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Life Styles of the Mohawk Indian Tribe

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Life Styles of the Mohawk Indian Tribe

The Mohawk Indians, known for their great battle skills and named for their hairstyles during wartime. Men of the Mohawk tribe would cut their hair, leaving only a strip in the middle and painted their faces to look fierce to their enemy during battles. Mohawk tribes had their own laws and created their own type of constitution that was written in a pattern of beads.

The Mohawk Indians lived in the Mohawk River valley, near what is now Albany New York. Here they built large longhouses made out wooden poles, covered with dirt and elm bark. The longhouses accommodated two families of five to six people per family.

Mohawk Indians were hunters, gathers, and planters. These people ate a wide variety of foods and even more drinking options than you may think. They planted corn, beans and squash; gathered sap, berries, nuts, and wild potatoes; and hunt deer, elk, moose, bear, beaver, partridge, and wild turkey. Fish were also caught in the lakes and rivers. They would drink water, and a variety of teas. They also learned the healing properties that came from many plants, tree barks, and oils from fish snakes, and other animals.

As all Indian tribes have done the Mohawk people made their clothing from deerskin, which they dies black. For shoes they made moccasins and for the summer months they had slippers made from twined cornhusks. Armbands, wristbands and deerskin belt were very popular throughout the tribe. Many of the Warriors also tattooed their face, chest and shoulders with geometric designs that represented animals.

Mohawk life was not always filled with work they also made time for games. One game they enjoyed playing involved six or eight players a deerskin ball, and sticks with nets on the ends. Today we know this game as lacrosse.

Actually the lives of the Mohawks were organized around a yearly cycle of activities, which are based on the phases of the moon. The first economic activity takes place two moons after midwinter. At this time women go into the woods to obtain sap from maple trees. Next the men go out to hunt birds that arrive in the early spring. The men also catch fish that fill the rivers and lakes. This is followed by the women starting their farming activities. These tasks fill the summer and fall months and end with the fall harvest. In autumn the men leave the villages on long hunting expeditions, they will return home by the winter solstice and once again the Mohawk people will prepare for the next yearly cycle.

The Mohawk lifestyle is in many ways a cycle of events that continually happen year after year. Their way of life demonstrates hard working individuals and without them and their beliefs they could not survive the harsh life of the Mohawk River Valley.



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