Information Security Awareness, Training and Motivation — Native Intelligence, Inc.

Native Intelligence, Inc. is a woman-owned, Native American-owned small business. We were graduated from the Small Business Administration's 8(a) program in 2006. Our founder is descended from the Oneida Tribe, which is part of the Iroquois Nation.

The Iroquois are the "People Building a Longhouse." The word 'Iroquois' is said to derive from the Algonquin word for snakes because of the silent manner in which the Iroquois struck at their enemies.

Iroquois elders say that the Iroquois grew to become a distinct people in the Southwest, near the Hopi. Eventually they moved to the area in the eastern great plains where the Mississippi and Missouri rivers meet. Many generations later, the Iroquois moved again, following the Ohio river northeast and then traveling along the great lakes and down the Saint Lawrence river, eventually expanding into most of what is now New York State and parts of Canada, and to points south as well.

In the 12th century, a prophet called the Peacemaker united the previously warring tribes into a great league based on the principles of peace. He taught that reconciliation, reason, compromise, and consensus as better means to resolve disputes than war. He taught the Great Law of Peace, which is the constitution of the Iroquois Confederacy, and the basis for the constitution of the United States.

The five united tribes (the Mohawk, the Oneida, the Onondaga, the Cayuga, and the Seneca) were called The Five Nations Iroquois Confederacy. The sixth nation, the Iroquois-Tuscaroras of North Carolina, joined the Confederacy in 1715. 

The Oneida people are called Onyota'a ka, which means "People of the Standing Stone."  Oneida legend says a certain stone (still in New York on Oneida land) always gave direction to good land, clear water, and food.  The stone, however, could only show the way if the people were united.

Wilson DoxtatorIn 1784 Oneida territory covered 6 million acres ranging from Canada to Pennsylvania.  Now there are technically 32 acres in Madison County, New York. The Oneidas have purchased additional lands, and in 2000 had about 3,000 acres.

During the American Revolution, the Iroquois adopted an official stance of neutrality. Most of the Oneida and the Tuscarora, however, sided with the American colonists.  In 1789 when George Washington became President of the United States, he promised the Oneida and Tuscarora a homeland.  The new US laws said that no Indian lands could be sold without Congressional approval. United States courts have since declared Indians to be members of "dependent nations." Thus, Indians have no legal rights that Congress must respect.

Within a few years, tens of thousands of land-hungry settlers stole as much of the Iroquois homeland as they could. Native people were forced to live on small, resource-lacking reservations.

Then a second prophet, Handsome Lake, had a vision of spiritual messengers from the Creator. Handsome Lake's teachings allowed the Iroquois to adjust to reservation life while retaining their identities.

In the 1820s, many Oneidas were moved to a reservation in Duck Creek, Wisconsin, as part of the US Government plan to move all American Indians west.

Iroquois Customs

  • Iroquois customs dictate keeping power away from any individual who actively seeks it. Iroquois leaders are selected among other reasons, for their lack of personal ambition regarding power and prestige.
  • In Iroquois society, women are the center of all things. Women hold positions of power and control the land, deciding all issues involving territory. Women also make the final decision in matters of capital punishment and declarations of war. Children assume their mother's clan membership. All nominations to political office are made by women. Women in the United States were given the right to vote in 1920. Iroquois women have been able to do this for hundreds of years. Most Iroquois women avoid abortion for ethical reasons, as moral teachings discourage it. If an Iroquois woman conceives and decides not to give birth, the choice is hers alone.
  • The Iroquois recognize a third gender, not male or female, but a combination of both. Natural law encourages diversity in all things, including human sexual roles. Those who have both masculine and feminine traits are often held in high esteem and are considered important community members. Most native cultures believe that these people are important to the spiritual well-being of the people because of their extraordinary closeness to the creative force of nature. Third gender people are usually male, and they may marry males and have a family. Third gender people are not as prevalent as in pre-Christian times, and many still thrive in native societies, despite some social constraints. They considered uniquely capable of caring for children, and especially capable of taking care of children with special needs.
  • The Iroquois believe in another world beyond this one and that as the last breath is expelled from the body, the spirit rises above the body. The spirit is aware of the death of the body and it experiences a sense of peace and release before moving into a warm living light where it is met by spiritual guides and rejoined with the Creator. Instead of constructing monuments to the deceased, traditional Iroquois take care that anything that could hold the spirit hostage, such as possessions, is distributed throughout the community.

For more information, read "Iroquois Culture and Commentary" by Doug George-Kanentiio. Published by Clear Light Publishers in 2000.