An Ancient Bond with the Land

People of the Longhouse

The Clearing

Women grew crops that were central to the Iroquoian diet. They used hoes made of wood, bone or stone to work the soil into low mounds. Women sowed corn, beans and squash together in these mounds: corn stalks offered beans a support to grown on; the broad leaves of the squash plant shaded the ground, discouraging weeds and reducing soil moisture loss; bean plants enriched the soil with valuable nitrogen.

Weeding was required only until the leaves of the squash plants were large enough to keep weeds down. Wind blowing through whistles hung in trees warded off birds and animals.

At harvest time, women gathered the ripe ears of corn in baskets. They stripped the husks back, braided them together, and hung the ears to dry. Alternatively, the whole corn stock could be pulled up and stacked to dry. Later, they removed the kernels and stored them in large baskets or in pits.

Previous      Next