This weekend marks the annual celebration of the Kanienkehaka also know as the People of the Flint or Mohawk people know as the annual Mohawk Strawberry Festival. The annual Mohawk Strawberry Festival takes place around the Summer Solstice on the last weekend of June when the wild strawberries ripen.
The Mohawk Valley in central New York has been home to the members of the Iroquois Confederacy or Haudenosaunee, as far back as the early 12th century. As with many other sovereign Indian nations, conflicts with settler colonialists drove the Mohawk Bear Clan from their lands; their villages and the resting places of their ancestors in the 1700s after the Revolutionary War.
A long-standing Kanienkehaka prophecy passed down through the generations orally foretold of a day when they would return to their traditional homeland. That day finally dawned in the early 1990s when a farm was up for sale via auction, on land that was part of those original lands inhabited by the Kanienkehaka.
A group of Akwesasne Mohawks (St. Regis Mohawk Reservation of US and Canada) purchased the property and re-established their community in their ancestral home in September 1993 as a sustainable, living Onkwehon:we community grounded in Rotinonhsionni culture – its language, land, and social structure.
Today the community of Kanatsiohareke (“The Place of the Clean Pot,” referring to a naturally formed ten-foot-wide and ten-foot-deep pothole carved by water and rock scouring a hole into a creek bed) focuses on revitalizing Mohawk language, culture, and spirituality through classes, workshops, conferences. There are also cultural exchange programs with colleges and community groups..
For Kanatsiohareke, the strawberry is an important medicinal resource that helps to strengthen the blood. The strawberry is regarded as the leader of the berries, because it is the first fruit to ripen. It is “the big medicine” because it is shaped like a heart and people are revitalized whenever they drink its juice or eat it.
The public is welcome to attend the Annual Kanatsiohareke Mohawk Strawberry Festival from 10am-6pm on Saturday and Sunday, June 24 and 25 in Fonda, New York.
The family-friendly Mohawk Strawberry festival features food, native art and craft booths, storytelling, cultural talks, a silent auction, contemporary and traditional music and dance, and opportunities to learn more about the Haudenosaunee (Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy). The community and the Mohawk Strawberry festival are drug and alcohol-free.
In the two videos below Wolf Clan Mohawk storyteller Ionataiewas (Kay Olan), 2009 Jigonsaseh Women of Peace Award Winner, talks about “The Return of the Mohawk”, the Kanatsiohareke Community, and fighting Native American stereotypes.
Here is a select list of pow wows happening across Turtle Island June 23rd through 25th:
The Miami Valley Council for Native Americans 29th Annual Keeping the Tradition Pow Wow, June 24-25
Sun Watch Indian Village / Archaeological Park
2301 West River Road
Dayton, OH 45418
For more information visit the Sun Watch Indian Village / Archaeological Park website or Keeping The Tradition Pow Wow Facebook page.
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