Native American Tribes: The Mowhawks

Figure 1.-- Here we see a Mohawk father native with his two children at the fortification wall in Kahnawake Reserve near Montreal, Quebec in 1910.

The Mohawks called themselves the Kanien'kehake, meaning people of the flint. They saw themselves as the 'keeper of the eastern door'. They were one of the Eastern Woodlands peole and one of the five founding Nations of the Iroquois League or Confederacy. As is so often the case, the tribal name was created by their enemies, Algonquins and meant 'man eaters'--presumably referring to their fierce warrior tradition. It was subsequently adopted by the Europeans who had difficulty pronouncing Kanien'kehake. The other founding Confederacy tribes were the Cayuga, the Seneca, the Oneida, and the Onondaga. The sixth tribe to join was the Tuscarora. The Mowhawjks are best known today as an inspiratuinfor a hair style. Theyebdabegea (Joseph Brant) was a Mohawk leader who sided with the British during the Revolutionary War. The victory of the Americamns meant the beginning of the end for the Mowhawks. They originally inhabited what is now New York state, but after the Revolutionrt War mostly moved to the north into Cnada. James Fenimore Cooper's 1826 novel, The Last of the Mohicans describes a warrir from a people conquered by the Mohawk, but is an elegant description of the life of the Eastern woodland tribes and their dealings with each other and the the Europeans. Lacrosse was a popular sport among Mohawk boys as it was young adults. Women had important status more so than in European society. The men did the hunting for food, trading, and waged war. Women did the farming, held the property, and maintaoned the family. Mohawk clans (family groups) were ruled by the women who made decisions about land and resource allocation. Mohawk chiefs, always men, made the military decisions and negotiated trade agreements. Men represented the Mohawks at the Iroquois Great Council, but it was the women who voted to select the Mohawk representatives. Both genders partocipated took part in storytelling, artwork and music, as well as healing.


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5:05 AM 8/31/2013
Last updated: 5:05 AM 8/31/2013