“Sometimes the law is an ass”

With Respect to All my Relations

Let’s be clear here, the Kahnawà:ke residency Law that states anyone who marries a non-Mohawk or non-“Indian” automatically has to leave: “you marry out stay out”; this is not a Mohawk law but colonial assimilation rhetoric implementing the Indian Act’s policy.

I want to address this issue because it concerns all Kanien’kehá:ka citizens as it affects our nation and is not an issue solely for those embedded within the colonial created borders of a ‘reserve’ system. It affects our land base and the people of our nation and distracts from the real enemy, the settler state of Canada & the United States.

It must be addressed by our nation due to its continuous malicious character that has been so hurtful, destructive and self-defeating. It is the opposite of nation building and our customary laws. It is perpetuating a discriminatory colonial attitude that has for far too long alienated many good people from their immediate and extended families.

There is an excellent letter to the Editor in the Eastern Door, dated August 8, 2014 by Cheryl Diabo explaining how unjust this law is. Ms. Diabo goes on to suggest that non-“natives” should sign an oath like paper before living in the community in order to ensure that what little land we have left, remains within our nation. This is a wise and practical way to resolve this issue and reflects a more traditional custom than that which presently exists on most “lands reserved for Indians.”

Kaianera’kó:wa (the Great Law of Peace) is about peace, love and respect. It is about living in a peaceful way with yourself, your family, the community and all our relations. It is not about racial purity but a way of life based upon a clan system. There are even options if one does not have a clan to be adopted by one of our 3 clans however, one must follow the process & protocol of adoption. That person must swear an allegiance to Kaianer’kó:wa and give back to the community. Adoption of a person from another nation is a very old custom amongst the people of the Iroquois Confederacy. Unlike the Indian Act which declares status through the paternal line and whereby a person just needs a number to get services without ever having to give back to the community.

I pray for Krissy Goodleaf and her family to remain in the community that has been her home for what I assume is most if not all her life. The Indian Act has done enough harm in stealing our children away, disrupting our family units, then rejecting the women who marry a non-‘native’ who then experience racism and discrimination on the outside, and even from her own community.

It is shameful to see the degree of assimilation that exists amongst our people. Instead of what our ancestors taught us which is to cherish all life, and that our actions today will impact the faces not yet born, I wonder what they would say if they could see us now.

The “divide and conquer” formula, which allows Canadian colonialism to succeed, has us all fighting for the tiny postage stamp pieces of land we’ve all been sequestered in. Instead we should learn our history and work on regaining back our lands from the thieves who stole it in the first place: Canada, Britain, the US, et al. who practiced genocide against us and who continue to use coercive violent means to carry on the business of dispossessing us of our lands and resources.

Our health and well-being sacrificed for the colonizers’ and settlers’ needs to a point where each generation of Onkwehón:we has never known real Peace. Instead we must take up the centuries old struggle against Canada’s debauched theft of Indigenous peoples (Indian Residential School & murdered and Missing Onkwehón:we women) and our lands.

A Mohawk building on her own land should not be what we are fighting. And perhaps this Kahnawà:ke community law needs to be re-visited.

And one more clarification: Onkwehón:we means “human being” referring to Indigenous peoples. It DOES NOT mean “Status Indian”. Mohawk or Kanien’kehá:ka custom dictates that the women have title to our lands and not the Government of Canada nor its band councils.

Skén:nen Akwé:kon Tetawén:nera – Peace to All My Relations.

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21 Comments

  1. one question all this talk about we are all human…then why did our ancestors make the tekani teiohate agreement??? an the ancestors should have explained the tree of peace in order to offer the two row??? so why was the two row offered and agreed on if we are all human???? hmmm…

  2. by all means as i understand my way of life for i am kayogohonq haudeneshonni… if he is a” non native” there fore the clan families has not accepted him so now he is not to be living on our land that is what most of my teacher have passed on to me.. people get this confused forgetting about our way… if you marry a native you become one??? not true.. there is protocal which is not a over night thing to follow so if people say he is non native then by our law should not be living there that is what i understand our law to say… but if he becomes onkwehonwe thru our fire then he is not non native no more an can dwell within the circle of the locked arms of the chiefs…enit???

  3. so how many did it the right way?? how many did see if one was able to be accepted by the clans not band councils .. then marry???..hence one would not have too leave right///???… but if one marry without doing the protocal then marry out stay out for divide and conquere has been done for not following protocal one could say..?? of coarse if one married a non native woman according to the law the children has no clan so whom has done the divide and conquere now??? there are alot of non natives living off the peoples money while owehonkwe suffers with no food bad water poor shelter ect ect.. when the nonnatives have so much more off the land that is left. .. do we have any land left… if it is a “`mixed marriage“` then something is not according to our way enit???… even the “`rez lands“` was put aside for whom…onkwehonwe..hmmm no racist was concerned then right….but now the others want what lands we have left…well idk…skeauno

  4. so how many did it the right way?? how many did see if one was able to be accepted by the clans .. then marry..hence one would not have too leave… but if one marry without doing the protocal then marry out stay out for divide and conquere has been done..?? of coarse if one married a non native woman according to the law the children has no clan so whom has done the divide and conquere now??? there are alot of non natives living off the peoples money while owehonkwe suffers with no food bad water poor shelter ect ect.. when the nonnatives have so much more off the land that is left. .. do we have any land left… if it is a “`mixed marriage“` then something is not according to our way enit???… even the “`rez lands“` was put aside for whom…onkwehonwe..hmmm no racist was concerned then right….but now the others want what lands we have left…well idk…skeauno

  5. Ga-ahowene Kawalowene …. so how many did it the right way?? how many did see if one was able to be accepted by the clans .. then marry..hence one would not have too leave… but if one marry without doing the protocal then marry out stay out ?? of coarse if one married a non native woman before adoption according to the law the children has no clan so whom has done the divide and conquere now??? there are alot of non natives living off the peoples money while owehonkwe suffers with no food bad water poor shelter.. when the nonnatives have so much more off the land that is left.. if it is a “`mixed marriage“` then something is not according to our way enit???
    .

  6. I’ve wanted to write and express my complete dismay for the total lack of regard of the Kaianera’ko:wa and it’s provisions. This is NOT our way. What is to become of us if we insist on one hand of using the Indian Act to hurt our own while on the other hand insisting it is a racist document and should be repealed? You have said it better than I could ever say and for that I thank you. Does not the Great Law of Peace clearly tell us that ALL who follow the white roots of the Tree and agree to abide by the Great Law are welcome? Yes, it does. Did it mention that only those of the red skin were eligible? No, it did not! The Christians’ Bible has been rewritten time and time again against the explicit instructions contained in Revelations. Are we to follow in their footsteps and attempt to rewrite the Kaiaera’ko:wa? That absolutely blasphemes the intent of Shonkwaya’ti:shon’s instruction to us. To do this makes us just like those whom we profess have already done great harm to us. Unacceptable.
    Nia:wen

    1. true all are welcomed to take shelter under the tree of peace.but the does not make them haudeneshonni if they do..ex.. the hopi are still hopi even tho they accept the skeauno an take shelter under the tree of skeauno..but now let us not confuse whom we are as a people by miss using that tree of peace..for now the clan system is for our families whom are within the circle of chiefs with locked arms….. those that take shelter are not of the clan families they accepted skeauno and now take shelter but has no bearing on the clan families given to us but are familie of mother earth at this point when under the tree with us… unless from taking shelter to stepping inside the circled chiefs raised arms to the clan families if allowed by the clan families…other than that they can just take shelter under the tree for whom they are.ex.. hopi,, navajo,, brit african ect ect heck people living in urope can take shelter under the tree of skeauno for the tree of peace is the first multiculture system here on turtle island…there is a lot more but good enough for now onen…

  7. The greatest failure of Canada is not to have seen through to
    implementation the White Paper of 1969, which would have abolished the
    Indian Act and the entire reserve system across the land. Instead, we
    are all condemned to have to keep hearing all about this nonsense all
    the time, about the special status of a select population that is set
    apart from everyone else, and whose internal structures throw up (sorry
    if that is too indelicate a term) an entire political class known as
    “first nations leaders,” whose business it is to instill a hatred of
    Canada among all people who claim, however spuriously, descent from
    aboriginal ancestors.

    1. You had some valid points until the word “hatred” came into your comment. You invalidated your entire comment with the inclusion of that word.

  8. Meh, it sounds all great, but when it comes down to it, its the finer details of whatever reality this issue foretells.. re: said persons should not hold any titles for land or benefits, nor should he or she speculate any business as a majority owner. And please lets not give any more status cards out to them either. I feel for this lady, but did she not know how things work? Did he not know? and what has he contributed thus far?

  9. Perhaps the non-native partner can help in repatriating lost/stolen land! Government would never know whats happening until these lands on outskirts of the reserve are so populated by mixed marriages, it totally defys their government strategy of closing in more of these postage size lands but also offers a win/win solution to all sides, except government! Just a thought shared for your consideration!

  10. Hoka!! Tab-we!! Before the nations gathered in Montreal in 1701. Our people gathered in a sacred manner & made treaty with each other. Most of our people don’t know of this part of history, our history!! We had promised to feed each other in times of need. A-nish-na-be ntow!! Ntum ‘o’ Giizis is my spirit name Waa-wa -leshi ndodom!! I am of the deer clan!! I offer you my prayers, blessings, songs & ceremonies to help remember who we are as a people. We are a spiritual people above all else. We are guided by the women nation & their invaluable advice. See who is standing on the frontlines of our continued battle of our ancestors today!! Lets come together people & let us sing our songs together & laugh. Our ancestors saw the value of relationships of true relationships & how that will make the nation stronger, not weaker.. The people of the longhouse are the true example of relationship & its advabtages & how to maintain a special relationship with your allies!! Hoka!! Zaa-gin na, I love you is the true way of our ancestors!!!

  11. If all humans stopped putting material possessions first, then trying to fit that into the definition of racism, we might have a better world and or country. Racism should be defined first, then ownership should fall into place to fit that definition.

  12. Sometimes the greed and control factor of people (Onkwehon:we) …want, want and after they are full…want more, so others have less. I would be ashamed if I were a member of one of the clans in Kahnawa:ke Residency Law, council members. That is like people outside saying ” You marry in, You stay in ” Don’t come out or off the Reservation for any reason. You leave, you don’t go back in. Thank you for your input and observation. Member of the Bay of Quinte Mohawks, Turtle Clan. :)

  13. BEING HUMAN BEING DOESNT MEAN THAT US AS NATIVE DONT FEEL HUMAN COMPASION,NATIVE TERRITORY WERE DEVISED TO PLACE NATIVEZ IN A SECURE HOME PLACE SETTING 4 NATIVEZ ONLY,2 CARRY ON THE BLOOD AND THE ORIGINAL INSTRUCTIONZ , SINCE CHILDHOOD JUST LIKE RESPECT 4 OUR ELDERZ WE ARE TAUGHT THAT ONCE YOU MARRY OUT THATZ WHAT IT MEANZ ,WE ALREADY KNOW THIS AS CHILDREN GROWING UP,THE CHURCH AND THIER CRISTIANZ WAYZ AND BELIEFZ ARE NOT OURZ LOOK AT WHAT THE CHURCH HAS DONE 2 US AS A NATIVE PEOPLE ,I SAY BRING BACK THE OLD WAYZ AND RELIVE A GOOD HEALTHIER WAY OF SURVIAL 4 THE SEVENTH GENERATIONZ 2 COME,ISNT THAT HOW WERE SUPPOSE TO LOOK AT IT.

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