THE TRUE TYENDINAGA MOHAWK TERRITORY
She:kon, Kanerahta:ye’shon yonkyats. Clark Tewaksenna:sere. Wakathahyon:ni. Kenhteke Nikiteron.
My name is Kanerahtayeshon Clark. I'm a part of the Wolf Clan and I’m from Tyendinaga, Mohawk Territory. My good friend, Josh Labelle, asked me to be a First Nations contributor for Blog BOQ, and to be honest, it’s something I feel very motivated and excited about.
Tyendinaga is much more than what most people see. We have been given so much publicity for our weed shops, and are well known for our cheap cigarettes and gas. My role is to provide insight and share my personal experiences and knowledge of all things Kenhteke (Tyendinaga).
I’ve been thinking so much about how to start this blog from the perspective of a Mohawk woman of Tyendinaga. So many ideas, thoughts and experiences come to mind that it is almost overwhelming. To me Tyendinaga is home. It’s much more than a place that words can simply describe. It is a feeling of fullness, of being at peace when returning home from being away. Tyendinaga has been my home my entire life, with the exception of some time spent away at University. Tyendinaga is the comfort of the roads that I’ve known my whole life. It’s the comfort of raising my family in the home where I grew up. It’s having neighbours that are like extended family that watch out for each other’s homes. It’s having the ability to work in my own community as a teacher, doing a job that I love at the very school I attended as a child. It’s being able to continue to learn my language, and to teach it not only to my children, but also my students. Tyendinaga is always having family nearby, if not by blood, then by clan. Tyendinaga has three clan families which are Turtle, Bear and Wolf. Our clans are passed down through our women, to our children. There is plenty respect for our women. We are a matrilineal society who values, respects, and loves the women who give us life. Women are held with high esteem, and valued for their knowledge and leadership in the home, the longhouse, the family or the “professional” world.
We are spiritual and respectful people. We have ceremonies throughout the year in which we give thanks to the many different things that are provided to us, to sustain us. We realize that the environment is directly connected with who we are, and that we must care for the Earth, as she cares for us.
As Mohawk people, we belong to what is called, The Iroquois Confederacy, which was originally made up of five nations. The original five nations being, Onondaga, Oneida, Seneca, Mohawk and Cayuga. We developed the original democracy based on the Kayanere’kowa, or The Great Law of Peace. Later we were joined by the Tuscarora Nation, making Six Nations of The Iroquois Confederacy.
Being onkwehonwe (Native, Indian, Aboriginal etc.) in this time period is challenging to say the least. Often times it feels as though we are fighting an uphill battle, but built within us is the blood of our ancestors that carries knowledge, identity, strength and resiliency to carry on for the future generations. We carry on to create a better future, deeply rooted and grounded in all of our traditions, our language, and essentially our way of life. The trick is never to forget who you are by remaining grounded in the teachings of our ways, yet being forward enough to be successful in this other world at the very same time.