Iroquois League of Six Nations
April 12, 2019
Iroquois League of Six Nations

One of the factors that helped the British defend this land from invading Americans was the native Iroquois allies. They lived in longhouses, cultivated the soil, and they were fierce warriors. The Iroquois Confederacy, also called the Iroquois League of Six Nations, was a confederation of six Native tribes across upper New York state. During the 17th and 18th centuries, the confederation played a strong role in the struggle for control of North America. The six Iroquois nations, characterizing themselves as “the people of the longhouse,” were the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and the Tuscarora. The League of Six Nations was recognized as such at Albany, New York in 1722. It is believed that the confederacy was formed between 1570 and 1600. Dekanawidah, a Huron, is said to have persuaded Hiawatha, an Onondaga living with the Mohawks, to advance “peace, civil authority, righteousness, and the great law” to form a confederation. The League was cemented mainly by their desire to stand together to prevent invasion. The Iroquois Confederacy differed from other American Indian confederacies in the northeastern woodlands mostly because they were better organized, more consciously defined, and more effective. The Iroquois Confederacy used elaborately ritualized systems for choosing leaders and making important decisions. Iroquois League of Six Nations had a sophisticated political structure that was so successful it was sighted as a model by the US when they developed their first constitution. The tribes united in a common council composed of clan and village chiefs; each tribe had one vote, and unanimity was required for decisions. The joint jurisdiction of 50 peace chiefs, known as sachems, embraced all civil affairs at the inter-tribal level.

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