By Kahehti:io, aka Little Hiawatha, Rotiskaré:wake
My time at Kanohnstaton was spent on various tasks aside from merely placing my body on the land to ensure it’s protection. In my opinion my greatest contribution consisted of mentoring the broken, the fearful and the identity impoverished. I accepted this as my primary responsibility.
To understand how I got involved will serve to put into context my outlook on the whole ordeal we must revisit the beginning of the action at Kanohnstaton and my experience with Six Nations prior to it.
The action at the “site” as the land had come to be known, was initiated and carried out by the women, who intended to raise awareness to land grievances and treaty violations perpetuated by the dishonour of the Crown.
The plan included blocking the entrance to the so-called Douglas Creek Estates housing development for a few days while issuing press releases. This plan received the initial support of the acting Confederate Council of Chiefs at Six Nations.
It was at this critical time early on in the Kanonstaton time-line a brother and I stumbled upon the action.
We initially traveled to Six Nations from Kahnawake to answer a plea for help from a non-Onkwe’honwe land occupier I first met back in 2004 at the Red Hill Valley occupation when I was at Six Nations to take part in the drafting of the Indigenous Youth Declaration at the Elder’s Summit.
Fast forward to 2006 we responded to an e-mail sent by this man that alleged he was one of the few remaining obstacles that stood in the way of the development of a highway intended to clear cut through the Red Hill Valley. This would mean the subsequent destruction of an archeological site that provided tangible evidence of longhouse posts and pottery proving the oral history of our peoples historical occupancy of the area.
We arrived in Six Nations and stopped at a store to ask for directions. Unbeknownst to us, the protection efforts of the Red Hill Valley had concluded.
The acting Confederate Chiefs had accepted firewood as payment to allow the construction of the highway. The attendant at the store assumed we were down for the “protest” (as she referred to it) and directed us to the women’s action at the housing development.
We joined the women at the site and shortly thereafter assisted in fending off attempts to remove them orchestrated by the so-called “leadership” for whom we felt it necessary to remind and or inform them of their responsibility to listen and adhere to the will of the people and that they were merely spokespersons who relayed messages.
They backed off when they realized they could no longer control the minds of the Onkwe’honwe there.
The acting Confederate Chiefs later jumped on the bandwagon, hijacked the people’s movement and gained recognition by the federal government who proceeded to groom them first by taking them out to a baseball game and subsequent meetings held behind closed doors, rarely open to the land protectors who created the necessity for the dialog to occur in the first place.
The acting chiefs purported to represent our families masquerading as our “traditional government” when in reality it’s every family’s responsibility to participate in and formulate decisions based on sound reasoning and careful deliberation in accordance with Kaianere’kó:wa.
What the whole experience revealed to me is that we oppress ourselves first and foremost by neglecting our responsibilities, if we are to strengthen our families we must eventually address this inadequacy.
In retrospect I feel my greatest accomplishment was not that I got arrested (abducted by the Crown’s corporate law enforcers) and refused to acknowledge colonial jurisdiction by having them carry me, only speaking Onkwehonwe’néha to them or when I went on a hunger strike in jail followed by a short stay in prison. A judge declared me in contempt of court.
My greatest accomplishment was building real emotional connections with the driving force behind the movement; the self-motivated, the boots on the ground, our family’s actual strength.
To be able to mentor and assist the people through their interpersonal misunderstandings was at the heart of combating a high-school mentality that if gone unchecked could lead to larger issues such as the development of cliques resulting in divisions and therefore weakness.
To liberate our minds I would like to emphasize the importance of remaining as truthful as possible in the retelling of the events that transpired at the beginning of Kanonstaton.
It bothers me to pretend to have warm fuzzy feelings about what took place because truth be told I still haven’t fully recovered from the experience. And I am still so disgusted with the way things turned out that I continue to bury the hurt and disappointment.
It would seem that my mind has yet to depart from Kanohnstaton.
In the proceeding months after the raid and my return home I grew cold. I became disillusioned with the whole legal apparatus of Canada — from their mindless corporate law-enforcement arm likened to Roman soldiers, the lawyers who attempted to represent me and pull me under Crown jurisdiction, the arrogant judge who took offence to my non-acknowledgment of his presumed authority. Petty correctional officers stripped searched me and put me in solitary confinement for refusing to acknowledge their authority when they realized they had to carry or drag me to get me around their prison.
The Crown’s legal authority is all a farce. It’s all a show of force and nothing more than to impose control over a natural being both in mind and on body.
I began to take on a more aggressive outlook toward the cowards hiding behind badges for I had now seen through their “good guy” facade. I resolved that the next time my actions would not be as diplomatic.
I started frequenting Tyendinaga where I found Onkwe’honwe drawing a line in the stone. I felt at home amongst the hard liners who took their responsibilities seriously and were ready to go all in. I grew weary of speeches of “sovereignty” — hearing hollow words regurgitated over and over again by politicians with antlers of assumed authority that lead nowhere.
It was time to make a stand but time and time again the pigs had backed off, robbing me of the opportunity to unleash all the built up frustration I had accumulated. Damn cowards!
The strategy I devised to execute at that time was to stand between the two opposing forces, unarmed and acting as a barrier to preserve life but if need be offer my own by catching a bullet as a last act of defiance. My last example to ensure that the world knew there were still Onkwe’honwe willing to do what was necessary to ensure a brighter future. One that does not include a colonial agenda.
But I am still here, so in other words I did not get an easy out. I must go on carrying out my responsibilities as a teacher, a student, a brother, an uncle, a son, a protector, a doer.
How does one identify the genuine amongst us?
Well they do not pose for pictures while simultaneously carrying out their responsibilities on the front lines. That would be a tactical error and reveal their arrogance, a telltale sign of a colonized mind.
One could reason that by putting themselves out there to have their picture taken that they are showing their pride and are fearless. To this I answer it is unwise to follow the colonial white man’s narrative of the “proud indian”.
This was the colonizer’s interpretation of our ancestors whom maintained an incorruptible moral character due to our worldview. They could not be seduced into being dishonest, greedy, self-oriented, cowardice, apathetic, subordinate and therefore colonized beings.
To liberate ourselves we must first liberate our mind from the colonial worldview. This is an outlook that has us ‘believing’ instead of ‘proving’ something to be true. One that is fear and faith based, authoritative and depends upon your ignorance to continue.
Let us instead exercise our mind using reason to understand what is and what isn’t and how best to ensure the continuation of our families and of our mother for all time to come.
It has done a lot for my well being to finally articulate all of this and share it with you and to record it for the coming faces. Nia:wen Kowa.