Certificate in Mohawk Language & Culture

Kanyen’kéha Certificate

This certificate is for members of the Tyendinaga community and Mohawk Nation seeking to learn Mohawk language through culturally rich learning experiences and the many traditions, histories and worldviews of the Mohawk people.

  • Storytelling
  • Conversations
  • Grammar and Oral Presentation

The Certificate in Mohawk Language and Culture is offered by the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures in partnership with Tsi Tyónnheht Onkwawén:na (TTO) Language and Cultural Centre in Tyendinaga, Mohawk Territory.

The Certificate is delivered in the TTO Language and Cultural Centre in Tyendinaga.

The next application deadline will be in 2024.

For more information, visit https://tto-kenhteke.org/ or contact Tina Brant at TTO Language and Cultural Centre in Tyendinaga at tto@kenhteke.org or 613-970-3045.

Listen to CFRC 101.9 FM's episode about the Mohawk Certificate or see Jan Hill speak about it on CKWS.

While thousands of Queen’s graduates crossed the stage at the Leon’s Centre in Kingston, a number of graduates from the first two cohorts from the Shatiwennakará:tats (Certificate in Mohawk Language and Culture) recently received their certificates and were celebrated at an event at the Mohawk Community Centre in the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory.


Photo (L-R): Thanyehténhas (Nathan Brinklow), Instructor, Betty Carr-Braint, Graduate, Certificate, Callie Hill, Program Director

This Certificate is primarily for members of the Tyendinaga community and Mohawk Nation, but it is also open to others who are seeking to learn Mohawk language through culturally-rich learning experiences and the many traditions, histories, and worldviews of the Mohawk people. There are approximately 20 students in each cohort of the two-year program, which means the classes are small and the community is close and strong. It is also dedicated to the revitalization of the Mohawk language.

 
Photo (L-R): Graduates Shelby Lisk, Matthew Hayes, Edward Maracle, Betty Carr-Braint, Amanda Hill, Jamie Maracle, Roger Wales, Ida Nelson, and Instructor Thanyehténhas (Nathan Brinklow).

The program launched four years ago and is offered by the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures in the Faculty of Arts and Science in partnership with Tsi Tyónnheht Onkwawén:na (TTO) Language and Cultural Centre in Tyendinaga, Mohawk Territory.

Program instructor and FAS professor Thanyehténhas (Nathan Brinklow) explained that the first year of the most recent program was fully online and it was therefore more difficult to build the community than when the program was offered for the first time; however, there were opportunities to gather in person and for everyone involved to get to know each other as a learning community in the second year.

“The last two years of the program went well and the shift to online because of COVID opened-up participation to community members who live away from the community, and to members of other Mohawk communities,” Thanyehténhas says. His interest in the language was sparked through the Mohawk Hymns he sang with his grandmother as a young man and following his formal studies,  he went on to study at Shatiwennakará:tats, the intensive adult language program at Tyendinaga.

He explains the students in the Certificate program come with a shared interest in the language, but with vastly different backgrounds, expectations, and abilities.

“With each cohort, the varied backgrounds and knowledge of the students has brought great value to the program,” Thanyehténhas says. “And while the diversity of expectations can be a challenge to navigate, the community we’re able to create together creates a positive learning environment where the students support and learn from each other.”

Graduate Jamie Maracle emphasized how important language is to him and said he’s been working on the language his entire life.

“I had been living in Toronto for 30 years. Somebody came up to me one day and asked me, ‘how many people do you know in Toronto that you can speak the language to’. At that time, I could not think of a single person. Occasionally there would be people that came into town that could speak a little bit but then they would go back to Six Nations, back to Tyendinaga. I didn’t really have anyone to speak to.

Most of my life I’ve been taking a ten-week course, then you don’t hear it for two years. Another ten-week course and you don’t hear it for two years. To take this course, to be able to do some more fulsome speaking, is key to me.”

Betty Carr-Braint says she had been taking night courses and doing things on her own but hadn’t been able to retain a lot of things.

“It felt like it was time for me to step in because I kept saying I’m going to do it someday; I’m going to do it someday. It just felt like this was the time,” Carr-Braint says. “Unfortunately, because of COVID, it did limit it somewhat but I’m so glad I stepped in.”

“The experience was challenging, it was interesting, and I really love knowing what the words actually mean. I also loved the connections I was able to make to my own family because I grew up with grandparents that spoke Mohawk. It was a beautiful thing that I was able to do that.”

Thanyehténhas says the cohort that just graduated started fully online and then shifted to a hybrid model, with weekly meetings online and monthly meetings in-person.

“We see that this hybrid model meets a need within the Mohawk Nation for something between short-term evening courses and multi-year full-year immersion programs. This Certificate program is unique in our Mohawk communities and has the potential to serve as a great model for other communities and languages.”

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The Certificate consists of four courses (12.0 Units) to be completed over two years:

  • MOHK 101/3.0 Beginning Mohawk Language & Culture I
  • MOHK 102/3.0 Beginning Mohawk Language & Culture II
  • MOHK 201/3.0 Intermediate Mohawk Language & Culture
  • MOHK 202/3.0 Oral Mohawk Language
One course is offered per term.
 
Each of the certificate courses is structured as follows:

108 hours of in-person instruction and 1.0 hours/week for on-line learning/homework.

  • One week instruction (6 hours/day x 5 days = 30 hours)
    August, 2020 for MOHK 101/3.0 in Fall Term 2020
  • Two weekend days / month (12 hours/month x 4 months = 48 hours)
  • One evening / week (2.5 hours/week x 12 weeks = 30 hours)
  • Homework, online learning (12 hours).

Students who complete the Certificate will be able to apply their credits towards a degree at Queen’s, e.g. a B.A. (Gen) or B.A. (Hons).

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Admission Requirements

Admission to the Certificate will be administered by TTO Language and Cultural Centre in partnership with Queen’s Undergraduate Admission.

Students will be admitted for Fall Term only, every second year;

Applicants will submit a written application to TTO Language and Cultural Centre, that will include a statement of intent.

The next application deadline will be in 2024.

For more information, please contact Tina Brant at TTO Language and Cultural Centre in Tyendinaga at tto@kenhteke.org or 613-970-3045.

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