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Iroquois influence extended into present-day Canada, westward along the Great Lakes and down both sides of the Allegheny mountains into present-day Virginia and Kentucky and into the Ohio Valley.
The League is governed by a Grand Council, an assembly of fifty chiefs or sachems, each representing one of the clans of one of the nations.
In favor of an original form beginning with /h/, Bakker cites alternate spellings such as "hyroquois" sometimes found in documents from the period, and the fact that in the Southern dialect of Basque the word hil is pronounced il.
He also argues that the /l/ was rendered as /r/ since the former is not attested in the phonemic inventory of any language in the region (including Maliseet, which developed an /l/ later).
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.
In the larger sense of linguistic families, they are often considered Iroquoian peoples because of their similar languages and cultures, all culturally and linguistically descended from the Proto-Iroquoian people and language; however, they were traditionally enemies of the nations in the Iroquois League.
Day proposes a hypothetical Montagnais phrase irno kwédač, meaning "a man, an Iroquois", as the origin of this term.
For the first element irno, Day cites cognates from other attested Montagnais dialects: irinou, iriniȣ, and ilnu; and for the second element kwédač he suggests a relation to kouetakiou, kȣetat-chiȣin, and goéṭètjg – names used by neighboring Algonquian tribes to refer to the Iroquois, Hurons, and Laurentians.
More recently, Peter Bakker has proposed a Basque origin for "Iroquois".
Basque fishermen and whalers are known to have frequented the waters of the Northeast in the 1500s, so much so that a Basque-based pidgin developed for communication with the Algonquian tribes of the region.