January 21, 1998
(Kahnawake & Oaxaca & Mexico City) - Grand Chief Joe Norton of the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake and representatives of the Indian Nations of Oaxaca, announce today that a formal inter-Indigenous Trade and Commerce Convention and related business agreements will not be signed today in Mexico City as originally planned.
Based on the work of Project Oaxaca - Kahnawake (Project O-K) over the past year, the Convention is to establish a formal joint Indigenous Trade and Commerce Commission to co-ordinate trade initiatives between Oaxaca - with 2.5 million Indian peoples and Kahnawake Mohawks, who would be coordinating trade by Canada's 1.3 million Aboriginal peoples with Oaxaca.
Chief Norton expressed appreciation for Canada's commitment, recently confirmed by Indian Affairs Minister Jane Stewart, to seek a supportive Memorandum of Understanding between Canada and Mexico to facilitate the Project OK initiative. "However," says Grand Chief Norton, "the latest tragedy in Chiapas, along with our own difficulties in Kahnawake and the aftermath of November's hurricane in Oaxaca have left too many issues up in the air".
Grand Chief Norton notes that the December massacre of 45 Indian men, women and children in Acteal in the state of Chiapas has led the Kahnawake and Oaxaca leaders to strengthen their commitment to the trade Convention and push hard for both Mexico and Canada to support the work of the Commission. "We require a clear and tangible commitment from Mexico and Canada to address the underlying cause of the massacre. Despite constitutional and other legal rights, Indian lands are being alienated, Indian governments are being usurped and terror is being given free silent sanction.
Arrangements for Canada and Mexico to participate in a signing ceremony of Oaxaca-Kahnawake business agreements were called off this morning after yesterday's news reports of a Mexican army patrol firing on unarmed women, children and men, an attack relayed on live television in Mexico. "It was a shock -- appalling," says Chief Norton. "It was the straw that broke any hope of our participation in the Team Canada mission. I don't want our people, the Oaxacan Indian Nations or Canadians and Mexicans generally to be misled. We are working toward a solid new beginning -- it's just that the timing wasn't to be. We will try again in February, when the crisis situations in Chiapas, in Oaxaca and here in Kahnawake are hopefully behind us."
Mr. Arnold Goodleaf
Mohawk Council of Kahnawake, Intergovernmental Relations
Tel.: (95-514) 638-7070
Fax.: (95-514) 632-7276
Point #1: - In a Oaxaca-Kahnawake Project Update: published January 16, 1998, it is stated that "the Mohawks of Kahnawake are not signing any agreements with the government of Mexico or Canada respecting the project." This seems to be in opposition to what the above communique states.
Point #2: Indigenous representatives of Oaxaca have never been identified to the people of Kahnawake and inquiries have never produced names.
Point #3: Only now, at this late date the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake is calling on Canada to publicly condemn the massacre of December 22nd. Yet on the other hand we are told the signing will be deferred to February and a delegate representing the Mohawks of Kahnawake has been travelling with the Trade Mission to Mexico from its onset. Where is the sincerity? There is a contact, if you have any questions contact Arnold Goodleaf or email email@example.com
Anyone who has had any questions answered, could you please forward them to us, firstname.lastname@example.org