Jikonhsaseh, also spelled as Jigonhsasee, or Jikonsase ([dʒi.gũ.hs.ase]) was an Iroquoian woman considered to be a co-founder, along with The Great Peacemaker and Hiawatha, of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy sometime between AD 1142[1] and 1450; others place it closer to 1570–1600.[2] Jigonhsasee became known as the Mother of Nations among the Iroquois.

Legend/Oral history

According to a short version of the Haudenosaunee oral tradition, an Iroquoian woman lived along the warriors' path. In some accounts she was referred to as Jigonhsasee; in others, she was given that name as a new one by the Great Peacemaker after he recognized her as an ally in making peace. She was known for her hospitality to warriors as they traveled to and from battlegrounds and their homes. At her hearth, warriors of the various factions could come in peace. While they ate her food, she acted as counsel and learned their hearts.

It is in this context that the Great Peacemaker (sometimes referred to by his name Deganawidah, but out of respect this was not generally used) came to her and described his vision for a peace to be built upon a confederacy of the warring nations. She said this sounded good but asked what form it would take. He replied, "It will take the form of the longhouse in which there are many hearths, one for each family, yet all live as one household under one chief mother. They shall have one mind and live under one law. Thinking will replace killing, and there shall be one commonwealth." [3]

The woman recognized the power in peace. The Great Peacemaker gave her the task of assigning the men to different positions at the peace gathering, and to women in the future the power to choose the chiefs of the longhouse. He called her Mother of Nations, as she was the first ally of his peace movement.