This is John Robles, I’m speaking with
Kahentinetha Horn she is Mohawk Indian Elder and a member of the Bear
Clan. She is also the owner and publisher of the Mohawk News
(Kahentinetha Horn, Bear Clan, Mohawk Nation, Kahnawake community on Great Turtle Island.)
Robles: Hello Kahentinetha! How are you this evening?
Mohawk: "it is nice to speak with you. we have much to tell you about
what we are doing on great turtle island. our great law of peace is the
path to peace based on our understanding of the great natural power
kasatstensera kowa sa oiera)
Robles: Can you translate that now for us?
Those are my greetings in Mohawk. And I introduced which is the Great
Turtle Island, which is what we call North America; we never call it
that, we call it “Great Turtle Island.”
People who live on Great Turtle Island are the (Speaks Mohawk) which means “the True Natural People of Great Turtle Island.”
we follow: we have a developed constitution called which means the “Great Path”. And the Great Path is the great
path to peace. Our philosophy is based on our understanding and our
awareness of the natural world. That’s a little bit about us.
Okay. As all North American Indians, the basis of beliefs are: respect
for nature and the Great Spirit. Can you tell us a little bit in
particular about the Mohawk Nation and what you are doing to promote the
issues that are important to the indigenous peoples?
The Mohawk, also known as (Kanien'gehaga), are the “Keepers of the
Eastern Door of Great Turtle Island.” So, we are in the east and we were
placed there by our (Speaks Mohawk) that’s the Great Natural Power.
That’s where we were placed. And we were to watch for people who would
be coming from the east. And so, that’s why we are called the Keepers of
the Eastern Door.
We traversed throughout the eastern
part of Great Turtle Island right from the north all the way down to the
south. We traveled and we met all the other indigenous peoples, and we
got to know each other. And we formed friendships and alliances that
last to this day. There were hundreds and hundreds of indigenous
The Mohawk had the responsibility to maintain
the peace. We always feel that we have to do that because the Great Law
which is our philosophy (Speaks Mohawk) we were the first ones to take
it, to accept it. And because we were the first ones to do that, we have
always been responsible for maintaining it and to maintain the peace
which is what the Great Law is all about.
The Great Law
of Peace is to bring peace not just to the Great Turtle Island but
throughout the world. That’s why that law was given to our people. The
Mohawk have this very… you know. We feel it! Right inside ourselves.
are the eagle that sits on top of the Tree of Peace and we look out to
see any danger that is coming towards us. And we give a warning, a loud
scream to the people. That’s how the Mohawk Nation News came into
I was raised as … I only spoke Mohawk until I was about 10 years old.
Then, I had to learn to speak English. So, then, in 1990 we were
defending the land. The women are what we call the “Title Holders of the
Land” because we are tired to the land and we are the creators, and we
hold the land for the future generations that are not here yet.
women are the ones that have the children, that bear the children and
the men have the duty of protecting the women and the children along
with all their other duties. They imitate the responsibilities of the
Sun; to provide heat, provide warmth, provide protection, help provide
food and to teach the children, all these things to be our diplomats,
our teachers, to travel and meet other native people.
women: our responsibilities come from whatever the Earth does, which is
to create the children, to help create the food, to feed the children,
to raise them, to help them to become advocates of the Great Law of
Peace. There is a male and female balance, not male or patriarchal or
matriarchal, there is a balance between the male and the female.
Robles: In most tribes the women chose the leaders because they knew the character of the children. Is that also true with the Mohawks?
Yes. Well the people because each one of us has a “Fire,” we have the
individual fire of ourselves which is what inside of us; it is our
intuition, our minds, our energy, that’s called the “Fire of Life.” And
we have the “Fire of the Family” which is people close to us, then the
extended family and then the community, then the clan and then that
extends into the nation, and that extends to the confederacy that we
So, all these relationships are connected, all
circular and in the very center is myself, for example. I’m in the
center, all of these other circles around me, these are all my
connections. So, my responsibility is immediately to my own children.
a clan selects somebody to become a leader, or to represent us or to be
a spokesman…we don’t have leaders, there is no such thing as a leader
because we are equal, we are all equal and we all have a voice. So, what
happens is that both the men and the women “the People” have a Fire,
the women’s Fire and the men’s Fire, and the men and the women have a
combined Fire, we come together and we will make a selection of somebody
to speak for us, we don’t call them leaders, we call them spokespeople.
so the spokesperson represents us for the day only, just for that day.
And the women will tell the chiefs and they will say: “This is the
person we’ve selected and that is the person that will speak for us for
the day.” So, that’s very different from the kind of situation that you
people have, you now. (laughs)
Sure! As I understand Western democracies were based on Indian law and
Indian relationships between nations and tribes, and clans. In Europe
they had monarchies, there was no such concept as democracy.
Kahentinetha: No, they didn’t. And they still don’t understand true democracy.
were listening to an interview with Kahentinetha Horn – she is a member
of the Mohawk Nation, the Bear Clan, and the owner and publisher of mohawknationnews.com. You can find part 2 of this interview on our website at english.ruvr.ru