"It feels like a healing process..." : the maintenance of traditional values among the Mohawk of Akwesasne
This thesis contains case studies from two Mohawk communities in present-day United States and Canada; specifically a language immersion school at the Akwesanse reservation, and an off-reservation settlement in the Mohawk Valley, which both focus on the preservation of language and culture for the future generations. Based on these studies and their political and historical contexts, I have looked at the traditionalist way of life as a part of long-term strategies for cultural preservation, and connected this to concepts of ‘healing’ and ‘decolonization’. ‘Healing’ is a concept with long and deep roots in Native American cultures, and thus makes a good metaphor for the work that is done to preserve and revitalize culture and language in a ‘post-colonial’ context. I further challenge theories that see traditions as political constructions and inventions, and argue that to acknowledge the importance of tradition in peoples lives, one should not see it as opposed to ‘modernity’, and as an idea of the past; but rather as modern expressions of a contemporary connection with the past while looking towards the future. Tradition is not just political constructions and strategies to reach a goal, but in some contexts and for some people a goal in itself.
ForlagUniversitetet i Tromsø
University of Tromsø
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