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date: 15 December 2019


  • Marie Riemer-Weller
  • , revised by Ann McFarland


A confederacy founded in the late 16th century that originally comprised five Iroquoian-speaking Native American tribes of the lower Great Lakes region: the Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, and Mohawk. It was also known as the Five Nations and the League of the Iroquois. Five Nations became Six Nations with the inclusion of the Tuscarora in 1722. Today, most Iroquis live in New York state, southern Ontario, and Quebec; others live in Wisconsin and Oklahoma.

The Iroquois homeland was northern New York state between the Adirondack Mountains and Niagara Falls. The Iroquois called themselves the Haudenosaunee (“people of the longhouse”), referencing both their traditional communal dwellings, as well as their metaphorical longhouse of territories from west to east: the Mohawk (keepers of the Western Door), the Oneida, the Onondaga (keepers of the Central Fire), the Cayuga, and the Seneca (keepers of the Eastern Door). The Oneida and Cayuga were referred to as the Little Brothers....

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Musical Quarterly
Journal of the International Folk Music Council