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Algonkian and Iroquois Cultures. Late Woodland-Owasco Algonkian Iroquois. Late Woodland peoples of the Northeast. Area immediately south of the Eastern Subarctic New England, New York, "Huronia" (southern Ontario and Quebec) Adjacent portions of the lower Saint Lawrence

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algonkian and iroquois cultures

Algonkian and Iroquois Cultures

Late Woodland-Owasco



late woodland peoples of the northeast
Late Woodland peoples of the Northeast
  • Area immediately south of the Eastern Subarctic
    • New England, New York, "Huronia" (southern Ontario and Quebec)
    • Adjacent portions of the lower Saint Lawrence
  • This addresses "Iroquois Prehistory"
  • The Late Woodland period in the Northeast is a fairly confusing one, depending upon the area you are most interested in.
a d 1000 1350
A.D. 1000-1350
  • A significant cultural shift occurs
    • In Upstate New York this is called the Owasco Phase
  • Villages:
    • By European contact (ca. 1500s-1600s) 2,000-5,000 people per village
    • Villages may have as many as 200 longhouses!
    • The Longhouse:
      • Comes to replace the round house
      • 27.5 to 61 meters long
      • Increasing palisade defense characterizes communities
  • A culture that inhabited the New York state area prior to the Iroquois.
    • The earliest dates attached to Owasco sites date the culture to approximately 1000-1300 A.D., which places them in the Oak Hill Phase.
  • The name Owasco was derived from the area near a lake, presently known as Owasco Lake, where they primarily lived.
    • They also tended not to have large villages, but rather camps located either on higher ground or near alluvial fans and marshes for hunting and fishing purposes.
    • They are known for their distinct pottery style, which was designed in the cord-on-cord technique.
    • They were one of the earliest cultures in the New York area to begin cultivating crops such as corn, beans and squash.
    • The Owasco also practiced hunting, fishing and the gathering of wild vegetable foods.
owasco artifacts
Owasco artifacts
  • Levanna points are projectile points characteristic of the Owasco Culture

  • The other primary northeastern linguistic and cultural group and were the traditional enemies of the Iroquois.
  • The Algonkians live and lived in the woodlands of northern and southern Canada.
  • This Indian culture settled this land area at about 1000 years BP.
  • The Algonkin groups lived in small towns
  • The Algonkians also used a large quantity of wood, birch bark to make canoes and boxes, and they covered bent saplings with the hides of animals for shelter.
the algonkian tribes
The Algonkian Tribes
  • Beothuk
  • Mi’kmaq
  • Gaspe
  • Malecite
  • Montagnais
  • Naskapi
  • Ojibway
  • Odawa
algonkin language family
Algonkin Language Family

Algonkin areas shown by    

  • Due to location there is a vast climate difference between the seasons.
  • Algonkian subsistance relied mostly on hunting of large game. ie white tail deer, moose, carabou, migrating waterfowl, bear, beaver and fish
    • They used the hides from these animals to make their wardrobes, moccasins, and snow shoes.
  • Although the winter brought hardship, it made tracking of prey easier and more successful.
  • Hunting methods consisted of stalking the animal while wielding a spear or bow.
algonkin hunting
Algonkin Hunting
  • The Algonkians are best known as hunters who make the best traps and snares.
  • The traps and snares came in many forms and changed with the season.
    • Although traps and snares were also used for smaller game like foxes and rabits. A common trap was the “LOG FALL”.
    • Snares were hidden strategically along runs and man made trails.
  • Fishing and gathering augmented their diet as well.
    • Fishing techniques included barriers built in the streams to trap fish while the water passed through. Spear Fishing was often done at night from birch bark canoes.
algonkian technology
Algonkian Technology
  • The use of Bark was intricate in Algonkian technology.
  • As with any region with many rivers the Birch Bark canoe was important for hunting and transportation.
  • Bark was also used for water vessels, the outer shell of their dwellings, dishes, spoons and a moose call made by rolling the birch bark.
clothing artifacts
Clothing, artifacts
  • Clothing tended to be made of the skins of larger prey animals, like moose and deer, Although in the winter things like gloves and hats could be made from smaller pelts. The hide from one moose is comparable to the hide of 20 beavers.
  • Stone was used for arrow heads, and club heads, but not as important as in other culture areas due to the reliance on birch bark.
  • Bone was also mildly used for such things as needles.
  • The Iroquois were a confederacy of eastern Woodland tribes that existed between the Great Lakes and the Atlantic seaboard and south to the Carolinas.
  • The confederacy itself consisted of six tribes -the Cayuga, Mohawk, Onadaga, Oneida, Seneca, and the Tuscarora.
iroquois language family in red
Iroquois Language Family (in red)

people of the long house
“People of the Long House”
  • The Iroquois all spoke mutually intelligible dialects of a single Iroquain language.
  • These tribes called themselves Haudenosaunee, or "people of the long house" for the large communal homes that they constructed.
  • There were also a large number of unaffiliated Iroquoian tribes who were often at war with the league members. Many of these later came under league domination. Although defeated tribes were never again allowed autonomy, they were often adopted and incorporated into the victors' tribe.
  • Tribal organization was totemic and matrilineal with interwoven political, religious and clan affiliations both within and between tribes.
  • The Iroquois-speaking tribes were semisedentary, practiced agriculture, palisaded their villages in time of need, and dwelt in longhouses that lodged many families.
    • Elm bark was used for sheathing these houses, for making such containers as dishes and barrels, and for building canoes.
  • A village band of several hundred persons was the social and economic unit.
    • Groups of men built houses, erected palisades, fished, hunted, traveled, traded, gamed, defended the village against attacks, and went on the warpath.
  • Outside the towns, parties of women, each directed by a matron, worked fields of corn (maize), beans, and squash.
  • After harvest, family deer-hunting parties ranged far into the forests to camp, returning home at midwinter.
  • Spring runs of fish drew families to nearby streams and lake inlets.
socio political structure
Socio-political structure
  • The longhouse family was the basic unit of Iroquois society. Households, or blood lineages, were projected into clans, clans into moieties (half tribes), moieties into tribes or nations, and nations into confederacies.
  • Kinship and locality were the bases for political life.
  • Each community had its council of adult males, who guided the village chief or chiefs.
  • The Iroquois were fond of meetings, spending considerable time in council.
    • Groupings for council were determined by locality, sex, age, and the specific question at hand; and each had its own protocol and devices for gaining consensus.
  • All had matrilineal social structures - the women owned all property and determined kinship.
  • The individual Iroquois tribes were divided into three clans, turtle, bear, and wolf - each headed by the clan mother.
  • The Seneca were like the Huron tribes and had eight (the five additional being the crane, snipe, hawk, beaver, and deer).
  • After marriage, a man moved into his wife's longhouse, and their children became members of her clan.
  • Warfare was ingrained in Iroquois society, and self-respect was dependent on achieving personal glory.
  • War captives were often enslaved or adopted to replace dead kinsmen and made up much of the Iroquois population in the late 17th century.
  • Fierce warfare was common and finally prompted the formation of the "Great Law of Peace" resulting in the confederation, which was only open to Iroquain speaking tribes.
  • This all occurred before European contact and the principles of the accord may have contributed to the ideals embodied in the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution of the United States.
iroquois origins
Iroquois Origins
  • Early Hypothesis-Parker (1916)- migrated from southern areas (part of Cherokee).
  • Now accepted-(MacNeish 1956)-developed in situ from late Woodland cultures like the Point Peninsula and Owasco.
iroquois nation
  • Around 1390, today's State of New York became the stronghold of five powerful Indian tribes.
  • The Iroquois, Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, and Cayugas joined together to form the great Iroquois Nation.
  • In 1715, the Tuscaroras were accepted into the Iroquois Nation.
  • The Iroquoian linguistic groups occupied a continuous territory around Lakes Ontario, Huron, and Erie, in present-day New York state and Pennsylvania (U.S.) and southern Ontario and Quebec (Canada).
iroquois nations
Iroquois nations