American History tends to emphasize how the colonies won their freedom from the oppressive British empire and while that’s true it’s only part of the picture. See there were a lot of players in the new worlds during and before the time of the revolution. One of the most remarkable yet often overlooked forces in shaping the course of history is the Iroquois Confederation. The Iroquois was a league of five Native American (the Tuscorara was the one who joined in 1722) peoples living in what is now known as Upstate New York, and these guys are really cool! But they’re often overlooked or underappreciated in most written history. Lucky for all of you I spent WEEKS tracking down a Notorious yet Incredibly Rare source that goes into the Iroquois history with Exquisite detail! [Intro Music: Drums and Swooshie Sword-like Sythesizers] (Audience: CHILDWHY) So let’s fire it up and learn some history: [Thumping Music and the sound of swords and blood] (The animation is really good though.) AUGH! *Dies* [Nervously] Okay… Maybe I need to reevaluate my sources Okay, so jokes aside, who ARE the Iroquois? Well, the name Iroquois isn’t quite accurate. Europeans called them the Iroquois but we don’t actually know where that name came from. We DO know that they would’ve called themselves the Haudenosaunee or the people of the Longhouse. The Longhouse itself was… well… a long house that they all lived in. As it had good insulation from the cold winters and could hold upwards of 20 families at a time in it. But beyond just a living space the Longhouse was deeply symbolic of the Iroquois. The legends says that the Longhouse was where the original 5 nations of what became the Iroquois swore to peace and devised their subsequent government. The Longhouse is the symbol of community and peace so it was the perfect symbol for the Iroquois to identify themselves with. The Iroquois also considered their share of land as one giant longhouse uniting them all. So… yeah! People of the Longhouse checks out! Almost all of what we actually know the Iroquois comes from a strong oral tradition. We’re not super sure about the early history because there aren’t any written sources but the origin story is told roughly as follows: Originally, there were 5 nations: the Mohawk, the Onondaga, the Oneida, the Cayuga, and the Seneca They spoke pretty much the same language and pretty much had the same culture but they warring on and off with each other for years and probably even centuries. Somewhere in possibly/probably in the 1400 or 1500s a few people wanted peace. And according to the legend, Hiawatha, Jigonhsasee and Dekanawidah co-founded the Iroquois Confederation by uniting those 5 nations of the Great Lakes, One by one, into a peaceful alliance that would last for centuries. That’s the bare bones (and they mean BARE) of the story. Extra Credits tells the story really well if you wanna see it in more detail, but since I’m on a time crunch and still have a few centuries left to get through, I need to move on. Like I said earlier, the history is a little dubious because it’s all oral tradition, but there’s a good reason for that. In case you’re not from the American North East, I’ll let you know right now It gets C o l d in the winter Nobody was eager to get frostbite, so most people stayed inside the longhouses and they’d pass the days, weeks, and months by telling stories. So weirdly enough, the climate helped play a role in enforcing the strong and persisting oral tradition. So… Hooray for the murderous cold! Back to history, The 5 nations agreed to the Great Law of Peace, an oral constitution that was drafted cooperatively by all 5 nations, and designed to ensure the safety and prosperity of everyone in the Iroquois Confederation. One famous feature of the law was how forward looking it was. No law could be passed without giving specific consideration to how it’ll affect each of the next seven generations (Something America should learn about). [Awed] Which.. Just… Damn! That’s really cool! The Iroquois also lived in a genuinely interwoven community. Everyone lived in longhouses together and almost everything was shared between people. Also everyone was treated super fairly! And their gender equality was top notch. While men hunted more on average than women and women farmed more on average then men, but that honestly kinda tends to happen. Women were highly respected in the community. Women had the power to appoint members to the Confederation’s counsel, and remove them if they weren’t governing judiciously. Elderly women were respected as “clan mothers” and had many spiritual and practical responsibilities among their people. And let’s not forget that the earth was personified as female. You know… Mother earth! Although given the abundance of fertility themes afoot that one shouldn’t be surprising. Following the formation of the Confederation and the implementation of the Great Law of Peace (say that 5 times fast) everyone’s quality of life went up by a lot. Raids and local conflict stopped almost entirely as the council would rule on things and people wouldn’t resort to violence. One such way the Iroquois would settle differences and disputes was by playing a sport involving a ball and a curved stick. Which, we today, call Lacrosse! If two groups had beef with each other, they just throw a few hundred dudes onto a field and play for days! That’s kind of hilarious, but also amazing! I, for one, am honestly looking forward to when world wars are fought via Yu-Gi-Oh duels. So fun ball games and egalitarian culture aside, the actual government of the Iroquois is Kind of Incredible. The Multi-National Peace Agreement was a huge deal because nothing of the sort had ever been done before. In the Americas, or anywhere else. The fundamental principles of the Iroquois government being a collection of small local states united in peace under a binding federal roof were entirely new. But still, that all might sound familiar to you because there’s this cool new nation called the “United States of America”. And, well, the proof’s kind of in the name! This fact often goes unacknowledged, but the United States was founded on the Federalist governing principles of the Iroquois. And the constitution is, in many ways, a codified version of the Great Law of Peace. And that’s not just crack-potted revisionism. See a little known gentlemen’s club called- uh- CONGRESS Officailly recognized in 1988 that the structure of the U.S. government is directly modeled after the Iroquois Federation And this next claim isn’t properly substantiated historically So grain of salt, but according to modern day Iroquois Several members of the confederation were present during the continental congress And kept upstairs So that when the American founders had a question about something They would just run Upstairs and ask what the Iroquois did to resolve that given problem. If you ask me, It Shows. I think it’s really cool that the American founders took so much from a system That clearly worked and employed to such good effect- [Blue is fanboying here] – in what became the american government We often want to think of the constitution as a revival of great Democratic Ideals of Ancient Athens or Rome But all of the Capital’s stone collumns and Greco-Roman Architecture really just establishes an aesthetic The REAL BONES of the US Government comes from the Iroquois. In the 1600s, the Iroquois expanded outwards in a series of conflicts called the Beaver Wars. Now unlike the great Australian Emu War of 1932 (Wait, WHAT) This wasn’t a war against Beavers but For Them. See, with the French and British Colonies starting to gradually take shape Well-to-do Europeans back on the Continent wanted to import goods And the most prized good was beaver fur. the Iroquois like many Native American Nations wanted In So they hunted all of the beavers that they could, Until local Beaver Populations tanked and everyone needed to find new hunting grounds. Since nobody wanted to be left out of the trade, Everyone started fighting over the remaining Beavers The Iroquois, despite their peaceful origins, began fighting and expanding with their neighbors to secure the best grounds and make the most trade. The Iroquois became, by far, the most dominant in the region. And even went on to attack ‘New France’ on a couple of occasions. These conflicts were seriously brutal. With thousands dead and tens of thousands displaced. In the aftermath of the beaver wars, the British and the Iroquois buddied up and the Iroquois made a temporary peace with the French. About 50 years later, France, Brittian, and whole bunch of other places- Erupted into a giant Cartoon Dustcloud- (They fought)- of globetrotting fighting. Partially because the Brittish wanted to push more westward in America and get more ‘England Colonizing’ going on But France was like Aw Heeeelll Naw! (Blue’s Voice squeaks sassily) A large handful of Native American Nations were caught in the slap fight and had to pick sides. Based on both location and prior alliances, the line up was pretty much Britain and the Iroqois Against France and Everyone else. Which explains why Anglo-centric circles refer to this conflict as the French and Indian War. Unlike the Beaver Wars, the Iroquois were pretty calm and casual during this one. Because most nations had already learned their lesson on messing with the Iroquois a century prior However the Iroqous were given a hard time by the French. And the Brittish didn’t quite seem to care… Britain also didn’t do much to stop the flow of settlers pushing into Iroquois land over the previous half century. and with a vastly diminished french presence after the war Why bother now, right? While the Iroqouis didn’t do a lot in the war itself The conflict still marked a drop-off in relations between them and the British. This partially explains why, when the Colonies declared war on the British (Empire) in 1775 the Iroquois had no interest what-so-ever in picking a side. They pretty much figured out that money and land meant more to their English speaking neighbors than friendship for friendship’s sake. They wanted to stick to their peaceful roots and remain neutral as long as they could. But when they realized that they needed to be in the good graces of the eventual winner… the Iroquois were torn. The Tuscarora, who (had) joined the Iroqouis in 1722, and Oneida allied with the Colonies While the Mohawk, Onondaga, Seneca, and Cayuga allied with Brittain. Partially for old times sake, but also for trade and territory reasons. Even though Britain had a habit of breaking agreements, the new Colonies didn’t have any formal agreements at all with the Iroquois. So they were a wild card. But those of you who are aware that the United States is currently a Thing That Exists- Can see why the Iroquois are about to have a Really bad time. During the war, the British mostly occupied cities while the Colonists held strong in the countryside. It should be no surprise, that the Colonists made a regular habit of raiding and burning the Iroquois land. Among the Iroquois the American Revolution isn’t referred to as a Revolution. Or even as a war. Many simply called it the ‘Burning of the Valleys’ – which should get the point across. In addition to all this, the split alliances of the Iroquois nations often lead to Iroquois fighting Iroquois Which hadn’t happened since before they became the Iroquois in the first place It was so bad that the confederation just kinda, Broke after the war The Treaty of Paris in 1783, which ended the war, completely Ignored the holdings of any Native Americans and subsequent treaties between Natives and Americans weren’t so much treaties, as they were a series of official requests to vacate thier ancestral homeland – Or Else. And the Iroquois were so weakened after the war that they had no choice but to accept. These land acquisitions were explicitly illegal according to America’s own: Articles of Confederation AND the later constitution! [Sardonically] But those laws are just suggestions right? What follows is a bunch of Manifest Destiny that I won’t get into, by sheer virtue of how depressing it is. But suffice to say that the Americans felt that their effort in winning the war justified almost a century of non-stop conquest This was great if you were an American! But it was pretty rough if you were a NATIVE American. As for the Iroquois, they split up, Moved. Moved again. And today live on designated Reservations in America and Canada. It’s really sad to see such a strong nation built on a foundation of peace get the short end of the stick – in a conflict they didn’t even ask for. But it’s at least nice to know that the cultures of the Individual Nations have lived on in the centuries following (the conflict). So… there you have it. The Iroquois are an underappreciated player in American history, as it is. But they’re such unique people that it’s worth looking at Iroquois History in itself too. I think they serve as a great example of how effective and worthwhile cooperation can be And how much we can all benefit when we learn from each other *CENSORSHIP* AND how history is actually about a centuries old conflict between Assassins and Templars That too. [Awesome Music for Awesome Patrons] ((Blue has been pronouncing Iroquois as “Ee-roh-koy”)) ((And that word is waaay to hard to spell. Probably French. )) ((Also, these sentences just RUN ON. )) ((Blue, I love you. But you talk wayyy too fast.)) ((…Red does that too actually…)) ((Nothing could have prepared them for the sudden demands of international trade…. sad.)) This has been an Overly Sarcastic Translation.