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Meaning the "People of the Flint", the Kanien'kehá:ka are an indigenous people who traditionally inhabit a territory that stretches northward from the Mohawk River Valley to the St. Lawrence River Valley, the Kanien'kehá:ka and spans a geographic area of what is now known as New York State, western Vermont, and southern Quebec.

The Kanien'kehá:ka are joined by the Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca nations, who founded an alliance or confederation over a thousand years ago called the Haudenosaunee - People of the Longhouse. The Haudenosaunee were also known as the Iroquois by the French and the Six Nations Confederacy by the English following the naturalization of the Tuscarora Nation in 1722.

Called Mohawk by the Dutch after an offensive Algonquin term for cannibal, the Kanien'kehá:ka are considered to be the "Keepers of the Eastern Door", sharing with the Seneca Nation the responsibility for guarding the doorways of the symbolic Longhouse of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. Due to their strategic geographic location in the east, the Kanien'kehá:ka were the first of the Haudenosaunee nations to establish diplomatic and economic relations with Europeans on behalf of the Confederacy.

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