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Students bring Iroquois history to life with model village

"It's a lot more learning that just reading a book," said Robles. "She (Taylor) was looking forward to this all year."

Robles, who also has a third-grader in the school, said she would be participating in the project again next year.

He daughter, dressed in the traditional buckskin garb of a clan mother, explained her role as the matriarch of a clan.

"They were usually in charge; they would pick the chief," she said. "They would decide where to go."

Nearly all the students had some interesting fact to share about the Iroquois people. One of the more interesting facts was that some tribe members consider the name Iroquois to be offensive.

"It was given to them by their enemies," said Megan, explaining their traditional name was Haudenosaunee, which means "people of the long house."

Student Natasha Permaul said that the name Iroquois, supposedly bestowed upon them by the Huron, translated roughly to "evil snake."

What struck Reid was "how the U.S. government was influenced by the Iroquois Confederacy."

Megan added, "I was still surprised that there are 60,000 Native Americans living in New York today."

The idea to bring learning to life excites many of the students, if only because it gets them out of the classroom, said Perrotta.

"It's a great learning opportunity because they get to use all of their senses," said Perrotta. "The whole week is hands-on. Everything they learn, they get to share with the entire school."

The next day, the whole thing would be taken down, and the end of the project was celebrated with a closing ceremony.

Next year, the village will be built again to continue the hands-on teaching of an important, and sometimes overlooked, part of the history of New York.

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