What Are Some Facts About Iroquois Culture?

The Iroquois believed in multiple deities, the most important being the creator of human beings, plants, animals and the good in the world, known as Great Spirit. Though they didn't believe humans could directly commune with these spirits, they believed it was possible through the burning of tobacco.

The Iroquois had great reverence for their dreams, and interpreted and looked for signs in them. They didn't have full-time priests or shamans, but instead designated part-time male and female specialists to conduct religious ceremonies.

The Iroquois crafted "False Face Masks," which were faces carved into standing trees and then cut out, decorated and worn afterwards. These masks represented the spirits that appeared to the carver in the tobacco ceremony performed beforehand.

Men in the tribe hunted and fished, built houses, cleared fields for planting, traded with outsiders, and took part in any wars. The women farmed, raised children, prepared meals, and made baskets and other utensils.

Many parts of Iroquois culture involved matrilinear aspects. Though people married and divorced and men often had multiple wives, upon divorce the children remained with the mother. Inheritance also followed this pattern, with property going to the women.

The Iroquois did not practice any known formalized rites of passage, other than for those who took a political position.