First Advisor

Thomas M. Luckett

Term of Graduation

Summer 2022

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in History







Physical Description

1 online resource (vi, 177 pages)


The Five Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy hold a noted position of the history of Native Americans in North America especially the northeastern woodlands. My thesis states that the Iroquois people were the dominant Native Americans in the Ohio during colonial period. In stating this, I would also relate that the Iroquois people were more than just the Five Nations and their related Nations controlled a broad swath of land from Lake Superior to Chesapeake Bay.

Due to limitations of space, this thesis will span the period of pre-discovery to the end of the Seven Years War in 1763. However, this represents an important period of time in the evolution of the Indian world in Ohio. Ohio is an Iroquois word that means big or beautiful river depending on which language is spoken but it was home to several Iroquois Nations. The Erie lived along the southern shore of the Lake Erie to modern-day Detroit and Iroquois people lived south on the Ohio River into the mountains of West Virginia. As the Western Door of the Five Nations, the Seneca were most involved in Ohio but it was home to all Iroquois who came to hunt and live.

With the coming of the Europeans, the Native Americans had to deal with a number of unprecedented challenges that had never been experienced. Before they ever saw a white person, they felt the effect of virgin soil epidemics that swept North America from the coast inland. Once established, the Europeans brought firearms and new forms of warfare that required strategies to adapt and utilize for their security. The Iroquois also acquired an interest in trade goods and sought a strategy to identify strategies to develop a market economy so they could acquire these trade goods. Once they had a musket in their hands, they did not want to go back to traditional weapons and once they had copper pots and European clothes, they never went back to the old ways. Europeans realized early on that alcohol had a profound effect on the Native Americans and they utilized it to weaken and corrupt Native societies.

However, the Iroquois developed strategies to cope with these changes and maintain their dominance over the surrounding Indian Nations while negotiating an identity independent from the growing European powers. They were known for their diplomatic skills which could include use of flattery, condolence, deception and coercion but they could also remain stalwart in the face of intimidation and threats. When it came to war, the reputation of the Iroquois stands above all others that they faced and they often went into battle outnumbered and less supplied. Yet they were usually victorious and managed to insure their people and their traditions for the next generations. Once peace was achieved, they sought to preserve it and enhance it through their councils with various other Indians Nations in the establishing relationships through the covenant chain. Their protocol for managing Indian councils became universal in the Northeast and was widely admired by statesman such as Benjamin Franklin.


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