To some it may seem that barricades, blockades and Indians covered in camouflage and bandanas gets us nowhere. Although, nothing gets the attention of Canada and its’ residents quicker than a good ole Mohawk barricade. If that is the intent, which it seems to be, then kudos to those who are willing to participate. However, the attention is not the only good that comes out these blockades.
The Six Nation’s Reclamation in 2006 is the first time in years, since Oka, Aboriginal people came together to successfully remove the OPP from the territory, literally, in a matter of hours. This unity created in the people a pride that renewed an interest to learn and participate in our original teachings.
The men in Tyendinaga recently brought a great deal of much needed attention to the murdered and missing Indigenous women and girl’s issue that otherwise would not have commanded so much of Canada’s attention. Yet during the blockade people were talking about the issues and became involved in a variety of ways.
This band of demonstrators didn’t have the support of all the people i.e. band council, as stated in a press release. Chief Maracle advises “The Tyendinaga Mohawk Council are not involved in any of the blockade…We support the need for a commission of inquiry into this issue but we do not support the blockade.” The lack of support from band council is not surprising, as a return to our original ways means no more band council in any sense of what it is now.
The people who support the blockades do so because it’s a call to action. Not war, but to action. Our people have felt helpless not just for years but for generations. Our grandparents dealt with this helplessness in different ways, some became band council members, and some entrenched themselves into Christianity or both. While others drank and did nothing, the next generation came along and felt lost and angry.
The blockades have evolved as our people learn so much more about our original teachings. As such the gathering of the people sparked the fire which lies inside each of us. The people worked together towards a common goal that was fueled by a desire to know more about themselves.
Awaiagon Agadaeoga, a young Seneca warrior, connected with other First Nations people during a blockade in Tyendinaga. He spent time helping out and meeting new people, one such person was Seth LeFort, a fluent Mohawk speaker, and he began teaching the young warrior, “it showed me who I really am, put meaning to my life. It started my walk on ceremony road. Without it [culture] I’d still be like a zombie wondering the world, trying to find where I belong. The biggest thing that opened my eyes is I met Seth and we talked about how my family has left everything and become assimilated. He told me how the people will start to find the white roots of peace and will follow the roots back to the Tree of Peace it really touched me, and has stayed with me for the 9 years I have walked the Red Road. Our ways have taught me not to be selfish to give myself to help the people.
To help people no matter the nation we come from. That we are all one people regardless of where we come from and the true power of the people is in working together for the betterment of all the people in making a safe place for all to live on the earth in harmony, and peace.”
Blockades may not be the answer, but they are a start for some. Can’t ask for more than that.