How the Iroquois Confederacy Was Formed

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Centuries before the creation of the United States and its Constitution, democracy had already taken root in North America—among a handful of Indigenous nations. Known as the Iroquois Confederacy, or Haudenosaunee, this league of nations emerged among five northeast woodlands tribes that had been plagued by wars of retribution and violence for many generations.

The Haudenosaunee (“people of the longhouse”) originally included the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and Seneca nations. In the 1700s, the Tuscarora became the sixth. Guided by the Great Law of Peace—their own constitution—this league came to jointly govern, while recognizing the sovereignty of each nation.



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