By oral tradition, the Confederacy of the Five Nations was achieved through the efforts of a prophet known as the Great Peacemaker, aided by the oratory of Hiawatha. The five nations of the southern Great Lakes region were brought together in a great ‘League of Peace’. The depiction of a solar eclipse in this account places its foundation at c. 1450, or possibly 1142. The terms of the confederation were traditionally agreed in an oral constitution affirmed at the Seneca village of Gannagaro. At the beginning of the 17th century, the Confederacy began a series of wars with neighbouring non-confederated Iroquois and Algonquin-speaking tribes aimed at securing a monopoly of the lucrative fur trade with the various newly arrived European colonists. These conflicts involved, at various times, alliances with, and against, the French, English, Dutch and Swedes and were triggered by the near extinction of beaver in the Iroquois homelands, and increasingly, tribal depopulation through European diseases.
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