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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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Day 24: It's Quiet, Almost Too Quiet!

This is a passage from my first comment on the border closure:

The blockade has all the feel of a set up. Not even a chicken shit country like Canada would abandon such an important border crossing. Certainly the US did not pour millions into its facility to play doorman for Canada. None of us believe that either the US or Canada will just try to wait out the Mohawks until they concede to an armed presence in their territory. These guys are setting our people up and they have help among us. We need to be wary of false prophets and leaders. We have been sold out too many times to let it happen again. The only thing worse that being sold out is being set up. Outside forces (and inside agents) will be pushing to create a reason for extreme actions. They are just waiting for the right time to act.
(Submitted June 1, 2009)

24 days into this standoff there is a growing concern that much of the rhetoric from the band council or, as they like to be called; the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, may have be a set up. The first hint was their control of the media. We all know that the best way to win these battles, especially when you are on the side of righteousness, is to shine as bright a light as possible on the circumstances. But the MCA chose to exclude entry of the media to Cornwall Island. Clearly they were trying to control the message and prevent the Mohawk people from gaining a media forum. The MCA resented any reference to Warriors or the Warrior Flag. They wanted to present themselves as caring for their people and tending their flock. They suggested that the concern over the arming of the border guards was their issue and that the MCA would not allow it.

Things are very quiet in Akwesasne these days. For many it is too quiet. There is no news of negotiations or demands from either side. Even the few comments offered up by the US Senators and Congressman of the area have not created any meaningful dialogue. As far as we know.

There are plenty of people in Akwesasne that have serious issues with the MCA and in particular with their police force. The MCA exists as an extension of Canada and their police enforce Canadian law. They also carry weapons. This Canadian/MCA police force has been condemned for many of the same abuses charged against the border guards. Some of these guys participated in putting down resistance in Tyendinaga last year when a modular prison was being brought in.

So there we have it. Is it possible this hijacking of the opposition to the arming of border guards is an MCA ploy? The Mohawk People must take extra care not to be duped by the so-called leadership. Even though Native People will never get justice in a Canadian or US Court, that is not the biggest concern. As was evidenced in Tyendinaga, punishment for opposing the state is administered by their foot soldiers. The opposition to an armed Canadian presence on our land does not stop or start with border guards.

Monday, June 22, 2009

22 Days into June and Still the US is Denying Mohawks Access to their Own Community

Berfore a June 1st deadline, filled with threats of armed border guards and tougher scrutiny for those that dare enter the American dreamland, could come to pass the US and Canadian shut down the Three Nations Bridge, connecting the two through the most unlikely and unwilling partner; the Mohawk Nation. It is amazing that the blockade of a small Native community by two of the largest countries in the world could continue this long with little to no outrage, media or even comment. No Obama, not even a tap dance around the subject. No Clinton, no Napolitano. The few comments offered by US politicians, like Schumer, Gillibrand and McHugh, suggested this was a quarrel that had to be worked out between Canada and the Mohawks, accepting no responsibility or even acknowledging the actions on the US side of this issue.
The two issues that simply do not square is why the Mohawk opposition to allowing the Canadian Border Service Agency to establish an armed presence in the heart of a Mohawk village should result in the US blocking access to that portion of the community. As mentioned in previous posts; all the 911 hysteria that has allowed unprecedented incursions into civil rights and has literally allowed both the US and Canada to get away with murder (sometimes even against each other), proves once again to be only a tool to be picked up and used when convenient, not necessarily an evenly applied policy or standard. The US / Canadian border became a spotlight issue after 911. Millions spent on high-tech border stations, passport requirements and higher identification standards, travel and tourism studies, trade and commerce studies; all smoke and mirrors. The US right now is not only forcing a so-called breach in their "border security" at a spot that they have bitched about ever since they scribed a line on a map of our territory, but they are now completely turning a blind eye to it. With the New York State Police denying us access to our own community by bridge, we are forced to once again go back to days of old and use the river for our transportation. This traffic has increased to the point that many passenger and even a vehicle ferry is now in operation granting access to the Cornwall Island from the southern portions of our community. In spite of this "breach" or the hazards of water travel, no one from the US side has even attempted a conversation with the Mohawk people. To be honest, most of us are OK with the bridge being closed, for now. But the first accident on the river or the first attempt by anyone trying to close this access will certainly cause the stakes to be raised.
The Obama administration has prided itself on the diversity of their appointments. So my question is when do these people move beyond the gesture made by their appointments and really do something. Larry Echohawk, Jodi Gillette and Kimberly Teehee; the Mohawk lines are now open. It must have been pretty uncomfortable coming to our Western Door in Seneca Territory for NCAI unprepared to address the issues of our Eastern Door. The Seneca People too are waiting to see how you conduct yourselves regarding the assault on their commerce as well.
We don't need anymore apologies from US and Canadian officials or agencies. We don't need new policies unless the new policy is removing the old ones. Stop the assault on our sovereignty.

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.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Anonymous Post Worthy of Repeating

Anonymous said... June 12, 2009 8:53 PM

Hannah Arendt, a German-Jewish political theorist, determined that the use of violence and force were signs of weakness. A truly powerful people would not have to resort or stoop to such needs. Our use of civil disobedience cuts at the core necessity of an oppressive state; the need for obedience. We don't have to stand together to fight, only to resist, only to stop obeying the oppressors. Those among us that insist on preaching the rightness of US and Canadian law are only serving those that would do us harm and seek to eliminate us as a distinct people. Not one shot needs to be fired, not one punch thrown. In '97, it wasn't so much the violent confrontations as much as it was the potential for conflict that turned things in our favor.
The next road or bridge or train that is disrupted should not lead to injuries, to us or them. I hope the next time, our people disperse only to reassemble later or in a different location. They are weak. They need the violence. Our strength is that we are home. We can kiss our kids, grab a bite, catch some Z's and come back to disobey some more. It costs us nothing and them millions.
So I say go ahead block the hi-way and when their fifty cruisers show up, go home and take a nap. We'll see you later at the next one.

Friday, June 12, 2009

OPP Brutally Attacks Peaceful Bocakade in Tyendinaga

Map showing location of Deseronto also known as Tyendinaga

Mohawk Blood

The OPP Tries to Wash Away Their Handywork

6:30 AM, June 12, 2009 In an early morning raid of the Mohawk blockade of the Skyway Bridge in Tyendinaga, swarms of OPP officers attacked and brutally assaulted demonstrators. The blockade was undertaken for a couple of reasons. One was to show of support to the Mohawk People of Akwesasne who are currently the victims of blockades by the US and Canada, having the access limited or denied completely to the portion of their community located on what is known as Cornwall Island. Another hope was to use this show of solidarity to encourage Canadian officials to engage the Mohawks of Akwesasne in meaningful dialogue to address the community's opposition to armed border guards being permanently located within the Mohawk community.

Early reports of injuries include broken bones and massive head and face trauma. Current reports indicate that 13 individuals were arrested and charged with "mischief". 3 individual were taken to the hospital, one of which was released back into police custody. 2 remain hospitalized.
Clearly the assaults were intended to be the deterrent against this type of peaceful protest rather than the charge of mischief. As long it is the police that dole out the punishment, the Canadian courts can make its claim to administer fairness and justice to Naitve People.

Our thoughts go out to the victims and their families.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Seneca People Warning of the Possible Trade Off on Trade

The message is clear: "Mess with our commerce and we'll mess with yours". With the New York State Thruway (Interstate 90) and major rail and power lines crossing their land; the Senecas certainly have targets if not leverage for their grievances. "No mail; no rail" is the quiet buzz running through the Seneca Territory of Cattaraugus. This sign appears on either side of a railroad overpass that runs through Seneca land.
It is in reference to a bill before the U.S. Congress that targets Native tobacco retailers that use the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) for delivery of product purchased on Native land. The Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking (PACT) Act makes wild claims of tens of thousands of cigarettes mailed to children, billions in lost state tax revenue, and terrorist funding through Native retailers. No hard data supports these claims but they successfully strike at the hearts of the broad American public with kids, the economy and of course TERROR.
The facts are that over a thousand Western New York Jobs will be lost (most of them non-native). Products manufactured right here will have their markets eliminated, ultimately causing the loss of more manufacturing jobs. The morons representing New York will cause the loss of millions of dollars worth of revenue to their state for this legislation. The USPS will also lose millions of dollars worth of business from deliveries, payment and solicitations, while being burdened with the cost of enforcement of the Act.
Politically and socially what does it mean? Well, the country that spans the globe spewing the virtues of the free market, democracy and private sector development (especially those precious small businesses) crushes every small Native business in the Western New York market, wiping out the private sector on at least four Native communities. This is done all the while the carrot of a casino in the Catskills is dangled out there to the highest bidder or bidders. The state and federal legislators solution to the "Indian" problem is to empower tribal government and cast Native communities into the worst kind of socialism; where the only jobs are working for the tribe and the tribe answers to the state and feds through gaming compacts, tax compacts and trade compacts. The private sector is regulated out of existence or criminalized to encourage tougher regulations and stronger enforcement.
The question most should be asking is whether this is the swing of a pendulum or a rez car rolling down its last hill.

Mohawk protesters block Ontario bridge over arming of border guards

A boy joins Mohawk protesters at their demonstration. (Submitted by Christopher Clarke)

Mohawk protesters block access to the Skyway Bridge, which spans the Bay of Quinte near Belleville, Ont., and links the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory and Prince Edward County. (Submitted by Christopher Clarke)

Last Updated: Monday, June 8, 2009 6:23 PM ET Comments479Recommend122
CBC News

About 40 Mohawk protesters blocked a bridge in eastern Ontario Sunday evening in support of a nearby First Nations community engaged in a standoff with the federal government over the arming of border guards.
Protesters blocked either side of the Skyway bridge, which spans the Bay of Quinte near Belleville, Ont., and links the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory and Prince Edward County.
Shawn Brant, a well-known activist in Tyendinaga, helped organize the blockade. Brant and other Mohawks plan to stay on the bridge until the federal government makes a commitment to hold what they describe as meaningful talks with Mohawks in Akwesasne. The Akwesasne territory is located near Cornwall, Ont., east of Kingston.(CBC)
Talks between Mohawk officials from the Akwesasne and the Canada Border Services Agency broke down last weekend over the issue of arming guards assigned to posts on Cornwall island, which is in the middle of Akwesasne, a territory that straddles Quebec, Ontario and New York state.
The border guards in Cornwall were set to start carrying 9-mm handguns last Monday, under a new federal policy enacted across the country. Instead, guards left their posts at midnight last Sunday, citing safety concerns, after hundreds of Mohawks set up camp near the border to protest the gun policy.
Canadian authorities then shut down the Seaway International Bridge into the United States at Cornwall last Monday. The bridge, which spans the St. Lawrence River, handles about 2.4 million crossings annually.
Possibility of Closure
For the time being, travellers have been advised to use a point of entry at Prescott, which is 60 kilometres west, or the Dundee crossing, which is 17 kilometres southeast.
The Akwasasne protesters are angry about guards being allowed to carry guns, because they say it violates their sovereignty, and increases the likelihood of violent confrontations.
The federal public safety minister said Sunday the border crossing might be shut permanently unless Mohawk leaders accept a decision to arm border guards.
Peter Van Loan told CTV's Question Period the government is examining all options, including moving the port of entry.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

OK U.S. Customs; What's Your Excuse?

We understand the Canadian Border Service Agency's position in this stand-off. We don't agree with it nor will we concede our position over refusing to allow a permanent armed foreign presence on our land. The question is: why are the New York State Police preventing access to a part of Mohawk land that is clearly not in their jurisdiction. To have State or federal authorities turn around travellers expecting to cross into Canada, in light of the stand-off, is one thing, but to deny anyone access to part of our territory, especially to Native people in general and specifically Mohawk people is an absolute violation of our sovereignty and human freedom. There are perfectly legitimate reasons for that access, none of which needs to be justified to those denying it. This action on the U.S. side of their imaginary line begs the questions; Why? And who is being served by this action and what compels the U.S. interest in doing so? While all the attention is focused on the conflict between Mohawks and Canadian forces, the actions of U.S. interests are ignored.

So how how are people accessing the Cornwall Island portion of Akwesasne from the South? By river. Are these passenger vessels that are being used for the commute? No! And the first injury or worse that occurs as a result of this being the only way to get across the river from the South, will be on the heads of U.S. Customs or who ever is calling the shots for the actions of the New York State Police. We will never know how many times a U.S. or Canadian official smiled or said "good for them" when lives were lost transporting cigarettes or tobacco across to the Island. My question is: how many will continue to smile over the loss of life for those simply trying to go home or check on a loved one. Like your mother always said, "it all fun and games till someone gets hurt". This cannot be blamed on those "lawless Indians". This is not about violence or smuggling or any of the normal charges thrown at us. The Mohawk people are taking a stand against guns and only those who believe we should be under the gun disagree with us.

So Canada, have at it. Stare us down till you choke off the City of Cornwall and crush their already struggling economy. You have been destroying ours forever. We have very little to lose economically in this battle, but make no mistakes about it; we will not let your guns place our people in harms way.

U.S.; drop the act. Stop pretending to be innocent in all this. Your actions demonstrate your own desire to keep our people under the gun. There is no way that the State Police or any federal agency is under some obligation to assist Canada in this stand-off. There is no "international protocol" that requires the U.S. to bar access to our land. Turn your people around if you must but stop interfering with our right to travel freely within our community.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Akwesasne Is On High Alert As The Bridges Are Closed And Canadians Borders Services Abandoned

Midnight, June 1, 2009: As the deadline for new compliance standards imposed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Border Patrol and the Canadian Border Services was reached, an all out military style blockade has been established on the U.S. and Canadian sides of the international bridges that use Akwesasne's Cornwall Island to connect them. June 1st was the date for the new Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) to come into effect. The standards called for stiffer identification requirements including U.S. or Canadian passports or new enhanced ID cards with scannable and trackable RFID chips embedded in them. The Canadian Border Service Agency (CBSA) also planned to used the deadline as the start of an upgraded arming and militarization of the customs and border facility located within the the territory of the Kanienkehaka, on Cornwall Island which is now eerily abandoned. These moves have been opposed by the Kanienkehaka with particular concern over weapons being brought into their community. Several demonstrations have occurred over the last several weeks specifically addressing the overwhelming opposition of the Kanienkehaka to the idea of a foreign armed force being based within their community.

No dialogue or communications of any kind has been offered up to explain the blockade. DHS, as recently as last week expressed in a conference call for all Native communities on the U.S.-Canadian border that a "relaxing of the requirements" would be in affect for an "undetermined transitional period". When asked specifically about the Massena crossing, they offered no insight to a closing or blockade.

The Kanienkehaka are presently asking everyone to use every means available to keep communications flowing and prepare to support this community as this apparent military action continues. Travel preparations from as many Native territories as possible on both sides of the "Imaginary Line" should be started as well as any actions that can be undertaken to show solidarity.

At the time of this posting there was still no press presence or any international observation. The hope is that efforts to bring as much attention to these actions as possible can reach the highest international levels. Contact with the people of Akwesasne is critically important at this point and the flow of information is one of the best weapons against any abuses that occur. All media contacts and organizations should be brought on line to monitor the situation.

Any developments will be posted as information is received.

View the photos and links on the side bar for updates on the situation.