OHSWEKEN – Sunday, May 8th, a day after a contentious meeting at the Onondaga longhouse in which HDI lawyer Aaron Detlor was told by two condoled Chiefs and a Clan Mother to leave the territory and to never come back, a second meeting took place.
The meeting at Yogi’s Barn was set up in the traditional seating arrangement as people talked about what happened the day before from their perspectives.
The gathering was organized by Jagwadeth Sandy who was disturbed and upset that Saturday’s council was shut down the way it was, without proper protocol.
He spoke of the need to understand the ceremonies, the protocols and the tenants of the Great Peace, and that the present system is broken and needs to be fixed.
Also at the meeting was Tekarontake (Paul Delaronde) from Kahnawake who attended Saturday’s longhouse meeting and offered his thoughts regarding the situation in general.
When asked by the Two Row Times what his impressions were of Saturday’s longhouse, he qualified himself first by saying, “I am not here to impose, only to assists in how (Jagwadeth) asked me to. I came just to see and hear for myself what everybody has to say. I don’t like hearing only from one side of any story.”
He was frank and honest about his answer being careful not to unduly come down on either side.
“What I think is not happening here is that the formula that our ancestors left for us is not being implemented,” he began. “Because we are not following the formula to help maintain the peace and harmony within our communities, amongst our people, that is why we end up with the chaos we have.”
He was taken by the passion all sides of the story showed.
“From observing and listening, I believe that everybody was sincere in what they were trying to do,” said Tekarontake. “Everybody had the best of intentions but there seems to be a real lack of ability to get the information out there amongst the people. The decision making process is not being followed according to what I understand and know of as what our “Great Law” has prescribed for us.
“I witnessed how there was a breakdown and it’s the assumption of some of the people that the directive has to come from the Council and it’s the Council that makes the decisions,” he continued. “But they seem to have forgotten that we have families. We have Tsi niken>taro:tens (Clans) that’s our families. We have 49 families and if this is such an important issue, we should have had all 49 families represented.”
Given that, how would the Great Law propose this situation should be sorted out, he was asked next, and he was ready with his answer.
“It is going to have to be up to our women to start to organize that. Under our constitution it is up to the women, the progenitors of the Nation they are the ones that have to watch our blood lines to keep our blood strong,” he said. “And the eternals of our people? That has to be managed by our women.”
“We as the men have an obligation to support and reinforce what the women have determined was the best thing for our children.”
Of the specific scene he witnessed Saturday, Tekarontake didn’t mince his words.
“Too many people are looking at titles,” he said. “But it’s not the titles we should be looking at, it’s the responsibility to those titles that we should be dealing with — learning and understanding what are our responsibilities. Knowing that the decisions we make must come as families and we have to be likeminded on decisions. Then we will have our (Clan Mothers) and our Royanni (Chiefs) who are our representatives who can actually represent the voice of the family and not their own opinions.”
He said he heard some speaking words spoken that he does not believe came from anyone’s clan.
“When a Royanni starts to express his own opinion, he must be reminded that he was not put in that position for his opinion,” said Tekarontake. “He was put in that position to raise the words of the wishes and the will of our people in accordance with our constitution.”
So who is to blame? In his personal opinion, Tekarontake says, “Blame should not be what we should do right now. If our system was implemented like it is supposed to be, we wouldn’t have been there (at Saturday’s longhouse) for the witch burning. That happens when you’re just going by your emotions. You have a mob mentality and we start looking for a sacrificial lamb to make our problems go away. But that is not what happened. If we burn this lamb, we will have to find another, then another, because we are always going to look to somebody else when we are not fulfilling our own responsibility.”