Other names for the Iroquois are Haudenosaunee, People of the Longhouse, and the Six Nations. The Iroquois Indians lived in what is now New York State along the St. Lawrence River. The Iroquois Indians were known as the "Five Nations". The league was formed before European contact. The original five nations are Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, and Seneca. The Tuscarora joined later, after European contact, and became the sixth nation.
Model of a longhouse
The Iroquois village consisted of two or more longhouses. In the early years the longhouses were built near streams. Later they were built on hilltops for protection from invading tribes. Around the village great wooden palisades with watch towers were built. The village was moved every 10 to 15 years because crops no longer grew well.
The longhouse was large enough to hold a family of 30 to 60 people. It could be 25 to 150 feet long. The longhouse was built by driving two rows of poles into the ground in zigzag lines ten or twelve feet apart. The poles were tied together at the top. Other poles were fastened across them. Next slabs of bark were tied to cover the poles. An open space was left at the top for smoke to escape. A door was built at the end of the longhouse. The door was covered with a curtain made from animal skins. Inside the longhouse a wide path ran through the center. Each family had a space about six by nine feet for a personal area. The family space was separated from the rest of the longhouse by leather curtains. In the personal space a seat was built against the wall. Clothes and tools were stored under the seat. The seat was also used as a bed. The bed was covered with corn husk mats and then skins and furs.
The Iroquois made most of their clothing from deerskin. The women wore skirts, vests, and moccasins. They decorated their clothes with porcupine quills, shell beads, and dyed hair. The women also made necklaces of shell beads and animal teeth. The women in the northern areas wore leggings and breechcloths. In the winter they wore rabbit fur capes or shawls tied over the left shoulder. The Iroquois men wore deerskin breechcloths during the hot summer. In the cold weather they wore leather leggings and tunics. The men wore moccasins made of leather or corn husks.