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Doug George-Kanentiio: Iroquois abandoned by British -- again
Thursday, July 15, 2010
A couple of weeks ago I gave a lecture at the Nor'wester in
The presentation was meant to remind Canadians that their very existence as an independent country would not have been possible without the military, economic and political contributions of the Iroquois Confederacy, and, more specifically, the Mohawk Nation.
Our mutual history began in 1664 when
Formed in the 12th century, the Confederacy was a league of united nations, created to resolve disputes, create a society based on the rule of law and promote trade and commerce across national borders.
For the next 119 years [I assume the author means from 1664.] the Confederacy protected the English from Native intrusions while acting as a check against the French to the north.
The English, in return, formally acknowledged the Confederacy as an independent state fully capable, under the law of nations, to enter into treaty with other sovereign entities.
The Iroquois saved the English during the Seven Years War by providing them with vital military information as well as providing front line fighters. Our ancestors fought at
We carried on with our alliance when the Americans decided to rebel against the crown. For this, we were driven from our ancestral lands, had our communities destroyed by George Washington's scorched earth campaign in 1779 and watched in despair as hundreds of our people starved to death in the following winter.
Yet we held our end of the treaties even when the English abandoned us when they conceded to American independence with the signing of the Treaty of
In the War of 1812 the Mohawks specifically secured
We expected to have our sacrifices formally acknowledged by the English yet once again our desire to have our nation protected against American intrusions were dashed. A border was drawn, without our consent, through the northern part of Mohawk territory, effectively driving us out of the 9 million acres we once called Kanienkeh-the land of the Mohawks.
But we continued to lend aide to the English. In 1884 we sent a group of Mohawks down the Nile to deliver military aid to the British garrison at
And now? The English, those sculptors of history, have once again elected to ignore their treaty obligations to the Iroquois.
They set the conditions for our Iroquois Nationals to participate in the World Lacrosse Championships only to have the
We should have expected this as our backs still ache from the scars of 1783.
Then again, perhaps they were afraid of getting whipped by a bunch of heathens.
Doug George-Kanentiio, Akwesasne Mohawk, is the former editor of Akwesasne Notes, a co-founder of the Native American Journalists Association as well as a former member of the Board of Trustees for the National Museum of the American Indian. He is the author of "Iroquois on Fire' and resides in
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