Editorial by Jonathan Garlow
Traffic seems to have come to a halt in Ohsweken – which some call the ‘villich’. With the lights out and all the construction going on one thing that stands out is how patient the people of Six Nations are with each other (mostly).
If you’ve driven around Six Nations much you will learn it is a place of vehicular extremes – both good and bad. Usually, a driver at a four way stop will wave you on if you’ve stopped at nearly the same time. Even though the Ontario rule book says the person on the right has right of way, sometimes on the rez you just gotta let people go on ahead of you.
Especially if you know your house is in the next concession and you don’t want to put up with a car right on your tail – slowing down and turning is rude. It’s rez road etitquette to put the other driver first.
Another road violation of kindness common amongst Six Nationers is scootching into the left hand lane to slow down before you turn into a laneway and letting a driver behind you pass on your right. Although you must drive directly into on-coming traffic to accomplish this feat, Six Nations people put the well-being of others ahead of their own safety. I even do it myself, I learned this ancient move from my elders.
Maybe we know what it’s like to be pushed around and put last so we would never do that in our home. Maybe we express our empathy for one another by putting each other first at the four way stops. Or maybe I’m reading too much into it.
One thing that grinds the ol’ Gumpers’ gears is when he has to swerve or slam on after someone pulls out in front of him. These kinds of people are easily identifiable as non-community members because no one from Six Nations pulls right out in front of you when you’re obviously cruising by going at least 80.
That’s because we know who drives what car and we can recognize who someone is just by the ‘beast’ or the ‘gem’ they have. There’s thousands of vehicles here so of course, no one knows everyone but you can definitely spot your buddies car in the villich. People check to see if the brown PT Cruiser is missing a hub-cap – if so that’s definitely me.
When someone gets a new car or truck it takes a while to get used to waving at them when you pass each other. There is a strong vehicle sub-culture on the territory. And we owe it all to these concessions, roads and lines that connect us.
When it comes to driving around here, everyone is accountable to each other. If someone is acting up at the new four way in Ohsweken, they will probably have to deal with it later. You can’t just get away with anything here because we are lifetime neighbours on Six Nations.
Just the day I write like this and an old man waved me on because I guess I was rushing him. Eighty kilometres per hour is a bit too fast for some. It reminds me that everything is relative, especially on Six Nay.