Area inhabited/ ruled:

The location of the Iroquois may have varied over the years, but for the most part they settled in the upper New York region. However, as the years went on, the Iroquois continued to obtain more and
more land. In fact, they gained control of most of eastern U.S., and eastern Canada. And by 1680, they controlled land all the way out to Kentucky and the junction of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, although most people still continued to remain in villages in upstate New York. It is also said that the Iroquois would migrate about every twenty years, or when their soil was no longer fertile. This allowed for crops to always be at their best.
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Everyday life
Every day in the life of an Iroquois was busy and productive. In fall and winter months men left the family dwelling to hunt Wild Turkey, birds, muskrat, beaver, deer, and other game. In spring they were out fishing in various lakes and nearby rivers to provide for their family. Some men were also warriors, and other were responsible for trade. Women often owned fields, and were in charge of farming things like corn, bean, squash, and other various crops. But, unlike other cultures, women were respected and had many other great roles as well, politically, and around the family. In between chores and other labors, Iroquois children happily played with corn husk dolls and even took part in Lacrosse games with friends.



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Social and political organization:

First, it is important to know that the Iroquois were made up of several different “nations,” including the Mohawk, Seneca, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and later, the Tuscarora. Among the Iroquois, women held many significant roles. The most important was the ability to choose leaders, or chiefs that became part of the Great Council. The women who selected (or deselected) these men were known as “clan mothers.” The men of the Great Council made political choices though discussion, and voting. But this wasn’t the only thing women could do, some even had the power to veto treaties, or war declarations. Women were also viewed as dominant in the family, able to kick her husband out of the household, but still keep her children. Iroquois nations also had local councils for smaller decisions, so in general, this system is much like what we use now. The president is in charge of the big picture, but there are mayors that are elected to help with the smaller issues of their specific town.


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Religion

The Iroquois’s lives were full of many different spirits. Great Spirit, one of the most important deities was responsible for the creation of living things; humans, plants, animals. He also was thought to “indirectly guide the lives of ordinary people.” Iroquois people believed that they could not directly communicate with Great Spirit, but could indirectly communicate with other lesser deities by burning tobacco, which carried their prayers up to the heavens. The “Three Sisters” were spirits of maize, beans, and squash. Agricultural festivals were often held in different parts of the year. Evil spirits existed as well, and were thought to be the cause of disease and mis-fortune; but creations known as “false face masks” were said to help keep these bad spirits away. Also, Citizens called “keepers of the faith” were in charge of conducting and arranging religious ceremonies. Afterlife was another important part of the Iroquois’ lives. Some sources say a captured bird was released at the burial, to carry away the person’s spirit. Others say that one’s soul embarks on a journey. People would mourn for the loved one, and then after a year, have a great feast that represented the soul’s arrival to the sky world. Lastly, dreams were considered supernatural signs, and were often paid attention to. Dream interpreting was common among the people.

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Arts/ Techno./ Developed Culture

The Iroquois were very skilled when it came to crafts, and other work. They are especially known for what they were able to do with wood. They made magnificent log long houses that were up to several hundred feet long, and held over sixty people depending on the size. They covered intricate framework, with pieces of elm bark. Each family had their own space, much like an apartment building. Fires were built inside with holes strategically placed in the roof to allow for air circulation. Iroquois also had a wide variety of weapons, one of which included a wooden club that they steamed to allow it to bend. They also used stone hand axes, flint knives, bows, arrows, spears, and shields. They even made their own lacrosse sticks, in a similar way to how we make them in current day. Iroquois also made beautiful masks, beadwork, and other various works of art. Some of the masks even had more significant meanings, and were considered sacred. It is also important to keep in mind the great roles women had in this culture, because many women in this era were belittled and held little or no respect. Finally, it is said that the Iroquois were extremely clever when it came to planting crops, “the cornstalks grow, the bean plants climb the stalks, and the squash grow beneath, inhibiting weeds and keeping the soil moist.” The Iroquois had bright minds, and advanced ideas that helped their culture become one that was popular and thriving.

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