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Women played a very important role in Iroquoian society. Children belonged to their mother’s clan. This is called a matrilineal society. Children lived in a longhouse with their mother’s family. Moreover, the longhouse was run by the clan mother, who was the oldest woman. The clan mothers also chose the civil chiefs. The chiefs were always men.

Shared tasks

Among the Iroquoian people, society was divided between men and women, who had different tasks. A woman never did the work of a man and vice versa. All work was equally important, however, because tasks complemented each other to ensure the survival of the entire group.

From farming to making everyday objects

Women did all the farming, from sowing right up to harvesting. They also gathered plants, herbs, nuts and berries, collected maple sap and prepared the meals. They prepared animal skins to make clothing. They also made many of the objects used in everyday life. For example, they made jars and vases with clay, and sacks and baskets with bark.

Author: Service national du Récit de l’univers social

IMPORTANT CONCEPTS AND BIG IDEAS:

Matrilineal Society
Clan System