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After centuries of cultural oppression and genocide, which left lasting marks on generations to come, many Native Peoples have embraced their cultures and languages. This embrace, especially by the youth, has spurred a remarkable cultural revitalization, which is alive and well in Akwesasne.
For centuries Mohawks have lived in harmony with mother nature and lived off the land. We were hunters, gatherers, trappers, fishermen, and farmers.
According to the Akwesasne Cultural Portrait, “The Mohawk people have always known that they are to only take what they need from Mother Earth, including plants and wildlife.”
You might be a fan of lacrosse or even a lacrosse player, but do you know where lacrosse came from?
Lacrosse is actually an ancient sport first practiced by Indigenous tribes in North America. To the Haudenosaunee, the game is a gift from the Creator, a medicine game for men used for healing and to lift the spirits of the people.
The Akwesasr:onon, people of Akwesasne, and our community are vibrant and unique with a rich history spanning centuries. There are many ways in which Akwesasne and our people are described and the use of certain terms varies depending on the topic, perspectives, and individual preferences.
Akwesasne Mohawk people are part of the Haudenosaunee, which means the “people of the longhouse” or “people who build a house.” The Haudenosaunee are often referred to as the six nations of the Iroquois Confederacy.
While the members of this alliance have some shared cultural traditions and history, each nation has its own identity and practices.
In the spring, you can often spot white smoke billowing out of homes around Akwesasne. This is when wah:ta oh:ses (maple sap) flows and it’s to make maple syrup. The spring season is here and it is a time to celebrate. These billows of white smoke mark where residential sugar shacks are beginning to process the maple sap they have been collecting since early March.
The COVID-19 Pandemic has brought a lot of changes in its wake, but it has also inspired some creativity and ingenuity. Local artisans draw on their culture and traditional knowledge to create masks that are truly works of art that raise awareness of Indigenous communities and share messages of resiliency.
You will find stunning, intricate Mohawk baskets throughout Akwesasne. These hand-woven creations adorn shelves and decorate office buildings all over the Akwesasne nation.
We are said to have the highest number of basket makers in any one community among the Iroquois Confederacy. Just ask someone you meet if they make baskets or if a relative does and they will likely answer yes.