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"Gunboat diplomacy" at Six Nations

Tragic mismanagement of both indigenous and Canadian rights

Kahentinetha Horn
MNN Mohawk Nation News

MNN. April 28, 2006. Friday, 10:30 pm. Shotgun diplomacy is much more harmful than people realize. Instead of providing leadership to the Canadian people that it represents, and reassuring the Indigenous people of Six Nations, Canada sent in armed forces. Barricades and yellow tape are blocking peoples' way for 50 square miles. There are three helicopters flying overhead, extra heavily armed police all over the place and a raucous crowd of 300 Caledonians are trying to rush the Six Nations barricades. Everybody's nerves are on edge. People feel like they're caught in the middle of a "war" zone.

The issue is a longstanding Indigenous land theft by Canada that has to be rectified. We are not letting it go on any longer. We want Canada to obey its laws and keep its promises. Bringing in armed forces has ignited violence by the non-native citizens of nearby Caledonia. They feel trapped, confined and need to blame someone. The police and military are happy to have this action. It is less boring than standing around. They have a chance to use their armaments and other fancy toys.

This misbehavior of the citizens of Caledonia keeps the spotlight off the cops who carried out an unprovoked pre-dawn attack on the Six Nations people on April 20th. It makes it seem like their gonzo style is justified. Actually it's victimizing the people of Caledonia.

Is this how to do things? We don't think so. If the Kaianereh'ko:wa/Great Law, our constitution, was used to solve the issue, fruitful discussions could be well underway by now. The people of Caledonia need to take part in a 'small condolence' ceremony. This is when people clean their eyes with a piece of soft leather so they can see the issue clearly; then they take an eagle feather and gently touch around their ears so that they will listen and hear the voices of the other people; and then they drink a glass of clear water so that their words will be as clear as the water and there are no sharp edges. This ceremony helps calm people and keep their emotions under control so they can rationally discuss the issues at hand.

Some of the people of Caledonia are out of control. The rest seem to be condoning or even encouraging the rioting and threats that are being made against us. At a time like this they might cool down if no one confronted them. Everyone would be wise to avoid going to Caledonia and doing business there for any reason. They need to be left alone to return to their senses. It may seem like a small thing to drop by there for a cup of coffee, especially when you're thirsty and it is convenient. But these people have gotten out of control!

It's like putting a kid who is having a tantrum into a room by himself so they can think. Caledonians need to pull back their rowdies who are making it dangerous to go there. They have temporarily forgotten how to interact calmly with people. Maybe if they think about it, they can understand how our people have been racially boycotted. They can see how we have been and continue to be attacked by the colonial government and kept under economic subjugation.

Successful neighborly relations depend on exchange and reciprocity as equals. When one of the parties becomes disturbed, as the residents of Caledonia show us they have become, it's obvious they need to be avoided. They need space to think about the consequences of their actions. The people of Chateauguay have never really recovered from their misbehavior during the Mohawk Oka Crisis of 1990. They were so uncivilized that the people of Kahnawake stopped doing business with them. A lot of businesses were ruined. The Mohawk population was almost half the population of Chateauguay. The Six Nations population is more than double that of Caledonia.

It's understandable their nerves are on edge because neither Canada nor Ontario has offered them any reassurances about the Indigenous land on which they live. The colonial misappropriation of Six Nations land, funds and resources must be reversed through legal, thoughtful and fair negotiations with the People, not the Indian Act administration that Canada violently forced upon our people. Obviously they haven't done anything to solve the situation in over 150 years.

In the process of developing a consensual approach to managing inter-communituy relations, the Caledonian people should be included because their interests are involved. According to the colonial custom that Canada continues to rely upon, the people of Caledonia will not have any say in the types of solutions that will be devised. Whoever controls the Canadian and Ontario governments will dictate the solution and impose their will by force. The current deployment of the police and army make this all too clear. State use of force should be limited to making sure that everyone is treated equally and no one violates anyone else. This escalating violence might never have happened if the Ontario Provincial Police hadn't been there. They made the first violent move by attacking the Six Nations people. They are instigating violence rather than preventing it.

What we are seeing here is a demonstration of great differences in approach - the Indigenous way of solving problems consensually versus the colonial forced solutions without the people having a role. The people of Caledonia have been suckered into behaving like hooligans. They are seen as being at the bottom of the hierarchical colonial system that Canada and Ontario enforce. This is feeding their frustration and leads them into misbehavior.

Everyone who is affected must be involved. A solution requires their fully informed consent. We want everybody to obey the laws, including Canada and Ontario. No one can leave the table and get on with business as usual until a proper agreement is reached. All promises and agreements that have been made with us must be fulfilled. Business and community relations will have a sound equitable foundation. We are tired of living under the burden of all of the unfulfilled promises that have been made by Canada, Ontario and Britain so they can live on our land and take all our resources.

Previously Caledonia citizens were decent neighbors. We hope this relationship will be resumed in the future. In the meantime, they need rest to calm their spirits.

In nature, when a bully is removed from the aquarium, life instantly improves for the rest. Creating conditions of violence, suppressing the voice of the people, negotiating with the gun pointed at us and keeping the people of Caledonia victimized is meant to maintain the dominance of a few diseased minds. They pretend that social order depends on them. What would happen if all the armed forces left? Canada would have to sit down and talk to us about their illegal actions and how they can be rectified. Caledonians would stop being angry and society will flourish.

The use of force by the state is inflaming this situation. Everyone has a concern that is not being validated. We hope nothing happens. We are all worried. We need our brothers, sisters, friends and allies to stand with us and to set an example of self-restraint in the face of armed forces and the angry people of Caledonia who hover around us night and day.

Six Nations:; Hazel Hill % RR #6, Hagersville, Ontario Canada N0A 1H0; (leave message) 519-445-0719; Katenies, 613-575-1550; Thahoketoteh 519-925-9695

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