If You Lived With the Iroquois (If You)

What I Learned Section 1 -- Answer the Following Questions:
1. Where did the Iroquois live?
From eastern New York to northeastern Ohio, and from southern Ontario to northern Pennsylvania. The first five nations were known by different names: they called themselves the Haudenosaunee [HO-den-o-SAW-nee] or the People of the Longhouse; the French called them the Iroquois; and the British called them the Five Nations. Did you know each nation had a special name relating to where it lived? The Mohawk were the Keepers of the Eastern Gate because they were the easternmost nation. The Oneida were the People of the Standing Stone because of a great rock in Oneida country. The Onondaga were the Keepers of the Council Fire because they presided over the League council meetings. The Cayuga were the People at the Boat Landing. The Seneca were the Keepers of the Western Gate.

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2. Which five nations made up the Iroquois League?
Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca. In the early 1700's, the Tuscarora nation joined the League. Later, over sixty tribes were under Iroquois protection.

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3. What is a longhouse?
The name of the house where the Iroquois lived. It was constructed of upright logs and cross poles and covered with elm bark. There were no windows, but had holes along the center of the roof to let out smoke from cooking fires. There was a center aisle with compartments on both sides for a family to live in. Fires were lit in shallow pits in the center aisle. The families cooked there and shared the fire with the family on the other side of the aisle. The longhouses were located in villages which were built on high ground and surrounded by an oval-shaped stockade made of logs. The entrance was an opening where the logs overlapped. Farm fields surrounded the villages.

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4. What did the Iroquois eat?
Vegetables (corn, beans, and squash), fruits, nuts, meat and fish. Women farmed the fields surrounding the village. Corn was the main crop, and some women had over 150 corn recipes. Men hunted deer, bear, beaver, rabbit, squirrel, wild turkey, and passenger pigeon. At certain times of the year, female animals were not hunted at all because it was the season when they gave birth. Also, the men fished at night. They used the light from their torches to attract fish to the surface where they could catch the fish easily. Iroquois would eat a morning meal together, and then each person was own their own. The mother would have a pot cooking all day long, and each person could eat whenever they were hungry.

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5. What did the Iroquois wear?
Vests, blouses, long skirts, leggings, kilt-like skirts, moccasins, and snowshoes. Women and men wore deerskin vests or blouses. Women also wore long skirts decorated with beads or porcupine quills and sometimes leggings. Men also wore kilt-like skirts to their knees and leggings. Everyone wore moccasins. In the winter, they wore snowshoes. Unmarried women and girls wore their hair in two braids, and married women wore one braid. Men and boys had a strip of hair on the top of their heads -- did you know today we call this a Mohawk?

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6. Did each family own the land it farmed?
No. The Iroquois, like most Native Americans, did not believe land could be owned, bought, or sold. The earth was a gift from the Creator to be passed on to their children. They spoke of caring for the earth "to the seventh generation" which meant as far into the future as they could imagine or forever. The Iroquois did not measure a person's wealth by how much property or land they had. They judged a person by their wisdom and generosity.

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7. What was the Iroquois religion?
They believed the Creator, or Great Spirit, made the world. They also believed almost all natural things were under the care of spirits such as the wind, clouds, rain, trees, plants, and medicines. These spirits were not worshipped as gods. They were assistants to the Great Spirit. Each nation had Keepers of the Faith in charge of religious festivals who organized the festivals and performed some of the rituals. The Iroquois respected others' religions, and they did not try to force their beliefs on anyone.

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What I Learned Section 2 -- Define the following words:
Wampum: Beads from seashells woven into different picture patterns used in Condolence Ceremonies, by messengers, and to record important information and great events

Moccasins: strong, comfortable shoes made from softened animal skins, and often decorated with special designs

Snowshoes: a special kind of winter shoe that was 3 feet long and sixteen inches wide and made from pieces of hickory wood bent round at the top with a netting worn under the moccasin

Strawberry Festival: held late May or early June when the wild strawberries ripened to celebrate the return of the first fruits of the earth

Harvest Festival: a four-day festival celebrated in early October when all the crops were picked, cooked, and stored for winter eating

Naho: The way the storytellers ended their stories meaning, "it is finished"

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Bonus Questions (Answer 1 of the Following Questions for Your FREE Bookmark):
a. How did the Iroquois League influence the United States government?
Benjamin Franklin, one of the drafters of the United States Constitution, admired the Iroquois form of government and borrowed some of its ideas for America including: a government with a national and local systems; a "checks and balance" system to keep one part of the government from having too much power; a democratic government in which the leaders were responsible to the people (unlike the kings and queens of Europe at the time); and a constitution with the freedom of speech and religion. Did you know women in the Iroquois League had many more rights than colonial women? Iroquois women shared responsibility for running their government centuries earlier, while American women did not gain these rights until the twentieth century.

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b. What is the Great Law of Peace?
The Iroquois Constitution. It is similar to the United States Constitution in that it establishes the form of government and sets down rules about the freedoms and duties of the people and their leaders. It is also similar to the British Constitution in that it is unwritten. The Great Law of Peace includes the following laws: all Iroquois land was open to members of the Five Nations; women and men participated fully in government; women would appoint and remove the chiefs; freedom of religion was guaranteed to all, including other nations or individuals who joined the League; and there was no such thing as slavery. The Iroquois League is one of the world's longest lasting unions, and it still exists today in the U.S. and Canada.

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c. Use five of the words in Section 2 in a sentence.
Answers will vary. Here are sample sentences from our young readers:
Wampum strings were used by the Iroquois to remember stories.

My dad likes to get a new pair of moccasins every Christmas.

I wear snowshoes in the snow to walk to the grocery store.

The Strawberry Festival is held right before my school gets out for the summer.

I like the Harvest Festival because we eat pumpkin seeds and plan for Halloween.

I'll end this report with one word, Naho.

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d. Have a parent or friend give you a spelling test with EACH of the words in Section 2.

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More Valuable Information about the Iroquois:
Iroquois.net
Haudenosaunee Home Page
Iroquois Indian Museum
The Iroquois Studies Association
Iroquois Language

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