"The Law Is in the Seed" is a video of a poem by the same name written by Alex Jacobs, a Mohawk Indian poet from Akwesasne (New York State). The poem is about the Native American concept of democracy as contained in the Great Law, an oral document which originated with Deganawida, the Huron co-founder of the Iroquois Confederacy. The Great Law was the model for the United States Constitution.
As Jacobs begins to recite the poem on camera, the video mixes to the faces of Mohawk children and women, their lips moving in and out of sync with Jacobs’ voice. This treatment represents the oral passing of the Great Law from generation to generation, and the continuation of tribal law from Deganawida to the present generation. This video was shot at the Kahnawake reservation after the 1990 Oka crisis in Quebec. The women and children in the video were witnesses to the reqional conflict between the Canadian Army and the Mohawks at Kanehsatake and Kahnawake. Consequently, they understand the meaning of the poem in the context of their own tribal history and future.
Prior to the reading of the poem is a speech in Mohawk by Billy Two Rivers, a Kahnawake Council Chief. The speech represents the words of Deganawida welcoming the final nation to the Confederacy. The wampum belt shown under the title is from the National Museum of the American Indian and is said to be the actual wampum belt of Deganawida, which marked the founding of the Iroquois Confederacy. The archival photos are of the Seneca and Oneida, two nations of the Confederacy.