Many families lived together in one longhouse.
Each family was assigned their own section in the longhouse.
Fireplaces and fire pits ran down
the middle of the longhouse for heat and for people to share as a
place to cook food.
Longhouses were huge! A longhouse could be over
200 feet long, 25 feet wide, and 25 feet high.
longhouses were not measured by feet. They were
measured by camp fires. A house might be 10 fires long, or 12 fires
long or even bigger.
Longhouses were so important to the Iroquois way
of life that the Iroquois call themselves "the People of the
In the Iroquois world, the husband had no real
authority over his wife.
Whatever you might have read
on the web
about wife-purchase is not true. Marriage was by mutual consent.
Customs on divorce varied from tribe to tribe, but for the most part, a woman
could leave her husband when she wished.
The women in the longhouse all belonged to the
same clan. When a woman married, her husband moved to his wife's
It was forbidden to marry anyone from your own clan, so when any woman
married, a new man arrived in the longhouse.
The men only brought a
few things with them, perhaps a weapon or two and some clothing.
a baby was born, that child was a member of the wife's clan. When the
boys grew up and married, they left their home and moved to their
wife's longhouse. And so it went.
Women controlled life
in the longhouse.
Out of all the women, the elder women were the
ones who were in charge.
The women tended the gardens and harvested
the crops. Women raised
the kids, made clothes, cooked food, and prepared food for storage.
They were the gatherers, gathering wild fruits and vegetables. Women
were usually the potters. They made the beautiful clay pots used for
storage and cooking.
Children learned from their parents, uncles, and
aunts. Girls helped their mothers. Boys helped their fathers. Both
played games to strengthen their bodies and skills.
The men cleared the fields, and built
and repaired the longhouses. Other than that, their time was spent in
trading and hunting, and in war and preparing for war.
and Family Life
the Great Spirit,
and the False Face Society
to Village Life
Weapons, and Battle Techniques