The Mohawk Tribe

Learn where the mohawk tribe first lived and their history in New York State.

The Mohawk tribe of Indians were one of many tribes that were part of the Iroquois Confederation and inhabited the area around the Great Lakes and parts of what is now Canada and the state of New York. They were considered the keepers of the Eastern Door, or borders, protecting the Iroquois nation from invasions from that direction. In their course of survival, the Mohawk tribe allied with the Dutch in the 17th century and later became allies of the English crown. The Mohawk tribe fought mostly against the United States in the Revolutionary War.

Post-Revolutionary War on November 11, 1794, leaders of the Mohawk tribe signed the Treaty of Canandaigua with the United States. They moved north into present-day Canada and became mercenaries of the British army. Today, descendents of the Mohawk tribe can be found in southeastern Canada and parts of New York. Though many have integrated into American and Canadian societies, many still live on reservations. Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe at the Saint Regis Reservation is the largest Mohawk organization and is governed by their own elected officials, which continue to be recognized by the United States federal government to this day. These elected officials are still known as chiefs and are independently elected by their tribe to represent the tribe in all dealings with the federal government.

The Mohawk tribe, along with other Indian tribes and nations, has been a source of intrigue and inspiration, both of which have inspired early American Literature. The Mohawk tribe held many beliefs and customs sacred and the Mohawk tribe warriors had a distinct appearance. They typically wore their hair shaved on both sides of their head, with the full length of their hair left only in a strip down the center of the head, hence the modern day hairstyle we know as the Mohawk.

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