Mohawk Warriors Block Route 344 at Kanehsatake
May 30, 2008
[Posted to friendsofgrassynarrows.com]
According to the corporate media (La Presse), Mohawk warriors at the Kanehsatake reserve in Quebec cut down trees and set them on fire, blocking Route 344 for several hours on May 29, 2008, in the same location as the main barricade of the 1990 Oka Crisis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oka_Crisis). Sûreté du Québec (Quebec provincial police) officers redirected traffic.
This was the only Native direct action to take place on the same date as the so-called “Day of Action” organized by the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), which is funded by the Government of Canada and is comprised of the Indian Act band council chiefs who administer the band council system imposed on Native peoples by the Canadian government. For more information on the role of the Assembly of First Nations see the article “Resist the Assimilation of First Nations” by Warrior Publications.
Some had expected action at the Tyendinaga Mohawk reserve in Ontario, where blockades has taken place on the previous year’s AFN Day of (In)Action (DOA). Instead, all was calm.
“We don’t see any need to respond to calls by (National Chief) Phil Fontaine. It’s not our call,” said Mike Brant of Tyendinaga in an interview with the Belleville Intelligencer newspaper. “He gets paid by the government to do his job. I don’t really know what his agenda is.” (http://www.intelligencer.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=1049947&auth=W.+Brice+McVicar+and+Jeremy+Ashley)
Last year, the AFN held their Day of (In)Action on June 29, responding to a resolution launched by Chief Terrance Nelson of the Roseau River reserve. Nelson himself called off action on the day, as is explained by Warrior Publications in its “Analysis of AFN’s National Day of (In)Action” (http://www.warriorpublications.com/?q=node/8):
“On June 20, Prentice announced that 75 acres of new reserve land would be added to the Roseau River band, defusing any potential conflict arising from chief Nelson’s threatened blockade. Despite his fiery rhetoric prior to this, Nelson announced there would be no blockades as a result, and that the land would be used to build a gas station, a cigarette shop, and video-lottery terminals. A week and a half prior to this, Nelson had written a letter to the CEO of Canadian National stating that, if both CN & Canadian Pacific Railway helped pressure the government to resolve the claim, ‘Roseau River will not threaten or engage in any railway blockades for 5 years from July 1, 2007, to June 30, 2012…’ (Letter from Terrance Nelson to CN CEO Hunter Harrison, June 11, 2007).”
Nelson had done much the same thing on June 29 of the previous year, 2006, calling off railway blockades at the last minute after the head of CN rail agreed to write a letter to the federal government stating support for First Nations over solving land issues more quickly. Disgruntled Native youth were said to have wanted to continue with blockades anyway, according to an article from firstperspective.ca entitled, “Rail blockade called off: Was pact merely a lull before the next storm?” (http://friendsofgrassynarrows.com/item.php?604F)
The only action to take place on June 29, 2006, was at the reclamation site next to the reserve of the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory, where a railway line was briefly blocked as it had been previously after a police raid on April 20, 2006, and as was done in solidarity at the Tyendinaga Mohawk reserve. Nelson had called for rail blockades on this day in 2006 inspired by and in solidarity with the struggle at Six Nations and Tyendinaga in a release entitled, “Railway Blockade Set for June 29!” (http://friendsofgrassynarrows.com/item.php?585F). The AFN in turn co-opted this call and turned it into a day of inaction, working with the police and denouncing blockades in 2007.
For more information refer to the following web pages:
AFN DOA: Day of Action, or Dead on Arrival? (Warrior Publications)