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The Role of the Iroquois Clan Mother

The Peace Maker selected Chiefs and Clan Mothers to represent the clans. The oldest woman of the clan is called the Clan Mother. The clan mother, whose position is hereditary, is responsible for the welfare of the clan. She names all the people of the clan; she holds a position in nominating, installing and removing the male chief, called Hoyaneh, meaning Caretakers of the Peace. She also monitors his actions and counsels the people of her clan. Her job in the past was to arrange marriages, counsel members, select the male candidate for chief, monitor his actions and remove him from office if necessary. The Clan Mother's title rests within the clan and it is usually passed on to her female relatives, looking first at her eldest sisters, other sisters, then her eldest daughter and other daughters to find the one deemed most appropriate to become the next Clan Mother.

The rights of the women within a clan include the following:

Descent of blood that determines citizenship.

Possession of official titles for clan mothers, chiefs, faithkeepers, pine tree chiefs and war chiefs.

Own the home and all of the furnishings.

Children belong to her family.

Use of clan lands.

Food distribution .

Right to nominate, confirm, and depose male chiefs.

Right to adopt foreigners or prisoners.

Power to forbid brothers and sons from going to war.

Power to grant life or death of prisoners.

Power to maintain the national resources.

Right to burial grounds for sons, brothers, daughters and sons.