In this paper, I will be focusing my attention on 1) Describing the importance women had in the Iroquois society. 2) Proving through archeological evidence that the Iroquois experienced war at a much earlier period than they did when coming into contact with Western societies. 3) Explaining the warfare tactics and military organizational structure the Iroquois used during their Campaign to eliminate the Huron’s in 1649. Social Structure, Women & Government In society women tend to be the one whose entire life is spent to nurture their offspring’s and take care of their husband. Duties such as cleaning, cooking, picking crops, and to give birth are generally thought of a woman to have in society. In other societies we tend to notice that women have no say whatsoever due to male predominately thought to be the decision makers within a household but in this society women played a key role in shaping their whole culture. Important obligations such as assigning names to newborns within her clan and to in ensure that children are raised in the ways and customs of their ancestors were given to women.
Women in the Iroquois society were referred to as clan mothers1i. They were the ones who chose their Chiefs also known as, Sachemsii and presented them to members of her tribe for approval. They played a vital role “to look out for the welfare of the clan by overseeing the actions of the Chief and ensuring that he is performing his duties in accordance with the Great Law.” (Sabar) Due to women being the more logical and rational thinkers within the Iroquois they chose the battles to fight. This also meant they had the power to veto wars and laws.
The respect and honor given to women in this society to women may have been because the Iroquois were known to be a matrilineal society. Meaning that kinship is traced through the line of the female. This also meant couples once married were to move into the females long house2. Meaning that a woman had absolute control of what happened in her household. Surprisingly women in the Iroquois society had the right to own, inherit and to give property to members of her family. This also played a huge importance as to why women had so much say in this society.
Primitive Warfare Historically, many wars have been fought over resources. In the Iroquois case it is believed that wars were fought because of “abundant agricultural lands” (Whitehead) being available and to maintain control of hunting territory. The deer served as food and clothing in which case this animal was vital for their survival. Wars fought for reasons such are considered to be cultural wars. Recordings from the French explorer Jacques Cartier also served as proof of an ongoing war between the Stadaconans and another tribe called the Toudaman, who had destroyed one of their forts the previous year, resulting in over 200 casualties. This is irrefutable evidence that the Iroquois first encountered war among other tribes and not with Western contact.
It is believed that the Iroquois League developed within the mid 1400-1600’s. According to the Iroquois legend an Onondaga chief named Dekanawida was fed up with members of his tribe fighting against other Native American tribes. He believed that they should unite as a defense against invasion, monopolize over the fur trade, and to prevent intertribal conflict. Therefore, The Iroquois League was created and consisted of the Mohawk, Onondaga, Oneida, Cayuga, and Seneca tribes. These tribes were in essence a Confederation in which each tribe had their own set of laws to follow but excluded matters pertaining to fur trading.
St. Lawrence Iroquoians The St. Lawrence Iroquoians had 2 different entities in which the French explorer Jacques Cartier described in his recording as the Stadacona and Hochelaga. Their population was over 120,000 in 25 nations. They were located in which we now know as…