United States History Essay

1863 words - 7 pages

United States History

The Iroquois Nation, spanning from 1400 or even 1100 A.D. to 1831, was
the longest lasting native empire in history. The Iroquois were the
only North American native civilization, and the only group of natives
in North America to incorporate multiple tribes into a democratic
state, and without influence of outside parties. The Six Nations, as
they were called, were a true democracy and one of the only ones since
Athens in Ancient Greece. Like any great democracy, the Iroquois
Nation had a legislative government consisting of fifty
representatives from the five nations; (the sixth was the Tuscarora, a
native group of North Carolina, driven out by English settlers and
incorporated into the nation; however, they were disenfranchised
because they were not part of the original five.)(Bial, 14) The
Iroquois also had a written constitution called the Great Binding Law,
or Gayanashagowa. (Page) "The way the Iroquois governed their great
nation would later be reflected in the American Articles of
Confederacy and the Constitution." (Sultzman) The Iroquois Nation was
the greatest North American civilization and it was a major power in
colonial history, as well as culturally being an example of a true
democracy.

The history of the Iroquois is one of supreme dominance and great
diplomacy. The League of Iroquois dominated the area of the
northernmost part of Pennsylvania to the St. Lawrence River in
northern New York. (Bial, 12) The League consisted of five tribes: the
Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, and the Seneca, the most powerful of
the tribes being the Mohawks. (Weeks, 52) "The Onondaga were the first
of the Iroquois tribes that can be positively identified in New York
and seems to have begun after the merger of two villages sometime
between 1450 and 1475. The origin of the other four tribes is not as
certain."(Sultzman) Because the Onondaga were probably the first
Iroquois tribe, they were made the chief sachems or the "keepers of
the great fire."(Page, www.etsu.edu) The Iroquois League's formation
is generally considered to be in the 1570's, but estimates range from
as early as 900 A.D. One thing is certain about its formation,
however. European settlers did most definitely not influence it; in
fact, it was created before the first contact with Europeans
(Sultzman).

The French made their way into Iroquois territory in the early 17th
century. A fur trapping and trading expedition, led by Samuel de
Champlain made a trading allegiance with the Huron, the Iroquois'
bitter rival to the north. (Pearce, 52) When the Mohawks and the rest
of the league were made aware of the French presence, the Iroquois
were enraged and hostile towards the French explorers. (Axtell, 34)
Several skirmishes erupted between the French and Iroquois but never
anything serious...

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