The Iroquois are a group of tribes of indigenous people of North America. After the people who spoke Iroquoian came together as different tribes, the separate Iroquoian nations formed a central government known today as the Iroquois League of Nations, or the “League of Peace and Power”. The first Iroquois League was often known as the Five Nations, as it was made up of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca. After the Tuscarora nation joined the League in 1722, the Iroquois became known as the Six Nations.
Records of the rights and regulations of the League of Nations were kept in the form of wampum. Wampum used cylindrical shells beaded in specific patterns to record information. It took 114 wampum to record the constitution of the League of Nations. (You will learn more about wampum in a later lesson.)
According to tradition, the League was formed through the efforts of two men, Deganawida, sometimes known as the Great Peacemaker, and Hiawatha. They brought a message, called the Great Law of Peace, to the fighting Iroquoian nations. The League of Nations was formed in response and to pursue this Great Law of Peace.
The League did not make rules and regulations for each individual nation to follow and left that to each local nation or government. Decisions that affected all of the nations in the League were voted on and required a unanimous vote, making the League of Nations appear as a strong, united group. Early colonists borrowed some of the ideas on government from the successes of the League of Nations government.