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The Wars of the Five Nations – Indian Wars

Although the confederacy known as the Five Nations were the allies of the English in the war against the French, and joined them in many of their principal expeditions, their history deserves a separate notice, as they afford us a complete example of what the Indians of North America were capable of. Their great reputation as warriors, and their wisdom in council, have been so often alluded to by those interested in the history of the Indians, that we shall be pardoned for giving a somewhat extended description of their confederacy, and an account of their wars. The Five Nations, by their geographical position, formed a sort of barrier between the French possessions in the northwest, and the middle colonies of the English. The confederacy is said to have originated in remote antiquity; and, as the name implies, comprehended five Indian tribes, of which, the Mohawks were the most powerful, and the most celebrated. These tribes were united on terms of the strictest equality, in a perpetual league, offensive and defensive. The principles of their alliance and government display much more refinement than might have been expected of “savages.” Each nation had its own separate republican constitution, in which rank and authority were only attainable by the union of age and merit, and enjoyed during the public will. Each nation was divided into three tribes, distinguished by the names, the Tortoise, the Bear, and the Wolf. The confederacy had adopted the Roman policy of increasing their strength by absorbing the conquered tribes; and the effect was the same in both cases, though, in the latter, it was on a...

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