Canadian Mohawk Chuck Bennett was in the Island last week visiting Douglas firm Continent 8 and took the time out to speak to pupils in years three and four.
He explained that the word ‘Mohawk’ was foreign to his people, the Kanienkehaka, as they do not have the letter M in their 13 letter alphabet.
Traditionally Mohawks live in long houses of 50-60 people headed by a clan mother. Her daughters would live in the house and, when they married, their husbands would live there too.
‘In my culture men don’t own anything. We own no land, no property,’ Chuck explained.
‘The children don’t take our names it’s the women’s name because we believe that the father could be anybody but a mother always knows the voice of her child.’
There are only three Mohawk clans – bear, wolf and turtle.
Chuck is a turtle because his mother was a turtle but his daughter is a bear after her mother.
He explained about the traditional way of life – they only eat meat for a few months a year and don’t draw faces on their dolls because ‘only the creator can make a face’.
‘We make use of everything because you have to make the best use of everything the creator gave us,’ Chuck said.
After answering questions from the youngsters he encouraged them to join him in singing a traditional song.