Native American Government vs. US Government: What is the difference?

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Difference between Native American Government and US Government

In addition to the governments of Greece, Rome and England, Native American governments have also played an important role in forging the policies of the US government as we know it today. The Iroquois in particular has helped influence the early Immigrants who sought freedom in America, although many other Native American governments made many significant contributions as well. Two centuries on, it is interesting to note how similar the two governments are, and how they differ.

Native American Government
US Government


Today, the Native American government is mostly defined by a set of laws and operations that were developed in order to define the relationship between Native Americans and the US government. When the US government was first instituted, its approach toward Native Americans was influenced by European policies. As the United States sought to forge an independent nation however, varying policies with regard to the perspectives and needs of Native Americans were developed.


Noted figures in the early US government also drew influence from Native American governments on a personal level. Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were particularly admiring of certain aspects of Native American government, and many of its policies shaped what was later to become codified in the US government. Jefferson even wrote that the only “condition on earth" comparable to the newly-independent American society was that “of the Indian”, which he observed had even “less law” than early American society.

Of course figures such as Jefferson, Franklin, and Thomas Paine were aware of the social order necessary for such societies to function. Despite the apparent scarcity of laws, there was a very efficient and effective government was behind the confederacies organized by the Iroquois, for instance. These governments however were not modeled after European concepts of government. This last aspect was particularly appreciated by Jefferson, et al, who were drawn to the aspects of “natural law” and “natural rights”, and used them to formulate the early US government.

The Roots Of Feminism

One other aspect that bears comparison is the policies of the Native American governments–and Native American society in general–with regard to the role of women in society. While much of the world and even Europe and the US government have long been seen by some circles as negligent of women’s rights, early Native American governments were already comprised of prominent women leaders in political systems. The Iroquois women could for instance nominate men to leadership positions, and sanction them for offenses. Women also frequently held the power to veto planned wars. These and many other policies have inspired modern feminist schools of thought in US government and other areas of modern American society as well.

Similarities and Differences

Native American government

  • Had less laws than the US government, although was no less effective
  • Based on non-European government models

US government

  • Drew influence from Native American government
  • Policies on women's rights where partly based on Native American societal policies

Which governing body is more democratic?
  • Native American Government
  • US Government

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