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Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Monday, January 10, 2011

Mohawk Kahentinetha Horn: Resistance

Mohawk Kahentinetha Horn: Resistance

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News
UPDATE: No jail time for Kahentinetha Horn (Jan. 26, 2011)
Photo: Kahentinetha Horn holds the Haudenosaunee passport, while a Mohawk warrior holds the sacred Two Row belt, at the Indigenous Border Summit 2007 on T0hono O'odham land. Photo Brenda Norrell.
Kahentinetha Horn, 71, publisher of Mohawk Nation News, was beaten by Canadian Border Guards on June 14, 2008, at the Akwesasne border crossing. Kahentinetha is now charged with assaulting those officers and obstruction of justice. This week, she faces a court decision on penalties for those charges.

During a radio interview with Kevin Annett on Hidden from History on Saturday, Jan. 8, Kahentinetha described the media boycott of the attack by Canada Border Services Agents and her history of resistance.

Kahentinetha described how Julian Assange of Wikileaks exposed the truth through documents. She exposed the truth of the Canadian government and colonial powers through her writings and her life.

The imperialists try to eliminate people who do this, she said.

The media boycotted the attack of Kahentinetha and another Mohawk grandmother who were peacefully crossing the border. “They beat up the other woman first.” Kahentinetha described the stress hold performed on her inside the customs house to induce a heart attack.

The handcuffs behind her back were tightened until there was no circulation. Then she experienced pain up her arms and across her chest and upper back which was the start of the heart attack. Then her head was pushed forward to cause death. She was close to death when her brother arrived on the scene. He called an ambulance and saved her life. She has since been in Kahnewake under medical care.

She said at least 300 Mohawks have been assaulted by border guards. Many others have not reported the beatings. One young man was rammed on the St. Lawrence River and was left paralyzed.

She was never notified of two charges and two Canada wide warrants for her arrest until recently. She remained homebound for the past two and a half years. On July 7, 2010 she was driving to the motor vehicle department to pay her registration. She was pulled over immediately. “It looked like a setup,” she recalls. She was arrested and the Chateauguay Quebec officers made arrangements to transport her to “parts unknown.” She was not allowed to call her family.

The patrol car was hot. She began having heart palpitations, sweating and shortness of breath. She waved her nitrate stick. The officers called an ambulance and she was taken to the hospital.
Kahentinetha said she does not have enough money to defend herself against Canada’s charges. She lives on a pension and has to make a difficult choice. “If I go ahead, I need a lot of money. If I plead guilty, we could ask for leniency, or something.”

At the time of the 2008 attack Kahentinetha had a large audience for her articles at Mohawk Nation News. With a background in research, she documented the facts. After the attack, her website was hacked. Her large list of subscribers was lost. She did not have the energy to rebuild the site.

“I’ve written and posted almost 929 articles,” based on facts and her right to freedom of speech[]. “I think Indigenous Peoples are the canary in the mine. We have withstood brutal treatment through the centuries … other people will now be getting the brunt of cruelty we have endured for 500 years”.

As a traditionalist Kahentinetha said she was raised with knowledge of Indigenous inherent rights. Describing her life of resistance, she recalled the 1968 public protest at the Akwesasne border, the same checkpoint where the assault incident occurred 40 years later, in 2008. After this protest, Kahentinetha, small in physical frame, was charged with beating up 23 Cornwall policemen. “They were a lot bigger than me.” As the names of the supposed victims were read in court, everyone started laughing. The charges were dropped except for two, which were also eventually dropped.

A film about this incident was made and is available on the Internet: “You are on Indian land," by the National Film Board.

Three years earlier, the Civil Rights Movement brought her together with American Indian leaders. She knew the people in the American Indian Movement, Dennis Banks and Russell Means. She was the only indigenous from Canada to attend the Indian Conference on Poverty in 1965. “We discussed our role in the Movement.”

They decided to support Black people, “Their objectives were different from us”. Blacks wanted to become equals in mainstream society, with the same access. “We wanted to stay separate, protect our land, language, elders and children and maintain our culture.”

“We supported the Blacks but told them to honor our right to speak for ourselves”.

After Martin Luther King, Jr., was killed, Rev. Ralph Abernathy was speaking in Washington, on issues including native issues. The Native Americans wrote a letter to Rev. Abernathy. Kahentinetha and a Mexican American, delivered it. Rev. Abernathy was reminded of the position of Native people and respected it. In 1968 Kahentinetha was selected to be at the gravesite of President Robert Kennedy.

Kahentinetha points out that “half of North America is the territory of the Haudenosaunee and our allies.” The Iroquois Confederacy signed agreements on behalf of about 300 other Indigenous nations.

Kahentinetha spent 20 years raising her five children. In 1990, she rose once again to defend sacred land. “The Oka golf club wanted to increase their golf course to 18 holes on top of our burial grounds and ceremonial site." She was studying for her master’s degree at the time. “We resisted.” On July 11 1990, the Quebec para-military police came in and started shooting. “One of their policemen was killed.” It led to a 78-day siege.

“In the end, the Canadian army was sent in,” and surrounded Kahnewake, Kanesatake and Akwesasne. The Mohawks of Kahnewake shut down the Mercer Bridge, which connects Montreal with the south shore communities.

After Canada’s Prime Minister Mulroney met with President Bush, Sr., he announced in Parliament that the army would be brought in. Kahentinetha and two of her children were stuck behind the army’s razor wire. “We thought they were going to shoot us.”
“We got badly beaten up by Quebec police and Canadian soldiers,”Kahentinetha said. There were about 4,000 soldiers with tanks, weaponry and snipers.
“Apparently I was one of those who was supposed to be taken out by a sniper," she said.

Mohawk women prevented shooting from both sides. If one shot had been fired, it would have meant “the slaughter of our people.” There were choppers flying over their heads and they stopped them from getting food. The army put three levels of razor wire around them. “I’ll never forget that, standing there and being put inside razor wire on my own land”.

On Sept 26, they came out. “We were very badly beaten up.” A soldier stabbed her daughter in the chest.

The first group went to trial for one year. Then the second group, with Kahentinetha, went to trial for another year. Mohawks were fired from their jobs in Ottawa. It was almost impossible for them to find work, even cleaning floors.

“We have a reputation of resistance. It is our right to resist and defend ourselves,” Kahentinetha said. Later, the Canadian Army put in their training manual that Mohawks are insurgents, terrorists.

Kahentinetha said that women are the foundation of the communities, but the government and media portrays them as sexual objects or street workers. They are not protected. Currently, there are about 600 indigenous girls who have disappeared. Police refuse to investigate. She believes they are killed because they have too much information on the ruling class.

“Maybe when they abuse these girls, they have to kill them.”

Kahentinetha said the abuse at the border is part of the larger picture. The government wants to abuse, criminalize and arrest her people, especially the young men who want to protect the people.

“When is the outcry for us?” she asked. “They tried to kill me,” she said of the heart attack induced by the Border Guards. “I had the first pangs of death. Then I came back.”

She described a natural justice and unnatural justice. With unnatural justice, people are trying to rule the world with killing and cruelty.

She looked into the faces of the border guards when they were assaulting her. “There was no empathy.”

Natural justice is the connection between our intuition, which is the natural world, and our intellect.

She pointed out that the police, courts and military have been used against her and her people. The Border Guards routinely pull the people out of their cars by twisting the arm and trying to dislocate it. Many of these injuries remain with people for the rest of their lives.

“The enemy of the enemy is not our friend,” she said.

In closing, Kahentinetha told a traditional legend of the two headed serpent. One head was gold and the other was silver. The skin was hide of many colors. One head was peaceful and the other was violent. The people found the sickly serpent and cured its diseases. Everyday the serpent got stronger and wanted more. He multiplied, began killing and taking everything the people had. The serpent needed the constant flow of murder and the land was stained with blood. The serpent only wanted those that could be enslaved.

Then, a young boy made a bow with a hair of the clan mothers. The serpent was slain. The boy climbed on top, cut the serpent open and released what had been devoured.

Kahentinetha said, “We have to stay out of this fight.”

Donations can be sent to her PayPal on Mohawk Nation News

Listen to internet radio with Hiddenfromhistory on Blog Talk Radio


At the Safeway, on rhetoric and heroism

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News
It is hard to look at the photos of the victims. These are people I likely passed at the grocery store or coffee shop, or on the city bus. Some of the victims I met at gatherings on border issues. The Safeway area on the northwest side of town is a place I go by often, when I leave the southside of Tucson, to go to the Borders Bookstore down the street and stores by Safeway.
Now, I listen to how this unfolded. Most people are aware of the political rhetoric of hate in the United States, and that Arizona has become a microcosm of it. Those of us who lived in south Tucson over the past decade have watched how the television and radio political rhetoric has inspired violence, and arrests, of all people of color.
What is happening now all across Arizona, and the nation, is in part the result of hate rhetoric and much more. But now the victims are no longer only people of color. And neither are the perpetrators.
A few weeks ago, as usual the Border Patrol agents stopped the Greyhound bus near the New Mexico and Texas border. But this time, as opposed to all the other times when they came on screaming for papers and harassing brown people, this time they arrested young, white teenagers. The drug sniffing dog found drugs in their backpacks down below. The three boys, with one crying, were taken away, in the dark night in a desolote spot. It was the first time I've seen white people arrested at these border stops.
It was a sign of change.
But what happened at the Safeway, with six people killed and 14 wounded, also points to other issues besides political hate rhetoric and the state of tension in southern Arizona.
It points to the need for early detection and treatment of mental illness. Based on the statements of those who went to high school and Pima Community College with the suspect Jared Lee Loughner, the signs were there. It is not uncommon for young people with mental illness to have a sharp decline in their late teens, as they described. Whatever led to this, it is yet unknown.
There is also the issue of how easy it is for people to legally obtain semi-automatic weapons.
During this horrible mass killing, there could have been many more victims if courageous people had not halted the shooter when he was reloading. Several heroes ran toward the shooter. Tucson is a big city with a small community in its arms.
A woman, Patricia Miasch, 61, took one magazine away after he shot the people in front of her. Loughner was reloading and preparing to continue shooting when she grabbed the magazine. Several men had tackled him and held him down, including Roger Sulzeber and Bill D. Badger, 74, who had been grazed in the head by a bullet. Joseph Zimudie said he was at the Walgreens and heard the shots. He was armed for his own protection and ran to the shooter and helped subdue him.
Sincere condolences go out to all of the victims, their families and everyone whose life was touched and traumatized by this.
Perhaps the face of the nine-year-old girl who was killed, Christina Green, will remind us all to be more gentle with one another, more vigilant in the constructive battle against racism and hate, and when called upon, to arise to heroism.
Also see: Heroes of Tucson shooting, Patricia Maisch:
More heroes:
Tucson victim shielded his wife from bullets

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