The Mohawk Community in Fonda, N.Y. known as Kanatsiohareke (Gah Nah Jo Hah Leg: Geh) recently celebrated their 24th annual Strawberry Festival. The Mohawk strawberry festival honors this fruit sacred to the Mohawk and the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) people, and it marks the beginning of berry season. This annual Strawberry Festival gives thanks while honoring sacred traditions of the tribe.
This year’s Mohawk strawberry festival included a wagon ride through the woods for attendees as well as a variety of traditional and contemporary music. There was social dancing and vendors selling crafts, clothing and books.
The opening of the festival was marked by community founder Tom Porter, who recited the traditional Thanksgiving address.
“This morning when I was going to do the things that I usually do, the Spirit came to me, which is very powerful. The people need to realign the original truths with themselves. So there is harmony with each other to be diverse, to work and harmonize. In order to do this we must realize the universal truths, not the man-made things. Too many man-made things create wars,” said Porter.
[text_ad]Among the most popular items for sale were the strawberry shortcake made with fry bread and a delicious strawberry drink made with fresh strawberries.
A ceremony took place on the banks of the Mohawk river to welcome the Onondaga Canoe and Kayak club. The group of canoeists was lead by Hickory Edwards, who had paddled 10 miles up the river to arrive at Kanatsiohareke.
As is tradition, the travelers who arrived by canoe built a fire and asked permission to come into the community. Tom Porter and a delegation from the community received the paddlers as Porter spoke in his Mohawk language in acceptance of their respectful request. The paddlers were then “cleansed” of any negative energy their travels may have brought.
Indian Country Media Network asked Porter his thoughts about the traditions of the Haudenosaunee.
“The Creator made diverse worlds and many different kinds of beliefs but they are supposed to be together.” said Porter.
“Not one person is better than the other, these are universal truths and we must work together. So it’s good to see good people today, good to see good crowd, with good food and good vendors. Everything is good today.”