Aunty Emily took my Dad and Uncle in when they were young to work on her farm. Among other jobs, they were responsible for cleaning up after the pigs. Imagine walking into a stall and finding bwoot six inches deep. It is literally a pile of you-know-what.

The dung was compacted so tough it was hard to tell where to start. Aunty told them that there is no easy way around it. You go to the centre of the room and, “just start digging.” To successfully clean out a stall, dig a centre tunnel until you hit the floor. From there, it’s simple: just keep digging until the job is done. Eventually the stall fills up again, and you come back to dig again until the stall is clean.

I come from a long line of aunties and uncles who weren’t afraid to ‘start digging.’ Kahendineh, Deskaheh and countless others who learned that we have a responsibility as Haudenosaune people. We must consider the coming faces. Those Haudenosaune descendants awaiting birth depend on us to speak for their good.

Aunty Emily was an educator on the reserve until that calling demanded that she pledge allegiance to the British Crown. Her reply went something like this, “”…it is out of order for you to expect a member of the Six Nations to subjugate themselves in order to teach their own people in their own land.” Badass. Then they fired her.

One time, there was a panel discussion at the United Nations in New York City.  Members within the U.N. are autonomous nations and their people were offered human rights protection and the right to self-determination by the UN Charter. During the question period Aunty Emily stood up and asked the panel, “Does that apply to us as Indian nations?” Her story goes that that panel at the United Nations gathered into a huddle and after giving her no answer, closed the meeting immediately.

I was reminded of these stories earlier this week when I was having a rather excellent conversation with one of my ‘cousints.’ He talked about how at times our plight seems impossible. Canada is so big and we’re so small. How do you fight?

Here’s what you do: you stand with the truth, and you resist.

Resisting assimilation just might be our defining war experience as indigenous people worldwide. It is a psychological war, and victory doesn’t always look like prosperity. Within this war we can choose to bring something out of our oppression, something beyond the understanding of our oppressors and their kin – the fellowship of suffering.

This fellowship breeds compassion, and it resonates beyond the borders of Townline and 54. It is the spark inside the human experience that fosters deep connection and everlasting change. Last winter it lit up like wildfire through the Idle No More movement. People of suffering around the globe stood out to support Onkwehon:we people across Turtle Island in acts of solidarity.

These declarations of autonomy, ridiculed by a smirking Harper, go beyond the comprehension of capitalist power structures. There is no measurable victory economically, therefore no success, therefore no threat. We are under the radar.

We now have a choice, to resist together – with one mind – and refuse to be buried as individuals beneath the compacted dung of our oppression. We allies within the fellowship of suffering have the power to stand collectively above the gunk, to honor one another’s differences and to “just start digging” together. Walking forward in hope, standing with the truth and resisting for the coming faces makes our victory possible.

Related Posts


  1. Thank you Nahnda. I like the way you wove your point of view into the story of cleaning the pig stalls. Great analogy!

    In threads and forums elsewhere (Yahoo News, CBC News etc.) when I encounter extremely vile comments regarding our people, I often reply by reminding them that while they may have usurped our dignity, came close to eliminating our culture, languages and traditions; while they spat upon our “faith” and ceremonies, trashed, our land base, they never once succeeded in destroying our spirit. Yes to success! But it will only happen in the way you tell it, and that is to stand together collectively, with one voice……UNITED! Yes to honouring our differences. Lets put them “under the pillow,” unite for our common purpose and deal with our differences later, responsibly. Sadly, as a fractured community, Ottawa and the outside world laugh at us for they know we are impotent as long as we remain as we are. There are a great many among us who give lip service to the Great Law including many who “claim” to be traditional because, “golly gee, it sounds good.” The time has long passed for this behaviour. Time to live it. Time to show the outsiders what true democracy and unity is. We CAN do it, but only if we wish it.

    Click on the “ALL OUR RELATIONS” button above the Two Row Times banner and read what MV Redcloud of Lightning Cloud has to say about following our dreams. He says it all quite succinctly. Here’s his quote: “We can no longer follow our dreams. You have to chase that dream down like a wild Rez dog and capture it by the throat….til it rolls onto its back and finally submits to you.”

    In view of the condition we have allowed ourselves to crumble into, this is pretty much what we’ll have to do.


  2. Thank goodness for those brave enough to resist the oppressive system. I just wanted to say, too, that there is a brave Cherokee man, Dusten Brown, in OK who is fighting the tremendous industry of baby trafficking. Please support if you can. I’m in Buffalo, NY, and I’d love to connect with people here fighting that same system.

  3. This is nice to see in a paper. This article shows that more are coming around. The awakening has started. Let’s keep it up.

  4. I like the entire article and as a Nation of the Mohawks we should stand up as [ ONE PEOPLE ] and tell both governments of Canada and New York State we will not be [ BULLIED NO MORE ] by these two different governments.
    We are One Nation of many Native American Nations and we are fed up with all of the broken treaties and the promises that were made to us over the last century and then some.

Comments are closed.