First Peoples > Arrival of Strangers > Economy > High-Steel Workers

Arrival of Strangers - The Last 500 Years


High-Steel Workers

"Ironworking has become an avocation for most young Kahnawake men. They've worked in virtually all parts of the western world, from Mexico to Greenland, from Alaska to Turkey. There isn't a significant skyscraper or large structure in North America that hasn't felt the touch of Indian hands. The success of Kahnawake in this field led Indians from other nations to enter this field and they now comprise a substantial part of this work force."

- Johnny Beauvais in Kahnawake,1985

Since 1850, Iroquois ironworkers have been high-rise construction workers, building bridges and skyscrapers. A building boom in the 1920s lured Iroquois ironworkers to join construction teams across Canada and the United States, particularly in New York City. During the 1980s, 70 per cent of men in Kahnawake worked in high steel. The profession has taken them to diverse parts of the world, from South America to the Middle East.

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