Iroquois Villages

These visitors would have seen the village from some distance away, for it would have been high on a hilltop. To reach it they would have climbed a steep slope, for the Iroquois had many enemies. By building their villages on the tops of hills, they were better able to defend themselves against attack.

To further protect themselves, the Iroquois erected a stockade of logs around each of their settlements. This was a wall, often 20 feet high. Near its top was a platform from which the villagers threw rocks or shot arrows down upon any enemy who dared to attack them.

Much of the land outside the stockade was cleared. Here Indian women would have been busy working in the fields when our group of early explorers arrived. Though men had done the heavy work of clearing the land, it was the task of the women to plant and care for the crops.

Corn, beans, squash, and pumpkin were the most important crops the Indians grew. They were left to ripen in the late summer sun. The Indians also grew tobacco and sunflowers, using the latter to obtain oil for cooking. A piece of ground was farmed until it would no longer grow good crops. Then the whole village moved to some other nearby place where the soil was more fertile.

Passing through the gate, our party would have been surprised at the number of people they saw. A population of several hundred Indians lived inside the protecting palisades. The largest Iroquois villages sometimes had a thousand inhabitants.