Out of the Algonquin Frying Pan and into the Mohawk Fire
[The following is a letter to the editor received on Jan 8, 2008]
From the beginning, the Crown, Ontario and agents wanted the farcical mediation meetings to be held behind closed doors. They wanted to isolate the Ardoch and Shabot Algonquin "leadership" to make secret $deals$ over a supposed uranium mine. According to Indigenous law, such meetings that concern the people should be open to the people as the Algonquins have repeatedly insisted.
Suddenly, Ontario says the meetings are open to the public but now they are to be held in Kingston, outside of Algonquin territory, two hours away from the affected community. Moving the mediation out of Algonquin territory is also a breach of Algonquin law.
However, this is a clear case of the proverbial, "Out of the frying pan and into the fire!" Kingston is in Mohawk territory!
Why, we must ask, would the meetings be moved to Kingston? For whose convenience? We hear rumours of Crown agents who need city night life and their accustomed type of "watering hole", not available in the remote areas of Sharbot Lake. The new location was certainly handy for the Mohawks, perhaps too handy. When they changed the venue, the mediation team knew Kahentinetha Horn of MNN was planning to attend - Randy Cota and Bob Lovelace had invited her!
(In July 2007, the Algonquins sent a wampum to the Mohawks seeking their help in the blockade against uranium mining at Robertsville. Nuclear development on Algonquin land would affect Mohawk communities downstream. This official nation to nation agreement is ongoing.)
The mediation team were all surprised anyway to see a large delegation of Ongwehoneh women and men from the four Mohawk communities of Kahnawake, Kahensatake, Akwesasne and Tyendinaga. I am very sorry I could not arrange transportation to join them.
The mediation team were even more shocked to hear Elder Kahentinetha speak in Mohawk to open the meeting according to Ongwehoneh customs and protocols. Ardoch Algonquin Negotiator, Bob Lovelace sought to ignore her and defer to one of the Mohawk men. Bob "the Great Pretender" is so accustomed to colonial and sexist ways that he could not accept a woman with such obvious authority. The Mohawks were not about to let the farce continue without exposing it for what it is.
From what I gather, the Monday meeting was a game of tag with it being moved to a secret location when Ontario's Cam Clark, Bob Lovelace and attorneys became so flustered at the Mohawks' asking uncomfortable questions that they fled. When they sought to hide in a restaurant down the street, the Mohawks found them, no problemo. Afterall, they were in Mohawk territory where even the birds speak Mohawk.
The details of the derailed meeting are best described by those who were there. MNN has published an informative report that can be accessed at www.mohawknationnews.com. The outcome will become more apparent in the days ahead.
One thing's for sure from where I sit. Mohawk people have tried to help us Algonquins over and over again since the uranium crisis began last June at the Robertsville mine site. From the Mohawk warriors who came to put their lives and liberty on the line at the mine site to Mohawk elders like Kahentinetha who publishes the MNN articles in support of the Algonquin struggle, they have given their time and resources to us. Yet people in this community have been warned not to talk to Kahentinetha and not to talk to me. This is colonialism, intimidation and outright gangsterism. This is not the Nishnaabe way.
Indigenous people all over Turtle Island are renewing their alliances. The Mohawks are our nearest neighbours down-river and long-time allies. They have much wisdom and expertise to share with us. They cannot take over our land or ways according to our laws. They simply want to stop any desecration of the Earth such as a uranium mine would be. Together we must protect the Earth for the future generations.
Gratitude is an essential Nishnaabe principle. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Mohawk women and men who took the time and had the courage to stand up for our rights. Nia:wen and Chi miigwetch.
I urge everyone, Nishnaabe and settler alike to send a note of thanks to them.
Jennifer Tsun Nishnaabe Kwe,