|Tribe||Cayuga Chief, 1917-1925|
|Born||15 March 1873
Tuscarora Township, Ont.
|Died||27 June 1925
Tuscarora Reservation, New York
|Known for||Defense of Haudenosaunee sovereignty at the League of Nations|
|Parents||William General (Cayuga) and Lydia Burnham (Oneida)|
|Relatives||Eight brothers and sisters|
Levi General, commonly known as Deskaheh, (1873 - 1925), was a Haudenosaunee statesman noted for his persistent efforts to get recognition for his people.
Levi General was raised and educated as a traditional Cayuga. "His first language was Cayuga." He also spoke the other Iroquois dialects. "He participated actively in Longhouse ceremonies ... He worked as a lumberjack in the Allegheny Mountains in western New York and Pennsylvania. An accident forced him to return and he began to farm near Millpond, in the vicinity of Ohsweken on the Six Nations Reserve.
In 1917, he became hereditary chief of the Cayuga with the title "'Deskaheh'". He departed for Geneva, Switzerland to speak at the League of Nations in 1923 using only a passport from the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. At the League of Nations, he presented "The red man's appeal for Justice," and reminded European colonizers of the new world of their obligations under the two row wampum, the most significant pact made between the Iroquois and Europeans. His eloquence, persistence, and ability to speak French helped win the support of some nations, including Ireland, Panama, Persia, and Estonia. However British influence was too strong for a realistic chance at effecting change in the League of Nations, and he returned home to the Western Hemisphere.
On the 7 October 1924, as the result of a report by Andrew Thorburn Thompson who had been asked by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to investigate the situation, the RCMP dissolved the traditional government of the Six Nations, stealing important documents and wampums and declaring an immediate election to displace the traditional government. Soon thereafter, Deskaheh died on the Tuscarora Reservation near Buffalo, NY, after giving his famous last speech on March 10, 1925; during which he stated in part in regard to policies of "forced acculturation":
"Over in Ottawa, they call that policy "Indian Advancement". Over in Washington, they call it "Assimilation." We who would be the helpless victims say it is tyranny. If this must go on to the bitter end, we would rather that you come with your guns and poison gases and get rid of us that way. Do it openly and above board."
Deskaheh was staying at the home of Chief Clinton Rickard on the Tuscarora Reservation during his final illness. "He sent for his traditional medicine man from the Six Nations Reserve in Canada. But the medicine man was not allowed across the border. The U.S. had just passed the Immigration Law of 1924, which denied entry to anyone who did not speak English." On his deathbed, "Deskaheh told Rickard to 'Fight for the line.'" Chief Rickard went on to found the Indian Defense League in 1925, to defend "the right of free passage for Aboriginal people."
- "DESKAHEH". Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online. 2000. Retrieved 2013-05-18.
- "Deskaheh" is an Iroquois Confederacy chiefly title, but the press mistakenly applied it as a given name, which stuck. Ronald Niezen, “Recognizing Indigenism: Canadian Unity and the International Movement of Indigenous Peoples,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 42, no. 1 (2000).
- Koch, Robert G (September 1992). "George P. Decker and Chief Deskaheh". The Crooked Lake Review. Retrieved 2013-05-18.
- Bruce Elliott Johansen, The encyclopedia of Native American legal tradition (Greenwood Publishing Group, 1998, ISBN 0-313-30167-0), pg.84 .
- "They love everything about Indigenous Peoples, except the people". Vancouver Media Co-op. Retrieved 2013-05-18.
- Deskaheh: Haudenosaunee (Iroquios) statesman and patriot
- Deskaheh, Levi General - Iroquois Patriot's Fight for International Recognition
- Deskaheh at the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online