Mohawk: Kahniakehaka Language

OVERVIEW 

by Kanatiiosh

The Language of the Haudenosaunee is pictorial. In other words, the terms used are descriptive and paint a picture in the mind of the listener and speaker. The language of the Haudenosaunee is very important to maintain in its traditional form because it is an important part of one's identity and worldview. Each of the Six Nations, the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora have a different language although there are similarities that allow the people to understand each other. Linguists classify the language of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora as Iroquoian.

An important thing to keep in mind when looking at the languages of the Haudenosaunee people is that because the language is pictorial it does not translate very well into the English language. For example, the Mohawk word for cow is tio-hons-kwa-ron, which literally describes the action of an animal that is always chewing. In other words, tio-hons-kwa-ron does not mean cow, rather it refers to the action of the cow for it is always chewing its cud. With this said, I will share with you some Mohawk words that represent the Months.

Month

Kahniakehaka

Meaning

January

Tsiothohrko:wa

The Big Cold

February

Enniska

Lateness

March

Ennisko:wa

Much Lateness

April

Onerahtokha

Budding Time

May

Onerahtohko:wa

Time of Big Leaf

June

Ohiariha

Ripening Time

July

Ohiarihko:wa

Time of Much Ripening

August

Seskeha

Time of Freshness

September

Seskehko:wa

Time of Much Freshness

October

Kentenha

Time of Poverty

November

Kentenko:wa

Time of Much Poverty

December

Tsiothohrha

The Cold

 

MAP: Present Locations Original Territory MapSome Mohawk Words

 

Some Mohawk History

 

 

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Website created May 27, 2000:Updated August 2001

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