Archive for May, 2008

Tyendinaga: More Charges Laid, Clampdown Intensifies

Posted in Repression, Six Nations Confederacy on May 22, 2008 by wiinimkiikaa

More Charges Laid: Clampdown Intensifies
Support Tyendinaga Mohawks!
( May 20, 2008 )

In the wake of recent road closures, OPP intimidation, and jailing of Mohawk community members, charges have now been laid by the OPP against at least 9 additional Tyendinaga Mohawks. These charges, according to police, stem from “events that occurred in and around Deseronto,” between April 21 and 26. According to the OPP, the investigations are ongoing and additional charges may be laid against other Mohawks. While none of the 9 people recently charged were forced to remain in police custody, and are free to go home to their families, all carry conditions of ‘no protests’ and ‘not to be present at the quarry site’.

Three men remain in custody at this time, awaiting trial – Clint Brant, Matt Kunkel, and Shawn Brant. Shawn Brant’s trial date has been set for mid-June.

The current situation in Tyendinaga is developing into a sweeping crack-down on community members, the stifling of resistance to increased policing and further development of the Culbertson Tract, while federal monies are being poured into the Territory for policing matters and an RCMP report is released, citing federal government intentions to dedicate police “to fighting contraband, which he [Stockwell Day] said is funding organized crime and possibly even terrorists” in three Mohawk communities, including Tyendinaga.

It is important to remember that the feds’ concern with Native-made smokes and sales go much deeper than their own pocket book. It is not simply the lost tax revenue that they suffer, but the fact that the lost dollars go to sustain Mohawk families and other services and allows for the Mohawk Nation to stand, as it always has, as a clear and organized force of resistance against the Canadian government’s practices of assimilation and control of First Nations peoples.

It is the efforts to strengthen Mohawk Nations’ economies and sovereignty that threatens the implementation of Canada’s colonial agenda. The policing agendas of the Canadian government aim to crack down on this assertion of self-sufficiency and strength, not, as they claim, “organized crime”.

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OPP Weaponry and Escalation:
Update on the Struggle for the Culbertson Tract
Update from the Tyendinaga Support Committee ( May 13, 2008 )

While the quarry site, part of the disputed Culbertson Tract, has remained under Mohawk reclamation since March 2007, the Mohawks of Tyendinaga recently successfully halted another non-Native development effort on the Tract – this successful action led to a series of alarming and serious events.

In late April, a Kingston realtor, Emile Nibourg, made loud public plans to begin construction on the Culbertson Tract, culminating in a written commitment to bring a crew of “25 to 30 guys” to the site. The Mohawks of Tyendinaga responded by closing roads immediately adjacent to the proposed site, which they held for several days. While the OPP swat team was eventually brought in to remove the Mohawks from the roads, no confrontation ensued, and Nibourg backed away from his plans to build on stolen land.

Several days later, after the roads had been reopened, Mohawk spokesperson Shawn Brant was arrested during an interview he was conducting with APTN. Shawn’s final words during his arrest on Friday were “This is it, justice for first nations communities: lock us up. Anybody who speaks out, lock-em up. KI6, Bob Lovelace: lock-em up…Don’t fix the problems, lock-em up.”

Despite the reporting in mainstream press, Shawn Brant’s arrest on Friday, April 25th stemmed from an incident that took place days before. Specifically, Shawn Brant has been charged for his role in preventing further attacks on two Mohawk woman and a young child by racist rednecks from the town of Deseronto (see below for more on Shawn’s arrest).

Supporters rushed to the quarry after watching or hearing of Shawn’s arrest. His arrest sparked off police actions that led to the jailing of four other Mohawks, the OPP pulling their weapons on community members at the reclaimed quarry site, and a weekend of tense stand-offs and road blockades. Psychological warfare on the part of the police resulted in a tense face-off between the OPP and community members that lasted for days.

The same weekend, Six Nations community members erected a blockade of the Highway 6 bypass, near Caledonia, in support of the Tyendinaga Mohawks. This blockade was not removed until Six Nations received confirmation that the OPP had withdrawn from the Mohawks of Tyendinaga.

Following Shawn’s arrest, Matt Kunkel, Clint Brant, Dan Doreen, and Steve Chartrand were charged and jailed. Dan, spokesperson for the earlier Mohawk road closures on Highway 2, and Steve have since been released with strict conditions. A couple from the community who were also arrested by the OPP were later were released unconditionally. Matt and Clint, along with Shawn, remain in maximum-security pre-trial custody in Quinte Regional Detention Centre in Napanee, until trial.

Ontario has opted for the incarceration of First Nations people over the resolution of outstanding land issues as their status quo. As for the Ontario Provincial Police, it appears the adoption of Justice Linden’s Ipperwash Inquiry recommendations is experiencing some delay. During the road closures in Deseronto, an OPP officer on the scene audibly commented to her colleagues, “We should just shoot them (Mohawks) all.” Following the arrests of the 5 Mohawks, the OPP claimed to have seen ‘one long gun’ at the quarry site, prompting the officers on the scene to pull their weapons out. The Mohawks at the quarry were not armed. The memories of Dudley George have not faded. And while in custody at the Napanee OPP Detachment, several different officers repeatedly informed Shawn Brant that they were going to “slit his throat”.

Once again, for his role as a spokesperson in the community, Shawn Brant is facing trumped-up charges. These new charges were laid less than two weeks after Shawn Brant was acquitted of charges alleging that he threatened Canadian Forces soldiers during a demonstration to prevent development of the Culbertson Tract in 2006. Shawn is now forced to remain in jail at least until his trial on these latest charges, which is to take place in mid-June. Further updates on those charged will be coming soon.

As well as dealing with five of their community members now facing charges, the people of Tyendinaga are also facing another serious challenge. The OPP has struck a deal with the Band Council to build a new police station on Tyendinaga territory, ostensibly for the Tyendinaga Reserve Police force (employed by the OPP). Community members have questioned why the four-man force needs a bullet-proof, 5,000-square-foot facility. An identical structure on Mohawk land at the Akwesasne Reserve in Quebec is now home not only to the local Reserve cops, but also to the OPP and the RCMP. The deal between the Band Council and the OPP, in which the Band will spend $1.2 million on the new station, with an additional $1 million contributed by the Province of Ontario and Stockwell Day’s Federal Ministry of Public Safety, was made without proper consultation with the community. The Men’s and Youth Councils, who meet at the recently constructed community longhouse, have openly voiced their opposition to the station, saying the money is needed more urgently elsewhere on the reserve. Meanwhile, construction on the new station has, as of printing time, now begun.

The Province of Ontario refuses to take responsibility for the actions of its police force, the OPP, while also continuing to abdicate responsibility for their role in the licensing of the non-Native quarry operations. The quarry itself now sits partially flooded, while the Mohawks continue their reclamation of the site until government acts to return it to them. The federal government continues to languish at the negotiation table, while making noise in the mainstream press about crackdowns on the Native cigarette industry, and the land – long acknowledged as belonging to the Mohawks – remains unreturned.

The Tyendinaga Support Committee

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California: Two Indigenous People Gunned Down After Gun Battle With Police

Posted in Payomkowishum Nation, Repression on May 22, 2008 by wiinimkiikaa

Two Indigenous People Gunned Down After Gun Battle With Police

Dante Armos, May 15, 2008

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-soboba14-2008may14,0,5062286.story

I regretfully inform everyone that two more Indigenous people have been killed by the state. This is what I have gathered after combing news articles

*On Monday at the Soboba Indian Reservation, around 6pm a guard house came under fire

*As the cops arrived they were shot at while in their cars

* A helicopter was dispatched and also fired upon, sadly it was not hit.

* The two people were armed with a Russian made SKS Assault rifle and an AR 15.

* After the attack to two fled into the hills, where they were later killed in an hour long shoot out with the State

* The male was identified as 36 year old Joseph Arres and an unidentified woman.

*The police outnumbered these two brave fighters 9 to 2, including 4 SWAT team members.

This is the second shootout with police in 5 days, last week another man was killed, 26 year old Eli Morillo. His older brother peter morillo was killed by police in october 2002 after he barricaded himself inside his home and fired shots at police.

Eli’s Incident was reported as follows:

” Around 12:15 a.m. Thursday, deputies patrolling along Soboba Road near Castile Canyon Road heard shots fired and went to investigate, Franchville said.

As the deputies approached the intersection of Soboba and Castile Canyon roads, they heard more shots, he said, and believing they were targets, they called for backup.

The area has been the site of several recent incidents involving gunfire between individuals and deputies. The reservation is in a rugged area at the foot of the San Jacinto Mountains.

At one point, an “11-99” — the radio code meaning an officer was under fire and needed help — was broadcast, prompting a massive response from various police agencies in the region.

“Shortly after they took cover and hunkered down, they realized they were taking fire from a different angle,” Franchville said. “We think either the person or group that was shooting actually moved so the deputies would have a difficult time getting a bead on them or even flank them, re-engage and start shooting some more.”

Franchville said two people eventually approached deputies with assault rifles and opened fire. A third person was also seen, but it was unknown whether he was also armed.

“There was a barrage of fire exchanged, and one suspect was killed,” he said. The other two people fled. ”

This incident deeply saddens me, its a shame that Eli didn’t get away, its a shame that Joseph and the unidentified woman didn’t get away. My condolences go out for their families.

Even though these people started the gunfire on each respective day, it must not be forgotten that the gunfire on their people has existed on their people for centuries now. In these acts they were not the victims, but the directors of their own fate. These attacks however are not unprovoked, on the contrary, they are very provoked. Theft of land is provocation. Assimilation and eventual genocide of a culture is provocation. The largest poverty margins in North America is provocation, imposing of will is provocation, indoctrinated manifest destiny and socially rewarded murder of land is provocation.

Maybe the police in riverside wont rest as easy tonight, maybe their paid leave wont be so pleasant, maybe they’ll toss and turn at night and wake up in coldsweats looking for consolement that wont come. Maybe, but probably not. They’ll probably get rewarded in front of the city, they’ll shake the mayors hand, be heralded as heroes, and accept the pat of the master upon their heads while being told that they’ve been good servants.

Maybe they’ll second guess every corner, and hesitate at every step because they now know what it feels like to be on the business end of a rifle scope.

Dante Armos

OPP seize Spectator photos

Posted in Repression, Six Nations Confederacy on May 8, 2008 by wiinimkiikaa

OPP seize Spectator photos

Susan Clairmont
The Hamilton Spectator
May 8, 2008

A native man on an ATV is speeding dangerously close to OPP officers standing on Highway 6 at Caledonia.

A constable asks the man what he wants.

The man replies, “Do your job or I’ll kill you and your family.”

Another constable asks ATV guy the question again.

What do you want?

“Tell your boys to get out of Belleville Mohawk territory. F… off. We’re going to carve you up tonight.”

To another officer, the man on the ATV says: “I can f…..g hurt you. Don’t kid yourself. I can f…..g hurt you.”

One OPP officer was so concerned for his safety during this confrontation, he considered drawing his gun.

This is the OPP version of what happened when officers and natives faced off on Highway 6 on the afternoon of April 26.

It was described in court documents filed by police for a search warrant.

The allegations have not been proven in court.

The natives were blocking the road to protest the OPP’s arrest of a native protester near Napanee, related to a land claims dispute at a quarry. The road remained closed for four days.

Police are also investigating the blockade as an act of mischief.

The OPP are trying to identify that man on the ATV. Documents say they plan to charge him with two counts of assault with a weapon and four counts of threatening bodily harm.

Some of the officers have already done a photo lineup and chose the same man.

Still, the OPP executed a search warrant Tuesday and seized photographs taken by Hamilton Spectator photographers covering the blockade in Caledonia.

The OPP says it wants “forensic identification officers” to analyze the pictures “for the purposes of extracting single images of the persons involved in the incident for further identification to establish and afford evidence to the offenses.”

The Spectator is fighting the warrant.

“We’re not agents of the state,” says editor-in-chief David Estok. “It is not our job to collect information for the police.”

Forcing journalists to turn over unpublished photos or notes makes them vulnerable as they go about their jobs, Estok adds.

“It puts our staff in a potentially dangerous situation.”

The Spectator has turned over photographs in a sealed envelope. The paper will go before a judge to ask that it be returned, unopened.

The OPP refused to talk to The Spectator for this story.

However, the OPP information submitted to obtain the warrant provides an insight into a tense and dangerous confrontation between police and natives, the latest chapter in a saga going on in Caledonia for more than two years.

It started on April 26, Day 2 of the latest blockade. An officer was doing traffic control at the intersection of Highway 6 and Argyle Street South, where the road was closed.

Just before 1 p.m., he saw four ATVs on the closed portion of the highway. The drivers were waving at him. They then raced toward the officer, throwing up stones with their tires.

Soon, more ATVs arrived. The drivers were yelling and “driving erratically,” the documents say.

The officer counted 30 to 40 vehicles. Then called for backup.

The leader of the ATV pack, a heavy-set guy with “fat cheeks” who was wearing a camouflage jacket and riding a bright yellow machine, allegedly threatened to kill this officer and his family.

Within moments, at least 13 officers were at the scene. They parked their cruisers across the road, trying to keep the ATVs contained.

The officers stood on the highway. The OPP documents say at one point the officers were outnumbered “four to one.” But at other points, officers put the number of ATVs at anywhere from 20 to 40.

Officers repeatedly ordered the natives to leave the road. They did not obey. Instead, they sped past the police or circled them, coming dangerously close to hitting them. They did “wheelies” and revved their engines.

According to documents, at least two officers had to leap out of the way. Another’s hand was hit by an ATV.

The ATV leader — who told a cop, “We’re on a poker run” — at one point drove onto the open part of Argyle Street, weaving in and out of oncoming traffic, swearing at motorists and forcing drivers to pull over to avoid a crash.

“Several motorists had stopped and were taking photographs with their cell phones,” the documents say.

At least two women were driving ATVs, both with children riding behind them. One child is described as a 10-year-old girl.

The entire ATV incident lasted about 45 minutes. The OPP documents say many of the officers admitted they felt “intimidated,” “threatened” and feared they would get hurt.

One officer said he “considered using his firearm.”

Six Nations man granted bail but remains in Buffalo jail

Posted in Repression, Six Nations Confederacy on May 8, 2008 by wiinimkiikaa

Six Nations man granted bail but remains in Buffalo jail

Posted By Susan Gamble
Brantford Expositor, Ontario
May 7, 2008

A Six Nations man remains in jail in Buffalo after being granted bail last week.

Trevor Miller, 32, has been in custody for a month after his sudden arrest at a Canada-U.S. border, where he was charged in connection with a Caledonia incident that he’s already been convicted of in Ontario.

Miller’s lawyer arranged for bail on a $10,000 bond, which has not yet been posted, and made an oral motion for the charges to be dropped.

Instead, the case will move forward and a judge will hear written motions.

“This is an extremely interesting case,” said Tim Hoover, assistant federal public defender in New York.

“Given the incident happened in Canada, the filing of charges here raises issues both of the sovereignty of Canada and of the Six Nations.”

Hoover said those issues are beyond the scope of what can be dealt with in court but hopes Canada and the U.S. will discuss the case at some point.

“The number of occurrences (outside U.S. borders) that can be prosecuted by the U.S. are very limited.”

Miller pleaded guilty last May in an incident where law officers in Caledonia were stopped by protesters and forced out of their vehicle. He spent six months in jail and was later sentenced to time served.

But Miller was arrested by American police after he tried to cross the Canada-U.S. border in Minnesota a month ago.

Experts say its rare for someone to be charged by two countries based on the same incidents, and the former head of the Canadian Bar Association said it was inappropriate of the U.S. to pursue charges. Meanwhile, Albert Douglas, 32, also of Six Nations, is named in the same warrant and is fearful of being arrested.

He has not tried to cross the border since Miller’s arrest, despite having numerous family members in the U.S.

His father, Arnold Douglas, went to Miller’s first court appearance in Buffalo last week

“But Albert didn’t go. We’re not going to risk that. If Trevor hadn’t been picked up on these charges we wouldn’t have known (there were charges against Albert),” Douglas said.

His son and Miller were forced to commit perjury in order to gain their release from jail, according to Douglas.

“There’s no way they felt they were guilty,” said Douglas, “but they had to plead guilty in order to get out.”

Once Miller posts his bail, he will not be required to remain in the country until the next hearing date.

“Trevor has made a new life for himself since resolving the charges in Canada,” said his lawyer, “and he’s focused on being a productive person.”

The case will resume during a conference for all parties in June.

Police work during protest applauded (by police)

Posted in Repression, Six Nations Confederacy on May 8, 2008 by wiinimkiikaa

Police work during protest applauded

The Kingston Whig-Standard, Ontario
May 2, 2008

The chief of the Tyendinaga Police Service applauded the efforts of the Ontario Provincial Police in dealing with a fiery demonstration last week in Deseronto.

“It was apparent during these cooperative efforts that the OPP demonstrated a commitment to respect the Mohawk’s legitimate claim to these ancestral lands and a conscientious effort to respect the values of our culture and traditions,” the statement read.

On April 21, a group of native protesters set up blockades at various points in Deseronto but removed themselves from the village the following day after the arrival of the OPP’s Public Order Unit. The demonstrators moved back to a quarry along Deseronto Road, which they have occupied since last March.

On April 25, after the arrest of well-known protester Shawn Brant, a confrontation between provincial police and demonstrators erupted into violence along the road, which ended with two police officers sustaining injuries and four protesters charged criminally.

Tyendinaga Update and Letters to Prison

Posted in Repression, Six Nations Confederacy on May 4, 2008 by wiinimkiikaa

Tyendinaga Update and Letters to Prison

( Friday, May 2, 2008 ) Tyendinaga Mohawks are currently standing strong at the quarry site, last week’s roadblocks have been removed, and police presence in the immediate vicinity of the territory has decreased, although OPP remain present in the surrounding areas.

Of the three Mohawks who remained in jail after last Friday’s arrests and stand-off, Matthew Kunkel was released on bail yesterday. Clint Brant was denied bail today, and remains in prison in Quinte Regional
Detention Centre in Napanee, as does Shawn Brant. Shawn will appear in court on Tuesday, for scheduling purposes.

Given that Shawn Brant has only just beat the previous set of trumped-up charges (acquitted of all charges relating to the incident involving Canadian Army solidiers in November 2006) a mere two weeks ago, Shawn’s legal counsel is currently assessing how best to deal with this new set of fabricated charges.

Shawn’s arrest sparked off police actions which led to the jailing of four other Mohawks, the OPP puling their weapons on community members at the reclaimed quarry site, and a weekend of tense stand-offs and
road blockades.

Please stay tuned for further updates next week.

To send letters to Clint Brant or Shawn Brant:

Shawn Brant
Clint Brant
c/o
Quinte Detention Centre
89 Richmond Blvd
Napanee, ON K7R 3S1

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Tyendinaga: Shawn Brant’s Arrest – Statement by Sue Collis, Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory

( May 4th, 2008 ) Eight days ago, on Friday, April 25th, 2008, my husband, Shawn Brant, was arrested and detained on assault and weapons charges. Since that time, Commissioner Julian Fantino and the Ontario Provincial Police have issued numerous public statements that have wildly and, it seems, purposefully misstated the events leading to my husband’s arrest, and sought to vilify and criminalize him personally.

I believe it is important to the public good for people to understand the circumstances that have lead to Shawn’s incarceration at this time. Those circumstances are as follows:

On Sunday, April 20th, 2008, the community of Tyendinaga responded to threats from a Kingston developer to bring “a crew of 25 to 30 guys”, in order to begin development on a property which falls within in the Culbertson Tract land claim. Mohawks from Tyendinaga did peaceful road closures on Highway 2, adjacent to this proposed development site on Mohawk land.

My husband Shawn has been living and complied with very strict conditions imposed when he was charged in relation to community rail and highway blockades on the June 2007 Aboriginal Day of Action. One of his conditions is not to attend protests. During the evening of Monday, April 21st, 2008, my husband was some distance away from the road closures erected in response to the Kingston developer, talking to a Tyendinaga community member, while he also checked a nearby creek for fish.

During this conversation, Shawn became aware of some commotion down the road, and made his way towards the commotion, parking his car some 50 feet away from where a small group of people was gathered on one side of the road. The first thing Shawn saw a 10-year-old girl shaking and crying uncontrollably. He had no idea what was going on. As he approached the scene, someone yelled “Shawn help us!” The little girl screamed, “They hurt my Mommy! They’re gonna hurt my Mommy.” Someone else yelled, “He has a ball bat!” At this time, Shawn noticed two trucks were parked facing the people who were in obvious distress. Shawn returned to his car and retrieved his fishing spear. By the time Shawn returned to where the people were gathered, the occupants of the trucks were back inside their vehicles. Shawn shouted at the occupants of the trucks to leave. The windows were so tinted that he could not make out their faces. The drivers of the trucks sped away with such force that one of their truck tires was raised in the air, spraying much gravel and stone at the women and the child, some of which they later discovered was imbedded in their skin.

Shawn turned his head to avoid catching stones in the face, and held out his spear in an effort to create some distance between the group of Mohawks and the trucks, out of concern that those in the vehicles would strike those on the road with their vehicles. The trucks then sped away. That is the extent of Shawn’s interaction with the individuals he is now charged with assaulting. To be clear, he is charged with assaulting the men in the trucks.

A 911 call was made during this incident on April 21st, 2008, in which the trucks’ licence plates were recorded. Shortly thereafter, the women made statements to the police, identifying the men driving the trucks as known Deseronto inhabitants, subsequently identified as Jamie Lalonde and Mike Lalonde. The women also testified in police statements that one of the men swung a club at them, drove one of the trucks into them, and threatened further violence. The women also described being injured by flying stones, and described the trauma endured by the young girl. No one but Shawn has been charged.

The men from Deseronto sought out this group of people, deliberately caused them injury and issued threats of further violence. They were targeted for assault and abuse for no other reason than that they are Native. The actions taken by the men from Deseronto were driven by bigotry and racial hatred. By definition, these were hate crimes. Again, no one but Shawn has been charged.

The men are presumed to have filed a complaint against my husband, resulting in a police search of his car on Friday, April 25th, when his fishing spear was taken from his car, and charges of assault and possession of a weapon – the spear – were laid. My husband remains in prison, in maximum security, as a result.

It is our understanding that the prosecution is seeking yet another publication ban on all future court proceedings in this matter. A pattern has emerged with respect to my husband, Shawn Brant. The police and prosecution make sensational and vilifying statements about Shawn in the media, and then seek a publication ban during court proceedings, when the actual evidence is introduced. The starkly different narrative of events that emerges in court is withheld and the public forbidden from hearing it. The version of events I have just presented will all but disappear.

Less than a month ago, my husband was acquitted of charges he carried for more than 18 months. When issuing the ruling in this acquittal, the judge described the investigative practice and evidence employed and presented by the cops and the Crown as “problematic” and “troubling,” as they related to Shawn. During this same period, CBC Radio aired a documentary in which several Mohawk people recounted conversations with OPP Commissioner Fantino that occurred during the 2007 Aboriginal Day of Action, in which they say he threatened to “ruin” Shawn. During Shawn’s detention at the Napanee OPP detachment last week, several different police officers threatened to “slit his throat” and “cut off his head.”

As I deal with the tears of young children who have been robbed of their father once again, Commissioner Fantino claims the OPP is an apolitical and professional organization, dedicated to upholding the rule of law. The events of the past week indicate it is anything but.

– Sue Collis
Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory

Solidarity with Tyendinaga and Six Nations

Posted in Coast Salish Territory, Repression, Resistance, Six Nations Confederacy on May 1, 2008 by wiinimkiikaa

Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) attacked the Mohawk people at the Tyendinaga/Deseronto reclaimed quarry on Friday, April 25, 2008, arresting as many as 10 people and pointing guns. Solidarity blockades, actions and demonstrations took place in Six Nations/Caledonia, Akwesasne, Kahnawake, Guelph, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver over the following four days. On April 26, the OPP threatened to remove by force the blockade of the Highway 6 bypass at Six Nations/Caledonia, but reinforcements that arrived from the reserve convinced the cops otherwise. The OPP backed-off from the Tyendinaga/Deseronto quarry on April 29 and the blockade of the Highway 6 bypass at Six Nations/Caledonia was brought down.

Members of the Mohawk Warriors man a road block set up on HWY 2 in Deseronto Sunday afternoon. Photo by Bill Tremblay, April 28, 2008

Solidarity action in Vancouver blocks major trucking route for three hours, April 28, 2008

APTN Covering Vancouver/Tyendinaga Solidarity

Six Nations spokesperson speaks on April 27th blockade of Highway 6 in Solidarity with the Mohawks of Tyendenaga

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Indigenous People and supporters living on Coast Salish Territory Block Major Truck Route in Support of Tyendinaga Mohawks and Six Nations: OPP BACKS OFF!

On April 28th, 2008, about 70 people, mainly Indigenous people from across Turtle Island gathered at China Creek Park on Coast Salish Territory. Elders armed with medicines and drums led the people while Warriors flew Mohawk Warrior Flags on the parameters of the march. Mothers and fathers, children and youth, Elders and Warriors chanting “OPP out of Tyendinaga” and “OPP out of Six Nations” marched from Clark and Broadway to Clark and 12th Avenue where they blockaded the entire intersection for two and a half hours in rush hour traffic from 3pm-530pm.

The blockade was in response to an incident on April 25th, where Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) surrounded the quarries in Tyendinaga, demanding the surrender of the Mohawks. Guns were drawn and violence ensued on the part of the police. News broadcasts failed to report that a young man had both his arms broken by police and that guns were pointed Mohawk children. This was following the OPP’s swarm of Mohawk Territory earlier last week; the OPP’s answer to the halting of construction of a development site that encroaches into Mohawk territory that a group of Warriors had reclaimed.

On April 27th six Indigenous People protecting their Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory were imprisoned, bringing the total number of Indigenous people in Ontario jails for defending their land to 13. Ontario has thus chosen to imprison Indigenous people rather than honour their rightful title to their land. At the centre of the dispute is the Culbertson Tract, land that rightfully belongs to the Mohawks of Tyendinaga. Community members have been occupying a gravel quarry site for over a year.

On Monday April 28th, SWAT teams amassed on the Deseronto and Slash Roads, bordering the Tyendinaga quarry reclamation site. Community spokesperson Jason Maracle was told by the OPP to pull people out of the quarry because they were going in.

In support of the Tyendinaga Mohawks a blockade of Highway 6 was taken by people of the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory, whom have also faced several arrests, violations and oppression via the KLANadian government for protecting their lands.

On April 28th, the same day the SWAT team surrounded the Mohawks, Indigenous people on Coast Salish Territory, on the west Coast of Turtle Island, also took a stand as a show of Unity for our Brothers and Sisters back east and as a show of force to the KLANadian government to withdraw their police forces out of Tyendinaga and Six Nations Territories. Clark Street and 12th Avenue was blockaded in the midst of full out rush hour traffic.

The location, known as the Clark-Knight Corridor Whole Route was chosen for its role as the City’s primary goods (stolen and exploited from Indigenous lands) movement arterial; blocking it would therefore mean disrupting economic development in KLANada. The 3,000 trucks using the corridor each day make Clark-Knight the most important truck route in the City. The corridor also links the Vancouver Port and industrial areas on the north side of the City with industrial areas in south Vancouver, Richmond, Delta, Surrey, and beyond via Highways 91 and 99. The Port of Vancouver is KLANada’s biggest port and trades $43 billion in goods stolen from Indigenous lands with more than 90 trading economies annually. In addition, trucking is Canada’s dominant freight mode, accounting for an estimated 70 percent of domestic shipments by value.

The April 28th blockade was not only symbolically effective, but also economically disruptive. Money and greed is the heart and heartbeat of KLANada, hence it was factored in that such an action would make KLANada listen. Further, some commuters on their way home from work and truck drivers moving [stolen Native] goods were forced to acknowledge that while they were inconvenienced for a few hours, Indigenous people from KLANada who have had their homelands invaded and occupied for over 150 years, have been inconvenienced much longer. Maybe the every ten-minute traffic report on car radios compelled people to ask why the OPP backed by the KLANadian government attacked Tyendinaga and question why Indigenous people are still fighting for their lands.

The blockade was effective. The goal was to impact the economy, create a public awareness of the issue, and show the KLANadian government and the public that Indigenous people are unified and ready to take action to protect our families and our lands when necessary.

Police have backed off of Tyendinaga and Six Nations. Tyendinaga is no longer surrounded by OPP and SWAT teams.

Through a solid grassroots effort, Indigenous people contributed to the pressure put on the KLANadian government and police to back off of Tyendinaga and Six Nations. However, as one Onondaga Woman explained, “We must keep in mind that the government continues to deny their responsibilities to our people and continue to be in denial of our rights to the land and that this situation is far from over”.