Deganawida, c 1500 AD


Deganawida ("He the Thinker") was a wise prophet of the Iroquois. He lived at the same time as the great chief Hiawatha, circa 1500. At that time the Iroquois nations were at war among themselves. Deganawida was given a vision of a gigantic spruce tree which reached up to the sky to the Elder Brothers, symbolizing the Family of Humanity. Deganawida began to preach a religion of love and harmony, thereby bringing unity to the Iroquois nations, a great confederacy that lasted more than 300 years. In another vision, Deganawida foresaw the destiny of the native Americans. That vision was transmitted orally until Edmund Wilson published it in his Apologies to the Iroquois:


"When Deganawida was leaving the Indians in the Bay of Quinte in Ontario, he told them that they would face a time of great suffering. They would distrust their leaders and the principles of peace of the League, and a great white serpent [Caucasians] was to come upon the Iroquois. For a time, it would intermingle with the Indian people and be accepted by the Indians, who would treat the serpent as a friend. This serpent would in time become so powerful that it would attempt to destroy the Indians; the serpent was described as choking the lifes blood out of the Indian people. Deganawida told the Indians that they would seem to be lost, but when things looked their darkest a red serpent [China] would come from the north and approach the white serpent, which would be terrified; upon seeing the red serpent, he would release the Indian, who would fall to the ground like a helpless child, and the white serpent would turn all its attention to the red serpent. This bewilderment would cause the white serpent to accept the red serpent momentarily. The white serpent would be stunned and take part of the red serpent and accept him. Then there will be a heated argument and a fight. Then the Indian revives and crawls toward the land of the hilly country where he would assemble his people together and they would renew their faith and the principles of peace that Deganawida had established. There would at the same time exist among the Indians a great love and forgiveness for his brother, and in this gathering would come streams from all over --- not only the Iroquois, but from all over --- and they would gather in the hilly country, and they would renew their friendship. Deganawida said they would remain neutral in this fight between the white serpent and the red serpent.


"At the time they were watching the two serpents locked in this battle, a great message would come to them and make them ever so humble, and when they had become that humble, they will be waiting for a young leader, an Indian boy, possibly in his teens, who would become a choice seer. Nobody knows who he is or where he comes from, but he will be given great power and would be heard by thousands, and he would give them the guidance and the hope to refrain from going back to their land and he would become the accepted leader. Deganaweda said that they will gather in the land of the hilly country between the branches of an elm tree, and they should burn tobacco and call upon Deganawida by name when they are facing their darkest hours, and he will return. Deganawida said that as the choice seer speaks to the Indians, they will notice to south a black serpent [Africans] coming from the sea. He is described as dripping with salt water. And as he stands there, he rests for a spell to get his breath, all the time watching to the north to the land where the white serpent and the red serpent are fighting.


"Deganawida said that the battle between the white and the red serpents would open slowly, then become so violent that the mountains would crack and the rivers would boil and the fish would turn up their bellies. He said that there would be no leaves on the trees in that area. There would be no grass, and strange bugs and beetles would crawl from the ground and attack both serpents. He said that a great heat would cause the stench of death to sicken both serpents. And then, as the boy seer is watching this fight, the red serpent reaches around the back of the white serpent and pulls from him a hair. The hair suddenly turns into a woman, a white woman who tells him strange things that he knows to be true, but he wants to hear them again. When this white woman finished telling these things, he takes her and gently places her on a rock with great love and respect, and then he becomes infuriated at what he has heard, so he makes a beeline for the north, and he enters the battle between the red and white serpents with such speed and anger that he defeats the two serpents who have already become battle-weary.


"When he finishes, he stands on the chest of the white serpent, and he boasts and puts his chest out like hes the conqueror, and he looks for another serpent to conquer. He looks to the land of the hilly country and then he sees the Indian standing there with his arms folded and looking so noble that he knows that this Indian is not the one that he should fight. The next direction he will face will be eastward, and at that time he will be momentarily blinded by a light that is many times brighter than the sun. The light will be coming from the east to the west over the water, and when the black serpent regains his sight, he becomes terrified and makes a run for the sea. He dips into the sea and swims away in a southerly direction, and shall never again be seen by the Indians.


"The white serpent revives, and he, too, sees this light, and he makes a feeble attempt to gather himself and to go toward that light. A portion of the white serpent refuses to leave, but instead makes its way toward the land of the hilly people. The red serpent would revive and he would shiver with a great fear when he sees that light. He would crawl toward the north and leave a bloody trail, and he would never be seen again by the Indians. Deganawida said that as this light approaches he would be that light, and he would return to his Indian people would be a greater nation than they ever were before." (11) 1


1. Taken from Prophecy A History of the Future (Internet Edition), by Robert A. Nelson at