The Iroquois

The Iroquois or Five Nations comprised the Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga and Seneca and resided in the central and western portions of present-day New York. Experts disagree about whether the Iroquois were indigenous to New York or if they came originally from the Mississippi Valley.

In any event, they had developed a complex matrilineal civilization marked by a significant degree of democracy. They lived in bark-covered longhouses that were surrounded by stockade-like structures, and depended upon agriculture as the prime source of food.

Around 1570, in an effort of limit warfare and to end cannibalism, the five tribes formed the Five Nations or Iroquois Confederacy. All tribes had to concur by vote for war, but there were occasional instances of warfare within the confederacy.

The Five Nations developed into a remarkable power, especially after procuring firearms from the Dutch, and came to control a huge portion of eastern North America. The confederacy was enhanced in the mid-18th century by the addition of the Tuscarora, who had been forced out of North Carolina, and became the Six Nations.

The Iroquois became the longtime ally of the British, most likely as a reaction against French incursions into their territory. Nevertheless, the French sponsored missionary activities among the Iroquois and were successful, around 1670, in persuading a segment of the Mohawk to leave the confederacy. These Catholic Mohawks joined the French in campaigns against the British.


See Indian Wars Time Table .

- - - Books You May Like Include: ----

Central New York & The Finger Lakes Myths, Legends & Lore by Melanie Zimmer.
From delightful stories recounting the exploits of the legendary Red McCarthy and the creation myths of the Iroquois to heroic tales of Harriet Tubman...
Francis Parkman : France and England in North America :Pioneers of France in the New World, The Jesuits in North America in the Seventeenth Century, La Salle and the Discovery of the Great West, The Old Regime in Canada by Francis Parkman.
This is the first of two volumes presenting all seven parts of Francis Parkman's monumental narrative history of the struggle for control of the Ameri...
Into the American Woods: Negotiators on the Pennsylvania Frontier by James H. Merrell.
Although the American West was ultimately won by killing nearly every Indian who got in the way, the initial contacts between native and Euro-American...
Forgotten Allies: The Oneida Indians and the American Revolution by Joseph T. Glatthaar.
Tribal, violent, riven with fierce and competing loyalties, the American Revolution as told through the Oneida Indians, the only Iroquois Nation to si...
White Savage: William Johnson and the Invention of America by Fintan OToole.
In this provocative biography of the man who forged America's alliance with the Iroquois, we read about William Johnson, who was scarcely more than a ...
A Few Acres Of Snow: The Saga Of The French And Indian Wars by Robert Leckie.
Historian Robert Leckie is renowned for his combative prose and pugnacious opinions concerning the major triumphs and tragedies of the U.S. armed forc...