A Day in the Life of a Mohawk child 500 years ago
500 Years Ago | Today ➦
I awake in the morning to the sounds of my mother talking with the other women who are preparing the early meal of the day. I nudge my little sister and brother to awaken and tell them our elder brother the sun is shining down on us today, and we will be able to swim.
We greet our mother with a hug and she smiles and serves us some of the food she has prepared. Yesterday we were able to pick some wild strawberries and we saved some for today. My mother ground up the strawberries and added some cool water from the stream to make us a strawberry juice. It’s delicious.
My mother tells me to go gather wood for the fire we will need to prepare our other food for the day. My brother and sister are too small to come so I see if my cousin will come with me. This is his chore too, and we go to gather wood together.
On our way into the woods we see a mother deer and its fawn, my cousin gestures to me to be quite and we watch as they drink from the stream. Far atop our heads are the tops of great trees, the sunlight streams through in faint shafts. We walk on the needles of pine trees and are careful to follow the path so we don’t wander too far off.
We start to pick up branches of fallen trees and those left behind when the longhouses for the village were being built. We each gather an armful and make a pile to start to gather some more. We bring one load of firewood back to the village and then go back for the other. My mother is cleaning out our area of the longhouse with her splint broom and puts away the furs we used for sleeping on. Everything looks neat, and now she is getting her tools ready to help the other women tend the garden.
Now our elder brother the sun is shining down on us with much strength and I ask my mother if I can go swim in the stream with the other children of the village. She asks me to keep a close watch on my brother and sister, and with a wink she says “have fun!”
I get to the stream and my cousin has already caught a frog and is now trying to catch a fish with his hands. Every one laughs at how funny he is trying to catch the fish. He laughs too, but keeps on trying.
Our mothers come back to the village from the fields, they have taken care of the three sisters that sustain us. Corn, beans and squash have been carefully tended to and watered and the weeds have also been pulled out.
The fires in the pits of the longhouse are all beginning to spout smoke out of the smoke holes. Soon our last meal of the day will be ready to eat. I play some games with my brother and sister and we play with our dog. We throw a leather ball back and forth and he tries to get it. He whines when he does not find the ball, or is not fast enough to catch it. Poor Okwaho!
When the last meal is served we all sit together and talk about our day. My father is out on a hunting trip, but will return in a few days. When he returns we will have some meat and we will have a feast. We go for one last dip into the stream before the mosquitoes come out and then it’s safer after that to be in the longhouse.
The fire burns and my mother is mending some leather leggings and soon I am feeling tired and fall asleep. I fall asleep to the sounds of the dogs barking, an owl hooting, and the fire crackling. Goodnight ista, I say nia:wen to the Creator for a good day, and say that I will greet him in the morning when I awaken to start a new day.