Hiawatha

Hiawatha by Thomas Eakins, c. 1874

Hiawatha (also known as Ayenwathaaa, Aiionwatha, or Haiëñ'wa'tha [ha.jẽʔ.waʔ.tha] in Onondaga;[1] born 1525) was a precolonial First Nations leader and co-founder of the Iroquois Confederacy. He was a leader of the Onondaga people, the Mohawk people, or both. According to some accounts, he was born an Onondaga but adopted into the Mohawks.

Hiawatha was a follower of the Great Peacemaker (Deganawida), a Huron prophet and spiritual leader who proposed the unification of the Iroquois peoples, who shared common ancestry and similar languages, but he suffered from a severe speech impediment which hindered him from spreading his proposal. Hiawatha was a skilled orator, and he was instrumental in persuading the Senecas, Cayugas, Onondagas, Oneidas, and Mohawks to accept the Great Peacemaker's vision and band together to become the Five Nations of the Iroquois confederacy. The Tuscarora people joined the Confederacy in 1722 to become the Sixth Nation.

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