Dialects (Speakers): Mohawk-Oneida (550), Onondaga (50-100), Seneca-Cayuga (200)
Language: Five Nations
Family: Northern Iroquoian
Stock: Iroquoian
Phylum: Macro-Siouan
Macro-Culture: Eastern Woodlands
      The Iroquois were a bellicose hunter/ farmer confederacy comprised of five tribes; the Seneca, Cayuga, Mohawk, Onondaga, and Oneida termed the League of Five Nations. They confederated sometime after being visited by Cartier, possibly about 1570 (some believe confederation took place as much as 500 years earlier).
      They aboriginally occupied the upper and central Mohawk Valley and the Lake Region of New York. Upon obtaining guns from the Dutch, they dominated tribes from Maine to the Mississippi and from the Ottawa to the Cumberland Rivers. The Iroquois ultimately destroyed neighboring tribes (Beaver Wars) numbering in the tens of thousands in population taking considerable losses themselves.
      The Tuscarora later joined the confederacy (creating League of Six Nations), and several other tribes were ultimately absorbed as well, particularly those vanquished by the Iroquois. Most of the confederacy sided with the British against the French and Americans in the French and Indian War and the Revolution though some sided with the Americans.
      Many of those who fought against the United States, however, removed to Canada after the Revolution. Many others later removed to Oklahoma and Wisconsin, though the greatest part of the U. S. population remains in New York. Many of the present Iroquois population are descendants of conquered peoples. The Iroquois are the most autonomous of all United States Indian nations.
Aboriginal Locations Subdivisions [(# of Villages)
NY    Cayuga (11), Mohawk (15), Oneida (16), Onondaga (13), Seneca (55)
ON    Cayuga (2)
PA     Oneida (2), Seneca (12)
Present Locations
NY     Allegany Reservation, Saylor
           Cattaraugus Reservation, Irving
           Oil Springs Reservation, Irving
           Onondaga Reservation, Newrow
           St. Regis Mohawk Reservation, Hogansburg
           Tonawanda Reservation, Tonawanda
OK     Seneca-Cayuga Tribe, Miami
ON     Gibson, Bala
           Iroquois of St. Regis, Cornwall
           Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, Deseronto
           Six Nations of the Grand River, Oshweken
RQ      Iroquois of Caughnawaga, Caughnawaga
           Oka, Oka
WI      Oneida Reservation, Oneida
Year History
1100 Approximate beginning of longhouse construction
1300's Introduction of cultivation of corn
1450-75 Formation of Onondaga tribe
1535 Iroquois met by Cartier
1542 Iroquois met by Cartier on second voyage; Seneca, Onondaga, Cayuga, Oneida, and Mohawk at war; tribes killed 35 of Cartier crew
1570 Approximate date of the confederation of the Iroquois League with the arrival of "Peacemaker" Deganawida with concurrence of Mohawk war chief Hiawatha (some say as early as A. D. 900); Iroquois drove the Algonquian tribes from the Adirondack Mountains and the upper St. Lawrence River
1603 Champlain cemented alliances with Huron and Algonquian tribes against Iroquois; the five tribes had confederated
1606 Mohawk attacked Pocomtuc
1609 French reached the vicinity of Montreal where the Algonkin and Montagnias were being harrrassed by the Mohawk; Champlain routed a party of Mohawk on behalf of the Huron, Montagnais, and Algonkin
1610 Mohawk driven from the St. Lawrence River; Dutch traders arrived in the Hudson Valley of New York but the Mahicans blocked access to the Dutch traders unless a tribute was paid
1615 French participated in an attack on the Onondaga with the Huron
1617 Mohawk and Mahican fighting forced closure of Ft. Nassau near present Albany
1624 Dutch built Fort Orange closer to the Mohawk; war broke out between Mohawk and Mahican and their Abenaki and Pocomtuc allies
1626 Dutch joined a Mahican war party losing several
1628 Mohawk defeated Mahican and forced them east of the Hudson River, Dutch accepted the Mohawk as their major trading partner; Mahican forced to pay tribute to Mohawk; Iroquois began to dominate trade on the St. Lawrence River; Tionontati, Ottawa, and Neutral acquired guns from the French and expanded their beaver trapping into lower Michigan and Ohio Valley territories of Algonquian and Siouan tribes
1629 Beginning of Beaver Wars; Mohawk continued attacks on Abenaki and Pennacook; English privateers under Sir David Kirke captured Quebec; Mohawk destroyed Montagnais village at Trois Rivieres and continued routing Montagnais and Algonkin
1632 Quebec restored to France by Treaty of St. Germaine en Laye; Iroquois exhausted beaver in their territories and began to range into neighboring territories
1633 Iroquois attempts to negotiate with Huron for expanded hunting territories failed and a all out war broke out between the two nations; Iroquois outnumbered more than two to one advanced into Huron territories
1634 Mohawk smallpox epidemic
1635 Seneca handed Huron a major defeat
1636 Iroquois offensive drove Algonkin deep into upper Ottawa Valley
1637 Smallpox among Huron resulted in 50% depopulation and left them vulnerable to the Iroquois
1638 Swedes established a colony on the lower Delaware, began to sell arms to Iroquois enemies the Susquehannock
1639 Overran small Iroquoian tribe, the Wenro
1640 New England traders tried to break Dutch monopoly by supplying arms to the Iroquois; French missionaries began to visit Iroquois
1641 Dutch began supplying the Iroquois with all the arms they needed
1642 French established Montreal but Iroquois easily attacked Huron trying to transport furs to the new site; Abenaki allied with the Mohawk; Mohawk and Mahican began demanding tributes from the Wappinger and Munsee Delaware on the lower Hudson River forcing the Wappinger to remove to Manhattan Island; French Jesuit mission St. Marie established among Mohawk
1643 Surviving Wenro took refuge with Huron and Neutrals
1644 Iroquois captured three Huron flotillas attempting to deliver furs to Montreal and drove Algonkin further north
1645 Combined Mohawk, Abenaki, Mahican force attacked main Algonkin village at Sillery, Quebec; Mohawk and Mahican came to the aid of the Dutch in war with the Munsee Delaware and Wappinger ultimately killed more than 1,600; temporary treaty with French; mission St. Marie destroyed by Mohawk
1647 War began anew with Huron over violations of French treaty; Iroquois destroyed Huron villages cutting off access to Montreal; beginning of Mohawk/Oneida war with Abenaki
1648 A 250 man Huron flotilla fought its way through to Montreal but Iroquois attacked and destroyed Huron village of St. Joseph and torturing and killing its Jesuit missionary St. Jean de Brebeuf
1649 Dutch supplied more arms to the Iroquois; 2,000 Mohawk and Seneca destroyed Huron villages of St. Ignace and St. Louis and tortured and killed their missionaries and capturing or killing hundreds of Hurons with the survivors scattering and fleeing to be later captured and killed; Iroquois down to 1,000 warriors began a massive adoption program
1650 Iroquois overran main Tionontati village which had taken in Huron refugees, fewer than 1,000 escaped; Tahonaenrat Huron took refuge among Neutrals who heretofore had been Neutral in the Iroquois/Huron wars
1651 Combined Huron and Tionontati merged to form Wyandot and took temporary refuge at Mackinac Island but were soon forced to remove further west to Green Bay where they were once again overran by the Iroquois, survivors fled to Ojibwa (about 8,000 Tionontati and 10,000 Huron had been  killed in the conflicts);  Mohawk and Oneida attacked Susquehannock; Neutrals fort fell to Seneca with about 9,000 being killed; some Huron surrendered and were incorporated into the Seneca but others and the surviving Neutrals fled south to take refuge among the Erie
1653  Iroquois/Erie peace conference erupted into violence; Iroquois made peace with French before attacking Erie; Iroquois/Eire three year war began; Iroquois attacked Ottawa forcing them west to Wisconsin and upper Michigan
1654 Jesuit mission established among Onondaga due to wishes of Christian adoptees
1655 Seneca attacked Illinois forcing them west of the Mississippi; war stalemate resulted in peace between Mohawk/Oneida and Susquehannock; Dutch took over Swedish settlements; Susquehannock war began with Seneca, Cayuga, and Onondaga; Susquehannock allied in war with Shawnee, Delaware, Nanticoke, Conoy, Saponi, and Tutelo
1656 Surviving Erie adopted into the Iroquois (about 18,000 Erie killed in the conflicts)
1660 Mohawk killed hundreds of Munsee Delaware in Esopus Valley War ultimately subjugating tribe;  war with French and British supported Abenaki, Pocomtuc, Pennacook, and Montagnais in which Mohawk ultimately prevailed; Seneca, Cayuga, and Onondaga attacked Delaware and Shawnee separately and soon began fighting the Cherokee and Catawba
1661 Susquehannock smallpox epidemic leaving only 300 warriors
1662 Iroquois inflicted severe losses in conflict with the Mahican forcing them to abandon most of the Hudson Valley
1664 British seized New York from the Dutch
1665 French Crown took formal possession of New France, 1,200 man French regiment set out to attack Iroquois but got lost in the woods
1666 French regiment destroyed two Mohawk villages; Mowhawk asked the British for help, British agreed subject to Mahican and Abenaki peace, Abenaki refused; Mohawk attacked Pennacook while Abenaki were attacking a Mohawk village; another French attack resulted in an ambush by the Mohawk
French/Iroquois peace treaty: 
Establishment of a Christian settlement of Mohawk and Oneida
Potawatomi, Sauk, Fox, Mascouten had fled from lower Michigan to Wisconsin
Kickapoo and Miami had been forced from Ohio and Indiana to Wisconsin
Shawnee had been forced from Ohio and Indiana to scatter to Kentucky, Tennessee, Illinois, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania
Dhegiha Sioux (Osage, Kansa, Ponca, Omaha, and Quapaw) abandoned the lower Wabash Valley and moved west to the Missouri River though the Quapaw went further south
Ottawa had left their original location on the islands of Lake Huron and moved west to upper Michigan
Southern bands of the Ojibwa had been forced north to the vicinity of Sault Ste. Marie
Numerous other tribes had vanished and are only remembered by name
1668 Mohawk drove Pennacook east across New Hampshire to take refuge with the Abenaki
1669 Abenaki and Mahican retaliated against the Mohawk but were ambushed on return trip taking severe losses
1672 Mahican surrendered
1675 Susquehannock surrendereed
1676 Iroquois interceded into King Philip's War forcing the Wampanoag to remove to Massachusetts and the Abenaki and Pennacook to retreat to northern Maine and Canada and into an alliance with the French; Caughnawaga grew so rapidly part of the population moved across the St. Lawrence to start a second village at Kanesatake
1677 Iroquois established Covenant Clan of tribes subjugated by the Iroquois with the Mahican the first member
1679 Iroquois smallpox epidemic, 10% losses
1680 An Illinois killed a Seneca sachem at a Ottawa village restarting the Beaver Wars; the Seneca wiped out three Illinois bands; Christian Mohawk warriors were living near the French at Caughnawaga rather than in the Mohawk homeland
1682 Maryland made peace with the Iroquois League; Iroquois conducted raids against the Saponi and Tutelo in Virginia
1684 Huge Iroquois war party defeated by Algonquian tribes at Fort St. Louis, turning point in Beaver Wars though French retaliation raid failed miserably, French signed treaty with Iroquois ceding most of Illinois
1685 Iroquois defeated the Nanticoke and Conoy and forced them into the Covenant Clan
1687 Algonquian alliance (Ojibwa, Ottawa, Wyandot, Sauk, Fox, Miami, Mascouten, Winnebago, Menominee, and Illinois) began offensive against Iroquois; French attacked Seneca and Onondaga village in New York
1689 Massive Iroquois raid against the French at Lachine, after which the Caughnawaga Mohawk entered the war as French allies
1690 Iroquois smallpox epidemic
1694 Iroquois overtures for peace with French ignored
1696 Iroquois had abandoned most of their holdings except eastern Ohio, northern Pennsylvania, and their New York homeland
1697 Treaty of Ryswick ended the war between Britain and France; Iroquois League placed under the protection of the British against Iroquois wishes
1701 End of Beaver Wars, peace signed with French and their Indian allies; Iroquois remained neutral in Queen Anne's War between British and French
1712 Iroquois joined by part of the Tuscarora
1714 Iroquois war parties went south to punish the Catawba for helping the British against the Tuscarora
1717 Ottawa began to trade with the Iroquois and the British
1720 Lake of the Two Mountains mission was built for the Iroquois of the Mountain who would become the modern Mohawk community of Oka
1722 Iroquois joined by part of the Tuscarora who became a sixth but non-voting member of the League
1727 Iroquois allowed the British in to build Fort Oswego in their homeland to shorten the travel distance for the Great Lakes tribes soon capturing 80% of the beaver market
1730 Iroquois adoptees established as Mingo
1737 Iroquois gave away Covenant Clan Delaware and Shawnee Pennsylvania lands in Walking Purchase
1744 Outbreak of King George's War between Britain and France, League remained neutral except for Mohawk who supported the British; Pennsylvania and Virginia claimed Ohio as a result of the Treaty of Lancaster
1747 Virginia chartered Ohio Company began settlements in area of Pittsburg
1748 Oswegatchie and the La Presentation mission (Ogdensburg, New York) established for the Onondaga, Oneida, and Cayuga
1752 Iroquois signed Logstown Treaty with British ceding Ohio
1755 Inexperienced Major George Washington capture and confession started French and Indian War; Iroquois wanting British assistance against the French ceded much of Pennsylvania except for lands reserved for Covenant Clan; Seneca war party en route to attack Catawba killed by Virginia militia; Seneca, Cayuga, and Onomdaga allied with French, the Mohawk and Oneida allied with the British due to influence of trusted Irishman William Johnson; Mohawk chief Hendrick leading 200 warriors killed in battle against French at Crown Point on Lake Champlain; the Caughnawaga were also there with the French, but when they saw Mohawk fighting for the English, they suddenly retired and sat out the fight; 13 year old Mohawk Joseph Brant (Thayendanegea) distinguished in battle, later knighted in England
1756 St. Regis mission established among the Mohawk at Caughnawaga
1759 Mohawk also accompanied William Johnson in the capture of Fort Niagara
1763 The Covenant Clan had been joined by Shawnee, Miami, Delaware, Conestoga (Susquehannock), Nanticoke, Saponi, Tutelo, Munsee Delaware, Mahican, Conoy, Cherokee Creek, Choctaw, Catawba, and Chickasaw though Chickasaw, Creek, Cherokee, Catawba, and Choctaw refused to submit to Iroquois authority; Seneca joined Pontiac Rebellion and laid siege to Fort Niagara but Niagara held; White settlement took Abenaki lands as well Caughnawaga lands around Lake Champlain; Proclamation of 1763 attempted to protect Caughnawaga lands
1768 Remaining tribes of Pennsylvania Covenant Chain crowded out by White settler and removed to Iroquois homeland in New York; Treaty of Fort Stanwix between the Iroquois and the British on behalf of Ohio tribes and colonists respectively ceded much of western Pennsylvania and the the entire Ohio Valley
1774 Lord Dunmore's War, aided the Shawnee against the British
1776 The Iroquois League decided to be neutral in the Revolutionary War; Joseph Brant defied the Iroquois council and led his warriors north to stop the American attempt to capture Canada
1777 The Seneca and Cayuga joined most of the Mohawk against Americans; the Oneida and Onondaga supported the Americans; the Onondaga dowsed the council fire and the Iroquois League was ended; Oneida warriors with the Americans and Mohawk and Seneca warriors with the British fought and killed each other as American and British forces met at the Battle of Oriskany; Oneida served as scouts in the American victory over Burgoyne at Saratoga and brought food to feed to Washington's starving army at Valley Forge
1778 The the British and Iroquois launched a series of raids against the frontier that put the Americans on the defensive in New York and Pennsylvania; Joseph Brant led the Cherry Valley massacre; he followed this with a raid on the settlement at Minisink Island on the Delaware River between Pennsylvania and New Jersey which left several farms in flames and ambushed the American militia upon his retreat; later the Americans destroyed Brant's villages at Unadilla and Oquaga on the Susquehanna
1779 George Washington sent three converging armies to destroy the Iroquois homeland led by generals Sullivan and Clinton and Col. Brodhead; the Americans won the second Battle of Oriskany defeating Brant and capturing the Iroquois capital; Brant war party attacked the Oneida villages killing hundreds in this Iroquois civil war, and the Oneida fled to the Americans at Schenectady; Brant blocked an attempt by the Seneca Red Jacket to make peace with the Americans, and the Iroquois continued to attack the frontier in support of the British
1781 Brant ambushed a group of Pennsylvania militia near the mouth of the Miami River; Brant tried to ambush George Rogers Clark on the Ohio River, but Clark avoided this and reached safety at Fort Nelson (Louisville, Kentucky)
1783 Brant's final foray into the Mohawk Valley was stopped at Johnstown; Joseph Brant crossed into Canada and settled along the Grand River in southern Ontario with almost 2,000 mostly Mohawk and Cayuga followers, though followers included a few Delaware Munsee, Saponi, Nanticoke, and Tutelo; a second group of Iroquois settled at Tyendenaga on the north shore of Lake Ontario just west of Kingston, Ontario
1784 Treaty of Fort Stanwix ceded large tracts of Iroquois land
1785 Oneida signed a treaty with New York governor George Clinton ceding most of their original 6 million acres in exchange for a smaller reservation
1794 United States signed the Canandaigua (Pickering) Treaty to establish definite boundaries for Iroquois
1796 The Caughnawaga signed a treaty with the United States at New York City on behalf of the Seven Nations of Canada relinquishing their claims to land in New York with the exception of 36 square miles on the New York-Quebec border which was preserved as the St. Regis Reservation
1797 Seneca surrendered a large tract at Big Tree; Brant ceded the Mohawk lands in New York in a treaty signed at Albany
1799 Seneca Handsome Lake (Ganiodayo) had a spiritual vision which not only changed his life but the Iroquois history preaching the "Kaiwicyoch" (Good Message) and founded the Longhouse religion - a blend of the traditional Iroquois values and Christianity
1803 Canadian Iroquois no longer participated in Iroquois council
1807 Cayuga had sold the last of their New York lands
1822 The Onondaga sold much of their reservation to New York; the Oneida had disagreements over Quaker missions versus traditional religion, they sold their land and half agreed to relocate to Wisconsin, Christian Stockbridge and Brotherton went with them
1838 More than 600 Oneida were living near Green Bay; Treaty of Buffalo Creek (Treaty with the New York Indians) signed where the Iroquois agreed to move to southeastern Kansas as a result of the Removal Act never went into effect; Wisconsin recognized the Wisconsin Oneida
1839 Oneida purchased land near London, Ontario
1846 210 New York Seneca had moved to Kansas; different groups Seneca of Sandusky merged to form the modern Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma
1877 The Canadian government established a reserve for the Iroquois band of Chief Michel Calihoo near Villeneuve
1886 Mohawk iron working tradition began
1907 33 Mohawk ironworkers killed in bridge collapse across St. Lawrence River
1924 Canada imposed an election system on the Six Nations
Year Total Population NY OH OK ON PA RQ WI Source
1600 5,500 Mooney estimate
1677 16,000 Swanton
1685 16,000 Swanton
1689 12,850 Swanton
1700 13,000 9,900 300 500 2,000 400 NAHDB calculation
1774 11,500 Swanton
1800 11,000 8,500 200 400 1,600 300 NAHDB calculation
1900 16,000 2,400 600 7,000 3,000 3,000 NAHDB calculation 
1904 16,100 Swanton
1910 7,837 Census (U.S.)
1923 20,051 US Indian Office
1981 14,591 BIA
1989 17,218 BIA estimate
2000 61,000 17,000 2,000 25,000 8,000 9,000 NAHDB calculation 
2005 67,700 18,800 2,500 26,700 10,000 11,000 Tolstaga
Other speakers of the same language:
Iroquois Sites:
America's First Matriarchy;  Haudenosaunee
Cayuga Authors
Cayuga Indians and Their Land Claim
Cayuga Indian Tribe History
Cayuga Language
Cayuga Language and Tribe
Cayuga Language
Cayuga Linguistic Lineage
Cayuga Nation
Cayuga Nation
Chainbreaker's War
Clothing Styles
Constitution of the Iroquois Nations
Ely Parker 1770-1844
Faithkeeper's School:  Longhouse Teachings
Five Nations Linguistic Lineage
French and Indian War
French and Iroquois Wars 1642-1698
Haudenosaunee Confederacy
Haudenosaunee:  People Building a Longhouse
Iroquois  Student Project
Iroquois  Student Project
Iroquois  Student Project
Iroquois and the U. S. Government
Iroquois Authors
Iroquois Beaded Whimsy
Iroquois Clothing
Iroquois Confederacy
Iroquois Confederacy
Iroquois Constitution
Iroquois Dreamwork and Spirituality
Iroquois/Hadenosaunee "People of the Longhouse"
Iroquois History
Iroquois History
Iroquois History  Video
Iroquoian Language Family
Iroquois Indian Clothing (Children's Page)
Iroquois Indian Dances  Video
Iroquois Indian Legends
Iroquois Indian Museum
Iroquois Indian Paper Dolls (Children's Page)
Iroquois Indians
Iroquois Indian Tribe History
Iroquois Language Websites
Iroquois Leader
Iroquois League
Iroquois Myths and Legends
Iroquois Nation
Iroquois Nation Origin (Lore)
Iroquois Nations Origins
Iroquois Organization
Iroquois Photos
Iroquois Stew Recipe
Iroquois Tribe  Student Project
Iroquois War Clubs
Iroquois Wars
Iroquois Wars
Jesuit Relations (source for Beaver Wars)
Kanatsiohareke Mohawk
Kanatsiohareke Mohawk Community
Kanienkehaka Language
Lacrosse:  An Iroquois Tradition
Mingo Indians
Mohawk Authors
Mohawk Indian Museum
Mohawk Indian Tribes History
Mohawk Language
Mohawk Language
Mohawk Language and Tribe
Mohawk Nation
Mohawk Origins
Mohawks of  Kahnawa: ke
Mohawk Sweetgrass Basket
Mohawk Tribe
Not So Original After All
Oneida Indian Ancestry
Oneida Indian Nation
Oneida Indian Nation
Oneida Indian Nation:  A Nation in Progress
Oneida Indians  Student project
Oneida Indians Tribe
Oneida Indian Tribe History
Oneida Indian Tribe of Wisconsin
Oneida Language
Oneida Language
Oneida Language
Oneida Nation
Oneida Nation
Oneida Nation
Oneida Nation Enterprises
Oneida Nation Museum
Oneida Nation of the Thames
Onoda'gega (People of the Hills):  Onondaga
Onondowahgah:  Seneca
Onondaga Authors
Onondaga Indian Tribe
Onondaga Indian Nation
Onondaga Language
Onondaga Language
Onondaga Language
Onondaga Literature
Onondaga Nation
Onondaga Nation
Onondaga Nation School
Otsiningo:  Iroquois Studies Association
Ohwejagehka: Ha`degaenage
Seneca Allegany Casino
Seneca Authors
Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma
Seneca Indian Myths
Seneca Indian Religious Traditions
Seneca Indians
Seneca Indian Tribe History
Seneca Language
Seneca Language
Seneca:  La Salle's First Visit 1669
Seneca Nation:  Keepers of the Western Door
Seneca Nation of Indians
Seneca Nation of Indians
Seneca Nation of Indians
Seneca Nation of Indians Library
Six Nations and Sir William Johnson
Six Nations of the Grand River
Six Nations of the Iroquois
Six Nations:  Oldest Living Participatory Democracy on Earth
St. Regis Mohawk Constitution
St. Regis Mohawk Indian Nation
St. Regis Mohawk Indian Tribe
Sullivan Campaign 1779
Tonawanda Band of Senecas
Turning Stone Resort and Casino
Tuscarora Indian Tribe History
Tuscarora War
War of 1812

Last updated 11/06/08  Copyright 2008 by Four Directions Press