TRIBES

Haudenosaunee (Iroquois)
LOCATION: The Haudenosaunee were widely located throughout upstate New York and the Lake Ontario region of Canada. Today, many people live on the several reservations in New York, Ontario and Quebec. Many Iroquois live in large cities such as New York, Buffalo, Albany, and Toronto.
POPULATION: By the 1700s the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) League consisted of Six Nations: The Cayuga, the Mohawk, the Oneida, the Onondaga, the Seneca and the Tuscaroras. Population reached 5,500, and today there is a more than 50,000 Iroquois living in the United States and parts of Canada.
LANGUAGE: Iroquoian. This language group comprises over 10 languages.
DESCRIPTION:

Haudenosaunee, most commonly known as the Iroquois, lived in longhouses built of elm bark, typically fifty to a hundred feet in length. The Longhouse became a symbol of the Iroquois League and is so significant to their identity that Iroquois people call themselves the Haudenosaunee, meaning “people of the Longhouse”. They also refer to themselves as the Ongweh’onweh meaning “real human being”. The capacity of a longhouse reached up to 60 extended family members who belonged to the same clan. Communities moved every 20 to 30 years when wood became scarse, this enabled the soil and earth to replenish. The longhouse was the centre of the community during winter months where members told stories passing on oral traditions.

Living in woodland areas, the Iroquois were skilled hunters, chasing and trapping animals for food and clothing. One of the clothing items the Iroquois were skilled at making moccasins. Religious beliefs showed a spiritual connection to farming, as the crops corn, bean and squash are termed The Three Sisters, seen as divine gifts. In the Haudenosaunee creation story, the three sisters grew on Turtle Island and were a vital food source.

The Haudenosaunee devised the Great Law of Peace, a formal democratic governance structure and a declaration of the respect for rights of all people. This structure influenced the Founding Fathers in the creation of Government and the U.S. Constitution.

Haudenosaunee land was seized by the American Government and sold to settlers after the Revolutionary War in 1790. The tribe were forced onto reservation areas in the U.S. and in Canada and built single family log houses instead of large long houses.

Despite being split up and removed from their original homelands, the Iroquois remain a strong group, although widely spread. Many live off the reservation in rural areas, towns and cities, attend school and have jobs. In order to keep the knowledge and craft of their ancestors alive, many Iroquois practise traditional art forms within everyday life, as well as incorporating new technologies and materials. Traditional traits still persist in Iroquois people today, as they are the most politically active Indians in the Northeast supporting modern Native American causes.