THE TREE OF PEACE
Tadodaho, Onondaga Nation
Leon Shenandoah, chief of Onondaga Nation, and Tadodaho ("Firekeeper") of the Six Nations Confederacy [or "Iroquois"], whose symbol is The Tree of Peace, passed over into spirit Monday July 22, 19 96, at 7:20 a.m. EST, at age 81. In his peoples' culture, Leon was both president and pope, but more the latter.
This gentle, soft spoken, humble holy man was principal chief of a surviving sovereign nation of indigenous people. And spiritual elder of one of the western hemisphere's oldest cultures. And Fi rekeeper of the Grand Council of the eldest democracy in North America, founded in ancient times by the Peacemaker -- a virgin-born messenger from the Creator.
Leon served his people as Tadodaho for nearly 30 years, remaining true to the spiritual nature of his office. The first Tadodaho was raised up by the Peacemaker many centuries ago.
Thursday, July 4th, 1996, Onondaga Nation and the Six Nations celebrated the historic return of 74 wampum belts from the American Indian Museum in NYC. Leon had stepped down from his office last fall due to illness, but donned his feather hat and assumed his office for the return of these precious belts. This was his last official act.
A few years ago Leon was interviewed by New Age magazine. Asked, "What is the greatest power?" Leon was silent a few moments, then replied slowly, "The greatest power is the Creator. But if you want to know the greatest strength, that is gentleness."
Leon was the embodiment of that principle of gentleness.
Throughout his years of service, whether before councils of his government or the United Nations, Leon was a steady, soft spoken, eloquent advocate for peace -- not only between humans and nations , but also with Nature. He will be missed.
I talked with Leon several times in the last decade, and he was
acutely concerned that we are entering the time spoken of by prophecies -- his own and those of many others faiths, creeds and cultu
res. He had no doubt that in this decade our world order will change,
and "the last shall become first."
Address to the General Assembly of the United Nations
Delivered October 25, 1985
by Leon Shenandoah, Tadodaho, Haudenosaunee
"The Chiefs of the Haudenosaunee shall be mentors of the people for all time. The thickness of their skins shall be seven spans; which is to say that they shall be proof against anger, offensive action and, criticism. Their hearts shall be full of peace and good will, and their minds full of a yearning for the welfare of the people. With endless patience, they shall carry out their duty. Their firmness shall be tempered with a tenderness for their people. Neither anger nor fury shall find lodging in their minds, and all their words and actions shall be marked by calm deliberation."
In every nation there are wise and good men. These should be appointed Chiefs. They should be the advisors of their people and work for the good of all the people., and their power comes from the "Great Peace." A chief must never forget the Creator of mankind, never forget to ask him for help. The Creator will guide our thoughts and strengthen us as we work to be faithful to our sacred trust and restore harmony among all peoples, all living creatures, and Mother Earth...
We were instructed to carry a love for one another and to show a great respect for all the beings of this earth...
In our ways spiritual consciousness is the highest form of politics...
When people cease to respect and express gratitude for these many things, then all life will be destroyed, and human life on this planet will come to an end.
These are our times and responsibilities. Every human being has a sacred duty to protect the welfare of our Mother Earth, from whom all life comes. In order to do this we must recognize the enemy -- the one within us. we must begin with ourselves.
We must live in harmony with the Natural World and recognize that excessive exploitation can only lead to our own destruction. We cannot trade the welfare of our future generations for profit now. We must abide by the Natural Law or be victim of its ultimate reality.
We must stand together, the four sacred colors of man, as the one family we are in the interest of peace.
We must abolish nuclear and conventional weapons of war.
When warriors are leaders, then you will have war. We must raise leaders of peace.
We must unite the religions of the world as the spiritual force strong enough to prevail in peace.
It is no longer good enough to cry, "Peace." We must act peace, live peace, and march in peace in alliance with the people of the world.
We are the spiritual energy that is thousands time stronger than nuclear energy. Our energy in the combined will of all people with the spirit of the Natural World, to be of one body, one heart and one mind for peace.
We propose, as a resolution for peace, that October 24th bee designated as a Day of Peace, and a world cease-fire take place in honor of our children and the Seventh Generation to come.
Day nay toh.