Hiawatha and the Great Peace by Torkom Saraydarian
Reviewed by Dr. Robert Constas
This book is based on a true story. The Legend of Hiawatha and the great Native American prophet, Deganawidah, is one of the most inspiring stories in all religious and political history. This legend is based on real life happenings occurring before Columbus came to the Americas in 1492. This is a story of a virgin birth of a Native American, the great prophet, Deganawidah, miracles, cannibalism, black magic with an evil Mohawk shaman, transformation of character, establishing a wonderful political and social structure in America, and the foundation of representative democracy that led to the formation of the American Constitution.
It is my hope that every Native American will become familiar with this marvelous legend. It can help to restore their sense of spiritual contact with the higher worlds. They need to realize that God, our Great Grandfather, sent messengers to the Red Man in America long before there was any contact with the Europeans. The vision of this Legend will help empower the Native American to live in harmony with the Great Spirit. Some prominent medicine people (traditional spiritual counselors) among the Indians now are carrying out the mission of Deganawidah and Hiawatha, by seeking to restore the sense of what it truly means to be an Indian. The true and traditional Native American is a person who is in contact with the higher worlds.
Saraydarian superimposes on this legend his version of what likely occurred, weaving in and out of the history the inspired oratory of Hiawatha who was a masterful orator. The author makes Hiawatha the dominant person in this book. Hiawatha is the one who gives almost all the messages. The messages are the essence of spiritual and political wisdom, expressed in great simplicity and beauty. It is as if someone who was actually there recorded the speeches, and used the power of verbal music to convey the essence of the meaning. This is the expression of Saraydarian’s genius.
Deganawidah was the prophet of the Great Peace, born to a virgin Huron maiden on the north side of Lake Ontario. Although he had great spiritual power, called orenda, he had a speech impediment and used his spiritual brother, Hiawatha, as his spokesman when dealing with the five original tribes that became the Iroquois nation. The Great Spirit sent Deganawidah to put an end to the constant warfare, cannibalism and revenge killing that was so prevalent among the tribes of upper state New York.
When eighteen Deganawidah rowed his white stone canoe across Lake Ontario to the spiritually dark world he was to transform. After he and Hiawatha established the foundation of the Great Peace, at the age of twenty-three Deganawidah rowed away to the West in his white stone canoe and was never heard from again. Hiawatha remained among the Iroquois for many years and is still highly revered by them.
There is strong evidence to suggest that the political system of the Iroquois influenced Benjamin Franklin and other writers of the American Constitution. Unique to the Iroquois was the provision that only women were to vote for the representatives who would meet in council. The clan mother of the representative also had the right of recall.
The Iroquois sachems (chiefs or representatives) were to be men with clear minds, full of goodwill and peace. They were to set the example of freedom from corruption, to be detached from material possession, and to show no signs of selfishness. The Iroquois Confederation remains a model for global cooperation and goodwill. Saraydarian’s account reveals the beauty and wisdom of this noble people.
Deganawidah used the example of the pine tree in explaining how the Great Peace eventually would spread over the entire world. He showed the people a great pine and said the white roots of the pine tree grew in all directions, and that is how his ideas given to him by the Great Spirit would grow. The Council of the Iroquois Confederation remains to this day near Syracuse, New York. It is interesting that the headquarters of the United Nations also is in New York. The United Nations, despite its limitations, still maintains the vision of a world at peace.
The introduction gives a complete summary of the historical legend and clarifies some contradictions in the versions. Despite the various presentations of this legend, this does not affect the beauty and profound significance of the story. The reader can easily look beyond the names to the inspiring quality of the characters of Deganawidah and Hiawatha and their magnificent achievements. They gave a wonderful gift to the Iroquois tribes and offered America an advanced social system that has yet to be surpassed.
Robert Constas, M.D. is a board certified child and adolescent psychiatrist with the Phoenix Indian Medical Center in Arizona, USA. He has extensive experience with parapsychological phenomena, and the application of the Ageless Wisdom in the field of child and adolescent treatment and child rearing. He was raised in the Ageless Wisdom tradition and worked with Torkom Saraydarian beginning in the 1960’s.