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4.2 Eastern Tribes

The five Iroquois-speaking tribes –Seneca, Oneida, Onondaga, Mohawk, and Cayuga- of Ontario and Upper New York joined together to form a confederacy to keep the peace among themselves and to deal with trade and relation with other tribes. The traditional date of foundation of this “League of Haudenosaunee” is 1390. Women play an important role in the league. They chose the delegates to the central council from the 49 lineage from the five nations, a lineage which was hereditary and passed on only through the mother’s line. Women held their own councils and advised the central council. They had the power to veto war or to modify decisions about relations with other nations. The Iroquois confederacy entered into many wars with other nations but they kept peace between themselves for almost 300 years until rivalries with the French and English broke the league apart.