Cayuga (American Indians Ready Reference)
One of the original five tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy, the Cayugas occupied a homeland between the Senecas to their west and the Onondagas to their east in what is now west-central New York State. The Cayuga language is very closely related to those of the other Iroquois tribes and to other Iroquoian languages . The name Cayuga is thought to mean “where the boats were taken out,” “where the locusts were taken out,” or “mucky land.” The Iroquois Confederacy Council name for the Cayugas refers to them as “those of the great pipe.” Like their fellow Iroquois, the Cayugas were divided into matrilineal clans, with a spokesman for each clan in the political system appointed by the matron of each clan. The Cayugas were matrilocal—a marrying couple would live with the wife's family. Consequently, married men were guests in their wives’ extended family households.
Men in Cayuga society traditionally spent much of their time away from the village hunting, fishing, trading, and engaging in warfare. Women were the primary breadwinners, raising the staple crops of corn, beans, and squash as well as tobacco and other agricultural products. Cayuga villages were composed of twenty to fifty longhouses, extended-family dwellings made of poles and bark coverings. Each longhouse housed between fifteen and thirty people. The Cayuga population was estimated at 1,500 in 1660, after the first epidemics of European diseases had taken their toll. For most...
(The entire section is 583 words.)
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