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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a group of American Indian tribes that inhabited the northeastern part of the present USA and engaged in farming and hunting and, beginning in the 16th century, fur trading. Their ancient social organization is a classic example of the maternal tribal system.

The League of the Iroquois (League of the Six Nations: Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora), which played a large role in the 17th and 18th centuries during the colonial wars of the European powers for supremacy in North America, was formed in about 1570. At this time, Iroquois society was a military democracy. By the late 18th century, the league had been defeated by American forces, lands had been expropriated, and the Iroquois had been settled on 16 reservations in the USA and Canada. Most contemporary Iroquois are engaged in agriculture, and some are industrial and construction workers. They are subjected to discrimination and segregation. It is estimated that in 1960 the Iroquois numbered about 35,000 in the USA and about 15,000 in Canada. The Iroquoian languages are related to the Hokan-Siouan language family. Most Iroquois are considered to be Christians, although a considerable number of them actually continue to adhere to the syncretic worship of the powers of nature.


Engels, F. Proiskhozhdenie sem V, chastnoi sobstvennosti i gosudarstva. Moscow, 1953.
Morgan, L. H. Drevnee obshchestvo …. 2nd ed. Leningrad, 1935. (Translated from English.)
Morgan, L. H. League of the Ho-de-no-sau-nee, or Iroquois. New York, 1922.
Weinman, P. L. A Bibliography of the Iroquoian Literature. Albany, N.Y., 1969.
Fenton, W. “The Iroquois in History.” In North American Indians in Historical Perspective. New York, 1971.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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In the Iroquois tradition, the soul communicates to a person through his or her dreams.



The Iroquois are an indigenous North American people, currently centered in upstate New York. The theory of the “soul-wish-manifesting” dream, which is basically similar to psychoanalytic theory, is the most important dream theory of traditional Iroquois. They believe that human souls have desires that are inborn and concealed and come from the depths of the soul. The soul makes these natural desires known by means of dreams.

For this reason, most Iroquois are careful to note their dreams and to provide the soul with what it has requested during their sleep. They also recognize that a manifest dream might conceal rather than reveal the soul’s true wish. Because the individual cannot always properly interpret dreams, the Iroquois usually rely on a dream specialist.

The Iroquois are aware of the power of unconscious desires expressed in symbolic form by dreams and realize that the frustration of these desires can cause mental and physical illness. In Iroquois dream theory, a dream can reveal not only the wishes of the dreamer but also the desires of supernatural beings. The frustration of these desires may be dangerous, in that they can cause the death of the dreamer or bring disaster to the whole society or even cause the end of the world.

According to the accounts of Jesuit missionaries who reported the theory and practice relative to dreams among the seventeenth-century Iroquois, the dream represented the only divinity of the Iroquois. They submitted to it and followed all its orders. They believed themselves absolutely obliged to execute what their dreams dictated at the earliest possible moment. The Jesuits were frustrated by their inability to discourage this faith in dreams. Quaker missionaries, who reached the Iroquois 130 years later, observed in them the same respect for dreams.

The Iroquois faith in dreams is still alive in the twentieth century, although it has diminished somewhat in strength. Even today, dreams are allowed to control the choice and occasion of curing ceremonies, membership in the secret medicine societies, the selection of friends, and even the degree of confidence in life. At the New Year’s ceremony, Iroquois still ask that their dreams be guessed, and particularly vivid dreams are still brought to specialists for interpretation.

The Dream Encyclopedia, Second Edition © 2009 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.


strongest, most feared of eastern confederacies. [Am. Hist.: Jameson, 250]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
First, there was a broader population base for the Tuteloes than Weiser suspected, and therefore, his disparagement of the Tutelo adoption was misplaced in appraising the Hodenosaunee motives as political chicanery.
Surely they were not the mean band that Weiser so inappropriately dismissed at their 1753 installation within the Hodenosaunee.
Governed by a bicameral polity that comprised a council of fifty chiefs or sachems in one body of confederated nations and a second populous body of Clan Mothers who appointed the respective sachems while representing eight matrilineal kinship clans at large, the Hodenosaunee government was representational and uniquely modern.
While we have earlier observed the constitutional foundation for admitting tribes into the Great League, a review here is appropriate for assessing the nation status of these "additional braces" within the Hodenosaunee. The tenets for sovereign adoption of a conquered tribe are given as threefold: first, "when a nation shall embrace the Great White roots," then two, "welcome and take her by the arm and seat her in a place of council," and three, "she will add a brace of leaning pole to the Longhouse and thus strengthen the edifice of Reason and Peace." (67) It would seem that by these tenets of admission there remained standards for sovereign inclusion and national suzerainty for the tribes admitted to the Longhouse.
Given that Tutelo chiefs were subsequently seated within the council and accorded a voice in deliberation at Oshweken on the Six Nations Reserve near Brantford, Ontario, during the nineteenth century, there is room to consider an alternative conclusion regarding the sovereign status of adopted nations within the Hodenosaunee. (69)
As a prelude to our analysis, scholars would be advised to more carefully consider the metaphorical language generated within Hodenosaunee polity.
In their life there from 1753 until 1779, they lived peacefully and prospered, growing as a nation within the Hodenosaunee. When, however, the American Revolution ensued, the Great League with its "Covenant Chain" in bonding peace with Great Britain created a quandary for the Iroquois confederacy.
The waste and despoliation of the Hodenosaunee villages is made manifest in General Sullivan's summation of the campaign.
In their twenty-six years as a sovereign nation amid the Hodenosaunee, the Tuteloes had prospered in their lovely Coreorgonel and Chemung River valley villages, however, with the opportunistic Sullivan campaign, they were sent fleeing toward an unseen future and near extinction as a people and culture.
Despite the fact that the Tuteloes within the Hodenosaunee were neutral nations during this stage of the war, they were ruthlessly annihilated.
(83) Accordingly, following their destruction at Coreorgonel, the Tuteloes had enjoined their Hodenosaunee confederates in war against the Americans for the duration of the Revolution.
In 1784 a council with the Hodenosaunee was held at Fort Schuyler that was attended by representatives of all the Great League nations.