Being Three Feathers and Becoming the Meandering Mohawk

July 24, 2015

Today, the sun is shining brightly, and the temperature is just right. My dogs are hanging out in the back yard, while I spend the day writing. A weekend of annual festivities is upon us in Oswego, known as Harbor-Mess—oops, I mean Harbor Fest. I know of other events I ought to go too; but I am going to hunker down and write a few things this weekend.

I have operated a blog called, “” since February 2010. At one point my site/blog was hacked, and was subsequently dismantled. A dear friend, Lori had helped me maintain and implement the blog site and thus my writings for the site. I had struggled with a unique domain name to purchase and implement—thus Being Three Feathers was born.

Being Three Feathers was an adaptation of something I had heard Rick Hill say at a grad school conference in Buffalo. A long time friend, and mentor, he challenged the grad students we are all there to visit with—to be Haudenosaunee/Indian by conduct, not just by identity. Thus simple statement worked on many levels—both at the conference, and it truly resonated in my thinking then and now.

This simple and eloquent statement appealed to me on so many levels—I thought, well I adapt Rick’s framework into being three feathers dot com, meaning being Mohawk—in my blog. I wanted to be Mohawk by my writings, not just self-declaration—I wanted to write in a way that reflected who I was a Haudenosaunee scholar, not just a Native Studies professor.

Before the hacking incident, I had grown fairly comfortable with my writings, thinking, and things I had published on the site. Granted it was not as fast as I, or others may have desired—I was still writing. The goal had not been to change the world through a mere blog, but to develop a habit of writing every day, or minimally every week or so—that could then spark my writing in the academic arenas, while growing my confidence in my as a writer.

As a result of the hacking incident, and the consequential work done with numerous parties to restore and rebuild my site-Being Three Feathers, I became concerned not only with my writings—but the safety of my site and any impact it might have on others—who were innocently visiting the site. I began to develop shyness about writing for the blog but kept that to myself.

As a result, my writings became less frequent, and more generic—safer in other words. By the time I mustered the courage to expound upon something—it already passed out of the news cycle. Thus in my reasoning—I shouldn’t post about it—as it had fallen out of favor already. Many encouraged me to return to my site and write–post a bit more frequently—but I came up with any number of excuses why I couldn’t produce something of worth for the site.

Thus it became a self-fulfilling prophecy and status quo—I didn’t write because of all the other projects going on in my life. In truth, I had become compromised and embarrassed—so I didn’t write, I made excuses. My last entry on was from September 2014—where I expressed a desire to try to write more. I failed.

Suddenly, as the spring semester (2015) began to come to close, I received another message from Google—stating my site had once again become unsafe, that I had likely been hacked again. I panicked, and reached out to a friend who had recently begun working in website development and the like, for help with my site.

Zak and I have been friends forever, and upon learning he was working with website development, search engine optimization—I figured he’d be the right guy to help me. As he/we begin to dig into the problem most recently articulated by Google, a sad discovery was made by us/him. The original site may not have been fully cleaned or restored.

Where I had thought I had cleaned up everything by burning down the original site and rebuilding from scratch. I was saddened by the loss of some unique posts that I had not responsibly backed up. I sadly found out that what I thought was a cleaned site started anew—was an ongoing compromised site that managed to procure over nineteen thousand pages of spam; much of it porn—and much of it likely from the original hack.

So Zak and I had some frank and earnest discussions, and he started the process to clean as much of the site as he could—after he first secured the site from future spam and hacker attacks. The gravity of what had happened, and the sad realization of how many people I may have compromised in all that time weighed heavily upon me. I was embarrassed, I was stuck in the fact that I had no idea what I was doing technologically speaking—and perhaps should have stopped with the original hack. Since we were such long friends, I confessed how I felt, and how it weighed upon me.

He took time, as any good tech person would, and began to build me back up again. He reassured me that while it seemed dire, it was actually all very fixable. He said while it seemed like the end of the world to me, it happened every day, and every second around the world. With the right tools, and a potentially re-imagined site, I’d be fine. In the worst-case scenario, if he couldn’t fix it, I’d have to simply abandon my brand—being three feathers.

I had not thought of it as a brand. I had not thought of it as something I owned; rather, I thought of it as someplace where I wrote my ruminations, lamentations, and ponderings of a given moment. This site was where I simply desired to improve my writing skills by actually writing. I was never overtly or overly concerned if people read what I offered to the site—and I’m sure this will drive some authors and editors mad, but it is my truth.

So one day about two weeks ago, I begin to think of how I could re-imagine my site and myself. What I could call the new site that was original, not borrowing someone else; but somehow still honored what I considered to be the purpose of being three feathers—being Mohawk (in my writings).

I wrestled with names like, “Thinking in Iroquois,” or “Thinking in Haudenosaunee,” but that seemed too close to Barriero’s work on John Mohawk’s writings “Thinking in Indian.” I thought of some play on words like “We share our thinking or words” but that was far too close to “We share our Matters” by Rick Monture. I briefly toyed with a play on the name as a nod to Audra Simpson’s magnificent work “Mohawk Interruptus.” I tried to procure some concept or metaphor that made sense to me from all my work with Haudenosaunee Creation narratives—and I was drawing a complete blank. But nothing felt comfortable to me, or acceptable without plagiarizing and insulting my friends.

I have long been a fan of alliteration. So I began to play around with names like “Moody Mohawk,” a nickname I have sometimes assigned myself in the past. I always took the name with a sense of humor, and lightheartedness, but I also understood that it could carry a negative connotation to it as well. I played around with “Malcontented Mohawk” thinking it might work in an ironic twist of alliteration—but realized too quickly that it suggested that I was not happy, whereas I took what I saw as the optimistic approach—I wasn’t happy with the status quo, I strived for ways to make things better, to find better conversations, and frame things differently. So that didn’t work.

So I next turned to the thesaurus. I looked up words (online) that might work with: pondering, wandering, ruminating, and the like as a self-described thinker. A single word popped up over and over as a synonym—meandering. I looked up the definition of meandering—and it seemed to fit me perfectly. I have even described myself to friends as the meandering Mohawk—for all the places I’ve gone, often taking the off-the-beaten-path route or just plain getting lost sometimes. My sister taught me long ago—I’m not really lost, I’m just exploring a new way.

This Meandering Mohawk struck something in me as authentic. So I took it to the next step. I searched Twitter for “Meandering Mohawk,” then Facebook, and finally Google. The name itself seemed like it might work. I emailed it to Zak, and sought other input from those I trust (even posted a question on my Facebook page). Many thought either name worked for me.

The more I thought about it, the more I began to like Meandering Mohawk as a name for my blog. It fit who I am, and how I think often. If you’ve had a long conversation with me, you know I tend to meander all over the place. My writing, as perhaps this essay demonstrates—also meanders all over the place. So too does my thinking; which is why written work takes me so long to edit and I usually need many attempts at it. I thought about how my studies have meandered all over the place, how my journeys have taken me from here to there, and everywhere in between, and symbolic it is like a river.

In fact Google produced a number of search results that attributed Meandering Mohawk to the Mohawk River in eastern New York; a river I’ve loved to drive along when time allowed. There was a reference to Tyendinaga (Joseph Brant) but I failed to fully flesh out that meaning—I liked the imagery of the Mohawk River meandering through eastern New York, where it ultimately meets up with the Hudson, before flowing south towards the Atlantic ocean; where it merges with a larger body of water and becomes absorbed as part of the natural world.

I do have to share one small funny, (at least to me) anecdote. I was on the phone with my hosting company. The poor salesman kept saying, “Mandarin,” rather than “Meandering.” I attempted to gently correct him. However, he kept simply saying, “Mandarin Mohawk dot com.” I thought but didn’t ask—“do you mean the oranges or the language?” Alas, I let it go—Meandering became Mandarin for the purposes of the hosting company—but everything transferred over seamlessly.

Lastly, I want to give a express debt of gratitude, and acknowledgement to Zak Becker and those at 1 Big Web Design. They have made many of my ideas come to life. They have worked with me continually on how I wanted this or that, and when something wasn’t feasible—they guided me towards a better option and choice. They listened, researched, and worked on all aspects of the site you’re reading right now. I want to take a moment to thank them all, particularly Zak for all the hard work—and highly recommend them. They are more than willing and adept at helping transition a vision for a website into a reality—that is why you envisioned in the first place!!

So welcome to the new site: You can also find me on Twitter at @MeanerngMohawk (Yes, it’s missing the “i”—too many characters.) And you can email me I hope you enjoy reading the newly designed site and find something of interest and to ponder further; feel free to contribute to the conversations here.

Where have your thoughts meandered today?

Kevin J. White
Toronto, CA