The bid to build a state-of-the-art grain-handling and storage facility on the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory has been met with stiff opposition from many of the community residents. An agreement in principle has already been signed between Archer Daniels Midland and the Kahnawake Mohawk Band Council in April of 1997. The multinational corporation is set to build a 6.4 hectare silo facility along the St. Lawrence Seaway, 300 meters from the Kahnawake Survival School. Area residents are expressing concerns that the complex will damage to health and the local environment, including:
- verminResearch on such facilities has uncovered information that shows them to be unsafe and polluting, contrary to what the community has been told by the Band Council.
- heavy use of pesticides on site
- explosion from combustible grain dust and gases
The agreement in principle calls for:
- a 50 year lease on the site (16 acres)Native communities, because of our tax-free status, few environmental regulations, limited exposure to industry, and the need for economic development are now the focus of government-endorsed industry. Two recent examples are the Lubicon Lake Cree in Alberta against the Japanese pulp and paper giant Daishowa and the Meadow Lake Band in Saskatchewan against a band council owned logging company which wanted to clear-cut the reserve. After the traditional people blockaded Meadow Lake for two years, the company finally gave up but are now clear-cutting the land of the Mosquito people in Nicaragua.
- approximately 6 to 12 permanent and part-time jobs
As the above examples indicate, there are two ways in which multi-nationals can get into a community - like ADM, they can come directly into the community or they can create a company, such as APIKAN, that looks like it is Indian owned and operated but serves the interests of the multi-national corporation. Apikan facilitated this project and has been under scrutiny for their activities and their close link to the Inter American Development Bank, which is part of the colonial apparatus of the World Bank.
We have to educate everyone about the issues around the Multilateral Agreement on Investment - a fast-track initiative for replacing democratic government with a transnational framework of private corporate ownership and trade. The MAI's focus is the protection of foreign investment capital. Its master principle is the blanket right of transnational corporations to "national treatment" by host countries. Under the MAI, foreign corporations must never be "discriminated against" by any government on any level on any account, such as their contribution to the well-being of the home society. To accomplish this right to "national treatment," the unrestricted access of foreign corporations to the wealth of all countries is required. The MAI is but the latest in the development of a world system that has little or no respect for human dignity, human rights, or even human life. It is the forging of absolute corporate rule which has no place for individual, community or environmental concerns. All that is recognized is the supremacy of the rights of corporate investors to exploit the wealth of nations. (McMurty, 1997) As Onkwehonwe (Indigenous People), we have to understand both our Sovereignty as well as all other countries, including Canada and the United States. We have to be able to recognize in the future when a project like ADM comes into our communities. The business people have to be able to recognize the wolf in sheep's clothing. As part of our responsibility, we are making sure that other communities are aware of the dangers of multi-national corporations.
Right now, we are dealing with a multi-national corporation with a questionable record, ADM is paying a plea bargain of $100 million, that is, rather than being subjected to an in-depth investigation, they are paying a plea bargain. This makes one question how bad the environmental breaches are and the price fixing if they paid this much to not be investigated. The farmers in the United States are protesting the ADM for monopolizing the market and fixing prices. ADM does not sell directly to the consumers but to the secondary industries. Because ADM has to answer to its shareholders, big exposure events like FARM AID concerts by Willie Nelson and Neil Young are letting shareholders know about this opposition. Presently, there is a lot of controversy surrounding ADM because they are the corporation which receives the most "corporate welfare" from the United States Government. Specifically, they get the most subsidies and allowances, and at the same time are fixing prices.
This situation is serious, if you consider the fact that the 1990 Crisis came about because of a golf course, the fact that we are dealing with one of the most powerful multi-national corporations in the world requires that we as Onkwehonwe, pool our resources for this tremendous fight ahead of us. Unity and a cohesive plan of action is necessary if we are going to protect our land and our children's future against ADM and other multi-nationals.
We ask that you as Onkwehonwe actively become aware of these issues and support each other in this struggle. If you are opposed, write a letter of protest to the Kahnawake Band Council and Archer Daniels Midland Co.:
Kahnawake Band Council
P.O. Box 720, Kahnawake PQ J0L 1B0
Fax: (514) 638-5958
Archer Daniels Midland Co.
P.O. Box 1470, Decateur IL 62525
Fax: (217) 424-5381 or (217) 424-5447
Reference: McMurty, John. "The End of Democracy: The MAI Would Make Corporate Rule Absolute." CCPA Monitor, September 1997.