Iroquois Longhouse

The Iroquois longhouse was simply designed, in contrast to some types of building design today. The standard long house was anywhere from 30 feet in length to several hundred feet in length depending on the size of the family that would be occupying the longhouse. Typically, in the Iroquois longhouse one extended family would be occupying each longhouse. Each extended family also was a separate clan from those of the other longhouses within the village. The clan members were not allowed to wed within the clan, and when a female were to be wed the male would now become part of her clan and join her longhouse.

The construction of the Iroquois longhouse was simple, as mentioned above, yet very effective. The longhouse was in the shape of a rectangle and at each end would be the entrances. The ceiling was arc shaped to allow the smoke to pool there and flow out through the smoke holes placed in the ceiling above each fire within the house. Running inside along the length of the Iroquois longhouse were the beds and places for the family to sit and rest, each being about a foot off the floor, and 10 or more feet long. In between each sleeping area was a storage area to store possibly food, or hunting gear. The Iroquois slept upon mats made of husks and plants weaved together and sometimes animal furs, which also served as blankets during the cold months.

We know a good deal about the Iroquois longhouse design and setting due to accounts written by explorers and settlers as well as archeologists excavating Iroquois establishments. Archeologists have been able to find the places where the support poles were placed as well as the poles for the bed and storage areas. Areas were also found with ash that shows the fire placement and at times the eating habits of the Iroquois people.

American Indian Topics