In Memoriam: David Kanatawakhon-Maracle

July 06, 2023

David Kanatawakhon

 Dr. Kanatawakhon passed away on Wednesday, June 29, 2023, at the age of 70.

The Indigenous community and Western University is mourning the passing of Dr. Kanatawakhon. Born David Maracle, in 1952 on Tyendinaga Mohawk Reserve on the Bay of Quinte, Kanatawakhon worked tirelessly to keep the Kanyen’kehá language from becoming extinct. His efforts have created a generation of fluent speakers who now teach other Haudenosaunee citizens the grammar and vocabulary method he developed. Kanatawakhon has written multiple books, he was well known and loved by the urban Indigenous community in London, in Oneida Nation of the Thames where he taught Onyota’a:ka language courses, and by Haudenosaunee citizens of Six Nations, Tyendinaga, and across the Confederacy, where his knowledge lives on as an invaluable resource. In 2017, Kanatawakhon received an honorary doctorate from Brock University for his efforts in reviving Kanyen’keha. Kanatawakhon has been a part of the Western family for more than forty years, first as an undergraduate student in Anthropology, and then as a professor. He will be greatly missed by the Indigenous Studies Program, the Department of Anthropology, the Office of Indigenous Initiatives, the Indigenous Student Centre, and by generations of Indigenous students whose desire to learn their birthright language was inspired by Kanatawakhon.