The Iroquois, also known as the Haudenosaunee, are a historically powerful and important northeast Native American confederacy. They were known during the colonial years to the French as the "Iroquois League," and later as the "Iroquois Confederacy," and to the English as the "Five Nations" (before 1722), and later as the "Six Nations", comprising the Mohawk, Onondaga, Oneida, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora peoples.
During the French and Indian War (the North American frontier of the Seven Years' War), the Iroquois sided with the British against the French and their Algonquian allies, who were traditional enemies. The Iroquois hoped that aiding the British would also bring favors after the war.
Few Iroquois warriors joined the campaign. In the Battle of Lake George, a group of Catholic Mohawk (from Kahnawake) and French forces ambushed a Mohawk-led British column; the Mohawk were deeply disturbed as they had created their confederacy for peace among the peoples and had not had warfare against each other.
After the war, to protect their alliance, the British government issued the Royal Proclamation of 1763, forbidding Anglo-European (white) settlements beyond the Appalachian Mountains. Colonists largely ignored the order, and the British had insufficient soldiers to enforce it.
Faced with confrontations, the Iroquois agreed to adjust the line again in the Treaty of Fort Stanwix (1768). Sir William Johnson, 1st Baronet, British Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Northern District, had called the Iroquois nations together in a grand conference in western New York, which a total of 3,102 Indians attended.They had long had good relations with Johnson, who had traded with them and learned their languages and customs.
As Alan Taylor noted in his history, The Divided Ground: Indians, Settlers, and the Northern Borderland of the American Revolution, the Iroquois were creative and strategic thinkers.
They chose to sell to the British Crown all their remaining claim to the lands between the Ohio and Tennessee rivers, which they did not occupy, hoping by doing so to draw off English pressure on their territories in the Province of New York.