There are several groups that claim full ownership over land rights and traditional titles of the Haudenosaunee. We spoke with Loran Thompson, Paul Delaronde and Jagwadeth Sandy to hear another teaching about the confederation of the Haudenosaunee people, the Great Law, and the people’s responsibilities within it. Here is Part Two of that ongoing series.
TRT: What is one of the biggest threats facing the Confederacy?
Thomspon: Today we have a thing that is troubling us in all of our areas as Iroquois. And its called corporation.
One family brought it in at Akwesasne and a small group of people tried to get rid of it because they understood what it was actually bringing.
We have to first understand ‘what the heck is corporation?’ and what does it stand for? What kind of laws do they have to follow? They don’t follow our laws. They have to, under law, follow the white man’s law. So that corporate structure is not an Indian.
So as not being an Indian they can not own any land as an Indian. They become taxable. That’s the danger of corporate structure trying to come inside the circle.
We have to be very careful in that area. It’s very difficult to try to relate to it because there are people in every one of our areas today that are trying to pull that structure ito the circle and pull in with it the responsibility – a good Canadian’s responsibility – to follow the white mans law and pay their taxes. Their taxes – not ours. That’s the danger of corporation.
TRT: Can you explain a bit about the need for unity inside the Confederacy and what that means?
Thompson: Inside our circle we have our ceremony and we have our law. And those few people that are left that still respect the clan system understand the clan system know that their voice comes form that clan system
Another issue that breaks us up is when the longhouse was formed all of those different indians that were within that house were convinced to take a hold of the law – Kaienerekowa – and live that law and in doing so they gave up their interests to say “Im a Mohawk”, “I’m an Oneida” “I’m a this and I’m a that” and “this land is my authority” – they gave that up to become a part of the whole. Which gave the birth to the Iroquois Confederacy. That’s how that comes to light. They made all the land – one. All one. That’s why it was so wrong when our people, when I say our people in that context, we are all one regardless of what area you come from. If you are fighting for an issue that involves all of our interests you are not separate and everyone should understand that and come to your backing and support you.
But what has happened is there is a mix up inside the circle.
A lot of our people have accepted BIA or DIA and have accepted quasi-soverign status and have joined those entities and are trying to say they’re still a part of the Iroquois Confederacy. They can’t.
But what has happened in recent is our people have gone to fight for some issues on some land, Iroquoian land, and then one of these people that are in compromise will come and they will fight, “You have no authority, that’s our land.”
Say for instance it was a Mohawk and an Oneida. Mohawk fighting for land — an Oneida representative comes across and says, “You have no right to that land — that’s Oneida land.” That’s not right. Because our ancestors said, if you’re going to be inside of the circle, our ancestors said its one land. It’s Kanotionionwe land – We are all in one house. That’s how they bring it into your mind. We are all one people in one house, one people in one land. So whats happening is there is a confusion that is going on. And those people in political positions of responsibility in Kanotionionwe issues don’t know enough today. And that’s not putting them down! That’s just the reality. It’s not their fault that they don’t know! We have been five, six, seven hundred years under oppression. There has been a plan in place to dumify you. To get you to forget everything you are.
TRT: What can we do to carry on our responsibilities as Haudenosaunee of the Confederacy?
Thompson: What we remember today is very important to keep alive and to bring back to life and to put it back in gear, to bring it back into reality because that is our survival. That is the foundation we stand on as a people that are still sovereign in our own land. It’s a position that no other people in any land can take except us in this land.
There is no other land that we can go home to and say – “this land it ours”. The Europeans of any country that are visiting in any of our lands can go home at any time and say “this is my home land”. We can’t do that. Because this land we stand on is our home. And we all, each and every one of us have a responsibility that is beyond the dollar. That is beyond whatever has been taught to us by the oppressor. We have to go back and dig up who and what we are and stand on that.
Watch for part three of this series in next week’s TRT.