Statement from Akwesasne



From: Ontario Coalition Against Poverty


For Distribution:

We have lived the past 100 years under the Indian Acts of two colonial governments. For 100 years, we have endured the indignities of poverty, isolation, hunger and disease. For 100 years, we have been environmentally destroyed. Our women give birth to babies that suffer from the effects of pollution, children born without intestines or intestines that grow on the outside of their bodies. We are told that new mothers can no longer feed their newborns because of toxin levels within their bodies. For 100 years we have not been allowed to speak out for fear of reprisals from our own duly elected' Indian Act governments.

On April 19th, we did something that this community has never seen before.

Prior to the arrival of the American Caravan, Akwesasne community people were told to stay indoors, not to let their children outside, and to prepare for the looting and burning of their homes. Band Council and other counter-intelligence organizations disseminated false information in an attempt to keep people out of our community, and to keep Mohawk people from participating in the realization that we share a common political struggle.

The overwhelming majority of community people understood the issue and were honored to have warriors from other nations coming into Akwesasne.

Despite local governments hysteria, 80 people participated in cooking and organizing for the day. Two hundred and fifty people participated in the event by attending the feast, crossing the bridge or observing from behind customs lines. The Ontario Coalition Against Poverty helped us with organizing, but we stressed that it was something that must come from within the community. We planned the April 19th event with the intention of organizing our people, so that we could legitimately play a part in the plans to defeat the government. We acknowledge the mistakes we made in organizing, however, these tactical errors should not override the success of the day. We defeated the attempts of five governing bodies that were committed to stopping the event. We showed courage and integrity to the 13 policing agencies that had threatened to attack, beat or kill us, and our families, if we continued with our plans.

We met adversity with honor to the very end. Any shortfalls within the day are necessary to understand so that they do not appear in future issues, but clearly , we feel that this was an issue of the people of Akwesasne and we gauge our success on that. We have opened the door to building links with non-native people and organizations. We stood together to demonstrate to governments that they will no longer be able to isolate us from each other.

Your courage to overcome the political adversity surrounding the day, will not be forgotten and we can now legitimately work toward understanding your issues and having you understand ours.

We are not prepared to endure another 100 years.

Yours in solidarity,

Mohawk Organizers of Akwesasne