Most people are familiar with the famous Mohawk hairstyle, but few realize that the Mohawk Indians shaved their heads and left a middle portion of hair remaining during wartime to make them look fierce.

The Mohawk Indians call themselves Kanienkehaka or People of Flint; the name “Mohawk” means “man-eater” and was coined by their enemies, the Algonquin (it is common for Indians to keep the derogatory names given to them by their enemies). It is uncertain whether or not the Algonquin intended to imply that the Mohawk Indians were cannibals, or whether they were simply commenting on their ferocity in battle.

The Mohawk Indians were one of the five Indian nations that comprised the Iroquois. They lived in New York State and many settled in Canada. When researching Iroquois history your will find that the Mohawk Indians were allied with British and fought against the French and the Algonquin. This alliance existed for many years, and one of the reasons cited for the Iroquois determination to side with the British against the French as the fact that the French explorer, Champlain, approached them with guns. Another explanation is that since the Mohawk Indians were such bitter enemies of the Algonquin, they naturally fought against the Algonguin’s allies, the French.

The Mohawk Indians were noted for their prowess in battle as well as the sophistication of their political organizations. They had their own laws and created a constitution that was “written” though patterns of wampum beads. The Mowhawk Indians lived in longhouses which sheltered several families. The mean wore breech cloths, leggings and moccasins, and cut off the sides of their hair and war paint during wartime. They wore feathered caps with three eagle feathers in the front. Mohawk Indians had an equal distribution of labor between men and women; the women were responsible for farming, and the men went out hunting.

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