Life in the Longhouse
The Iroquois lived in longhouses with their clan ( orextended families), numbering between thirty and sixty people or fifteen to twenty families (Doherty 16) (Kalman 10). A longhouse was sectioned off into apartments with individual fireplaces in the middle hall ( Kalman 8). Two families shared a fireplace, each possessing one of the two compartments across the hall (Doherty 16). In the compartments platforms were built so that the Iroquois did not have to sit on damp floors; the platforms were 37 meters high and overlaid with reed mats and furs (Doherty 34).
Clans and the Matriarchy
The Iroquois was a matrilineal society, which means that heritage passed through the mother's side (Doherty 16). Each longhouse had a clan matron (Kalman 10). All men married into the clan. Clans traced their lineage back to and shared a particular ancester, and each longhouse kept a record of the descendants of their clan (Doherty 17). Clans were represented by animal guardians (Kalman 10). The wolf, bear, beaver, turtle, deer, snipe, heron, and hawk are believed to be the eight clans of a tribe (Doherty 16). These animal guardians were carved as emblems over the doorway of each longhouse and on hte cradleboards of babies (Kalman 10) (Doherty 29).