Aboriginals - The Iroquoians

By: Matthew

Food

The Iroquois ate a variety of foods, like berries, nuts, and fruits in general. The three main crops, AKA the 3 sisters, were squash, corn, and beans; and they buried rotten fish in unfertilized soil near the crops to act like fertilizer. They hunted buffalo, bears, deer, squirrels, rabbits, and other different game for meat.
The Iroquois are mixed between gatherers, fishers, hunters, and farmers, but although there were so many categories of jobs, their main diet relied on farming. Wild roots, berries, nuts, and greens were gathered by gatherers during the summer, and during the spring, maple sap was harvested and boiled into maple syrup for a natural sweetener.


Every Part of the Buffalo Was Used

Fun Fact: Did you know that the aboriginals literally used every single part of the buffalo? They would use the tail as a fly swatter, the bones as tools, the blood & intestines as food, the hide as clothing & blankets, and even dried dung as fuel!

Family Fun Fact

Iroquoians used a Mother Clan system where the Great Creator supposedly appointed women as stewards of land. When a man married a woman, he would move to the woman's clan. Clan mothers raise children and therefore have the power to appoint leaders, but if the leaders do not prove trustworthy, the Clan Mothers can and will take away the leader's power.


Tradition & Religion

According to Iroquoian legends and myths, the world started as a turtle, and that the world was envisioned by the Great Creator named "Kitchi-Manitou". And so the Aboriginals respected nature and didn't waste anything, because god was basically nature. They also believed that the spirits were the ones who changed the seasons, and depending on different seasons they have different rituals and ceremonies. The first nations had 6 main ceremonies every year; New year, maple, green corn, harvesting, planting, and strawberries. There were also small ceremonies for praying to the Great Creator, where they burned tobacco and played rattles and drums.
The Iroquois believed strongly in dreams and visions, hence having dream catchers. When boys reach puberty, they would go into a forest to meditate, and not eat any food. The weaker they get, the more visions would appear. They believed that if they spend their whole lives worshiping Kitchi-Manitou, they would have a good afterlife and live with him.
After the arrival of the European explorers, a lot of Iroquois became Christian instead. They followed the traditions of the Christians and worshiped Jesus.


Economic Trades Fun Fact

Did you know that the Iroquois didn't trade very often? This is because they already have most of their resources at their hands. They plant crops and hunt game for food, use skins for clothing, and use wood, stone, and bones for tools. The only reason they would trade was if they wanted something they couldn't find in their environment.


Politics & Morals

Iroquoians formed alliances with other tribes, and were very territorial. Three or more generations lived together in a longhouse, and the clan other was in charge of the longhouse. An extended family was made up of three or more generations of people; including cousins, uncles and aunts, grandparents and great grandparents, while on the other hand, a nuclear family was made up of a wife and husband or single family with children.
Iroquois believed boys should start to learn hunting at a young age to help them improve their leadership and confidence. Activities were planned according to the seasons; different ceremonies according to different seasons, and different activities like gathering according to the climate. They believed that the gods helped them with everything, so the clan mothers would thank the sun, lightning and earth for enriching their crops.


Environments and Transportation

The Iroquois lived near the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence river, where forests covered hilly areas. There were lots of small rivers and lakes; very convenient for hunting and fishing. There was lots of rich land for crops to be grown, and the forests were full of beefy animals.

For transportation, they used canoes over water that could be made from the bark of elm trees if birch wood was not available. In the winter, men and women carried heavy loads on foot, and wore rackets so that they wouldn't sink in the deep snow.