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Mohawk Indian Tribe


Mohawk Indian Tribe

Chief Thayendanegea (Joseph Brant)

The North American Mohawk Indian Tribe (also called the People of "Ka-nee-en Ka": Flint Stone Place) speak a Algonquian language and were the most eastern of the Iroquois League or Confederacy, an alliance of five (later six) Algonguian-speaking tribes.  The Mohawks were traders with neighboring tribes in flint, mining the stone from quarries which was used to fashion arrow and spear points for hunting.  Unlike many other Indian Tribes that were forced to abandon their land, the Mohawks still live in their traditional territory in the Mohawk River Valley in Upstate New York and southern Quebec.  At one time they ranged from eastern Ontario through New York State and east to the Green Mountains of Vermont. The Mohawk relations with the various European powers is long and complicated.  First, they became allies of the Dutch colonists.  Later they become allies of the French and after New Holland fell to the British, they became British Allies and fought against the French in the French and Indian War.  However, in the Revolutionary War, they sided with the British, rather than the American Colonists, eventually resulting in the demise of the Iroquois Confederacy and establishment of relatively small Indian Reservation for the Mohawks.  However, the famous War Chief Thayendanegea (Joseph Brant, pictured above) led raids against British and German Colonists during the war.  Similar to the other tribes in the Iroquois Confederacy, the Mohawks have a matrilineal system of kinship, tracing their descent and inheritance through their mother's lineage. All children are born into their mother's clan, ignoring ties to that of their father's clan.  Consequently, the clan mothers had great political power, and selected the male war chiefs.  Each clan was represented by an animal spirit (for example, the wolf, bear, or turtle).  Currently the majority of the Mohawk Indian Tribe live in various government reservations in Southern Canada and Upstate New York.  Despite objections by some traditional Mohawks, they have recently opened several large casinos on reservation land as an additional income source.  Despite being depicted in Hollywood movies with "Mohawk" haircuts (which actually portrays the Pawnee), the traditional men's haircut hairstyle of the Mohawk was to remove all their hair except for a tuff of hair on the rear crown of the head. The tuff of hair was braided and decorated.  This is the true "Mohawk" hairstyle and not the Hollywood version taken from the Pawnee.  


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