A Mohawk Iroquois Village


longhouse drawing



How we know about longhouses.
Longhouse structure.
Use of interior space.



The text emphasizes the design, and the architecture and construction, of the Iroquois longhouse as it appeared 400 years ago, and before European influence drastically changed the Iroquois culture. The intention is to present Iroquois technology as it was before the influx of Europeans. The design of the longhouse reflects the social organization within Iroquois culture. Its architecture and construction are adapted to the raw materials available to the Iroquois in their immediate surroundings, and to the tools and technology in their possession.


This compilation was extracted from materials developed in a joint project of the New York State Museum and the Montessori Magnet School, Albany City School District, which was funded in part by a Museum Leadership Initiative Grant from the Institute of Virtual Exhibits (IL-50073-95).

Staff of the New York State Museum, William Rogers, project director and coordinator, and George Hamell, anthropologist and museum educator, have prepared several drafts of this material. The first was prepared in consultation with teachers and administrators at the Montessori Magnet School to develop materials on the Iroquois for classroom use. Adele O'Connell, a parent volunteer at the Montessori School, edited this version. This material was used by two classes of 9-12 year old students, taught by Maggie Fuller and Timitra Rose, in the Montessori School in 1996-97. James Walsh, exhibit specialist at the Museum, suggested basic model-building techniques for students to build models of the longhouse. These students then built longhouse models in their art classes taught by Jean DellaRocco, with the help of parent volunteers, Adele O'Connell, Kim Brix, Dianne Scialdo, Janet Stutzman, and Bonnie Doody.

The materials were revised after the classroom experiences, then reviewed by several elementary teachers, Paula Johannessen, Valerie Lovelace, and Virginia Congemi. Their comments were passed on to a team of fourth, fifth, and seventh grade teachers, Karen McGuire, Gwen Blumberg, Betty Lavigne and John Svatek, who revised and expanded the materials.

Michele Dean Stock, of the Seneca Nation, reviewed that draft.

Roberta Wilson, freelance artist, drew the illustrations.

Valerie Fish, museum educator, New York State Museum, provided editorial comments for the present draft.

Philip Lord, Director, Division of Virtual Exhibits, prepared the material for the website.


Figure 1. An Iroquois longhouse
Figure 2. An archeological excavation.
Figure 3. Interior of a longhouse.
Figure 4. Sketch showing a few parts of the framework
Figure 5. Lashing
Figure 6. A stone axe
Figure 7. A stone adz
Figure 8. Fire as a woodworking tool
Figure 9. A knife blade and an arrow point made of flint
Figure 10. Bone tools used for piercing leather or bark
Figure 11. Bone arrow points
Figure 12. A chisel made from a deer antler and a fish hook made from bone.

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