American Indian languages American Indian tribes American Indian art
Native American Facts For Kids was written for young people learning about the Iroquois Confederacy for school or home-schooling reports. We encourage students and teachers to visit our main Iroquois pages for in-depth information about the Haudenosaunee tribes, but here are our answers to the questions we are most often asked by children, with Iroquois images and links we found suitable for all ages. Photographs are the property of the sources we have credited.
Iroquois wampum belt
|Here are links to the Haudenosaunee Grand Council and the Six Nations of the Grand River, where you can find information about the Iroquois Confederacy past and present. Here is the website of the Iroquois Museum of New York, where you can see photographs of Iroquois art and artifacts.
|They do the same things any children do--play with each other, go to school and help around the house. Many Iroquois children like to go hunting and fishing with their fathers. In the past, Indian kids had more chores and less time to play, just like colonial children. But Iroquois kids did have cornhusk dolls, toys, and games, such as one game where kids tried to throw a dart through a moving hoop. Lacrosse was also a popular sport among Iroquois boys as it was among adult men. Iroquois mothers, like many Native Americans, had the tradition of carrying their babies in cradleboards on their backs. Here is a website with Iroquois cradleboard pictures.
Iroquois longhouse sketch
|The Iroquois people lived in villages of longhouses. A longhouse was a large wood-frame building covered with sheets of elm bark. Iroquois longhouses were up to a hundred feet long, and each one housed an entire clan (as many as 60 people.) Here are some pictures of Indian longhouses like the ones Iroquois Indians used, and a drawing of what a longhouse looked like on the inside. Today, Iroquois families live in modern houses and apartment buildings, just like you.
Iroquois men wore breechcloths with long leggings. Iroquois women wore wraparound skirts with shorter leggings.
Men did not originally wear shirts in Iroquois culture, but women often wore a
tunic called an overdress. Iroquois people also wore moccasins on their feet and heavy robes in winter.
In colonial times, the Iroquois adapted European costume like long cloth shirts, decorating
them with fancy beadwork and ribbon applique. Here is a webpage
about traditional Iroquois dress, and here are some photos
and links about American Indian clothes in general.
The Iroquois Indians did not wear long headdresses like the Sioux Indians. Iroquois men wore a gustoweh, which was a feathered cap with different insignia for each tribe (the headdress worn by the man in this picture has three eagle feathers, showing that he is Mohawk.) Iroquois women sometimes wore special beaded tiaras. Iroquois warriors often shaved their heads except for a crest down the center of their head (known as a roach or a Mohawk.) Sometimes they augmented this hairstyle with splayed feathers or artificial roaches made of brightly dyed porcupine and deer hair. Here are some pictures of these different kinds of American Indian headdresses. Iroquois Indian women only cut their hair when they were in mourning, wearing it long and loose or plaited into a long braid. Men sometimes decorated their faces and bodies with tattoo patterns, but Iroquois women generally didn't paint or tattoo themselves.
Today, some Iroquois people still wear moccasins or a beaded shirt, but they wear modern clothes like jeans instead of breechcloths... and they only wear feathers in their hair on special occasions like a dance.
|Sometimes--the Iroquois Indians did use elm-bark or dugout canoes for fishing trips, but usually preferred to travel by land. Here is a website with pictures of Indian fishing boats. Originally the Iroquois tribes used dogs as pack animals. (There were no horses in North America until colonists brought them over from Europe.) In wintertime, Iroquois people used laced snowshoes and sleds to travel through the snow.
|The Iroquois were farming people. Iroquois women did most of the farming, planting crops of corn, beans, and squash and harvesting wild berries and herbs. Iroquois men did most of the hunting, shooting deer and elk and fishing in the rivers. Iroquois Indian dishes included cornbread, soups, and stews cooked on stone hearths. Here is a neat slideshow of an Iroquois girl demonstrating a traditional cornbread recipe, and here is a website with more information about Woodland Indian foods in general.
Iroquois war club
Iroquois hunters used bows and arrows. Iroquois fishermen generally used spears and fishing poles.
In war, Iroquois men used their bows and arrows or fought with clubs, spears and shields.
Here is a website with pictures and information about the Iroquois war club
and other Native weapons.
Other important tools used by the Iroquois Indians included stone adzes (hand axes for woodworking), flint knives for skinning animals, and wooden hoes for farming. The Iroquois were skilled woodworkers, steaming wood so they could bend it into curved tools. Some Iroquois people still make lacrosse sticks this way today.
|The Iroquois tribes were known for their carved wooden masks. Iroquois masks are considered such a sacred art form that outsiders are still not permitted to view many of them. Another traditional Iroquois art form was porcupine quill work. The Iroquois Indians also crafted wampum out of white and purple shell beads. Wampum beads were traded as a kind of currency, but they were more culturally important as an art material. The designs and symbols on Iroquois wampum belts often told a story or represented a person's family.
Iroquois water drum
|The two most important Iroquois instruments are drums and flutes. Native Iroquois drums were often filled with water to give them a distinctive sound different from the drums of other tribes. Most Iroquois music is very rhythmic and consists mostly of drumming and lively singing. Flutes were used to woo women in the Iroquois tribes. An Iroquois Indian man would play beautiful flute music outside a woman's longhouse at night to show her he was thinking about her.
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