The sun was shining as Theresa “Toad” Jamieson emerged from the Cayuga courthouse Wednesday afternoon smiling and looking to the sky saying Nya:wah. That morning Jamieson was finally able to give her side of the story of the incident on Feb 18th 2012 when Gary McHale, his supporters and a group of OPP officers marched onto Kanonhstaton, “the protected place” – also known as the “Douglas Creek Estates” to some.
During her court session, Toad gave clear and calm testimony of what she considered to be the recurring “harassment and baiting” that has been directed against the people of Six Nations by McHale and his cronies over the past six years. She also explained her actions at Kanonhstaton from her own perspective.
Toad told how she had reactively picked up a piece of garbage – a discarded lampshade – and raised it in the air as McHale approached. She remembered “snapping back into her Great Law mind,” and lowering her arm, handing off the object to one of the men standing behind her, who put it away.
It was clear from all accounts and the video evidence shown in court that Jamieson did not physically contact McHale – the issue in concern was whether she “threatened” him with assault.
Toad told the court that she was feeling vulnerable and defensive because all the men advancing towards her and invading Kanonhstaton, were either three times her size or carrying lethal weapons. This was the same piece of land that the OPP invaded at 4:20am on April 20th, 2006 and assaulted men, women, youth and elders. This is the same land that, since being reclaimed and protected, has had the chance to heal and regrow.
So, as she was originally prepared to do at her original trial date on December 12th 2012, Toad spoke her story, and tied everything into context with her history lesson.
She read Deskaheh’s last speech in its entirety to the court. She spoke of the past and present strategies used by the Canadian government in attempting to assimilate and disorganize traditional societies and to annihilate entire nations and their relationship to their land. Her statement emphasized the injustice found in the imposition of colonial law against a people, a confederacy of original nations, living on their own land, and following their own system of laws – the Great Peace.
There were only two seats left in court, so I got stuck sitting in McHale’s section right in the back. When Toad began reading Deskaheh’s last speech, the room fell quiet and grew thick with power. The people in the section around us seemed to start twitching with guilt, and shame almost seemed to pour out from the their pores.
McHale abruptly got up and walked out of court as Deskaheh’s words filled the room.
No verdict was given that day. Many eyes, ears, and hearts may remain closed, but truth was spoken and the message was delivered. People came together to support Teresa “Toad” Jameson” an Onkwehon:we woman pulled into colonial courts because she protects her land, her people, and her law.
After all that has happened to us, that is not too much to ask.
You got half of your territory here by warfare upon redmen, usually unprovoked, and you got about a quarter of it by bribing their chiefs, and not over a quarter of it did you get openly and fairly. You might have gotten a good share of it by fair means if you had tried.
You young people of the United States may not believe what I am saying. Do not take my word, but read your history.
A good deal of true history about that has got into print now. We have a little territory left – just enough to live and lie on. Don’t you think your government ought to be ashamed to take that away from us by pretending it is part of theirs?
You ought to be ashamed if you let them. Before it is all gone, we mean to let you know what your governments are doing. If you are a free people you can have your own way. The governments at Washington and Ottawa have a silent partnership of policy.
It is aimed to break up every tribe of Redmen so as to dominate every acre of their territory. Your high officials are the nomads today – not the Red People. Your officials won’t stay home.
Over in Ottawa, they call that Policy “Indian Advancement.” Over in Washington, they call it “Assimilation.”We who would be the helpless victims say it is tyranny.
If this must go on to the bitter end, we would rather that you come with your guns and poison gases and get rid of us that way. Do it openly and above the board. Do away with the pretense that you have the right to subjugate us to your will.
Your governments do that by enforcing your alien laws upon us. That is an underhanded way.
They can subjugate us if they will through the use of your law courts. But how would you like to be dragged down to Mexico, to be tried by Mexicans and jailed under Mexican law for what you did at home?
We want none of your laws and customs that we have not willingly adopted for ourselves. We have adopted many. You have adopted some of ours – votes for women, for instance. We are as well behaved as you and you would think so if you knew us better.
We would be happier today, if left alone, than you who would call yourselves Canadians and Americans. We have no jails and do not need them. You have many jails, but do they hold all the criminals you convict? And do you convict or prosecute all your violators of the thousands of laws you have?”
Excerpt of Deskaheh’s last speech, read in court on August 28th, 2013 by Theresa “Toad” Jamieson.
By Aiden Hennigs