Statements from Six Nations Confederacy members on Tyendinaga stand-off

On Friday, April 25, 2008, Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) arrested at least seven Tyendinaga Mohawks near a quarry reclaimed by community members in 2007 to stop corporate development. Injuries were reported on both sides and a window of an OPP cruiser was smashed.

Ontario Provincial Police point guns at Tyendinaga Mohawks,
April 25, 2008

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Statement by Skyler Williams At The Cayuga Court House
Six Nations of Grand River Territory

April 28, 2008

My name is Skyler Williams. I am a Mohawk, Wolf, from Six Nations of The Grand River Territory. I am speaking on behalf of myself and several others that have been charged with criminal offences in connection with defending our land rights at Six Nations.

We have instructed our lawyer today not to proceed with our legal defence, so long as police have guns turned on our brothers and sisters in Tyendinaga.

Over the past months, Canada’s efforts to criminalize those of us who are standing up for our land rights has reached epic proportions. The message is clear: participate in negotiations that go nowhere as our lands are developed and destroyed – or go to jail.

Today, Six Nations is standing in steadfast solidarity with those in Tyendinaga whose lives and freedoms are in jeopardy because they are standing up for their rights. We also stand with those in Akwesasne, Kanawake and all peoples who have joined in this stand.

Also, we stand with those leaders of Ardoch Algonquin and Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug that are in jail because they refuse to betray their people and allow for mining exploration in their traditional territories.

Canada has had generation after generation to take seriously the issues that we are raising. They continue to violate the treaties, they continue to destroy traditional territory, they continue to criminalize our people. Today, our very survival is at stake, the future of our children is at stake.

Generation after generation, my people have continued to deal with Canada in the spirit of peace and friendship. However, Canada has done more than just thumb its nose at the treaties that were made in order to define our relationship and bind our nations. If Canada will not respect the treaties and will not negotiate solutions in good faith, then we will be forced to take a stand. Canada makes this stand necessary and then arrests us for making it.

It is our intention to highlight the connection between land rights struggles and criminal charges. The weight of criminal charges on native people is obvious when we are put in jail. But, it needs to be recognized that the process of defending ourselves also has a real and profound impact.

For example, there is no part of our lives that is not affected by the bail conditions that have been imposed upon us. The intent of these conditions is to demean us, force us to learn Canadian-style obedience or go back to jail. Like generations before me, I will not, I can not be forced to surrender my identity or abandon my responsibilities to my children, my clan or my nation. I have respected the conditions of my bail because my relationship to Canada is defined through treaty and I believe it would be a violation of these treaties and of the Great Law for me to betray my word – even to Canada.

We have been, to date, denied anything that resembles adequate disclosure in order to properly defend ourselves. The police and the Crown are trying to manipulate and control what makes it to court, determining for themselves the relevance of any and all evidence.

We, as Haudenosaunee people, will not be deterred. We will remain silent no more. We will continue to stand with our brothers and sisters from across Turtle Island. And finally, standing together, our voices will be heard.

– 30 –

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
FROM TYENDINAGA MOHAWK TERRITORY:

Ontario Jails Five More First Nations People Involved in Land Struggles

(Sunday, April 27, 2008 -Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory) Five men from Tyendinaga are in jail today bringing the total number of First Nations people in Ontario jails for defending their land to 12.

Ontario, it appears, 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. While in custody at the Napanee Detachment several different officers repeatedly informed Shawn Brant that they were going to “slit his throat” and that he was a “dead man.”

This followed a similarly disturbing incident that occurred on Monday, April 22nd during the road closures in Deseronto when an officer on the scene clearly and audibly commented to her colleagues “we should just shoot them (Mohawks) all.”

Meanwhile, road closures continue in Tyendinaga and Six Nations until, as one man said, “We finish the job.”

Spokesperson: Jay Maracle: 613-243-4993

– 30 –

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Release:
Released by Six Nations of the Grand River Men’s Council
Date: April 26, 2008

Six Nations of the Grand River Territory – The road blockade of what is known as the Highway 6 Bypass continues today, as community members from the Haudenosaunee Six Nations Territory stand in solidarity with the Mohawk community of Tyendinaga. There are no immediate plans to take down the blockade.

The bypass blockade began last evening (Friday, April 25) around 4:00 p.m. after reports that the OPP drew guns on a group of Mohawk people near a quarry on the Tyendinaga Territory. The Mohawks there have been protecting the quarry and keeping a local mining company off the land, as negotiations with the Canadian government proceed.

Six Nations of the Grand River Men’s Council spokesperson Degonudogee points out that the local action is peaceful, despite the fact that he has personally seen photos of police with guns drawn on women and children in Tyendinaga.

“The armed presence of the OPP that are surrounding the quarry in Tyendinaga is alarming, and tensions are rising because of it,” said Degonudogee. “We are united in this action with our Haudenosaunee people.” He cited reports that approximately 200 armed provincial police, with up to 100 additional SWAT team members, are still surrounding the group of Mohawks near the Tyendinaga quarry.

Degonudogee pointed out that the OPP don’t seem to understand that this is one whole Confederacy across the land. “It’s not just little, tiny reserves that can be abused or intimidated by the OPP; they have to understand that they (Tyendinaga) have support here.” The Highway 6 blockade is being manned by community members of all six of the Haudenosaunee nations of the Grand River Territory and is organized by the Men’s Council of Six Nations of the Grand.

Degonudogee said the solidarity blockade is proof that the words of the Great Peacemaker are still in use today. The Peacemaker illustrated the weakness of one nation by breaking a single arrow. Then he held five arrows in a bundle to represent the original five nations and couldn’t break it, so the people could see the power in unity.

Degonudogee added, “The blockade here will continue not by our choice, but by the choice of the OPP, if they continue their attack.”

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