[Marxism] Six Nations

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Apr 25 08:16:22 MDT 2006

Six Nations Does Not Stand Alone
by Justin Podur; April 24, 2006

     On Thursday April 20, Hazel Hill, one of the Six Nations Kanienkehaka 
(Mohawk) leaders on the blockade at the Douglas Creek Estates near 
Caledonia, told me about her beating at the hands of the Ontario Provincial 
Police (OPP) hours before. Early that morning, at 5am, the blockade – not a 
protest, as Hill emphasized, but a reclamation - of about 100 people from 
the Six Nations Reserve had been assaulted by heavily armed police. The 
police came out in force. Exact numbers are unknown, but eyewitnesses said 
there were over 100 police knocking people down and clearing them out, guns 
drawn. They arrested 15, including a 14-year old child. The police were 
acting on an injunction filed on March 10 by a real estate developer, Henco 
Industries Limited, to clear the native people - who had been holding the 
blockade since the beginning of March – and facilitate Henco's scheme to 
build a few more blocks of suburban houses on the site. When Provincial 
Court Judge David Marshall issued an order to the indigenous people to 
leave their land by March 22, he reportedly asked the Clan Mothers: “What's 
the matter with you people? Why don't you forget all about the past and 
listen to me?” Judge Marshall was evidently uncompelling, and the 
indigenous people remained on the blockade. The Clan Mothers, who have led 
the action, made the decision that the blockade would be unarmed. “The men 
are here to defend us”, Hazel Hill told me, “but there are no weapons here. 
We told them no weapons and they respect our decision.” The OPP had to 
know, both from the announcements of the Clan Mothers and, no doubt, their 
helicopter and other surveillance of the site, that the blockade was 
unarmed. This did not prevent them from engaging in a violent, 
disproportionate pre-dawn raid on the site. Victims reported police use of 
pepper spray, tasers, and batons.

     But the OPP got more than they bargained for that morning. Within 
hours of their raid, the indigenous returned. At around 8am on April 20, 
they evicted the police – who, after the raid, had reduced their presence 
significantly – returning with twice the number that had been removed. Like 
the original blockade, this was an unarmed action by the indigenous: “We 
started moving in on them,” Hill said, “and asked them to leave... then we 
just walked them out.”

     At one point, however, Hazel Hill found herself alone with a few 
police officers. One officer threatened her with arrest, citing the 
injunction that protesters leave the territory. Hill replied that it was, 
instead, the officer who was in violation of the law of the land – Six 
Nations territory – and also, for that matter, international law. At that 
point, the officer physically attacked – and other police joined in. Hill 
was quickly rescued by others from the blockade, however, and the police 
withdrew, though not before using a taser on Hill's rescuers and pointing 
their guns at them.

full: http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=30&ItemID=10152


The Boston Globe, March 05, 2006

In American memory the South has the Civil War, but Boston and Philadelphia 
own the American Revolution. The urban Revolution is defensive and 
glorious. It begins in danger and ends in victory against the British 

But most of early America was rural, and much of what became the 
northeastern United States remained up for grabs well after 1776. The story 
there is messier, less heroic, and more than a two-sided affair. Historian 
Alan Taylor, a Pulitzer Prize winner for "William Cooper's Town," has spent 
his career recovering the frontier of the early republic. In this dramatic, 
precise account he describes an American Revolution with dire consequences 
for native peoples.

This is not a predictable story of brave warriors fighting impossible odds. 
It will not make a good movie. There are too many sides and too many 
characters. Before the Revolution, the power of the Iroquois nations 
depended on playing off the British and the French. These relations in turn 
depended on trade, on regular councils, on gifts that were really payments, 
and on native "covering the grave" rites that substituted for 
European-style murder trials. Most of all, good relations demanded 
intermediaries who spoke both languages. Missionaries, converts, traders, 
former captives: The most important of them had one foot in one culture and 
one in another.

Taylor's central figure is the mission-school-educated Joseph Brant, who 
became a key Mohawk chief because of his knowledge of English ways. Brant 
had another special advantage. His sister had been the wife of Sir William 
Johnson, Britain's main diplomat on the northern frontier. Johnson had 
secured vast lands for himself and the empire, but on terms that preserved 
native autonomy. Decades later, chiefs invoked his example. The Revolution 
destroyed this world and the Mohawks' special place as a people between. 
While some eastern natives fought the rebels, and others remained neutral, 
Brant accused the Americans of wanting "to be sole Masters of this 
Continent." He headed west to defend Canada. Three years later, George 
Washington sent an army to devastate Iroquoia, killing native women and 
children, wasting crops, buildings, and livestock.

These victorious Americans dreamed that they had conquered the Indians of 
the north. Iroquoians had a different view. They saw themselves as 
autonomous nations poised between the British, in Canada, and the new 
United States. Taylor paints a fascinating picture of the Revolution's 
aftermath, in which both Britain and New York tried to lure Indians away 
from the disputed borderlands and into lands more clearly claimed or 
settled, where they could be isolated and controlled. Both Britain and the 
United States played divide-and-rule with different tribes while the Six 
Nations of the Iroquois tried to secure alliances with natives in the Great 
Lakes region.

"The natives conceived of their borderland as porous for information, 
trade, and people," writes Taylor, in what might be read as a brief against 
modern nationalism. "Seneca chief Red Jacket reminded the Americans, `[We] 
do not give ourselves entirely up to them [the British], nor lean 
altogether upon you. We mean to stand upright as we live between both.' "

Meanwhile, the tax-starved states had new incentives to try to control the 
sale of Indian lands. New York in particular insisted on a right of 
pre-emption a monopoly on first purchase that guaranteed low initial prices 
for large tracts, and generated huge profits within a few years once the 
same land was retailed in farm lots with secure title at market prices. 
Natives sold for cash payments and annuities that amounted to a small 
fraction of what the state and the speculators (often state officials) 
reaped. The process only whetted the appetites of speculators and officials 
who looked the other way at coerced deals.

Chiefs like Brant were not averse to taking special payments to secure land 
sales, but Taylor finds a pattern of creative adaptation even to the market 
in land. Repeatedly, natives sought to lease land to whites rather than 
sell it. They tried to control who settled among them, preferring whites 
who demonstrated fairness and sensitivity. Taylor is at his corrosive best 
in showing how state officials worked to undermine such arrangements, even 
during a brief window when the first federal government agents, eager to 
solidify national oversight of frontier policy and avoid war, actually 
approved of tribes as landlords over whites.

There are few heroes in this history of the Revolution. British officers 
could be more sympathetic to native claims, but for their own political 
reasons. The intermediaries we meet with, like Brant and the missionary 
Samuel Kirkland, his classmate, begin as Young Turks but end as tortured 
figures, grasping for land and power themselves, disappointed by their 
allies and, even more tragically, by their own children. It may be that the 
pure left less of a paper trail in an era of conflict. More likely, the 
more pure the figures, the less they interest Taylor, for it is in the 
border people, as much as the borderland, where he finds his stunningly 
alternative American Revolution.

NOTES: BOOK REVIEW The Divided Ground:< Indians, Settlers, and the Northern 
Borderland of the American Revolution< By Alan Taylor< Knopf, 542 pp., 
illustrated, $35< David Waldstreicher teaches history at Temple University 
and is the author of "Runaway America: Benjamin Franklin, Slavery and the 
American Revolution" (Hill and Wang).



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