April Fool’s Day

MNN. March 14, 2006. “I don’t trust them. We’ll get ready for the 1st and they’ll come in on the 2nd”, said a Kanehsatake grandmother. To help us Mohawks welcome the Spring, the RCMP and the Canadian army seem to be planning to attack four of our communities on Saturday, April 1st, 2006. Get ready, folks! This is just two weeks away.

Tyendinaga near Belleville Ontario has found out about this from two separate sources. Kahnawake, Kanehsatake and Akwesasne haven’t been told yet. We’ve all been the targets of surveillance by low flying helicopters for some time now. They’re inspecting our homes and businesses. Why don’t they drive up to our cigarette shacks in cars like anybody else?

In Tyendinaga a chopper landed right in the middle of their runway on Wednesday, February 8th at 8:30 pm. The soldiers got out, stomped around for a bit, all decked out in full uniform, helmets and night vision goggles. (Why did they land? Did someone need to pee?) “We’re just doing routine training”, they told the ever-suspicious Mohawks. Then they quickly jumped back into their helicopter and flew away, without even waving good-bye. A week later two army choppers flew low enough to shine bright blinding lights right inside people’s houses.

Last summer Mohawks bumped into Canadian and U.S. Special Operations Soldiers on the CN Rail lines on Tyendinaga. The Mohawks chased them off. Later they came across Canadian soldiers on a road near their northern boundary. This time dozens of soldiers jumped out of the trees on both sides of the road and scooted off like a bunch of scared rabbits. What do you think of that?

These and other incursions over the past months and years worry our communities. R. Don Maracle, the band council chief there, wrote to the army on February 9th 2006. He protested the helicopter flights, saying “further activities will be viewed as harassment and a serious breach of protocol.”

What did those guys means that it was just “routine training”? Since when did Canadian soldiers practice on unsuspecting civilians of another nation? This is an international incident! They certainly don’t run practice maneuvers in the middle of downtown Ottawa or suburban Scarborough or Albany New York, do they?

Since 1994 Canada has been quietly reviving the old fashioned Hollywood-Cowboy method for dealing with Indigenous people. What they’re doing is illegal under international law. But they’re trying to get away with it anyway.

They call it a crime for Indians to make and sell cigarettes on “reserve” lands. But they still haven’t resolved the boundaries between Canadian and indigenous jurisdictions. Their constitution says they have to respect “aboriginal and treaty rights”. Their highest courts say these rights are “inherent”. That means they have to respect our jurisdiction that predates the arrival of the colonizers.

The trouble is they’re still with cowboy and Indian fantasies. They think we have to live like we did 400 years ago. Do they? Are they going to go back to wearing little bloomers, frilly collars, ride sailing ships and not bath? Not likely. But they still want us to stay in canoes.

When you come right down to it, their decision to declare that our business activities are crimes is illegal nonsense. They think they have a right to raid us like a bunch of Rambos. They seem to have forgotten about the commitment to peace and honorable negotiations they made to our ancestors and to the international community.

They’re not above trying to co-opt some of our cousins into their deceitful schemes. James Gabriel of Kanehsatake allegedly signed a deal in November 2003 with the Solicitor General to target all Mohawks who are trading with their sister communities. They want to wipe out the entire native run tobacco industry.

Canada thinks that the only way to scare the Mohawks is by launching an overwhelming attack on us with massive military and police armaments and weaponry. They just don’t want us to become economically self-reliant because then we would control our own lives. Indian Affairs would be out of a job.

We Mohawks are proud of our prowess in looking after ourselves and our people. We will not let colonial governments and their agents criminalize us for running legitimate economic enterprises. Because they fear our asserting our rights, Canada hires high priced public relations firms to constantly demonize and stereotypes us as “dangerous criminals”. This is being done to condition the public. If they think we’re criminals, they wont object if we’re attacked. They won’t notice that peaceful families are being violated by armed “mercenaries”. They’ll think they’re just cleaning up crime.

In 1994, the Canadian army planned to invade these four communities. It was called ‘Operation Scorpion Saxon’. It was to have involved some 1,500 soldiers, 2,000 RCMP and 2,000 Quebec officers. What a great make work plan. Indian Affairs isn’t the only colonial government agency looking to justify its existence. “They would invade at night with the forces arriving by road, rail and air using helicopters and armored vehicles”.

The soldiers would have brought tear gas, smoke bombs and pepper spray. They were trained to use 66 millimeter rockets and M-67 type fragmentation grenades. There would be low level helicopter flights below power lines and shooting from flight levels of 100 feet. There was no mention of what precautions were to be taken to protect babies sleeping in their cradles, or to ensure that shrapnel avoided hitting the elderly. Joint Task Force 2 (JTF2) commandos were on standby. They figured this would cause countrywide native protests and were prepared for multiple strikes across Canada. Obviously at some level they knew that the public would be able to see what they were doing was wrong.

When it was called off, the army called this ‘simple routine training’. Have we heard that before? Two reasons were given: (1) CSIS advised Canada that there would be “grave political violence” that the Canadian public would not tolerate; and (2) There were too many leaks about the army’s plans which would eliminate the element of surprise they thought they needed. All this to stop Canadians from smoking Native Cigarettes!

In the Toronto Star, Sgt. Martin Blais of the RCMP in Ottawa said, “We would not confirm or deny this or any operational matter”.

Maj. Mike Lagace of the Canadian Air Force Air Wings headquarters in Winnipeg said relationships with local native communities are important for the military, “when conducting flying exercise or operations.” So why aren’t they telling us what they’re up to? What’s routine about practicing military maneuvers in residential Indian neighborhoods?

So, we Mohawks better brace ourselves just in case this is not an April Fool’s joke! Let’s keep our eyes open. As one Akwesasne resident said, “We’re supposed to be watching out. But we’re seeing so many strange things these day we don’t know what’s out-of-the-ordinary anymore”. Maybe it’s time for an email campaign to tell the Canadian government to back off.

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