Date of Submission

Spring 2011

Academic Program

Historical Studies


Mark Lytle

Abstract/Artist's Statement

In my paper I will look at the extent of women’s power in Iroquoian and Huron societies in the seventeenth century in order to determine the extent to which this power came from their role as farmers. In these primarily agricultural societies, farmed food was a main source of material wealth that enhanced the ability to set aside a reserve in case of emergency or to use for trade opportunities. Therefore, if much of society’s wealth was represented by food sources, I would hypothesize that the women in charge of producing and distributing these goods would gain the ability to exert power and influence. I will first illustrate the food sources and diet of the Iroquois and Huron Indians, and the agricultural practices they employed. I will pay close attention to the division of labor in providing sustenance for the community, determining how great a role women played in food production and preparation. Next, I will look at the gender structures in Huron and Iroquoian society, to determine women’s role. I will try to determine how much of their power in society can be attributed to their relationship with the farmed land and their role as providers of sustenance to the community. For the last part of my project I have included a cookbook of Iroquoian and Huron recipes. These are accurate recreations of the seventeenth century versions in that they only use ingredients that were available and eaten by the Iroquois at the time. The cookbook contains a usable set of recipes that can be replicated in people’s kitchens today as a way to make sense of the diet, and give new meaning to the idea of local and sustainable eating.

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