From "The People's Voice" Akwesasne's First Weekly Newspaper Kanienkehaka


 

 

From "The People's Voice" Akwesasne's First Weekly Newspaper Kanienkehaka
Territory March 23, 2001

Front Page

AKWESASNE - Shawn Brant, A Mohawk of Tyiendenaga is in Akwesasne this week visiting friends. He announced that on April 19th, he would be bringing at least a busload of natives and non-native supporters across the Seaway International Bridge.

Brant said it is not his intention to block the bridge, but to "open the bridge," in a show of unity and solidarity of all Native

people.
Brant who was at the home of John and Harriet Boots on Wednesday, said he was sad to read about Mohawk Council of Akwesasne's Press release, in which Grand Chief Michael Mitchell asked Summit bound protestors, to not use their borders to sneak into Canada for next month's summit schedule for April 20th in Quebec City.

Brant who lives and works in Toronto, Ontario has been working on a peaceful walk from the Southern portion of Akwesasne across the bridge to ther northern border at Kawehnoke (Cornwall Island).
He said it is only his intention to bring unity, solidarity and information of proposed taxation plans of the Canadian Federal Government to light. As he said, he has been to Kahnawake, Akwesasne, Grand River, and Tyiendenaga speaking on the plight of our people. He felt that Grand Chief Michael Mitchell was not fully aware appropriate to share this information to meet the Grand Chief, this is Mohawk land, all of the Kanienkehaka lands, belong to the Mohawk, to the men and women sisters and brothers of our nations."

Brant further stated that the April 19th walk would fall into the same time line as the Summit for Quebec City, on April 20th and that in fact some of the brothers and sisters would continue on to Quebec City, after meeting on Cornwall Island. Others following the walk and a meal will return to their homelands.
Brant said it was not anyone's intention to sneak "criminals" into Canada for the Summit meeting, as he did not know of any that the MCA press release spoke of.

Brant said the walk over the bridge would be a show of assertion of Mohawk rights. Brant also said he will make local Mohawks and non-natives whoever want to listen to other plights Natives face in 2001. "Like, the fact that there are presently 25,000 brothers and sisters homeless in the city of Toronto alone. This winter we buried our 39th native brother who died on the streets alone," he said.

He said we must also be reminded of problems that we all face, politics, sophisticated issues, and restrictions, as well as even our rights under the Jay Treaty…" they are all our responsibilities, and it is an intrusion of anyone in the community to say they decide who will come on, this endeavor is supported by many Mohawk people from Kanienkehaka, I never asked Mike Mitchell for his permission, and felt that I do not need it. Mike Mitchell should support this, it is a march of alliance, saying it brings in criminals is ridiculous, but then again I presume that the Government of Canada notified him. This organization is only to let all the people know what our position is and to come TOGETHER!"

Brant said at the very least a bus load of supporters would be expected, but he hopes more people will come TOGETHER!
The walkers will demonstrate a show of support for issues we face, while also demonstrating the show of strength, to show we are a united people.

Following the walk over the bridge, Brant says people will go back to their tranquil lives.
One of the more important issues that Brant hopes to get out to the people is proposed taxation of Natives within Canada, following legislation proposed for September 2001.

Brant said they have about six more months to fight this legislation that would tax land, businesses and personal income of natives. He further stated that Robert Nault, of Indian Affairs felt it was his way of introducing "democracy" to us. "To defeat this taxation plan we must show them that we are indeed united, we must show Canada that we are united on this issue."

Brant said notice of Nault's proposed taxation plan was on the front page of the Globe and Mail's January 16th, 2001 edition. Brant said that through talks of the issues at his home in Tyiendenaga, they felt there were two choices; the first was to do nothing and wait for them to implement it, or take an active stand and resist.

John Boots said, "Other people's attempts at free trade, efforts have been resisted, Markos, the Sandinistas,s tarted to organize, we all did, 'Canadian' Indians, we spoke of such in 1994, how much better has it been since then? We aren't able to transport products let alone we are often harassed for bringing our own personal good across that so called line. The little people like you and me, the Natives don't get anything from it, it's the big entities the petroleum moneymakes, and they get all the benefits. The majority of the poor people especially natives don't get a thing."

John Boots said it was his and his wife's intention to help out the people who want to attend the event and no more.
Harriet, added, "The people have to remember that that is our bridge, and it isn't fault of Onkwehonwe who are often ridiculed and harassed when they cross over it. I remember a couple of incidents where Natives were hurt, and when one woman lost her child she was carrying because her boyfriend was 'detained' at customs. If Mike Mitchell is so concerned, does he remember why he blocked the bridge in 1968?"

 

*- Cynthia Smoke
* In 1968 Mike Mitchell blocked a bridge in an act of civil disobedience against abrogation of the Jay Treaty by non-native government.