MARCH 1, 1850

SENECA CHIEF ROYANER (JOHN ARTHUR GIBSON) BORN—DRAFTED IROQUOIS CONFEDERACY CONSTITUTION

From Tuscarora Township, Six Nations Reserve, of an Onandoga father and Seneca mother, Gibson was a noted lacrosse player in the Brantford area, managing the United Six Nations Lacrosse Team, and was known for making lacrosse sticks.  Embracing the Longhouse beliefs, he studied traditions and religion from an Onondaga elder.  By 1872, Gibson held the hereditary title of Skanyátaí.yo? (“Handsome Lake”)-name of the Seneca prophet–on the Confederacy Council.  Keeper of traditional names, he was authorized to preach the Gaiwiioh (Good Message) of Skanyátaí.yo?.  He also worked with anthropologists to preserve Six Nations heritage.  In 1899, he dictated the traditional structure of the Iroquois League and helped draft the Code of Dekanahwideh – in effect, the Iroquois Confederacy Constitution.  Gibson died on the Reserve on November 1, 1912.     

Source:  Geoffrey E. Buerger, “Gibson, John Arthur, Dictionary of Canadian Biography.  Retrieved 1/1/2020, www.biographi.ca/en/bio/gibson_john_arthur_14E.html
Photo:  Alexander Goldenweiser (1880-1940), 1912.  Public Domain.

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