Opinion: Traditional leaders on Six must work with millennials

We are plagued with a bad case of political polarization in this community. It is so 1985 — literal soap opera stuff. Think ‘The Young and the Restless’ — The Abbots vs. The Newmans.

That “us vs. them” story is manufactured by spin doctors desperate to see their “side” win. Win what though? Power? Authority? Supporters?

That seems to be the key word there: supporters.

The truth is the minute anyone on Six Nations takes their political opinions public — the spin doctors grade you as either a “band council supporter” or a “confederacy supporter”.

This is called polarization and it’s a game politicians play: create an enemy that you can save your supporters from. And boy are we ever getting duped by it.

Where I’ve shared my personal opinion on Six Nations politics I was called names like ‘Little Miss Band Council’ and told I was “bought and paid for” to be in cahoots with the sitting elected chief to “destroy the confederacy”.

As much as I do love the word cahoots, that narrative is a work of fiction by our spin doctors — manufactured to try and discredit my opinions and discredit the facts.

Here’s some non-fiction for you. Six Nations does not support the HDI and the HCCC is not the second governing body of this territory.

Allow me to explain. We are a mess. The HCCC is the historical ‘traditional’ governing body. They were removed from authority and replaced by the Elected Council system at the request of community members who wrote letters to the Canadian government requesting a municipal style of governance.

To be clear: that is not my opinion. And I don’t think it was a good or bad thing. It is simple historical fact. And we have to face the facts of our colonization if we ever hope to break its chains.

Today in 2017, the HCCC — that body at Six Nations who owns a provincial numbered corporation, a second federal corporation and the HDI — represents a small contingent of Six Nations people. Not half, not most, definitely not all Haudenosaunee people in all 49 clan families.

This is also fact. The HCCC of Six Nations in 2017 wants to return to being the singular governing body of this territory with the support of all Haudenosaunee citizens.

Can the HCCC’s authority be restored? Does Six Nations have a future where we abandon the colonial construct of the band council system?

In hopes my message will not be spun by anyone, nor my voice muffled by labels — here is my admonition to the chiefs and clan mothers on Six Nations.

Stop the spin doctors. Causing people to pick a side does not create supporters. Criticism is not hate. Praise is not love.

Reach us. Speak to the hearts of the mothers and fathers of this community. But you cannot claim to be fighting injustice when you are pushing something forward that is immoral.

Racism, exclusion from ceremony, labelling question askers as disruptive, double standards, changing the rules, and not giving certain people names and clans is immoral. More of us are mixed race than are not and keeping us at bay or excluded is maintaining the colonial ways set forward by the destroyers.

If you want to govern and have support from the people you have to offer us something: security, safety, wellbeing — belonging. You cannot expect loyalty and patriotism based on the past actions of our ancestors.

How can millennials be supporters of a traditional system when it doesn’t offer us all place of supportive non-judgement, and when it doesn’t guarantee us a way to prevent being oppressed by yet another governing body. Respect our differences and honour them. Abandon the learned tradition of shaming us into complicity.

How can we heal from colonization when we get labelled as “supporters” of the destroyers when we are asking questions and demanding honour and truth in our traditional leaders?

How can we the people hold our traditional leaders accountable when innocent collective action that is taken to hold them to task is met with a mob ready to throw us off the Rez?

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