The grassroots group, “Allies of Onkwehonwe,” collaborates with minds and spirits that seek to raise awareness of environmental and Onkwehonwe issues. The group has members from both Six Nations and surrounding communities.
The event itself raises awareness of the ageing pipeline owned and operated by Enbridge. They have been notorious sources of leaks and significant destructions of the Michigan watershed and giving way to the cause for alarm shown their harmful Track Record.
Line 5 pipeline serves the Canadian markets but takes a shortcut through Michigan. The Canadian multinational company continues to attempt to force their other pipeline, Line 3, through critical drinking water routes.
This isn’t the first time Allies of Onkwehonwe has shown support for MackinawOde. At the same time, they hosted their annual Pipe Out Paddle up Flotilla in the Mackinaw straight; the Allies of Onkwehonwe hosted a similar event along our beloved Grand River with education, speakers, and a silent auction and a donation only lunch.
“This is a great opportunity to solidify a working partnership with other water protectors surrounding the Great Lakes and continue to work in the spirit of the Two Row Wampum. In addition, we hope to gain tremendous first-hand knowledge from these incredible water defenders so that we can support them in their fight against Enbridge and use those lessons to stand against them at home.”
~Allies of Onkwehonwe
Follow their Facebook page @Allies of Onkwehonwe or Email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how you can support this fantastic opportunity.
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.
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
Do calls to decolonize the holidays have you uncertain about celebrating the winter seasons, first consider the ancient origins of the winter festivals that are deeply rooted in Onkwehonweneha.
It’s important to know that most ceremonies directly correlate to the moon and stars honouring the natural process of time rather than a specific gregorian calendar date.
Onkwehonwe winter festivals are enduring despite campaigns to convert practitioners to particular religions or, more recently, their capitalization entirely.
Onkwehonwe celebrations have survived these attempts and are still practiced to this day
It all starts with the Seven dancers and the new moon who announce the new year’s arrival. The Midwinter festival begins five days later with the traditional opening, followed by ceremonies that include the excellent feather dance and stirring the ashes amongst the several ceremony days.
The days are rich in symbolism representative of the renewal of our responsibility to the earth. Singing, dancing and feasting are all reoccurring themes during this time.
The colonization of solstice celebrations replaced the female medicine woman referred to as the Deer Mother into a male figure. He donned a version of her signature red and white clothing. However, the female deer retain their antlers and would pull her sleigh in the winter months. She was a medicine woman and would distribute her gifts as she travelled from village to village.
Quviasukukvik is the Inuit winter celebration that perfectly aligns with the changing seasons. It is to feed spirits, encourage good hunting and welcome the sun into the new year. The feast, family gatherings and gift exchange are a hallmark of this celebration. When the first settlers observed his festival, it was considered an equal counterpart to the colonized Christmas.
The Zuni observe the winter solstice through a series of dances and ceremonies retelling their creation performed by the mediators between the living and the spirit world referred to as the Shalako.
The ceremonies themselves mark the closing of one year and the rebirth of the sun into the next while honouring the principal deities of the Zuni. The feast and ceremony is a community-wide event and now is strictly for nation members.
Revisiting the Christmas Riots
The same people who sought to purify Onkwehonwe festivals within our territory attempted to undo the version of Christ’s mass they had created. The contempt for merry-making arrived in North America with the Puritans in 1620.
Law until 1681
In Massachusetts, the merry-making reached an intolerable level. Christmas started to resemble ancient frat parties; it signalled to the staunch religious politicians to create laws to stop the celebrations altogether.
“For preventing disorders arising in several places within this jurisdiction, by reason of some still observing such festivals as were superstitiously kept in other countries, to the great dishonor of God and offence of others, it is therefore ordered by this Court and the authority thereof, that whosoever shall be found observing any such day as Christmas or the like, either by forbearing of labor, feasting, or any other way, upon such accountants as aforesaid, every person so offending shall pay of every such offence five shillings, as a fine to the county.”
Drinking and Debauchery
The behaviour that put the law on the books was none other than an almost two-week drunk and disorderly, aggressive begging and all-out lust-filled indulgence sans the inflated pig bladders.
The law remained on the books for some twenty-two years before it was repealed by the crown of England when religious affiliation changed.
Celebrate what exists Naturally.
So perhaps Desupremification is a far more accurate term when considering how to observe the seasonal changes.
Enjoy and celebrate a wonderful solstice and a brilliant Midwinter!
It’s been a crazy year with lots of growth and development here at Tribe. We started pretty small with a minimal amount of products last year. When we first started, we did not have our parking lot paved.
Over the last year, we have come a long way, we have increased our product line, our customer base is incredible with the most amazing and loyal people, and our parking lot is paved now, says Doolittle
So far, things are going very well; we have our minimum price set, so we are not necessarily competing with each other as far as who can sell the cheapest products. However, we make price comparisons with the other local shops to ensure we are close to being on par with them.
Giving back to the community has been tremendous this year; we have been able to sponsor local efforts and make donations and community member and elder discounts.
The recorded terms of negotiations and common understandings were much different pre-contact; as Onkwehonwe and settler relationship evolved, so did the record keeping. Consequently, communication would have been difficult during those early and quite often misunderstood conversations.
Reliance on the written words, the intent and promises behind historical agreements have become a mainstay in land reclamations coast to coast. However, it’s important to note that frequently, agreements were ratified without any consensus-building, leading to internal disagreements.
Tragic Plight of The Six Nations Iroquois Indians is a compendium of letters, Agreements and complaints launched by some pivotal and influential people in Rotinonhsyonni modern history. It includes text from the originals of The Haldimand Pledge, The Haldimand Proclamation and the Simcoe Deed.
Indian affairs thoroughly involved themselves in our matters. They made every effort to “sever” our nation’s relationship with each other and have led to the ideation of “Private property Ownership” over collective landholdings.
We are not just at the Grand River. We have many distinct Rotinonsyonni communities in Canada and the USA that form our League of Nations, some not formally recognized by Indian Affairs. When we consider the time and effort it took and takes to arrive at Consensus, it makes more sense to see why Canada forced smaller band councils to speak for the Onkwehonwe and continue with land disposal
We are still here, and this is just one document that can lead you to a better understanding of Our History.
We have a responsibility to our collective existence and those of our nations.
Leslie Michelson, Media relations with Indigenous Services Canada (ISC), reports that the expired doses originated from Grey Bruce and had an expiration date of August 9th. The vaccine administration dates were August 13 to September 9th.
Michelson said she recognizes the concerns that this has caused in the community and has committed to enhanced training and education for the administering nurses.
Canada does provide vaccine administration verification steps for health care practitioners to follow. In addition, patients are encouraged to ask questions about their health care and what medications they are receiving.
The ISC vaccine protocol will see attention, stated Michelson; however, it’s unknown if the Ministry Of Ontario vaccine consent form will also be revised to include a section to have expiration dates.
Eight hundred and ninety-nine people in New York City were given expired doses and subsequently required revaccination just two months prior. But, of course, this is of little comfort for anyone experiencing this latest situation firsthand.
What happened in Saugeen should not have happened.
Millions of doses expired in August 2021 worldwide, and Canada’s stockpile was no exception. The rush to develop the vaccines themselves contributed to the overstock; however, Vaccine Manufacturers were providing updates regarding mass expirations.
After the Tekanawita had finished giving the message of Skennen, Kanikonriio and Kasatsensera to the Onkwehonwe, he said, “Now I have completed my duty given to me by Rawenniio.
I have tried to unite all the native peoples on this island, but I have made little progress. But, finally, I was able to get the consent of the Wisk Nihonwentsake; Kanienkehaka, Oneiote’aka, Onontake’aka, Kaionke’aka and the Onontowanen’aka, to accept the Kaianerekowa, and that is a start.
I have planted the Tioneratase’kowa, and its Four White Roots of Peace shall go out in all directions. So that if any nation traces these roots to their source and desire to follow the laws I have laid down, they may join the League of the Great Peace.
I now leave it in the hands of you, the united people, to carry on the ways of Rawenniio. So that other nations shall know the law and join with you for the future good and welfare of all native peoples’.
Now I must go across the great water to an evil people. They have forgotten the ways and instructions of Rawenniio, and it is my duty to bring the message to them.
Before Tekanawita left, the people asked him, “How will we know of your well-being? And when will you return?”
Tekanawita replied, “There is a certain tree that you must chop in the spring, and if blood should flow from it, you will know I have been killed. But if nothing flows from the wound, then you will know I am well. You will see me return in my stone canoe, which will glow in the distance in the direction of the horizon of the rising sun.”
Then he walked to the river with the people, who wished Tekanawita good luck on his journey. He put his stone canoe in the water and paddled swiftly in the direction of the rising sun until he could no longer be seen in the distance. Finally, the people returned to their homes.
Every spring, as Tekanawita instructed them, the people chopped this particular tree. But no blood flowed from it, and they knew he was alive and well. So every spring, the people carried this out for many years until they chopped the tree, and blood flowed from it one day. Then, the people said, “Tekanawita has been killed, and he shall return.”
In the distance, the people saw a bright light coming over the eastern horizon, and they went to gather by the riverside, waiting for Tekanawita to arrive. They came with food, drink, clothes and gifts to offer him on his return.
When Tekanawita arrived in his stone canoe, the people rushed forward to welcome him back. They wanted to kiss and hug him because they were glad to see him once again.
But Tekanawita said to them, “Do not touch me, for I am not the same as you anymore, for I no longer have a living body such as yours.”
The people were saddened and asked Tekanawita what had happened to him in the land across the great water. He replied that he spoke to these people about the message from Rawenniio, and they listened to him. For many years he tried to reason with these people, but they did not want to follow the laws of Rawenniio. They became angry with him, put him upon two pieces of wood, put holes in his hands and feet with metal spikes, and placed a wreath of thorns on his head. They speared him, tortured him, spat at him and ridiculed him.
Now that they had killed his body, Tekanawita would go into the woods to cover himself with bark. The people asked him, “Who will be our leader now that you will be gone? How will we communicate with you now that you will no longer be here in body? ”
Tekanawita replied, “Tharoniawakon will be your leader; he never grows old, and he never will die. So I will tear off a piece of my flesh and throw it on the ground. From this will grow oienkwa’onwe which you will use to communicate with Rawenniio and me.
You must always plant it, harvest it and respect it, for it shall be how you shall communicate your words to Rawenniio and thanks for all of his creation.
You must always burn this oyenkwa’onwe on a wood fire since I have covered myself in the bark. So I will rest here in the woods and listen and watch over you forever.
If you should ever be saddened, depressed, or have any problems which you cannot solve, grab hold of a tree, and you shall become well again. But, should troubled times ever return to the people and the world become evil once again, you must burn this oyenkwa’onwe on a wood fire and call my name three (3) times, and I shall return.”
Tekanawita then went into the forest and covered himself with bark. There he still rests in spirit, listening and watching over the affairs of the Onkwehonwe peoples in the hope that all peoples will hear, understand and accept the Kaianerekowa. And abide by the principles of Skennen, Kanikonriio and Kasatsensera, the ways of Rawenniio.
Tekanawita, a Huron-Wendat, brought the Great Law of Peace and ended civil war amongst the Mohawks. His words offer a possible solution to political divisions in Kanesatake.
The Great Law is the social, political and spiritual constitution of the Six Nations, the Mohawks, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora Nations. Tekanawitas’ words have been passed down orally and have become part of the cultural fabric of the Kanienkehaka people. This system of traditional government and chiefs exists in most Mohawk communities. However, it is not recognized nor supported financially, politically or legally by the Canadian government. Nevertheless, it is recognized in most Mohawk communities as the legitimate Mohawk government by the majority.
The only First Nations governments recognized by the Canadian government are the elected band councils. Band councils are a British colonial creation designed in the 1840s to undermine indigenous government systems and substitute them with a municipal form of government. Band councils are composed of a grand chief and a number of chiefs depending on the populations of the band. The Grand Chief is essentially the mayor, and the chiefs are councillors. The term “chiefs” is only cultural icing for a municipal council.
The Canadian government supports band councils financially, legally and politically to deliver programs, services and information to First Nations peoples. Band councils may pass municipal by-laws only, subject to the approval of the Minister of Indian Affairs, provided they are not considered unconstitutional. They do not violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
This is a democracy, according to Canadians, their leaders and the media. It is not a democracy, according to First Nations peoples. The Dominion of Canada’s intentions in 1867 was to thrust “democracy” on Mohawk communities and implement it by force if necessary. The Dominion Police, the RCMP, Provincial Police forces and Federal law attempted to abolish First nations forms of government-provided that force. Those that refused “democracy” were branded and treated as “criminals and hotheads”. Thus, creating the stereotype of Native Peoples that resisted the coercive policies of the Government, the Churches, and the law as threats to “law and order.”
As hard as the Federal government, Police and Church-run residential schools tried to suppress First Nations socials, cultural and political structures; our people secretly kept our languages and cultures alive. Part of that cultural transmission was chiefs were chosen to represent their people. That included consulting the wishes of the people and making decisions in their best interest.
If a chief or chiefs ever lost the esteem of their people, the people could ask the clan mothers to remove the offending chiefs from office. Mohawk society is matrilineal, and women pass on their clan and citizenship to their children. Once a chief was removed from office, he never regained it as his removal was considered a disgrace.
According to Mohawk society, this is a responsible government, as their leaders remained leaders as long as they worked for the welfare of their people and held the popular support of their people. However, once they no longer worked for the welfare or lost the esteem of the people, their horns of a chief’s office were removed, and they were forced to step down as a chief.
The band council system introduced by the Indian Act of 1876 changed this to chiefs being elected by popular votes, with the candidates winning the most votes becoming elected leaders. Consensus in Mohawk society was replaced with the creation of opposing parties. The party having the quorum or majority of seats has the political power and recognition of the Department of Indian Affairs to pass by-laws. Once the chiefs have been elected, they are no legal obligations for the party having the ability to consult with their constituents.
Thus, a handful of “chiefs” can negotiate an agreement with the Federal government without obtaining the approval of the opposing party of chiefs and the people living on the reserve. And this is the root of the political problems in Kanesatake.
The people living in Kanesatake want a responsible government that listens, consults and follows the community’s wishes. And if its ruling party fails to do that, to have the right to call for a non-confidence vote to remove their leaders from power.