Mohawk Indians

The Mohawk Indians are a tribe of Native Americans who, when first discovered, lived in the area of the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario. The Mohawks were part of the Iroquois Nations, a collection of the Seneca, the Onondaga, the Cayuga, the Oneida, the Tuscarora, and the Mohawk tribes. In the Iroquois confederation their role was as the "Keepers of the Eastern Door," as they lived along the Eastern border of Iroquois lands. The traditional name of the Mohawks was the Kanienkeh, "The People of the Flint," based on their usage of flint to build their arrows. It's not certain why Europeans renamed them the Mohawk, but the most popular theory is that it was based on an Algonquian phrase for "man-eater."

This name wasn't due to any cannibalistic habits in the Mohawk; they survived on a mixture of hunting, gathering, fishing, and farming, the latter of which made up a majority of their diet. The triad that made up most of their farmed goods, beans, squash, and corn, were called the "three sisters," which were felt to be gifts handed down to them by their Creator.

The arrival of the Europeans was devastating to the Mohawk. First, the arrival of measles, smallpox, and the flu ripped through their population. Later, in the 1700's, tribes among the Mohawk and many other Native Americans split over their disagreement on whether to aid the Americans or the British in the American Revolutionary War. Still, the Iroquois Nations, as well as the Mohawk, did not disappear completely, rallying together once again. The population before Europeans arrived was considered to be between 8,000 and 15,000, though today they number around 78,000. They own some of the land in various parts of New York and in 1993 were given permission to build gambling establishments on their land, however many Mohawk live among other Americans as part of its general culture.

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