Native Americans Day 20: Northeast Woodland: Iroquois

Northeast Woodland: Iroquois

Now we are moving north to the Iroquois Indians.  We tried a couple of Iroquois crafts today.

1. Review: We talked about the Seminoles tribe in the Southeast region last time. Today we will move to the Northeast Woodland region (show on regional map) and learn about the Iroquois tribe.

2. Map Skills: Compare the regional map to the globe or map today and see what countries or states are in the Northeast Woodland region.

3. Discuss: Fill out the Tribes Chart after reading each section. Have the child listen closely to choose what word to put on the chart. Bold type words are good suggestions. After the chart has been filled out let the child color the Northeast Woodlands region on the blank Native American Groups Map.

  • Habitat: Northeast Woodland The Iroquois Indians lived in what is now New York State along the St. Lawrence River. The Iroquois Indians were know 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.

  • Homes: The Iroquois village consisted of two or more longhouses. Around the village great wooden palisades with watch towers were built. 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 a 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 long house. The door was covered with a curtain made from animal skins. Inside the longhouse a wide path ran though the center. Each family had a space about six by nine feet for a personal area. The family space was separated from the rest on the longhouse by leather curtains.

  • Dress: 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.

  • Food: The Iroquois men hunted deer and other game. Boys were allowed to join the men in hunting after they had killed a deer by themselves. Farming determined the way the Indians lived. The Iroquois moved to new locations when their large fields no longer produced a good crop of beans, corn, and squash. They called beans, squash, and corn.

4. Read: The Iroquois by Rachel A. Koestler-Grack

5. Comprehension questions:

  • What region did the Iroquois live in? Northeast Woodland

  • What kind of homes did the Iroquois build? Longhouses

  • What kind of clothes did the Iroquois wear? Deerskin, skirts, tunics, vests, capes, shawls, breechcloths, leggins and moccasins

  • How did the Iroquois get their food? Hunted and farmed

Bowl Game

The Iroquois Indians played the Sacred Bowl Game during the last day of the “Ceremonial of Midwinter” which marked the end of the year. The wooden bowl was decorated with four clan symbols – the bear, wolf, turtle, and deer. To play the game a player placed the six nuts which were colored on one side inside the bowl and hit the bowl against the ground. If five of the six nuts turned up the same color, the player scored and took another turn. The first player to reach 10 points wins the game.

1.  Cut a circle from wood grain contact paper to fit inside a basket paper plate holder.
2.  Use black markers to decorate the circle with different animals.
3.  Peel the paper backing from the contact paper and place the circle into the holder.IMG_4083

4.  Gather six flat dry beans. Have students color one side of the beans with the black marker.IMG_4084 Iroquois Tree of Peace

Discuss: The Iroquois Confederacy is a group made up of six different nations of Native Americans, including Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora. Before the Iroquois became a confederacy in the middle of the 1500s, the different Northeastern nations often fought among themselves. Eventually they agreed to peace consisting of justice, sharing, and equality of life; it became their law. When the Iroquois nations agreed to live in peace, they buried their weapons beneath the Tree of Peace. The Iroquois Tree of peace is a white pine tree. Your Tree of Peace will be a symbol of all the things that you can do in your life to live in peace with the people around you.


  • Tree Branch

  • ruler

  • scissors

  • 2 sheets of construction paper

  • empty soda bottle (cut off the top)

  • tape

  • stone

  • pencil

  • hole punch

  • yarn


  1. Find a branch that has fallen from a tree. The branch should measure about 2 feet long and have at least 4 limbs.IMG_4070
  2. Cut a piece of construction paper to fit the soda bottle and secure the paper to the can with tape.
  3. Place the end of the tree branch in the empty soda bottle. While holding the branch, fill the bottle three-fourths full with the stones. The stones help your branch stand up.IMG_4072
  4. Cut the second piece of construction paper into four equal parts.
  5. On each piece of paper, write a peace message or draw a picture that you can live each day. Here are a few ideas: “I will accept people the way they are” , “I will be kind to everyone”, “I will treat people the way I want to be treated.”IMG_4080
  6. Punch a hole in the top of each paper.
  7. Cut 4 pieces of yarn, each about 8 inches long. Slip yarn strand through each hole on the messages. Tie the ends of each yarn strand in a knot, and hang each message on a different tree branch.IMG_4073 IMG_4078


Native American Unit Study

Day 1: Circum-Caribbean: Taino

Day 2: Mesoamerica: Maya

Day 3: Mesoamerica: Aztec

Day 4: Southwest: Apache

Day 5: Southwest: Pueblo

Day 6: Southwest: Navajo

Day 7: California: Pomo

Day 8: Great Basin: Shoshone

Day 9: Plateau: Nez Perce

Day 10: Northwest Coast: Chinook

Day 11: Sub Arctic: Cree

Day 12: Arctic: Eskimo (Inuit)

Day 13: Great Plains: Sioux

Day 14: Great Plains: Cheyenne

Day 15: Great Plains: Blackfeet

Day 16: Great Plains: Pawnee

Day 17: Great Plains: Crow

Day 18: Southeast: Cherokee

Day 19: Southeast: Seminoles

Day 20: Northeast Woodland: Iroquois

Day 21: Northeast Woodland: Shawnee

Day 22: Northeast Woodland: Wampanoag

Day 23: Native American: Homes