"Kontiwennenha:wi — Carriers of the Word"

February 19, 2017



with the Akwesasne Women Singers

Free to members and students; $5 for non-members
This program takes place at 1:30 p.m. in the Adirondack Museum's auditorium.


Kontiwennenha:wi, which is translated as Carriers of the Words, is a women's singing group that originated from the Mohawk Nation at Ahkwesashsne. Kontiwennenha:wi is made up of young women, mothers, aunties and grandmothers, who all work full time as teachers, social workers, students, and retirees.

Kontiwennenha:wi hail from Ahkwesahsne, a Kanien'keha:ka Territory that straddles the St. Lawrence River and incorporates portions of northern New York and southern Ontario and Quebec. In Ahkwesahsne, as in other Kanien'keha:ka communities, women's singing societies have always functioned to help community members in time of need. When Kontiwennenha:wi performs outside of their community, they do not call themselves a singing society. That title is reserved for their work within their Territory and other Haudenosaunee communities. But they continue many of the same functions: the funds their performances generate are always directed back toward their community. While men and women sometimes have different singing repertoires and their songs serve different functions, women always take care to learn the men's songs as well, so that the Mohawk way of life can be preserved even in times of crisis. In the spirit of this traditional role, Kontiwennenha:wi, the Carriers of the Words, have embraced the "duty to help our language survive.... We believe that if our language dies, so will we as a Nation. Without our language we will have no culture.

"We proudly share our songs and teach children so that we may honor everything that is natural to us. Through our songs we honor our Mother the Earth, our Grandmother the Moon, our Grandparents from every generation, the teachers of the Mohawk language, the Great Law of Peace, and more."


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