“The GreatCreator has made us of the one blood and of the same soil he made us and asonly different tongues constitute different nations he established differenthunting grounds and territories and made boundary lines between them.
..”(Iroquois Constitution,)These werethe words spoken by a strong group of men long ago. Before the United Statesbecame the United States, there were many different groups of Native Americansthat 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 partof America. They were originally formed by five tribes: The Cayuga, Onondaga,Mohawk, Seneca, and Oneida. They called themselves “Haudenosaunee” but theFrench named them Iroquois. They had a representative government where eachtribe in the confederacy had their own leaders which were called chiefs, andall of them attended council meetings. They lived in longhouses that were longrectangular buildings made with wood frames and covered in bark.
Agriculturewas the main source of food. In Iroquois society, women held a special role.They were believed to be linked to the earth’s power to create life, because ofthat belief, women determined how the food would be distributed.Although thetribes began to work together, they definitely were not peaceful. There was a time of conflict wherethe Iroquois controlled the lands of present-day New York. The Iroquois lands werevery special because it was the perfect spot for fur-trading but it was alsosurrounded by tribes who were not part of the Iroquois Confederation. They hadcome to rely on the trade for the purchase of firearms and other Europeangoods, but they didn’t realize the negative outcome that foreign goods and areand advanced weaponry would have on them.
The introduction of firearms caused a largedepopulation of beavers, so much that by 1640 the animal had almost disappearedfrom the Hudson Valley. This caused them to lose money in the fur trade. TheIroquois, who considered themselves to be the most powerful and advanced peopleof the region, found themselves being replaced in the fur trade by other tribesin the region. Threatened by disease and with a declining population, theIroquois began an aggressive crusade to advance their area of control.
Theybegan attacking other tribes to disrupt their trade with the French. Thiscaused many wars in which the Iroquois were victorious.When theFrench and Indian War started, the Iroquois went against the French by allyingthemselves with the British. The Iroquois hoped that siding with the Britishwould also bring favors after the war. However, Great Britain issued the Proclamationof 1763 after the war, which prohibited settlers from expanding beyond theAppalachian Mountains, but the settlers ignored this and moved onto the landsanyways.
During theAmerican Revolution, many Tuscarora and the Oneida sided with the Americans,while the Mohawk, Seneca, Onondaga, and Cayuga remained allies with GreatBritain. This was one of the first major splits among the tribes. After severalIroquois victories against frontier settlements, the Americans wanted revenge.The Americans began to attack and terrorize the Iroquois in order to destroytheir alliance with the BritishIn 1794, theConfederacy entered into the Treaty of Canandaigua with the United States.After the American Revolutionary War, a group of Iroquois left New York tosettle in Canada. As a reward for their loyalty to Britain, they were given a largeamount of land on the Grand River. By 1847, all the tribes had either beendestroyed or separated across the land living as their own.The Iroquoislasted a very long time but were too overtaken by the western settlers.
They had no immunity to Europeanillnesses and their population was devastated by the introduction of diseaseslike smallpox. Over time, most surviving tribes were forcibly relocated fromtheir traditional lands to make way for expanding European settlements.