Whether or not the Founders or Framers — the people who helped to form the American government — influenced the structure of the United States government is a fairly raucous debate that recurs again and again. We are reminded of it by the recent posting of Erik Jensen’s 1991 paper repudiating the connection between the Haudenosaunee Great Law of Peace and the American constitutional structure of federalism (here). Shortly thereafter (in 1993), Robert Miller published a paper purporting to show both significant “positive” and “negative” influences from tribal nations (not just the Haudenosaunee) on the Framers (Miller’s paper here). And there are numerous other studies in other fields, some of which get pretty vituperative.
We are struck by the superficial aspects of the origins of both the Haudenosaunee Confederation and the United States — uniting to confront a common enemy, it would seem.
And we are struck by the amount of scholarly (and other) literature that seeks a connection between the Haudenosaunee and Ben Franklin, and the amount of writing generated to harshly debunk those theories.
We want your opinions on this subject. Why is it important to many Indians that the American Constitution have Indian roots or influence? Why is it important to others that the American Constitution be free of Indian roots or influence?
And finally: Do you think the American Constitution would look the same if the Founders had no knowledge of tribal nations?