Famous Iroquois people include Dekanawidah, the author of the Iroquois Constitution, and the prophet Handsome Lake. Hiawatha and Chief John Big Tree also are notable Iroquois.Continue Reading
The Iroquois consider Dekanawidah, or the Great Peacemaker, the founder of the Iroquois Confederacy. He established the Great Peace and Great Law, which served as the tribe's constitution. In some legends, Hiawatha, another famous Iroquois, and Jigonsaseh, or Peace Queen, helped write the document. They forbade the Iroquois from engaging in cannibalism, human sacrifice and black magic. Though Henry Wadsworth Longfellow immortalized Hiawatha in "The Song of Hiawatha," he based the poem on Manabozho, who wasn't even Iroquois. Some stories cast Hiawatha as Dehanawidah's descendant, disciple or assistant, while other stories describe them as equals.
During an attempt to unite the five Iroquois tribes, Joseph Brant served as the Mohawk's tribal spokesman. He also was a Christian missionary and a British military officer during the Revolutionary War. The prophet Handsome Lake helped revive the Iroquois League. He also established the Code of Handsome Lake, which predicted that failure to abstain from drunkenness, witchcraft, sexual promiscuity, wife beating, quarreling and gambling would cause fire to destroy the world.
Perhaps the most recognized Iroquois is actor Chief John Big Tree, whose face is on the Indian Head Nickel. Pontiac also uses his profile on its car emblem.Learn more about US History
The Iroquois, who were a group of five tribes, lived in New York, mostly along the St. Lawrence River. This tribe of Indians lived in permanent homes, although these homes were moved every 20 years or so due to the soil in the area giving out.Full Answer >
The religious beliefs of the Iroquois varied, as the different tribes lived far apart and there are few written records of their practices. However, some commonly held beliefs included worshiping certain god and goddess-like idols, including Sky Woman, Thunders, the Twin Gods and Onatah.Full Answer >
Although Iroquois children did not have much free time, to have fun they would play with cornhusk dolls, toys and games, including sports like lacrosse. Adults would use cow horn rattles and water drums to produce music for dancing, and social events would often take place in the longhouse.Full Answer >
The Iroquois have many symbols including turtles, the tree symbol that alludes to the Great Tree of Peace, the eagle and a cluster of arrows. The turtle is the symbol of one of the Iroquois clans.Full Answer >