Interview with John Gibson, Mohawk Nation

Mohawk Wisdom in Caledonia and the World

Story and Photo by Danny Beaton
News From Indian Country

Ultimately we want to leave a legacy for our future generations by thinking ahead. It’s all about our future generations, the unborn, our family, showing them that we made a commitment to the environment, to the land. We fought for it. That’s how we got here in the first place. That’s why we’ve been here – camped along the Grand River for the last 200 years.

This has affected every human being on the planet. If we don’t harmonize ourselves, living in peace, all the principals that the Iroquois Confederacy stand for, all the laws we stand for is about keeping the great peace.

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That’s why when we talk about the environment we are talking about everybody’s rights. The vast majority of people, including non-Native people support what we are doing, they understand the struggle has always been going since day one. The media are selling newspapers because of the violence, the confrontation. I think people aren’t stupid because they realize how important it is to protect the environment, our Sacred Mother Earth. It’s not just the Grand River, its everywhere, there’s a problem of land theft all over the world.

That roadblock in Caledonia represents justice for the whole world. We are saying no more development, we are saying no more polluting our rivers, we are saying no more giving us poison. Enough is enough, that was enough. It’s been a topic of conversation around our dinner table since I was a little kid, Danny. We are living our prophecies now really, because all of this was prophecised by the elders ages ago. That this world would come to this and how things would come to be. We are living the future of our elders. The writing was always on the wall, everybody knew it was always there.

The newspapers are anti-supportive, its anti- Natives, it’s a group of protestors, its all one sided, it’s a group of Aboriginals, finally after one year they are calling us Six Nations. Saying we are a small group of protesters. It’s probably what the OPP thought when they came April 20, 2006, for the raid, they thought we were a handful of protesters but they didn’t realize the Six Nations were backing us. The people who were arrested at the beginning were Palestinians, Cree, Mohawk, and non-Native supporters. The answer for this problem is by the government to honour our treaties, honour our commitment to the environment, honour our elders, honour our Chiefs, and most of all honour our Clan Mothers.

We have a government, we have treaties in place for Douglas Creek. The government hasn’t honoured any of those treaties. We are the Iroquois Confederacy government, we have treaties with Canada’s government. We have all our Wampums where our treaties are written, that’s where they are remembered. We have showed the government our Wampums and explained our Wampums, how our government works. And explained how our true government of democracy works with consensus. Where everyone has their say. Its not a popularity contest, like the democratic system they have now in Ottawa. The government can’t resolve it because it would cost them too much.

You are looking at millions of dollars a year in revenue alone in taxes along the Haldimond Track. What we are talking about is the Haldimond Track. The Iroquois have agreements that predate the Haldimond Track. What I am saying if they honour the Haldimond Track Treaty it’s going to cause a domino effect. This would involve all the cities and towns along the Grand River including the whole city of Caledonia, the whole town of Brantford, Kitchener it goes along the whole river, its quite a big area. It’s massive, it’s huge and that’s what the Haldimond Deed covers. Like I said we have agreements that pre-date the Haldimond Deed. The 1701 agreement, that’s all of Ontario plus New York State and parts of Pennsylvania as well Danny, I don’t think the government is going to honour that. If it was anything west of Ottawa that’s what the 1701 agreement covered. All we are trying to do is make politicians come clean now. This is our responsibility, to look after the land. This is Mother Earth, this is where we all come from, this is our culture, guardians of the land. Honouring Mother Earth, honouring the Native people and honouring Native struggles, our commitment to Mother Earth.

They can’t break that bond that we have, it’s something that we’re tied to. There’s nothing they can force upon us. The Canadian government can’t impose laws and regulations and impose violence on us. They beat us up and it didn’t change things. We’re still here and we are more determined to protect our children’s future. We’re still fighting, we’re not done and we might never be done as long as there is Mother Earth. My dream is world peace, people living in harmony with natural justice. People doing what’s right, living by what’s right. People living with the truth. There’s justice and karma out there that’s natural, that snap back and bite you in the butt.

That’s what’s happening now, Mother Earth is wounded, she can’t do what she used to. All we have to do is watch the weather, the universe is speaking on behalf of Indigenous peoples. If we don’t change our ways and stop polluting the planet, its going to destroy Mother Earth, Mother Earth is suffering, there’s too many people taking from her. We can only take so much before nature suffers. Millions of people are immigrating out this way, immigrating to the green lands, we’re losing the agricultural base here. New subdivisions are piling up, people are piling up, on top of each other, beside each other isn’t a harmonious way to live in the country. It’s adding to the pollution of the air, everything is getting polluted by overpopulation. Over- population is polluting Mother Earth. To us the fight isn’t with ourselves, it’s the powers to be to understand that you can’t eat money, money isn’t everything, you have to look at our lifestyle. You have to look at the way of life for all humans, in Canada the people can be the catalyst for the environment, but it’s not happening. Because they are not listening to the Aboriginal people here, the Native people here. We are the heartbeat of the environment.

My family have been here in Six Nations, seven generations along this Grand River. Everybody has seen the development, we’ve been pushed and pushed and pushed. Now we’re on a little patch of territory. We’ve been pushed back to a tiny patch. We can no longer hunt and do what we need to along this river which was our sustenance. The river is heavily polluted, with all the cities dumping their sewage into the river, tire plants, all the development is dumping raw sewage into the river. You can’t eat any of the fish anymore.

After all the years of pollution along the Grand the fish are heavily contaminated. It all goes back to the Great Lakes, the contamination is basically affecting everyone, not just Native people. Everyone should be speaking out. What happens to Six Nations People happens to everyone.

One day there will be no land here, there will be no water, only sand, it will be made into a desert, barren, no trees, no nothing. We have been ignored, our pleas have been ignored, we have been asking the government to be accountable to the people and to the environment, to Mother Earth. But we’ve been ignored. That’s why there is an explosion of all these forces, its died down this winter but spring is back and we’re organizing. We want to be heard, we have been sleeping outside on the roadblock for 1 year. Real issues are affecting all of our children’s future, hopefully more people will understand our plight and be enlightened.

Thank you for listening.

On The Net: http://www.dannybeaton.ca/reviews.asp

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