Interview with Woody Becker



This interview was done in early November. On Nov 26 Woody Becker was detained after a court appearance. He is scheduled to be released on Jan 6, 1997.
[See related article]


Topic: The Makominising Anishinawbeg
Date: November 6, 1996
Place: Peterborough, Ontario
Interviewee: Woody Becker
Interviewer: Tariq Hassan-Gordon, Anti-Colonial Action Alliance

THG = Tariq Hassan-Gordon
WB = Woody Becker
MKA = Makominising Anishinawbeg
TAA = Teme Augama Anishnabai
MNR = Ministry of Natural Resources

Tariq Hassan-Gordon: My name is Tariq Hassan-Gordon. I'm interviewing Woody Becker from the Makominising Anishinawbeg and he is going to be speaking on the current situation up there [the logging & mining on unceded Native land in Temagami] and some of the history. First question: can you describe the way the Makominising Anishinawbeg people have been dispossessed of their political jurisdiction by the federal government?

Woody Becker: The main point, the federal government has taken away from the traditional families of the area and all across Canada, is that they have replace our title with what they call the Indian Act. It is white man's gove rnment on the Native people. It controls, and takes and manipulates the people into...Rights and obligations are taken away from them... Dispossesses the traditional families of their rightful governments and rightful inheritance to the lands. That's the main theory behind the federal government's participation in the replacement of our rightful governance.

THG: O.K. um, what have been some of the main court cases that the MKA has been involved in?

WB: The MKA has been involved in lands title division where we were granted intervenor status to court cases, in the ongoing land claims struggle, land cautions, and that's the same scenario where TAA got their creation, in the lands title divisions in 1977, where they were only intervenors, also. Now they've gone corporate monsters and tries to say they are governing our territories. And we also have been involved in blockades, charges that are in the provincial courts and every court you can think of. And we have openly defeated those charges because colour of right and other issues that they don't want to bring to the court room. And that's some of the main court cases. But we also have criminal charge of break and enter and theft that I will be sentenced on November 28th, because I have been [unclear]found guilty for criminal intent for stealing back our own books that Teme-Augama First Nation [might have meant to say the Makominising Anishinawbeg] has never been repaid by the Teme-Augama Anishnabai for those books costing $38,000. And that's why we intervened in 1993, to intervene in the court case of the land caution with those informations to protect our homelands cause our documentation was kept out, secretly in Toronto away from us, so we wouldn't know our own history so we broke into the Teme- Augama Anishnabai offices, confiscated them with the native court order. We openly fax the police with the native court order telling them that we were going over there to retrieve those documentations. There was no poli ce that came to their aid. They came and arrested us about three or four days after the fact. So them are some of the charges. And now I am, at Owain Lake also charged with public mischief and intimidation again, the police desecrating our sacred fire ceremony that's all on going November 26, 1996. [will be in court on November 26]

THG: Do you want to mention a little bit about the situation with the most recent desecration, when you were arrested?

WB: We had the same scenario... what year was that, not to long ago...when was that..., about two years ago, where we blockaded a highway, highway 805, in the same ritual the sacred fire. They dismissed the charges or stayed the charges because they didn't have enough evidence to proceed on those charges. It showed on their own video that they pulled off to the side of the road and we never blockaded nobody and that the same thing in Owain Lake. If you want to go that route, that's another way we have them. They all pulled off to the s ide of the road we never had a chance to blockaded any cars or trucks or keep anyone away from their jobs, that's one way you could read it. The other way is that the charter of rights and freedoms cover religion. And they desecrated our ceremony and that the main tactic that we used in court to defeat these charges whenever it comes to court. And that's the main leverage that we have in court, is our native rights and we have them and we are going to use them to show that their criminal justice system is wrong again, to desecrate native rights and ceremonies.

THG: The media has portrayed the MKA as a splinter group. Can you explain the traditional political structure and how it is different from the Teme-Augama band council?

WB: Number one, the Teme-Augama is only an negotiating unit. Number two the Teme- Augama Indian band or First Nation is only a federally initiated Indian act band and their jurisdiction is only one square mile. They have never ever had any jurisdiction out on the traditional homelands and the fact about us being known as splinter and breakaway and what not... Title to the MKA families has never been, should be theirs, because it was them groups who broke away to the Indian act and corporate interests, white governance. And families have always had a sacred fire concept of traditional government where everything is achieved by family heads principle men of the fire and everything was done on decision making by consensus. And everything was always brought to light by the families to the family heads they agreed before anything could take place on the lands. So it is a stronger and more respected tradition then these Indian act governments and corporate interests regime of governance.

THG: What is the current position of the MKA with the Ministry of Natural Resources approved logging and mining and what would the MKA like to see happen with the area?

WB: Number one, there should be no development on this lands, logging, mining or economically viable for anyone until there is a deal for number one factor, those Indians without a deal for 157 years or 170 years. And these other interest groups coming, it is harder to achieve their goal of agreement or treaty or whatever is to be made. That is the main agenda of us -- we don't endorse the comprehensive planning councils mandate, we don't agree with the MNR's mandate they want to put us under MNR rule that's one thing that would never happen with the MKA. One day we may work with them but not under them, just like we will never work under any Indian act government or any TAA government. We will not work under them, we will work with them in areas of concern.

THG: Is there anything else you would like to add?

WB: All this political division on the Teme-Augama natives is a not...what do you call it, is not...we always blame non-natives or the white man, it is not their fault, it's not. There is a lot our own people has to deal with. Expose. Because it is us that can't get along with ourselves, greed, jealousies, materialistic world and defeatist attitude of these governments that we have on bear Island. We have to let go of all things we call revenge and go for justice for all Teme- Augama natives and unity as one solid people again for Teme-Augama natives before we can strive for a just deal for Teme-Augama native. And that's unity the number one factor, should be top priority first. We have to control ourselves internally before we can go externally but we have to s till maintain a presence on those traditional territories that are off of Bear Island and protect those lands any which way we can, expect for violence. And that's a term the MKA does not endorses or want to even be affiliated with. Miigwech.

If you are reading this before January 6, 1997, you can contact Woody Becker at:

Woodrow Becker
North Bay Jail
2550 Trout Lake Rd.
North Bay, Ontario
P1B 7S7 Canada
For more information contact:
Anti-Colonial Action Alliance
#25, 197 Hunter St. W
Peterborough Ontario
K9H 2L1 Canada

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