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Blockade sparks memories of Detroit race riots

Richard Brennan - GTA Bureau Chief
Toronto Star
May 24, 2006. 01:00 AM

[SISIS note: The following mainstream news article is provided for reference only, as an example of how mainstream media treats indigenous resistance to genocide. Mainstream media often presents biased and distorted information, lacking pertinent facts and/or context. Inclusion of this article on our site should not be considered an endorsement by SISIS.]

CALEDONIA—Six Nations resident Sandra Muse hasn't been so scared since the 1967 race riots in Detroit.

"I grew up on the west side of the city and I was 10 when the riots happened in '67. I remember waking up at night and seeing my father watching TV with a shotgun across his lap," the editor of a weekly newspaper on the reserve, the Tekawennake, or roughly translated, Two Voices, told the Toronto Star yesterday.

The tensions over the Six Nations blockades here, which boiled over Monday in a pitched battle between Indians and local residents, have brought back bad memories of racism for the Cherokee native, whose family was originally from Georgia.

"I grew up in Detroit, but was married to a Six Nations band member," explained the 49-year-old Muse, who had 12 brothers and sisters.

When she got jostled in Monday's melee and had racial slurs tossed her way, Muse said it reminded her of a local race riot in 1974 when she was in her senior years at high school in Detroit.

"I lived in a black neighbourhood and was bused with the black kids into an all-white school. I remember being called a n----- lover, Pocahontas and squaw ... and when the race riot happened my sister had a chair broken over her head, and I was chased by white guys with bricks calling me a f------ Indian. I haven't felt that kind of racial tension until now."

Muse said she isn't painting everyone with the same brush, but concedes she feels uncomfortable and a tiny bit afraid when she goes into Caledonia.

"I have begun to be afraid to go into stores in Caledonia or even drive into Caledonia," she said. "Just last week I came over for physio and everything was fine. But then you get out of your car and you have people staring at you, there is this feeling of subtle racism," she said.

Muse said the tension had been building between the local and native communities for weeks and simply boiled over on Victoria Day.

"It is kind of weird as a native person to be yelled at and told to go back home. Where should I go?" she said.

Muse said she can't believe that things have gotten so bad between the two communities because, "I am friendly to everybody."Muse said she is proud to be the editor of the Tekawennake, saying it is the oldest native newspaper in Canada, having been around since 1963. She has a 16-year-old-son who goes to school in Hagersville and her 26-year-old daughter who is an Akwasasne Mohawk police constable.

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