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Timeline / Colonizers and Resistance / AD 1639: Smallpox epidemic disrupts the Huron Nation

AD 1639: Smallpox epidemic disrupts the Huron Nation

Smallpox halves the population of the Huron Indians in what is now known as southern Ontario, Canada, from 20,000 to 10,000. The Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy, longtime enemies of the Huron, take the opportunity to kill many of the weakened Huron people and disperse survivors to lands farther west in Canada and Michigan.

The people known today as the Wyandotte are descendants of the Huron. The Wyandotte Nation,, is a federally recognized tribe located in Oklahoma. Other Wyandotte communities are located in Michigan, Kansas, and Quebec, Canada. Haudenosaunee means “The People of the Longhouse.” The Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy, is one of the largest, most long-standing, and most politically powerful Native groups in North America. It includes the Native nations of the Oneida, Seneca, Mohawk, Cayuga, and Onondaga living in what is now known as New York State. In the 18th century, the Tuscarora Nation joined the Confederacy, and today, the Confederacy also is known as The Six Nations. The Great Law of Peace, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy’s system of government, is recorded in oral tradition dating back to AD 1142. It was instrumental in the writing of the U.S. Articles of Confederation, which became part of the U.S. Constitution.