Because of the length of study on this topic, we have devoted two pages on our site to this topic.
This page is about the Iroquois Confederacy. Click here for PART II which is the lapbook. You will need the information here on this page to help you fill out the minibooks.
“In preparing this unit, I want to acknowledge the help and support of Mr. John Kahionhes Fadden in giving of his time and knowledge and sharing it with me. Thank you Mr. Fadden for your generosity and obvious love of the next generation so that they too are informed about this important part of the American heritage.” Tina
You can read about Mr. Faddens’ background here.
If you want to share a picture of the lapbook for your blog or your site, then go to my blog here to get the lapbook picture as you cannot right click on this page.
We found this topic on the Haudenosaunee to be a captivating topic because of the working thriving nation they were prior to the American Revolution but also because we wanted to view them as Benjamin Franklin would have – contemporaries or as equals.
Many Iroquois today and in the past like other Native Americans and American Indians are well educated. Appreciating their rich heritage, I have tried to leave off stereotyping or the view that the American Indians history was one tragic event after another.
There is debate about when the Confederation was formed. Most historians believe it was formed by 1630. Historians can agree that in 1722, the Tuscaroras (6th nation) joined the Confederation.
Whenever it was formed, the 5 Nations (then 6) was a well established union following a constitution they called “The Great Law of Peace”. Their Great Law of Peace was a democratic structure already in progress.
Had the Iroquois played a key role in influencing American democracy? Are they the Forgotten Founders?
In his book Founding Fathers by Bruce E. Johansen which you can read here, he has a quote by Benjamin Franklin that sparked our interest on this part of American History.
“It would be a very strange thing if Six Nations of Ignorant Savages should be capable of forming a Scheme for such an Union and be able to execute it in such a manner, as that it has subsisted Ages, and appears indissoluble, and yet a like Union should be impracticable for ten or a dozen English colonies.”
In 1988 a Senate resolution was passed that recognized the Iroquois influence to the Constitution. It is called H. Con. Res. 331. You can read it here.
(Picture above of Mohawk (notice the 3 feathers) holding a string of wampum)
Other units here on our site to go with this one:
Do you want to hear a good story?
It is the Creation Story of the Haudenosaunee.
The Haudenosaunee story of Creation has the bringing of Corn, Beans and Squash, the “Sustainers”(means to support or supply with nourishment) , to the people. They sprang from the grave of Sky Woman’s daughter.
In the distant past, all the earth was covered by deep water, and the only living things there were water animals. There was no sun, moon, or stars, and the watery earth was in darkness. People lived above the great sky dome. A tree of life grew there in the cloud world, where it shaded the councils of the supernaturals.
One day the Great Chief became ill, and he dreamed that if the tree were uprooted he would be cured. He further commanded that his pregnant daughter, Sky Woman, look down at the watery darkness. He told her to follow the roots of the tree, and to bring light and land to the world below.
The animals of the sea saw Sky Woman as she fell from the sky world.
Waterfowl rose to cushion Sky Woman?s descent with their wings. Beaver dove to find earth to make dry land for Sky Woman. But Beaver drowned and floated lifelessly to the surface. Loon, Duck, and others all tried and failed as well. Finally, Muskrat tried, and came back with a paw-full of dirt that would spread and grow. He placed the dirt on Turtle?s back where Sky Woman landed. The dirt on Turtle?s back grew and became the earth.
Time passed and Sky Woman gave birth to a daughter. The daughter grew rapidly, and when she reached maturity she was visited by a man.
He placed two arrows within her, one tipped with chert (sedimentary rock) and the other not. The daughter in turn bore twins. The right-handed twin was ?Sawiskera? (Mischievous One) and the left-handed evil one was known as ?Teharonhiawako? (Holder of the Heavens).
The ugly evil twin forced himself out through his mother?s armpit, killing her in the process. Corn, beans, squash, and tobacco grew from her body and she became one with the earth.
Teharnhiakwako created animals, medicine and flowers while Sawiskera created the thorns on the rose bush and the mountain lion to kill the deer his brother created.
After much fighting the brothers decided to divide the world in half and the nighttime would belong to Sawiskera and Teharionhiawako would get the daytime. The Onkwehonwe (Original People) were created by Teharionhiawako out of red earth and were to watch over his creations on Earth. Black soil, tree bark, and salt water were used to create other beings. Teharionhiawako told the beings that he was to be called ?Sonkwaiatison? (The Creator) and to be respectful of one another and all living creatures. He instructed the people
to appreciate each others’ differences and to share the world.
[From Mr. Fadden: There are dozens of versions of the Haudenosaunee Creation story and ?A single authoritarian version does not exist? (Mohawk, J., 2005; iv). This version is compiled from Barnes (1984), Mohawk, (2005) and Snow (1994: 2-4). For additional elaboration and analysis see Cornplanter (1986), Fenton (1978), Hewitt (1928), Tehanetorens (1992). Abler, (1987) has conducted research on the 40 variants of the Iroquois Creation myth. ?Traditional Teachings? (Barnes, 1984) is a text written by the North American Travelling College at Akwesasne and is one of the first sources I read on the Creation story many years ago. Mohawk?s (2005) version is a modern interpretation of Hewitt?s (1928) publication of the story as told to him by Onondaga Chief John Arthur Gibson at the end of the 19th century. Gibson?s story is the longest, most detailed and is one of the first written recordings of the Creation story.]
WHO ARE THE HAUDENOSAUNEE?
Haudenosaunee (hoe-dee-no-SHOW-nee) means ?people who build a
The name refers to a CONFEDERATION or ALLIANCE among six Native American nations who are more commonly known as the Iroquois Confederacy. Each nation has its own identity.
The 6 Nations are:
MOHAWK (MO-hawk) or Kanien?kehaka, which means ?People of the Flint.?The Mohawk are also called ?Keepers of the Eastern Door.
ONEIDA (o-NY-da) or Onayotekaono, which means ?People of the Standing Stone.?
ONONDAGA (on-nen-DA-ga) or Onundagaono, which means ?People of the Hills.? The Onondaga are also called ?Keepers of the Central Fire?
CAYUGA (ka-YOO-ga ) or Guyohkohnyoh, which means ?People of the Great Swamp.?
SENECA (SEN-i-ka), or Onondowahgah, which means ?People of the Great Hill.?The Seneca are also known as ?Keepers of the Western Door.
TUSCARORA (tus-ka-ROR-a) or Skaruhreh, which means ?The Shirt Wearing People.? In 1722, members of the Tuscarora Nation, who were living in what is now North Carolina, traveled north to seek refuge among the Haudenosaunee. They were invited to join the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, becoming its sixth nation.
About their homeland.
The original Iroquois homelands covered a large area of North America. The Iroquois lived in parts of present-day Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Quebec and Ontario.
Look at the map below: On the right side you can see the territories of the past.
Because of their unique union of nations, the Haudenosaunee had great influence. The boundaries originally extended west to the Mississippi River, south to Tennessee, north to Hudson Bay and along much of the east coast.
The map on the left shows where the Iroquois built their long bark houses in what is known today as New York state.
Today, Haudenosaunee communities are spread across the state as far north as Georgian Bay, west across Wisconsin and south as Oklahoma.
Encroachment by the white settlers resulted in the fraudulent (this means it involved deception) and illegal sale of much of the land.
Forests of maple, beech, elm, ash, oak, chestnut, birch, pine and hemlock trees covered their land.
The woods were home to deer, bear, turkey, rabbit, squirrel, beaver and porcupine.
Plenty of rain fell on the Iroquois’ land and in the winter there were heavy snowstorms.
The Iroquois live in villages. Each clan lived in a longhouse.
Clans were named after animals. A clan symbol was painted above each longhouse door. The symbol identified the family inside. Bear, Turtle and Wolf are Mohawk Clans.
Clans are passed down from mother to child.
The women of the Haudenosaunee had much authority. The names of newborn were given by the oldest woman in the family. The nomination of chiefs was by the clan mother. Below is a picture of Jikonsaseh. She is the first to accept the idea of the confederacy and who has some times been referred to as the clan mother of the confederacy.
(Jikonaseh – referred to as first clan mother)
The Sustainers (corn, beans & squash) were called the Three Sisters, and the women had stewardship over those huge gardens. The longhouses were under the guidance of the women, resulting in village life having much input from the women.
Haudenosaunee Family Woman pounding corn
Food of the Iroquois
Beyond the 3 Sisters
Types of Corn – 13 Types
Tuscarora,Tuscarora short eared, Purple soft, Red Soft, Hominy or flint, Hominy or flint long-eared, Calico, Yellow, Sweet, Black sweet, Red pop, White pop, Sacred corn.
Types of Beans – 13 Types
Bush beans, Wampum, Purple kidney, Marrowfat, String, Cornstalk, Cranberry, Chestnut lima, Hummingbird, White (small), Wild peas, Bean vines, Poles
Types of Squash – 5 Types
Crook neck squash, Hubbard squash, Scalloped squash, Winter squash, Hard pumpkin
Types of Melon – 3 Types
Cucumber, Musk Melons, Water melons
Leaf & Stalk Foods – 13 Types
Wild pea, Berry sprouts, Sumac sprouts, Wild asparagus, Sorrel, Yellowdock, Mustard Dandelion, Pokeberry plant, Milkweed,Cowslips, Pigweed, Burdock
Fungi & Lichens -3 Types
Mushrooms, Puffballs, Lichens
Fruit & Berrylike Foods – 29 Types
Crab apples, Thorn apples, Cherry wild, Cherry choke, Plum, Grapes, Pawpaw, Mandrake, Blackberries, Black raspberries, Red raspberries, Blueberries, Huckleberries, Thimble, High cranberries, Nannyberries, Mulberries, Strawberries, Elderberries, Gooseberries, Dewberries, Wintergreen, Partridge vine, Iakonkwe vine, Oneberry, June berries, Currants, Sumac berries
Nut Foods -8 Types
Acorns, Beechnuts, Black walnuts, Butternuts, Chestnuts, Hickory bitter, Hickory, Hazel
Root Foods – 12 Types
Artichokes, Ground nuts, Wild onions, Wild leek, Yellow pond lily, Cat-tail, Arrowhead, Indian turnip, Milkweed, Solomon?s seal, Potato, Skunk cabbage
Who was the Peacemaker?
(an interpretation of the Peace Maker, Aionwatha (Hiawatha) and Atadaho)
The Peacemaker was a great prophet and lawgiver. He was a Huron. The Peacemaker (Deganiwidah) was the primary founder of the 5 Nations Confederacy.
As a child he knew that
war only wasted lives and caused suffering. As an adult, the Peacemaker and Hiawatha began a journey of spreading peace. The peacemaker used arrows to demonstrate unity. One arrow is easily broken but 5 together are strong. The Mohawk, Seneca, Oneida, Onondaga, and Cayuga joined together to form the original 5 nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy
Who was Hiawatha? – ( Aionwathe)
One version of the story that suggests that the Peacemaker won over Hiawatha from his warring ways. However, most versions don’t have Hiawatha portrayed in that manner. In most of the oral tradition Hiawatha is portrayed as a man of peace with a family with daughters. He struggled against the warlord, Atadaho, unsuccessfully. With the arrival of the Peacemaker that changed. The first to see the wisdom of confederation was Jikonsaseh. In a sense she was the first clan mother. Then, the Mohawk were the first nation to “grasp the tree” (of Peace), then the others joined the movement. Finally the Peacemaker with Hiawatha, Jikonsaseh and the others approached Atadaho who was won over, thus the League was formed.
Longfellow didn’t care for the Ojibway name of the cultural hero. At some point he was in the company of several Native people who were from different places and he asked one person for a “good name.” That person was of the Haudenosaunee/Iroquois, and thought of one of his own cultural heroes including Aionwahta, and from that Longfellow made “Hiawatha.”
This opposing story about Hiawatha below comes from the book Tools of Native America.
From Tools of Native America
Hiawatha is credited with founding the Five Nations, but he was not always a peaceful man. For a time he lived alone, killing and eating wandering travelers. The story goes that one day while Hiawatha was cooking one of his victims he saw a face in his pot. It was Deganawidah, the spiritual prophet who had originally envisioned the Five Nations. Deganawidah persuaded Hiawatha to stop eating people and to instead eat deer, and Hiawatha promised to atone for all the deaths he had caused by spreading Deganawidah?s message of peace.
The Five Nations eventually became one of the most powerful groups in North America.
Crafts/Games of the Iroquois
The Iroquois wove cornhusks together to make rugs, sleeping mats, sandals and dolls for children.
The Iroquois traded for seashells to make wampum. (used to record history and for trade). They made purple wampum beads from Quahog clamshell.
They made white beads from the center part of the Atlantic Whelk.
Wampum beads are strung on strings. Wampum belts are also woven into belts with symbols that tell Iroquois history.
Iroquois also crafted baskets made out of mostly elm bark but could have used birch bark.
Iroquois Style Pottery
Lacrosse: An Iroquois Tradition
The Iroquois call lacrosse “Tewaarathon”, or “the little brother of war”. Preparations for the game were much the same as those undertaken by warriors as they prepared to go to war. Warfare was one of the most important ways in which young men were readied for their roles in the community. It was believed that playing lacrosse could instill these same valuable lessons.
For many Native communities, the game was a gift from the creator. It was to be played in order to “bestow honour and respect to these members [of the community] living on Mother Earth.” The players were taught that playing the game was a gift, which contained the lessons of courage, strength, honour, respect, generosity and fairplay.
The Iroquois made clothes from natural materials. They used furs, elk and deer hides. They also wore fabrics from corn husks and plant fibers.
Women wore dresses made from deer hides or a long deerskin shirt with a skirt. They wore knee high leggings and moccasins.
Men wore a tanned leather breechcloth.. It hung down in the front and back. They wore leggings too. Men wore fringed deerskin shirts and moccasins made of hides.
Children wore clothes similar to adults. Babies wore diapers made from the fat end of a cattail.
Animals – Important to the Iroquois
Haudenosaunee people have great respect for animals. Some animals they used to make clothing, shelter and as food. Some animals like the eagle was a symbol of protection. Some animals represented financial stability like the beaver. In exchange for beaver pelts, Haudenosaunee received guns, axes, knives, cooking pots, needles, scissors, wool and linen cloth, mirrors, and glass beads.
Importance of Deer
Deer was particularly important to the Haudenosaunee and they used as much of the animal as possible. The meat was eaten; hides were tanned and stretched and used for clothing, moccasins, and blankets; sinew, made from the animal?s tendons, was used for thread; bones and antlers were used to make
tools such as awls (a pointed tool used for boring holes) and scrapers; deer hooves were used to make rattles, and deer antlers were attached to the GUSTOWEHS (ga-STOH-weh) or hats of Haudenosaunee leaders.
Dance Rattle made from hooves.
Importance of eagles.
The eagle, a powerful bird, can fly high and far and has very good eyesight.This bird was chosen by the Haudenosaunee to fly above the Tree of Peace. The eagle?s sharp eyes can see afar to guard against anything that may approach the Tree of Peace with evil intent. The piercing scream of the eagle warns the people when the
Confederacy is threatened.
Importance of beavers.
The market for fur brought great wealth and power to the Haudenosaunee.
With the help of their new European trade allies and the weapons they received through trade, the Haudenosaunee were able to greatly expand their territory.
In the late 1500s, felt hats made from beaver fur were the height of fashion in Europe. Haudenosaunee territory was home to thousands of beavers and starting in the 1600s the Haudenosaunee played a central role in providing beaver and otter furs to Europeans.