Iroquois Kinship 1 Iroquois Kinship System Carl B. Lockhart ANT 101 Robert Moon August 29, 2011 Iroquois Kinship 2 Iroquois Kinship System The first scientific investigation of an Indian tribe was conducted by Henry Lewis Morgan in the 1800’s. The League of the Ho-De-No–Sau-Nee, or Iroquois was published in 1851 and this book is a valuable contribution to Iroquois studies.
With this paper I will discuss the kinship system of the Iroquois tribe, describe three specific examples of how the kinship of the Iroquois culture impacts the way this culture behaves and compare this culture to my own society. The Iroquois tribes are a food-producing society that lived in North America, mainly in upstate New York. Their main crops were primarily “The Three Sisters” corn, beans, and squash. The Iroquois were horticulturalists and spent little to no time hunting and gathering.
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The men cleared and burned the forest while women planted, weeded, and harvested the crops. Cultivation was done cooperatively among the matrilineally related women of the longhouse. Older women would act as labor organizer, ensuring that everyone worked together for success. The Iroquois women produced about 65 percent of all products during the time of the European contact. The role of the Iroquois women was very important because of their labor. As the cultivators within the tribe, they were involved in many extra tribal conflicts.
The women also owned the maize or Indian corn or seeds; this gave them power within Iroquoian society. If the women were against a conflict or raiding activity, they withheld maize from the warriors, which meant the men could not go to war. The Iroquois sexual division of labor is similar to many societies, with women and men Iroquois Kinship 3 performing distinct roles. The labor was based on age as well as sex.
The younger members, the children did not engage in heavy labor nor did the elderly members. Property ownership in horticultural societies was rare and they had no rights to sell the land. The land was vested in the family and kin group which gave them the rights to use the land exclusively. If the land is abundant, outsiders could be granted access to use a parcel of land; which is call use rights Immovable property, such as a house could be owned, but even a house that’s built from perishable materials, last only a few years.
Once the family leaves the house to cultivate nearby lands, the house is available for anyone who wants to use the materials. Birth control or population control is different between foraging societies and horticultural societies. In horticultural having more children can be helpful because they could be used to perform farm labor and other small chores. Because the horticultural societies live in permanent settlements, they can have larger families than foraging societies.
Marriage within the Iroquois society is determined by kinship since marriage must be exogamous. People must marry outside their lineage and clan and the kinship system encourages marriage of cross cousins but not parallel cousins. This sometimes called a sibling-exchange system. This is done in consecutive generations because it keeps wealth in the family and reasserts alliances between the lineages. Divorce in a horticultural society is easily dissolved. Just as in our society, either partner could dissolve the marriage.
The difference is that the men moved into his wife’s village and longhouse because he was an outsider. If the wife decides that she no longer wanted Iroquois Kinship 4 to be married, all she had to do was pack her husband belongings and sat them outside on the steps of the longhouse. This type of behavior is still practiced in our society today but in a legal way by having the police present. Many acts or beliefs are practiced in the American communities today, but in a modern way.
American women are still faced with stereotypes that are a reflection of horticultural societies of the past. We still practice a form of sex division because women are still behind men in leadership roles within large corporations and we still have stay at home moms and home schooling. Property is still pass down from kinship clans (families) that has been in the families for generations, but the difference is we can purchase and own as many parcels of land and we can afford.
In parts of the Middle East and South East Asia, women still cultivate and farm the land, while the men work in the city for income. In today’s society we behave very similar to the societies of the horticultural era. The biggest different is we are governed by laws and they were governed by tradition. References Nowak, Barbara, Laird, Peter (2010) Cultural Anthropology: Ashford University Discovery Series Morgan, Lewis Henry (1818-81). (1998). In The New Encyclopedia of the American West. Retrieved from Http://www. credoreference. com [pic][pic][pic]
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