views updated May 23 2018


Member of the Iroquois Confederacy. For more information on the Mohawk, please refer to the Iroquois Confederacy entry.


Mohawk (pronounced MO-hawk). The Mohawk’s name was given to them by the Algonquin people; it means “eaters of men” and refers to a Mohawk warrior’s custom of eating the bodies of conquered warriors to ingest their strength. They call themselves Kanien’Kehake, which means “People of the Flint” (the meaning is uncertain, but may have something to do with making fire). The Mohawk were members of the Iroquois Confederacy and thought of the confederacy as being like a longhouse (the typical Iroquois dwelling). The Mohawks guarded the lands in the eastern part of the confederacy and were known as “the keepers of the eastern door.”


The Mohawk formerly occupied areas along the St. Lawrence River in Canada and the Mohawk Valley in central New York state. In the mid-2000s they lived on reservations in central and upstate New York, Oklahoma, and on several reserves (the Canadian term for reservation) in Canada.


In 1755 there were an estimated 640 Mohawk. In a census taken in 1990 by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, 17,106 people identified themselves as members of the Mohawk tribe. The 2000 census showed 14,322 Mohawks lived in the United States. An additional 39,200 Mohawks lived in Canada both on and off the reserves in 2007.

Language family


Origins and group affiliations

The Mohawk are one of the few Native American peoples who still live on the land where they originated in present-day New York state. They are one of the six nations comprising the Iroquois Confederacy—the others are the Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora. The majority of the people consider themselves one nation, although their land straddles the border between the United States and Canada.

The Mohawk Nation is one of six tribes making up the Iroquois Confederacy (see entry). Mohawk men were fierce fighters, easily recognized by the distinctive hairstyle that bears their name. The tribe has been in the forefront of the modern Native-rights movement and continues to defy efforts to weaken their traditional authority and rights.


Important Dates

1000–1450: Feuding among tribes over wild game and food resources ends with the founding of the Iroquois Confederacy by Deganawida, “the Peace Maker,” and Hiawatha.

1776: Most Mohawk tribes side with the British during the Revolutionary War under the leadership of Thayendanégea, also known as Joseph Brant.

1989–90: Debates at Akwesasne Reservation about gambling on the reservation lead to violence.

1990: Attempts to build a golf course on sacred Mohawk land in Canada leads to violence.

2003: Wahta Mohawks in Canada receive about $9.7 million plus 8,300 acres to settle the Gibson Land Claim.

Distinguished in peace and war

The great peacemaker Hiawatha helped found the Iroquois Confederacy that brought five (later six) warring nations together under a peaceful, democratic government. Hiawatha may have been a member of the Mohawk tribe, though some historians say he was Onondaga.

The Mohawk from New York often hunted wild game that was plentiful along the St. Lawrence River in Canada, long before their first encounter with French traders there. After they encountered the French in the 1600s, some Mohawk established permanent settlements near them. They enjoyed a lively trading relationship, exchanging furs for European goods.

In the 1700s Europeans arrived in Mohawk territory in present-day New York. There they found a large and thriving Mohawk community called Akwesasne (pronounced ah-kwa-SAHS-nee), which means “where the partridge drums.” The name is based on an ancient Seneca legend. Christian missionaries established a mission, St. Regis, near Akwesasne in 1752.

When the American Revolution (1775–83; the American colonists' fight for independence from England) began, a bitter internal division arose among the members of the centuries-old Iroquois Confederacy. Many Iroquois, especially the Seneca and Onondaga, preferred the policy of neutrality. The Tuscarora and Oneida had a trade relationship with settlers and fought on the colonial side. A Mohawk leader named Thayendanégea convinced some of the Six Nations to take the British side in the war. The Mohawks at St. Regis supported the colonists.

The Iroquois League’s Confederate Council, which required agreement among all six nations, could not arrive at a plan of action. Thus, individual nations, villages, and even families had to make their own decisions about alliance or neutrality. This division in the confederacy never fully healed.

Thayendanégea—also known as Joseph Brant because his mother married a man named Brant after Thayendanégea’s father, a Mohawk chief, died—was both an officer in the British army and a Mohawk war chief. He led troops of Mohawks and British supporters on raids against the colonists’ farms and villages, destroying food supplies for the colonial armies. When the British were defeated, Brant retreated with a group of followers to Ontario, Canada. To reward him for his military services, the British gave him a retirement pension and a large tract of land along the Grand River in Ontario. Many Mohawk and other Iroquois followed him there, and the area eventually became the Six Nations Reserve.

Tribal lands under two governments

After the American Revolution, America became independent from Great Britain, but Canada did not. The Mohawk lands were now part of two different countries, a situation that continues to cause conflict among various local and national governing bodies (see “Government”).

In 1796, thirteen years after Brant fled to Canada, New York state signed a treaty guaranteeing the Mohawks a 36-square-mile (93-square-kilometer) reservation that included the village of St. Regis and other assorted lands. (Land that is set aside for the use of Native Americans is called a reservation; the Canadians call it a reserve.) Later, New York state purchased parts of the reservation without the required consent of the U.S. government. This has led to numerous land claims; some had still not been resolved at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

As of 2007 about 8,200 people, including Mohawks and members of other tribes, called the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation home. (It is called the Akwesasne Reserve on the Canadian side.) The people refer to themselves as the Akwesasne Mohawk tribe. They occupy 14,648 acres on the American side and 7,400 acres on the Canadian side of the reservation.

The Mohawk people consider themselves one nation in spite of the boundary line drawn through their lands by the United States and Canada. This line has caused many problems, including what Canadian and American governments call smuggling of goods such as cigarettes from one side of the border to the other. Some Mohawks believe international border laws should apply to their own nation.

U.S. land claims issues

Land claims (demand for the return of lands the Mohawk claim were illegally taken from them) have involved the Mohawks during the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. The Mohawk have a history of being outspoken on these issues.

In 1953 Mohawk Chief Poking Fire sat outside the Vermont State House with about 200 Mohawks, demanding $1.2 million for the Vermont hunting grounds taken from them 154 years earlier. Then, in 1957, Standing Arrow, a Mohawk, led a group of Native Americans onto lands claimed by non-Indian on Schoharie Creek, near Amsterdam, New York. The Mohawk claimed the land under a 1784 treaty. They said that non-Indian claims to the land were illegal because the land was not bought from the Iroquois Confederacy but only from one group of Iroquois. To press their point, Mohawk militants occupied a 612-acre (247-hectare) campsite for three years in the Adirondack Mountains, finally reaching an agreement with the state of New York in May 1977. The Mohawk were granted two sites totaling nearly 6,000 acres, located within Macomb State Park and near Altoona, New York.

In April 1980 the St. Regis Mohawk tribe in New York received more than 9,000 acres south of the reservation and $6 million in federal funds in an agreement with the federal government regarding lands the tribe claimed near the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Mohawk in Canada

Canadian Mohawks have been as assertive about their rights as American Mohawks. In 1899 two hundred Mohawks on the Akwesasne reserve drove off a government police that were trying to force Native Americans to hold elections. In December 1968, 45 Mohawks from that same reserve protested a Canadian decision to charge them a duty (fee) on goods imported from the United States into Canada. They were arrested as they blocked the bridge connecting Cornwall, Ontario, to New York.

In the early to mid-2000s about 10,500 Mohawks lived in French-speaking Quebec, Canada. About 2,020 lived in and around the small village of Kanesataké (near the town of Oka), and about 8,000 lived on the Kahnawake Mohawk reserve, southwest of Montreal, Quebec’s largest city. Relations between Mohawk residents and the citizens of Quebec have been uneasy for many years, and this led to violence in 1990 after plans were announced to enlarge a golf course onto a sacred Mohawk burial site near Oka. In protest Kanesataké Mohawks set up barriers near the site. When Quebec police tried to dismantle the barriers, one officer was shot and killed. Police surrounded the Mohawk reserve. Meanwhile, members of the Mohawk Warrior Society at Kahnawake Reservation blocked access to a bridge linking Montreal suburbs to the city to show their support for the Mohawk at Oka. The action resulted in a 78-day standoff with the police and the military on one side and the Mohawk Warriors of Kahnawake and Kanesataké on the other.

White Quebecers gathered at the barricades and taunted the Mohawks; at one point a mob of 250 non-Natives stoned cars carrying about 100 Mohawk women, children, and elders who were fleeing the reserve. The events at Oka were shown every night on television news shows, and the terrible state of relations between Native and non-Native Quebecers shocked many people. The government later purchased the piece of land in dispute, but the tension still lingers.


In the early twenty-first century Mohawk chiefs made up what is known as the Mohawk Nation Council of Chiefs (MNCC). They represented each of the traditional clans at Grand Council sessions of the Iroquois Confederacy. This ancient body, considered by its supporters to be the true governing body of the Mohawk people, oversaw the community as a whole, in Canada and the United States.

Canada, the United States, and New York state believe their agencies and governments should have a say in running the Mohawk Nation. As a result, eight government bodies claimed control over the small area of land at Akwesasne (or St. Regis) during the 1990s. The situation has led to conflicts. In 1990, for example, two people were killed when arguments arose over whether to allow gambling on tribal lands.


When the French arrived in what is now Canada in the 1600s, they were mainly interested in furs. Mohawk men acted as scouts for the French, searching out the best hunting territory. Others acted as fur traders, canoe guides, and partners in battles with the British. Through trade with Europeans, Mohawk women became internationally famous for their woven sweetgrass baskets. In the 1800s some Mohawk men found work in lumber camps, while others continued with their traditional occupations.

Mohawk Baked Squash

The three major crops of the Iroquois tribes, including the Mohawk, were beans, corn, and squash. They were called the “three sisters,” and myths of the tribe connect them with stories of three beautiful maidens who walked through the moonlight. Mohawk women planted all three crops together in one hill. They used sticks to make holes in the ground to plant the corn. After the corn sprouted, they piled earth around the base of the corn stalks to keep away predators. Bean plants climbed the cornstalks. Finally, they planted squash, with its broad leaves, to keep the bases of the other plants moist.

Put a squash in the ashes of a fire (or in a 350-degree F oven) and bake until tender. Test the shell for doneness with a sharp stick. When it is soft, cut it open and remove the seeds.

Wolfson, Evelyn. The Iroquois: People of the Northeast. Brookfield, CT: The Millbrook Press, 1992, p. 30.

At the beginning of the twenty-first century the Mohawk who remained on reservations were mainly employed in the service and tourist industries. The service industry includes a tribally-owned shopping center and other businesses such as construction. The Mohawk, taking advantage of the growing interest of tourists in Native American life, opened arts and crafts galleries and allowed the public to attend and observe their celebrations.

Like many tribes, casinos are a source of income for the Mohawk. They opened slot machines in the 1970s; bingo proved especially popular, so they planned to expand these facilities and open new ones.

Daily life


In the late 1800s and early 1900s parents of Native American children across the country were encouraged to send their children to government-run boarding schools, where students were not allowed to speak their Native language or follow their customs. Public schools were so unresponsive to Native American needs that by 1968 the Mohawk student dropout rate was an astonishing 80 percent. Mohawk parents demanded that authorities pay attention to how schools were failing their children. They became actively involved in education reform, and twenty years later the dropout rate had fallen to below 10 percent.

Because the boarding schools forced children to speak English, 1997 statistics showed that less than four thousand people of the seventy-six thousand Iroquois population could speak their Native language. Many tribes had fewer than thirty Native speakers. Most of those people were elderly. The Mohawks began the Mohawk Language Immersion Program in 1998. This ongoing summer program remains popular, and materials have been developed so students can practice speaking their Native language all year.

Some Mohawk expressions

  • shé:kon (SHAY kohn) … “hello”
  • kwé kwé (KWAY KWAY) … “hello”
  • hén (hun) … “yes”
  • iáh… (yah) … “no”
  • niá:wen (nee-AH wun) … “thank you”

In 1985 the Akwesasne Mohawk Board of Education was formed on the reservation; today it oversees three elementary schools. Some children attend the Akwesasne Freedom School in New York, which keeps traditional Mohawk culture and language alive for children from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. In addition the Mohawk Nation operates the Native North American Traveling College, founded in 1968. It travels throughout Canada and the United States to promote Mohawk/Iroquois culture and traditions. In 2000 the college changed its name to Ronathahon:ni Cultural Centre.

Clothing and adornment

Mohawk men were known far and wide by their distinctive haircut, known today as a “Mohawk.” They shaved their heads on one or both sides, leaving a central strip of hair running from the forehead over the top of the head to the back of the neck.

Mohawks smeared their hair and bodies with grease to protect themselves from insect bites. Men painted their faces blue to express health and well-being, black for war or mourning, and red to represent either life or violent death.


The Mohawk talent for painting and wood carving can be seen in their elaborately carved and painted wooden cradleboards, which were used for carrying babies. Some of these survive today and are widely admired by art experts. They feature relief carvings of plants and animals. Some Mohawk women still carry on the tradition of weaving baskets from sweetgrass.

The Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne ventured into the broadcast arts when they became one of only about two dozen Native communities to own and operate a radio station. The station, plus a newspaper and a magazine called Akwesasne Notes published on the reservation, help keep the culture alive.

The Rabbit Dance

Mohawk stories often stressed giving thanks to the creatures and elements of the world, who gave the Mohawk people so much. An example of such a story follows:

Long ago, a group of hunters were out looking for game. They had seen no sign of animals, but they went slowly and carefully through the forest, knowing that at any moment they might find something. Just ahead of them was a clearing. The leader of the hunters held up his hand for the others to pause. He thought he had seen something. All of the men dropped down on their stomachs and crept up to the clearing’s edge to see what they could see. What they saw amazed them. There, in the center of the clearing, was the biggest rabbit any of them had ever seen. It seemed to be a big as a small bear!

One of the hunters slowly began to raise his bow. A rabbit as large as that one would be food enough for the whole village. But the leader of the men held out his hand and made a small motion that the man with the bow understood. He lowered his weapon. Something unusual was happening. It was best to just watch and see what would happen next.

The rabbit lifted its head and looked toward the men. Even though they were well hidden on the other side of the clearing, it seemed as if that giant rabbit could see them. But the rabbit did not take flight. Instead, it just nodded its head. Then it lifted one of its feet and thumped the ground. As soon as it did so, other rabbits began to come into the clearing. They came from all directions and, like their chief, they paid no attention to the hunters.

Now the big rabbit began to thump its foot against the ground in a different way. Ba-pum, ba-pum, pa-pum, pa-pum. It was like the sound of a drum beating. The rabbits all around made a big circle and began to dance. They danced and danced. They danced in couples and moved in and out and back and forth. It was a very good dance that the rabbits did. The hunters who were watching found themselves tapping the earth with their hands in the same beat as the big rabbit’s foot.

Then, suddenly, the big rabbit stopped thumping the earth. All of the rabbits stopped dancing. BA-BUM! The chief of the rabbits thumped the earth one final time. It leaped high into the air, right over the men’s heads, and it was gone. All the other rabbits ran in every direction out of the clearing and they were gone, too.

Then men were astonished at what they had seen. None of them had ever seen anything at all like this. None of them had ever heard or seen such a dance. It was all they could talk about as they went back to the village. All thought of hunting was now gone from their minds.

When they reached the village, they went straight to the longhouse where the head of the Clan Mothers lived. She was a very wise woman and knew a great deal about the animals. They told her their story. She listened closely. When they were done telling the story, she picked up a water drum and handed it to the leader of the hunters.

“Play that rhythm which the Rabbit Chief played,” she said.

The leader of the men did as she asked. He played the rhythm of the rabbits’ dance.

“That is a good sound,” said the Clan Mother. “Now show me the dance which the Rabbit People showed you.”

The hunters then did the dance while their leader played the drum. The Clan Mother listened closely and watched. When they were done, she smiled at them.

“I understand what has happened,” she said. “The Rabbit People know that we rely on them. We hunt them for food and for clothing. The Rabbit Chief has given us this special dance so that we can honor his people for all that they give to the human beings. If we play their song and do their dance, then they will know we are grateful for all they continue to give us. We must call this new song The Rabbit Dance and we must do it, men and women together, to honor the Rabbit People.”

So it was that a new social dance was given to the Iroquois people. To this day the Rabbit Dance is done to thank the Rabbit People for all they have given, not only food and clothing, but also a fine dance that makes the people glad.

“The Rabbit Dance.” Joseph Bruchac. Native American Animal Stories. Golden, CO: Fulcrum Publishing, 1992.

Current tribal issues

One of the ongoing concerns of the Mohawks is the issue of land claims (see “History”). The Haudenosaunee Confederacy Land Rights Statement stresses that the tribe is self-governing, so it should not be subject to Canadian laws. It asserts tribal rights to land that once belonged to them and explains the Native view on land. To deal with these and other concerns, several groups of Six Nations negotiators are studying and addressing these matters.

Haudenosaunee Confederacy Land Rights Statement

Land is envisioned as Sewatokwa’tshera’t, (the Dish with One Spoon); this means that we can all take from the land what we need to feed, house and care for our families, but we also must assure that the land remains healthy enough to provide for the coming generations. Land is meant to be shared among and by the people and with the other parts of the web of life. It is not for personal empire building.…

In our worldview, land is a collective right. It is held in common, for the benefit of all. The land is actually a sacred trust, placed in our care, for the sake of the coming generations. We must protect the land. We must draw strength and healing from the land. If an individual, family or clan has the exclusive right to use and occupy land, they also have a stewardship responsibility to respect and join in the community’s right to protect the land from abuse.

Selected text from the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Land Rights Statement. Full statement available online at: (accessed on July 7, 2007).

Environmental issues are also a problem for the Mohawk. The Canadian Mohawk resisted plans for a golf course on their lands partly, they claimed, because the extensive use of fertilizers and pesticides on golf courses are ecological hazards. The Mohawk have been exposed to excessive air pollution, contaminated fish, and hazardous waste facilities that have damaged their health and their way of life. Both the Mohawk and government bodies are beginning to study and address these issues.

Notable people

Joseph Brant (1742–1807), also known as Thayendanégea (“He Places Two Bets”), was a Mohawk war chief and officer of the British army who led Native American troops into battle during the American Revolution. He negotiated with both Canadian and American governments for the land rights of his people. He is credited with having translated the Bible into the Mohawk language. Reflecting the Mohawk spirit and dignity, he told King George III, “I bow to no man for I am considered a prince among my own people. But I will gladly shake your hand.”

Jay Silverheels (1912–1980) is best known for his role as Tonto, the Native American partner of the Lone Ranger, in a popular television series of the 1950s. Silverheels, whose real name was Harold J. Smith, first came to this country as a member of Canada’s national lacrosse team in 1938. (The Mohawks excell at lacrosse, a game of Native American origin.) A short time later he began acting in films. In 1950 he portrayed Geronimo in the movie Broken Arrow, hailed as the first film to portray Native Americans in a sympathetic light.

Kateri Tekakwitha (1656–1680) became the first Native American nun. Many miracles have been attributed to her, which led to her selection by the Catholic Church in 1980 as a candidate for sainthood.

Adare, Sierra. Mohawk. Milwaukee, WI: Gareth Stevens, 2003.

Ballantine, Betty, and Ian Ballantine, eds. The Native Americans: An Illustrated History. Atlanta, Georgia: Turner Publishing, 1993.

Bonvillain, Nancy. The Mohawk.. New York: Chelsea House, 2004.

Dunn, Mary R. The Mohawk. Indigenous Peoples of North America. San Diego: Lucent Books, 2003.

Kirk, Connie Ann. The Mohawks of North America. Minneapolis: Lerner, 2002.

Mander, Jerry. “Our Founding Mothers and Fathers, the Iroquois.” In the Absence of the Sacred: The Failure of Technology and the Survival of the Indian Nations, Sierra Club Books, 1991.

Ryan, Marla Felkins, and Linda Schmittroth. Tribes of Native America: Mohawk. San Diego: Blackbirch Press, 2002.

Van den Bogaert, H. M. Journey into Mohawk Country. New York: First Second, 2006.

Bruchac, Joseph. “Otstango: A Mohawk Village in 1491,” National Geographic, 180, 4 (October 1991): 68–83.

Came, Barry. “A Time for Healing: Emotions Still Divide Oka and Kahnawake,” Macleans. 103, 46 (November 12, 1990): 26.

“History of Ronathahon:ni Cultural Centre.“Ronathahon:ni Cultural Centre. (accessed on July 7, 2007).

Kanatiiosh. “Kahniakehake (People of the Flint).“Peace 4 Turtle Island. (accessed on July 7, 2007).

Kanatsiohareke Mohawk Community. (accessed on July 7, 2007).

“Kanien’keha:ka Kanakeráhshera (Mohawk Nation): Haudenosaunee Confederacy (Six Nations) Land Rights Statement,“Ganienkeh Territory Mohawk Nation. (accessed on May 15, 2007).

Kanienkehaka Language Homepage (accessed on July 7, 2007).

Mohawk Nation Council of Chiefs. (accessed on July 7, 2007).

MNN Mohawk Nation News. (accessed on July 7, 2007).

“Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte (News): Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory,“Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte. (accessed on May 15, 2007).

Mohawk Tribe. (accessed on July 7, 2007).

Porter, Tom. “Mohawk (Haudenosaunee) Teaching.” (accessed July 7, 2007).

George Cornell, Ph.D.; Associate Professor, History and American Studies, Michigan State University; Director, Native American Institute

Laurie Edwards


views updated May 18 2018


The Mohawk hairstyle is distinguished by a ridge of hair sticking straight up, running down the center of the head from the forehead to the nape of the neck, with the rest of the head shaved. It originated among Native American tribes in North America and Canada and was often not made of human hair but rather of a "deer roach," a piece of deer tail with skin and fur attached and worn atop the head.

French explorer Samuel de Champlain (c. 15671635) first noted the hairstyle among the Hurons of southwestern Ontario in the early 1600s. The name Huron, in fact, comes from the old French word hure, meaning "boar's head," after the stiff ridge of hair bristles along the head of a boar. Other Native American tribes wore their hair in this fashion as well. There is even a tribe called the Mohawk tribe, though there is no evidence to suggest that the Mohawk tribe originated the style. The first time the Mohawk hairstyle was identified with the Mohawk tribe was in a book written in 1656 by a Dutch Reform minister named Johannes Megatolensis. The illustration of a Mohawk hairstyle included in his book was of a Long Island Algonquin, not a Mohawk.

In the 1970s the Mohawk became a popular hairstyle among punk rockers, fans of punk rock music, who liked its menacing look. The actor Mr. T sported a variation of the Mohawk on his 1980s action TV series The A-Team.


Gröning, Karl. Body Decoration: A World Survey of Body Art. New York: Vendome Press, 1998.

Raphael, Mitchell. "Who Really Sported the First Mohawk?" Canku Ota. (accessed on July 31, 2003).


views updated Jun 08 2018


The Mohawk were one of the original member tribes of the League of the Iroquois or Five Nations Confederacy. The Mohawk live mostly in Ontario and Quebec in Canada and New York and Oklahoma in the United States and numbered about ten thousand on six reservations in the 1980s. They were the easternmost tribe of the Iroquois Confederacy and in late aboriginal and early historic times occupied the region of present-day New York State bounded by the Mohawk and Hudson river valleys in the south and east and the St. Lawrence River in the north. In 1650 they numbered approximately nine thousand.

In the late 1600s a group of Mohawk who favored the French migrated north to Canada and helped establish the community of Caughnawaga near Montreal. At about this time a second northern Mohawk community was established at Oka, also near Montreal. In 1881 some of the Oka Mohawk established a new settlement at Gibson Reserve east of Georgian Bay in Ontario. In the mid-eighteenth century factional disputes and overcrowding at Caughnawage led to the establishment of a third northern Mohawk community at St. Regis on the St. Lawrence River. In the early nineteenth century some of the Caughnawaga Mohawk joined the Iroquois in migrating to Ohio and later to Indian Territory (Oklahoma). After the American Revolution the Mohawk remaining in New York resettled on the Six Nations and Tyendinaga reserves in Ontario.

Traditionally, the Mohawk were a hunting and farming people, but fishing and gathering were also important subsistence activities. They held nine of the fifty hereditary sachem positions in the council of the League of the Iroquois and were known as the Keepers of the Eastern Door.

See alsoIroquois


Blanchard, David (1983). "Entertainment, Dance, and Northern Mohawk Showmanship." American Indian Quarterly 7:2-26.

Carse, Mary (Rowell) (1949). "The Mohawk Iroquois." Bulletin of the Archaeological Society of Connecticut 23:3-53.

Freilich, Morris (1958) "Cultural Persistence among the Modern Iroquois." Anthropos 53:473-483.

Frisch, Jack A. (1970). "Tribalism among the St. Regis Mohawks: A Search for Self-Identity." Anthropologica 12:207-219.


views updated May 11 2018

Mo·hawk / ˈmōˌhôk/ • n. (pl. same or -hawks) 1. a member of an American Indian people, one of the Five Nations, originally inhabiting parts of eastern New York.2. the Iroquoian language of this people.3. a hairstyle with the head shaved except for a strip of hair from the middle of the forehead to the back of the neck, typically stiffened to stand erect or in spikes.4. Figure Skating a step from either edge of the skate to the same edge on the other foot in the opposite direction.• adj. of or relating to the Mohawks or their language.ORIGIN: from Narragansett mohowawog, literally ‘man-eaters.’


views updated Jun 27 2018

Mohawk a member of an American Indian people, originally inhabiting parts of what is now upper New York State. Recorded in English from the mid 17th century, the name comes from Narragansett mohowawog, literally ‘maneaters’; an early variant spelling survives in Mohock.

From the 1980s in North America, Mohawk has also been used to denote a Mohican haircut.


views updated May 29 2018

Mohawk Iroquoian-speaking Native North American tribe of the Iroquois Confederacy, formerly inhabiting central New York state. Today, there are c.2000 Mohawks. Most are farmers on two reservations in Ontario, Canada.


views updated Jun 11 2018

Mohawk ★½ 1956

A cowboy and his Indian maiden try to stop a war between Indian tribes and fanatical landowners. 80m/C VHS, DVD . Rita Gam, Neville Brand, Scott Brady, Lori Nelson; D: Kurt Neumann; W: Maurice Geraghty, Milton Krims; C: Karl Struss; M: Edward L. Alperson Jr.