Demands for Norton's "impeachment"
MNN Mohawk Nation News. 31-Oct-97. Joe Norton, band council chief, signed a permit leasing 24 acres of waterfront to food giant Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) to build a grain-storage facility right next to a school and to start the corporate occupation of Kahnawake Mohawk Territory. From the start the people overwhelmingly said "No" to Joe Norton. The staff, students and parents of the Kahnawake Survival School launched a community awareness project, convinced that ADM would pollute the school with dust, pesticides, invite hordes of rats and seagull, as well as put them in danger of explosions and dangerous heavy truck traffic. They marched from the school to the band council office and presented chief Norton and the band council with a petition against the project which they ignored. Then a community meeting was held where every person stood up and loudly said they absolutely did not want the ADM project in Kahnawake. Finally when revelations about ADM's questionable past, the biased controversial environmental report and Norton's connections with shadowy development advisors such as Apikan Consultants were coming out, the band council back down. On October 30th, in a band council press release the band council put the project "on hold" for now. In the meantime, they will continue to try persuade their "silent majority" to come forward and support them. One opposition group is still occupying the entrance to the ADM site until their trailers, equipment and staff are physically removed.
ADM WHEELING AND DEALING. ADM chose Kahnawake because there are no federal and provincial environmental, shipping and storage regulations on the territory. ADM recently plea bargained and paid a $100 million dollar fine in the United States for multiple counts of fraud and price fixing, which was brokered by none other than ADM Director Brian Mulroney, the same man who sent the Army into Kahnawake in 1990 to attack the Mohawks. ADM also gave over $1 million to both parties in the 1996 U.S. presidential campaign to keep their huge subsidies and tariff protections coming from the U.S. government putting small farmers out of business. The ADM environmental impact study reviewed by a a professional found the section on pesticides "grossly insufficient", that the report underestimates the impact of increased traffic, noise and dust on the students.
APIKAN. The biased environmental report. ADM's past and the band council's secrecy touched a deep nerve in Kahnawake, made worse by the involvement of Pat Apikan, a development consultant who acts as the liaison between ADM and the band council and Norton's "right hand man". Apikan has carried out work for the Inter-American Development Bank, a division of the World Bank, taking a lead role in opening up indigenous territories and economies to foreign interests. They facilitated the Highway Seven construction project in Belize, funded by development donors in Kuwait, Taiwan and the UK. The road passes through Mayan lands, rich in minerals. Once completed, the road will serve as a vital artery to transport goods out of the area to foreign markets, as well as allow the army to enter into once forbidden territory. In Panama Apikan worked with the Canadian mining firm Rio Tinto Zinc and Canadian natives to develop "a good working relationship with indigenous groups". Since the late 1980s indigenous groups such as the Ngobes have tried to stop the Panamanian government from giving away their land to foreign interests. Their protests have been met with jail and sometimes death at the hands of the police. Apikan proposed a better working relationship since the Indigenous protests were "costing the mining industry millions of dollars".
WORLD BANK. Apikan has received funding and praise from Indian Affairs, Foreign Affairs and Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). Apikan's project are usually detrimental to indigenous groups, opening their territory to exploitation by foreign multinationals, through expanded market power, roads and political links. The World Bank and foreign corporations have taken over native lands, removed or killed indigenous people in order to exploit their oil, forests and other resources. Apikan puts a brown face in those destructive projects abroad and now in Kahnawake.
IMPEACHMENT. Many people in Kahnawake are now talking about "impeachment" of Joe Norton and others responsible for bringing in such shady groups as ADM and Apikan This is not the first time that Norton tried to bring in nefarious economic initiatives. In 1994 Norton tried to bring in a shifty casino group from the United States until the people voted in a referendum to stop him. Then his advisor was attacked and had his finger cut off by unknown persons. No police report was ever made and the man moved from the territory. A year ago Norton gave permission without consulting the people for a group who were found to have ties to OEorganized crime, to set up a casino on Kahnawake Territory. They were arrested, charged and are presently in court facing criminal charges. The People of Kahnawake have continuously asked the band council and the Department of Indian Affairs for the Agreement in Principle between the band council and ADM to no avail.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. The People are in favour of economic development but where each man, woman and child in Kahnawake owns and controls the business and has a share. Due to the band council's past record they cannot be trust. Other questions arise such as why is the band council hiring a casino consultant firm to plan the proposed dinner theatre-hotel complex (Robert Hathaway) when the people already said "no" to them being involved in a casino? What are we to expect from the agreement to invest the people's money in the Grifiss Air Force Base in the United States when the people were only told after the deal was made?
Even though the answer on ADM is "no", the band council persists in meeting with the Survival School students only, asking the parents to stay away. The students, however, want their parents with them. The time has come for the band council to step down and let the original government of the Mohawk People enforce the Iroquois Constitution, the Great Law of Peace.