Mohawk, the most eastern member of the IROQUOIS Confederacy, resided on the banks of the Mohawk River. In 1609 and 1610 they were defeated by their northern neighbours, assisted by CHAMPLAIN.
Mohawk, the most eastern member of the IROQUOIS Confederacy, resided on the banks of the Mohawk River. In 1609 and 1610 they were defeated by their northern neighbours, assisted by CHAMPLAIN. Mohawk hostilities were then channelled eastward, where they drove the Mahicans out of the Mohawk Valley and gained access to the Dutch traders of Fort Orange (now Albany, New York). By 1640 they had exhausted beaver stocks in their own country and turned to plundering fur fleets coming to trade with the French. A truce between New France and the Mohawk was arranged in 1645. Isaac JOGUES attempted to establish a Jesuit mission in their country but was suspected of witchcraft and killed. Shortly afterward the Mohawk and SENECA combined to drive the HURON from their homeland.
The French burned the Mohawk villages in the autumn of 1666 and then made peace. The JESUITS established a mission and encouraged their converts to move to the St Lawrence, away from English influence, where settlements were established in the 1670s. War again broke out, and the Mohawk towns were burned in 1693, with some of the Catholic Mohawk aiding the French against their kinsmen. The entire Iroquois Confederacy negotiated treaties of peace and neutrality with both the French and English in 1701.
In 1710, three Mohawk chiefs and a Mahican journeyed to London, where they were presented to Queen Anne. To counteract French Jesuit influence, Anglican missionaries were promised to the Mohawk, and the queen presented communion silver for a chapel. Catholic Mohawk from the St Lawrence played an active role as French allies, participating in the destruction of Deerfield, Massachusetts, in 1704 and Groton, Massachusetts, in 1707.
During the 18th century the Mohawk, now living in two principal towns, became surrounded by European settlers. They adopted the housing styles of their neighbours and were closely tied to the British administration. The Aboriginal superintendent, Sir William JOHNSON, married a Mohawk, Mary BRANT. Johnson used Mohawk warriors in the final French-English conflict for possession of the continent. Johnson died before the outbreak of the American Revolution. The Mohawk joined that struggle in 1777, under the leadership of Joseph BRANT, who had just returned from England. Brant and his Mohawk frequently defeated the Americans but were forced to flee their homes, which were confiscated and used by the rebel settlers.
After the war, Brant and his followers settled on the Grand River on a grant secured for them by Governor Frederick HALDIMAND (now the Six Nations Reserve). Other Mohawk, under John DESERONTYON, settled on the Bay of Quinte. These Mohawk were largely Anglican, and the Queen Anne communion silver was divided between the two reserves. The Mohawk who settled in Ontario and those on the St Lawrence became increasingly incorporated into the White world. Mohawk from Kahnawake outside Montréal were skilled boaters and were recruited to ferry General Garnet WOLSELEY's army up the Nile in 1884-85 (see NILE EXPEDITION). In later years, men from this same reserve established a reputation as structural-steel workers.
There are close to 35 000 registered Mohawk in Canada (1996c). Over 3000 Mohawk continue to speak their traditional language. Some of them returned to the HANDSOME LAKE RELIGION and established longhouse congregations at Kahnawake in the 1920s and St Regis (Akwasasne) in the 1930s. Residents of both these communities had been Roman Catholic for some 250 years. Mohawks at Kanesatake and Kahnawake came into armed conflict with the Québec police and the Canadian Forces over land issues at Oka, outside Montréal, in the summer of 1990. Violence has also occurred at Akwesasne in a community divided over the issue of gambling.