Iroquois Chiefs conspired against Mohawk during 1990 crisis


MNN: Mohawk Nation News
Box 991, Kahnawake Mohawk Territory
Tel: 514-635-8696
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MNN. 15-Jun-97. The Mohawk Crisis of 1990, an armed standoff at Oka/Kanesatake Quebec between the Mohawk Nation and Canada-Quebec police and army, over a burial site and land, was a historic confrontation that lasted 78 days. The chain of events leading to the breakdown of negotiations between the Mohawk Nation and the Canadian government was precipitated by the collaboration of the Confederacy Chiefs and their co-conspirators from the Akwesasne Mohawk Nation (the Handsome Lake Longhouse), the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne (the band council) who all worked with both the United States and Canadian governments.

In a letter from Tom Porter, Jake Swamp and Richard Powliss of the Akwesasne Mohawk Nation to Grand Chief Michael Mitchell of the Indian Act Band Council/Canada, dated August 24th 1990, during the standoff at Oka Quebec which ended on September 26th 1990, stated that "The Mohawk Nation Council of Chiefs are in agreement with the request to the MCA (Mohawk Council of Akwesasne/Canada) to pay the lawyer's fee amounts to $35,000". The Canadian government through the band paid Phil Schneider's legal fees to defend Doug George who was charged with gunning down two Mohawks on May 1, 1990.

The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, in a subsequent letter from Chief Tim Thompson to Grand Chief Mike Mitchell & Council/Canada, dated August 31, 1990, stated that at a meeting between the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, Mohawk Nation Council and the Defense Fund Committee confirmed that the Canadian government through an agreement with its band council and Mohawk Nation Council spent $16,000 on the road blocks. They also called "upon the Onondaga Council, especially Oren Lyons, for assistance in fundraising for the Defense Fund". This reveals that the Canadian federal government paid for terrorist actions on New York State Route 37 which runs through Akwesasne Mohawk Territory and the Onondaga supported such illegal actions which deprived the people of their basic human rights.

Then on September 10th 1990, the Montreal Gazette, the Council of Chiefs' scheme to derail the negotiations and discredit the Mohawks and their allies was spelled out in an article, "Iroquois Confederacy repudiates peace plan":

"A Mohawk peace proposed made Saturday to end the 62-day armed standoff at Oka has been labelled a fake by chiefs of the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy. Six Nations Grand Chief Leon Shenandoah said in a telephone interview last night that the unsigned proposal was issued by the Oneidas, one of the six tribes in the Iroquois Confederacy, but was never endorsed by the Confederacy's grand council of 50 chiefs.

"Two promiment Oneidas, Terry Doxtator and Chief Bob Antone, have been acting as mediators between the Warriors and the army. The Chief (Leon Shenandoah) said he was asked by one of his representatives, Oren Lyons, to drive to Montreal today "to clear up what's going on up there". Under Saturday's peace proposal, the 20 Mohawk Warriors holding out in an armed encampment at Oka would have surrendered to the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy. The plan also called for exemption of Warriors from prosecution in Canadian courts. Instead, the Warriors would have been tried according to native law. Federal Indian Affairs Minister Tom Siddon believed the proposal had come from the Confederacy. Joe Deom, speaking for the authors of the peace plan, insisted last night it is legitimate. The proposal is not a fake because it came from Oneida chiefs and the Oneidas are part of the Confederacy."

"Deom, Kahnawake Grand Chief Norton, Doxtator and Antone are part of a contingent who have been trying to persuade authorities to end hostilities by accepting some of the Warriors' demands. In a telephone interview from his home near Syracuse, Confederacy delegate John Mohawk said Doxtator, Antone and Deom have no right to speak for the Confederacy. From his home in Brantford, chief Harvey Longboat said of Doxtator and Antone: "These are sub-chiefs from the Oneida nation who are acting on their own".

The Council of Chiefs main concern was not to peacefully resolve the issue, but to maintain their power in the behind the scenes dealing-making with the Canadian government.

In a written rebuttal dated September 10th 1990, signed by the Oneida Council of Chiefs: Foster Elijah, Larry Chrisjohn, Frederick Doxtator, Bob Brown, L. Elijah, John Elijah, the Chiefs responded to the "irresponsible and inflammatory remarks that certain leaders within the Grand Council had made: "the assistance being provided by the Oneida Nation to the Mohawk is a result of a formal request made in accordance with our traditions." It was made because the Grand Council of the Haudenosaunee had not met for nearly 14 months.

The Oneida authorized four people (were Terry Doxtator, Robert Antone, Bruce Elijah and Mike Myers), to act as their liaison to the Mohawk Nation. They were to recommend and provide the kind of support needed. On August 27th 1990 they increased their delegation to Foster Elijah, Linwood Elijah, Belanger Brown, Ted Doxtator and Howard Elijah. The Oneida involvement went on long before the Grand Council's "covert involvement". "The Grand Council's role must be questioned, particularly their meetings and initiatives with Federal and Provincial officials without the knowledge or consent of the Mohawk people.

"Within the Great Circle Wampum our nations and the title of our chiefs stand with equal authority with the other five nations. Within that Great Circle all of our people, who are Haudenosaunee, have the obligations and duties to support each other in times of crisis. "The actions of Faithkeeper Oren Lyons, Chief Harvey Longboat, Chief Leon Shenandoah, and John Mohawk have the potential of damaging a very delicate state of affairs that could lead to the loss of life. We can only conclude that peoples' lives are less important to them than the issue of who is using that name (Haudenosaunee).

The following year, in the August 9th 1991 issue of the "Indian Time" of Akwesasne, in an article, "Tribal Council Claims Proof of 'Collusion'", provided more information on the conspiracy.

"The St. Regis Tribal Council called a press conference Friday (August 9) to reveal a stack of documents it claims show collusion between the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus of the New York Assembly and the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, the government on the Canadian side of the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation.

"Because the documents also reportedly show the Mohawk Council paid thousands of dollars to support the anti-gambling roadblocks that closed the U.S. side of the reservation in the spring of 1990, a group of Mohawk businessmen is expected to announce a lawsuit against the council and its financial backers, the Canadian and Ontario governments.

"The documents surfaced in July, after opposition chiefs won election to the Mohawk Council/Canada. One of them, Lawrence Francis, rummaged through the Mohawk Council's records on file.

"The papers were delivered in the past three weeks to Franklin County District Attorney Richard H. Edwards and other officials in an attempt by the pro-Warrior Society faction of the reserve to shed light on the Canadian Mohawk Council's activities to influence the government on the U.S. side.

"According to official sources who have read the documents, they reveal that:

* The Mohawk Council paid for attorneys and lobbyists for the traditional Mohawk Nation Council for advice on how to testify at (N.Y.) State Assembly hearings last summer.

* The Mohawk Council sought advice from a staff member of the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus on how to stack the hearings held by the assembly last summer, whether perjury would be illegal at the hearing and how to dramatize the sufferings of the anti-gambling faction.

* In return, letters were sent from the Mohawk Council to the caucus, advising the legislators on action they should take on the troubles on the reservation.

* The Mohawk Council paid $60,000 in attorneys fees for the defense of Doug M. George, a Mohawk activist who was later acquitted in Quebec of second-degree murder in connection with one of the May 1, 1990, killings on the reservation.

"Two of the men who organized the Assembly hearings in Fort Covington and Albany last summer said Wednesday (August 7) that the documents could not show that the hearings were orchestrated between the caucus and the council because the Tribal Council itself was the largest influence on how the hearings turned out".
In a secret weekly report of the Department of Indian Affairs "The Mohawk File" dated May 14th 1991, headed by Jack Donegani, the "Iroquois Confederacy" had a meeting with band councils at Gibson on March 16 and 17, 1991. "Only Kanesatake was not present. Feeling is that Kanesatake Mohawk Coalition, who were at previous meeting feel insulted by presentation of Confederacy to Standing Committee when they said they became involved during the summer at request of the condoled Chief, Sampson Gabriel. Coalition maintain it was at their invitation". This revelation indicates that the Iroquois Confederacy Council of Chiefs were invited by the band council supporters which is an administrative arm of the Canadian government. The coordinator of the Mohawk File set up regular meetings between United States and Canadian federal officials, New York State, Ontario and Quebec provincial officials.

Further in the report, "Confederacy Counsel should be officially contacting DIAND (Department of Indian Affairs) within two weeks. Wish to discuss creative funding, and amending one article in the 'Immigration Act' to allow U.S. Indians the same access to Canada as Canadian Indians have to U.S. Further, want to discuss Jay Treaty rights - duty free personal goods (agree they should declare and be inspected) and regulated commercial goods. They state that this will help regulate cigarette trade. On border crossing issue, their point is that if this is controlled, smuggling will be diminished, and the sources of funds to the Warriors will be decreased.

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