Nature to Nations
Premiere Date: Oct. 30 @ 9/8c
Nature to Nations explores the rise of great American nations, from dynastic monarchies to participatory democracies. What lies behind these diverse and sophisticated governments? Answers emerge from an archaeologist excavating America’s oldest temple in the Peruvian Andes, a tribe initiating a new chief at a ceremony surrounded by cedar totem poles in the Pacific Northwest, an expert reading ancient hieroglyphs from a sarcophagus to tell a forgotten history of Maya kings, and the return of an ancient shell wampum belt to the birthplace of democracy near Syracuse, New York. Read more below
Video from Episode 2
Nature to Nations
Explore the rise of great American nations, from monarchies to democracies.
Centering on the democracy of New York’s Haudenosaunee Peoples — also known as the Iroquois Confederacy — “Nature to Nations” reveals how elements of the natural world drive governance in Native America. The story of Hiawatha and the Peacemaker, as told by native elders, demonstrates how shell helped end war among five tribes and bring about America’s first democracy 500 years before the United States. Ben Franklin and the Founding Fathers would later integrate key ideas from their government into the United States Constitution.
Building on these revelations, the episode traces evidence that nations across Native America use beliefs from the natural world to support governmental systems, from dynastic kingdoms to shamanistic rulers. Science and oral tradition reveal how corn, cedar, shell, and the jaguar each inspire new nations and plant the seeds of great empires. All are part of an incredible 3000-year narrative of nature, nations and cultural sophistication in Native America.
From PBS Member Station WMHT, Haudenosaunee artists and historians reflect on how raised beadwork evolved through time.