Dekanawida, a semilegendary Native American leader, is credited with helping unite the five Iroquois tribes of northern New York in the late 1500s. According to legend, Dekanawida (whose name means "two rivers flowing together") was born to a virgin mother of the Huron people in Canada. Because of warnings that he would bring ruin to his people, his mother tried to drown him several times. However, on each occasion, he miraculously survived and reappeared the next morning lying next to her.

As an adult, Dekanawida left the Hurons and went south, where he met another legendary Indian figure, Hiawatha. Together the two men developed a plan for uniting the five Iroquois nations into a single confederacy. According to legend, Dekanawida came up with the idea but was a poor speaker, so Hiawatha became the spokesperson. The Iroquois Confederacy later served as a model for founders of the government of the United States.

See also Hiawatha ; Native American Mythology .

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