Sunday, July 08, 2007

The stereotype of the Mohawk Indian as being a fearless ironworker up high, unafraid of heights, is only partly true. These Indians are not really born with an innate capacity to balance upon a steel girder 1000 feet up in the air:

Mohawks were first employed in 1886 to help construct a bridge near St. Lawrence. The boss noticed that they were very agile and sure of foot, so more were hired. Since jobs were scarce on the reservation, eventually 25% of Mohawk male employment involved 'skywalking'- the pay is too good to pass up (about $37 an hour, with benefits).

The tradition is passed down from father to son. How do they do it? They slowly put one foot in front of the other, staring straight ahead. They never look down.


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