Creator has made us of the one blood and of the same soil he made us and as
only different tongues constitute different nations he established different
hunting grounds and territories and made boundary lines between them…”(Iroquois Constitution,)
the words spoken by a strong group of men long ago. Before the United States
became the United States, there were many different groups of Native Americans
that lived on those lands. Among these groups lived a powerful tribe called the
“Iroquois”. The Iroquois were a tribe formed by five nations banding together,
but they were eventually separated and destroyed by the western settlers.
The Iroquois were a league of tribes in the Northeastern part
of America. They were originally formed by five tribes: The Mohawk, Onondaga,
Oneida, Seneca, and Cayuga. They called themselves “Haudenosaunee” but the
French named them Iroquois. They had a representative government where each
tribe had their own leaders, called chiefs, and all of them attended council
meetings. They lived in longhouses that were long rectangular buildings made
with wood frames and covered in bark. Agriculture was the main source of food.
In Iroquois society, women had a unique responsibility. The Iroquois believed
that women were linked to the earth’s power to create life, because of that
belief, women determined how the food would be distributed.
tribes began to work together, they definitely were not peaceful. There was a time of conflict where
the Iroquois controlled the lands of present-day New York. The Iroquois lands were
very special because it was the perfect spot for fur-trading but it was also
surrounded by tribes who were not part of the Iroquois Confederation. They had
come to rely on the trade for the purchase of firearms and other European
goods, but they didn’t realize the negative outcome that foreign goods and are
and advanced weaponry would have on them.
The introduction of firearms caused a large
depopulation of beavers, so much that by 1640 the animal had almost disappeared
from the Hudson Valley. This caused them to lose money in the fur trade. The
Iroquois, who considered themselves to be the most powerful and advanced people
of the region, found themselves being replaced in the fur trade by other tribes
in the region. Threatened by disease and with a declining population, the
Iroquois began an aggressive crusade to advance their area of control. They
began attacking other tribes to disrupt their trade with the French. This
caused many wars in which the Iroquois were victorious.
French and Indian War started, the Iroquois went against the French by allying
themselves with the British. The Iroquois hoped that siding with the British
would also bring favors after the war. However, Great Britain issued the Proclamation
of 1763 after the war, which prohibited settlers from expanding beyond the
Appalachian Mountains, but the settlers ignored this and moved onto the lands
American Revolution, many Tuscarora and the Oneida sided with the Americans,
while the Mohawk, Seneca, Onondaga, and Cayuga remained allies with Great
Britain. This was one of the first major splits among the tribes. After several
Iroquois victories against frontier settlements, the Americans wanted revenge.
The Americans began to attack and terrorize the Iroquois in order to destroy
their alliance with the British
In 1794, the
Confederacy entered into the Treaty of Canandaigua with the United States.
After the American Revolutionary War, a group of Iroquois left New York to
settle in Canada. As a reward for their loyalty to Britain, they were given a large
amount of land on the Grand River. By 1847, all the tribes had either been
destroyed or separated across the land living as their own.
lasted a very long time but were too overtaken by the western settlers. They had no immunity to European
illnesses and their population was devastated by the introduction of diseases
like smallpox. Over time, most surviving tribes were forcibly relocated from
their traditional lands to make way for expanding European settlements.