T e a c h e r  C r e a t e d  L e s s o n

The St. Lawrence Iroquoians

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Centre d'interpétation du site archéologique Droulers/Tsiionhiakwatha, Huntingdon, Quebec

Main objective
This lesson's main objective is to share the historical importance and cultural richness of the Upper St. Lawrence's human occupation long before the arrival of Europeans in the XVIth century.
About the activities
Students may work individually or in small teams, as decided by the teacher as well as the availability of computers for the content's consultation.

To begin with, discuss the students' perception of the following topics:

- who were the Iroquoians
- where did they live (villages and longhouses)
- how was everyday life (sustenance, mens' and womens' roles)
- what were the main staples of their diet (agriculture, hunting and fishing)
- what materials were used to build everyday objects (ceramics, stone and organic objects)

Write the museum's name on the blackboard : «Droulers / Tsiionhiakwatha archaeological site» and define «Tsiionhiakwatha» which means «where we pick berries», the name given to this area by the elders of the Mohawk community, one of six great Iroquoian Nations.
Importance of the Droulers/Tsiionhiakwatha site
The Droulers/Tsiionhiakwatha site is one of the most important Iroquoian sites in Quebec, and it is considered to have been the foremost village in the region marked by the culture of the Saint-Anicet Iroquoians. Radiocarbon dating places the occupation of the site between 1450 and 1500 of our era. During this period, the cultivated land sometimes extended for as much as two kilometres beyond the village limits.
Centre d'interpétation du site archéologique Droulers/Tsiionhiakwatha.
© 2011, Centre d'interpétation du site archéologique Droulers/Tsiionhiakwatha.
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Learning Object Collection: The St. Lawrence Iroquoians
Learning Object: An epic story
The iroquoian people
Model of the iroquoian village
The St. Lawrence Iroquoians were a semi-sedentary people, who practised a corn-based agriculture and engaged in horticulture to grow beans, squash, tobacco and sunflowers. They lived in palisaded villages that contained several longhouses.

Model by Michel Cadieux




© 2011, Centre d'interpétation du site archéologique Droulers/Tsiionhiakwatha.
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Learning Object Collection: The St. Lawrence Iroquoians
Learning Object: An epic story
Men's responsibilities
Man working on projectile points
The men were responsible for clearing the land needed to set up villages and lay out fields, but also built the longhouses, erected the palisades and made birch bark canoes, dugout canoes and snowshoes. Hunting and fishing, as well as trade and diplomatic expeditions, were almost exclusively masculine activities.

Centre d'interpétation du site archéologique Droulers/Tsiionhiakwatha.




© 2011, Centre d'interpétation du site archéologique Droulers/Tsiionhiakwatha.
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Learning Object Collection: The St. Lawrence Iroquoians
Learning Object: An epic story
Women's responsibilities
Mealtime inside a longhouse
The women, in addition to helping to clear the land, prepared and sowed the seeds, cared for and harvested the crops, processed the corn and stored surpluses. The women also prepared meals, collected firewood, drew water, gathered wild plants and made clothing, fishnets and baskets.

Centre d'interpétation du site archéologique Droulers/Tsiionhiakwatha.




© 2011, Centre d'interpétation du site archéologique Droulers/Tsiionhiakwatha.
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Learning Object Collection: The St. Lawrence Iroquoians
Learning Object: An epic story
Activity 1: The Iroquoians and their villages
- Who were the Iroquoians and where did they live?
- During which period in history was the Droulers site occupied?
- Were they present before the arrival of the Europeans?
- How far did the village extend (including the cultivated areas)?
Choosing a good location
Iroquoian village surrounded by a palisade
In regions where Iroquoian languages were spoken, from the Great Lakes to the area around Quebec City, the St. Lawrence Iroquoians established their villages along major waterways, choosing places with sandy soil and land that could be used for fields close by. For strategic and ecological reasons, these populations wanted their villages to be in an easily defended spot with well-drained soil.

Centre d'interpétation du site archéologique Droulers/Tsiionhiakwatha.




© 2011, Centre d'interpétation du site archéologique Droulers/Tsiionhiakwatha.
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Learning Object Collection: The St. Lawrence Iroquoians
Learning Object: A human landscape
Village life
Longhouses of an iroquoian village
The village territory, which was occupied throughout the year, included gardens and cultivated fields. Iroquoian communities recognized two ways in which land could be owned: the gardens cultivated by women for their families' sustenance were privately owned, whereas the fields were communally owned by members of the same maternal line.

Centre d'interpétation du site archéologique Droulers/Tsiionhiakwatha.




© 2011, Centre d'interpétation du site archéologique Droulers/Tsiionhiakwatha.
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Learning Object Collection: The St. Lawrence Iroquoians
Learning Object: A human landscape
Activity 2: Choosing a good location and village life
- What type of soil was preferred by the Iroquoians and why?
- Was the village inhabited all year long?
- What did we find inside a village?
Longhouse architecture
A longhouse's wall, seen from the inside
For the St. Lawrence Iroquoians, the basic dwelling unit was the longhouse. A rectangular building with rounded corners, it was home to several families and could be as large as 40 metres long by six metres wide, with a height of four to six metres. Longhouses could be extended at either end to accommodate more people if necessary.

Centre d'interpétation du site archéologique Droulers/Tsiionhiakwatha.




© 2011, Centre d'interpétation du site archéologique Droulers/Tsiionhiakwatha.
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Learning Object Collection: The St. Lawrence Iroquoians
Learning Object: A human landscape
Interior layout
The interior of an Iroquoian longhouse was divided lengthwise by a central aisle with a series of hearths down the middle. Each hearth was generally used by two families. The number of hearths usually indicated the number of families living in the longhouse. A longhouse with the average five hearths could thus shelter up to ten families.
Centre d'interpétation du site archéologique Droulers/Tsiionhiakwatha.
© 2011, Centre d'interpétation du site archéologique Droulers/Tsiionhiakwatha.
Play the Video File

Learning Object Collection: The St. Lawrence Iroquoians
Learning Object: A human landscape
Life inside a longhouse
Life inside a longhouse
Centre d'interpétation du site archéologique Droulers/Tsiionhiakwatha.
© 2011, Centre d'interpétation du site archéologique Droulers/Tsiionhiakwatha.
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Learning Object Collection: The St. Lawrence Iroquoians
Historical reconstitution
Aerial view of the Droulers / Tsiionhiakwatha site.
A total of at least 3 200 cedar posts were needed to construct the four longhouses and the palisade at the Droulers / Tsiionhiakwatha site. A special aspect of this presentation project is the participation of members of the Akwesasne Mohawk community, who have been steadily involved since the very first reconstruction efforts and have helped in particular to build the longhouses and the palisade.

Illustration by Maurice Dunberry




© 2011, Centre d'interpétation du site archéologique Droulers/Tsiionhiakwatha.
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Learning Object Collection: The St. Lawrence Iroquoians
Learning Object: An epic story
Activity 3: The longhouse
- What shape had the longhouse?
- What size did it have?
- Could the longhouse be expanded in size? Why were they expanded?
- Describe the interior layout and life inside a longhouse.

NOTE: The last question can be complemented by an artistic project where students will create a drawing of either the interior layout of a longhouse or a scene of daily life based upon the videos they watched.
Preparing the fields
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.
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Learning Object Collection: The St. Lawrence Iroquoians
The Three Sisters
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.
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Learning Object Collection: The St. Lawrence Iroquoians
Activity 4: Iroquoian agriculture
- At what time of the year agricultural activities started?
- Who made agriculture related decisions? Men or women?
- What were the various tasks associated with agriculture?
- Who were the Three Sisters? Create a drawing of them.
Ceramics
Detail of a decorated vase
The use and production of pottery vessels is closely linked to changes in the lifestyles and eating habits of human populations. Pottery represents the principal marker identifying an archaeological site as St. Lawrence Iroquoian. The ceramic technology used by Iroquoian women belonged to an ancestral tradition originating in the distant past. The fruit of a long evolution, pottery production appeared in the northeast of North America over two millennia ago.

Centre d'interpétation du site archéologique Droulers/Tsiionhiakwatha.




© 2011, Centre d'interpétation du site archéologique Droulers/Tsiionhiakwatha.
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Learning Object Collection: The St. Lawrence Iroquoians
Learning Object: Material culture
Objects made of organic material
Chisel made from a beaver incisor
Like their predecessors, the Saint-Anicet Iroquoians used organic materials such as wood, bone, tooth and antler to make various objects, including weapons, tools, gaming pieces and ornaments.

Centre d'interpétation du site archéologique Droulers/Tsiionhiakwatha.




© 2011, Centre d'interpétation du site archéologique Droulers/Tsiionhiakwatha.
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Learning Object Collection: The St. Lawrence Iroquoians
Learning Object: Material culture
Stone objects
Circular beads
Flaked stone dominates archaeological assemblages on sites predating the first millennium of our era. The use of ground stone tools became common with the advent of the Late Woodland period, when populations began to live in villages and practise agriculture. Grinding and crushing stone gradually supplanted flaking activities.

Centre d'interpétation du site archéologique Droulers/Tsiionhiakwatha.




© 2011, Centre d'interpétation du site archéologique Droulers/Tsiionhiakwatha.
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Learning Object Collection: The St. Lawrence Iroquoians
Learning Object: Material culture
Making a stone tool
Making a stone tool, a demonstration by Michel Cadieux
Centre d'interpétation du site archéologique Droulers/Tsiionhiakwatha.
© 2011, Centre d'interpétation du site archéologique Droulers/Tsiionhiakwatha.
Play the Video File

Learning Object Collection: The St. Lawrence Iroquoians
Learning Object: Material culture
Activity 5: Daily life's objects
- What event is associated with the arrival of iroquoian pottery?
- What types of organic materials were used for the making of objects? Which were these objects?
- Based on the viewing of the video entitled "Making a stone tool", describe the different steps that go into making such an object.

Learning Objectives

- Discover the Iroquoian People's daily life
- Appreciate the importance of the Droulers/Tsiionhiakwatha site and its archaeological discoveries
- Learn about the longhouse, its construction and interior planning
- Understand the basic principles of the St. Lawrence Iroquoians agriculture
- Appreciate these peoples' material culture
- Learn about the making of a stone tool