Deskaheh | The Canadian Encyclopedia



Deskaheh (also known as Levi General), Cayuga (Gayogohó:no') chief and speaker of the Six Nations Hereditary Council (born in 1873 on the Six Nations Reserve near Brantford, ON; died on 25 June 1925 at the Tuscarora Reservation, New York). A member of the Longhouse religion, Deskaheh insisted that the Six Nations retain their languages and distinctive culture.

League of Nations

When the Canadian government tried, in 1923, to unseat the Six Nations Hereditary Council and to institute an elected one, Deskaheh acted immediately. He worked to obtain international recognition of the Six Nations as a sovereign Indigenous nation ruled by a hereditary council of chiefs. Travelling on a passport issued by the council, he went to the League of Nations in Geneva, Switzerland (see Canada and the League of Nations). However, the League's secretariat refused to allow him to address the assembly, arguing that Canada had jurisdiction over the Six Nations. Exhausted, Deskaheh became ill shortly after returning to North America and died from pneumonia.

Hereditary and Elected Councils

Six months before Deskaheh's death, the Canadian government ended the Confederacy's administrative functions on the ​reserve and organized a vote for an elected council. To this day, both councils exist. The elected chief and council are the only council recognized by Canada. However, some argue the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs’ Council, the hereditary council, is the true representative for the community.