Engraving of an iroquoian village's planning

Agricultural activities normally began in April, with the clearing of forested land to prepare it for cultivation. Following the women's directions, the men slashed brush, felled some trees with stone axes and killed off others by removing the bark. The stony soil in the area around the site meant that rocks had to be removed before crops could be sown.

Centre d'interpétation du site archéologique Droulers/Tsiionhiakwatha.

© 2011, Centre d'interpétation du site archéologique Droulers/Tsiionhiakwatha.


The Three Sisters: beans, corn and squash (from top to bottom)

When Europeans arrived in the St. Lawrence Valley, they recorded how the Amerindians grew corn with beans and squash as companion plants. Called the Three Sisters (Kionhekwa in the Iroquois language), these three plants constituted the basis of the Iroquoians' diet and provided a large part of their daily calorie needs.

Photos by Luc Bouvrette

© 2011, Centre d'interpétation du site archéologique Droulers/Tsiionhiakwatha.


Daily life inside a longhouse

Life inside a longhouse

Inside a longhouse, each hearth was shared by two families. The fire, used for warmth and for cooking food, was kept burning day and night. Children were taught many things and were quick to develop their autonomy.They also enjoyed playing numerous games, such as this one that used  baked clay gaming pieces somewhat like dice. Sleeping platforms were located on either side of the hearths and constituted family ’apartments,’ where parents and children spent the night.

Centre d'interpétation du site archéologique Droulers/Tsiionhiakwatha.

© 2011, Centre d'interpétation du site archéologique Droulers/Tsiionhiakwatha.


Deer drive towards an enclosure

Although agricultural production played a predominant role in the economy of the Iroquoians, the search for wild food remained an important part of their subsistence activities. Between 20% and 30% of their daily calorie intake came from food obtained by fishing, hunting and gathering. The Iroquoians thus perpetuated the subsistence habits of their nomadic ancestors, passing down this knowledge from one generation to another.

Centre d'interpétation du site archéologique Droulers/Tsiionhiakwatha.

© 2011, Centre d'interpétation du site archéologique Droulers/Tsiionhiakwatha.


Learning Objectives

-Learn about the preparation of the fields for agriculture.
-Discover The Three Sisters.
-Understanding harvest time.
-Learn more about other food ressources of the St. Lawrence Iroquoians.

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