MNN. July 5, 2009. No Canadian or US government officials are talking to us. The guards and workers in the two checkpoints in Akwesasne have abandoned their posts since June 1, 2009. We can come and go off the island to the north. We can go off to the south but can’t come back. Our ancestors invoked some basic principles for us to use in such times.The federally run prison on Alcatraz Island in San Franciso Bay had been abandoned in 1963. In 1964 a small group of Lakota attempted to take the Island to invoke a principle in the 1868 Treaty of Laramie. All surplus abandoned federal land automatically reverts to the Indigenous nations.

On November 20, 1969 Richard Oakes of Akwesasne lead Indigenous People onto Alcatraz Island and held it until 1971. It was to prove a basic point. This event changed the relationship between Indigenous and the US government. Up to then it was negotiation, compromise and legal remedies forced down our throats by the government.

The Alcatraz Proclamation was signed, “In the name of all Indians … we reclaim this island for our Indian Nations”. Other abandoned federal facilities were reclaimed afterwards.

The US government knowing this principle was furious that the Indigenous would have the audacity to invoke it. This act focused the entire world upon this basic law. The US government was put on the spot. It could no longer be hidden in the dusty archives of the Bureau of Indian Affairs basement. In 1971 Richard Oakes was assassinated.

The Mohawks of Akwesasne have always asserted our rights for the world to know. The current Cornwall Island event reveals the nature of the relationship between the Mohawks and the US and Canadian governments. The Canadian government knows we can assert our rights over the abandoned buildings in the community, the highway and bridges that go through our sovereign land.

We can invoke the Great Law of Peace which all Indigenous people adhere to. We are one people by covenant.

The checkpoints have been abandoned because we won’t let their guards carry guns. We have not been violent in any way.

According to the principle, the abandoned US border checkpoint at Akwesasne irrevocably reverts to the Mohawk Nation.

The Canadian Twilight Zone check point in the middle of Kawehnoke on Cornwall Island was abandoned and irrevocably reverts to the Mohawk Nation.

The two bridges and highways onto the island are closed/abandoned by the US and Canada. They irrevocably revert to the Mohawk Nation.

The RCMP and other foreign police who patrol the foot of the bridge in the city of Cornwall are trespassers. This is disputed Mohawk land. They must leave.

None of these structures cannot be torn down because they now irrevocably belong to the Mohawk Nation. You build anything on our land, it’s ours.

The US checkpoint and bridge are patrolled by US Border Security Field Operations and a Mohawk Policeman. US Border Security is trespassing and must leave.

We can traverse the whole community of Akwesasne as one entity without borders. It was illegally divided by the US, Canadian and British governments into five jurisdictions – Ontario, Quebec, New York State, US and Canada. They legislated two separate councils, tribal and band, to divide us with their imaginary boundary line.

The outsiders cannot establish the perimeter of our territory to limit us to small areas of our vast Haudenosaunee territory. It is our right to decide who will cross the two bridges and enter our community and our territories.

The Mohawk elders and people made the initial demand for no guns in the hands of foreigners in our midst. Both US and Canadian band and tribal councils stood together and made demands on behalf of the sovereign Mohawk people.

The Akwesasne people took the initiative. This is an Iroquois Confederacy issue. It affects all Ongwehonwe, our friends and allies at the Canada- US and US-Mexico borders which were never meant for us. The visitors cannot apply their line to us.

Rumors has it that US and Canada might build a new bridge several miles west of Akwesasne. This is part of Haudenosaunee Territory. They have to consult us and get our permission. They think they stole this land outright. Not so! Most people in the world know that Great Turtle Island is ours. They cannot show any evidence that they’ve legally acquired any of our land. International law was violated by the US and Canada when they made laws to claim our land and resources.

Arrangements to speak with us must be made through the Governor General and US President. Mike Mitchell, the tribal and band councils do not speak for us. Under the Great Law, they have don’t speak for the Iroquois Confederacy or Mohawk Nation. Anything they decide is not valid because they represent the foreign US and Canadian jurisdictions. Our people sit under the tent at the crossroads at Kawehnoke and patiently wait for them to come and make valid and legal arrangements with us.

Kahentinetha MNN Mohawk Nation News, www.mohawknationnews.com kahentinetha2@yahoo.com
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poster: katenies


“No More Leonard Peltiers”


MNN. Dec. 4, 2004. On November 23rd 1999 I spoke in Washington DC in front of the White House during “Leonard Peltier Month”. There were heavily armed guards strutting around on top of the building keeping an eye on us.

What is solved by keeping Leonard Peltier in jail? Who is being protected? Is it the people who go into Indian territories and shoot at us? We get into trouble when we defend ourselves. If they stopped coming in uninvited, it would go a long way towards stopping these conflicts. North America is a history of illegal colonial encroachment onto native constitutional jurisdiction. Indigenous nations never validly gave up sovereignty or surrendered any land.

What do they want from us? Our lives! They need to subdue our sovereignty and constitutional jurisdiction. Completely wiping out Indians would validate their false claim to our land. Leonard Peltier represents the independent indigenous spirit. He is a prisoner of war.

We have the same gripes today we had back in 1975, when Leonard Peltier was put in jail. Since then, the International Court of Justice has upheld self-determination for Namibia in Africa. Yet they continue to violate the equal constitution-to-constitution relationship worked out between indigenous nations and the settlers. We could use some understanding and support from the international community. If the rule of law deems that all humans are equal, why are we being abused?

Equality is not an American idea. It’s ours.

On December 2nd 1987 the United States affirmed that the Iroquois Constitution, the Kaianereh’ko:wa/Great Law of Peace, influenced the United States Constitution. This in turn influenced modern international law and the United Nations. The whole world has benefited from our philosophy.

To improve the understanding of modern international law, the Kaianereh’ko:wa’s messages of peace should be carefully studied. It reflects reality. The opening thanksgiving that we say before any meeting or event reminds us of the interdependent system of relations of all elements of the natural world, which are equal. The people are the foundation of governance. Our law shows us how to be directed by the inner core of our knowledge system and traditions. We arrive at an understanding of our universe through our own search and experience.

Society or friendship cannot be held together by force. Certainly not when some are forced to be under the control of others. A man can’t get true love from a woman by force. There have been wonderful strong relationships when they treated each other well.

Kaianereh’ko:wa is against the use of force. How can we be a free and democratic society if we are being forced to behave in a certain way by threats of violence, such as fines, jails, confiscation of possessions or denial of rights. Keeping Leonard Peltier in prison symbolizes North American society’s use of force as a means of maintaining control. Behind the enforcement of their “democracy” is the gun.

Leonard Peltier was supposed to have killed two FBI agents. There is doubt about this. A chronic perception in North America is that native people are lawbreakers. The dominant group is imposing foreign laws on us. It’s illegal. We resist. Colonial North America is a history of genocide and encroachment on our jurisdiction. If North Americans would respect each other’s space and allow us our jurisdiction, we could form bonds of brotherhood. All would be stronger. One dominating the other is a symptom of a weak society.

Remember how the violence at Pine Ridge began in the first place. The U.S. encroached on native jurisdiction. The agents of the American government arrived on Pine Ridge carrying guns. A fundamental principle of survival is that anyone who is attacked has a right to defend themselves. Those FBI didn’t need to go there. Peltier was on his native territory. There was no reason for the deaths to occur.

Canada and the United States violated international law by refusing to recognize Leonard Peltier’s nation and jurisdiction. He was denied a hearing before an impartial third party. He was tried by one of the parties to the dispute, the United States justice system. They were the judge, jury and executioner, violating the rule of law. There was no neutrality.

Had the newcomers obeyed their agreements with us to live peacefully nation-to-nation, they would not have to waste all their time and tax money. They misspend it on keeping Peltier and other in jails, buying guns and ammunition and risking their lives to keep people under control.

As an Indigenous woman of the Rotinoshon’non:we, we want the U.S. and Canada to stop to attacking our men who are defending our families, people and possessions. The newcomers should be man enough to support their own families without making a huge industry out of hurting us? When are good decent people worldwide going to defend us from being overwhelmed by colonists? When will the international community stop the punishment and killing of our warriors?

We should be talking and working together, otherwise racism will continue. We must get Leonard Peltier out of prison.

Kahentinetha Horn
MNN Mohawk Nation News

poster: Thahoketoteh