24 April 2006

"Canada": The Name of an Invasion

Assaulting Mohawks on their Land

On April 20, 2006, near Caledonia, Ontario, a force of heavily armed police invaded lands belonging to the Six Nations Mohawks who were peacefully demonstrating in defense of their legal land rights and against the invasion of a private company, Henco Industries, which claimed to have legally purchased the land in order to build another tribute to Western civilization: 250 condominiums at Douglas Creek Estates. Faced with unarmed prostesters, police pointed automatic assault rifles mere inches from the faces of the prostesters.
For weeks prior to this assault, Mohawk spokespersons had warned of this possibility, given their intimate knowledge of how different arms of the state are quick to respond with violence against any demonstration by First Nations in Canada. The Montreal Gazette, in a shameless editorial of April 21, was quick to denounce not the use of illegitimate and immoral force by the state, but the Six Nations demonstrators who were occupying their own lands. Likening the traditional owners of the land to thugs and criminals, the "newspaper," owned by one of Canada's largest media congolmerates, did not hesitate to proclaim the Mohawk hold on their own lands as illegal, and also complained about the overly generous nature of court judgments on native land title cases, when it is widely acknowledged that such cases, when successful, are resolved in a little over a generation, at the soonest.

On behalf of the members of the editorial board of the Caribbean Amerindian Centrelink (www.centrelink.org), a small working group of indigenous and non-indigenous scholars and activists, I am writing to express our unqualified support for the Six Nations demonstrators protecting their lands in Caledonia, Ontario, and to ensure that we help to get the word out, further afield, amongst our Caribbean and Central American partners, so that the world is reminded of the anti-indigenous injustices perpetrated by a Canadian state which still seems intent on conquering indigenous territory on the behalf of capitalist corporate interests.

It is not with shock or surpise, but grief, that we witness the forces arrayed against the Six Nations: the forces of state-sanctioned violence, media disinformation, internal collaborators and racist attitudes that continue to be exhibited by both the Euro-Canadian residents of Caledonia and, unfortunately, across Canada. It seems that many of the colonial residents have resented the Mohawk presence as a nuisance--"the Indians are in our way", "they ['the Indians'] are disrupting our lifestyle" (this is a statement rich in ironies), or, "this needs to be over", without bothering to reflect for a moment on the foundations or effects of their presence in someone else's home.

The land in question (a question more for the imperial authorities) belongs to the Mohawks. They never "lost" it and they never gave it up. As they have explained time and again, this land is under the protection and jurisdiction of the women, according to Wampum #44 of the Kaianereh'ko:wa. The Women, hold the land in trust for their future generations. No alienation is legally valid. They filed this objection with the Crown and others. Moreover, the British Crown made a commitment to the Mohawks in 1784 when General Haldimand promised to protect their right to occupy a stretch of land for six miles wide on both sides of the Grand River from its mouth to its source. This includes 800 square miles of every body of water within the Beaver Hunting Grounds for natives to hunt, fish, trap and collect medicines for all time to come. Since then the British government and its colonial agents did not keep their word. Most of their land has been stolen through illegal transfers and squatting.

This is a situation that is all too familiar, and painful, to many indigenous communities in the Caribbean who retain not a stitch of land to which they have recognized rights. As a direct descendant of Caribbean slaves, who should be painfully aware of the miseries wrought by oppressive colonial regimes, the Governor General of Canada, Michaelle Jean, should be speaking out on this issue forcefully. As a Haitian, and official head of state of Canada, chief representative of the British Crown which was party to the original commitment of 1784, her continued silence on this issue shows moral weakness and an abdication of legal responsibility. When the Canadian fish starts to rot from the head down, nobody should complain about the stink that ensues.

We would like to affirm our support for the courage of the Six Nations in defending their territory against further armed and illegal invasion. We call on the Canadian state, at all levels, to avoid any further violent assaults. As for corporate and other squatters, we ask that they withdraw from indigenous territory. To those Canadian citizens who continue complaining about, ridiculing, and insulting the traditional owners of the land on which they erected their homes, we pray that they will achieve their own decolonization and reformation before it is too late. We are all watching and we all have long memories.

Readers, please send your objections to: Henco Industries Ltd., Fax (519) 442-3461; City of
Brantford: Fax (519) 759-7840 mhancock@brantford.ca; Corporation of Haldimand County: Fax (905) 772-2148 mayor@haldimandcounty.on.ca; Oxford County info@city.woodstock.on.ca; Onondaga: Customer Service Fax (519) 758-1619; South Dumfries: Customer Service Fax (519) 448-3105; Dufferin County: Fax (519) 941-2816 warden@dufferincounty.on.ca; Kent County, Michigan: Mike Cox, Attorney General Fax: (517) 373-3042; Waterloo: sken@region.waterloo.on.ca; Innisfil: bjackson@barint.on.ca; Attorney General: Fax (416) 326-4007 Media Relations Brendan.Crawley@jus.gov.on.ca ; Governor General: Michaelle Jean Fax (613) 998-1664 E-mail: info@gg.ca; Chinese Consulate in Toronto Fax: (416) 324-6468; Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, Buckingham Palace; Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty Dalton.McGuinty@premier.gov.on.ca; Canadian Prime Minister Hon. Stephen Harper, pm@pm.gc.ca.

For more information, and to receive regular updates on the situation, contact:
Kahentinetha Horn
MNN Mohawk Nation News

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