Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Mohawk Nation News: Before bridges and colonized Canada

Why are Canadian Border Guards Control Freaks – “You Indians are all guilty of something and we are going to find it”!!

by Ieriwa’on:ni MNN 15 July, 2008.

Habit governs a lot of people. It’s about doing things the way they are told to do it without asking “why?” As Scot Patterson, of the Canadian Border Services Agency says, “You are all unbelievable!”
When did the colonizers start harassing Onkwehonwe on Cornwall Island? They always have. There weren’t always colonizers around. Even the Supreme Court of Canada in 1996 admitted: “When Europeans arrived in North America, aboriginal peoples were already here, living in communities on the land, and participating in distinctive cultures, as they had done for centuries.”
There wasn’t even a “Canada”. There were no bridges.
When the British corporations arrived they formed an alliance with the Haudenosaunee called the Two Row Wampum. That meant no interfering with the Onkwehonwe rights.
The 1794 Jay Treaty between Britain and the United States said that “Indians” could cross the border that was set up for the settlers. Because of the Two Row Wampum they knew that the Onkwehonwe were not to be affected by this border.
So what made Canada think it could put a border post on Cornwall island in the middle of Akwesasne and start pestering Onkwehonwe? It’s a delusion. Back then we were probably laughing. What border? The invaders said, “We’re setting up a border and it’s only for us!” As John Boots and some other old timers remember it, a railway bridge was put in first. People started crossing it and went right on using it after the rail track was pulled up. Some folks figure the Canadian border control on Cornwall Island went in about 1934 when they built a bridge for cars. The Canadian National Archives in Ottawa should have the records.
1934, this was at the height of the “Depression” and the height of the “oppression”. A “person” was still defined as “an individual other than an Indian” in colonial Canada’s Indian Act. Canada’s Parliament took that definition out in 1954, but that didn’t change much. The Canadian government went right on illegally expropriating wherever it wanted.
In the 1950’s they kicked Onkwehonwe off our land in both Akwesasne and Kahnawake to build the St. Lawrence Seaway. The people fought tooth and nail against it. With the Seaway came a new bridge and new tolls. What’s the difference between a toll and a tax? Not much. They both make it hard to afford anything. What led up to the blockade of the Cornwall Bridge in 1968? An elder said: “We’re a pretty self-reliant people. We don’t like to complain. If we get into trouble we try to take care of it ourselves.” But when they started charging duty on groceries, it was just too much.
Things came to a head when Canadian officials tried to make Mike Mitchell’s mother, Esther, pay taxes on a sack of potatoes. Someone called a meeting. Nikawen:na’a recalls someone from Kahnawake asking, “How can you live on the Island where the road passes by and let them charge taxes on you people? It’s your land!” “That opened up our eyes”, she said. People went right out and blocked the bridge.
A group of 14 and 15 year old Kahnawake boys who couldn’t get a ride walked all the way to Akwesasne to help. Canada’s National Film Board made a movie about it. It’s called You Are on Indian Land.
Forty years later. Same bridge, same problem. John and Harriet, who live nearby, are always being called over to witness abuse. Aside from the June 14th assaults on Kahentinetha and Katenies there is a pile of almost 300 border abuse complaints.
So the 1968 blockade of the Cornwall border didn’t change much. A few years ago, it was finally decided that the people of Akwesasne didn’t have to pay the bridge toll. They also tried making an “Indian lane” where those with a special sticker could go ahead instead of waiting in line with the tourists. Trouble is you can’t use the lane if you have a friend or relative with you who is not from Akwesasne.
The restriction interferes with the family life and the right to free association. Onkwehonwe are still forced to declare everything in the car: “Where did you go? How much did you spend? What store did you visit? Show me your receipts. Where were you born?” We get asked that even the 300th time we go past the same blood sucking officer.
Some people get annoyed and refuse to pay the tax. Mike Mitchell tried that. Look what that got him? The Supreme Court of Canada wouldn’t even recognize his ancestral right to cross the river of the Ongwehonwe. On top of that, CBSA treats anything different with suspicion. Say you pull into the regular lane and you notice there’s a couple of tourists and a camper ahead of you. You’re late for a doctor’s appointment.
So you back out and go to a shorter lane: “Why did you back out of that lane? Open your trunk.”
“There’s nothing in it. I’m late for an appointment”
“Open your trunk”.
Since 9/11 things have gotten worse. The guards seem to target Onkwehonwe women and children especially. This makes their men mad. People at Akwesasne think the guards are trying to provoke a violent incident as part of their campaign to carry guns. Meanwhile the Americans are building a big new facility to block their side of Akwesasne. Their trying to “cage” us.
They are always in orange alert mode with their “9/11” delusions about terrorism. What gives the colonizers the right to draw and quarter the Kanion’ke:haka? We never agreed that the visitors could jump their colonial ship and start bullying us in our canoe.
Ieriwa’on:ni and MNN Staff
Mohawk Nation News
As can be seen, it’s becoming critical for legal actions to be taken soon to protect our rights. We have no funds. Canada is hiring costly law firms to defend their illegal actions and suppress our rights. If you can donate anything to our cause, it will be greatly appreciated.
Send it to: “MNN Mohawk Nation News”, Box 991, Kahnawake [Quebec, Canada] J0L 1B0. Nia:en/ Thank you very much.
Complicitors: Phil Fontaineof AFN is a partner in CBSA’s Sustainable Development Strategy; Chris Kealey, Canada Customs Excise, Immigration Taxation Board, CBSA Media Relations 613-991-5197; Alain Joliceour, President CBSA 613-952-3200, 613-957-0612; General inquiries CBSA-ASFC@canada.gc.ca; National Aboriginal Initiative, Canadian Human Rights Commission 204-983-2189, 1-866772-4880 info.com@chrc-ccdp.ca; Canada Customs Port of Entry, Cornwall Island Ontario; Gaetan Cousineau, Quebec Human Rights, presidence@cdpdj.gc.ca; Akwesasne Mohawk Police 613-575-2250 ex 2400; Mohawk Security Louis Mitchell 613-932-5183, 613-575-2340; Lance Markel, District Dir. CBSA 613-930-3234, 613-991-1214; http://www.,chrc-ccdp.ca/; Brent Lefebvre Investigator for CBSA; Susan St. Clair, Canadian Human Rights Commission, 344 Slater, Ottawa 613-995-1151, 1-888-214-1090, 613-943-5188; National spokesperson CBSA 613-957-6500; Quebec Media Relations CBSA 514-350-6130; Handling arrest Scott Patterson; Chief MCA Nona Benedict 613-575-2250 nbenedict@akwesasne.ca; Minister Stockwell Day, House of Commons, Ottawa K1A 0A6 613-995-1702 day.s@parl.gc.ca 250-770-4480, days1@parl.gc.ca; Dave MacKenzie, Parliamentary Secretary, Public Safety, 613-995-4432;Mackenzie.d@parl.gc.ca; Melissa Leclair Communications Pub. Safety 613-991-2863; OFFICERS: 17012; 16320; 16511; 16121; 16275; See MNN Category: “ Border/Jay Treaty “

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