Council to sell Mohawk language to Microsoft

MNN. April 20, 2005. The band council set up by Indian Affairs Canada is
launching a ?language? auction. They?re selling the Mohawk language to the
highest bidder. They are signing an agreement with multinational corporation,
Microsoft, to ?co-develop an innovative Kanion?ke:haka language project?!SECTION 4 ? Ownership of Work by Microsoft; License to Microsoft Materials; states as follows: The Mohawks? agree to dissolve all rights that we may have to any and all copyrights in the work and assigns all rights, title and interests over to Microsoft including but not limited to ? the right to sue for infringements which may occur before the date of this Agreement, and to collect and retain damages from any such infringements??A Maori student visiting from New Zealand warned, ?Language is sacred. It is not
to be appropriated by Microsoft. This is how our culture is co-opted. You have
no river, no land, you won?t even have your own language. Your language is your
essence of being, and they are stealing it?. She said that the song of one of
their people has been copyrighted by a football team down there. Now they can?t
write about it unless they pay money to the football team.

Disgusting giveaway. The band council is giving the rights to the Mohawk language
which our ancestors have been developing since Sky Woman fell to earth. It?s an
unprecedented insult! The band council cannot sign away our rights on behalf of
us or the generations yet unborn. We will be opening ourselves up to policing and
lawsuits by this mega corp. They will become the ultimate authority on the use of
our language.

No Consultation. Is Microsoft sincere in wanting to contribute their expertise to
the Kanion?ke:haka? We want to benefit from the wisdom collected and preserved in
our language. Microsoft should present its project to a proper traditional
consultation process. This agreement was arrived at in secret with no valid
consultation with the People.

The Kanion?ke:ha language belongs to the People. It was passed down from one
generation to the next since time immemorial ? long before settlers came here to
colonize us. It establishes our tie to our land where our ancestors have lived
for thousands of years. Our duty is to learn it, preserve it and pass it on to
generations to come.

Tongue-tied! Most members of the current band council do not speak Mohawk. They
do not own it but they?re selling it. They sign agreements that continuously put
our nations, our people and our lands. Now even our language at risk.

Microsoft represents the conglomerate that massacred our ancestors, put us in
concentration camps on our homeland and forced laws and ways to eliminate us. Now
we may have to ask their permission to speak and use our language.

The Kanion?ke:haka Onkwa?wen:na Raoti?tioh:kwa Cultural Center in Kahnawake
refused to support the agreement. They accused the band council of

?knowingly and unilaterally agree[ing] to sell our intellectual property rights ..
to a foreign corporate entity that seeks to gain full ownership, monopoly and
control of language?.

The band council was illegally created by the Canadian government under the Indian
Act. They reject our traditional constitutional government. The councilors
commit themselves to defend and uphold the laws of Canada. They have discarded
their responsibility to their people.

Residential Schools. Since the settlers arrived on our shores, they have forced
colonization on us. Our children were sent to residential schools and denied the
right to speak our language. In some schools almost 100% of the children died.
Overall, around 50% did not survive these institutions. Those who did lost their
languages. In Kahnawake there were nuns and priests who had the same job, to
force the ?Indian? out of us.

Kanion?ke:ha is who we are. It?s our identity. It defines our ties to the land
and to each other. No one has any right to sell us!

Tongue tax. The agreement states,

?In the event that taxes are required to be withheld on payment made under this
Agreement by any government authority, Microsoft may deduct such taxes from the
amount owed the Mohawks and pay them to the appropriate taxing authority?.

Microsoft has agreed to serve as an instrument of colonization. They want our
tongues for breakfast. The band council has agreed to chop off bits of our flesh
to give to whatever bandit demands a slice of the action. People called us

We will now be forced to pay taxes on the unique way we flip our tongues. They
will be selling our language to other people. To them it?s a product to be sold
to Germany and elsewhere.

How do we stop this? This is one of the richest corporations in the world. They
have all the lawyers they want at their beck and call. We can?t afford any. But
we have tongues to speak for ourselves. Everyone should send an email Microsoft
to complain

Otkon! Microsoft! Go ahead and sue me. You might get some choice Mohawks words
from me.

Kahentinetha Horn
MNN Mohawk Nation News

poster: Thahoketoteh