Haudenosaunee designs have featured recurring
designs for centuries; these symbols have been passed on through
generations, and have deep cultural significance.
The Tree of Peace is a tall white pine that has been planted by the
Onondaga, representing the great binding law, or Gayanahsagowa, which
unified the five Nations.
The cardinal points for north, south, east, and west are represented
by four white roots growing from the Tree of Peace. The number four
has great significance in Haudenosaunee lore, also representing the
four beings who help the Creator, and the four winds that blow.
An eagle sits atop the tree of peace, watching over the five Nations,
ready to cry out at the first sign of approaching danger. The eagle is
considered to be a messenger sent by the Creator.
The next symbol is that of a circle, representing unity and the cycle
of life. According to Haudenosaunee lore, the Peace Maker made the
Iroquois chiefs gather around the Tree of Peace, forming a circle by
holding hands in order to keep the peace.
The next symbol is a bundle of five arrows, each representing one of
the five founding tribes of the Iroquois League. The Peace Maker
demonstrated that one arrow could easily be broken, while a bundle
five would remain strong.
All life is believed to have come from the Sky World, which is
represented as a dome, or arch.
In addition to the Tree of Peace, the Haudenosaunee often make
references to the Celestial Tree, from which all lights in the Sky
The Earth itself is represented by Turtle Island a giant turtle whose
carapace features thirteen plates, each of which represent one of
thirteen moons that make up an entire year. North-America (Mother
Earth) is often represented as a turtle.
The dark side of Haudenosaunee lore is known as The Underworld, and it
is represented by (amongst other things) snakes, and a horned panther
with a long serpentine tail which lives underwater in eth great lakes.