Marriage and Family Life - The Iroquois Native Americans in Olden Times for Kids and Teachers Illustration

Daily Life in Olden Times
for Kids

Northeast Iroquois Native Americans
Family Life

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.

But 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 Longhouse".

Marriage/Family Life:

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 longhouse.

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.

When 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.



Sacred Trees

More About Longhouses

Marriage and Family Life


Religion, the Great Spirit,
and the False Face Society

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Warriors, Weapons, and Battle Techniques


League of Nations


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