The Iroquois Indians are members of a group of Native American tribes, which was referred to by European colonists as the "Six Nations." This confederacy of tribes originally occupied an area close to Lake Ontario in New York but later extended its domain into parts of Pennsylvania and Ohio.
United by language and a distinct culture, the Iroquois Indians at first included only five tribes: the Cayugas, Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas and Senecas. Scholars are unsure when these tribes first joined forces, but many believe that this pact was established by the middle of the 16th century.
When the Tuscaroras joined the confederation in 1722, the tribes became known collectively as the Haudenosaunee, which translates as "people of the longhouse." The image of the longhouse was used to symbolize the political and cultural unity of the Haudenosaunee people.
During the 17th century, the Iroquois Indians were involved in a number of armed conflicts with the French, which are sometimes referred to as the Beaver Wars. These conflicts had their origins in the fur trade and resulted in large territorial gains for the Haudenosaunee.
The first spit between the Six Nations took place during the American Revolution, when the Oneidas tribe joined forces with the rebel forces and the remaining nations fought on the side of the British.