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Scenes from the Mohawk Iroquois Village (circa 1600)
at the New York State Museum


A set of twenty 35mm color slides, with narrative, of the exhibit A Mohawk Iroquois Village, available for $15 from Museum Publications.


Click on images to enlarge

lomghouse model

[Slide 1] Four hundred years ago, Iroquois people were slash-and-burn farmers, who cut and burned clearings in the forest for their longhouse villages and farm fields. This slash-and-burn style of agriculture is still practiced today in some tropical forests. Detail view from The Village Model diorama in the Mohawk Iroquois Village, New York State Museum.

Longhouse village

[Slide 2]Villages were typically located on hilltops, which were well drained. Farm fields and supplies of firewood and water were nearby.Detail view from The Village Model diorama in the Mohawk Iroquois Village, New York State Museum.

Longhouse village

[Slide 3] The Iroquois preferred to clear second growth forest for fields and villages, because the trees in the second growth forest are smaller, and could be used as the raw materials for building the framework of the longhouses and for the palisade or stockade that surrounded the village. Detail view from The Village Model diorama in the Mohawk Iroquois Village, New York State Museum.

Longhouse village

[Slide 4] The palisade or stockade around the village provided protection. It was woven together like a giant wicker basket. Detail view from The Village Model diorama in the Mohawk Iroquois Village, New York State Museum.

Longhouse village

[Slide 5] Longhouses were approximately 20 feet wide, 20 feet high and commonly 180 to 220 feet long. The posts, poles, and saplings for framework construction came from the forest areas cleared as sites for the village and fields. Detail view from The Village Model diorama in the Mohawk Iroquois Village, New York State Museum.

Longhouse village

[Slide 6] The longhouses were covered with sheets of bark stripped from old, large-diameter trees. The trees can be stripped in spring after the sap begins to flow. Detail view from The Village Model diorama in the Mohawk Iroquois Village, New York State Museum.

Longhouse village

[Slide 7] Different kinds of trees were used in longhouse construction and were chosen for properties of durability, strength, and flexibility. For covering, elm bark was preferred, although the bark of other trees could be used to cover the houses. Detail view from The Village Model diorama in the Mohawk Iroquois Village, New York State Museum.

Longhouse village

[Slide 8] Clearing the fields also provided some of the huge quantities of firewood that the residents used to cook, and to heat and provide light in the longhouses. Detail view from The Village Model diorama in the Mohawk Iroquois Village, New York State Museum.

Longhouse village

[Slide 9] Iroquois women were the farmers. They planted corn, beans, and squash in the new fields, commonly together in the same hill, spacing the hills between the charred stumps of the former forest. Detail view from The Village Model diorama in the Mohawk Iroquois Village, New York State Museum.

Longhouse village

[Slide 10] As longhouses were completed in the new village, families moved in from the old village and immediately began life-as-usual. There may well have been 'opening ceremonies' for the new longhouses, but we have no records of such activities. Detail view from The Village Model diorama in the Mohawk Iroquois Village, New York State Museum.



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