What does this line mean from Annie Dillard’s Holy the Firm?

In the high churches they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a strand of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger.

I don’t understand how the word Mohawks is being used, nor scaffolding. I know what these words mean separately but I just don’t understand this sentiment. Can anyone explain this?

1 Answer 1


Scaffolding and Mohawks mean just what they mean separately; it's a piece of what used to be common knowledge that you're missing.

In the twentieth Century, Mohawk Indians were commonly employed as construction workers on high-rise buildings in New York City ... they were supposedly surefooted and not afraid of heights.

See the 1970s documentary High Steel and this blog post.


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