Scholars investigating Iroquois political institutions have focused on the Confederacy Council (or League), largely ignoring structure at the national(or tribal) level. Data from the Seneca Nation in the 1830s and 1840s, before the replacement of chiefs by an elected council, allows analysis of nonconfederacy “chiefly statuses” relative to population size,clans, and moieties. Contrary to the consensus in the literature,nonconfederacy chiefly status was hereditary within clans. In addition, the principle that balance should be maintained between Seneca moieties led to chiefly statuses being divided equally between the moieties, despite considerable differences in their populations.

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