I was taught that the meaning of the word “Onkwehon:we” is literally “the shell that holds the spirit.” Our ancestors were wise and knew that a good spirit could be found in a body that had no lineage outside of the Rotinonhsón:ni confederacy. This is why we always had the adoption process through ceremony and in accordance with the Great Law of Peace/Kaianerekó:wa. Even before European contact; as we know the Confederacy has adopted the Tuscarora Nation.
When we allow other peoples to live amongst us, we name them and are responsible for guiding them. The difference with the adoption process is that we allow the adoptee a voice in our decisions. All adoptions are chosen carefully. And could take many years of observation. If it is seen that the person or nation requesting to be adopted has a good mind, respect for our ways, our people and is willing to abide by the Great Law of Peace/Kaianerekó:wa, they would be adopted under the title of “hung about the neck”/rotisennahkéhte which means that their adoption is conditional to their good behaviour and could be annulled. There are also honorary adoptions that could be offered to an individual or nation that accomplished an action of great magnitude. Such as a person saving one of our own’s life, or accomplishing a great deed for the welfare of our people. The adoptee would have our protection so long as they abide by the Great Law of Peace. (The forced adoptions of captives during times of war were an entirely different process and tactic that served a different purpose).
The Great Law of Peace protects the identity of our children and future generations. As a matrilineal society, the men follow/live with the women. The women carry and pass down our identity and inherent rights through their clan. And are the managers of our family and land.
In our ways no one is above anyone else. This is what our identity is (humanity). I keep hearing “what distinguishes us as a people is our language”. Our ways are more than just a culture. Knowing our language does not automatically provide a person with knowledge of the Great Law of Peace, which provides us our identity.
Our people are more than a culture because our ancestors had preserved our identity through our treaties that protects our Nationhood status. Anyone can learn and practice a culture that doesn’t automatically give them the rights that the treaty people uphold and are entitled to. Citizenship entails responsibility to each other. The Great Law of Peace is based on the natural laws of creation. Religion is what the foreign governments derived from. Religious perspectives refer to our way of life as just a philosophy and that it is up for interpretation. In reality, the law of creation is our guideline to function within the natural order of creation. Anything foreign to this has proven to be detrimental. i.e. man-made democracy that supports the destruction of our society and the environment.
If an individual is proven not to abide by the Great Law of Peace, they would be given up to three warnings. If no improvement was made then they would be denied residency. And, if an individual is identified for committing treason (which the band council’s very existence commits daily), or a crime such as murder or rape (which the church has committed for centuries), or theft (which both the church and band council has committed of our lands), depending on the severity, they would be clubbed to death. If they survived the clubbing then they would be marked for life by either a severed nose or ear and casted out of the territory.
Today, in our own territories, through man-made democracy, people are subject to the band council’s mechanisms that make it illegal to protect ourselves from preventing their exploitation of our rights. Accepting this way of existence, our people remain blinded and continue to support that system which is responsible for the destruction of what our ancestors fought and died for, our human and environmental rights.
The Indian Act band council system causes our people to fight within, denies and oppresses our identity failing to recognize our dignity and rights; thereby transforming our people into objects not worthy of its respect. The tools of lateral violence are financial dependence, the elimination of our identity of nationhood, the breaking down of family and the undermining of the true leadership (Longhouse people).
Do you believe in the “old band council mentality” of blood quantum? Or our traditional (Kaninen’kehá:ka)/“Mohawk” ways? (It was noted in the records of a Jesuit priest that when non-Indigenous men would marry Indigenous women they would embrace the culture and would make it more difficult for the foreign government to assimilate our people. In other words, our people were assimilating the non-Indigenous. Subsequently, the monarch was losing their subjects to our society. This is when the foreign government established rules that if an Indigenous woman married out she had to leave which consequently, broke down the matrilineal lineage. This was never our way. This was later perpetuated by the Indian act and is what the band council is still trying to enforce upon our own beliefs that blood quantum is how we identify ourselves when in fact it’s by our clans). The imposed colonial system a.k.a. band council was never sovereign and does not work independent from the Canadian Government… never has!
In the Spirit of the Kaianere’kó:wa/Great Law of Peace,
Kahawinóntie Wakhskaré:wake, born of the clan family Tehana’karí:ne