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The Mohawk people

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  1. Introduction.
  2. The term Iroquois.
  3. Iroquoian culture, ritual, and agriculture.
  4. Mohawk and some aspects of Mohawk cultural life.
    1. The Midwinter ceremony.
  5. The turning point for the Mohawk and the Six Nations.

The Mohawk are survivors. From the days of their early ancestors to the present day, the Mohawk have dwindled in number but have lived on. This is an exploration of the history and culture of the Mohawk.
In this paper I will attempt to explain the past and present state of the Mohawk nation: its origins and its struggles. I will also explore the beginnings of Iroquoian society, and Mohawk language, arts, and economy.The Mohawk are a part of a group of indigenous North Americans known as the Iroquois. The grouping of cultures under the term ?Iroquois? originates in a linguistic distinction. The ?Northern Iroquoian languages? and the ?Southern Iroquoian Languages? are two language families whose origins can be found in peoples from the broader Appalachian region (an area that extends from Louisiana to New York) (Snow 11, 19). These linguistic groupings correspond with the migrations of peoples north and south from a common origin that was, as mentioned, somewhere in Appalachia. Snow, in his book The Iroquois, summarizes the breakup of these ?proto-Iroquoian peoples.? Those who migrated north became known as speakers of Northern Iroquoian languages and those who migrated south, of whom the only remaining group is the Cherokee, became the ?Southern Iroquoian? speakers (Snow 8-10). Some of the Northern-Iroquoian-speaking groups include the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and the Huron

[...] I will now describe one key, annual ceremony the Midwinter ceremony in order to illuminate some aspects of Mohawk life and the role of ritual in it. Midwinter marked the beginning of the Iroquoian calendar year and the end of the last year. It was celebrated in late January or early February and lasted over a week (Snow 7). Bonvillain writes: ?Midwinter was the longest and most complex Mohawk ceremonial. It incorporated elements of thanksgiving, renewal, rejoicing, and preparation for the cycle of natural occurrences and human activities The ceremony involved performance of dances, playing of games, and dream re- enactments. [...]


[...] In general, however, Wallace states that: ?Villages differed in the number of such ceremonies and in the details of their execution The Mohawk traditionally celebrated all of these festivals, with the exception of the sun and moon festival. Turning to physical features of Iroquois society, the longhouse was central. Snow writes: ?Longhouses were consistently built in the shape of an arbor, with compartments down each side and hearths in the center aisle, spaced so that two families shared each fire Longhouses were made of wooden poles and were covered with bark. [...]


[...] Alfred writes: ?During the five centuries of European occupation of their lands, Native peoples have been diseased, defeated, and dispossessed almost to the point of extinction [But] with a growing realization of their own inherent ability to survive as people and persist as nations, Native societies are developing new means of expression and celebration Alfred's book is an exploration of nationalism and the struggles of the Kahnawake Mohawk to preserve their language and culture and to give political voice to their [...]

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