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