Musician Robbie Robertson began his musical career early touring with headliners like Bob Dylan before he was 22 years old. Robbie credits summers spent with his Mohawk and Cayuga relatives for nurturing his love of music and stories, especially Hiawatha and the Peacemaker.
Robbie’s retelling of his favorite story begins with Deganawida, the Great Peacemaker, who needs a voice to bring all the warring nations together under the league of Iroquois or Haudenosaunee. Deganawida recruits the magnificent orator, Hiawatha, who is intent on seeking revenge for the loss of his own family. Hiawatha ultimately chooses peace instead of self-destruction and joins Deganawida. Together, they help unify the Haudenosaunee with an oral constitution, the Great Law of Peace.
Capturing the spirit of an oral agreement is difficult; The Constitution of the Iroquois Confederacy is just one example. Historians also continue to research the Great Law of Peace and how it influenced the drafting of the Constitution of the United States and the suffragette movement.
To learn more about Robbie’s music, listen to the CD accompanying his book and check out the documentary Rumble: The Indians who Rocked the World.