The League of the Haudenosaunee (also called the Iroquois Confederacy) was a union of five Iroquoian language groups formed sometime between 1350 and 1600. It is believed by members to have been created by a man named Hiawatha, an Onondaga Indian raised by the Mohawks, and Dekanahwideh, a Huron. Probably as a result of effects from the Little Ice Age, Indians in the northeastern woodlands experienced a period of enormous subsistence pressure leading to serious and prolonged warfare. Under Hiawatha’s and Dekanahwideh’s influence, the Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas agreed to stop fighting among themselves and to form a mutual defense agreement. By the time Europeans arrived in the region, the league had a population in excess of 5,000 and extended over a corridor of land 300 miles or more in extent. Two other leagues also formed during this era: one consisting of Algonquian Indians led by the Hurons and one consisting of Iroquoian groups not included among the Haudenosaunee. These three groups became key players in French, Dutch, and British colonization.

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