|A Rich Environment
The Eastern Woodlands from the Atlantic to the
Mississippi and from Canada to Florida provided abundant
natural resources for the many different peoples living
there. Farming tribes built wigwams and stayed in one
place. Hunters, like the Penobscot of Maine, moved from
place to place. Many fished and traveled by canoe.
The Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, and Mohawk of
upstate New York spoke Iroquoian. They called themselves
the Hodenosaunee or "people of the longhouse," after their
multi-family dwellings. Their fine beadwork was called wampum.
The clans were led by women who governed the longhouses.
By 1300, discord grew as the number of Hodenosaunee increased.In 1520, constant battles over hunting grounds convinced Hiawatha and Deganawida, two leaders and peacemakers, to persuade the Hodenosaunee to form the Iroquois Confederacy, a peaceful union of the tribes. Once the Tuscarora joined in 1722, it was renamed the Six Nations.
The Grand Council
Guidelines, or laws called the Great Laws, were developed by Hiawatha and Deganawida to keep peace using discussion and compromise.