Mohawks: Revolution begins with awakening
By Brenda Norrell
TUCSON, Arizona – Mohawk Warriors joined in solidarity with Subcomandante Marcos and the Zapatistas at the Gathering of Indigenous Peoples of América. They quickly learned that one factor is the same for Indigenous Peoples all over the world: Corporations intent on seizing the land, minerals and water have no regard for the lives or rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Rarahkwisere, Mohawk Warrior, said the Zapatistas’ encuentro made it clear to him that the same thing is happening to Indigenous Peoples all over Turtle Island. “All of our stories were the same, how we are being mistreated to this day,” said Rarahkwisere, among the Mohawks from the United States and Canada attending the encuentro.
Mohawks and other members of the Iroquois Confederacy (Six Nations) were among the 570 delegates from 67 Indigenous Peoples, coming from 12 american nations at the encuentro hosted by Yaquis in Vicam Pueblo, Sonora, Mexico, Oct. 11 – 14, 2007.
“It is all about the natural resources and the big money people,” he said. In northern Quebec, the invaders go hunting for diamonds and pollute the water. What follows is sickness and displacement, as Indian people have to their homelands and search for places to live.
Remembering the encuentro, he said, “There is a revolution, at least on Turtle Island!” Rarahkwisere said he had no problem crossing the border to attend the encuentro using his Haudenosaunee passport. However, his trip to Mexico revealed the dangers for Indians in the south, including the heavily armed soldiers at military checkpoints. He said it was scary at first, until he realized that many of these young soldiers’ also had Indian ancestry, and supported Indian efforts.
Rarahkwisere said the attacks on Indian people are formulated in the urban minds with corporations. In Mexico, and elsewhere in the south, he realized how often Indian people face death for the risk of speaking out. “You will get killed. The corporations hire paramilitary groups.”
Reflecting on the struggles for Indigenous Peoples, he said, “It is hard being Indian. But we are not going to ever, ever give up. We are just getting started.”
Rarahkwiswere said that Indigenous Peoples in South America face far greater dangers than the people in the north. He said a Colombian attorney told how two groups were called to play football. Instead of a football, the chief’s head was presented. The people were told if they did not play the game, the same thing would happen to them.
Rarahkwiswere, who spoke on the Haudenosaunee, Great Law of Peace and Wampum Belts, said it was good to meet with Subcomandante Marcos and the Zapatistas. “I want to thank them for hooking up with us. We all have to get together to fight colonialism. I hope to meet them again soon.”
The Haudenosaunee, the People of the Longhouse, live by the Great Law which was given to them by the Creator, said a Mohawk Warrior (unnamed here.)
“The Longhouse originally was all of Turtle Island, from where the sun rises to where the sun set. The sky is the roof and Mother Earth is the floor.”
“The Great Law is what the Creator gave us and what the Six Nations live by. The Great Law was made for all the Nations, not just the Iroquois Confederacy.
“When the Creator came to the people, he began with the worst of the worst. The Creator told them about uniting for peace and power and they accepted. This really formed the first union.”
The Creator held an arrow up and showed the people how easy it was to snap. Then, the Creator bound five arrows with deer hide and showed how these could not be broken, like the Five Nations bound together. However, not all of the people have lived by the Great Law.
“If they lived by the Great Law, they would not be polluting or killing each other. If they lived by the Great Law, then they would look for ways to better mankind, rather than destroy it.”
Originally, there were five Nations: Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and Seneca. Later, the Tuscaroras asked for protection and became the Sixth Nation. The people had their own Constitution and form of government before the invaders arrived.
“The United States Constitution is derived from the Iroquois Confederacy. The invaders that came had no form of government. Benjamin Franklin studied the Iroquois Confederacy,” he said. However, the Europeans took the foundation of the Iroquois Confederacy out of context, the same way they do with the “black book.” They take it out of context and use it for fanaticism and to make rich a few people, he said.
The Iroquois Confederacy was comprised of 50 chiefs and 50 clan mothers. All decisions were reached through consensus, not through majority vote. “They had to agree because it had to reflect the decisions they made for Seven Generations.” Before making any decision, it was important to consider the impacts for Seven Generations. The United States knew this and began killing the chiefs and clan mothers. But what they did not know was that when this happens, the people have the power.
Wampum Belts held the peoples’ history. “It was our form of writing, our form of keeping records. Everything they did, they made a belt, so they could look back and see what happened.” Individuals were selected to memorize the belt so that they could tell the people what it said. “Those were our stories too.”
The Two Row Wampum Belt was white, with two dark lines running parallel. “That was the first agreement made with the Europeans.” “When the Europeans came here, we had the greatest power, we had a Constitution and this is what the Europeans violated.”
On the Two Row Wampum Belt, one line represents the Native people in their canoes and the other represents the Europeans. The Europeans were to keep whatever they brought with them, including their politics and religion, to themselves.
“The two lines on the Wampum Belt were never to cross, never to intersect.” The Creator said everyone had a choice, everyone had the power to reason right and wrong. Today, people have the ability to reason right from wrong. When Native people become members of the band councils, they step out of their canoes. When the Indian police are trained by the Canadian government, they become agents of the government.
“They became aligned with a foreign government. It is like accepting citizenship. It is impossible for a Native person to accept citizenship, because you have to give up your country to do that. How can a Native person do that?
“In 1924, citizenship was forced on Indian people in the United States and this violated the Constitution, because there was no Native Representation or consultation.”
Natives were forced to from band councils in Canada and elected governments in the United States. “All these are are ‘puppet governments’ for the United States and Canada.” In the same way, the United States is establishing a government in Iraq, one that the U.S. can control.
“They become agents of the government; they are not for the people.” When the Europeans came to Turtle Island, they emptied the prisons and insane asylums in Europe to populate this country. “That is why there are serial killers, it is genetic, hereditary.” “A lot of people from Europe didn’t really want to come here. They needed people, so they got all of this riff-raft and sent them here. They just brought them here and turned them loose. In the west, the women were either domestics or prostitutes.”
They emptied the orphanages and brought one million children to work the farms in this country. “They couldn’t force the Natives to be slaves. A Native had rather die than be a slave to the white man. Native people were not used to being treated like that. Native people would starve themselves to death or run away.” The people of Africa were kidnapped, sold, enslaved and sent to this country. Their own people helped sell them into slavery, he said. One-hundred million Indigenous Peoples were killed by Columbus and the Spaniards in what is now North and South America.
“When the treaties were written, they knew they were not going to honor them. If they are not going to keep the treaties and honor them, then they should get rid of them.” Nowhere has there been more atrocities than in the north and south of Turtle Island, known as the Americas. Still, the truth is not taught in schools.
“If you do not know your history, then you do not have a future,” he said. Europeans came here for exploitation and that is what continues today.
“It is all for exploitation. They even exploit their own people. My dad always said, ‘There’s going to be a worldwide revolution one of these days.’”
“The revolution is coming. It begins with this awakening.”