The Iroquois were a group of Native Americans which comprised of several different tribes. The main tribes in the Iroquois Nation included the Seneca, the Onondaga, the Mohawk, the Oneida and the Cayuga. They were sometimes also referred to as the Five Nations.
The Iroquois lived in the northeastern parts of modern-day United States. More specifically, they lived in the modern-day New York and Five Fingers region when Europeans arrived in North America.
They mostly continued to live in these regions all the way until the American Revolutionary War. During the war, the Iroquois sided with the British who lost. So after the Revolution, they had to give up most of their land.
Iroquois lived in a region where there was a large population of beavers. When Europeans arrived, they wanted to hunt beaver, take their pelts and use it for trading because beaver pelts sold well and for a good price in Europe.
So the settlers sought the help of the Iroquois. For a long time, Iroquois were the partners of first the French and then the British in the fur trade. This helped them survive without any serious conflicts with the Europeans all the way until the American Revolution.
The houses of the Iroquois were very unique among the Native Americans. The Iroquois lived in longhouses which they built with wood. The wooden frame of the houses were then covered up with tree bark.
These houses, as the name suggests, were quite long. Some of them were nearly 100 feet in length. Many families lived in a single longhouse.
Inside the longhouse, they simply used animal hides to divide up the space so that each family had a different portion. There was one door each on both sides of such rectangular longhouses and a hole in the roof to let out the smoke from cooking. A single Iroquois village comprised of many such houses.
Iroquois had a settled lifestyle, so they didn’t roam around too often. They simply established a village at one place and then planted crops which provided most of their foods.
Like many other Native American tribes, the main foods grown by the Iroquois included corn, squash and beans. They also gathered meat by hunting different animals and through fishing.
The hides of the hunted animals were also used for different purposes such as in the construction of longhouses. Iroquois also grew many different vegetables.
The hairstyle which is today called the Mohawk was originally a traditional hairstyle among most men of the Iroquois. They would simply shave their heads and leave a strip down the middle of the head.
Although all Iroquois styled their hair in this way, the hairstyle came to be associated with one of the tribes of Iroquois Nation, namely the Mohawk tribe.
The Iroquois had a well-developed system of government. Each of the tribes in the Iroquois Nation selected a fixed number of representatives. These were called the chiefs. They made all the important decisions of their own tribes.
These chiefs from each tribe then participated in the Iroquois Council, which was a sort of parliament of the Iroquois. The Council made important decisions related to the Iroquois people.