What Are Some of the Basic Principles of the Mohawk Religion?


Quick Answer

The Mohawk religion mixes Christian beliefs and traditional Iroquois spirituality, with an emphasis on the spiritual battle between good and evil. The Mohawk creation myth tells the story of a mother who gave birth to twins: Teharonhiawako, the good twin, and Sawiskera, who represents evil. Mohawk religious leaders are called shamans; they serve their communities by interpreting dreams, advising their people about visions and delivering messages from the spirit world.

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Full Answer

Nature plays an important role in Mohawk spirituality. Some nature-based Mohawk religious celebrations include the Midwinter Festival, the Feast for the Dead, the Maple Festival, the Thunder Ceremony and the Harvest Festival. Midwinter celebrates the birth of the new year, while the Maple Festival is a holiday of gratitude for spring. Mohawks believe that the maple is the most important tree. The Thunder Ceremony honors the people's ancestors and the Strawberry Ceremony gives thanks for strawberries, which are considered the most important medicine plant.

In the traditional Iroquois mythology of the Mohawks, Hahgwehdiyu was the creator, while Atahensic, or Sky Woman, was the mother goddess and represented birth and fertility. In Iroquois legends, Atahensic fell through a hole in the sky and came down to earth, where she died. Some Mohawk communities associate Hahgwehdiyu with the maple tree, which is why they hold the maple in such high regard.

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