Genins Girls of the Nations - Cover

Genins Girls of the Nations

Copyright© 2023 by Broken Gunny

Chapter 8

A Guide to the Mohawk Nation Sacred Wedding Ceremony Patty Inglish MS Jul 21, 2022, 2:34 AM EDT

The Wedding Wheel By mikeporterinmd via Flickr; CC by-sa 2.0

A wedding wheel hung at the site of Iroquois weddings, including those of Mohawk people. The first thing people see when coming to the wedding, the ornamental wheel is a symbol of the couple’s hopes and dreams for a happy future in marriage.

The wheel is traditionally handmade of a wooden branch, bent and decorated with white deerskin strips and often having a “burnt feather” design, recalling the Feather Dance performed after the marriage ceremony, as discussed later. The burnt aspect represented by tradition by dark-tipped features that may stand for burnt sacrifices or the tradition of smudging the air with burning herbs for cleansing and good fortune.

The Essence of Marriage

The Wedding Longhouse

Mohawk Marriage Means “Never Alone Again”

Any traditional Native American wedding reflects the couple’s spirituality and beliefs. Traditional Mohawk marriage ceremonies mark the entrance of the couple into a combined extended family of the bride and groom, and further, into the larger community of the native band or village. Forever after, the married man and woman are contributing members of a large caring group, so they are never alone again: They have their nuclear family, an extended family, and the community as a large family under the governance of the Council of Chiefs. A divorce is also not expected by the couple.

The Longhouse Sacred Ceremony

A traditional ceremony often follows the rites of the Longhouse Religion, or Code of Handsome Lake, observed by the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy, which incorporates ancient religious beliefs and tenements of Christianity. The latter include beliefs and customs of Catholics, Quakers, Methodists, and even Charismatics who have interacted with Native North Americans in recent centuries. While a small minority native bands have discarded the ancient beliefs, at least 5,000 people still follow the Longhouse Religion, according to the US Department of the Interior in 2015.

Ground Rules of the Ceremony

By tradition and respect for the wedding ceremony No drug, No substance, or No alcohol will to be in the Longhouse during the wedding and the following marriage supper, and no photographs during the ceremony. This is because the marriage ceremony is sacred, and people remember it by holding it in their hearts. They will speak of it and tell stories about it to their children and grandchildren. The children will act it out after hearing about it.

The Council of Chiefs Approves

The lineup of the Six Nations Chiefs of the Iroquois Confederacy is analogous to the Longhouse, which can be 200 feet long.

The Couple Gains Approval to Marry

The Mohawk Nation has three clans, and the members of each clan are more closely related to others in their own clan than to members in either of the other two clans.

Overall, Mohawk people are considered to be related to all other Mohawks; marrying a member of another clan provides greater genetic diversity than inbreeding within a clan. For official approval by the Council of Chiefs, the bride and groom must be of different clans among the Turtle, Wolf, and Bear groups, each named for its founding member, who was an animal that could become a man and move back and forth between these two forms.

The groom will go to live with his wife’s family after the marriage ceremony.

Marriage Gifts

Native American leather crafting tools and materials used to make moccasins, shirts, breeches, and dresses.

For the groom’s gift, the bride sews and embroiders new white deer skins into moccasins. Her materials include decorations made from rabbit pelts, sinews, and beads that are either commercially purchased or made of bone. Embroidery is hand dyed fibers done with and porcupine quills made be used for quilling decorations.

The bride’s and groom’s families create a wedding dress for the woman, often made of white doe skin leather. Various tribal groups also add leather fringes, beads, feathers, ermine fur, and other decorations. The groom usually receives a new handmade shirt and breeches of doe skin as well.

The Mohawk bride carries a large white smudge feather instead of flowers.

The Commitment of Four on a Bench

A couple wishing to marry presents a wedding request to the Council of Chiefs, who approves it and helps to choose a wedding date. The Council of Chiefs will announce the accepted date to the whole community and an invitation to the event by The Council of Chiefs will invite everyone, with no one left out. Friends, associates, and family that live elsewhere will also be for celebration and support.

On the wedding day in the longhouse, the couple and their families dress in their best regalia and enter the building, where they find a bench in the center of the large room. The bride and groom sit together in the center of the bench, while their mothers sit on either end, each mother sitting beside her own child. The mothers will forever be a part of this marriage commitment, supporting the marriage and giving advice.

The source of this story is Finestories

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