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Confederation of five (later six) Indian tribes across upper New York that in the 17th–18th century played a strategic role in the struggle between the French and British for supremacy in North America. The five original nations were the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca; the Tuscarora, a non-voting member, joined in 1722. According to tradition, the confederacy was founded between 1570 and 1600 by Dekanawidah, born a Huron (seeWyandot), carrying out the earlier ideas of Hiawatha, an Onondaga. Cemented mainly by their desire to stand together against invasion, the tribes united in a common council composed of 50 sachems; each original tribe had one vote, and unanimity was the rule. At first the confederacy barely withstood attacks from the Huron and Mohican (Mahican), but by 1628 the Mohawk had defeated the Mohican and established themselves as the region's dominant tribe. When the Iroquois destroyed the Huron in 1648–50, they were attacked by the Huron's French allies. During the American Revolution, the Oneida and Tuscarora sided with the American colonists while the rest of the league, led by Joseph Brant, fought for the British. The loyalist Iroquois were defeated in 1779 near Elmira, N.Y., and the confederacy came to an end.
Variants of IROQUOIS CONFEDERACY
Iroquois Confederacy or League of the Iroquois
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