Doug George-Kanentiio: Native people play key role in politics

The Mohawk flag, in red, and the Haudenosaunee flag, in purple, can be seen flying over the "Three Nations Crossing" station at the border between the United States and Canada. Photo by Dominic Labbe via Wikipedia

Casting ballots isn't the only way Native people can influence politics in Canada and the United States, argues Doug George-Kanentiio:
Our lands have been arbitrarily divided between Canada and the U.S. with attendant state and provincial sections. This along with a dozen alien police agencies, competing legal systems and three Native governing agencies, two of which were imposed upon Akwesasne at force of arms by officials in Ottawa and Albany while the third, the Mohawk Nation Council, has no financial resources to respond to the needs of its citizens.

We are therefore deeply affected by what the Canadian electorate decides and must have our voices heard in whatever forum presents itself if we are to remove the international border and rid ourselves of the colonial band-tribal council systems.

This does not mean we must cast ballots but we must be actively engaged if we are to lessen the burdens which have crippled us with every negative measure of social behaviour and physical health.

In the past our Iroquois leaders were masters of the political processes of not only our nations but those of the Europeans. We made it our business to understand how the immigrants thought and by which manner were they governed. We took a very active role in the affairs of the colonies. We also pressed for the colonial leaders to study our governance and thereby secure greater freedom for their own.

At the famous Lancaster, Pennsylvania treaty conference in 1744 the Onondaga leader Canassatego admonished the English colonies for their lack of unity and offered the Iroquois Confederacy as an example of freedom and stability. In 1754, at the Albany Unity Conference, the Mohawk leader Tiyanoga (Hendricks) also offered the Confederacy as a model for the colonies. Both speeches influenced Ben Franklin, who cited the Iroquois as a tangible example for colonial unification.

Get the Story:
Doug George-Kanentiio: Aboriginal people must be involved in Canadian politics (The Ottawa Citizen 10/9)

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