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Evictions at Kahnawake

An open letter from the Native Women’s Association of Quebec challenges the band council’s evictions that have been widely reported in the corporate media. As usual the posting of this does not imply endorsement of its positions or analysis. In particular, as a someone who is not a resident of the Kahnawà:ke Mohawk community, I do not know enough about the ongoing situation to be able to judge.

Kahnawà:ke, QC
February 8, 2010

Re: Evictions of Non-Native residents

Open Letter

QNW is troubled with the decision taken by the Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke (MCK) to evict non-Native residents from the community of Kahnawà:ke, a decision which ruptures the family unit and the community as a whole. It is imperative that clarification be made regarding Mohawk customs as a huge misconception has been conveyed by the MCK that misrepresents all Mohawk people to the public.

Indeed, traditional Mohawk customs dictates that a man who marries a Mohawk woman can and should reside in the woman’s community. According to Mohawk customs, women are the titleholders of the land, a tradition that was undermined by the Indian Act which was originally created to define who was an “Indian” and to keep “white men” from living on “land reserved for Indians”. In fact, adoption of non-Mohawks in Mohawk communities was and still is a common practice and includes ceremonies to welcome new residents, reinforced by an adoption belt thereby securing the individuals rights to live on the territory. But adoption also comes with responsibilities which include learning the language, honouring and upholding the laws and traditions of the Mohawk people and obligations to the adopted clans. Read the rest of this entry