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Native American Facts For Kids was written for young people learning about the Tuscaroras for school or home-schooling reports. We encourage students and teachers to visit our Tuscarora language and culture pages for in-depth information about the tribe, but here are our answers to the questions we are most often asked by children, with Tuscarora pictures and links we believe are suitable for all ages. Photographs are the property of the sources we have credited.
|Yes, the Tuscarora tribe became a member of the Iroquois League, or Kanonsionni in their own language ("league of clans.") The other member nations were the Mohawk, the Seneca, the Oneida, the Cayuga, and the Onondaga. The Tuscaroras were the last tribe to join the confederacy. Today these long-term allies call themselves the Haudenosaunee ("people of the longhouse") or Six Nations.|
|They do the same things any children do--play with each other, go to school and help around the house. Many Tuscarora 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 early colonial children. But they did have cornhusk dolls, toys, and games, such as one game where kids tried to throw a dart through a moving hoop. Lacrosse was a popular sport among Tuscarora boys as it was among adult men. Like many Native Americans, Tuscarora mothers traditionally carried their babies in cradle board carriers on their backs--a custom which many American parents have adopted.|
Iroquois longhouse sketch
|The Tuscarora people lived in villages of longhouses, which were large wood-frame buildings covered with sheets of elm bark. Tuscarora 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 American Indian longhouses like the ones Tuscarora Indians used, and a drawing of what a longhouse looked like on the inside. Today, longhouses are only used for ceremonial purposes. The Tuscaroras live in modern houses and apartment buildings, just like you.|
Tuscarora men wore breechcloths with leggings. Tuscarora women wore wraparound skirts with shorter leggings.
Unlike other Iroquois tribes, Tuscarora Indian men wore shirts, which were traditionally made from hemp. Tuscarora women often wore a
long tunic called an overdress.
The Tuscaroras usually wore moccasins on their feet.
In colonial times, the Tuscarora tribe adapted European costume like cloth shirts and blouses, decorating
them with beadwork and ribbon applique. Here is a webpage
about traditional Iroquois dress, and here are some photographs
and links about American Indian clothes in general.
The Tuscaroras didn't wear long headdresses like the Sioux. Men wore traditional Iroquois headdresses, which were feathered caps with a different insignia for each tribe. (The Tuscarora headdress is made of turkey feathers with no eagle feathers sticking up from it.) Women sometimes wore special beaded tiaras. In times of war, Tuscarora men often shaved their heads except for a scalplock or a crest down the center of their head--the style known as a roach, or a "Mohawk." Sometimes they would augment 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 Indian headdress. Tuscarora women only cut their hair when they were in mourning. Otherwise they wore it long and loose or plaited into a long braid. The Tuscaroras sometimes painted their faces and bodies with red, black and white designs. After moving to New York, Tuscarora men began to wear tattoos like other Iroquoians.
Today, some Tuscarora 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.
|Yes--the Tuscarora Indians carved heavy dugout canoes from cypress logs for river travel. Here is a website with pictures of different types of Native canoes. Overland, the Tuscaroras usually just walked. There were no horses in North America until Europeans brought them over, so the Tuscaroras used pack dogs to help them carry heavy loads.|
|The Tuscarora Indians were farming people. Tuscarora women planted crops of corn, beans, and squash and harvested wild berries and herbs. Tuscarora men hunted deer and rabbits and fished in the rivers. Tuscarora Indian recipes included cornbread, soups, and stews, which they cooked on stone hearths. Here is a website with more information about Native American food.|
Iroquois war club
Tuscarora hunters used bows and arrows. Tuscarora fishermen used spears.
Tuscarora warriors used their bows and arrows or fought with heavy war clubs.
Here is a website of pictures and information about Native American weapons.
Other important tools used by the Tuscaroras included stone adzes (hand axes for woodworking), flint knives for skinning animals, and hoes carved from animal bones. The Tuscaroras and other Iroquois were skilled woodworkers, steaming wood so that it could be bent to make curved tools. Some Iroquois artisans still make lacrosse sticks this way today.
|Beadwork, basketry and wood-carving are the most common Tuscarora crafts. The Tuscaroras 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 pictures on wampum belts often told a story or represented a person's family.|
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