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 also Iroquois


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.

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