The spiritual union of the nations began before European contact. The visionary Hiawatha brought a message of peace to the original five nations. These were the Seneca, Onondoga, Oneida, Cayuga, and Mohawks. For the most part they ceased fighting with one another and became one of the strongest forces in the 17th and 18th century in northeastern North America. In 1720 the Tuscarora fled the European invasion of North Carolina to New York to become the sixth nation (non-voting) under the protection of the confederacy.
The combined leadership of these tribes is known as the Haudenosaunee.
The Iroquois political union and democratic government has been credited as one of the influences on the United States Constitution.
- "The Ordeal of the Longhouse", by Daniel K. Richter