The Two Row Times spoke with a storeowner for a smoke shop on Six Nations who identifies as Mohawk and wished to remain anonymous. For the sake of this article we shall call him Jim to protect his identity. When asked what his thoughts were of Bill C-10, which would allow federal, provincial, municipal as well as First Nations police to issue warrants and make arrests in stopping “contraband” tobacco on the Six Nations territory, Jim stated that he believes no police agency has jurisdiction to do anything.
When asked what he is going to do if police come knocking on his door (or knock down his door) with a search warrant, he said he will just tell them to, ‘go away and come back when they can produce documents stating that they have jurisdiction over the Haldimand Proclamation.’ Jim stated that if any police agency tries to enforce this pending new law then they are failing to consult with the (Haudenosaunee) people. “A lot of people need to know what and who we are. We are a sovereign entity,” he added.
Jim believes that the only way people are going to fully understand what is going on here is if, “Our whole history is retold again.” Asked what his thoughts were of a suggestion made at last Saturday’s meeting that Band Council should tax local smoke shops, Jim stated that he and his allies do not recognize Band Council because, “Six Nations does not have a treaty with the Queen, the Mohawks do.”
Jim explained that he believes Mohawk people need to reassert their sovereignty by dealing with those who made the treaties with his people and that is the Queen. He said his allies have made contact on several occasions with the British Monarch who sent them a letter stating she had, “reaffirmed, understood and recognized the Mohawk Nation and the Haldimand Proclamation” and also stated in the letter dated from last January 2013, “ We’ll see what we can do.”
Jim stated that he can’t and does not speak for everyone involved in the tobacco trade on Six Nations but said the real issue here is not Bill C-10 but is a question of ‘Are we willing to accept provincial or federal law on the territory?’
“The federal government can’t make laws on our land,” he stated. Regarding Band Council, Jim stated that (since they are under federal authority), the Indian Act makes us vulnerable under provincial and federal law. He feels it is, ‘our right to do what we want to do in terms of trade and commerce and that is what rallying against Bill C-10 is really about.’
Regarding organized crime and how it has been linked to the Native tobacco trade, Jim stated that according to the RCMP, Mohawks have been blacklisted and linked to organized criminal activity in the so-called ‘illegal’ tobacco trade. According to RCMP reports, the places with the highest criminal activity of illegally selling, distributing and producing tobacco is the Cornwall valley which includes Akwesasne, Kahnawake and Kanesatake: all Kanyenkehaka nations. But according to Jim, the RCMP has no factual basis to prove this and suggested that it may become a potential lawsuit against the RCMP for defamation by spreading false information. Jim stated that all the hearsay ‘has got to stop.’
Bill C-10 doesn’t just involve those in the tobacco trade on Six Nations, ‘it involves everybody,’ said Jim. He concluded by stating that we need to, “assume our own authority because every one is just sitting down not doing anything and that is how they (the government) are able to get away with so much.”
But in keeping with not putting the horse before the cart, the proposed Bill C-10 has one more reading in Parliament next month and Jim encourages everyone to attend Parliament Hill in Ottawa on this day to enforce your right as members of a sovereign nation.