Ohero:kon "Under the Husk" Rites of Passage
A Way of Life
Ohero:kon is not a program, it is a way of life and our children need us to set the example.
When you see young people emerge out of their cocoons it’s so beautiful. I want all youth to rise and show their resiliency. They have a powerful message for the universe to hear.
-Mama Bear (Wakerakatste Louise McDonald Herne, Condoled Bear Clan Mother for the Mohawk Nation and Founder of Ohero:kon)
Ohero:kon "Under the Husk" Rites of Passage at a Glance
"In Our Creation Story, down-fending involved individual ritual seclusion under a blanket of corn husk that was circled within a ring of cat-tail down. The down from the cat-tail would reveal any intrusive presence to the ritual space.
We call the rites of passage Ohero:kon - Under the Husk. We must lead our generations into the future using the symbology of our Haudenosaunee culture to penetrate the psyche of the community." Katsi Cook, Aboriginal Midwife
Ohero:kon "Under the Husk" Rites of Passage emerged out of a pursuit to inspire and support the community for the love of our children, and a desire for actions to speak louder than words. Established in 2000 in the Akwesasne Mohawk Nation, we’re a grassroots, community-based Indigenous organization driven by progressive ideas, bold actions, and a strong foundation of cultural support. Beginning with 7 youth who fasted on top of a mountain in our sister community of Kahnesatake, we have now supported more than 1000 people to be part of this process including youth, families, Elders, community members and allies - including the growth of Ohero:kon currently taking place in other communities across the Haudenosaunee Confederacy.
Ohero:kon reconstructs ancient cultural knowledge of "coming of age" as a preparatory process for youth as they transition to adulthood. We offer age-appropriate, culturally-based teachings and activities in safe, sacred spaces to nurture the emotional and physical well-being of Onkwehonwe (Indigenous) youth, families and communities. Contact us to learn more and get involved.
Making a Difference For the Next Seven Generations
Coming of Age
We gather each Sunday to discuss important topics that lead up to Fasting Week Ceremony. Activities are surrounded by Haudenosaunee philosophy and history, and others center on changing bodies during adolescent puberty. Youth walk away with tools needed for fasting, as well as practical life skills.
It Takes A Community
We dedicate 20+ weeks of community and family involvement. Youth across the Haudenosaunee Confederacy with the support of their chosen Aunties, Uncles and families gain knowledge through traditions and ceremony. It takes all of us working together to make Ohero:kon possible.
Lead Aunties and Uncles Council
Ohero:kon is governed by a Lead Aunties and Uncles Council made up of past initiates, knowledge keepers, community organizers and more. The Council meets regularly through the entire year to prepare and facilitate all calendar activities, and to provide additional direct support to youth and families.
Media and Articles
The following is an example of videos and media that have been written about Ohero:kon
Ohero:kon Under the Husk documentary by Katsitsionni Fox
“Ohero:kon - Under the Husk” is a 26-min documentary by longtime Ohero:kon Auntie Katsitsionni Fox. The film follows the journey of two Mohawk girls as they take part in their traditional passage rites to becoming Mohawk Women. Kaienkwinehtha and Kasennakohe are childhood friends from traditional families living in the Mohawk Community of Akwesasne that straddles the U.S. / Canada border. They both take part in a four- year adolescent passage rites ceremony called Oheró:kon “Under the Husk” that has been revived in their community. This ceremony challenges them spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically. It shapes the women they become.
Media Articles and Accolades
Articles and initiatives recognizing the work of Ohero:kon include: