Makers of America – the Iroquois
Jacob Adams U. S. History to 1877 Response Paper – Unit 1 Makers of America – The Iroquois I found the article Makers in America – The Iroquois an interesting read. I remember learning about them somewhat back in grade school and some in high school. I didn’t remember that Hiawatha and Deganawidah were the two leaders that founded the Iroquois that were bound together by five Indian nations. The five nations included the Mohawks, the Oneidas, the Onondagas, the Cayugas, and the Senecas.
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The Iroquois fought against neighboring Indians for territory, and also battled the French, English, and Dutch for control over the fur trade. I really liked the idea of the long house in which the Iroquois housed two nuclear families consisting of parents and children. The long house consisted of a wooden structure about twenty-five feet in breadth and stretched anywhere from eight to two hundred feet in length. Typically there were three to five fireplaces that the Iroquois would utilize for cooking, warmth, and light.
The eldest of the women of the house were the honored matriarch of the home that consisted of a woman’s family and those of her mother, sisters, and daughters. When a man married, he left his childhood home and went to live in his wife’s long home with her family. The men were the dominant figure in the Iroquois society, but they owed their positions within to their mothers’ families. The five nations grouped together to form the Iroquois Confederacy. Although they shared a common policy towards outsiders, they remained independent of one another.
They played both sides of the English and French during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries working this perpetual rivalry to their own advantage. When the American Revolution broke out they were left to take sides independently as most, but not all, sided with the British. When the British were defeated it left the Iroquois in disarray. Many were forced to move to new lands, and others were relegated to reservations in western New York. Looking back and reading this, my heart goes out to the original inhabitants of this great country.