* Kahnawakeronon fought very hard protecting the land and future of Kahnawake Survival School.Joe Norton, Kahnawake head MCK Band Councillor, signed a permit last April leasing 24 acres of waterfront to multinational food giant, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), to build a 4-silo, 100 foot high, grain-storage facility. This proposed facility was to be built 300 feet from the Kahnawake Survival School, at the north-eastern edge of the community. It is strongly felt that such an agreement would have begun the corporate occupation of Kahnawake Mohawk Territory.
* Imminent shortage of Kahnawake land.
* ADM: a very rich, big company with a bad reputation.
* No community consultation, secrecy of project details, little trust in MCK.
* Poor environmental report.
* No guarantee of construction, custodial, secretarial or managerial jobs.
* The relationship between Earth's economic globalization, multinational corporations, Royal Commission on Aboriginal People and self Government.
This view is supported by ADM's questionable business and environmental record, the people who are on ADM's Board of Directors, and the documented effects of multinational corporations in other countries.
Since the Self-Government agreement was signed, forcing Native communities to become more like municipalities, the Band Council has been committed to finding ways for Kahnawake to become 'economically self-sufficient'. Unfortunately, the self-Government deal stresses that self-sufficiency be found rather quickly, putting the Band Council in a position to find quick and easy economic solutions. The ADM project was one such solution, and our fight to stop the project has brought many people 'to one mind', and uncovered some very interesting facts indeed.
Late this past September, the students, staff, and parents of the Kahnawake Survival School marched from the school to the band Council Office and presented Norton with a petition against the project. When this petition was ignored, they began to research the project, visited gain storage facilities in Sorel and Trois Rivieres in Quebec, and launched a community awareness project, citing that ADM would pollute the school with grain dust and pesticides, invite hordes of rats and seagulls, and put them in danger of possible explosion and heavy truck traffic. An aggressive media and Internet campaign, a second march to the ADM site, and the occupation of the site's entrance, resulted late last week in the temporary suspension of the project and the removal of the ADM trailers and staff from the site last Monday.
The MCK officially told Kahnawakeronon last week that the ADM project is on hold. Before it resurfaces, there are matters which we should all be aware of.
FIRST, the Band Council did not adequately consult the community of the details of the ADM project. Communal consent, called a 'plebiscite', was also not obtained. Perhaps this secrecy is due, in part, to an alleged section in the Indian Act which states that Band Councils do not need permission of the people to develop lands that are zoned as 'commercial lands'. Since the land behind the school is commercial land, the Band Council did not need our consent to bring ADM here.
MCK Consultant, Pat Apikan, described and answered questions about the project on behalf of the Council. Pat Apikan is neither from nor grew up in Kahnawake. Though he is married to a Kahnawakeronon, he has no children here. Why does the MCK seem to rely more on the advice of someone who possibly has no vested interest in the community, rather than listening to the advice of the people, especially the women who are the title-holders of the land?
Finally, in the Eastern Door, Pat Apikan is quoted, "We had heard of the opposition to the project but we never received any petition or documentation of that opposition". What, exactly, is the 'proper' way that we are supposed to voice our opposition?
SECOND, having read the environmental assessment, the Kahnawake Environment Office gave its unqualified support to the ADM project. Despite this, there was a lot of environmental opposition to this project. Having head this opposition, the Band Council, if they are as community spirited as they claim, could have at the very least drawn up similar environmental regulations as those of the provincial and federal governments. Who would have enforced these regulations under the present policing agreement is another matter.
An environmental engineer who taught at Boston University reviewed the ADM environmental impact study. Mainly, he found that:
1) the environmental study deals only with the first phase of the project, and not the second or third phases that have been proposed in the long term;Inspec-Sol, the company that did the environmental assessment, was hired by ADM and is therefore biased. Unfortunately, this is the usual practice and means of doing an environmental assessment, which means that we should always be critical of these reports and get an impartial, qualified, second opinion.
2) the section on pesticides is "grossly inefficient", given the possibility of long-term effects on the contamination of ground-water, wells, and Seaway fish and aquaculture;
3) the section on dust particles is not specific enough; and
4) the impact of increased truck traffic and noise to the school has not been considered at all because the land is considered commercial.
THIRD, the Band Council is constantly stating that this project will bring about 8 to 12 permanent jobs to the community, as well as many temporary jobs during the silos' construction. So far, there has been no guarantee for these jobs. In light of the firing of a security guard for allowing a Kahnawakeronon into the site who got hold of the permit, the firing of a secretary who asked too many questions, and the present secretarial employment of a non-Indian woman, raises questions as to who will be given these jobs.
Interestingly, ADM employees stated that the Kahnawakeronon sub contractor who prepared the site hired non-Native workers and received approximately $100,000 from the Department of Indian Affairs.
Finally, it should be stated that if a large company like general Foods needs to pick up grain or grain products from the ADM facility, they will likely contract a hugh specialized trucking company like Kenworth or Kingsway. it is unlikely that a Kahnawake trucking business will be contracted as they would find it hard to get the amount of money needed to be part of this competitive business.
FOURTH, in a KRK 103.7 radio interview, when asked about the integrity of ADM, Head Band Councillor Joe Norton said that ADM in the United States is not the same company as ADM in Canada, and that these companies, in fact, compete with each other. So, what is the integrity of ADM in the U.S.?
ADM can afford to pay out this kind of money because it is one of the world's four largest food cartels. Also, the U.S. government subsidizes everything from corn to ethanol. One ethanol subsidy alone gives ADM #2.1 billion.
Being a food cartel means that ADM is a multinational corporation. A series of agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), spearheaded by Brian Mulroney, and its related agreement, the Multi-lateral Agreement on Investment (MIA), have allowed multinational corporations to set up shop in most countries without having to pay tariffs or follow environmental or labour laws. These multinational corporations are not answerable to any governments, only to themselves. Public pressure aimed at their shareholders is the general way in which these multinational corporations are kept in line.
Agreements like NAFTA and MAI have made it easier for these multinational corporations to directly come into Native communities across the Americas.
We should be worried about ADM trying to set up here because of their public record. Though ADM has many TV commercials in the United States showing their humanitarian efforts to give food to famine victims in developing countries, they are putting small farmers in Canada and the United States out of business. Singers Willie Nelson, Neil Young and others have put on FARM-AID concerts against ADM.
Do we really want such a large, powerful and corrupt corporation in our community?
The question remains, is long-term pollution, eventual expansion, no guarantee of jobs in construction, custodial, secretarial, or managerial positions, health risks to our children, and the gradual disappearance of Kahnawake's lands, worth $220,000 a year?
The MCK's secrecy about their past, present and future operations have touched a deep nerve in Kahnawake. Many Kahnawakeronon are becoming alarmed with the continuous presence of the shady groups and secret deals in the community. Bringing in ADM is not the first of these episodes.
In 1994 the MCK tried to bring in a shifty casino group from the United States until a referendum stopped the project. Last fall, in 1996, the MCK brought in another casino run by people with links to organized crime. After pressure from the People, surrounding governments, and media, this Casino closed down. Finally, background checks in the united States of Aviation Resources Incorporated and possible affiliated companies, in which the MCK will be investing $4 million in band funds, have come up with nothing. In other words, this company is not known by legitimate aviation companies in the field.
It seems to be contradictory to be both in charge of administering band funds as well as developing businesses. It is the STRUCTURE of the band council system, and the practice of secrecy and NON-ACCOUNTABILITY which makes it easy for people to accuse band councillors of corruption and abuses of power.
Perhaps it is time for all Kahnawakeronon to work together to put into force the 1979 Kahnawake Referendum to return to the Kaienerekowa, the traditional government of the Iroquois Confederacy.
RIGHTEOUSNESS: Let's concentrate on doing things in a morally correct way, working together until we find jobs for men, women and young people in Kahnawake, in the spirit of the Seven Generations.
POWER: Let's learn about the Globalization of the Earth, and our role in preserving her and our existence. We need to learn about these things, because, more than ever, if we are to survive and carry out our original instructions, we have to accept the fact that Knowledge is Power.
Also, since Indigenous people in the Americas have become sceptical of big businesses coming into their territories, large companies and government agencies like NGO's are hiring brown faces to bring their businesses into these unsuspecting communities.
For example, Apikan Indigenous Network (AIN) is a company that acts as a liaison between big business and Indigenous communities. Though AIN claims that their motives are well-meaning, it is the opinion that they are helping big businesses open up the lands and resources of Indigenous communities.
AIN allegedly receives money from the Inter-American Development Bank, which is a division of the World Bank. The World Bank lends money to underdeveloped countries. Then the International Monetary Fund (IMF) sets the terms of this loan and has a role in setting the value of the country's currency and interest rates. When a country cannot repay its loan, their resources are seized, and they are pressured to open their borders to multinational corporations.
AIN has admitted to facilitating many projects in Canada and Latin America. Two such projects are:
1) the Belize Highway Seven construction project through Mayan lands, funded by Kuwait, Taiwan, and the UK. When completed, this road will be a vital artery for the transportation of goods out of the area to foreign markets, and will allow the army to enter into once forbidden territory;Here, AIN proposed to Canadian-owned Rio Tinto Zinc, to develop "a good working relationship with indigenous groups", who are "costing the mining industry millions of dollars".
2) since the late 1980's Indigenous groups like the Ngobes have been protesting the Panamanian government who are giving up their lands to foreign interests. These protests have been met with jail land sometimes death at the hands of the police.
In Canada, when a forestry company owned by the Meadow Lake Tribal Council in Saskatchewan was stopped from clear cutting reserve lands by the traditional people, it is believed that AIN helped them move their operations to Nicaragua. This company is now clear cutting the land of the Miskito Indians.
So, here we have big businesses evading tariffs and environmental and labour laws, coming into Indigenous territories partly made possible through consultants like AIN.
For clarification, the president of AIN is Simon Brascoupe, who is the brother of Pat Apikan, formerly Pat Brascoupe, the MCK economic Development consultant. Though both brothers are in the same line of work, Pat Apikan apparently does not work, nor ever worked for AIN.
History, according to European society, is based on paper and documented proof. Anything that they do not want us to find out is simply not documented. Our history is oral, therefore, it is easy for them to dismiss it because there is no proof. Similarly, due to the secrecy surrounding the ADM and other projects, we only have pieces of information which we have to string together to make sense of what is going on. If we say one incorrect thing among many correct things, we are not considered credible. The system protects people who are int he wrong by limiting access to their documents.
An apology?! Wouldn't the TRUTH be better? If all we want is an apology, why don't we just forget about the Seigneury Land Claim and the 9 million acres in new York State that belongs to Mohawks? Why don't we just stop calling ourselves Kanienkehaka, and let ourselves become another Quebecois municipality? Because that's all an apology will get us.
When a Kahnawakeronon politely asked a question about the oppression people experience in Kahnawake, the chairman told him that he was "out of line" and that the Faculty Club is not the place for debate. The Kahnawakeronon then stated that being told to be quiet was usual, and that it happened all the time at home. After this censoring by the chairman, the five Kahnawakeronon in the audience stood up and left the room together.
After the meeting, Kahnawakeronon stayed and answered questions for over an hour. Many members of the audience expressed support, having read a brief outline of the ADM project and its controversies, then listening to the contradictory statements in Norton's speech. As there are no public forums where we can talk and listen to each other, this article has been put in your mail. If you have read this far you must be truly concerned about our future.
For your time and attention,