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Atlanta Civic Circle Democracy

Native America’s influence on American Democracy: the back story

Cover photo of Kirke and Lynn Kickingbird's 1987 book, Indians and the United States Constitution: A Forgotten Legacy. Photo courtesy of Kirke Kickenbird.

More than 600 years before the United States existed, America’s original inhabitants were already practicing a form of democracy that Ben Franklin and other founders would later borrow from.

Much of the framework of the U.S. Constitution came from the way 12th century Indigenous people governed, a fact the U.S. Senate did not  acknowledge until 1988.

American history books credit Greece, Rome, and philosophers of the Enlightenment Age, but the Native American influence—from the legendary Hiawatha to the Haudenosaunee people—on American Democracy has largely been ignored.

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