Elizabeth has taught in various capacities for 5 years, at both the elementary level and with secondary students. She has a bachelors in History from UCCS and a masters in Special Education from Regis University.
Who Are the Iroquois?
The Iroquois are a native American people group who lived in the northeastern United States and Canada before European settlers came to North America. Iroquois is a broad word that describes six unique tribes who spoke similar languages and worked together in the Iroquois Confederacy. Today they prefer to use the term Haudenosaunee, which means 'people of the longhouse', instead of Iroquois.
Where Did They Live?
If you were a child in the Haudenosaunee confederacy, you would sleep with your siblings, cousins and other family members in the longhouse. Longhouses were just that - long houses where people lived together. There could be around 60 people in a longhouse!
Longhouses were made of long wooden poles and covered with bark. There was a door at each long end. A place for a fire would be in the middle of the room, and people would sleep along the sides. Over the doorways, an animal skin would be hung to keep out the cold.
Longhouses were the Haudenosaunee's homes, but also represented much more. When the original five nations met to form the Iroquois Confederacy, they imagined themselves as all under the same roof, or all in one longhouse together. They made efforts to work together to so that everyone would benefit from each decision.
What Did They Eat and Make?
There were three very important crops for the Iroquois: beans, corn and squash. The Haudenosaunee hunted for rabbits, fish and deer. They knew where to find berries, nuts and wild greens to eat, too.
After harvest, the Haudenosaunee tried to use every part of the animals they killed and the plants they grew. Cornstalks made baskets, sleeping mats, and even baby dolls for the children. Deer hide made clothes, blankets and moccasins. Even the antlers were used as tools!
What Did the Children Do?
Girls would be expected to help the women by doing chores around the longhouse, and helping with the crops. Boys would have learned how to hunt and fish from their fathers. Both boys and girls would have learned how to find wild plants to eat, or to use as medicine. They would have also learned stories and legends that were important to their clan and tribe.
What Did They Believe?
The concept of giving thanks is very important to the Haudenosaunee. Traditionally, Haudenosaunee would say words of thanks at the start and end of each day, as well as at each meeting and celebration. When they hunted and killed an animal, they would thank the animal's spirit for giving itself to the people.
Peace is also very important to the Haudenosaunee. Historically, the Haudenosaunee tried to find ways to keep the peace within their tribes and with their neighbors, including the European settlers who came to America.
Where Are the Haudenosaunee Today?
Today, many Haudenosaunee still live in their ancestral lands. Although their lives are modern like ours, many Haudenosaunee still follow the traditions of their ancestors, such as speaking their tribe's language, learning traditional dances, and practicing important customs. While they no longer live in longhouses, they still celebrate and socialize at centers that are called longhouses, much like they have always done.
The word Haudenosaunee (people of the longhouse), or Iroquois, is a broad word to describe people who came from six diverse tribes who share similar lifestyles and beliefs and who worked together in the Iroquois Confederacy. Historically, the people lived in longhouses where families lived all together. Respect for each other and their world comes through today, such as giving thanks for each day and not wasting resources.
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