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The Iroquois Confederacy is a group of First Nations. Based in upstate New York at the time of the arrival of the Europeans, they now occupy territory in Ontario, Quebec, and New York.

The spiritual union of the nations began before European contact. The visionary Hiawatha brought a message of peace to the original five nations. These were the Seneca, Onondaga, Oneida, Cayuga, and Mohawks.

For the most part they ceased fighting with one another and became one of the strongest forces in the 17th and 18th century in northeastern North America. They engaged in a series of wars against the French and their Huron allies, as well as other native tribes.

According to Francis Parkman, the Iroquois at the 17th century height of their power had a population of around only 12,000 people.

In 1720 the Tuscarora fled the European invasion of North Carolina to New York to become the sixth nation (non-voting) under the protection of the confederacy.

The combined leadership of these nations is known as the Haudenosaunee. It should be noted that "Haudenosaunee" is the term that the people use to refer to themselves. The word "Iroquois" comes from a French version of a Huron (Wendat) name - considered an insult - meaning "Black Snakes." Haudenosaunee means "People Building a Long House." The term is said to have been introduced by the Peace Maker at the time of the formation of the Confederacy. It implies that the Nations of the confederacy should live together as families in the same house.

The Iroquois political union and democratic government has been credited as one of the influences on the United States Constitution.

Member Nations

  • Original Five Nations:
    • Cayuga (Guyohkohnyoh or the People of the Great Swamp)
    • Mohawk (Kanienkahagen or the People of the Flint)
    • Oneida (Onayotekaono or the People of the Upright Stone)
    • Onondaga (Onundagaono or the People of the Hills)
    • Seneca (Onondowahgah or the People of the Great Hill)
  • Joined in 1720:
    • Tuscarora (Ska-Ruh-Reh or Shirt Wearing People)


Related topics

Iroquois-Class destroyer of the Canadian Navy.

Iroquois kinship is a system of familial comprehension that originated with the Iroquois tribes.

The Six Nations Championship is an international rugby union competition between England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland, and Wales.

Last updated: 10-24-2004 05:10:45