Art and Ceremonies of the Eastern Woodland People



The Iroquois had many traditions.  One of the most important was one involving a Medicine Mask or False Face.  The maker of the mask liked to make them unique but they all had a crooked nose.  The crooked nose is to honor the Fabled Giant who lost a challenge to it’s creator and now has to protect it’s creators people.  The men who wear the masks are believed to ward off sickness.


          To make the false face masks an Iroquois man would go into the woods and find a tree that spoke to him.  After talking to the tree the man would build a fire and sprinkle tobacco on it. Then he would putt out the fire and strip the bark off the tree.  Then he would out line the face in the bark and go to a shelter to finish carving and polishing the mask. They would decorate the mask with feathers and such.


          The Iroquois men used smoking pipes.  They used a variety of pipes. They had simple pipes for every day use. They had more decretive pipes for ceremonies.


          The Iroquois women were potters. They often decorated pots around the rim. They frequently used a bone tool to decorate the pots before putting it in a fire.


          The Iroquois incorporated art and games. They played a bone game during the last day of “Ceremonial of Midwinter”. The “Ceremonial of Midwinter” marked the end of the year.  A wooden bowl was marked into 4 parts with paint.  The symbol of each clan was drawn in one in each section.         


          To play the bowl game you need 6 nuts colored on one side.  The 6 nuts are placed in the bowl.  The player hits the bowl on the ground.  If 5 of the 6 nuts are on the same side the player gets a point and plays again.  You play to 10 points.


          The eastern woodland tribes had interesting religions.  The Algonquians believed in a creator named “Kautantowwt”. They also believed in a creator of poisonous plants and animals named Hanegoategeh. The Algonquians made sacrifices to please both gods.  The Iroquois believed that the sky woman created the world.  Her grandsons were responsible for the good and evil in the world.


          The Algonquian tribes made lots of art.  They used dream catchers to protect their babies from bad dreams.  Like many of the tribes they used medicine bags to carry symbolic things.  This is only some of their art.


          Seminole Native Americans made beaded necklaces.  Each year on their birthday a Seminole women’s birthday they would get a string of beads.  When they turned 40 they would start tacking off a string of beads every year.  The Seminole women were never seen in public with out their beads.


          All the Native Americans of the Eastern Woodlands had interesting culture and art.




Eastern woodland


     Eastern Woodland Indians lived in longhouses.  The frame of the longhouse was built from small trees called saplings. Then they were covered with Birch bark.  Sometimes they were covered with mats that had been woven together from cattails.

    People sat and slept along the edges of the inside of the longhouse.  Fires heat the houses.  They have the fire in the middle to cook food in.  small holes in the top let smoke out.

    More than one family lived in a longhouse.  The inside was divided up into compartments which were 20 feet long.  Two families lived in each compartment..

    The longhouse was usually 180 to 220 feet long!  The length of the longhouse was determined by the size of the families that would live in it.

     Some Woodland people lived in Wigwams. Wigwams were built like longhouses only much smaller.  Only one family lived in a Wigwam.  A Wigwam was in an igloo shape.  They sometimes cover the bottom with grasses and put bark on the top so some air gets in on hot summer days.


The Eastern Woodlands Clothing


In the Eastern Woodlands, deerskin was one of the most important materials. In the Iroquois tribe they mostly wore deerskin. When the weather got colder the men would wear deerskin shirts, leggings, moccasins, and sometimes fur robes.

In the hot weather they wore less clothing. The women wore buckskin shirts, skirts, and moccasins. The men wore kilts or breechcloth.

They had different ways to wear their hair. The women would wear their hair long. (Usually in a braid). The warriors would wear their hair in a mohawk. 




Natural Resources


Hear is some info about Eastern woodland Indian natural recourses.

The eastern woodland Indians used birch bark to make their canoes and longhouses and wigwams.

Nuts for the eastern woodland Indians where helpful they had a variety of nuts like acorns, hickory nuts, and walnuts. They made vegetable oils and food pastes with the nuts. The Eastern woodland Indians where so smart, they taught themselves to tap maple trees. They rolled hickory nuts in maple sugar for a treat.

Deer was a main source of food.

Spring was fishing season. The men caught the fish at night with torches. The Fire attracted fish in the nets. Some of the fish was stored until needed.






Iroquois Food


The Iroquois learned to tap maple trees to harvest maple syrup.  They had quite a sweet tooth.  They loved maple syrup in many foods.  They made a special treat of heated nuts rolled in maple syrup.

 The Eastern Woodlands people have to gather their food because they live near the forest.

The main source of food was corn for the Iroquois Indians.


Eastern Woodlands Tools   

    The Eastern Woodland tribes would use the following resources to make tools and weapons.  Flint is a very hard stone that will chip to a sharp edge. Knife blades and arrow points are made from flint. Native Americans chipped little pieces of flint from the sides to make sharp edges. The men made many types of tools and weapons to repair long houses and prepare for war. They made bows and arrows that were made from hickory or ash wood. The tips of arrows were made from turtle shell, antler bone and deer bone.

They made blowguns and darts out of wood and hollow reeds, which were used to hunt birds.

They made spears with sharp ends. A chisel could be made by a long piece of bone or antler. The end of the tool was ground to a sharp edge. The chisel was used to peel bark from logs, poles or standing trees. Long chisels can be pushed with both hands and perhaps with the shoulder as well.

The Iroquois also used fire as a tool. They burned the bottoms of trees to kill the trees.  Wood was their major resource.           



                                        Transportation of the Eastern woodlands 

    The Eastern Woodlands used canoes for transportation. Canoes are made out of cedar trees and birch bark. Some canoes could be up to 25 feet long. Low ends of canoes are more stability in calm waters. The Algonquian people used spears to help them catch fish from the canoe.

     The Eastern Woodlands also traveled by snowshoes in the winter. The snowshoes were shaped like bear paws or beaver tails. They were useful in deep snow. They made them from birch bark trees.