The Iroquois (/ˈɪrəkwɔɪ/ or /ˈɪrəkwɑː/) or Haudenosaunee (/ˈhoʊdənoʊˈʃoʊni/) are a historically powerful 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.
Historians in the 20th century have suggested the Iroquois system of government influenced the development of the United States's government.  Contact between the leaders of the English colonists and the Iroquois started with efforts to form an alliance via the use of treaty councils. Prominent individuals such as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were often in attendance. Bruce Johansen proposes that the Iroquois had a representative form of government. The Six Nations' governing committee was elected by the men and women of the tribe, one member from each of the six nations. Giving each member the same amount of authority in the council ensured no man received too much power, providing some of the same effect as the United States's future system of checks and balances.