She:kon. I am writing at this time to respond to published and broadcast media reports concerning law enforcement actions of December 18 resulting in the arrest of three Akwesasne residents. These arrests were related to the Class II gaming operation at the Three Feathers Casino from 2011 to 2012 on Akwesasne territory.
The clan representative Men's Council of the Kanienkehaka Kaianerehkowa Kanonhsesne (People of the Way of the Longhouse) undertook a comprehensive domestic agenda over the past several years to empower Onkwehonweh (original people), including those that reside on Akwesasne lands. All through this empowerment process, they felt that their actions may be seen as a threat to the status quo, at all levels of interacting government, but that did not deter them.
One factor that characterizes these efforts is the energizing effect that it has on those who hear of these Longhouse initiated projects. Sovereign action is as much about heart as it is personal mindset. Where once many Kanienkehaka (People of the Land of the Flint) dominated significant areas of Turtle Island, now comparatively few extend their degrees of freedom beyond personal need. “Use it or lose it” may be a good analogy here.
To run down the entire list of objections that I have heard from people concerning Longhouse projects would exceed this publication's scope. Here is a quick list. The Men's Council stole "someone's land." Longhouse people are deadbeats who do not pay their utility bills. No one but the elected governments may conduct wagering of any kind. Only the state can issue license plates. Only the federal government can regulate controlled substances. On and on, the comments reflect a common theme. One old saying would characterize the objections as “misery loves company.”
I will briefly answer these items. “Our” land belongs to the unborn; it is only used by the living. Anyone claiming to own land, especially in Akwesasne, or in Kanienkeh the historical "Mohawk" homeland, is a hopeful fool. The widespread unpaid electrical bills across Akwesasne reflect a general understanding that electricity generated within Kanienkeh (via hydro-electric projects) is a community resource that today only endows corporate interests, and not the people who should most benefit from living next to the source of the electricity. Onkwehonweh gaming begins symbolically with the peach stone game and may become higher stakes endeavors with a regulating framework to allow the wagering public, recourse upon dispute. Neither federal nor regional (state or provincial) governments allow any Onkwehonweh the right to conduct gaming; these governments recognize that inherent right, which is tied to land use. If the Longhouse chooses to issue license plates via a "Mohawk" Department of Motor Vehicles, such is their choice, with an accessible system of organization outside agencies may interface with for verification purposes. That is not asking for permission, it is doing something for the benefit of a subscribing people who still possess land title. Non-Onkwehonweh governments develop controlled substance lists, whether it is tobacco or hemp, to dictate to their own citizens. Separating Onkwehonweh from accessing plant life for the sake and feasibility of a taxing scheme is futilely done for purposes of control. Historically, such control for any reason has never lasted very long.
The Men's Council and the People of the Way of the Longhouse became targets of many governmental agencies because they stand for something. They never signed on to any minimizing land claim lawsuits. They never kneeled before colonizing governments who sought to consolidate illicit gains through partnership with local accomplices. Original People with a clearly understood calling to unborn land title are plainly a threat to the status quo.
Foremost in their resistance to foreign ways is the adherence to the Two Row Wampum (Kaswentha). By telling elected governments they need to stay in their ships while Onkwehonweh will stay in their canoes, the inherent nature of the Kaswentha is renewed. The Two Row Wampum is a living, breathing agreement between two distinct groups living on Turtle Island. At times, the Men's Council and the Longhouse, under the Kaianerehkowa, have had to remind elected governments of this agreement commitment. Some have chosen to ignore those reminders and persecute the messengers. That is where we are today.
Charles Kader (Turtle Clan) was born in Erie, Pennsylvania to a World War Two veteran. He attended Clarion University of Pennsylvania, earning degrees in Communication and Library Science, as well as Mercyhurst College where he earned a graduate degree in the Administration of Justice. He has worked across Indian country, from the Blackfeet Community College in Browning, Montana (where he married his wife) to the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, and now resides in Kanienkeh.