Deganawidah The Peacemaker - Many Messengers of God :
A Native American Perspective

By Paula Bidwell

First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #107
Louhelen Bahá'í­ Center: Davison, Michigan, USA
October 7–10, 2011
(see list of papers from #107)


    Indigenous people from oral traditions such as the inhabitants of North and South America, Africa and the Island Nations have not had their Messengers of God universally "recognized" by theologians, scholars and other academics. The Bahá'í́ Writings give an opportunity for this to be changed through the addition of categories.

    In the Kitáb-i-Íqán and Gems of Divine Mysteries, Bahá'u'lláh describes qualities, traits and events of Messengers of God from the East which serve as proofs of Prophethood. "And since in their inmost Beings they are the same Luminaries and the self-same Mysteries, thou shouldst view their outward conditions in the same light, that thou mayest recognize them all as one Being, nay, find them united in their words, speech, and utterance." (Gems of Divine Mysteries p. 33)

    The purpose of this paper is to use these proofs along with other proofs from the Writings of the Bahá'í Faith to suggest the possibility that Deganwidah (The Peacemaker) of the Six Nations is one of many Messengers of God worldwide, a possibility that can go a long way toward restoring dignity to an oppressed people.

    This paper is an attempt to use proofs of Prophethood primarily from the Kitáb-i-Íqán and Gems of Divine Mysteries, in order to provide a convincing example for this possibility. The author uses Deganawidah of the Six Nations who appeared on the North American continent about 1,000 years ago. Deganawidah's Message was recorded in intricate and extensive wampum objects. These objects are "read" like a book every few years and take approximately eight hours a day for four days. The accuracy of wampum recordation was discovered very early by transcribers who at different times, with different tribal members recorded the Message of Deganawidah. These transcriptions vary only slightly giving us undeniable proof that oral history can be accurate.

    This paper, although is written at a "grass roots" level, is a preliminary attempt to maintain a scholarly and authentic approach regarding Native American spirituality and religious traditions. It is hoped that it will serve as an effective teaching tool for the Bahá'í́ community in sharing the Message of Bahá'u'lláh with Native peoples. At the same time, it is written as an encouragement for Indigenous peoples around the world to write about their Messengers of God using the Bahá'í́ Writings as a guideline. The Universal House of Justice stated in a letter dated 25 May 1975 to all National Spiritual Assemblies, "...there are tribes and minorities who still live in their traditional ways in the midst of other cultures...we should seek them out, teach them the Cause of God, and enrich through their membership the Bahá'í communities of the lands in which they live."


    An earlier draft of this paper is online at bahai-library.com/bidwell_many_messengers.