Confederacy to Six Nations Thesis: Examine how the Seneca, Mohawk, Onondaga, Oneida, and Cayuga, and the 1722 addition of the Tuscarora, resulted in the Iroquois Confederacy or Six Nations and their influence on the creation of the Constitution.
December 16, 2011
Instructor: Michael Striker
The Iroquois: Confederacy to Six Nations The Iroquois Confederacy, also known as Five Nations or Six Nations after the 1720 inclusion of the Tuscarora, was a collective of tribes that occupied the upper region of New York state around Lake Ontario, Pennsylvania, and Southern Ontario and Quebec. The term Iroquois is an English deviation from a French deviation of an offensive Algonkian (group of Native American Indian languages used from South Carolina to Labrador, Canada and west to the Great Plains) term for “real snakes”. Originally, the members of the confederacy described themselves as Kanonsionni (compound word – kanonsa meaning “house” and “ionni” meaning extended) or “people of the longhouse” whereas today the term Haudenosaunee is used which translates to “people building an extended house”. The literal meaning of these terms describes the housing arrangement of the Iroquois – a dwelling typically 60 feet long (as large as 300 feet long) constructed of young, bendable trees, covered with bark. Historically and by native traditions, Dekanawidah, a Huron tribe member and shaman, is credited with creating the Great Law of the Iroquois Confederacy, also known as The Great Law of Peace, between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The Great Law of the Iroquois was communicated orally, believed to be one of the earliest collections of governing principles equivalent to the constitution, and was utilized as a justice system to be applied to tribe members by their chiefs. Chief Hiawatha, an Onondaga living
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