MNN. Jan. 28, 2009. The repossession of Haudenosaunee land is an on-going process. In the 1920s we repossessed “Tiokwaroton”, a six mile square area in the Laurentian Mountains north of Montreal. In 1957 we settled in the Mohawk Valley near Fonda New York where “Kahnawake” had existed long ago. We left when NYS started objecting to our presence because we knew our land issue with the colony did not belong in the colonial court system.
In 1974 the Mohawks of Kahnawake near Montreal were being squeezed on our land by the influx of many non-Ongwehonwe. They were coming in to illegally live in cheap housing which some of our people were renting to them. The people became alarmed at the high numbers that were arriving. They were beginning to crowd us out and trying to control us.
The traditional Longhouse people were asked to help evict these people. Eviction notices were handed out to the illegal tenants. The colonial “band council” supported by the Canadian government and the illegal tenants objected to the move. Canada and the band council sent in Quebec Police to instigate violence and divisions. Resistance ensued. The non-Ongwehonwe left. They knew they did not belong here.
Canada respected the Longhouse people who knew that Kahnawake is on Rotino’shonni:onwe, Iroquois Confederacy, territory under Kaianerehkowa, the constitution of the Iroquois Confederacy. It was never surrendered and never a “reserve”. After the evictions the Minister of Indian Affairs Jean Chretien secretly proclaimed Kahnawake as a “reserve” without consultation, referendum or consent of the people. This violated international law. No state is allowed to absorb another without the free and informed consent of its people. The band council went along with it. In 1979 the people overwhelmingly voted to live according to the traditional form of governance.
The traditional people decided not to fight our own people. Some moved to another part of our Territory at Moss Lake in upper New York State. On May 13 1974 they resettled in a community called “Ganiengeh”. It was a Warrior’s Project which was sanctioned by all of the Confederacy.
Shortly thereafter the Grand Council of the Rotino’shonni:onwe, Iroquois Confederacy, set up the “Land Rights Committee”. They passed a resolution for our people to find ways to get our lands back by “all means”. According to the Kaianerehkowa, the Great Law of Peace, everybody and every nation had a duty to protect our lands. The Confederacy wanted strong advocates in the movement. Some of the appointees to the committee were writer, artist and historian, Louis Karonhiaktajeh Hall, Mad Bear Anderson, Beeman Logan and others. The movement gained support from other nations across Turtle Island and international support from Germany, Australia, England, France, Netherlands and African nations. The World Council of Churches gave strong support.
One of our communities, Akwesasne, was usurped, piece-by-piece, until only a tiny portion remained as lands “reserved” for the Mohawks.
In 1763 the King of England issued a “Royal Proclamation” to forbid English colonies and British subjects from taking over any “Indian Lands” without a treaty with the King. The Confederacy knew this Proclamation was only for the colonists and their monarch. We could make agreements with anybody we wanted. They could not. According to the U.S. Constitution only the President could deal with us. This arrangement still remains.
These proclamations and agreements between the European entities were used to steal and disperse Ongwehonwe wealth. The Revolutionary War created the “imaginary line” known as the U.S./Canada border that split Akwesasne. The northern portion was supposedly protected by the King. The southern portion was supposedly protected by the U. S. Constitution. The Jay Treaty of 1794 was a trade agreement between the colonies. We were not part of it. That line does not affect us.
The Europeans asked the Kanionkehaka of Akwesasne to let them use some of our lands for temporary settlement. At the time, Akwesasne extended eastward to Lake Champlain in Vermont, and toward Watertown to the west. It ran from the St. Lawrence River well into the Adirondack Mountains to the south. In the center of Akwesasne is a one mile square piece which was leased by New York State. It contains the town of Hogansburg. This is where the Racquette River and the St. Regis River flow into the St. Lawrence River. Today the principal east-west highway 37 runs through the middle, intersecting with the principal road to St. Regis Village.
In 1817 Michael Hogan, a wealthy former Irish ship captain, a member of the NYS Assembly, later a judge and Member of Congress in 1830, leased our land and water at Hogansburg. NYS named the town after him. It wasn’t made with the people of Akwesasne, the Mohawk Nation or the Confederacy. The two “indentures of lease” of October 20 and 23 were sanctioned and confirmed by the NYS Legislature, who had no authority to do this. Hogan was to pay an annual rent of $305 to the Mohawk. It could be renewed upon the same terms.
In 1824 NYS stated that the Mohawks had sold Hogansburg to them for $1, with an annual payment of $305 “in perpetuity”. William Hogan then magically acquired the deed from NYS. When the lease was finished, the Mohawks refused to renew it. Instead of returning the land to the owners, New York State started to illegally sell it off to non-Ongwehonwe. A few buyers tried to cash in by reselling it to outsider developers for millions of dollars.
The Mohawk people decided to repossess our land. This was done. No one opposed this. It is now being resettled by the Mohawk People, who are determined to ensure their children, grandchildren and future generations have sufficient land to raise their families.
Illegal leases issued by colonial governments is an ongoing problem that requires constant vigilance. The land was validly repossessed because there was no agreement allowing the state to squat on our land. The lands belong to the nation, not to individuals. The situation here is not very different in all parts of Turtle Island. That’s why the settler society refuses to study documented history.
MNN Mohawk Nation News www.mohawknationnews.com ka********@ya***.com ka***********@ya***.com Kanionkehaka Kaianerehkowa Kanonhsesne, Jan. 21, 2009. 514-269-1400.
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