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Iroquois Confederacy


Pocono mountains in Pennsylvania
Pocono mountains in Pennsylvania

The powerful and highly organized Iroquois Confederacy, which acted as an overlord of other Native American groups in Pennsylvania, usually dealt with the colony’s leaders on issues that affected the Shawnee and Delaware. The colonists welcomed the Iroquois’s influence and saw them as an ally against the French in Canada during the 17th and 18th centuries.

In 1737 the Iroquois’s agent in Pennsylvania, Chief John Shikellamy, helped the Pennsylvania government take over much of the Delaware and Shawnee land in the so-called Walking Purchase, which granted the colonists a strip of land defined by how far a man could walk in a day and a half.

By Native American custom, this meant about 50 km (30 mi), but the colonists used trained athletes to claim 100 km (60 mi), covering nearly all of the Delaware homeland. When the Delaware protested, the Iroquois humiliated them and told them to leave the region. Filled with resentment over the fraudulent land deal, many of the Shawnee and Delaware migrated to western Pennsylvania and Ohio and became allies of the French, who promised them a chance for revenge against the British and colonists.

In 1754 the Pennsylvania colonists signed another treaty with the Iroquois to purchase a large tract of land west of the Susquehanna. The land was occupied by the Shawnee, Delaware, and Seneca, one of the Iroquois tribes, but their protests were ignored. The two deals set the stage for the dispossessed native groups to join the French and attack the colonies in the French and Indian War (1754-1763). "Pennsylvania" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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