The mohawk tribe

The mohawk tribe DEFAULT

Mohawk Indian Fact Sheet

    Mohawk Tribe

19th-century Mohawk family    Iroquois dancer today

How do you pronounce the word "Mohawk"? What does it mean?
Mohawk is pronounced "mo-hawk." It comes from a name their Algonkian enemies used to call them, meaning "man-eaters." In their own language, the Mohawk people call themselves Kanienkehaka, which means "people of the flint."

Were they really man-eaters?
It's not clear anymore whether that name was supposed to be literal, or an insult, or just a figure of speech to show that the Mohawks were fierce. Some Mohawk people believe that in ancient times, before they joined the Iroquois Confederacy, their ancestors used to eat enemies they had killed in battle. Other Mohawks think that never really happened and cannibals were always rare and strange in Mohawk society, like they were in other cultures.

Where do the Mohawks live?
The Mohawks are original people of New York state. Here is our map of New York Indian tribes and the location of their original homelands. Some Mohawk people still live in New York today, but most Mohawks retreated to Canada in the 1700's.

Are the Mohawks Iroquois people?

How is the Mohawk Indian nation organized?
The Mohawk nation had a tribal council chosen by the Mohawk clan mothers (matriarchs, or female leaders.) But the Mohawks were also subject to the decisions made by the Iroquois Great Council. Nine Mohawk chiefs represented their tribe's interests in the Iroquois Council. This is similar to American states which each have their own government, but are all subject to the US government. In fact, the Iroquois Confederacy was one of the examples of representative democracy used as a model by America's founding fathers.

Today the Mohawk people have four First Nations in what is now Ontario and Quebec, including one reservation with land on both sides of the Canada-US border. Each of these Mohawk tribes is autonomous, which means the Indians who live there have the right to make their own government and laws. There are also other Mohawk communities in New York and Quebec, and some Mohawk people live on the Six Nations Reserve, which they share with members of the other Iroquois nations.

What language do the Mohawks speak?
Most Mohawk people speak English today, but some Mohawks also speak their native Mohawk language. Mohawk is a complex language with many sounds that are unlike the sounds in English. If you'd like to know a few easy Mohawk words, "she:kon" (pronounced similar to shay-cone) is a friendly greeting, and "nia:wen" (pronounced similar to nee-ah-wenh) means 'thank you.' You can also read a Mohawk picture glossary here and listen to the spoken language here.

What was Mohawk culture like in the past? What is it like now?

       Mohawk flag
Here is the homepage of the Mohawk Tribe of Kahnawake, where you can find information about the Mohawk lifestyle past and present.

Sponsored Links

How do Mohawk Indian children live, and what did they do in the past?

   Mohawk doll
They do the same things any children do--play with each other, go to school and help around the house. Many Mohawk children like to go hunting and fishing with their fathers. In the past, Indian kids had more chores and less time to play, just like early colonial children. But Mohawk children did have toys and games. Mohawk girls liked to play with cornhusk dolls, and boys played a game where they tried to throw a dart through a moving hoop. Lacrosse was also a popular sport among Mohawk boys as it was among adult men. Like many Native Americans, Mohawk mothers traditionally carried their babies in cradleboards on their backs. Here is a website with pictures of cradleboards and other American Indian baby carriers.

What were men and women's roles in the Mohawk tribe?
Mohawk men were in charge of hunting, trading, and war. Mohawk women were in charge of farming, property, and family. These different roles were reflected in Mohawk government. Mohawk clans were always ruled by women, who made all the land and resource decisions for each clan. But Mohawk chiefs, who made military decisions and trade agreements, were always men. Only men represented the Mohawks at the Iroquois Great Council, but only women voted to determine who the Mohawk representatives would be. Both genders took part in storytelling, artwork and music, and traditional medicine.

What were Mohawk homes like in the past?

          Iroquois longhouse sketch
The Mohawk people lived in villages of longhouses, which were large wood-frame buildings covered with sheets of elm bark. One Mohawk house could be a hundred feet long, and an entire clan lived in it--up to 60 people! Here are some pictures of longhouses like the ones Mohawk Indians used, and a drawing of what a long house looked like on the inside. Today, longhouses are only used for ceremonial purposes. The Mohawks live in modern houses and apartment buildings, just like you.

What was Mohawk clothing like? Did they wear feather headdresses and face paint?
 Mohawk traditional clothing

   Mohawk Indian moccasins
Mohawk men wore breechcloths with leggings. Mohawk women wore wraparound skirts with shorter leggings. Men did not originally wear shirts in Mohawk culture, but women often wore a poncho-like tunic called an overdress. Mohawk Indians usually wore moccasins on their feet. In colonial times, the Mohawks adapted European costume like cloth shirts and blouses, decorating them with beadwork and ribbon applique. Here is a photograph of a traditional Mohawk skirt. Here is a webpage about traditional Iroquois dress, and some photographs and links about Native American Indian clothes in general.

The Mohawks didn't wear long headdresses like the Sioux. Mohawk men wore traditional Iroquois headdresses, which are feathered caps with a different insignia for each tribe. (The Mohawk headdress has three eagle feathers on top.) Mohawk women sometimes wore special beaded tiaras. In times of war, Mohawk men shaved their heads except for a scalplock or a crest down the center of their head. This style is often called a Mohawk haircut because of them (though warriors in several other tribes also wore their hair this way.) Sometimes they augmented this haircut with splayed feathers or a roach headdress made of brightly dyed porcupine and deer hair. Here are some pictures of these different kinds of Indian headdress. Mohawk women only cut their hair when they were in mourning. Otherwise they wore their hair long and loose or plaited into a long braid. Men sometimes decorated their faces and bodies with Native tattoo art, but Mohawk women generally didn't paint or tattoo themselves.

Today, some Mohawk people still wear moccasins or a beaded shirt, but they wear modern clothes like jeans instead of breechcloths... and they only wear feathers in their hair on special occasions like a dance.

What was Mohawk transportation like in the days before cars? Did they paddle canoes?
Iroquois snowshoes
Yes, there were two types of Mohawk canoes. A canoe made from elm bark was light and fast. A dugout canoe, made from hollowed-out logs, was long and could carry many people. Here is a website with pictures of different Mohawk canoe types. Over land, the Mohawks used dogs as pack animals. (There were no horses in North America until colonists brought them over from Europe.) During the winter the Mohawks used sleds and laced snowshoes to travel through the snow.

What was Mohawk food like in the days before supermarkets?

    Iroquois farmers
The Mohawk Indians were farming people. Mohawk women planted crops of corn, beans, and squash and harvested wild berries and herbs. Mohawk men hunted for deer and elk and fished in the rivers. Traditional Mohawk foods included cornbread, soups, and stews, which they cooked on stone hearths. Here is a website with more information about Native farming.

What were Mohawk weapons, tools, and artifacts like in the past?

     Iroquois war club
Mohawk hunters used bows and arrows. Mohawk fishermen used spears and fishing poles. In war, Mohawk men used their bows and arrows or fought with clubs, spears and shields. Here is a website with pictures and information about the Iroquois war club and other traditional weapons.

Other important tools used by the Mohawks included stone adzes (hand axes for woodworking), flint knives for skinning animals, and wooden hoes for farming. The Mohawks and other Iroquois were skilled woodworkers, steaming wood so that it could be bent to make curved tools. Some Iroquois artisans still make lacrosse sticks this way today.

What are Mohawk arts and crafts like?
Iroquois beadwork
The Mohawk and other Iroquois tribes were known for their tribal masks, which are considered such a sacred art form that outsiders are still not permitted to view many of these masks. Iroquois beadwork and the more demanding quillwork are more common Mohawk crafts. The Mohawks also crafted wampum out of white and purple shell beads. Wampum beads were traded as a kind of currency, but they were more culturally important as an art material. The designs and pictures on wampum belts often told a story or represented a person's family.

What was Mohawk music like?
Iroquois water drum
The two most important Mohawk instruments are drums and flutes. Mohawk drums were often filled with water to give them a distinctive sound different from the drums of other tribes. Most Mohawk music is very rhythmic and consists mostly of drumming and lively singing. Flutes were used to woo women in the Mohawk tribe. A young Mohawk man would play beautiful flute music outside his girlfriend's longhouse at night to show her he was thinking about her.

What other Native Americans did the Mohawk tribe interact with?
The most important neighbors of the Mohawk tribe were the other Iroquois nations: the Seneca, Onondaga, Oneida, and Cayuga. Before the Iroquois Confederacy the Mohawks sometimes fought with the other Iroquois tribes, but once the alliance was formed they were loyal to each other. The Mohawks were fierce warriors who fought wars with the other eastern tribes, particularly the Wabanaki tribes, the Algonquin and Ojibway, and the Mohican bands. The Mohawks also traded with their neighbors, exchanging corn and woodcrafts for furs and quahog shells.

What kinds of stories do the Mohawks tell?
There are lots of traditional Mohawk legends and fairy tales. Storytelling is very important to the Mohawk Indian culture. Here is a Mohawk story about the origin of the Rabbit Dance. Here's a website where you can read more about Iroquois Indian legends.

What about Mohawk religion?
Spirituality and religion were important parts of Mohawk life, and some people continue to practice traditional beliefs today. It is respectful to avoid imitating religious rituals for school projects since some Mohawk people care about them deeply. You can read and learn about them, however. You can visit this site to learn more about Iroquois beliefs or this site about Indian traditions and beliefs in general.

Can you recommend a good book for me to read?
One book about the Mohawk tribe for young readers is The Mohawk Tribe of North America, which has many photographs about traditional and contemporary Mohawk life. Lacrosse: The National Game of the Iroquois is a lively look at this traditional sport and Iroquois culture in general, tracing the lives of three generations of Iroquois lacrosse players. Legends of the Iroquois is a good collection of traditional Six Nations stories by a Mohawk author. Wampum Belts of the Iroquois is an interesting look at the symbols and meaning of the different wampum belt designs used by the Mohawk and other Iroquois peoples. Or If You Lived With The Iroquois provides a good look at daily life in the Iroquois tribes in the old days. You can also browse through our recommendations of books by American Indian writers. Disclaimer: we are an Amazon affiliate and our website earns a commission if you buy a book through one of these links. Most of them can also be found in a public library, though!

How do I cite your website in my bibliography?
You will need to ask your teacher for the format he or she wants you to use. The authors' names are Laura Redish and Orrin Lewis and the title of our site is Native Languages of the Americas. We are a nonprofit educational organization working to preserve and protect Native American languages and culture. You can learn more about our organization here. Our website was first created in 1998 and last updated in 2020.

Thanks for your interest in the Mohawk Indian people and their language!

Sponsored Links


Culture and History

The Mohawk are traditionally the keepers of the Eastern Door of the Iroquois Confederacy, also known as the Six Nations Confederacy or the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. Our original homeland is the north eastern region of New York State extending into southern Canada and Vermont. Prior to contact with Europeans the Mohawk settlements populated the Mohawk Valley of New York State. Through the centuries Mohawk influence extended far beyond their territory and was felt by the Dutch who settled on the Hudson River and in Manhattan. The Mohawks’ location as the Iroquois nation closest to Albany and Montreal, and the fur traders there, gave them considerable influence among the other Tribes. This location has also contributed directly to a long and beautifully complicated history.

In the 1750s, to relieve crowding at Kahnawake and to move closer to the Iroquois homeland, the French Jesuits established a mission at the present site on the St. Regis River. The Mohawk people had continually used this site at the confluence of the St. Lawrence River Valley as part of our fishing and hunting grounds prior to the building of the first church. “Akwesasne” as it is known today, translates roughly to “Land where the partridge drums” has always been a prime location due to the confluence of several small rivers and the St. Lawrence River. The Catholic Church records date back to the late 1600’s. Oral history states the church was built on traditional ceremonial grounds.

The community became more populated as Mohawks left the Mohawk Valley under distressed conditions in the mid 1700’s. In 1759 a band of Abenakis sought refuge with the Mohawk people during the French and Indian War, with some remaining behind after their party returned to their own village. In addition, also as a result of the dislocation caused by the war, a number of refugees from the Oswegatchie Mission (near present day Ogdensburg, NY) settled at Saint Regis. After this immigration, the culture at Saint Regis stayed predominately Mohawk. In 1796 the Seven Nations of Canada, which included Christian Mohawks living in St. Regis asserted rights to their lands and were eventually confined to a small parcel of land through a treaty signed by representatives of the Seven Nations of Canada and the State of New York.  Today the Mohawk people of Akwesasne still rightfully claim territory outside the confines of the current boundaries of the reservation and exercise guardianship over these lands through National Historic Preservation Act, Section 106 and Environmental Protection Act processes. 

In 1888, at a Grand Council of the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy (Haudenosaunee Confederacy), the Mohawk Nation formally rekindled their fire and responsibilities to the Confederacy as the successor of the descendents of Mohawks who had left the Mohawk Valley a hundred years earlier. The Mohawk people who had maintained their traditional customs and ceremonies restored their place as an “Elder Brother” of the Haudenosaunee. The Confederacy felt it was beneficial to all to remain united, therefore strengthening its position when fighting for Indian rights under treaties previously negotiated with the United States.

After the American War of Independence, the Mohawk people found it necessary to deal with the government of the State of New York. In order to protect themselves and their best interests, the Mohawks decided to select representatives to interact with New York. In the 1930s the Federal Government proposed the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA). Each Tribe was given the opportunity to reject the IRA and the Saint Regis Mohawks did reject the Act of 1935. In 1953, a Federal task force arrived at Saint Regis to prepare termination legislation but the chiefs and Saint Regis people rejected the termination. Despite this, the Bureau of Indian Affairs proposed bill was presented to Congress where it died in committee without serious consideration.

Administrative termination of Tribes continued throughout the 1950s. In the mid-1960s, however, the Federal Government was reminded that there had been no official termination of the Federal relationship with the New York State Iroquois. The acknowledgment of the Federal relationship was slow to manifest itself. Following preliminary findings, the leaders of the Iroquois Tribes, including those of the Saint Regis, were invited to Washington to explore the establishment of a viable relationship.

  1. 104th infantry division roster
  2. Too netflix movies
  3. Ford car 2017 model
  4. Battery picture frame lights

The onetime "keepers of the eastern door" of the Iroquois Confederacy, the Greater Mohawk Nation presently inhabits reserves in Ontario and Quebec, Canada, and a reservation in northern New York State. Additionally, some Mohawk descendants are among the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma. The ancestral homeland of the Mohawk was eastern New York's middle Mohawk River valley, and their hunting grounds extended from the Adirondack Mountains south to the East Branch of the Susquehanna River. Prior to 1666 the Mohawk located their principal villages along the south bank of the Mohawk River and arranged them by clan, with the Turtles in the east, the Bears in the center, and the Wolves to the west. Each clan held three of nine chieftainships in the Iroquois League. Mohawk longhouses sheltered families linked through females, as their society was both matrilineal and matrilocal. The Mohawk language is Iroquoian.

The American Revolution (1775–83) and its outcome geographically split the Mohawk tribe. Those of the lower Mohawk valley fled toward Montreal in 1777 and relocated to Ontario's Tyendinega Reserve in 1784. In 1783 the lands of the St. Regis Mohawk were divided by the newly drawn United States-Canada boundary, and in winter and spring 1784–85 Joseph Brant led the upper Mohawk to the Six Nations Reserve near present Brantford, Ontario. In 1797 the Mohawk relinquished all claim to lands within New York State. Some Mohawk subsequently settled in Ohio among "the Seneca of Sandusky," a mingling of Erie, Conestoga, and other Iroquoian bands and tribal remnants. In 1832 the Seneca of Sandusky removed to the Indian Territory (present Ottawa and Delaware counties in Oklahoma). In 1837 fifty Mohawk were reported on the Seneca Reservation, which was allotted beginning in 1888.

Mohawk are known for their high-steel construction industry work. Traditionally, they were agriculturalists. Their black-ash-splint and sweetgrass baskets are popular craft items. Mohawk called themselves the Kanyenkehaka, "People of the Flint Place." The Dutch and English called them Mohawks ("man eaters"), a term acquired from southern New England tribes.



William Fenton and Elisabeth Tooker, "Mohawk," in Handbook of North American Indians, Vol. 15, Northeast, ed. Bruce G. Trigger (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1978).

Dean R. Snow, "Mohawk," in Encyclopedia of North American Indians, ed. Frederick E. Hoxie (New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1996).

Muriel H. Wright, A Guide to the Indian Tribes of Oklahoma (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1951).

Copyright and Terms of Use

No part of this site may be construed as in the public domain.

Copyright to all articles and other content in the online and print versions of The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History is held by the Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS). This includes individual articles (copyright to OHS by author assignment) and corporately (as a complete body of work), including web design, graphics, searching functions, and listing/browsing methods. Copyright to all of these materials is protected under United States and International law.

Users agree not to download, copy, modify, sell, lease, rent, reprint, or otherwise distribute these materials, or to link to these materials on another web site, without authorization of the Oklahoma Historical Society. Individual users must determine if their use of the Materials falls under United States copyright law's "Fair Use" guidelines and does not infringe on the proprietary rights of the Oklahoma Historical Society as the legal copyright holder of The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and part or in whole.


The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Pamela Koenig, “Mohawk,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture,

© Oklahoma Historical Society.



Mohawk Chief by John r. Smith, 1776.

Mohawk Chief by John r. Smith, 1776.

The Mohawk Indians were once the most easterly tribe of the Five Nations of the Iroquoian Confederacy.

Their original homeland was in the valley of the Mohawk River in upstate New York, west of the Hudson River, and extending into southern Canada and Vermont primarily around Lake Ontario and the St Lawrence River, but it also extended south to New Jersey and  Pennsylvania.

As part of the Iroquoian Confederacy, the fierce warlike Mohawk were known as the Keepers of the Eastern Door – the traditional guardians against invasions from the east.

The Mohawk tribe lived in large fortified villages of Longhouses in the winter and in the summer, the men traveled on hunting expeditions while temporarily living in temporary wigwams. The people practiced hunting, fishing, and farming and traveled extensively in the territory along rivers in elm bark canoes for trading and war expeditions.

Because of their warlike nature, the Mohawk were feared due to their brutal attacks and the merciless way they treated captives. Along with the other tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy, they waged warfare on all of their neighboring tribes until they were all conquered.

Their first contact with European settlers came in the form of conflict, fighting against French explorer Samuel De Champlain. In the 17th century, the Mohawk encountered both the Dutch, who went up the Hudson River and established a trading post in 1614, and the French, who came south present-day Quebec.

Before long, the Mohawk were regularly trading the Dutch, Swedish, French, and British. During this time the Mohawk fought with the Huron in the Beaver Wars for control of the fur trade with the Europeans. Jesuit missionaries were also active with the tribe seeking converts to Catholicism.

The Mohawk became allied to the British against the French during the French and Indian War.

After the American Revolution, the British ceded their claim to land in the colonies, and the Americans forced their allies, the Mohawk and others, to give up their territories in New York. Most of the Mohawk then migrated to Canada,

Mohawk Indians, W.S. Tanner, 1894.

Mohawk Indians, W.S. Tanner, 1894.

Members of the Mohawk tribe now live in settlements in northern New York State and southeastern Canada.

©Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, October 2020.

Also See:

Iroquoian Confederacy

Native Americans – First Owners of America

Native American Tribes

Native American Photo Galleries


Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe


Mohawk tribe the

Skip to main content

Choose Images for Story Project

  • Image 1 of 9

    Toggle FavoriteBasketmaking is an important traditional...

    Basketmaking is an important traditional art form that has been practiced in Akwesasne for generations. At the turn of the last century, women and some men made and sold baskets to help support their families. Today, elders still teach children how to harvest black ash and make baskets. c.1900

  • Image 2 of 9

    Mary Adams basket
    Toggle FavoriteThis basket was made by Mohawk artist Ma...

    This basket was made by Mohawk artist Mary Adams in 1985. It is called a "fancy" or ornamental basket because it was designed for sale, not for use. Note the many curls and miniature sweetgrass baskets on the sides. These unique details are considered the "mark" or signature of the basketmaker. 1985

  • Image 3 of 9

    Jake Arquette basket
    Toggle FavoriteThis burden or pack basket by Jake Arque...

    This burden or pack basket by Jake Arquette is designed with thick splints strong enough to carry heavy items like tools, food, or branches. Hunters, trappers, and snowshoers often wore these on their backs to haul important gear into the woods. 1979

  • Image 4 of 9

    Black ash saplings
    Toggle FavoriteBlack ash trees grow slowly. This stand ...

    Black ash trees grow slowly. This stand of saplings in a wetland on the Akwesasne reservation will need 40 or 50 years to fully mature. c. 2000

  • Image 5 of 9

    Sue Ellen Herne
    Toggle Favorite"A lot of basketmakers in Akwesasne are ...

    Sue Ellen Herne, program coordinator, Akwesasne Museum

    "A lot of basketmakers in Akwesasne are still making baskets, and it's part of their livelihood and it's a continuing part of our culture."

  • Image 6 of 9

    Maxine Cole
    Toggle Favorite"You have got to take responsibility. It...

    Maxine Cole, teacher, Akwesasne Freedom School

    "You have got to take responsibility. It doesn't matter what the next person does or doesn't do. It's about what you do. And that's really important."

  • Image 7 of 9

    Richard David
    Toggle Favorite"If the emerald ash borer moves in and w...

    Richard David, basketmaker and assistant director, Department of Environment, Mohawk Council of Akwesasne

    "If the emerald ash borer moves in and wipes everything out, we're going to lose a big part of our culture."

  • Image 8 of 9

    Les Benedict
    Toggle Favorite"It's a long-term investment. If I plant...

    Les Benedict, assistant director, Environment Division, Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe

    "It's a long-term investment. If I plant a tree today, I won't see the benefit of it, but the next generation will see the benefit of the trees."

  • Image 9 of 9

    Tree quarantine map
    Toggle FavoriteFederal Quarantine Areas for Black Ash T...

    Federal Quarantine Areas for Black Ash Trees

Previous imageNext image

Go To My Story Project

Take Notes for Story Project

More Info

  • Image 1 of 9

    Toggle FavoriteBasketmaking is an important traditional...

    Basketmaking is an important traditional art form that has been practiced in Akwesasne for generations. At the turn of the last century, women and some men made and sold baskets to help support their families. Today, elders still teach children how to harvest black ash and make baskets. c.1900

  • Image 2 of 9

    Mary Adams basket
    Toggle FavoriteThis basket was made by Mohawk artist Ma...

    This basket was made by Mohawk artist Mary Adams in 1985. It is called a "fancy" or ornamental basket because it was designed for sale, not for use. Note the many curls and miniature sweetgrass baskets on the sides. These unique details are considered the "mark" or signature of the basketmaker. 1985

  • Image 3 of 9

    Jake Arquette basket
    Toggle FavoriteThis burden or pack basket by Jake Arque...

    This burden or pack basket by Jake Arquette is designed with thick splints strong enough to carry heavy items like tools, food, or branches. Hunters, trappers, and snowshoers often wore these on their backs to haul important gear into the woods. 1979

  • Image 4 of 9

    Black ash saplings
    Toggle FavoriteBlack ash trees grow slowly. This stand ...

    Black ash trees grow slowly. This stand of saplings in a wetland on the Akwesasne reservation will need 40 or 50 years to fully mature. c. 2000

  • Image 5 of 9

    Sue Ellen Herne
    Toggle Favorite"A lot of basketmakers in Akwesasne are ...

    Sue Ellen Herne, program coordinator, Akwesasne Museum

    "A lot of basketmakers in Akwesasne are still making baskets, and it's part of their livelihood and it's a continuing part of our culture."

  • Image 6 of 9

    Maxine Cole
    Toggle Favorite"You have got to take responsibility. It...

    Maxine Cole, teacher, Akwesasne Freedom School

    "You have got to take responsibility. It doesn't matter what the next person does or doesn't do. It's about what you do. And that's really important."

  • Image 7 of 9

    Richard David
    Toggle Favorite"If the emerald ash borer moves in and w...

    Richard David, basketmaker and assistant director, Department of Environment, Mohawk Council of Akwesasne

    "If the emerald ash borer moves in and wipes everything out, we're going to lose a big part of our culture."

  • Image 8 of 9

    Les Benedict
    Toggle Favorite"It's a long-term investment. If I plant...

    Les Benedict, assistant director, Environment Division, Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe

    "It's a long-term investment. If I plant a tree today, I won't see the benefit of it, but the next generation will see the benefit of the trees."

  • Image 9 of 9

    Tree quarantine map
    Toggle FavoriteFederal Quarantine Areas for Black Ash T...

    Federal Quarantine Areas for Black Ash Trees

ClosePrevious imageNext image
History Summarized: Iroquois Native Americans

Mohawk people

This article is about the Kanienʼkehá꞉ka (Mohawk) people on the east coast. For the people on the west coast, see Mohawk people (Oregon). For other uses, see Mohawk (disambiguation).

Indigenous First Nation of North America

Mohawk peace flag.svg
Joseph Brant by Gilbert Stuart, 1786.jpg
Thayendanegea or Joseph Brant, painted by Gilbert Stuart, 1786
 Canada (Quebec, Ontario)23,682
 United States (New York)5,632
English, Mohawk, French,
Formerly:Dutch, Mohawk Dutch
Karihwiio, Kanohʼhonʼio, Kahniʼkwiʼio, Christianity, Longhouse, Handsome Lake, Other Indigenous Religion
Seneca Nation, Oneida Nation, Cayuga Nation, Onondaga Nation, Tuscarora Nation, other Iroquoian peoples

The Mohawk people (Mohawk: Kanienʼkehá꞉ka[1]) are the most easterly section of the Haudenosaunee, or Iroquois Confederacy. They are an Iroquoian-speaking indigenous people of North America, with communities in southeastern Canada and northern New York State, primarily around Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. As one of the five original members of the Iroquois League, the Kanienʼkehá꞉ka are known as the Keepers of the Eastern Door – the traditional guardians of the Iroquois Confederation against invasions from the east.

Historically, the Kanienʼkehá꞉ka people were originally based in the valley of the Mohawk River in present-day upstate New York, west of the Hudson River. Their territory ranged north to the St. Lawrence River, southern Quebec and eastern Ontario; south to greater New Jersey and into Pennsylvania; eastward to the Green Mountains of Vermont; and westward to the border with the Iroquoian Oneida Nation's traditional homeland territory.

Kanienʼkehá꞉ka communities[edit]

Kanienʼkehá꞉ka dancer at a pow wowin 2015
Contemporary Quebec Kanienʼkehá꞉ka dance performance at Wikimania 2017

Members of the Kanienʼkehá꞉ka people now live in settlements in northern New York State and southeastern Canada.

Many Kanienʼkehá꞉ka communities have two sets of chiefs, who are in some sense competing governmental rivals. One group are the hereditary chiefs nominated by Clan Mothermatriarchs in the traditional Kanienʼkehá꞉ka fashion. Kanienʼkehá꞉ka of most of the reserves have established constitutions with elected chiefs and councilors, with whom the Canadian and U.S. governments usually prefer to deal exclusively. The self-governing communities are listed below, grouped by broad geographical cluster, with notes on the character of community governance found in each.

  • Northern New York:
    • Kanièn꞉ke (Ganienkeh) "Place of the flint". Traditional governance.
    • Kanaʼtsioharè꞉ke "Place of the washed pail". Traditional governance.
  • Along the St Lawrence in Quebec:
    • Ahkwesásne (St. Regis, New York and Quebec/Ontario, Canada) "Where the partridge drums". Traditional governance, band/tribal elections.
    • Kahnawà꞉ke (south of Montréal) "On the rapids". Canada, traditional governance, band/tribal elections.
    • Kaʼnehsatà꞉ke (Oka) "Where the snow crust is". Canada, traditional governance, band/tribal elections.
    • Tioweró:ton (Sainte-Lucie-des-Laurentides, Quebec). Canada, shared governance between Kahnawà꞉ke and Kaʼnehsatà꞉ke.
  • Southern Ontario:
    • Kenhtè꞉ke (Tyendinaga) "On the bay". Traditional governance, band/tribal elections.
    • Wáhta (Gibson) "Maple tree". Traditional governance, band/tribal elections.
    • Ohswé꞉ken “Six Nations of the Grand River”. Traditional governance, band/tribal elections. The Kanienʼkehá꞉ka form the majority of the population of this Iroquois Six Nations reserve. There are also Kanienʼkehá꞉ka Orange Lodges in Canada.

Given increased activism for land claims, a rise in tribal revenues due to establishment of gaming on certain reserves or reservations, competing leadership, traditional government jurisdiction, issues of taxation, and the Indian Act, Kanienʼkehá꞉ka communities have been dealing with considerable internal conflict since the late 20th century.


First contact with European settlers[edit]

In the Mohawk language, the Mohawk people call themselves the Kanienʼkehá꞉ka ("people of the flint"). The Kanienʼkehá꞉ka became wealthy traders as other nations in their confederacy needed their flint for tool making. Their Algonquian-speaking neighbors (and competitors), the people of Muh-heck Haeek Ing ("food area place"), the Mohicans, referred to the people of Ka-nee-en Ka as Maw Unk Lin, meaning “bear people”. The Dutch heard and wrote this term as Mohawk, and also referred to the Kanienʼkehá꞉ka as Egil or Maqua.

The French colonists adapted these latter terms as Aignier and Maqui, respectively. They also referred to the people by the generic Iroquois, a French derivation of the Algonquian term for the Five Nations, meaning "Big Snakes". The Algonquians and Iroquois were traditional competitors and enemies.

In the upper Hudson and Mohawk Valley regions, the Mohawks long had contact with the Algonquian-speaking Mohican people, who occupied territory along the Hudson River, as well as other Algonquian and Iroquoian peoples to the north around the Great Lakes. The Mohawks had extended their own influence into the St. Lawrence River Valley, which they maintained for hunting grounds. They are believed to have defeated the St. Lawrence Iroquoians in the 16th century, and kept control of their territory. In addition to hunting and fishing, for centuries the Mohawks cultivated productive maize fields on the fertile floodplains along the Mohawk River, west of the Pine Bush.

On June 28, 1609, a band of Hurons led Samuel De Champlain and his crew into Mohawk country, the Mohawks being completely unaware of this situation. Samuel De Champlain made it clear he wanted to strike the Mohawks down, after their raids on the neighboring nations. On July 29, 1609, hundreds of Hurons, and many of Champlain's French crew fell back from the mission daunted by what lay ahead. Sixty Huron Indians and Samuel De Champlain and two Frenchmen, saw some Mohawks in a lake near Ticonderoga; the Mohawks spotted them too. Samuel De Champlain and his crew fell back for the moment, then advanced to the Mohawk Barricade after landing on a beach. They then met the Mohawks at the barricade, 200 warriors advanced from the barricade behind four chiefs. They were equally astonished to see each other, Samuel De Champlain surprised at their stature, confidence, and dress, the Mohawks surprised by Samuel De Champlain's steel cuirass and helmet. One of the chiefs raised his bow at Champlain and the Indians. Champlain let out three shots piercing straight through the Mohawk chiefs and their wooden armor which protected them from stone arrows, killing them instantly. The Mohawks stood in shock for a second, until they started flinging arrows at the crowd, a brawl soon began and the Mohawks fell back out of pure shock seeing the damage this new technology dealt on their chiefs and warriors. This was the first contact the Mohawk ever had with Europeans. This incident also sparked the Beaver Wars.

In the seventeenth century, the Mohawks encountered both the Dutch, who went up the Hudson River and established a trading post in 1614 at the confluence of the Mohawk and Hudson rivers, and the French, who came south into their territory from New France (present-day Quebec). The Dutch were primarily merchants and the French also conducted fur trading. During this time the Mohawks fought with the Huron in the Beaver Wars for control of the fur trade with the Europeans. Their Jesuitmissionaries were active among First Nations and Native Americans, seeking converts to Catholicism.

In 1614, the Dutch opened a trading post at Fort Nassau, New Netherland. The Dutch initially traded for furs with the local Mahican, who occupied the territory along the Hudson River. Following a raid in 1626 when the Mohawks resettled along the south side of the Mohawk River,[2]: pp.xix–xx  in 1628, they mounted an attack against the Mahican, pushing them back to the area of present-day Connecticut. The Mohawks gained a near-monopoly in the fur trade with the Dutch by prohibiting the nearby Algonquian-speaking peoples to the north or east to trade with them but did not entirely control this.

European contact resulted in a devastating smallpox epidemic among the Mohawks in 1635; this reduced their population by 63%, from 7,740 to 2,830, as they had no immunity to the new disease. By 1642 they had regrouped from four into three villages, recorded by Catholic missionary priest Isaac Jogues in 1642 as Ossernenon, Andagaron, and Tionontoguen, all along the south side of the Mohawk River from east to west. These were recorded by speakers of other languages with different spellings, and historians have struggled to reconcile various accounts, as well as to align them with archeological studies of the areas. For instance, Johannes Megapolensis, a Dutch minister, recorded the spelling of the same three villages as Asserué, Banagiro, and Thenondiogo.[2] Late 20th-century archeological studies have determined that Ossernenon was located about 9 miles west of the current city of Auriesville; the two were mistakenly conflated by a tradition that developed in the late 19th century in the Catholic Church.[3][4]

While the Dutch later established settlements in present-day Schenectady and Schoharie, further west in the Mohawk Valley, merchants in Fort Nassau continued to control the fur trading. Schenectady was established essentially as a farming settlement, where the Dutch took over some of the former Mohawk maize fields in the floodplain along the river. Through trading, the Mohawk and Dutch became allies of a kind.

During their alliance, the Mohawks allowed Dutch Protestant missionary Johannes Megapolensis to come into their communities and teach the Christian message. He operated from the Fort Nassau area for about six years, writing a record in 1644 of his observations of the Mohawks, their language (which he learned), and their culture. While he noted their ritual of torture of captives, he recognized that their society had few other killings, especially compared to the Netherlands of that period. [5][6]

The trading relations between the Mohawk and Dutch helped them maintain peace even during the periods of Kieft's War and the Esopus Wars, when the Dutch fought localized battles with other native peoples. In addition, Dutch trade partners equipped the Mohawk with guns to fight against other First Nations who were allied with the French, including the Ojibwe, Huron-Wendat, and Algonquin. In 1645 the Mohawk made peace for a time with the French, who were trying to keep a piece of the fur trade.[7]

During the Pequot War (1634–1638), the Pequot and other Algonquian Indians of coastal New England sought an alliance with the Mohawks against English colonists of that region. Disrupted by their losses to smallpox, the Mohawks refused the alliance. They killed the Pequot sachemSassacus who had come to them for refuge, and returned part of his remains to the English governor of Connecticut, John Winthrop, as proof of his death.[8]

In the winter of 1651, the Mohawks attacked on the southeast and overwhelmed the Algonquian in the coastal areas. They took between 500 and 600 captives. In 1664, the Pequot of New England killed a Mohawk ambassador, starting a war that resulted in the destruction of the Pequot, as the English and their allies in New England entered the conflict, trying to suppress the Native Americans in the region. The Mohawk also attacked other members of the Pequot confederacy, in a war that lasted until 1671.[citation needed]

In 1666, the French attacked the Mohawks in the central New York area, burning the three Mohawk villages south of the river and their stored food supply. One of the conditions of the peace was that the Mohawk accept Jesuit missionaries. Beginning in 1669, missionaries attempted to convert Mohawks to Christianity, operating a mission in Ossernenon 9 miles west[3][4] of present-day Auriesville, New York until 1684, when the Mohawks destroyed it, killing several priests.

Over time, some converted Mohawks relocated to Jesuit mission villages established south of Montreal on the St. Lawrence River in the early 1700s: Kahnawake (used to be spelled as Caughnawaga, named for the village of that name in the Mohawk Valley) and Kanesatake. These Mohawks were joined by members of other Indigenous peoples but dominated the settlements by number. Many converted to Roman Catholicism. In the 1740s, Mohawk and French set up another village upriver, which is known as Akwesasne. Today a Mohawk reserve, it spans the St. Lawrence River and present-day international boundaries to New York, United States, where it is known as the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation.

Kateri Tekakwitha, born at Ossernenon in the late 1650s, has become noted as a Mohawk convert to Catholicism. She moved with relatives to Caughnawaga on the north side of the river after her parent's deaths.[2] She was known for her faith and a shrine was built to her in New York. In the late 20th century, she was beatified and was canonized in October 2012 as the first Native American Catholic saint. She is also recognized by the Episcopal and Lutheran churches.

After the fall of New Netherland to England in 1664, the Mohawk in New York traded with the English and sometimes acted as their allies. During King Philip's War, Metacom, sachem of the warring WampanoagPokanoket, decided to winter with his warriors near Albany in 1675. Encouraged by the English, the Mohawk attacked and killed all but 40 of the 400 Pokanoket.

From the 1690s, Protestant missionaries sought to convert the Mohawk in the New York colony. Many were baptized with English surnames, while others were given both first and surnames in English.

During the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, the Mohawk and Algonquian and Abenaki First Nations in New England were involved in raids conducted by the French and English against each other's settlements during Queen Anne's War and other conflicts. They conducted a growing trade in captives, holding them for ransom. Neither of the colonial governments generally negotiated for common captives, and it was up to local European communities to raise funds to ransom their residents. In some cases, French and Abenaki raiders transported captives from New England to Montreal and the Mohawk mission villages. The Mohawk at Kahnawake adopted numerous young women and children to add to their own members, having suffered losses to disease and warfare. For instance, among them were numerous survivors of the more than 100 captives taken in the Deerfield raid in western Massachusetts. The minister of Deerfield was ransomed and returned to Massachusetts, but his daughter was adopted by a Mohawk family and ultimately assimilated and married a Mohawk man.[9]

During the era of the French and Indian War (also known as the Seven Years' War), Anglo-Mohawk partnership relations were maintained by men such as Sir William Johnson in New York (for the British Crown), Conrad Weiser (on behalf of the colony of Pennsylvania), and Hendrick Theyanoguin (for the Mohawk). Johnson called the Albany Congress in June 1754, to discuss with the Iroquois chiefs repair of the damaged diplomatic relationship between the British and the Mohawk, along with securing their cooperation and support in fighting the French,[10] in engagements in North America.

American Revolutionary War[edit]

During the second and third quarters of the 18th century, most of the Mohawks in the Province of New York lived along the Mohawk River at Canajoharie. A few lived at Schoharie, and the rest lived about 30 miles downstream at the Tionondorage Castle, also called Fort Hunter. These two major settlements were traditionally called the Upper Castle and the Lower Castle. The Lower Castle was almost contiguous with Sir Peter Warren's Warrensbush. Sir William Johnson, the British Superintendent of Indian Affairs, built his first house on the north bank of the Mohawk River almost opposite Warrensbush and established the settlement of Johnstown.

The Mohawk were among the four Iroquois people that allied with the British during the American Revolutionary War. They had a long trading relationship with the British and hoped to gain support to prohibit colonists from encroaching into their territory in the Mohawk Valley. Joseph Brant acted as a war chief and successfully led raids against British and ethnic German colonists in the Mohawk Valley, who had been given land by the British administration near the rapids at present-day Little Falls, New York.

A few prominent Mohawk, such as the sachemLittle Abraham (Tyorhansera) at Fort Hunter, remained neutral throughout the war.[11]Joseph Louis Cook (Akiatonharónkwen), a veteran of the French and Indian War and ally of the rebels, offered his services to the Americans, receiving an officer's commission from the Continental Congress. He led Oneida warriors against the British. During this war, Johannes Tekarihoga was the civil leader of the Mohawk. He died around 1780. Catherine Crogan, a clan mother and wife of Mohawk war chief Joseph Brant, named her brother Henry Crogan as the new Tekarihoga.

In retaliation for Brant's raids in the valley, the rebel colonists organized Sullivan's Expedition. It conducted extensive raids against other Iroquois settlements in central and western New York, destroying 40 villages, crops, and winter stores. Many Mohawk and other Iroquois migrated to Canada for refuge near Fort Niagara, struggling to survive the winter.

After the Revolution[edit]

Teyoninhokovrawen (John Norton) played a prominent role in the War of 1812, leading Iroquois warriors from Grand Riverinto battle against Americans. Norton was part Cherokeeand part Scottish.

After the American victory, the British ceded their claim to land in the colonies, and the Americans forced their allies, the Mohawks and others, to give up their territories in New York. Most of the Mohawks migrated to Canada, where the Crown gave them some land in compensation. The Mohawks at the Upper Castle fled to Fort Niagara, while most of those at the Lower Castle went to villages near Montreal.

Joseph Brant led a large group of Iroquois out of New York to what became the reserve of the Six Nations of the Grand River, Ontario. Brant continued as a political leader of the Mohawks for the rest of his life. This land extended 100 miles from the head of the Grand River to the head of Lake Erie where it discharges.[12] Another Mohawk war chief, John Deseronto, led a group of Mohawk to the Bay of Quinte. Other Mohawks settled in the vicinity of Montreal and upriver, joining the established communities (now reserves) at Kahnawake, Kanesatake, and Akwesasne.

On November 11, 1794, representatives of the Mohawk (along with the other Iroquois nations) signed the Treaty of Canandaigua with the United States, which allowed them to own land there.

The Mohawks fought as allies of the British against the United States in the War of 1812.

20th century to present[edit]

In 1971 the Mohawk Warrior Society, also Rotisken’rakéhte in the Mohawk language, was founded in Kahnawake, the duties of the Warrior Society is to use roadblocks, evictions, and occupations to gain rights for their people, these tactics are also used among the warrior's to protect the environment from pollution. The notable movements started by the Mohawk Warrior Society have been: The Oka Crisis blockades in 1990, and the Caledonia occupation of a construction site in Summer 2020, as an act of solidarity they renamed the street the construction site sits on to "1492 Land Back Lane".

On May 13, 1974, at 4:00 a.m, Mohawks from the Kahnawake and Akwesasne reservations repossessed traditional Mohawk land near Old Forge, New York, occupying Moss Lake, an abandoned girls camp. The New York state government attempted to shut the operation down, but after negotiation, the state offered the Mohawk some land in Miner Lake, where they have since settled.

The Mohawks have organized for more sovereignty at their reserves in Canada, pressing for authority over their people and lands. Tensions with the Quebec Provincial and national governments have been strained during certain protests, such as the Oka Crisis in 1990.

In 1993 a group of Akwesasne Mohawks purchased 322 acres of land in the Town of Palatine in Montgomery County, New York which they named Kanatsiohareke. It marked a return to their ancestral land.

Mohawk ironworkers in New York[edit]

Mohawks came from Kahnawake and other reserves to work in the construction industry in New York City in the early through the mid-20th century. They had also worked in construction in Quebec. The men were ironworkers who helped build bridges and skyscrapers, and who were called skywalkers because of their seeming fearlessness.[13] They worked from the 1930s to the 1970s on special labor contracts as specialists and participated in building the Empire State Building. The construction companies found that the Mohawk ironworkers did not fear heights or dangerous conditions. Their contracts offered lower than average wages to the First Nations people and limited labor union membership.[14] About 10% of all ironworkers in the US are Mohawks, down from about 15% earlier in the 20th century.[15]

The work and home life of Mohawk ironworkers was documented in Don Owen's 1965 National Film Board of Canada documentary High Steel.[16] The Mohawk community that formed in a compact area of Brooklyn, which they called "Little Caughnawaga", after their homeland, is documented in Reaghan Tarbell's Little Caughnawaga: To Brooklyn and Back, shown on PBS in 2008. This community was most active from the 1920s to the 1960s. The families accompanied the men, who were mostly from Kahnawake; together they would return to Kahnawake during the summers. Tarbell is from Kahnawake and was working as a film curator at the George Gustav Heye Center of the National Museum of the American Indian, located in the former Custom House in Lower Manhattan.[17]

Since the mid-20th century, Mohawks have also formed their own construction companies. Others returned to New York projects. Mohawk skywalkers had built the World Trade Center buildings that were destroyed during the September 11 attacks, helped rescue people from the burning towers in 2001, and helped dismantle the remains of the building afterwards.[18] Approximately 200 Mohawk ironworkers (out of 2000 total ironworkers at the site) participated in rebuilding the One World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan. They typically drive the 360 miles from the Kahnawake reserve on the St. Lawrence River in Quebec to work the week in lower Manhattan and then return on the weekend to be with their families. A selection of portraits of these Mohawk ironworkers were featured in an online photo essay for Time Magazine in September 2012.[19]

Contemporary issues[edit]


Both the elected chiefs and the controversial Warrior Society have encouraged gambling as a means of ensuring tribal self-sufficiency on the various reserves or Indian reservations. Traditional chiefs have tended to oppose gaming on moral grounds and out of fear of corruption and organized crime. Such disputes have also been associated with religious divisions: the traditional chiefs are often associated with the Longhouse tradition, practicing consensus-democratic values, while the Warrior Society has attacked that religion and asserted independence. Meanwhile, the elected chiefs have tended to be associated (though in a much looser and general way) with democratic, legislative and Canadian governmental values.

On October 15, 1993, Governor Mario Cuomo entered into the "Tribal-State Compact Between the St. Regis Mohawk First Nation and the State of New York". The compact allowed the Indigenous people to conduct gambling, including games such as baccarat, blackjack, craps and roulette, on the Akwesasne Reservation in Franklin County under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). According to the terms of the 1993 compact, the New York State Racing and Wagering Board, the New York State Police and the St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Gaming Commission were vested with gaming oversight. Law enforcement responsibilities fell under the state police, with some law enforcement matters left to the community. As required by IGRA, the compact was approved by the United States Department of the Interior before it took effect. There were several extensions and amendments to this compact, but not all of them were approved by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

On June 12, 2003, the New York Court of Appeals affirmed the lower courts' rulings that Governor Cuomo exceeded his authority by entering into the compact absent legislative authorization and declared the compact void [20] On October 19, 2004, Governor George Pataki signed a bill passed by the State Legislature that ratified the compact as being nunc pro tunc, with some additional minor changes.[21]

In 2008 the Mohawk Nation was working to obtain approval to own and operate a casino in Sullivan County, New York, at Monticello Raceway. The U.S. Department of the Interior disapproved this action although the Mohawks gained Governor Eliot Spitzer's concurrence, subject to the negotiation and approval of either an amendment to the current compact or a new compact. Interior rejected the Mohawks' application to take this land into trust.[22]

In the early 21st century, two legal cases were pending that related to Native American gambling and land claims in New York. The State of New York has expressed similar objections to the Dept. of Interior taking other land into trust for federally recognized 'tribes' (a derogatory term only used by settlers), which would establish the land as sovereign Native American territory, on which they might establish new gaming facilities.[23] The other suit contends that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act violates the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution as it is applied in the State of New York. In 2010 it was pending in the United States District Court for the Western District of New York.[24]



Traditional Mohawk religion is mostly Animist. "Much of the religion is based on a primordial conflict between good and evil."[25] Many Mohawk continue to follow the Longhouse Religion.

In 1632 a band of Jesuit missionaries now known as the Canadian Martyrs led by Isaac Jogues was captured by a party of Mohawks and brought to Ossernenon (now Auriesville, New York). Jogues and company attempted to convert the Mohawks to Catholicism, but the Mohawks took them captive, tortured, abused and killed them.[26] Following their martyrdom, new French Jesuit missionaries arrived and many Mohawks were baptized into the Catholic faith. Ten years after Jogues' death Kateri Tekakwitha, the daughter of a Mohawk chief and Tagaskouita, a Roman Catholic Algonquin woman, was born in Ossernenon and later was canonized as the first Native American saint. Religion became a tool of conflict between the French and British in Mohawk country. The Reformed clergyman Godfridius Dellius also preached among the Mohawks.[27]

Traditional dress[edit]

Historically, the traditional hairstyle of Mohawk men, and many men of the other groups of the Iroquois Confederacy, was to remove most of the hair from the head by plucking (not shaving) tuft by tuft of hair until all that was left was a smaller section, that was worn in a variety of styles, which could vary by community. The women wore their hair long, often dressed with traditional bear grease, or tied back into a single braid.

In traditional dress women often went topless in summer and wore a skirt of deerskin. In colder seasons, women wore a deerskin dress. Men wore a breech cloth of deerskin in summer. In cooler weather, they added deerskin leggings, a deerskin shirt, arm and knee bands, and carried a quill and flint arrow hunting bag. Women and men wore puckered-seam, ankle-wrap moccasins with earrings and necklaces made of shells. Jewelry was also created using porcupine quills such as Wampum belts. For head wear, the men would use a piece of animal fur with attached porcupine quills and features. The women would occasionally wear tiaras of beaded cloth. Later, dress after European contact combined some cloth pieces such as wool trousers and skirts.[28][29]


The Mohawk Nation people have a matrilineal kinship system, with descent and inheritance passed through the female line. Today, the marriage ceremony may follow that of the old tradition or incorporate newer elements, but is still used by many Mohawk Nation marrying couples. Some couples choose to marry in the European manner and the Longhouse manner, with the Longhouse ceremony usually held first.[30]


Replicas of seventeenth-century longhouses have been built at landmarks and tourist villages, such as Kanata Village, Brantford, Ontario, and Akwesasne's "Tsiionhiakwatha" interpretation village. Other Mohawk Nation Longhouses are found on the Mohawk territory reserves that hold the Mohawk law recitations, ceremonial rites, and Longhouse Religion (or "Code of Handsome Lake"). These include:

  • Ohswé꞉ken (Six Nations)[31] First Nation Territory, Ontario holds six Ceremonial Mohawk Community Longhouse.
  • Wáhta[32] First Nation Territory, Ontario holds one Ceremonial Mohawk Community Longhouse.
  • Kenhtè꞉ke (Tyendinaga)[33] First Nation Territory, Ontario holds one Ceremonial Mohawk Community Longhouse.
  • Ahkwesásne[34] First Nation Territory, which straddles the borders of Quebec, Ontario and New York, holds two Mohawk Ceremonial Community Longhouses.
  • Kaʼnehsatà꞉ke First Nation Territory, Quebec holds one Ceremonial Mohawk Community Longhouses.
  • Kahnawà꞉ke[35] First Nation Territory, Quebec holds three Ceremonial Mohawk Community Longhouse.
  • Kanièn꞉ke[36] First Nation Territory, New York State holds one Ceremonial Mohawk Community Longhouse.
  • Kanaʼtsioharà꞉ke[37] First Nation Territory, New York State holds one Ceremonial Mohawk Community Longhouse.

Notable Mohawk[edit]

  • Tammy Beauvais, Mohawk fashion designer
  • Beth Brant, Mohawk writer and poet
  • Joseph Brant, Mohawk leader, British officer
  • Molly Brant, Mohawk leader, sister of Joseph Brant
  • Joseph Tehawehron David, Mohawk artist
  • Esther Louise Georgette Deer, Mohawk dancer and singer
  • Tracey Deer, Mohawk filmmaker
  • John Deseronto, Mohawk chief
  • Canaqueese, called Flemish Bastard, Mohawk chief
  • Carla Hemlock, quilter, beadwork artist
  • Donald "Babe" Hemlock, woodcarver, sculptor
  • Hiawatha, Mohawk chief
  • Karonghyontye or Captain David Hill, Mohawk leader
  • Kahn-Tineta Horn, activist
  • Kaniehtiio Horn, film and television actress
  • Waneek Horn-Miller, Olympic water polo player
  • Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs, actress
  • Sid Jamieson, lacrosse player, coach
  • George Henry Martin Johnson, Mohawk chief and interpreter
  • Pauline Johnson, writer
  • Stan Jonathan, former NHL hockey player
  • Maurice Kenny, author
  • Mary Leaf, basketmaker
  • Dawn Martin-Hill, professor
  • Derek Miller, singer-songwriter
  • Patricia Monture-Angus, lawyer, activist, educator, and author.
  • Alwyn Morris, Olympic K–2 1000m.
  • Shelley Niro (b. 1954), filmmaker, photographer, and installation artist
  • John Norton, Scottish born, adopted into the Mohawk First Nation and made an honorary "Pine Tree Chief"
  • Richard Oakes, Mohawk activist
  • Ots-Toch, wife of Dutch colonist Cornelius A. Van Slyck
  • Alex Rice, actress
  • Robbie Robertson, singer-songwriter, The Band
  • August Schellenberg, actor
  • Jay Silverheels, actor
  • Skawennati, multimedia artist and curator
  • Taiaiake Alfred, professor and activist
  • Julian Taylor, rock singer (Staggered Crossing, Julian Taylor Band)[38]
  • Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, "Lily of the Mohawks", a Catholic saint
  • Mary Two-Axe Earley, women's rights activist
  • Billy Two Rivers, professional wrestler
  • Oronhyatekha, Physician, Scholar
  • Tom Wilson, rock singer (Junkhouse, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, Lee Harvey Osmond)

Iroquoian peoples[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^"About the Kanienʼkehá꞉ka Nation Council of Chiefs". Mohawk Nation Council of Chiefs of the Haudenosaunee Six Nations Confederacy. Mohawk Nation Council of Chiefs. Archived from the original on 11 August 2014. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
  2. ^ abcSnow, Dean R.; Gehring, Charles T.; Starna, William A. (1996). In Mohawk Country. Syracuse University Press. ISBN . Archived from the original on 2016-12-31. Retrieved 2016-10-11.
  3. ^ abDonald A. Rumrill, "An Interpretation and Analysis of the Seventeenth Century Mohawk Nation: Its Chronology and Movements," The Bulletin and Journal of Archaeology for New York State, 1985, vol. 90, pp. 1–39
  4. ^ abDean R. Snow, (1995) Mohawk Valley Archaeology: The Sites, University at Albany Institute for Archaeological Studies (First Edition); Occasional Papers Number 23, Matson Museum of Anthropology, The Pennsylvania State University (Second Edition).
  5. ^"Dutch missionary John Megapolensis on the Mohawks (Iroquois), 1644". Smithsonian Source. Archived from the original on June 11, 2016. Retrieved May 27, 2016.
  6. ^"A Short History of the Mohawk"Archived 2016-06-24 at the Wayback Machine, in In Mohawk Country: Early Narratives about a Native People, ed. Dean R. Snow, Charles T. Gehring, William A. Starna; Syracuse University Press, 1996, pp. 38–46
  7. ^William N. Fenton, Francis Jennings, Mary A. Druke: The Earliest Recorded Description. The Mohawk Treaty with New France at Three Rivers 1645, in Jennings ed., The History and Culture of Iroquois Diplomacy.Syracuse University Press, 1985, pp. 127–153
  8. ^"General History of Duchess County, From 1609 to 1876, Inclusive", Philip H. Smith, Pawling, New York, 1877, p. 154
  9. ^John Demos, The Unredeemed Captive: A Family Story from Early America, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994
  10. ^"The Albany Congress". Archived from the original on 7 April 2014. Retrieved 2 April 2014.
  11. ^"Little Abraham Tyorhansera, Mohawk Indian, Wolf Clan Chief". Native Heritage Project. 16 August 2012. Archived from the original on July 1, 2016. Retrieved May 26, 2016.
  12. ^Stone, William (September 1838). "Life of Joseph Brant--Thayendanegea; including the Border Wars of the American Revolution". American Monthly Magazine. 12: 12, 273–284.
  13. ^Sky Walking: Raising Steel, A Mohawk Ironworker Keeps Tradition Alive, archived from the original on 2016-11-01, retrieved 2016-10-29
  14. ^Joseph Mitchell, "The Mohawks in High Steel", in Edmund Wilson, Apologies to the Iroquois (New York: Vintage, 1960), pp. 3–36.
  15. ^Nessen, Stephen (19 March 2012), Sky Walking: Raising Steel, A Mohawk Ironworker Keeps Tradition Alive, archived from the original on 1 November 2016, retrieved 2016-10-29
  16. ^Owen, Don. "High Steel"(Requires Adobe Flash). Online documentary. National Film Board of Canada. Archived from the original on 28 December 2010. Retrieved 14 March 2011.
  17. ^Tarbell, Reaghan (2008). "Little Caughnawaga: To Brooklyn and Back". National Film Board of Canada. Retrieved August 31, 2009.
  18. ^Wolf, White. "The Mohawks Who Built Manhattan (Photos)". White Wolf. Archived from the original on 2017-10-22. Retrieved 2016-10-29.
  19. ^Wallace, Vaughn (2012-09-11). "The Mohawk Ironworkers: Rebuilding the Iconic Skyline of New York". Time. Archived from the original on 2012-09-15. Retrieved 2012-09-16.
  20. ^ROSENBLATT (12 June 2003). "3 No. 42: Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce Inc., et al. v. George Pataki, as Governor of the State of New York, et al". Archived from the original on 24 October 2017. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  21. ^see C. 590 of the Laws of 2004
  22. ^"The Associate Deputy Secretary of the Interior"(PDF). Washington. 4 January 2008. Archived(PDF) from the original on 27 March 2009. Retrieved 29 October 2010.
  23. ^"Former Website of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation"(PDF). Archived(PDF) from the original on 6 February 2007. Retrieved 29 October 2010.
  24. ^"Warren v. United States of America, et al". Archived from the original on 1 August 2012. Retrieved 29 October 2010.
  25. ^"mohawk". Cultural Survival. Archived from the original on May 28, 2015. Retrieved May 26, 2015.
  26. ^Anderson, Emma (2013). The Death and Afterlife of the North American Martyrs. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. p. 25.
  27. ^Corwin, Edward Tanjore (1902). A Manual of the Reformed Church in America (formerly Reformed Protestant Dutch Church). 1628-1902. pp. 408–410. ISBN .
  28. ^Inglish, Patty (February 27, 2020). "Traditional Mohawk Nation Daily and Ceremonial Clothing". Owlcation. Retrieved 2020-08-10.
  29. ^Megapolensis, Jr., Johannes. “A Short Account of the Mohawk Indians.” Short Account of the Mohawk Indians, August 2017, 168
  30. ^Anne Marie Shimony, "Conservatism among the Iroquois at Six Nations Reserve", 1961
  31. ^"Six Nations Of The Grand River". Archived from the original on 2016-01-28. Retrieved 2007-12-16.
  32. ^"Home Page". Archived from the original on 2019-03-27. Retrieved 2019-03-27.
  33. ^"Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte – Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory » Home". Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-12-16.
  34. ^"She꞉kon/Greetings – Mohawk Council of Akwesasne". Archived from the original on 2007-12-26. Retrieved 2007-12-16.
  35. ^Kahnawá:ke, Mohawk Council of. "Mohawk Council of Kahnawá:ke". Archived from the original on 2013-09-06.
  36. ^"— Information from the People of Ganienkeh". Archived from the original on 2013-06-03. Retrieved 2012-12-02.
  37. ^"Kanatsiohareke Mohawk Community". Archived from the original on 2007-10-18. Retrieved 2007-12-16.
  38. ^Madeline Crone, "Julian Taylor Premieres Title Track, 'The Ridge'". American Songwriter, April 8, 2020.


External links[edit]

Capital District, New York

Religion and culture

Broadcast television in New York's Capital District, Berkshire County, Massachusetts, and Bennington County, Vermont, including Albany, Schenectady, Troy, Pittsfield, Bennington, and Manchester

Reception may vary by location and some stations may only be viewable with cable television

Local stations
  • WRGB (6.1 CBS, 6.2 TBD, 6.3 Comet)
  • WTEN (10.1 ABC, 10.2 Cozi, 10.3 Antenna, 10.4 Mystery)
  • WNYT (13.1 NBC, 13.2 MeTV, 13.3 Start TV, 13.4 GetTV)
  • WMHT (17.1 PBS, 17.2 Create, 17.3 World, 17.4 PBS Kids)
  • WXXA-TV (23.1 Fox, 23.2 Capital OTB TV, 23.3 Laff, 23.4 Bounce TV)
  • WNGN-LD 35 / WNGX-LD 42 (Heartland)
  • WCWN (45.1 The CW, 45.2 Charge!, 45.3CBS simulcast, 45.4 Stadium)
  • WNYA (51.1 MNTV, 51.2 TheGrio.TV, 51.3 Decades, 51.4 H&I)
  • WYPX-TV (55.1 Ion, 55.2 Bounce TV, 55.3 Court TV, 55.4 Grit, 55.5 QVC, 55.6 HSN; Amsterdam)
Outlying area stations
  • WYCX-CD (2.1/.2 H&I/MNTV; Manchester, VT)
  • WNCE-CD (8.1 YTA; Glens Falls)
  • WYBN-LD (14.1 Buzzr, 14.2 Fun Roads, 14.3 This TV, 14.4 France 24, 14.5 Rev'n, 14.6 Retro, 14.7 Action, 14.8 NewsNet; Cobleskill)
  • W21CP-D 21 (NBC, Gloversville, via WNYT)
  • WVBG-LD (25.1 Buzzr, 25.2 Fun Roads, 25.3 This TV, 25.4 France 24, 25.5 Rev'n, 25.6 Retro, 25.7 Action, 25.8 NewsNet; Greenwich)
  • W28DA-D 28 (NBC, Pittsfield, MA, via WNYT)
  • W38DL-D 38 (NBC, Adams, MA, via WNYT)
  • WNYT 45 (NBC, Glens Falls)
  • WBAX-LD 47 (silent; Glens Falls)
Cable-only stations
Defunct stations

You will also be interested:

Location, Land, and Climate

The earliest known Mohawk villages were on the St. Lawrence River near Montreal. In 1535, when rivals drove them south, the Mohawk built three fortified villages along the Mohawk River in northeast New York.

Great stands of oaks, chestnuts, alders, beeches, and pines then blanketed the Mohawk valley. Deer, turkeys, elks, bears, foxes, and wolves provided meat and clothes. The rivers ran thick with fish, which the Mohawk salted and stored for winter, and teemed with beaver, whose pelts were traded with European settlers.

Christianized Mohawks migrated north to mission villages. As Britain's allies in the American Revolution, most of the remaining Mohawks had to leave the valley in 1798. England created the Six Nations Reserve at Grand River in Brantford, Ontario, and the Tyendinaga Indian Reserve in Ontario. Others have since been established in southeast Canada. Today, there are about 30,000 Mohawk in the United States and Canada.


Traditionally, Mohawks divided labor by gender. Men spent most of the time hunting and fishing and the rest of the time warred with rivals, notably Algoniquins and later the French. Women's farming provided most of the sustenance. Maize was the main crop and staple diet. River bottoms yielded good crops of maize, beans, pumpkins, and squashes. After the Mohawk migrated to Canada and found little game, some men helped farm.

In the last century, Mohawks have found niches in the economies of Canada and the United States. Since 1886, when the Canadian National Railway hired Mohawks to work on a bridge abutting tribal land, Mohawks have been respected high-rise steel workers.

Cultural Systems

Mohawks base social relations on kinship. Matrilineages include several clan groups. In the past, the three clans - bear, turtle, and wolf - each had a matron who could adopt members into the clan, usually from tribes defeated in war. The matron, with the consent of the people, also chose ia new chief when the need arose. Although only men could be chiefs, women were involved in all clan-level and inter-tribal decisions.

Sometimes before 1630, the Mohawk helped form the Iroquois League, which became a model for the U.S. political system. The league consisted of the Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Mohawk; Tuscaroras migrated from the southeast and joined in the 1720s. The league prevented tribal conflict, secured political recognition from Europeans, and increased the members' territory.

Fifty chiefs from the five tribes managed the league's affairs. Decisions had to be unanimous and were made only with the consent of the clan councils, such as the warriors' council, women's council, and council of ancients. The longhouse served a as symbol for the league: up to 500 feet long with bark walls, it usually sheltered five families representing the unity of the five nations.

The league's political power began to wane when the Mohawk migrated to Canada in 1798. The power of the clan chiefs was undermined by the Canadian Indian Affairs Acts of 1868 and 1869, which required elected councils. An 1876 act threw the strong matrilineal organization of Mohawk society into confusion, since it called for registration according to patrilineal descent.

Although it is hard to discern traditional Mohawk religion amid European influences, a few principles remain distinct. Much of the religion is based on a primordial conflict between good and evil. Dreams manifest divine will and should be obeyed in real life. Mohawk shamans spend much of their time interpreting and satisfying dreams.

Christian influence grew particularly strong among the Mohawks. First the French Jesuits and later the English converted most Mohawks, at least nominally, to Christianity. The Mohawk preserved some aspects of their religion, but most Canadian reservations are aligned with Christian denominations. Mohawk religion also stresses the sacred relationship among human beings, animals, and the rest of creation.


Nancy Bonvillain, "Iroquoian Women." Studies on Iroquoian Culture, ed. Nancy Bonvillain, Occasional publications in Northeastern Anthropology, No. 6.

Francis Jennings, The Ambiguous Iroquois Empire, W.W. Norton, 1984.

Codman Hislop, The Mohawk, Syracuse University, 1989.

W.G. Spittal, Iroquois Women, An Anthology, Iroquois Publishers, 1990.


Akwasesne Mohawk Indian Nation, Box 196, Rooseveltown, NY 13683.

Current Problems

Land disputes with the U.S. and Canadian governments are among the most persistent, dramatic problems. In 1990, one dispute led to an armed confrontation between members of the Mohawk Warrior Society and the Sûreté du Québec at Oka, south of Montreal. At issue was the expansion of a proposed golf course onto ancestral Mohawk land, including a cemetery. Mohawks set up a barricade to halt construction. A police officer was killed in a brief engagement when the sûreté advanced on the barricade. Two Mohawks have been convicted on charges of aggravated assault.

Ineffective reservation governments pose another difficulty. Moreover, the lack of effective lobbying power means that the rights and issues of the Mohawk are often ignored. The legal classification of Mohawks as either United States or Canadian citizens is a further issue for the people of the St. Regis Reservation, which straddles the international border. Likewise, the passage of goods across the border is a sore point between Mohawks and customs officials.

Article copyright Cultural Survival, Inc.

CSQ Disclaimer

Our website houses close to five decades of content and publishing. Any content older than 10 years is archival and Cultural Survival does not necessarily agree with the content and word choice today.


1285 1286 1287 1288 1289