Hodenosaunee, meaning “People of the Longhouse,” is the name that the Iroquois traditionally used to refer to themselves.
The Iroquois believed that their confederacy was like a longhouse. Just as several families dwelled in harmony side by side in the same longhouse, the Iroquois lived peacefully in adjoining nations within the same realm.
The confederacy-longhouse comparison also gave special names to the Mohawk, Seneca, and Onondaga. Because longhouses had two doors, one at either end, the Mohawk (the easternmost tribe) were called the “Keepers of the Eastern Door,” and the Seneca (the westernmost tribe) were known as the “Keepers of the Western Door.”
And because household fires were set in the center of the longhouse, the Onondaga, who lived in the middle of Iroquois territory, were given the name “Keepers of the Central Fire.”