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Six Nations: Youth experiences OPP "justice"

Kahentinetha Horn
MNN Mohawk Nation News

MNN. April 27, 2006. Kahehti:io, which means "he makes a beautiful garden", sure had a lot of OPP manure to deal with lately. In February 2006 Kahehti:io went to Hamilton with his cousin, Kanehrati:io. The Six Nations were protesting the "Red Hill" highway development on their land. Artifacts, pottery, longhouse posts and other evidence of our villages at the site had been found. With the help of colonial lawyer, Paul Williams, the people set out to get fair compensation for the disturbance of our ancestors. What they got through this lawyer was 16 cords of wood. That's so they could say they never sold the land. Of course, the lawyer got all his fees.

Then Kahehti:io found out that there was another protest going on at Six Nations over the Henco Industries housing project. The people had peacefully blocked off the road into the site because the land belongs to the Six Nation. When he arrived, everybody was discussing what their true duties were to protect the land. As they talked about it, they gained a better understanding of the situation. It became obvious what they should do, which is to listen to People.

The elders and youth agreed. Kahehti:io stayed for 3 days and then left to get supplies and documentation on the Two Row Wampum and Rotino'shon:ni traditions.

Kahehti:io returned and helped out any way he could. Then at 4:30 am, Thursday, April 20th, he was at the front gate with two others watching out and tending the sacred fire. The OPP rolled up in white paddy wagons and bout 30 jumped out, some with guns in hand. They rushed him. There wasn't much he could do. He was the first guy and they grabbed him. His tactic was non-violent resistance against overwhelming odds. He was thrown into the paddy wagon with three non-native supporters and driven away. He wanted to make a point that he did not resist and he did not comply. He had a gut feeling to follow his instincts. He's very young and has a tall lean muscular build, with a braid.

The first thing he thought of was that he was not going to attorn to colonial jurisdiction.

He was taken to the police garage. Everything was taken from him except his medicine bag. Later it wasn't easy to get it off him. He held on so tight that it took Monte and an assistant to take it. Then later his second medicine bag was taken from his pocket. Monte knew what it meant. But he seemed so bewitched by the colonizers that he was not willing to respect our tradition.

Initially the white cops did not touch the other medicine bag in his pocket. They got scared of it. Perhaps can we hope they had some respect? Kahehti:io spoke Mohawk throughout his ordeal to remind his attackers that he was being culturally violated.

Kahehti:io refused to give his fingerprints and to be photographed. They continually asked him what his English name was. At one point he was accused of being that notorious 6 ft. 4 warrior, Sean Brant, of Tyendinaga, who's about 35 or 40 years old. What a compliment! Then they hauled him off to the next jail. They kept him overnight in a cell and pumped cold air into it. They took his shoes and would not give them back, they said, until he gave them a colonial name. He was wearing his "talking shoes" where the sole is coming away from the body of the shoe.

He was cold. They wouldn't give him his sweater unless he gave his colonial name. He was being referred to as "John Doe". He always said, "I am Kahehti:io, Bear Clan".

After he was being transported to the Cayuga County Courthouse, Kahehti:io once again wouldn't move. They had to keep carrying him around, which angered them. They threatened to taser him as if that would make it easier for him to stand up and face being pounded into the square colonial hole. The police refused to give their badge numbers. The angry cops grabbed the back of his collar and tightened it. He could not breathe or speak. Five OPP stood around watching as he pointed at his neck with both fingers. He was being asphyxiated. Then he passed out. Then he reports he saw bright lights and felt himself tumbling from the sky. He was having a near death experience. He hit the ground and sprung suddenly to his feet. He asked if they had given him something. They all laughed.

He refused to walk into the court house because he did not want to recognize their jurisdiction. He refused to comply with the foreign law. The judge said, "We'll recognize your name if you'll cooperate". What an enticement! What the judge meant was, "We'll start recognizing your humanity if you do what we tell you and you act like a slave instead of a man". Kahehti:io wanted to consult with someone from his culture who knew the Kaianereh'ko:wa/Great Law well. He continued to refuse in Mohawk to stand before the judge. They hauled him away.

In jail they tricked him and took a blood sample without asking him. They asked him to stand up against the wall. He would not. They tricked him and pointed a camera at him and took his picture.

They had previously taken his fingerprints by taking off with a cup from which he drank water. They ran it and found nothing. This young man is not a criminal so there's no record of him.

He was placed in segregation called the "hole", which actually had a window. He looked out at the side of a building and a piece of the sky. A few clouds passed by and waved at him.

They kept trying to scare him by telling him, "No one knows you're in here. No one cares about you at the site". The cops have been targeting our youth because they want to intimidate and break them. "You're just going to disappear into the system", they told him.

Said Kahehti:io, "Why did I do this? To prove a precedent that Canada has no jurisdiction over me or us". This is the mark that he is not colonized. "I'm a free man", he said. Keep in mind all Kahehti:io was doing was standing on our land when he got attacked with no warning by a mob of armed thugs who had been armed by Canada and Ontario.

Kahehti:io went on a hunger strike until he was released. Then he demanded to make a collect call to the Queen. They said he could not make an overseas call. Then he asked to speak to the Governor General. They gave him a number which he remembered. We won't want to publish it because we don't want to give trouble to innocent people. It turned out to be a tour agency. The cops later said that they had offered him the opportunity to speak to the Governor General Governor and he refused.

In court, he was sitting in the prisoner's dock. He didn't rise for the Justice of the Peace's entrance into court. He did give him the peace sign and smiled. His advisor suggested that he make a statement. He got up on the bench and stared down at the judge, who got very uncomfortable. He spoke briefly in Mohawk, "The colonial name was forced on me. I have been Kahehti:io all my life and am a member of the Bear Clan. Canada has no jurisdiction over me or my people according to the Two Row Wampum which is also known as the Silver Covenant Chain. I never complied with your foreign laws.they had to drag me all over". That's when the judge cut him off.

One of the conditions was that he could not return to the Douglas Creek Estates. Given the JP operates in a court room which has to deal with many immigrants who speak foreign languages, it's really surprising he didn't think of bringing in an interpreter. No language rights for Indigenous people in Canada, we see. Kahehti:io ended his court appearance with a loud war whoop, which made some jump out of their skins. As he left he shook the hands of the three cops who showed him respect.

What does this tell us about his experience?

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