When a Mohawk is not a Mohawk

Some things seem elementary.  If you found an ancestor with the surname of Mohawk, you’d immediately think Native, or at least seriously ponder the possibility.  If you knew you were dealing with a Native family named Mohawk, you’d know you had found the tribe, and you’d do a little happy dance, hoping no one is watching.

And you’d be…..wrong!

End of happy dance.  Hope no one saw.

Indeed, we have two instances in Maine Revolutionary War Service records where men with the Mohawk surname were not members of the Mohawk tribe.  We know this because their tribe was given.

Served in the Revolutionary War in Maine:

  • Piel Mohawk/Mowhawk, Penobscot Indian
  • Pierre Mohawk, St. John’s Indian, lived at St. John’s

Does this mean that they didn’t have Mohawk ancestors?  Surely not, but that is speculation.  Might they have been kidnapped and adopted from the Mohawk tribe?  Certainly, they might have been.  These are all good possibilities.  But what we actually know is that these two men were not of the Mohawk Tribe when they served in the Revolutionary War.  They were Penobscot and St. John’s Indians.

Y’all know that old saying about assume:)

About Roberta Estes

Scientist, author, genetic genealogist. Documenting Native Heritage through contemporaneous records and DNA.
This entry was posted in Mohawk, Penobscot, St. John's Indians. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to When a Mohawk is not a Mohawk

  1. Jim Sanders says:

    I just found your blog through Geneabloggers. Welcome to Geneabloggers.

    Regards, Jim
    Hidden Genealogy Nuggets

  2. Canyon Wolf says:

    Piel Mohawk/Mowhawk, Penobscot Indian
    Pierre Mohawk, St. John’s Indian, lived at St. John’s

    They are probably the same guy. Tribe in this region was assigned by “whites” arbitrarily based on where they were at the time of the event. There are others of this name among the historical Penobscot, so I think this one would be Penobscot as well – educated speculation rather than fact.

    St. Johns = Maliseet of Maine, Quebec, and New Brunswick

    Piel = Pierre — the Abenaki pronounce “r” like “l” (Penobscot & Maliseet are Abenaki)
    i.e. Mary = Mali, Pierre = Piel

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