The beautiful and fertile Mohawk valley, named for its Native American inhabitants, was the scene of many battles and raids in the French and Indian Wars and in the American Revolution. The valley served as the sole route (see Mohawk Trail) for westward-bound pioneers to cross the Appalachian Mts. The Erie Canal, N.Y. Central RR, and N.Y. State Thruway were built along the river's course.
North American Indian people, the easternmost group of the Iroquois Confederacy, living in Canada and the U.S. Their language is a member of the Iroquoian language family. Their name for themselves is Kahniakehake, which means “people of the flint,” and within the confederacy they were considered to be the “keepers of the eastern door.” Traditionally the Mohawk lived near what is now Schenectady, N.Y. They were semisedentary; women raised crops of corn (maize), and men hunted during the fall and winter and fished during the summer. Related families lived together in longhouses. Most Mohawk sided with the British in both the French and Indian War and the American Revolution, in the latter under Joseph Brant. By the mid-20th century the Mohawk had garnered a strong reputation as structural ironworkers; many have been involved in the building of major bridges and skyscrapers. Early 21st-century population estimates indicated some 47,000 individuals of Mohawk descent.
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