FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q. Do the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) live in bark longhouses?
A. Haudenosaunee stopped living in bark longhouses in the early 1700s, then lived in log houses, and today live in modern dwellings.
Q. Do Haudenosaunee pay taxes?
A. Haudenosaunee pay no property taxes if they live on an Iroquois reservation. They pay property and school taxes if they live off the reservation. They pay no taxes to the Internal Revenue Service on income earned on their reservation. Iroquois pay federal, state, and provincial taxes earned off the reservation. They pay no sales tax on goods sold on the reservation, nor do they collect sales tax when they sell goods on the reservation. While they legally do not have to pay sales tax on goods bought off the reservation, many merchants insist they do and New York State does not enforce the law prohibiting merchants from charging them.
Q. Do the Haudenosaunee welcome visitors?
A. Many Haudenosaunee communities have cultural centers, museums, craft and art shops, businesses, and special events that welcome visitors.
Q. Do Haudenosaunee have their own language?
A. Each Haudenosaunee nation has its own language. A speaker from one of the six nations can easily learn to understand a speaker from another Haudenosaunee nation. The Iroquoian linguistic group includes the Cherokee language as well as other languages. Not all Haudenosaunee today can speak their native language, but most
speak English, and some speak French.
Q. What form of government do the Haudenosaunee have?
A. Most Haudenosaunee communities have two forms of government: traditional and elected. Traditional government begins with groups of families called clans. Each clan is headed by a woman "clan mother" who appoints a "Chief" who serves with her approval for the people.
The traditional chiefs meet in Grand Council at Onondaga to discuss problems, solutions and plans for the Confederacy. They follow the system brought to the Iroquois by the Peacemaker many centuries ago.
Early in the 20th century, the United States and Canada imposed an elected system for selecting chiefs to deal with state and provincial governments.
The Seneca communities of Allegany and Cattaraugus joined together to form the Seneca Nation of Indians, a separate government in New York State.
Traditional and elected governments co-exist in most communities, but some communities have only a traditional or elected government.
Q. What religion do the Haudenosaunee have?
A. Many forms of religion are found in Haudenosaunee communities. Some traditionalists follow the teachings of Handsome Lake, a prophet who died in 1815. Others seek guidance from the teachings of the Peacemaker centuries before. Quite a few are Christians of many denominations. Followers of other religious views are also found.
Q. Were the Haudenosaunee conquered by the U.S. Army and confined to reservations?
A. No. Some Haudenosaunee fought with the British during the Revolutionary War. Some fought with the colonists. Some remained neutral. After the war, much of Iroquois land was taken away as a result of government treaties, federal decisions and private land sales. Many of those transactions are now being challenged in the courts. The Haudenosaunee are not wards of the U.S. Government. Their lands do not belong to the United Sates. Their lands were not "reserved" for them by the U.S. They are a federally recognized tribe by the United States.