The Iroquois were a group of very special and unique Aboriginals, as they were the only Aboriginal group that survived partially on farming, and also had a more varied diet. Their natural surroundings were perfect for farming, as they had a constant fresh water supply from the lakes, and the soil abundant with nutrients. When they farmed, the land was cleared by the men, but farmed by the women. They used small wooden spades to make mounds and poked nine to ten holes in each mound. In each hole, they planted seeds, and the mounds protected the seeds from the cold. They planted corn, beans and squash as they represented the Three Sisters, thought to be the physical and spiritual sustainers, and represented as the Iroquois’s main food supply. The crops are then gathered at harvest time. The women and girls scrape off the corn that are dried, then store them in containers made out of bark. These kernels are to be used in soup and bread. Beans are stored in the same way as the kernels. Squash and pumpkins are stored in deep pits dug inside the house, then covered with dirt.
The Iroquois also grew sunflowers for oil, which they used for cooking, or rubbed on the skin for protection against the sun or cold, or to help cuts. With these as their main supply of food, the women also gathered wild plums, grapes, cherries, berries, crab apples, and many types of nuts.
Maple syrup was collected in the spring and used in many of their dishes. Besides this plenty supply of food, tobacco was grown in small gardens, which was the only crop grown by men, and was used in special ceremonies.
The Iroquois men also hunted bears, beavers, elks, muskrats, rabbits, moose, deer, raccoons, and many types of birds to eat, such as wild turkeys, geese, ducks, herons, pigeons and partridges. Some of the six Iroquois tribes also fished, using nets or spears.
Made by Helen Liu