"In our every deliberation we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seventh generations. Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations.”
These words originate from the Great Law of Peace of the Iroquois which is the oral constitution that created the Iroquois Confederacy of the Five Nations. Estimates date the confederacy and its constitution between 1090 and 1150 CE.
The Great law was structured to keep all things in balance. The leaders and clan mother must have the best interests of the people and the Natural World in mind. The Great Law of Peace provides a complex structure allowing for the separation of powers, checks and balances, ratification, public opinion, and equality of all peoples. Particularly, it should secure the natural resources for coming generations.
The following quotation shows how leaders and clan mothers were asked to obey the law:
Your heart shall be filled with peace and good will and your mind filled with a yearning for the welfare of the people of the Confederacy. With endless patience you shall carry out your duty and your firmness shall be tempered with tenderness for your people. Neither anger nor fury shall find lodgement in your mind and all your words and actions shall be marked with calm deliberation. In all of your deliberations in the Confederate Council, in your efforts at law making, in all your official acts, self interest shall be cast into oblivion. Cast not over your shoulder behind you the warnings of the nephews and nieces should they chide you for any error or wrong you may do, but return to the way of the Great Law which is just and right. Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground - the unborn of the future Nation.
The flag above shows the Hiawatha belt representing the unity of the original Five Nations and is read from the right to the left. The first square, on the right, represents the Mohawk Nation. The second square represents the Oneida Nation. The heart or the tree in the middle of the Hiawatha belt represents the Onondaga Nation. The square to the left of the tree represents the Cayuga Nation, and the farthest square to the left represents the Seneca Nation. The small white lines that lead away from the Seneca and Mohawk Nations represent paths that welcome others to join the Confederacy.
For us Seventh Generation stands for the sustainable care of our natural environment and for our responsibility to decide consciously - every day.