Over the next 1,000 years, the
area became more densely settled by Iroquoian people, living on a great abundance
of fish, game and cultivated food. Some say that around the 16th century, the
Iroquois population in some areas was greater than the region's population today.
Most natives lived south of present day Routes 5&20, offering families protection
away from the warpaths along the Great Lakes.
As the native population grew,
squabbles drove a division into separate tribes. Western New York became the domain
of the Seneca. Fighting continued until Deganawidah, a Mohawk, and Hiawatha, an
Onondaga, joined the Peace Mother, a wise woman named Jikohnsaseh of the Neutral
tribe near Lake Erie, in establishing the Great Law of Peace.
This law insisted
upon unanimous agreement within the Council of Chiefs before propositions were
carried out. It also gave significant power to clan mothers, who selected the
chiefs, and established the longhouse as a symbol of universal peace and harmony
under one roof.
Five tribes accepted the trio's proposal and formed the
Iroquois Confederacy with the Seneca tribe as "Keeper of the Western Door."