The Iroquois Indians are often known as the Five Nations because it is a group that consists of the Mohawk, the Oneida, the Onondaga, the Cayuga, and the Seneca. A sixth tribe, the Tuscarora, joined after the five original tribes united. The Iroquois Indians were based in Upstate New York, south of the St. Lawrence River, but many retreated to Ontario, Canada in the 1700s.
The confederacy often refers to them self as Haudenosaunee, which translates into "People of the Longhouse" because the Iroquois Indians lived together in longhouses, each which could hold at least twenty families. The longhouses were longer than they were wide, with both ends having an opening. Poles made up the roof while the frame was covered with bark and twig that were sewn on.
The men and women both wore deerskin vests, blouses, leggings, and long skirts with moccasins or snowshoes. Single women usually wore their hair in two braids while a married woman wore her hair in one braid. The men often cut their hair in Mohawks.
The men of the Iroquois Indians were farmers and hunters. Their main crops were corn, beans, and squash, referred to as the three sisters. Cornhusks were used to make masks and dolls for the children. The men hunted primarily for deer, but would also go after other game including wild turkeys, birds, muskrats, and beavers. The Iroquois Indians also fished for salmon, trout, bass, perch, and whitefish.
The Iroquois had no writing system, so their history through their language. Elders would use shells and beads, referred to by the Europeans as wampum, in a belt to help them memorize important events.
The confederacy is believed to have reached its highest population in the mid-17th century. There are approximately 30,000 registered Iroquois Indians in the U.S. and about 45,000 Iroquois in Ontario.