The lands of North America were originally occupied by a wide variety of American Indian peoples, each with their own language and culture. Ways of life varied from one region to another, according to the environment—some peoples lived in farming villages, while others hunted buffalo. Their worlds were changed forever by the European invasion.


1547 Horses introduced to North America by the Spanish
c. 1570 The Iroquois Confederacy is founded
1626 Manhattan Island is sold to the Dutch
1648 The Iroquois-Huron War
1722 The Tuscarora join the Iroquois Confederacy
1763 Pontiac, chief of the Ottawa, unites tribes against British troops


Five American Indian nations in the northeast—the Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, and Mohawk—made a powerful alliance, called the Iroquois Confederacy. It was founded in about 1570 by a prophet called Deganawida. The League’s goals were cooperation and mutual defense. A council met each year to discuss their laws.


The northwest (in what is now both the US and Canada) was an area with a large American Indian population. Many peoples there lived by salmon fishing or whaling, and by gathering fruits and berries. They lived in large houses, which were built of red cedar wood. Cedar was also used to make hats, boats, rope, cloth, boxes, and baskets.


As Europeans invaded the northeast, many American Indian peoples were forced to retreat westward. Some had to give up farming. Instead, they became buffalo hunters on the Great Plains, the grasslands that make up the prairie regions of the central part of the modern United States and Canada.

Copyright © 2007 Dorling Kindersley


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