What Is the Religion of the Iroquois People?


Quick Answer

As of 2016, about a quarter of all Iroquois follow the Longhouse Religion, a faith rooted in tradition with some elements influenced by Christian contact. Others within the nation follow Christianity.

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The Iroquois were traditionally polytheistic. The exact pantheon varied from one location to another. For example, some Iroquois groups called the highest god Taronhiawagon, while other groups viewed this god as an aspect of Hino, the thunder god. Still others did not recognize a high god similar to Taronhiawagon at all.

As of 2016, Christianity and the Longhouse Religion are the two most important religions followed by the Iroquois. Christianity was introduced to the Iroquois by French missionaries. In the early colonial years, the Iroquois were very hostile to Jesuit missionaries, but by the 19th century, enough people had converted to Christianity as to cause religious conflict within the Iroquois confederacy. The Longhouse Religion developed as a response to this conflict.

The Longhouse Religion, founded by Handsome Lake, emphasized the traditional concept of a Great Creator. Although influenced by colonist's practices, such as patriarchal gender roles, followers are proponents of many traditional practices, including the authority of clan mothers.

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