The Mohawk Tribe are traditionally the keepers of the Eastern Door of Iroquois Confederacy also known as the 6 Nations Confederacy (or the Haudenosaunee Confederacy) Their original homeland is the NE region of NY State extending into southern Canada and Vermont, prior to contact with Europeans, Mohawk settlements populated the Mohawk Valley of NY State. Through the centuries, Mohawk influence extended far beyond their territory and was felt by the Dutch who settled on the Hudson River and in Manhattan. The Mohawks’ location was as an Iroquois nation closest to Albany and Montreal. Fur traders there gave considerable influence among other Tribes, and their location has also contributed directly to a long and beautifully complicated history. In 1750s - to relieve crowding at Kahnawake and to move closer to the Iroquois homeland - French Jesuits established a mission at the current site on the St. Regis River. Mohawk people continually used this site at the confluence of the St. Lawrence River Valley as part of fishing & hunting grounds prior to the building of the first church “Akwesasne” as is known currently translates roughly into “Land where the partridge drums,” has always been the prime location due to the confluence of several small rivers and the St. Lawrence River. This Catholic Church records dates back to the late 1600s, and oral history says the church was built on traditional ceremonial grounds. The community became more populated as the Mohawks left the Mohawk Valley under distressed conditions in the middle-1700s. In 1759, a band of Abenakis sought refuge with the Mohawk people during the French and Indian War, but some remaining behind after the party returned to their own village. Additionally, this was also a result of the dislocation caused by war, and the number of refugees from the Oswegatchie Mission (near current Ogdensburg, NY) settled at St. Regis.Afterwards, the immigration culture at St. Regis stayed predominately Mohawk, and in 1796 the Seven Nations of Canada (included the Christian Mohawks living in St. Regis) asserted rights to their own lands and were eventually confined to a small parcel of land through a treaty signed by the representatives of the Seven Nations of Canada and the State of New York. Under the terms of this agreement, a six-square mile tract and some collateral land were reserved for Mohawks in return for their promise to abandon any further land claims inside of the State. Subsequent State treaties decreased the size of the reservation and increased an annuity paid to residents.

Currently, the Mohawk people of Akwesasne still rightfully claim territory outside confines of current boundaries of reservation and exercise guardianship over lands through the National Historic Preservation Act, Section 106 and the Environmental Protection Act processes.In 1888 at the Grand Council of the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy, (Haudenosaunee Confederacy) the Mohawk Nation formally rekindled their fire and responsibilities to the Confederacy as the successor of descendants of Mohawks who had left the Mohawk Valley 100 years earlier, and the Mohawk people who had maintained traditional customs and ceremonies restored their place as the “Elder Brother” of the Haudenosaunee. The Confederacy felt that was beneficial for all to remain united, therefore strengthening the position when fighting for Indian rights under treaties previously negotiated with the United States of America. After the American War of Independence, the Mohawk people found it necessary to deal with government of State of New York. In order to protect themselves – and their best interests – these Mohawks decided to select elected representatives to interact with New York. In the 1930s, the Federal Government proposed the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA), and each Tribe was given opportunity to reject the Reorganization Act and St. Regis Mohawks did reject the Act of 1935. A couple of years later, in 1953, the Federal task force arrived at St. Regis to prepare termination legislation, but chiefs and St. Regis people rejected this termination. Despite this, the Bureau of Indian Affairs proposed a bill which was presented to the Congress where it died in committee without serious consideration. The administrative termination of Tribes continued through 1950s until the mid-1960s when the Federal Government was reminded that there had been no official termination of Federal relationship with the NY State Iroquois Acknowledgement of Federal relationship slowed to manifest itself, following preliminary findings from the leaders of Iroquois Tribes. This included those of St. Regis.The Iroquois were then invited to Washington to explore the establishment of a viable relationship.

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