INTRODUCTION: The term Iroquious, pronounced IR-uh-koy or IR-uh-kwah, thought to be derived from the French rendering of the Algonquian word "irohkwa" for "real adders" (snakes), refers to the Iroquoian-speaking Six Nations: CAYUGA, MOWHAWK, ONEIDA, ONONDAGA, SENECA, and TUSCARORA. When speaking of themselves collectively, the Iroquois now generally call themselves Haudenosaunee, pronounced ho-dee-no-SHOW- nee, for "people of the longhouse." Iroquoian once was a widespread language family in eastern North America and included a number of tribes other than the Haudenosaunee: the HURON (WYANDOT) and SUSQUEHANNOCK also are calssified as NORTHEAST INDIANS, as are a number of smaller tribes, the ERIE, Honniasont, Meherrin, Neusiok (probably Iroquois), NUETRAL, Nottaway, TIONONTATI, and Wenro. The CHEROKEE, also Iroquoian speaking, are classified as SOUTHEAST INDIANS. It has been a mystery among scholars how Iroquoian-speaking peoples came to live in the midst of the more numerous ALGONQUIANS/ The Haudenosaunee might have reached their homelands in what is now upstate New York and the Lake Ontario region of Canada from teh St. Lawrence River to the north; or from west of the Mississippi River; or from the south. Or they might have been descendants of an earlier woodland culture, such as the Owasco culture found in various archeological sites. This last theory, although still unproven, now is the most widely believed. THE IROQUOIS LEAGUE: As for the Haudenosaunee after the arrival of the Europeans, much is known from both historical writings and archeological studies. Teh Haudenosaunee were organized into the Iroquois League, also known as the Iroquois Confederacy. At first,in about 1570, the Haudenosaunee formed a League of Five Nations-- that is Cayuga, Mowhawk, Oneida, Onondaga, and Seneca. Two men brought the five tribes together to found the League; Deganawida, the Peacemaker, a Huron prophet from the north, who had had a vision of the tribes united under the sheltering braches of the Tree of Great Peace; and Hiawatha, a Mowhawk medicine man, who paddled through Haudenosaunee country preaching the message of unity and carrying a wampum belt that symbolized the Great Law of Peace. Over a century later, in the early 1700sm when the Tuscarora migrated to New York from North Carolina, the alliance became the League of Six Nations. The founding fathers of the United States who shaped the new democratic government after the American Revolution--people like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin--are thought to have used the Iroquois Confederacy as a model for the new democracy. The various states were like the different tribes; the senators and congressmen, like the 50 sachems, or chiefs, chosen as representatives or spokesmen; the president and his cabinet, like the honorary Pine Tree Sachems; and Washington, D.C., like Onondaga, the main village of the Onondaga tribe, where the Grand Council Fire burned continually and the Grand Council was held every year.
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- Fall '15