Deganawida and Hiawatha:
Haudenosaunee stories about the legendary heroes Hiawatha and the Peacemaker.
White Roots of Peace: Iroquois Book of Life:
A good rendition of the epic of Deganawidah the Peacemaker.
Peace Walker: The Legend of Hiawatha and Tekanawita:
Illustrated story of the founding of the Iroquois League by a Mohawk author and artist.
Creation and Confederation: The Living History of the Iroquois:
The history of the Iroquois Confederacy, including the story of the Great Peacemaker Dekanawida.
Children's picture book about the life of the Iroquois Peacemaker.
The Great Law and the Longhouse:
Book about the Iroquois legal and political system, founded by Hiawatha and the Peace Maker.
People of the Longhouse
New York tribes
Native Languages of the Americas website © 1998-2015 Contacts and FAQ page
Back to Native American heroes
Back to Native American stories
American Indian genealogy
Native American canoes
Would you like to help support our organization's work with endangered American Indian languages?