Mike Kraszewski

Mike's impetus for learning Mohawk came from a belief that language is tied not just to ancestry but to place. "I just figure, if you go to another country, you learn that country's language. So if you go to France or you go to Italy, you learn Italian or French or whatever you learn. I've always thought, well, if you live in Canada, the languages are native." Of Polish background and a resident of nearby Belleville, he was one of the first students to take Mohawk language night classes in Tyendinaga in the days before language immersion programs were established in the community. He is now a proficient Mohawk speaker and regularly attends longhouse ceremonies. "I was lucky that they accepted me in the community for who I am," he says.