A confederacy of five, afterwards six, tribes of Iroquoian stock, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and later Tuscarora, extending across New York State to Lake Erie.
Their government was based upon the clan system, with descent in the female line, each tribe having its women's council, chosen from the mothers of the tribe and taking the initiative in public matters, such as the right of adoption, the jurisdiction of territorial domain, and the decisions of questions of war and peace.
They dwelt in "long houses," engaged in hunting and agriculture, and were monogamists although with easy and frequent divorces.
With firearms obtained from the Dutch, they made relentless war on surrounding tribes, killing them, incorporating them, or making them tributaries, and extended their rule from the Ottawa River to the Tennessee, and from the Kennebec to the Illinois and Lake Michigan.
During the French and Indian wars, and the Revolution, they sided mainly with the British.
The refugees in Canada were settled near Brantford, Ontario; those in New York have reduced their territory by treaty cessions, and part of the Oneida have removed to Wisconsin.
They are of interest to Catholics because they caused the martyrdom of Blessed Jogues, Brebeuf, and, their companions.
New Catholic Dictionary