September 11, 2011

Mohawk ironworkers helped build WTC

Anniversary of 9/11 Felt by Indian Construction Workers

By Eisa Nefertari UlenTen years ago—on the day everything changed for so many—women, children and grown men cried. Even tough men, men who worked with their hands or on big machines, men who wouldn’t ever let their wives see them cry, cried. Some of them were ironworkers, and many of them were Mohawk.

When New York City’s Twin Towers fell on September 11, 2001, pieces of Mohawk history fell, too. And now, as the rebuilding of lower Manhattan continues, those pieces are being put back, in steel and in stone. This is a shared history too few outside Native communities know. From 1966, when construction began on the Twin Towers, to 1972, when the South Tower opened, 10,000 people worked on one of the boldest construction projects in history, the tallest building in the world at that time. Men of Canada’s Kahnawake Reserve were among those 10,000—they helped build the World Trade Center up from the ground to the sky, from public controversy to iconic status, from a blueprint to a symbol of the greatest city on Earth.

Mohawk men also stood in the Pit, what would later be known as Ground Zero, and helped clean up after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Most Americans don’t know that, either.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see 9th Annual Ironworkers Festival and Documentary About Brooklyn's Mohawks.

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