North-South-East-West: American Indians and the Natural World
In the Forest: Animals and Humans
Journey Through the Seasons
The Iroquois people have always patterned their lives according to the seasons of the year. In the past, time was kept by a lunar calendar. New moons—such as Maple Moon, Planting Moon, Corn Harvest Moon, and Moon of the Falling Leaves—were named according to events of the season.
Each season had its own activities determined by the available resources. For example, even today in the spring, when the strawberries ripen and the sap runs in the sugar maple trees, traditional Iroquois know it is time to collect these products. When the red oak leaves are the size of squirrels' feet, the frosts are over and it is safe to plant the corn.
The change of the seasons continues to be especially meaningful for those who follow the traditional Longhouse religion. Seasonal celebrations such as the Strawberry, Green Corn, and Mid-Winter ceremonies emphasize thankfulness for what has been provided in each season.