With nearly 20,000 members, the Mohawk are the most populous Indigenous nation in Québec. They are grouped into three communities: Kahnawake, Akwesasne and Kanesatake.
English is the language used by the Mohawk. Many speak Mohawk (Kanyen’kehà:ka), and a growing number of members speak French.
The Mohawk are one of the Iroquois nations that, before the arrival of the Europeans, formed the Five Nations Confederacy. The socio-political system of the Confederacy, which was democratic and autonomous, was very complex. Like other Iroquois nations, Mohawk society was matrilineal, meaning that the clan’s kinship and identity were passed down through the maternal line. In the 19th century, the Mohawk began specializing in sought-after trades. Many were paddlers for transportation companies, at a time when boats had to cross the Lachine Rapids to get from Montréal to the Great Lakes. The Mohawk were considered experts in this area.
Kahnawake, located near Montréal, on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River, has managed most of its community activities for the last several years. It has a financial institution, the Caisse populaire de Kahnawake, and many private businesses.