George Williams: A Potawatomi Warrior’s Story

Written by Johnny Hawke.

Left to Right: George Williams and Johnny Hawke

We are Nations. We have always been Nations

We have voluntarily entered into a relationship of friendship and protection with the Crown, which we have for two centuries referred to as the Covenant Chain. In placing ourselves under the Crown’s protection, we gave up none of our internal sovereignty.

We have never concluded any Treaty with the Dominion of Canada, nor have we ever expressly agreed to accept the Dominion of Canada in place of Great Britain as the party responsible under the British obligation to protect us.

We retain the right to choose our own forms of Government.

We retain the right to determine who our citizens are.

We retain the right to control our lands, water and resources.

We retain our rights to those lands which we have not surrendered.

We retain the use of our languages and to practice our religions and to maintain and defend all aspects of our culture.

We retain those rights which we have in Treaties with other Nations, until such time as those Treaties are ended.

We retain the right to choose our own future, as peoples.

The only process known to international law whereby an independent people may yield their sovereignty is either by defeat in war or by voluntary abandonment of it formally evidenced. Our Nations have never yielded our sovereignty by any formal abandonment of it. We have never been conquered in war by any power on earth of which there is a record or tradition

-Union of Ontario Indians   Anishinabek Nation Declaration

I recently visited George Williams a fellow Warrior, Hunter and good friend of mine from Moose Deer Point First Nation this weekend. I went up to his community to bring fish nets and to help his family with ceremonies they were doing for him and to also organize our own enforcement to counter outside agencies who are imposing Canadian Laws on our Nation.

George Williams is Potawatomi of the Sturgeon Clan; he is 62 years old and has been a hunter, fisherman and trapper all his life. It is his knowledge as a hunter, trapper and fisherman that he is sharing with me to ensure these traditions and rights are passed on to our people.

NAC Chiefs in 1923 were pressured into ceding our peoples Hunting Territories and Fishing Rights under the Williams Treaty (no relation) therefore my community has not retained our traditions and rights in the aspect of Food security which is the founding basis of a Nations Sovereignty. Also living on a secluded small Island there is not much to fish and hunt so I am taking every effort to get out on the land and embrace my inherit right as an Anishinabe. My friend George is helping me to become that hunter and trapper.  He says everything that makes a Warrior comes from being a Hunter.

George is one of the very few Elders who is not passive and exemplifies our peoples fighting Warrior Spirit. He still Lives off the Land and embraces our Spiritual teachings. Most Elders that I have come across including many of our Anishinabe people only seem to consider certain people of Spiritual hierarchy to be a legitimate “Traditional Elder.”

Most “Traditional” Elders or Spiritual People I have counseled with have given me advice that we shouldn’t  show up waving “fierce looking flags”, wearing fatigues, or balaclavas when it comes to protecting our land and rights. Some of these people speak on tolerance of others but at the same time denounce their own people who choose to enforce our Sovereignty by any means. It seems some of our people can tolerate Canadian agencies fierce forces and laws imposed on our people in the name of “friendship” but cannot tolerate their own people enforcing our original laws.

In my own experience some  Elders and Spiritual People have  told me and others to walk away from the frontlines of a blockade when we are protecting our territory and some even say that we are not warriors. At the same time some people who I here talk like this show up at powwows looking just as fierce in their regalia playing “Indian” on the weekends.  George is not one of these Weekend Warriors he lives every aspect of being Anishinabe.

George is no Medicine or Holy man or is initiated into a Lodge or a part of a particular spiritual Indigenous sect but still embraces our teachings  devoutly.  By some he is not a legitimate “Elder” in the “ pan-Indian Traditional” sense however he passes on hunting skills to his people and in kindness provides what he catches to the communities. George is not an angry person he is just as kind hearted as those ancestors who welcomed the new comers onto our continent so long ago. He can be seen driving around his community with a Warrior Society emblem on the side door of his truck with a bow in the back decked out in camouflage ready to get a moose for the people, or fiercely defend his Nation and Territory when the time arises.

In July 9, 2009 three men from the Muskoka region were convicted after a 16-month undercover operation by Ministry of Natural Resources investigators.

George Williams was convicted of possessing and transporting an illegally killed bear, selling whitetail deer and breaching a probation order he was on at the time of the offences.  He was given a $4,100 fine, received a five-year hunting license prohibition and was placed on two years probation.

Anthony Williams son of George Williams was convicted of having a loaded firearm in a vehicle, hunting whitetail deer during the closed season, possessing and transporting an illegally killed bear, possessing a bear gallbladder and breaching a probation order he was on during the period that some of the offences were committed.  He was fined $2,500, received a two-year hunting license prohibition and placed on probation for two years.

The court heard that between September 16, 2004, and December 1, 2005, undercover conservation officers investigated reports of illegal hunting activities and were sold fish and game meat contrary to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act. The officers were guided to hunt moose, deer and bear during the closed season.

The investigation led to eight people being charged with a variety of offences.  Five of those charged pleaded guilty and their cases were heard in 2006. The investigation also led to charges being laid by the OPP against David Stock a Mohawk man from Wahta Mohawk Territory for firearm related offences which resulted in an earlier jail sentence and a lifetime prohibition against possessing firearms. The case was heard by the Honourable Justice Harpur in Ontario Court of Justice, Barrie, on June 22, 2009.

Anishinabek People taught Conservation to these newcomers and still honor our own natural laws in working with the environment. It is Industry and White collared Capitalists and Politicians that should be locked up for what they are doing to our Continent.

“The Ministry of Natural Resources came in undercover to the Reserve looking for a hunting guide.  They found out I was a hunter through the grapevine and so I was more than willing to take them out on our Reserve. They said they were Metis and had rights to hunt. ” explained George.

“I warned them about their handguns and told them that if they got caught they need to take responsibility for their own actions. I didn’t know they were undercover agents.  They killed a bear out of season illegally by their own laws using handguns and rifles. They broke their own laws just to place charges on me to stop me from hunting.

This was an entrapment on our people. I am just Anishinabe providing for my family and trying to help our people who want to go out on the land to exercise our rights. They don’t want us to do that and they keep enforcing their laws by trying to incarcerate us any way they can.” explains George.

The Anishinabek Nation incorporated the Union of Ontario Indians (UOI) as its secretariat in 1949. The UOI says it is a political advocate for 39 member Indian Act Bands across Ontario. The Union of Ontario Indians delivers a variety of programs and services, such as Health, Social Services, Education, Intergovernmental Affairs and Treaty Research, and does this with approximately 70 staff members. The UOI is governed by a board of directors and has a Grand Council Chief and a Deputy Grand Council Chief that carry the day-to-day leadership responsibilities.

During George’s time in court he couldn’t find any support from his own people or leaders to assist him with court costs, organizing rallies helping him to defend our Sovereignty and Rights and creating an awareness of what the MNR did. He had to retain a Legal Aid Lawyer for his defense and suffer these illegally imposed consequences because he only had a legal aid lawyer who wasn’t up for a fight against the Crown and obviously the Crown would never consider his Diplomatic Immunity as an Anishinabe from the provincial laws placed on him.

These Modern Chief Organizations who claim to be Political Advocates on behalf of our Anishinabek Nation, a Nation which is more than 39 INAC “Indian Bands” continues to give authority to the Canadian Judicial System. They continue to give authority to this foreign Judicial System as avenue for settling our grievances and continue to embrace the Indian Act to impose its authority on our Nation. This is also where they get there authority to be legitimate leaders in the eyes of Canada when we have our own Anishinabek Laws, Clan Sytem Governance and Nation to Nation Relationship that they so much preach about.

Recently the UOI created a Declaration of the Anishinabek Nation for their organization which is a good thing and historically correct but doesn’t mean anything if they do not live by it and enforce it.

In most instances these leaders of these individual “Bands” denounce their citizens from representing their Nation in actions when certain struggles arise. They do not assist in legal costs when our people are faced with charges regarding our rights. The common support that is mostly given is a “Chief” posing for photo opts to the media waving a finger at the Government while the grassroots people continue to be locked up and fight for our rights.  If there happens to be any success these leaders along with the passive spiritualists who don’t want anything to do with stirring the pot make statements to the media or at community gatherings like it was a collective fight of our Nation as a whole.

Stories like these go unheard and the majority of times our people face charges that breaches our Nations Sovereignty and Canada’s own Constitution which protects our Aboriginal Rights. We need to organize to help tackle these issues where Indian Act Band Political Advocates fail and denounce our actions.

During my friend George’s court struggle I was wrapped up in a struggle of my own fighting to protect the waters of my home that was being threatened by a DumpSite that would’ve sat atop an aquifer in Simcoe County, ironically Ontario Ministry of Environment approved this and Indian Affairs was no where to protect our interests and our Chief and Council showed no support. I was also assisting another community regarding getting their treaty acknowledged. I wish I had the time to help my friend George but here I am now.

I am not involved in the mainstream media as most of my journalistic colleagues are because my voice is too strong for certain publications advertisers. I organize underground and hope you can share this story and help. This article will be followed by a video and will be the start in creating awareness in what has happened so that others won’t face the same kind of things and to educate and create a buzz in helping us appeal these charges and help get George compensation and an apology and our Sovereignty honored.

Our privileged euro Canadian setter allies seem to know how to get exposure in the media when they need to especially when they are speaking for us in urban areas so maybe if you are a privileged ally and are reading this maybe you can contact me and help us get some things started and network with us.

If you are Anishinabe and would like to help organize our own enforcement to deal with these agencies come meet us in the communities where we organize. It is there where we know who we are organizing with for our own safety and security.

Our own Anishinabe Passive People who claim to be tolerant of other peoples beliefs criticize some of our own people who fight for our rights in certain ways calling us s “media seekers” looking for 15 minutes of fame.

I would like to say to those arm chair quarterbacks who most likely are Indian Bureaucratic Uncle Tomahawks. Who do you think provided your moose meat and pickerel dinner that your eating at your Council Meeting right now?  To some of us it is not all about our names in the papers its about getting the struggle in the papers and getting our grievances some attention. Some of us “bandana” wearers actual work for the people.  Before and after blockades there are people like George in the background of our communities providing for the people and living Anishinabe.

“We need to organize ourselves so when stuff like this happens we are not fighting this is in the courts alone and when they send any of their officers on our territories we need to be ready to come together from all communities to force them out.  I don’t accept their laws on our people. I am trying to appeal this and looking for a written apology and compensation for my destroyed property. ”

-George Williams, Potawatomi Nation – Sturgeon Clan

Anishinabek Confederacy to Invoke Our Nationhood

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Posted on August 10, 2011, in Indigenous Struggles and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on George Williams: A Potawatomi Warrior’s Story.

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