The Huron Indians were part of the Iroquoian people who were named Hurons by the French in the 17th century. Hurons, meaning "boars head," came from the Old French hure, which referred to the male Hurons bristly coiffure. The name also meant "rough" and "boorish." Although the French gave them this name, the Hurons called themselves Wendat, Guyandot, or Wyandot. These names are assumed to mean "islanders" or "peninsula dwellers." This is because there territory was bounded on three sides by water. The Huron name is usually referred to those who were of importance to the Canadians. The Wyandot name specifically refers to those Hurons who moved to the southeastern area of Detroit in the United States. As a matter of fact, the city of Wyandot, Michigan has a picture of the Wyandot/Huron Indians at the entrance of the city. Living between Lake Simcoe and the southeastern corner of Georgian Bay, 20,000 to 40, 000 of these Indians lived in 18 to 25 villages. Settling between Lake Huron and Lake Ontario, these Indians were significant to both the Americans and the Canadians.
Just like the Miami Indians, the Huron
Indians were divided into numerous clans. They consisted of the Rock Clan, the Cord Clan,
the Bear Clan, the Deer Clan, and the One House Lodge. The Huron Indians looked up to the
Iroquois and imitated their skills in building. They built their houses with elmbark and
elongated them on high grounds near rivers and springs. They also copied the ways in which
the Iroquois farmed by using the same crops, such as corn, beans, squash, sunflowers, and
tobacco. Corn was a primary crop that was grown by the Hurons, however later the
"three sister" crops of Amerindian agriculture, which included corn, beans, and
squash, were grown together as a principal food source. Even though the women were in
charge of planting and farming, the men would always be responsible for the tobacco
plants, and the women would be in charge of all other crops. The Hurons had so many crops,
one commented on the seven thousand acres saying "it was easier to get lost in the
corn field" than in the surround forest. About eighty percent of the Indians feed
came from their crops. The rest went to trade with others. When in came to hunting, the
Hurons used bows and arrows to shoot deer, nets to catch beaver, and traps to catch bears.
During the times in which they caught bears, they would keep them alive for two years,
feeding them and fattening them up so they would produce a lot of meat for the tribe. They
also liked to fish in lakes and rivers. Whitefish was the most common fish they caught.
Unlike the Iroquois, however, they used canoes that were made of birchbark, like those of
the Algonquian tribe. The nets they used to capture beaver were made from plants called
nettles. They tied stones at the ends of the nets in order to keep them down once thrown
over the animal. Other weapons consisted of harpoons made of bone hooks, and tomahawks
made by the Europeans.
Some of the clothing they wore consisted of deerskin shirts, breechcloths, leggings,
skirts, and moccasin shoes. During the winter when it was cold, they used fur to trap in
the extra heat. The Hurons were very decorative with their clothing. They often used a lot
of painted designs and would fringe the edges of their leggings, skirts, and shirts. They
also would use strips of fur as additional flare. When they painted their faces, they
would use vegetable and mineral dyes mixed with sunflower oil or bear fat in order to
produce the colors red, black, violet, and green.
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