It is our privilege to present to you The People of the Longhouse, an historical Storyline. For several years we have attempted to share Native American culture with our students through Storyline, yet we have been in search of a unifying narrative. We believe the story of the People of the Longhouse, usually known as the Iroquois League, deserves a wider audience. This topic goes back in time to the founding of the confederacy of the Haudenosaunee, or the Five Nations. The current confederacy of the People of the Longhouse is known as the Six Nations, the Tuscarora Nation joining the confederacy in 1715.
In this Storyline students begin with the story of how the land and living things came to be as explained in the story of Skywoman. Students are grouped into clans and longhouses and take on a role in their family. They live through the cycle of seasons, learn the way of life and celebrations for their nation. When spring arrives, so do squabbles among the neighboring nations. In the summer, a new way of life, the Great Peace, is introduced by the Great Peace Maker and Hiawatha. The nations eventually agree and join together to become The People of the Longhouse, five Nations united by a common government.
Prior to beginning this topic we recommend you read 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann. Mann’s extensive research paints a much richer, vibrant, and densely-populated North and South America than most of us ever imagined, let alone were taught. We hope this topic can help correct this oversight. In his book Mann convincingly dates the Haudenosaunee League to August 31, 1142, the last observable total solar eclipse visible in upper New York state prior to 1600. Only Iceland’s Althing founded in 930 A.D. predates this representative government. Therefore, the Haudenosaunee are the second oldest continuously existing representative government on the planet. Research also shows that Haudenosaunee influenced the foundation of the United States government.
We hope this Storyline will help build bridges of understanding and peace.
Note: The topic was originally written for five classrooms, but we have offered suggestions for adapting the study to one classroom.