On October 8th, at approximately 2:30 pm, a fire ripped through the home of an Onkwehonwe family in Ohsweken. Thankfully no one was physically injured, but the occupants lost everything they owned save for a few clothing items.
The house is one of several units owned by the Six Nations’ community at The Grand River, and the care and condition is monitored by the housing department of the Six Nations Band Council.
Cheyenne Williams recalls that afternoon.
“I went into daughter’s room because Abel was messing with the dog bed and locked himself in and I was like man it’s hot in here, and I could smell the burning wires, but I couldn’t find anything so I unplugged EVERYTHING like searching for this smell, and I couldn’t find it.
Then Abel and I went downstairs, but he was asking for the dog, so I told him to go ahead and let her out of her bed. So he and the dog both came booking down the stairs, and he was yelling, “it’s hot,” so I went up, and my daughter’s whole room was in flames. Like her white walls were pink.”
Williams says she had made the appropriate contacts at the Six Nations Housing Department aware of electrical issues. A particular concern was malfunctioning lighting. According to Williams, these complaints resulted in weekly housing assessments, rather than correcting the problem.
After a close call
Williams never imagined she would face homelessness as a result; after three months, a lapse in community support systems almost made that a reality on January 1st. With her own home not ready, Williams took to social media to initiate a search for a stable environment for herself and her children.
She states she was initially was offered a cabin in Chiefswood park; however, she admits they could not accommodate the required safety measures for her exceptional needs son. Something that is not negotiable for Williams.
Not too soon
Williams is moving into a temporary home until her home is ready.
Experts have found that experiencing a house fire can cause physical and psychological symptoms. In addition, the loss of shelter, belongings, and comfort can initiate a prolonged fight or flight response and elevate cortisol levels related to the stress.
We reached out to the Six Nations Elected Council and Six Nations Housing Department but have not heard back.
On January 5th, 2022 the Two Row Times newspaper in Six Nations ran a full front page story with the title “Sexual assault allegations rock Land Back Lane and Spokesperson Skyler Williams.” The unfounded and slanderous claims made against Willams in the unsigned editorial are part of a longstanding pattern by editors Jonathan Garlow and Nahnda Garlow to target and discredit those Onkwehon:we who uphold their traditional systems and fight to preserve their lands.
The Two Row Times article was based upon claims made by a non-native TikTok creator named Kristin Helliwell aka Charlie Cruise/thecaptaincanuckofficial and the “Credible” Mohawk Entertainment (CME) in Tyendinaga which is owned and operated by Andrew Brant (Mohawk Turtle Clan) and Renee Brant (Mohawk Wolf Clan).
According to the Two Row Times, Helliwell claimed that “Williams was a sexual predator who used his position as spokesperson for LandBack Lane to coerce them [Helliwell] into a polygamous [sic] encounter.” An investigation of the actual facts of the matter, however, does not bear out the slanders and libel made by the TRT, CME and Helliwell.
It goes unmentioned in the Two Row Times article that the “relationship” between the Toronto-based Helliwell and Williams occurred entirely over the phone while he was in Wet’suwet’en territory and lasted for only a week. Helliwell initiated the contact with Williams and sent him sexually explicit messages. When Williams did not immediately respond to the nudes, Helliwell replied that she felt rejected by his lack of response and prompted him for comment. After further solicitation, Williams said that he wouldn’t be able to sleep with Helliwell unless she joined him and his girlfriend in a threesome. Helliwell then turned on Williams and in text messages told him to “step down” from LandBack Lane and “make it public… and own your shit or I’ll make you wish you had.”
Helliwell then made a Tik Tok video attacking Williams “on behalf of [unnamed] people who have asked me to come forward and speak about it.” In the video, Helliwell claimed that “Skyler uses his position to take advantage of women” and then alleged that Skyler had “love-bombed” her. Helliwell then alleged that Skyer hadn’t disclosed his relationship status until later in their texting exchange and had “tried [i.e. hadn’t] to coerce me into sleeping with a woman.” It is worth repeating that Williams and Helliwell never interacted in person, did not have sex, and that from our review of the text messages, Williamsdid not solicit or initiate anything with Helliwell and nor did he try to coerce her.
After Helliwell’s TikTok started circulating, a number of Indigenous TikTok creators, used their platforms to decry Helliwell’s account as “chasing clout” and stated that Helliwell – who is a Slovakian immigrant with no Indigenous ancestry – has used similar tactics to target and harass other Indigenous men. TikTok user childrenfirstsociety said “I don’t appreciate my name being used to corroborate lies…. I saw the chat logs of yours and Sklyer’s conversation and what you are doing is absolutely wrong and you know it.”
A friend or family member posted a picture of Helliwell modelling on a bodybuilding stage and wrote “Kristin you went from being this, to running away from your family, shaving your head, living in a van making videos for tiktok… To make matters even worse you are also selling sexually explicit pictures and video of yourself on the porn site Only Fans… and you have the nerve to blame it on your family.”
Kristin Helliwell on stage and her alter ego Charlie Cruise living the van life.
The not so credible Mohawk
Helliwell’s TikTok video was the basis for a “Credible” Mohawk Entertainment (CME) Podcast released on January 3, 2022 that heaped slander and innuendo upon Williams and provided fodder for the Two Row Times article. In the hour long podcast, Mohawk Andrew Brant Sha’tekayenton and former white supremacist Nick LaMarsh were joined by Rastafarian rapper Cotreezy, and the three proceeded to opine on Skyler’s “abusive” behaviour as they got high smoking weed.
During the course of the podcast, all three men disclosed that they themselves had been accused of various unspecified forms of misconduct and abuse, but insisted that all allegations against them were unfounded.
The claims made in the rambling CME podcast against Williams were then used by the Two Row Times to paint a dystopic picture of illegal drug use, gang rape, and rampant “toxic masculinity” at #1492LandBackLane.
In the podcast, Brant claimed that he’d been looking at issues related to Skyler Williams “for a couple of years” as he alleged Skyler had long been “approaching women” and “using his fame” to “persuade women into sleeping with him.” For proof of these claims, Brant referred to the screenshots that Helliwell provided. However, those screenshots show that it was Helliwell making the sexual advances to Skyler and not the other way around.
Nick LaMarsh, a co-producer of the CME who describes himself as a ‘reformed’ white supremacist, then recounted a story that supposedly occurred at Kanonhstaton (a different land occupation site in Six Nations several kilometers away from LandBack Lane) in December of 2020. LaMarsh says he came upon two French speaking women who were crying and who seemed upset. When one woman left to go into a tent, LaMarsh said “the other girl looked at me and she just said ‘she [the other woman] was gang-raped last night, and when I woke up from the drugs I ran away.’”
LaMarsh says in the CME Podcast that he mentioned the issue with some unnamed people that he regarded as “deputies” but that he did not raise the issue with Skyler Williams. LaMarsh said that the people he spoke to “got really, really mad, and said “keep your mouth shut and mind your own business. So I did.” LaMarsh indicated that he was physically threatened into silence.
Another claim made in the podcast is by someone first described as “a woman out west” and then later named by Brant as Delee. Brant summarized Delee’s critique of Skyler as being that “He’s acting like one of them white men. One of them white guys, one of them pretendians, one of them hippies that go out there and they’re just there for the glory, womanizing and just love-bombing.” Brant notes in the podcast that these are the exact same charges made by “Charlie.” In a screenshot later released by the CME, Delee wrote to Brant that Sklyer “did the exact same thing to me… exact same” as he did to Helliwell. So in other words, Williams didn’t abuse her either.
Brant is at pains to point out that neither Delee nor Helliwell have been in contact with each other, and that although he was “sure” more women would come out with stories about Skyler, the CME was only reluctantly bringing forth the news because, unlike other Indigenous media companies, “we do real fucking journalism.”
The three men were quite aware of the possible implications of their podcast, as LaMarsh stated on three occasions in the podcast that he thought one likely result of the episode would be to provoke a racist backlash against Onkwehon:we people once the National News Media got ahold of the story and ran with it.
LaMarsh knows his subject matter well, as he freely admits that he “used to be affiliated with people who were part of white supremacist groups, and things like that.” In his biography on the Credible Mohawk Entertainment site, LaMarsh writes that he was “raised in a strict Christian upbringing with racially indifferent ideals.” He was a soldier in the Canadian Military Reserves for 4 years, and was “your typical white guy, covertly racist and a patriotic voter who only cared about himself…. [I] didn’t know anything about Indigenous history or culture – nor did I care.” Nick claims that over a period of three years, [I] “realized my systemic racist ideals and changed my reckless, disrespectful lifestyle.”
Since then, and under the guidance of Andrew Brant, Nick has begun speaking about the Kayenere:kowa – the “Great Law of Peace.” Staying true to his upbringing he told Onkwehon:we women actively participate in their own culture to “sit down,” shut up, and “go heal.”
Hoisted on their own petard
The claims made in the CME podcast do not hold up to scrutiny. In the days since the story broke, the CME has posted dozens of screenshots purporting to implicate their critics as being pro-abuse or “harbouring predators.” Other people have sent screenshots of their own to Real People’s Media and Yakowennahskats. These screenshots prove that the CME and Nick LaMarsh were lying and misleading their viewers.
On the podcast LaMarsh stated that he was threatened into silence and did no further investigation of the alleged “gang rape” at LandBack Lane. However, screenshots of text messages LaMarsh sent to the executive of the group Allies of Onkwehon:we on January 14th, 2021 tell a different story.
In the texts, LaMarsh says he spoke about the alleged gang rape to Jacqueline House (Cayuga Turtle Clan), and that he also contacted Skyler, who “asked me to speak to him directly when I hear shit, so I am.” LaMarsh stated that his interventions had results, and added, “the French girls haven’t been back, the drugs have been removed.”
To be clear on the facts of this situation, nobody has ever directly heard from the victim who was was allegedly raped. LaMarsh is the sole source of the information about the alleged gang rape, and even then, he says he never spoke to the victim, just her friend. No criminal charges were ever laid in the matter, and nobody we interviewed had any recollection of the presence of these “French girls.”
Real People’s Media is also aware that the Haldimand OPP detachment carried out an intensive investigation into the claims of an alleged rape matching LaMarsh’s account in January-February 2021 but were unable to find any evidence that it occurred. Real People’s Media also made its own detailed inquiries into the matter at the time and was unable to find any corroboration of LaMarsh’s claims. We suspect that LaMarsh’s information led to an OPP investigation into a false rape claim.
Did the CME orchestrate the attack on Williams?
In a screenshot conversation with the “Woman out West” (Delee) that is provided in a CME article published on January 7th, Brant says that he assured Helliwell that “I had her back, and everything like I did with you. Said that I was aware of him [Skyler]… and that it was time to expose it.” Brant indicates that Helliwell made the Tik Tok with the original attack on Skyler after he told her it was the time to do so.
So in other words, Brant orchestrated and timed the release of Helliwell’s TikTok as he collaborated with Delee over text messages. This suggests that Helliwell was referring to Brant and Delee when she said in the video that she made it “on behalf of people who have asked me to come forward and speak about it.”
This would also explain why in another TikTok, Helliwell made reference to the CME podcast slandering Williams and showed a screenshot of it before the episode was released. In his podcast, Brant explicitly made clear that neither Delee “the woman out west” or Charlie/Helliwell knew each other, and thus claimed that there was no collusion or staging of the stories.
However, Brant’s texts clearly show that he decided when it was time to release the materials, and that he literally co-ordinated it. There is also a unified demand for the same end goal for Skyler to “own his shit” and “admit to his guilt” and to step down and be gone from LandBack leadership with his position to be replaced by a “two-spirit” person. As Brant put it in a Facebook live, “We can’t have leaders like that. Toxic ones, toxic men or women. It’s time for the two spirit people to start taking over, because this is some bullshit.”
The truth is putting on its boots
As the old saying goes, “a lie can travel halfway around the world, while the truth is putting on its boots, and this was the case with the Two Row Time’s article which has been read over 8000 times since it came out. The editors did have to make some corrections to the online version of their article, changing the allegations against Skyler to ones of “sexual misconduct” rather than “sexual assault.”
A number of Onkwehon:we women reached out to the CME with their concerns over their coverage of the issue. Their comments and messages were then recorded, screenshotted, and re-broadcast by the CME in attacks against the women, telling them to “sit down” and “go heal” and accusing them of being abusers themselves, or of “harbouring abusers.” One of the women, Jacquelyn House (Cayuga, Turtle Clan) wrote in response: “You two men are trying to silence me. You’re like a tornado spiralling back and forth. On one side you are welcoming people’s [comments] to satisfy your ego and on the other side trying to destroy everything in your path when you don’t like our words. You want to talk about “Women abuse”? You and Nick are doing everything [you’re] accusing everyone else of doing.”
In Tyendinaga, the Roskenrakehte:kowa Kanenhariyo issued two video statements on the matter. In the first video, he spoke about the phenomenon of social media influencers “shit-talking other people” and using misleading and untrue allegations to gain clout and social media followers.
In the second video, Kanenhariyo apologized for not having spoken out earlier about the actions of Andrew Brant Sha’tekayenton. Over the course of an hour and half, Kanenhariyo recounted a long history of Brant’s divisive and destructive behaviour.
Since Kanenhariyo’s videos, the CME has removed – without explanation – their original YouTube podcast smearing Skyler Williams, and also taken down the YouTube videos in which they attacked the Onkwehon:we women for responding to them. They have also issued a statement saying that “we’re done speaking on the matters that have been recently released, and everything that has been mentioned will be taken care of within the Nation.”
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this Article, coming soon.
Sky Woman quickly tried to keep her balance and pull herself back up through the hole. As she struggled to find a grasp she was only able to pull more of the plants that grew around the base of the tree. She continued to fall, now completely through the hole. She fell deeper into the blackness of outer space. She continued to fall deeper into the blackness…and fall deeper …and fall deeper… and fall deeper…and fall…and fall …and fall…and …and…and…
She continued to fall further and further from the Sky World. The blackness of outer space ever so slowly began to be farther and farther behind her…
…As she continued to tumble something else, also far, far off in the distance, (however this time in front of her) was starting to take form. The sky was no longer complete emptiness. Something was starting to appear. She was heading to something closer and closer and even closer. Sky Woman tumbled and tumbled and tumbled toward a place that we now know as the earth.
She was very afraid; she didn’t know what was about to happen. She finally caught her breath enough and began to yell for help.
She continued to fall from the Sky World and kept heading toward earth.
On the planet far below lived many forms of winged creatures. They were busy with their everyday duties when they heard the cries coming from high above where they were flying. Although some storytellers firmly believe they were the winged brothers and sisters called the geese, others say this also included the other birds that lived during the time of creation, quickly agreed to help the being which was headed straight toward them. They flew up to where the woman was falling. They offered to bring her to the water on their wings in order to save her life and break her fall.
When the birds arrived back on the water with the strange guest on their backs, they soon realized that there would be a different concern. The entire surface of the water would be an obstacle, as there was nothing but water everywhere. If they let go of the woman, she would surely drown. They paused not knowing what to do. They asked all the other creatures for suggestions.
Borrowed from Elizabeth Doxstater, Mohawk storyteller and revised by Sakoieta’ Wakathahahión:ni, Mohawk – Wolf Clan Knowledge Keeper
At the beginning of the time when people came to be on earth, there was a world high above where we now stand. This land was so high that it was not visible from the earth. It is not known how long the Sky World was there, nor how it got there. It has always been accepted that the Sky World always was an everlasting form of existence. Perhaps this is the start of how the Rotinonhsyonni showed respect for the teachings of the ancestors. Trusting perhaps mixed with some wonder but with no question, has been a long tradition.
In the Sky World there stood a tree that grew at the very center of this celestial world. On this tree grew every fruit. The sky people were permitted to eat freely from the tree. They were also warned not to bring harm to this tree which was a great source of nurturance for the people. They were also warned that they were not to touch the roots in case it would cause harm to the tree.
In the Sky, World lived a young chief and his wife. The chief’s wife was pregnant and as with many expectant women; she began to have strange cravings. She had cravings for certain kinds of plants or certain kinds of meats. She sometimes insisted on very specific blends of plants for seasonings or teas. She often sent her husband on many journeys to help fulfill her cravings.
Her husband was a humble person. He was rather kind and gentle and easily taken advantage of, especially by her. But he would go without argument or question and try with much difficulty to please his wife. His wife…on the other hand… was at times a bit unpleasant and hard to please.
One day she had a new craving, a very unique and unexplainable craving. She approached him with some hesitation but in the end, she had no problem asking him, as he always did what she asked. You see she craved a drink made from the roots of the great tree.
She asked him some questions: Do you love me?… Will you always love me?… Do you think cravings are natural when carrying a child, …your child?… Would you still love me if I asked to go on another journey?…
Her husband, who loved her dearly, listened as she explained her particular dilemma. She told him of her nausea and how their unborn child was kicking, probably with the same craving. The husband did quietly hold much uncertainty in his heart. But she sent her husband anyway, to retrieve the roots to make the drink that she craved.
The husband was very concerned about her odd request. He knew that they were not to touch anything on the tree except for the fruit that it would bear. He walked with much hesitation. He considered all of the consequences that such actions could
have on him, his wife, their unborn child and the people. He walked toward the tree, but become increasingly despondent regarding his wife’s request.
Sadly, he decided that he could not fulfill her request, however he continued to walk. It is not known for sure if he continued to walk to the tree or if he wandered to another path to where his existence would forever remain unknown.
The woman waited a long time for her husband to return. She waited so long that she became impatient. She paced the lodge complaining that he wasn’t back yet. She continued to pace and complain. How could he take so long, even though I am carrying his child?
After what seemed like a very long time her impatience caused her to go looking for her husband. She searched all over the Sky World for him. After searching for him for a very long time she finally decided to go to the great tree to retrieve the roots for herself.
She arrived at the tree. She decided that although her husband was supposed to go for the roots, he didn’t return, therefore she would have to make the drink herself. She approached the tree and examined the area, which would best suit her needs. Her pregnant state caused her to use much care when bending to gather the roots for her drink.
She knelt beside the tree digging for the roots, which she desired. She dug with her hands but in order to reach the roots of the tree, she had to pick some smaller plants, which were in her way. She held on to the small plants with one hand and continued to dig with the other. As she leaned over she heard a sound. Unsure of what she heard, she bent over further. As her curiosity grew, she leaned in even further. It seemed to be the same sound that water makes when running, like a river.
Throughout time storytellers have varied in what next happened. Some expressed that from her curiosity she leaned too far over she simply fell. Others say her husband, out of anger, snuck up on her and pushed her through a hole under where she was digging. Still, other variations of the story say that another family member or another type of natural force, perhaps a wind caused her fall. It may have been an accident or it may have been an act of frustration from a family member, possibly even her husband, but within the next moments, she found herself passing through a hole at the base of the great tree.
Borrowed from Elizabeth Doxstater, Mohawk storyteller and revised by Sakoieta’ Wakathahahión:ni, Mohawk – Wolf Clan Knowledge Keeper