The people of Six Nations are diverse. I like to think of this as the “such others” written about in the “Mohawks and such others” clause written about in the Haldimand Deed.
Some of us ‘such others’ are mixed race indigenous men and women. Some of us are non-binary, queer, femme, homosexual or transgender. Some are apolitical and don’t care to get involved with local governance matters. Some are Evangelical Christians, Muslim, Buddhist, Agnostic, Atheist or Traditional. Some of us are Anarchists. Some are Capitalists. But one thing about everyone from Six [Nations] that is the same; we have all been through the ringer of colonization.
All of our ancestors went through the same history of oppression. And it is so important to get this truth embodied in our leadership; not one of our band members is less worthy than another. Some of us are ex-addicts. Some of us are currently addicted. Some of us are financially stable and some struggle with putting food on the table.
My point is, that no matter our gender, clan, nation, political, ideological or religious identity — all of our voices and opinions matter the same. And the work of those in leadership cannot forget the people they represent when they are putting their heads together — come from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives that all have rights and interests they must protect.
Can you imagine the sophistication it must have taken our ancestors to come together under the Great Law of Peace? In this day and age perhaps we have a more difficult task at hand, how to unify our people. Maybe more importantly, a good beginning place to unify on.
Do we have to agree on everything? No. Did our ancestors agree on everything? I doubt it. But we had the boldness and safety to bring all of our minds to the table — to a space were lateral violence could not dwell — and make life or death decisions out of love for our people.
We are not a community made up of “traditional people ” vs. “band council supporters”. Anyone who tries to say so is spinning webs. We are a beautiful meadow of some 20,000 wildflower souls — all doing our best to step up a little higher from the pain of our collective past. It is time to call on our leadership to look beyond polarizing and side picking feuds for 2019. Can this be the year that the older generation of this community buries the weapons of the “band council” vs “confederacy” war — and all of the bitter rivalries present in side vs side politics — and start looking into the eyes of our children to make decisions together for the good of all our great-grandchildren yet to come? Let 2019 be the year of unity and inclusion for all of our people — even the such others.