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Winter Solstice and Iroquois Essay

The next group of people I chose to research on was the Iroquois. The Iroquois are part of the woodland Indians and are also known to be one of the most recognized in that group. For thousands of years, they have lived near the lower Great Lakes in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and also further north into Canada. The Iroquoians were very smart and learned how to use the forests around them as a source of what they needed. They also grew corn, beans and squash on fields which then became their main food source.

In those fields, they grew fifteen different kinds of corn, sixty varieties of beans and eight different types of squashes. They would also grow “Indian Tobacco” that was used for some occasions like ceremonial and social events. The Iroquois also used this green, leafy plant as a medicine. In the summer, women worked on the fields and their children assisted them. While the women were tending fields, the children were stationed in tree huts and their job was to keep away crows or other animals that might try to harm their crops. Corn was their absolute main crop and was stored for winter.

The Iroquois would also use the corn husks for other purposes such as slippers and old fashioned dolls. Iroquois were really clever and creative when it came to preserving food for the winter season. To preserve food, they would have storage pits. These pits were dug up and lined with watertight bark then filled with corn and dirt to secure it. Men did most of the hunting during winter right after the crops were harvested and stored in place. As for hunting, they would set up hunting camps that they could stay in until mid winter. Women also went with them and helped the men with the meat they hunted.

It was their job to preserve the meat and one way they did that was by smoking the meat to turn it into jerky. The hunters stayed in camp until the winter festival was over. In addition to eating meat and other animals, they also caught aquatic species such as salmon, trout, bass, perch, pike, eels, and fish. They even built their villages near lakes and rivers of Central York. The main tools they used to capture fish were hooks, spears and nets. Many family groups go to a special fishing station during run spring spawning runs to take home lots of fish. First, they would build stone weirs.

Stone weirs are stone-like walls built in a river or stream to create a force that pushes the fishes right into the fishing nets. Iroquoians start their gathering season in spring. One of the many things they collected was sap that from maple trees. Sometimes the sap was boiled down making syrup or maple sugar. Other foods that were also found in the forests were wild onions, skunk cabbage, and milk weed. Spring was the perfect time to gather many berries because that’s when they would start to ripen. There are different sorts of berries, raspberries, strawberries, huckleberries and blackberries.

Berries are not only eaten fresh but are also dried on a bark tray in the sun and stored it so that it could be eaten or used with bread in the cold season. In the fall, Iroquois women and children collected nuts such as acorn, beechnuts, walnuts, hickory buts, and chestnuts. These nuts were used as both food and oil. They also gathered different plants that they used for tea, food and medicine. The main instrument they used for hunting would be the bow and arrow. Before the Europeans arrived, they used different types of snares, traps and blow guns. Then it all changed, they started using metal tools, iron traps and guns.

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