Believe What You Like But Know What You Must

People are free to be consumed with contemplating their existence, their origins, the origins of the universe, supreme beings, controllers of destiny or anything else. But solving "the Great Mystery" is neither a requirement of being Ohnkwe Ohnwe nor does it provide a path to righteousness. I maintain that spirituality does not require faith or the leaps that faith requires but rather awareness. If it helps to believe that "God has a plan" and we just must have faith that "He" knows what "He" is doing, then walk that path. My interest is in taking the mystery out of life by pointing to the obvious that is ignored everyday in the midst of fanatical ideology and the sometimes not too subtle influences of promoting beliefs over knowledge. I have said it before: “beliefs are what you are told, knowledge is what you experience”. I support a culture that prepares us to receive knowledge and to live a life with purpose. I am certainly not suggesting there is only one way to do that.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Border Issue Is Not Just About Guns

Amid a growing concern that a Tyendinaga style ambush may be lurking in the future for the People of Akwesasne, the commitment of the People to not just resist these latest attempts by US and Canadian forces to violate the freedom and sovereignty of the Mohawk People, but to assert those rights and freedoms that have been under attack for generations remains as strong as ever.
The use of the 911 debacle to justify a more aggressive stance against our community and our People is pathetic. Both the US and Canada have spent billions of dollars and many decades manipulating, separating and criminalizing our People. When we speak of the "American Holocaust", we aren't speaking of some unspeakable acts 5 centuries ago or even 5 decades ago. We speak of an ongoing effort, 500 years long.
Diseased blankets, mass executions, military massacres and the outright murder of women and babies may seem like the actions of a time long since gone by, but for many of us the actions of today keep our entire history fresh on our minds. Everyday more comes out about the atrocities committed to our young People at the residential schools. Land claims, land use, tax compacts, gaming compacts, trade compacts, Homeland Security, the "war on terror", securing the borders and, most (or worst) of all, trying to make us into them; these aren't just issues of the past. These are the tools and justifications they use everyday to complete their work started since the first days they looked with envy and greed upon our lands.
When efforts to wipe out our belief systems failed to reduce our People those that would "lick the hand that smites them" (a quote from L. Frank Baum, the author of the "Wizard of Oz"), it became clear that a stronger effort was needed to eliminate our systems of governance, family and culture. Borders and federal recognition became powerful tools to this effort. By dissecting our communities and recognizing separated pockets of people as bands or tribes rather than the unified People they had been for thousands of years, the US and Canada created subordinate and subservient oppressors within our communities. Neither the US or Canada will today acknowledge the Mohawk People as a distinct and sovereign people. On the Canadian side a half dozen or so bands of Indians of Mohawk descent are "recognized", while none are recognized on the US side. The Saint Regis Indians, now know as the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, were ruled against in a federal court proceeding where the court rejected the tribe's claim to being Mohawks and part of the Six Nations.
By no means does this suggest that the Kanienkehaka (Mohawk People) or any of the People of the Six Nations truly cease to exist, but it shows the current state of the genocide being perpetrated against us. Band councils and tribal councils are propped up to negotiate a whole host of settlements that effect everything from land use, to commerce, to border crossing.
Missing in all the debate over armed border guards are the new standards that are being implemented at the border to limit, monitor and scrutinize the travel of Native People to and from our communities. Akwesasne is in the limelight on this issue because it was bisected with imaginary lines by the US and Canada and has always been a hot bed of resistance and controversy as a result.
For all of the propaganda associated with "Homeland Security" the US is forcing a breach of their precious border by closing access to the bridge to Akwesasne's Cornwall Island. The New York State Police blockade of motor vehicle access to the Island is forcing traffic to the river. By boat our People enjoy the unfettered access they have always had and completely disregard the imaginary line, intentionally drawn to separate our People. Issues raised to Janet Napolitano over the safety of our children being forced to boat to and from school or transporting food or other necessities to loved ones is obviously as little concern to her as the "breach of security". 70% of the border crossings here are Native People just carrying on their lives. With plenty of police on either side of the Island, there is absolutely no need for armed guards on the Island. The armed presence serves one reason and one reason only and that is to intimidate Native People or worse. As the US and Canada try to raise the standards for our travel within our own communities, the plan appears to be to heighten the pressure on us and cause more conflict.
Seaway security is another excuse for more policing. Throwing millions of dollars at band and tribal councils to yield more to Canadian and US law and control is another in this long line of encroachments. Vital economic interests have never created as much anti-Indian sentiment as it does now, at least not is recent times. Creating us as scapegoats for lost tax revenue and dwindling commerce has produced a daily drumbeat in the non-native communities and in the press. The blockade of Akwesasne is hurting the economies of Massena, NY and Cornwall, ON far more than it is hurting us. At some point when the stir of resentment towards our People reaches a fevered pitch, US and Canadian forces will claim they simply had to act; the people demanded it.
There is little question that there is much more at stake here than whether a dozen Canadian border guards can carry guns in our community. The armed presence is just a small piece of a much bigger plan that usually involves small quiet steps that we are expected not to notice until it is too late. The line is drawn now and not even the tribal and band councils will have a very easy time erasing this one.


Billy Jack Douthwright said...

You're right it's most certainly not about guns, that is just the theatre of it, and as we well know it's much more about 'power'-'money'-'racism'-'exploitation'...
- It will be good for us as true Nations to examine on a fundamental level, what the meaning of and value of 'money' is to us, our cultures and our societies?! We have and can do very well without their concept of 'monetary value(s)' and, as we do so we will so completely undermine the central locus of their 'power' that it will simply evaporate! You watch now!
- As for their 'guns', ignore them, and that also means ignore the pop culture message through their gratuitously violent media imagery that they incessantly propagate in our territories in fact we must also eradicate this cheap excuse of a culture that they propose!

B.J. Douth~ Tiohtiake, Mohawk Territory said...

I also meant to add about the 'guns' that while we can and I think will do well to simply ignore their intended influence, we probably can also use their actions to undermine them, example: if you were to continuously stream a live broadcast of all of their activities now on the "U.S." side to the world, they would be incriminating themselves before the eyes of the entire world! I have to mention that this was not my idea but someone else's this evening, and seems like a good idea so I just wanted to be sure & circulate it!!!!

Anonymous said...

It appears that Obama is contiunuing on with the tradition of the name "Town Destroyer". His apparent lack of acknowledgement to the issues on his own borders are not noteworthy, as long as the people are Native. This is also evident by the national media control to keep the rest of the country and world blind to the events.

While he points fingers to the Middle East, calling them down and scolding them for their actions over their election protests. Don't you think they are looking back at this and discounting his credibility? Why do you think they hate the USA.

I would like to see someone call him out on that qoute that is posted on the blog homepage.

ohnkwe ohnwe said...

I, obviously, posted the Obama quote to demonstrate hypocracy. But it is not just the hypocracy of American and Canadian politicians. A fair majority of the hypocracy rests with the public.
US and Canadian interests are served by supporting those that oppose regimes not in good favor with the US or Canada. Most people in the US or Canada couldn't give a rats ass about the Iranian people. They really despise the Iranian people as much as they depsise Native people. The big difference between us and the Iranians isn't what we are protesting but who.
When you look at any of the comment sections of the newspapers covering the events in Mohawk territory, you see the hate and racism that exists towards our people. This is the same ideology that only hopes for a reason to use force in Iran. They would love to do so while making the argument about being greeted as "liberators". We all know how that worked out in Iraq.
We can expect no political outcry about the mistreatment of our people when there is no public outcry. Most Americans and Canadians have no conscience when it comes to Native issues. If our issues in any way inconveniences them, then they condemn us. It is not about right or wrong. It is all about them. This goes as much for the politicians like Obama as it does for the public they represent.

Anonymous said...

The mental picture that the average American population has of native people are the sterotypical Western "Movie Indians". This is mostly because of the history taught in schools, or lack of it. For instance, the absence of Native people in everyday advertising. I see more Eastern Indians selling things on TV everyday, From fiber yogurt to cell phones. We are kept invisible for a reason. What isn't in the people's minds won't bother them.

If the public could see the personification of our plights. I am sure it would be different.

Without the faces or names of the people, we seem less real. The lack of native faces in the media detaches us from percieved reality.

With a peacefull demonstration, there is no need for the media to run stories. That doesn't make good ratings. I am sickened to watch the news when this is going on, and see that reality shows have more air time in the world news, while civil rights are being violated in our back yard with no mention.

Perhaps "Survivor Akwesasne" should be pitched to the networks. "CBSA, you have been voted off the island!"