Overcoming lateral violence and loving Six Nations

Last week I received my quarterly SOCAN payment of $3.72 for I’m A Lucky One — a song I wrote and produced in 2002.

Although we lost money and it cost us everything, Tru Rez Crew was a thing and I was in the midst of it all as lead producer.

That was nearly 20 years ago. Now, as I look back it was pretty amazing. I was young, barely twenty years old, and without a mentor to guide me.

We had inspiration and no money. Despite this truth, Tru Rez Crew won two music awards in 2003. We were one of two indigenous hip hop groups in all of Canada and the awards got our name out there nationally. Tru Rez Crew started to get booked for performances.

Our Six Nations squad got the chance to experience the spectrum of indigenous life in Canada — from the most remote fly-in northern reserves to the busy urban indigenous communities in Winnipeg and Toronto.

Indigenous life is often marked with grief and trauma, and I had a damaged world view  — an angry one.

My first friend, Marty (not his real name) died when I was only four years old. I still remember him.

After that I started elementary school on Six Nations and surviving S.S. #8 was like running the gauntlet on a daily basis. No one was safe. The principal was violent — eventually fired after breaking a students arm. His toxic leadership poisoned us as children, teaching us to hurt each other.

Intense bullying eventually translated into self-hatred. As a teenager I battled suicidal thoughts constantly. I became addicted to partying and alcohol as a coping mechanism. I threw myself wholeheartedly into the abyss.

Travelling to other reserves might have been the first time I ever felt accepted by other indigenous people.

In other communities I was able to receive love for who I was but at home struggled with my identity.

Travelling afar and returning home changed my perspective. I quit drinking and started on a different path — to accept myself and my home. Today, that acceptance is blossoming into some kind of love.

Learning how to love myself has empowered me to fall in love with Six Nations, and I do it over and over again. I love everything about Six Nay — the joys and hurts, the ups and the downs. We are simply the best and we deserve way more as a people. Anyone who knows me personally would attest that I generally like everybody.

Sadly, not everyone has embraced me.

The struggles I endured to love myself and my community is part of why it hurts so deeply when lateral violence resurfaces. In 2015, the community gossip and rumours got out of control after the director of the Haudenosaunee Chiefs Council’s development corporation, the Haudenosaunee Development Institute, gave a whirlwind speech at the Onondaga longhouse.

The director presented a false narrative — claiming the Two Row Times is part of a plot to bring down the Confederacy. That is not true. We believe in the Peacemaker’s Kayanerenkó:wa that clearly says the people are the Confederacy — and not just an elite few.

In 2014 two condoled clan mothers gave the Two Row Times internal documents of HDI which they wanted us to investigate. We published discoveries and those investigations disrupted HDI when it uncovered the Haudenosaunee Chiefs Council had incorporated in a scheme that combined interests with the 50 titles under the circle wampum into a numbered company and presumably waived the benefits of sovereign immunity on behalf of all Haudenosaunee people.

There is a lie spread by gossip that the Two Row Times is the Band Council newspaper. That is not true.

We believe that every person on Six Nations is entitled to their own views and that all Haudenosaunee people should be free to choose a path.

We also recognize that hierarchy is a foreign system. According to our ancestors, “we are all the same height.”

The Confederacy is supposed to be a peaceful collective of 49 clan families bound together in a sacred covenant — not an adventure in capitalism.

We are thankful for the advertising revenue and support from Elected Council and look forward to a day when HCCC advertises with us as well – which they should.

The Two Row Times believes in fairness.

There is a lie spread by gossip that the Two Row Times is secretly owned by millionaires who influence our editorial voice and tell us what to write. That is not true. We are not politically influenced by hidden agendas.

Yes, our newspaper is free but the free newspaper business model was chosen for marketability, not because we have tons of money to throw away.

There are three major newspapers in the U.K. – Metro, Daily Mail, and the Telegraph. The free one (Metro) is the most profitable.

However, this free model also means that we don’t qualify for federal or provincial grants offered to aid other publishers. Our revenue is 100% from our advertising. Yes, we have given away thousands of dollars in TV’s and prizes. That was done for the community through the generosity of the Dreamcatcher Charitable Foundation and not from our own pockets.

Every week I am thankful for every business big and small who has made the decision to advertise with us. Your financial support has paid the bills and allows us to keep going. Take a look at the masthead below. Each person listed there and our families are deeply grateful for your support.

Please remember that the Two Row Times is an organic business not an institution or government. We face the same struggles all on-reserve businesses do.

My wife, and TRT editor Nahnda and I are proud parents of four daughters; Miakun, Mahalia, Clara Bluesky, and Amira. Our Garlow family is very thankful for your readership and support. Without you this newspaper could not continue.

If you are an individual who would like to support the Two Row Times you can find us on Patreon.

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