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Q. Who are Council Fire and what do they do? Is it another name for the Viceregal College, or is it something to do with Aquanishuonigy?
A. The Council Fire is not a national governmental body. It is a gathering of Native representatives, presumably originally the Six Nations (now Aquonishuonigy), though anymore it almost certainly includes a far broader membership of Native governing councils. I would assume that their principle duties are the promotion of Native interests in modern America and the cooperation of Native governments within modern America.
The Council Fire gets several mentions in recent times because it is traditional for polities that seek admission to the League that they present their claims and proposals before the Council Fire for consideration and blessing. This is done even before a formal proposal is made to the Parliament. That is, the Natives get a kind of right of first refusal, even though no one's ever actually been refused.
This ceremony is simply a reflexion of earlier times when the Newcomers (i.e., the Europeans) sought alliance with the Native nations. Though it is the European government that has become ascendant, it is still considered important that the Native governing bodies be consulted in such important matters as who joins the League and who doesn't.
See Viceregal College for a description of that body.
Some known facts about the Council Fire:
- There is a Constitution that governs the Council Fire: http://www.indigenouspeople.net/iroqcon.htm
- MP Geoffrey Sessions cites the tradition of a polity's bringing its case before the Council Fire: "the ungodly admission of foreign devils within the sacred precincts of the Council Fire is as a sure sign of the End Times as we could hope for!"
- The NAL-SLC accomplishes territorial expansion only after consulting with the Elders (the Native leaders) of the Council Fire: "All territorial expansion is accomplished via a well defined progression of local referrenda and proto-provincial work sessions (attended and counselled by an American embassy); the presenting of formal credentials and desire for admittance to the Council Fire of the Natives in Aquonishuonigy; upon acceptance by the Elders, formal submittal of proposals to the Parliament at Philadelphia; and acceptance or denial by same."
- We know that the Council Fire does not have the absolute say over territorial expansion: "I think that's just a matter of tradition, the Council Fire business. A sort of first step, and certainly a good photo op! The Convention [i.e., the Parliament] is indeed the one that will decide yea or nay." [PB, 2004]
- It seems that there might be a little more to the Council Fire than just a gathering of Native governing bodies. Based on the old alliances between the Six Nations and the Newcomers' provinces, the Council Fire might also serve as a bridge between Native and Newcomer governing bodies: "[Nunavik] has a place around the great Council Fire equal to that of any other province and has attained all official recognitions from Philadelphia as a functioning government."
- The Council Fire seems to be referred to, at times, as the "Great Council": "A formal petition [by Nunavik] was delivered to the General Moderator and the Great Council last Fall, and was thereafter acceded."
- The Council Fire seems to be a place to air grievances that might fall on deaf ears at Philadelphia: "The populace of Thunder Bay, Ontario were not pleased with the idea of being "ceded" to the Unincorporated Territories and petitioned the Parliament, General Moderator and Council Fire to reconsider the borders of Ontario. This was permitted after months of discussion, and Thunder Bay and some surrounding territory was added to Ontario."
- Aquonishuonigy, as a Native province and an independent nation-state from pre-NAL-SLC times, is undoubtedly the model that the modern Council Fire is based on. AQ is also in a curious position vis-a-vis the NAL as a whole, as it has been successfully argued that the NAL itself is but a part of the Six Nations of AQ. In a judicial opinion written by Dame Moira Burrows, High Court Justice, in 1999 regarding Nunavik's provincehood petitions: "The North American League and Solemn League and Covenant is an extension of the Six Nations and the Council Fire of the Natives, for it is historical fact that the United Provinces have jointly and severally sought admission to and alliance with the Nations represented by the same Council Fire; and furthermore, it is historical fact that the same North American League and Solemn League and Covenant and the provinces several have continued to enjoy the priviledges that admission to the Council Fire has produced".
- The Council Fire is also the chief governing body of the province of Aquonishuonigy. I quote in its entirety the section on government from the province's article. See also the History section in that article.
- Aquanishuonigy is governed by a Grand Council, consisting of 50 chiefs elected from each of the six nations. Historically, the number of chiefs from each tribe was set by law. In the late 19th century, a reform was made, redistributing the 50 chiefs among the nations by population, granting the Tuscarora a position on the Council in the process.
- By custom, new provinces admitted to the NAL petition to the Grand Council as well as to the Parliament of the NAL. As a formality, largely, major decisions are often brought first to the Council Fire before they are taken to the Parliament in Philadelphia, as evidenced by East and West Florida visiting the Fire as they petitioned for re-admittance to the League and Covenant in 2004.
- This elder governing body serves not only as the governing body of the province, but also serves as the means by which Natives and Newcommers -- the Europeans and now also Asians, Australasians, Africans, Indians, etc. -- are welded into one nation. The Grand Council is sometimes refered to, especially in the American press, as the Council Fire.
- Some scholars set the date for the foundation of the great Council Fire at 31 August, 1142; while others posit a date not earlier than the mid 1400s. Either way, the Council Fire that the modern NAL is an "extension of" is a very old governing body.
- The Miami Nation sought admission to the Council Fire: "In 1825, King (unknown) approached the Council Fire to seek admission to the NAL. Though the Aquanishuonigy were welcoming of them, the European provinces were more reluctant." Miami was eventually granted its seat at the Fire in 1835, becomming the twenty-seventh American province.
- Ironically, the "Unincorporated Territories, a semi-autonomous, largely Native, area of the North American League, has remained outside of the Council Fire."
Though not directly affiliated, the Senate of province Utawia is also known as the Council Fire. The two bodies should not be confused.