Nov 8/98: Six Nations going ahead with illegal elections


Mohawk Nations News (MNN)
Sunday, November 8, 1998

MNN. Kahnawake Mohawk Territory. 8 Nov. 98. Are we at the beginning of a new era? We have a chance now that the Iroquois have been waiting over 70 year for. But is the former Indian Act band council going to miss this chance? Six Nations is going ahead with elections on November 14th under the so-called "custom election" code which is illegal. It was challenged by Brian Maracle and his sister Marilyn because they had not been consulted. The band council withdrew the case on the steps of the Federal Court of Canada. After that the band council asked to be put back under the illegal Indian Act election section 74. These moves by the band council do not have community support. Indian Affairs Canada have the issue "under review". Or has Indian Affairsmay have made an opening for the Confederacy Council to step back in? Since the Confederacy Council never stopped operating perhaps the federal government is ready tor recognize that this is the legal governemnt of Six Mations.

Firstly, what kind of council will the Six Nations have if it is elected under an illegal code? The council would be illegal. Any business they conduct will be questionable. Councilors could be personally liable. Canadian and international law and the Six Nations people cannot recognize such a council. The one thing that Canadian elections have in common with the Iroquois Confederacy is that you need the support of the majority of the people. In the meantime, Indian Affairs has the right to appoint an administrator to run the territory.

Wellington Staats as band councilor probably would not want to go down in history as the person who refused to let Indian Affairs allow Six Nations to withdraw from an illegally imposed election system that was put in by police force in 1924. At this time Canada and the former band councilors should recognize the power of the Confederacy to represent the people. Surely Canada does not want to repeat the mistakes of the past by trying to retake governance by asking for another Order in Council and then imposing a foreign code on the people again. Canadian and international law does not allow such an imposition in this day and age.

So Indian Affairs is stalling because they're cornered. They can't move unless they get the informed consent of the majority of the electors, not only of those who show up to vote.

Therefore, the time has come for the Confederacy to step back in. Why should Brian and Marilyn Maracle be taking out an injunction to stop the election on November 14th alone? The more support they get the easier it will be for Indian Affairs to do the right thing. The Six Nations people need to get their voice back. Instead of whispering behind the band council's back, the people can do what's right to defend the Iroquois' rightful place in history, The Iroquois taught Europeans about confederations and about people exercising their power. The Confederacy has been patient, which is the way it was done in the old days. They talked a lot, reached a consensus and came to sensible decisions.

Wellington Staats and the others on the former band council had the right idea to go back to custom. It backfired because they forgot what the real custom was. But they should not try to go backwards by bringing back the Indian Act council. They should have the courage to move forward. Maybe they just did not know enough history. Now is the time for them to be the heroes who bring the Iroquois Nation back to their rightful place. They should speak to the Confederacy Council to see how they can step aside and hand over the reigns of power to them.

If the band council knew their history, they would be proud of the Iroquois form of government and democractic governance by the people. This is not a question of band council versus Confederacy Council. The Confederacy involves everybody to form consensus. All have a duty to support and take part in deciding what is best for the people. Everyone must discuss intelligently how they can reconfirm the strength of the Six Nations traditions. The Confederacy kept its council fire going all these years to see the people safely through many transitions. Many of these ways were copied by the settlers although they did not understand it completely. Remember, a copy is never as good as the original.

An honourable way would be for the band council and Confederacy Council to have a public ceremony where the colonial government would resign and the true traditional government would be reaffirmed. The Queen should be invited because she represents the other party to the ancient agreements and because they are allies of the Six Nations; and the Prime Minister because he represents the people of Canada who have developed a relationship with the Six Nations. Indian Affairs could come as ambassadors from Canada rather than as superintendents or agents.


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