"Under the Husk"
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 Ahkwesáhsne 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 Kahnenhsatá:ke, 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 Oheró:kon currently taking place in other communities across the Ratinonhshón:ni Confederacy.
Oheró: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 Onkwehón:we (Indigenous) youth, families and communities. contact us to learn more and get involved.
Coming of Age
We gather each Sunday to discuss important topics that lead up to Fasting Week Ceremony. Activities are surrounded by Ratinonhshón:ni 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 Ratinonhshón:ni 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 Oheró:kon possible.
Lead Aunties and Uncles Council
Oheró: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 Oheró:kon
Ohero:kon Under the Husk documentary by Katsitsionni Fox
“Oheró:kon - Under the Husk” is a 26-min documentary by longtime Oheró: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. Kaienkwinéhtha and Kasennakóhe are childhood friends from traditional families living in the Mohawk Community of Ahkwesáhsne 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 Oheró:kon include:
How to sign up
Oheró:kon is a puberty rites of passage. Therefore we ask anyone who is interested in signing up to have begun this transition or be at least 13 years of age. You will need the support of an Auntie or Uncle for this journey. Please email email@example.com for more information on when sign up dates start or visit our Facebook group at:
What's been going on with Oheró:kon since the start of the pandemic
Due to safety concerns with the Covid-19 pandemic, like many others, Oheró:kon has had to shift to a more online platform with reduced in person time. We have learned a lot over the past year and a half about what these changes have meant and how we can continue to engage with youth and our community in ways that keep everyone protected. We look forward to welcoming everyone back when the time is right and are working on safe meeting spaces and additional resources.