Mohawk health has always been tied to the land. This week on Mohawk Ironworkers we explored health, home and heritage and what these mean to ironworkers. Additionally, how do the three H’s influence lives once you retire from ironworking?
Hayden Hemlock, a retired Mohawk ironworker from a long line of ironworkers, discussed the importance of family and community. “No matter how far you travel from home to work you always return to that home base.” Even with his time spent growing up in New York while his father worked as an ironworker, home was still Kahnawa:ke. In the business of ironworking, there are many Mohawks, and their camaraderie is the envy of others who work in the trade. But even with this close-knit working community, home beckoned from afar.
Hayden suffered a fall while working, and his injuries have prevented him from returning to ironworking. Despite his injuries, he refused surgery and turned instead to traditional medicines in order to assist with his body’s healing process. Raised with his grandparent’s influence, Hayden developed a deep connection to the land, fostering a deep respect for, and responsibility to, protecting it. Now, instead of walking iron he spends his time building houses in his community of Kahnawa:ke.
Kaniehtakeron Martin is also an ironworker; he has taken a different approach and runs 20 miles every week to maintain his fitness. When he first started the job, Kaniehtakeron fell into the trap of work hard, play hard, and repeat. Recognizing this lifestyle was unhealthy, he began eating and exercising regularly. “Gegs” now runs marathons in his spare time to take care of his body and to withstand the rigors of his chosen occupation.
This was one the stronger episodes in Mohawk Ironworkers. We got a real sense of the these two men, and how ironworking has affected them on and off the job. Kudos to executive producer Michelle Smith.
Mohawk Ironworkers airs Tuesdays at 7 p.m. ET on APTN.