Previous The History of the Dominion of Canada (1897) Next



groups there were numerous tribes, differing, sometimes slightly, sometimes very markedly, in dialect. The Huron-Iroquois stood at the top of the Indian social scale. They lived within well-marked limits, had a rude political system, and took some part of their living from the soil. The Algonquins, almost without exception, lived by the chase alone, and were in consequence more nomadic in their habits.%

Huron-Iroquois Group—(1) The Iroquois.—The Iroquois occupied a stretch of country from the Hudson River westward up the Mohawk, and across what is now the State of New York, nearly to the Niagara River. They were of five distinct tribes, named (in order from the east) Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas and Senecas, all joined together in loose political union, with a common council-fire at Onondaga. They were further interlaced by a system of clanship, running through all the tribes and yet distinct from the tribal connection. Each of the seven or eight clans bore the name of some animal, a picture of which was frequently rudely daubed upon the houses of its members. This was known as the totem of the clan. We read of the clans of the Bear, the Wolf, the Turtle, and others.

These five tribes together are sometimes called "Indians of the Long-House," their wide stretching confederacy being likened to a typical Iroquois dwelling. The sides of these dwellings were formed of two rows of upright saplings bent over at the top to form an arch, and bound strongly together with cross saplings. Along the whole of this framework a covering of bark was laid nearly to the top, much after the modern clapboard fashion. These dwellings varied in length from . to 150 feet, and were usually about   20 feet in width. In each of iem ived a number of families, each group of four having a common fire. Thus down the centre there would be a row of these fires, the smoke from which found escape through the space left open along the top.

At a time when rivers and creeks were the only highways, and the canoe was the only carriage, the natural advantage of the Iroquois' position was very marked. They occupied a central watershed, the streams from which gave them outlets for hunting or war in every direction—westward to the valley of the Ohio, southward and south-eastward to the Atlantic seaboard, and north-ward by Lake Ontario and the water system of Lake Champlain

Previous The History of the Dominion of Canada (1897) Next