Iroquois women gain power to veto wars, 1600s


Iroquois women wanted more power to decide on issues of peace and war and the power to stop unregulated warfare between tribes.

Time period notes

Exact time period not known


United States

Location Description

Iroquois Nation
Jump to case narrative

Segment Length

Not known

Notes on Methods

While Gene Sharp describes Lysistratic nonaction as refusing to have sex with one's partner, the Iroquois described this method as a boycott of sex and childbearing.


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External allies

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Involvement of social elites

Not known


Iroquois men

Nonviolent responses of opponent

Not known

Campaigner violence

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Repressive Violence

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Group characterization


Additional notes on joining/exiting order

Joining order not known

Segment Length

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Success in achieving specific demands/goals

6 out of 6 points


1 out of 1 points


3 out of 3 points

Total points

10 out of 10 points

Notes on outcomes

The Iroquois men granted the women the power to veto the decision to go to war. They succeeded in gaining more power in relation to war and peace.

Database Narrative

During the 1600’s the Iroquois Indian Nations, a group of several indigenous tribes in North America, engaged in warfare with many other tribes. The men controlled when and against whom they declared a war.

Tribal Iroquois women decided that they wanted to stop unregulated warfare, and thought of a way to convince the Iroquois men to give them more power in deciding issues of war and peace.

First, the Iroquois women boycotted lovemaking and childbearing. This type of boycott of sex is currently referred to as Lysistratic non-action. Iroquois men believed that Iroquois women knew the secret of birth, which made this a powerful tactic.

Second, the women began to restrict the warriors' access to supplies because they had complete control over planting and cultivating crops. The women prevented warriors from acquiring necessary supplies by withholding needed commodities such as dried corn and moccasins. Although the Iroquois men controlled politics, they could not go to war without the necessary supplies, which were controlled by the women.

The men eventually gave in to the women’s demands and granted them veto power concerning all wars. This nonviolent action has been considered the first feminist rebellion in the United States.


Hand, Judith. Women, Power, and the Biology of Peace. San Diego, CA: Questpath Pub., 2003. Print.

Schaaf, Gregory. "From the Great Law of Peace to the Constitution of the United States: A Revision of America's Democratic Roots." American Indian Law Review 14.2 (1988). JSTOR. Web. 15 Apr. 2011. <>.

Sharp, Gene. The Politics of Nonviolent Action. Boston: P. Sargent, 1973. Print.

Smith, Sharon. "Engels and the Origin of Women's Oppression." International Socialist Review 2 (1997). International Socialist Review. Web. 15 Apr. 2011. <>.

Additional Notes

This nonviolent action has been considered the first feminist rebellion in the United States.

Name of researcher, and date dd/mm/yyyy

Nicole Vanchieri 17/04/2011