Statements from Former Kahnawake Grand Chiefs
P.O. Box 1260
Kahnawake Mohawk Territory (Quebec)
(514) 946-4785 or (514) 705-2525
|A Message to Those Who Occupy Our Lands|
A message from two former Grand Chiefs of Kahnawake
For immediate release
Tuesday, March 13, 2006
As two former Grand Chiefs of the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake, with fifty years of combined leadership experience, we would like to express our concerns regarding some statements by some Quebec politicians.
Recently, Parti Quebecois leader Mr. André Boisclair made statements about the indivisibility of Quebec in the event of independence, stating “territorial integrity would be protected and maintained.”
We are concerned, Mr. Boisclairs statement, along with those recently made by Premier Jean Charest, clearly shows a lack of understanding of the history between our nations, which is based on the Two Row Wampum and could have a direct impact on our relationship.
We would like to remind Mr. Boisclair, throughout our lives we have shown our resiliency and our ability to adapt to the ever-changing circumstances.
For generations, we have encountered colonial governments who have tried to impose their laws, policies, ideas, language and religions upon our people with little, if any, regard to our opinion or position. This is unacceptable.
Unfortunately, in order for our voice to be heard and our historic rights protected, we have learned that, we must sometimes react in an aggressive manner, which in turn may lead to confrontation.
It is our strong belief, a good portion of the lands that Quebec currently occupy, are Mohawk ancestral land. If there is to be talk of the “integrity” and “indivisibility” of the land, those discussing this had better be knowledgeable of history.
It is very ironic to us that Mr. Boisclair chooses to speak on this issue with such disregard for the native reality. As two former Grand Chiefs, we had the opportunity to meet on several occasions with Mr. René Levesque, founder of the Parti Quebecois on issues of nation building.
Despite a linguistic and cultural divide a mile wide, Mr. Levesque understood that the Mohawks and the PQ share some similarities of philosophy in terms of independence and relationships with other governments. He was open, understood the concept of nation to nation, how we must live as neighbors, respected the fact that native people have lived here since time untold. He must be rolling in his grave as he sees what has become of his beloved party.
With that being said, if anyone has the right to talk about separation, nationhood, independence, sovereignty et al., it is the Mohawks. To this day we make peace with those we choose to make peace with. We make war with those we choose to make war with. And we ally ourselves with anyone we so choose. That is how it has been throughout history. And that is how it will remain.
Mr. Boisclair’s slight is just another incident that we face in our long relationship with Quebec and Canada. Government leaders must understand that, when the smoke clears, we will still be here.
With that, we urge both Quebec and Canada’s leaders that it is in their best interest to maintain a dialog with us. Otherwise, our “good neighbor” policy may require some serious revisions.
In Peace and Friendship,
Andrew T. Delisle, Former Grand Chief of Kahnawake (1960-1980) and Joseph Tokwiro Norton, Former Grand Chief of Kahnawake (1978-2004)
For more information, please contact:
Andrew T. Delisle
(Former Kahnawake Grand Chief ’60-‘80)
Joseph Tokwiro Norton
(Former Grand Chief ‘78-04)