Daily Life
Three Indians


The Iroquois men hunted from the beginning of the Fall to mid-Winter, and fished in the lakes during the summer.. Farming determined the way the Indians lived. The Iroquois moved to new locations when their large fields no longer produced a good crop of beans, corn, and squash. They called beans, squash, and corn (The Three Sisters). The women tended the crops. One favorite food of the Iroquois was corn cakes. It was made by patting corn into round cakes then baking it. 

Harvested vegetables along with berries, meat and fish were dried for use during the winter. And grain was stored in baskets which were then buried in the ground. 

During harvest time, there was a special Thanksgiving ceremony, when the Three Sisters, namely corn. squash and beans which were key staples of the Iroquois diet, ripened. They were combined together in a dish we still know as succotash.

Here is a recipe for corn cakes in the Iroquois style:

Iroquois White Corn Cakes
3/4 cup Iroquois white corn flour
1/2 tsp double-acting baking powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup bacon fat, or substitute 1/4 cup softened butter


Iroquois Corn Pudding, Serves 12
1 medium onion, diced
1 tablespoon butter
3/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
1-1/2 cups roasted Iroquois cornmeal
3 cups fat-free or regular half-and-half
1-1/2 teaspoons sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 cups low-fat milk

5 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen

1. Preheat oven to 325║. Prepare a 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray or butter.
2. SautÚ onion in butter and marjoram. Set aside.
3. In a medium saucepan, whisk roasted cornmeal with half and half. Add salt and a
generous grinding of black pepper. Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring, until mixture
 begins to thicken. Remove from heat. Add onion mixture, milk, eggs, and corn kernels.
4. Pour entire mixture into prepared pan. Cook 45–50 minutes, until set and lightly browned

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Iroquois people mainly wore shirts, pants, leggings, robes and capes. The men wore feathers in their hair and wore jewelry including a ring in their nostrils. Women wore skirts, and robes mainly made out of deer skin. They wore moccasin shoes which were highly decorated items. Masks were a popular item  made of corn husks and were used in ceremonies.  Furs of animals, hides of elk and deer, corn husks, and woven plant and tree fibers were used to produce clothing. Clothing went through considerable change in the late 1600s - 1700s, with European influence and availability of beads, trade cloth etc..

Learn more about the Haudenosaunee clothing.


The men were hunters, warriors, and statesmen. But women had a lot of power and decided which men should be speakers and representatives. If a raid or war-party was not approved by the women, they would refuse to provide food for the journey. When the women agreed with a course of action, they worked to make sure that the idea was executed. Iroquois women always occupied a position far superior to that of European women of the same time period. Modern Iroquois women still have their own council, and choose the men to fill ancient tribal positions. 



Click here more pictures of longhouses 

Longhouses were the focal point of Iroquois life. Longhouses were long and narrow bark covered houses that contained one large extended family of up to 60 people.   Longhouses had two doors at each end and no windows. The only other openings in the house were at the ceiling to allow fire smoke to escape.  The doors were covered with a curtain made from animal skins. Numerous longhouses in an area were what made up a village which was sometimes protected from intruders by a fence.   

Longhouses were related to the clan structure. Above the door of each longhouse was  the symbol of the clan of the families inside. When a daughter got married, her husband would come to live in the longhouse of her mother (his mother-in-law). A husband did not lose his clan;  though he lived with his wife in her mother's longhouse, he still had ties with his own clan. So regardless of where they lived, Iroquois belonged to the longhouse family into which they were born, that of their mother, and this longhouse family membership lasted a lifetime.


Families  Learn about how Haudenosaunee women ran family life.

Religion  A page on the religion of the Haudenosaunee, which was similar to religions of other tribes.