Mar 9/98: Torching of my Nation - Onondaga


Mohawk News Service
Monday March 9, 1998

MNN forwards this letter which is written with heartfelt respect by Paula Hemlock of the Snipe Clan of the Onondaga Nation and speaks for itself.

Letters to the Editor
Eastern Door
Kahnawake Nation

Dear Editor:

Words, thoughts and concerns I express are my own. My oratory ramblings are armament nor apologia for no one individual, faction, cult, anti-or-pro gaming group, band council, or longhouse (padlocked or not). My heart and colonized mind struggles to comprehend the madness surrounding the "Torching of My Nation".

The smoke rising from the smoldering embers and charred remains representing the end of "illegal business" in the good minds and hearts of those carrying out the mandates of the Great Binding Peace lays like a cloud of lazy innocence over the hills of the Onondaga Nation. The charred embers are residuals of a courageous victory, a triumphant conquest, the strengthening of the Longhouse supremacy, and coercive subjugation at it's very finest, skillfully planned and executived by Chiefs, Clan Mothers, and People of the Onondaga Nation.

The Onondaga's stand tall as the victory is completed without the aid of "outside" forces. As fate would have it, there are always exceptions to the rules. Exception to the preeminence was the presence of Nation spokesman and lawyer, Joseph Heath, Esquire. Heath, who is sworn to an oath of allegiance to uphold and protect the laws of the US government as licensed by the NYS Bar Association, is also commissioned by the State of NY, Town of Onondaga as evidenced by his notary public seal. Acceptance of his presence and legal instruments abrogates all Indian Treaties and firmly establishes plenary powers and right of indenture upon our People. Oren Lyons' endorsement of this type of diplomacy gave me an idea. I turned to Lyons for answers via his book, "Exiled In The Land Of The Free".

My qualms regarding diplomacy versus violence and vigilantism Lyons writes, "the central story recounts his (The Peacemaker) relentless efforts to persuade men who had been dedicated to a life of revenge and blood feuds to abandon that path and to bring peace to the land. The Maker of Life could not have intended that humans would kill one another and that violence, especially organized violence, must be contradictory to the purposes of life. The true purpose of human political organization must be to oppose violence. The Peacemaker proposed that a council be formed to provide a forum in which violence would henceforth be replaced with thinking, and disputes would be settled with words."

My qualms regarding democracy versus totalitarianism arise from the Council's decision to abolish controlled, licensed, free enterprise by embracing socialistic economic principles by enacting sole authoritarian entrepreneurship Lyons writes, "Among the Haudenosaunee participatory democracy meant that on some level every individual had a right to voice an opinion and to agree or disagree on actions to be taken. Because the Confederacy was organized to meet external threats and not an organ of internal control, it had no organs of repression. In fact, the Confederacy Council had no coercive power whatever over its people. This meant that communities were free to disagree with the decisions of the Confederacy Council, especially on trade issues."

My qualms regarding loyalty and commitment to the Confederacy versus allegiance to "outside" forces were heightened when a condoled Chief of the Onondagas quelled fears. He recited the list of support which did not include our brothers or sisters of the Mohawks, Senecas, Cayugas, Oneidas nor Tuscaroroas, rather assurances that sheriffs and troopers are on standby from Nedrow to Albany. Disturbing patterns evolve when events of the past are reviewed. The Council proudly proclaims "it was the decision of the Onondaga People" whenever violence is involved. Unfortunately, negotiations with state and federal officials behind closed doors regarding the People's sovereignty, jurisdiction, taxation, rights of indenture, and plenary powers apparently are not worthy of the respect and integrity of the People and our collective and inherent rights.

Families of the businesses must also step back and examine their behavior and actions. Taking a stand for accountability, honesty, fairness, and sovereignty does not exempt or excuse anyone from following the code of moral conduct, The Great Law of Peace. Protests and cries against injustices and oppression must be executed and negotiated with the same amount of respect and humility that is solicited. It does not take a hero to die. It takes a hero to live in peace.

As mother and grandmother, I refuse to have my name included as an accessory or proponent of the Torching of My Nation. I refuse to stand in defense of the actions taken by leaders and role models of my Nation. I refuse to stand in defense of the continued arguing and ugliness and continuance of divisive factors played out by each and everyone of us in this Nation whether we are active participants or silent observers. I refuse to let my children believe that diplomacy replaced with violence, pillaging and burning, regardless of all the rights or wrongs committed by either side, is acceptable behavior. I refuse to admit that the Confederacy is dead, for when a Nation cannot secure a peaceful resolution with the consensus of the People, the discord will be placed in the hands of the Confederacy Council for unbiased resolve. I refuse to believe that my vision for our children, the future of Onondaga, the coming together of the Confederacy, the Seven Generations, upon whose faces we tread - went up in smoke - the day my Nation was torched.

I remain committed to my belief that apathy, hopelessness, conflict of interest, nepotism, and corruption will not survive the honesty and integrity of proud and righteous Onondagas. I remain dedicated to compassion and thoughtfulness so we may become the owners of humanity, humility, peace, faith, hope. My vision is for autonomous sovereignty procured upon the backs of all Onondagas as one, tenaciously entwined in unity, harmony, humbleness, honesty, integrity, virtue, respect and unruffled peace in a circle escorted by our moral code of conduct, The Great Binding Peace, and guided by an honest, entrusted, and fair governance committed to ensuring and protecting Nation freedoms, Confederacy freedoms, individual freedoms, peace and harmony conceived from the "will of the People" through our Clans, without outside intervention and heterodoxy, in order that we Onondagas may be a healthy, proud, prosperous, productive, flourishing, and peaceful society, presently, and for generations to come.

Written with heartfelt respect,

Paula Hemlock
Snipe Clan
Onondaga Nation

Back to SIS