FC: Iroquois Confederacy Collective Identity | Author:Gabriel Chinembiri Illustrated:Kianna Fencheater
1: Women had positions of respect in Iroquois society. Carol Jacobs, Cayuga Bear clan mother, describes womens standing this way: “In our traditions, it is women who carry the seeds, both of our own future generations and of the plant life. It is women who plant and tend the gardens, and women who bear and raise the children.” Women also owned the property and homes. When a woman got married, her husband would come to live in her familys longhouse. Their children belonged to the mother’s clan. The women raised corn, beans, and squash, which were the main food supply of the Iroquois. These crops are known as the “Three Sisters
2: Although women headed the clans, men served as the chiefs on the Grand Council, which was the government of the Iroquois. The men organized cooperative hunting and fishing parties to provide meat for the village. They cut trees to make longhouses and canoes. They organized team sports such as lacrosse that were part of many seasonal celebrations. Lacrosse was a sport played for fun, but it also trained men for their other tasks in life. It built leadership skills as well as endurance, strength, and speed for hunting and warfare. Games would sometimes last for days. Wars were fought exclusively by men, although the women often decided whether or not war was to be declared. Once the Confederacy was formed, fighting among the Iroquois stopped. However, warfare continued with nations that did not want to be part of the Great Peace.
4: The Clan mothers are usually the elderly women, who are wise and have experienced many years. Clan mothers control the nation. They are considered the life givers. Not only did they appoint the tribal chief (also called the Hoyaneh) but they also watched them during all meetings judging them fairly to make sure they were not voting for themselves, but the whole tribe. If one did not meet these expectations, he would immediately get thrown out of power and the clan mother would choose a new Hoyaneh. It was a great shame to be kicked out of power by the clan mothers
5: Longhouses are long and narrow bark covered houses that the Haudenosuanee (People of the Longhouse), also known as the Iroquois, lived in until the latter part of the 1800's. These homes contained one large extended family. All the women and children living in a longhouse were of the same clan. Longhouses had two doors and no windows.
6: The Iroquois believe corn, beans and squash are precious gifts from the Great Spirit, each watched over by one of three sisters spirits, called the De-o-ha-ko, or Our Sustainer's". The planting season is marked by ceremonies to honor them, and a festival commemorates the first harvest of green corn on the cob. By retelling the stories and performing annual rituals, Native Americans passed down the knowledge of growing, using and preserving the Three Sisters through generations.
8: Each wampum pattern represents a person, a nation, a particular event, an invitation, or an agreement. The pattern is a symbol. The symbols help people to remember their history and communicate complex ideas without using written words. The white shell beads stand for peace, friendship, and harmony. The purple shell beads represent war, suffering, or events of great importance.
9: The Tree of Peace is a symbol of peace in the Iroquois culture. Weapons would be buried under a tree to seal a peace agreement.