The Iroquois had their own opinion
on creation. They believed that in Sky World, a woman was gathering seeds and
berries then a great tree went up and left a hole. The Sky woman fell through
the hole and went down where there was no land. She landed in what was only
water, where the fishes and the other animals swam. As the woman fell, the swans
and the geese that were flying over the water caught her with their wings.
"What are we going to do with the Sky Woman?" the birds asked. "She cannot fly or swim, she needs a place to stand on."
The creatures decided to bring up soil from the bottom of the sea. When they did this, all of them failed except the muskrat that was able to bring up only a bit of mud.
"Where are we going to put it?" they wondered.
"On my back" said the turtle.
Following what the turtle said, the animals put the mud on the turtle's back. The mud grew so much that it became the earth. That was when the Sky Woman was put down. She dropped some seeds that she had taken from the Sky World, and the seeds grew into all the plants and trees on the earth.
The name Iroquois means "bad or terrifying man," or snake or real snake. When the French and other white men came in the early 1600's, the Iroquois had fights with themselves.
The men were powerful warriors, but were also very good hunters. They had silent feet to catch deer. Sometimes, they didn't stalk the animals but drove them into the water where hunters in canoes killed them. Sometimes, they even used a blowgun to kill the small creatures. In the lure game, hunters made calls just like the animal. Other times they would disguise themselves with skins, lie in, and wait for their prey. The men made all their tools and weapons. The men carved wooded bowls and spoons.
The Iroquois men wore deerskin skirts, breechcloths, and moccasins. Some of the men shaved their head but only left a small amount of hair on the top. When the men weren't fishing or hunting, they played games. One of their favorite games was lacrosse.
Corn was very important to the Iroquois. They called it our life. When they planted the seeds, they had a festival. They planted squash, beans, and corn. These vegetables were given the name, "the three sisters." The Iroquois gave the squash a special name also. The name was "supporter of life," because it enriched their diets.
Women were very important in the Iroquois society. Their heritage was traced through the women. The woman was the head of the family. She carefully chose someone who would take her place when she died. Women were the ones who planted the crops. They prepared all the daily meals. The Iroquois mothers tanned hides, then they used them to make clothing and moccasins. Adult females made the baskets that were used for gathering roots and plants.
The Iroquois babies spent most of their time in cradleboards (from birth until they walked.) the girls took care of their younger brothers and sisters. If the girl had no younger brothers and sisters, she had to take care of her baby cousins. Older girls went with the women to plant seeds, weed the fields, and harvest the crops. At age six, the boys played with little bows and arrows. When a boy was eight or nine, he was able to bring rabbits and birds home to his mother. Older boys formed hunting parties.
In the French and Indian war, the Iroquois took the side of the British. After the war, white men wanted to settle in the Iroquois land. Therefore, the United States government forced the Iroquois to leave. Today some Iroquois go to college and become teachers, doctors, lawyers, and so on.
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