Saturday, 16 August 2014

Haudenosaunee Leading the Way as Guardians of the Land - Spin Versus Reality

In the 13 August 2014 issue of "Turtle Island News" is a Letter to the Editor by W.E. entitled, Peoples Social Forum: help for attendees.  The author notes that for those "Haudenosaunee" who can attend an upcoming "Social Forum", there is some gas money available. 

The person:  Now we get to the part that concerns me.  I quote,

The convergence of allies includes students, unions, environmentalists, activists and thousands of ordinary individuals.  We expect over 10,000 to attend.  It's time to seize the future with Ongwehonweh leading the way.  We seek to unite with all people on Turtle Island and to have our voices heard in directing change.

Translation, the "Social Forum", whose content can be see here, will include diverse topics as follows,

  1. Climate: justice - responsibility - action 
  2. Communication: media - language - arts
  3. Community: race - access - place 
  4. Control: criminalization - surveillance - prisons
  5. Earth: land - air - water
  6. Economy: capitalism - crises - alternatives
  7. Food: sovereignty - access - production
  8. Gender: sexuality - patriarchy - socialization
  9. Governance & Democracy: representation - organization - decolonization
  10. Impoverishment: austerity - cuts - privatization
  11. International: solidarity - peace - justice
  12. Knowledge: education - access - alternatives
  13. Migration: mobility - borders - displacement
  14. Movements: intersectionality - alliances - solidarity
  15. Public services: quality - universality - access
  16. Spirit: ceremony - traditions - identity
  17. Work: precarity - deindustrialization - scarcity

And the participants will doubtless include the usual Communist, Anarchist, Black Bloc, Unions, Solidarity with Six Nations, radical environmentalists, radical this and that, and a host of troublemakers - but "The Real People" (Canada's First Nations), involving groups from across Canada, will be leading the charge.  As is typical, I would ask where the money is coming from - but one way or the other, it will be taxpayer funded (even if the HDI chip in, it will be with money extracted from taxpayers of Canada).

It should be noted that W.E. is in some respects a controversial figure.  By chance yesterday I came across a blog posting which featured him and a number of his confreres.  The information from this source maintains that W.E. is an activist that has been involved in a number of highly controversial "projects" such as shutting down Line 9, Enbridge's pipeline that will eventually bring domestic oil from Alberta to Eastern Canadian markets.  Without this source, we would be dependent on highly unpredictable foreign producers such as those in Africa and the Middle East.  To see what W.E. has been up to, based on this blog source, see here.  As but one example, as a member of HDI and Men's Fire, W.E. allegedly said, in relation to the pressure put on Samsung to comply with the HDI "protocol",

“We issued a cease and desist order…. They refused to discuss with us. That night, word went out to our allies. With ten hours notice we had at least a hundred people [on the disputed site], some of whom are in this room. Samsung then negotiated with our Confederacy.”

W.E. appears to be proud of his role in extorting money from Samsung - surely the parallel with what occurs in Naples and Palermo is not unreasonable in this instance.

I have not looked up further activities of W.E. found on the Internet.  My goal is not to focus on the person, but on the message.

The Message:  Next comes the wishful thinking, fantasy driven, politically correct perspective as reflected in the content of the Letter to the Editor.  The specific wording is,

We have lived on Turtle Island since time immemorial and we kept the land clean and free of destruction for centuries before contact.

In fact the aboriginal groups who practiced agriculture used a slash and burn approach and used so much wood, and exhausted the soil, to the point where every 10 to 20 years the village had to be moved.  In addition, anyone who has been involved in archaeology (as I have) is well aware of the gigantic garbage middens associated with each village.  The only reason that there was not more environmental damage was that the number of "Ongwehonweh" were relatively low.  So "clean and free of destruction", that would be a fantasy.

Continuing with the content of the letter as follows,

We know this land intimately because we are people of the land and we are the land.  We are guardians of the cycles of the land.  If the land dies, we die.

That appears to be somewhat arrogant and skewed.  The Six Nations - Haudenosaunee came to the Grand River in 1785, and the European Loyalists coming from the same area in what is today Upstate New York arrived in 1784.  So how is it that the Six Nations possess some sort of connection with the land that is different from that of the descendants of the European-American Loyalists?  In truth, there is little difference, however if one looks into the matter a little more carefully, the Haudenosaunee do not come out smelling of roses - they are often up to their ankles in garbage.

Present issues on the Reserve include the overflow of landfill sites and the lack of places to create new ones.  This has caused the people to seek questionable alternatives such as the unproven technology of a Nova Scotia company who claims to be able to "disintegrate" waste material.  Test runs of the unit installed on the Reserve have caused a lot of friction - and I have seen huge black clouds of smoke coming from that area which surely is not "environmentally friendly".  In addition, at present there is virtually no recycling done at Six Nations - everything heads to landfill.  In addition, the reality on Reserve is that there are old rusty cars and parts of stripped cars all over the Reserve.  There are garbage piles on virtually every lot, usually at the woodlot line (as is the case with Euro-Canadian rural lots).  Recently one member was chastised for allowing those working in construction to use his lot as a place to dump waste, including roofing material with nails.  It was suggested by neighbours that he cease and desist - I don't know if that happened. 

So in reality the Reserve is much like any rural Canadian area with material dumped haphazardly, but with some individuals being scrupulous in keeping their property clean.  Thus I would ask those who chose to call themselves "land protectors", and asserting that they are the ones to act as leaders in this capacity across Canada, to look to your own backyard first.  What you will see is disgusting - and you have the effrontery to lecture others on despoiling the land!

So is there any evidence on the ground that the Ongwehonweh are any different from other Canadians, in other words that they have a special link to land stewardship and spiritual aspects of their role?  Apparently not, except in terms of perception.  Many residents of Caledonia are light years ahead of many at Six Nations in the respect and care of the land.  However, the facts don't generally stand in the way of a good story based on wishful thinking.



  1. You may be aware that the Canadian army is holding military exercises in the Niagara Region : I took the opportunity to interact with a number of soldiers, some of whom were aware of past issues involving native "take-overs" but mostly unaware of recent matters involving the aboriginal community, especially Six Nations; but one soldier did respond to my question of where or where not the army was prepared to go and I suppose, not surprisingly, he stated: "Anywhere but Caledonia!" So, once again, it appears that political correctness rears its "ugly head" with the most likely scenario here that both the provincial and federal governments are complicit in continuing to carry out that "cowardly agenda of appeasement" ; no one wants deliberate confrontation but the point is, as recently reported, Ava Hill has warned that violence should be expected if the new laws against the contraband cigarette trade are passed and enforced; as for Caledonia, we already know what to expect there...

  2. One of my sons was an officer in the Canadian Forces, and he was prepared to go wherever he was sent, and did. I am not proposing that the Forces carpet bomb DCE, but sending in armoured units to "restore order" is needed if the OPP refuses to enforce Injunctions from the Superior Court of Ontario. If it was anyone but Indians involved, the problem would have been solved 8 years ago but we all know that the there is a public perception (quite misguided) that they are victims, and so we need to cut them some slack. Of course you and I know that is nonsense. One law for all equally applied. It is a simple concept but seems to elude the various levels of government in Canada, and the law enforcement agencies. Perhaps if the OPP is too sheepish about enforcing the law, we might try the RCMP - at this point we don't have much to lose. The HDI are jack booting across the entire region calling the shots, extorting money wherever they see a big nest egg. We are living in lawless times. Might as well be the Old West. DeYo.