By Danny Beaton, Turtle Clan Mohawk Nation
In a matter of one hour 16 peaceful native protestors turned into an angry crowd of over 1,000 community members, many young men wearing bandanas over their faces and carrying baseball bats to defend themselves against aggressive Ontario Provincial Police.
Excessive force was used against the peaceful Native protestors. Many were pepper sprayed and shot with tazer guns.
On the morning of Thursday, April 20, 2006, Ontario Provincial Police raided a peaceful protest camp by Native people of the Six Nations Iroquois, Haudenosaunee outside of Brantford, Ontario. Still sleeping in their tents, the assault on the outnumbered 16 Native protestors by police caused a majority of Six Nations, Iroquois Haudenosaunee people to unite and come to the defense of the protestors.
Mothers, fathers, teenagers and grand-parents who were available put down their daily activities at home and at work, and showed up in anger over the arrest of their own. Together they denounced the use of force by police. Community trucks brought loads of gravel, which was dumped on the road where the protest site was located; by the town of Caledonia just outside of the Six Nations Reserve, closing down Highway 6.
Native protestors have been occupying a small housing development on the edge of Caledonia. The territory in dispute was bought by a developer who was building houses for profit. Many Six Nations people felt the land was taken illegally.
The main organizer of the protest, Janie Jamieson, is a spokeswoman for the Hereditary Chiefs of the Six Nations, Iroquois Haudenosaunee. Last October Janie was trying to come up with a way to commemmorate the 221st anniversary of the famous Haldimand Grant.
The Haldimand Grant was 385,000 hectares of the best land in Ontario given to the Six Nations, Iroquois Haudenausawnee for helping the British army during battles against the French in the 1760s and the American Revolution in 1776.
Janie saw the housing project as part of the McGuinty Government’s mismanaged decision to encourage intensive population growth in parts of Southern Ontario. The land is felt by many Six Nations people to be theirs to protect.
“This struggle has brought unity to the community,” said Lehman Gibson, a Mohawk Farmer and Traditional Elder of the Six Nations Territory. “I have never experienced such unity and strength of our people up until now. The elected council is supporting our old traditional government and our Clan Mothers. Everyone has come together for peace here. Everyone has come to defend the protestors and our original territories. Our homeland. We are finally united as a People, as a Nation, for our Sacred Traditional Longhouse values, the Way of the Good Mind, where our Clan Mothers are respected as leaders. At this time we are being respected as a Nation. But who knows for how long… There are 350 police ready at the airport.”
Dr. John Bacher, a spokesperson for the Preservation for Agriculture and Land Society said, “Six Nations are defending their historical homeland against developers and have a blockade, which stands for all of Ontario. The government is dubbing their plan ‘The Places to Grow Act.’ John says the area is really covered heavily in rich Carolina Forests. This is part of the richest Ontario farmland next to the Niagara fruit belt. Are we going to let profit destroy the last of our food supply? Urban sprawl is a destroyer of life and our children’s future.”
Mohawk spiritual leader Tom Porter speaks out for unity and peace:
“The only way we can solve problems of injustice and disrespect is by education of the process and the people too. The people have to do it and they have to believe in it. What their process is. That means they have to study it and re-study it. So they can have ownership of it and feel comfortable with it. Like a new pair of shoes, you never feel comfortable right away until you wear it for a while. That’s the same thing with the Indian Law. Indian Tradition, it has to be worn, it has to be embraced, it has to be used. Once that’s done, then there’s struggle, then Allies can be found in the world. Whoever will become a part of survival. Right now everybody is in disaray.”
“I would say, our own Native People are finding each other. That’s why the trouble is a big trouble – it has been the thing to unite the people – it’s a wonderful feeling. It’s a wonderful thing, but we mustn’t loose that feeling. We mustn’t loose that unity, either. We have to be careful not to divide or get conquered. The people who are repressing us and want to take the land are trying to find ways by which to cause friction and division. So we have to be aware of that and not to let that happen.”
“Put all trivial things aside and stick together until it’s over, resulting in what we want to happen. But probably what is more valuable than the tract of land is the unity that it has caused. With this unity we can fight for the land in the right way. But as far as justice and court, there is no court or justice in Canada or the United States that can be objective and fair to deal with the problems at present. It’s not going to happen that way. The only possible chance that can happen is with an international tribunal or court like the Hague.”
“The only problem with that is that it doesn’t have no army – it doesn’t have no teeth to back it up. It will only be a moral judgement but that’s better than nothing. At least if an international tribunal were to try a case there would be more objectivity to arrive at a decision that’s fair. But I don’t think any province or state in Canada or the United States or Federal Court will be able to make an objective decision. The value system here is not fair. It is owned by an unfair mentality. The way the Indian People think, the way Native values are, will not be entered into the equation of justice. Even the Hague won’t be fair because it’s all European. But at least it’s away from domestic Canada and the domestic United States where the interest is to manipulate justice in their favor. At least that would be minimalized if it was by an international tribunal. But I will emphasize more importantly than anything jail or any of the things there are, is the great unity that people felt.”
“Myself I haven’t been there yet but when I hear the news of all the different Reserves are supporting them, and are willing to do something to support them. That in itself is really great, if nothing else. The feeling that was given to Indians is worth it. But you can’t let that conquer and divide rule come in there. Everybody is together so they should slowly start learning the Great Law and our ways and beliefs, and use that wisdom while they gather to make a stand. Take that time instead of being in fear, not knowing what’s going to happen. Use that time to learn about our Clans and our Law and our Constitution because that will help to unify further. Tomorrow and the next tomorrow. The Law is of Peace, but Peace doesn’t mean you throw in the towel. Peace doesn’t mean you give up neither. Peace doesn’t mean you have to give away the land. Peace represents justice and objectivity and truth. Peace makes us stronger. I myself have nothing but admiration for the people who are standing up over there. That’s what my opinion is.”
Injustice and mismanagement have been some of the idiosyncrasies of Western Culture since first contact 500 years ago. The ideas of commerce, ownership, profit and control have been brought to the Americas from Kings, Queens, Mama Dukes, Papa Dukes to a present catastrophe by Rothmans, Trumps, Rockefellers, Bushes, etc. The spiritual leaders, people and life-forms have been subjected to exploitation, manipulation, coercion, rape and colonization. We the People, we call ourselves real human beings – Onkehonweh – are faced with the problems of 500 years of colonization. Can we solve the problems of injustice and disrespect to the Natural World, to the Natural Forces that support all life?
We the people are faced with contamination of our rivers, lakes, streams, mountains, valleys, plants and children. We the people are now facing all of the consequences of factory farming and a chemical, manufactured food supply. Heart disease, diabetes, obesity, prostate and breast cancer are killing natives and non-natives. Our ancestors lived by the Good Mind and our way of life was one of respect and harmony with the Natural Law. Our government of Respect, Peace, Righteousness, Unity and Equality was adopted by the U.S. Constitution.
We the People can solve the problems all life face, but there has to be unity and respect. Our Spiritual Elders maintain the Good Mind even through turbulence. The Good Mind is a Way of Life that must be practiced and is a discipline with the Natural World and Natural Forces. It is the Good Way to do things. The Good Mind is the Way of Healing not Hurting. It is hard work to maintain the Good Mind. The Good Mind means doing things in a Good Way. The Way our Ancestors did Good Things. The Good Mind means to do Good Things throughout the Day throughout our lives, with Good Thoughts of positive thinking.
The Good Mind is about having Good Thoughts with Good Action, Creativity and Thanksgiving. The Good Mind is Peace, Righteousness, Unity, Harmony and Power. The Good Mind can be used for Healing, for Creativity, for Health and for Solving Problems. It has to be practised by walking on our Sacred Mother Earth, with Love of Life and Peace and Justice for All Creation. We the People can show our Way of Life with the Good Mind over and over until all humanity learns how to walk on Mother Earth.
I write these words with Respect to my Elders and Ancestors for the Good Life, the Good Mind and Sacred Ceremonies to Heal with, and give thanks for All they have taught us. I write these words that our Brothers and Sisters in Parliament listen with open hearts and minds the way our minds and hearts were open when their ancestors arrived sick and starving on the Mayflower, Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria.
Our Ancestors healed their Ancestors and healed the first Europeans to arrive because our Hearts and Minds were open to the Universe when they arrived. Our Ancestors taught them how to survive here and they considered us Honest and Noble when they arrived, but changed their minds once they out numbered us. The Mohawk Nation has supported the British Military in the past and Canada has benefited beyond recognition from Mohawk Loyalty.
We must put our minds together as One Mind and ask the Four Protectors to protect us from further injustice and disrespect so that our future generations will have a place to put their little feet and have a better place to wonder about.