The Hau de no sau nee, People of the Longhouse, who are known to many
Europeans as the Six nations Iroquois, have inhabited their territories
since time immemorial. During the time prior to the coming of the
Europeans, it is said that ours were a happy and prosperous people. Our
lands provided abundantly for our needs. Our people lived long,
healthy, and productive lives. Before the Europeans came, we were an
affluent people, rich in the gifts of our country. We were a strong
people in both our minds and bodies. Throughout most of that time, we
lived in peace.
Prior to the arrival of the colonists, we were a people who lived by
hunting and gathering, and practiced a form of agriculture which was not
labor intensive. The economy of the people was an extremely healthful
Way of Life, and our peoples were very healthy -- among the finest
athletes in the world. There were some, in those times, who lived to be
120 years and more, and our runners were unexcelled for speed and
Among our people we refer to our culture as "OngweHonwekah." This
refers to a Way of Life that is peculiar to the Hau de no sau nee. It
is virtually impossible for us to recount, specifically, the history of
"Hau de no sau nee economics." As will become evident, our economy,
that way in which our people manage their resources, and the
relationship of that management to the total organization of our
society, are processes completely bound together. The distribution of
goods, in our traditional society, was accomplished through institutions
which are not readily identified as economic institutions by other
societies. The Hau de no sau nee do not have specific economic
institutions. Rather, what European people identify as institutions of
one classification or another serve many different purposes among the
Hau de no sau nee.
We were a people of a great forest. That forest was a source of
great wealth. It was a place in which was to be found huge hardwoods
and an almost unimaginable abundance and variety of nuts, berries,
roots, and herbs. In addition to these, the rivers teemed with fish and
the forest and its meadows abounded with game. It was, in fact, a kind
of Utopia, a place where no one went hungry, a place where the people
were happy and healthy.
Our traditions were such that we were careful not to allow our
populations to rise in numbers that would overtax the other forms of
life. We practiced strict forms of conservation. Our culture is based
on a principle that directs us to constantly think about the welfare of
seven generations into the future. Our belief in this principle acts as
a restraint to the development of practices which would cause suffering
in the future. To this end, our people took only as many animals as
were needed to meet our needs. Not until the arrival of the colonists
did the wholesale slaughter of animals occur.
We feel that many people will be confused when we say that ours is a
Way of Life, that our economy cannot be separated from the many aspects
of our culture. Our economy is unlike that of Western peoples. We
believe that all things in the world were created by what the English
language forces us to call "Spiritual Beings," including one that we
call the Great Creator. All things in this world belong to the Creator
and the spirits of the world. We also believe that we are required to
honor these beings, in respect of the gift of Life.
In accordance with our ways, we are required to hold many kinds of
feasts and ceremonies which can best be described as "give-aways." It
is said that among our people, our leaders, those whom the Anglo people
insist on calling "chiefs," are the poorest of us. By the laws of our
culture, our leaders are both political and spiritual leaders. They are
leaders of many ceremonies which require the distribution of great
wealth. As spiritual/political leaders, they provide a kind of economic
conduit. To become a political leader, a person is required to be a
spiritual leader, and to become a spiritual leader a person must be
extraordinarily generous in terms of material goods.
Our leaders, in fact, are leaders of categories of large extended
families. Those large extended families function as economic units in a
Way of Life which has as its base the Domestic Mode of Production.
Before the colonists came, we had our own means of production and
distribution adequate to meet all the peoples' needs. We would have
been unable to exist as nations were it not so.
Our basic economic unit is the family. The means of distribution,
aside from simple trade, consists of a kind of spiritual tradition
manifested in the functions of the religious/civic leaders in a highly
complex religious, governmental, and social structure.
The Hau de no sau nee have no concept of private property. This
concept would be a contradiction to a people who believe that the Earth
belongs to the Creator. Property is an idea by which people can be
excluded from having access to lands, or other means of producing a
livelihood. That idea would destroy our culture, which requires that
every individual live in service to the Spiritual Ways and the People.
That idea (property) would produce slavery. The acceptance of the idea
of property would produce leaders whose functions would favor excluding
people from access to property, and they would cease to perform their
functions as leaders of our societies and distributors of goods.
Before the colonists came, we had no consciousness about a concept of
commodities. Everything, even the things we make, belong to the
Creators of Life and are to be returned ceremonially, and in reality, to
the owners. Our people live a simple life, one unencumbered by the need
of endless material commodities. The fact that their needs are few
means that all the peoples' needs are easily met. It is also true that
our means of distribution is an eminently fair process, one in which all
of the people share in all the material wealth all of the time.
Our Domestic Mode of Production has a number of definitions which are
culturally specific. Our peoples' economy requires a community of people
and is not intended to define an economy based on the self-sufficient
nuclear family. Some modern economists estimate that in most
parts of the world, the isolated nuclear family cannot produce enough to
survive in a Domestic Mode of Production. In any case, that particular
mode of subsistence, by our cultural definition, is not an economy at
Ours was a wealthy society. No one suffered from want. All had the
right to food, clothing, and shelter. All shared in the bounty of the
spiritual ceremonies and the Natural World. No one stood in any
material relationship of power over anyone else. No one could deny
anyone access to the things they needed. All in all, before the
colonists came, ours was a beautiful and rewarding Way of Life.
The colonists arrived with many institutions and strategies designed
to destroy the Way of Life of the People of the Longhouse. In 1609,
Samuel deChamplain led a French military expedition that attacked a
party of Mohawk people on the lake now named "Lake Champlain."
Champlain arrived in search of wealth and was specifically interested in
generating some kind of trade in beaver pelts with the Algonquin people
of the area. He demonstrated his firearms to them, letting them see,
for the first time, the power of guns.
Champlain, accompanied by his newly-found business partners, marched
into the center of Mohawk territory. This war party encountered a party
of about 200 Mohawks. The first volley of gunfire killed three men, and
the second created such confusion that the Mohawks retreated, leaving
twelve men who were taken captive.
The period of warfare which followed this incident has come to be
known as the "Beaver Wars." The introduction of trade in beaver pelts
inevitably triggered a long series of colonial wars. It represented the
escalation of disputes among neighbors into a full-scale struggle for
survival in the forests of the Native people of North America.
The European penetration affected every facet of the Native Way of
Life from the very moment of contact. The natural economies, cultures,
politics, and military affairs became totally altered. Nations learned
that to be without firearms meant physical annihilation. To be without
access to beaver pelts mean no means to buy firearms.
The trade in beaver pelts, and the now necessary weaponry, introduced
factors never before encountered by the Native people. Trade meant that
long routes over which goods were to be transported had to be secured.
The only way that was possible was for the entire area to be in friendly
hands. Any potential disruptor of the trade routes must either be
pacified or eliminated.
With the introduction of firearms, war became a deadly business. It
was made more deadly because the European strategy of economic
penetration was to stimulate warfare among the Native nations over which
would have the goods for trade. Out of necessity, to protect themselves
from annihilation, the People of the Longhouse entered the beaver trade.
The pelts were used to buy more firearms and goods that made it possible
for more men to trap more beaver more efficiently. The marketplaces of
France, Holland, and England were eager for the "New World" merchandise.
Shortly after the encounter on Lake Champlain, the Hau de no sau nee
began trading with Holland, which had established posts along the Hudson
River. A large part of the trade involved firearms. French historians
recount that the People of the Longhouse were very skillful at the
strategies of battle, and within a short time, the Algonquin people were
defeated. Their defeat was aided by the fact that the French had not
taken seriously their pledges of aid to the Algonquin.
So intense became the need for European goods, especially firearms,
that by 1640 the beaver were becoming scarce in the Hau de no sau nee
territories. Pressure from the newly created European frontiers was
steadily increasing. Warfare was also common between the various
colonizers. The Hau de no sau nee were well aware of what was occurring
to the East. The Dutch, shortly after their arrival, began a series of
genocidal wars that ended in the utter annihilation of the Native
peoples of the Lower Hudson River Valley. In New England, the Pequot
nation was nearly obliterated by the Puritan and English colonists
Knowledge of these massacres greatly influenced Hau de no sau nee
defense policy. To the East were the Dutch and English, whose presence
was necessary as a source of firearms. Yet, they represented a constant
potential of movement of their frontiers westward into the Longhouse.
To the North was the colony of France, which was supplying arms to the
Western Native nations. France also threatened to gain a monopoly over
the beaver trade which was increasingly centered to the north and west
of Lakes Erie and Ontario.
France made repeated attempts to send missionaries, especially
Jesuits, among the nations of the Hau de no sau nee. These missions
were the major tool of propaganda for the European nations.
Missionaries then, as today, are expected to carry more than the message
of Christianity. They serve as lay ambassadors of their culture,
splitting off individuals from families, families from villages,
villages from nations, one by one. Some priests even served as the
leaders of troops going into battle.
The missionaries made persistent attacks on the economic structures
of the People of the Longhouse. They specifically attacked the
spiritual ceremonies as "pagan," and thereby sought to end the practice
of give-aways and public feasts. In addition, they sought to break the
power of the clans by causing division which would split the people into
European churches, especially in colonial practice, take on their
feudal roles as economic institutions. Among natural world people, they
are the most dangerous agents of destruction. They invariably seek to
destroy the spiritual/economic bonds of the people to the forests, land
and animals. They spread both ideologies and technologies which make
people slaves to the extractive system which defines colonialism.
In 1704, the first Anglican missionaries were sent, by England, to
the Mohawks living along the Mohawk River. In 1710, a delegation of
Mohawk chiefs received an invitation to visit England. They returned
bearing four bibles, a prayer book and a communion plate for the
Anglican chapel, gifts from Queen Anne. But the missionaries also
brought behind them a long, long tail. To house themselves they needed
a mission, to protect the mission they needed a fort, and to propagate
the faith, they needed a school. Missionaries spread more than the word
of God. The British Empire was fast entering the Hau de no sau nee
territories, and there was more to come.
The warlike European kingdoms were constantly fighting among
themselves. There were three wars during the 18th Century just between
France and England: Queen Anne's War (1701 to 1713,) King George's War
(1744 to 1748), and the "French and Indian War," known to the European
world as the "War of the Spanish Succession," (1754 to 1763). It is
clear from the records of the time that the People of the Longhouse
remained neutral throughout these conflicts. Although individuals on
the road to assimilation, such as the Anglicized Mohawks, who had been
coerced into roles as British peasants, could be counted on to aid the
If France was unsuccessful in her attempts at military penetration of
the territory of the Longhouse, England was far more successful in her
social and religious colonization of the Eastern part of our
territories. William Johnson was an Irish immigrant who became famous
for his influence over certain Mohawks. As an agent of the British
Crown, he maintained an embassy as an operational base close to the
Mohawk country. He took several Native women as concubines and had
several children by them, none of which he ever recognized as heirs.
His position was known as "British Superintendent of Indian Affairs for
the Northern Department." He is widely credited, by European
historians, as a successful manipulator of events and developments on
the frontier during his tenure. In today's context, Johnson would be
working as an ambassador to a Third World country, executing
simultaneously diplomatic, military, intelligence, and foreign aid
During his tenure he engineered the establishment of a beachhead from
which immigrants could move Westward to broaden the colony. Mohawk
lands along the Susquehanna and Mohawk Rivers were increasingly
encroached upon by British settlers, including Johnson himself. By the
Spring of 1765, the carefully managed Longhouse environment was in
trouble as ignorant and destructive peasant settlers almost eradicated
the deer herds.
There was so much trouble with the peasant settlers that the Mohawks,
who had so generously allowed them to share their lands, were actually
considering moving Westward into Oneida territories to gain some more
peace. By the Spring of 1765, many Mohawks had already been displaced
and were living as refugees among the other nations.
William Johnson was a master public relations man for the King. He
would, on the one hand, apologize for the behavior of the frontiersmen
and urge the Mohawks to be patient, and on the other hand encourage more
settlers to move into the Mohawk lands. He would make a great show of
protecting Hau de no sau nee interests, and in that way encourage the
People of the Longhouse to seek a resolution at the bargaining table
where they invariably ended up trading land to gain a temporary peace.
Throughout this period many other Native peoples had been moving into
our territories to gain some respite from the colonial onslaught. Far
to the South, in the colonized area known as the Carolinas, the
Tuscarora were faced with imminent destruction. In their drive to gain
some more land and economic advantage, English colonizers were using the
same techniques which were being employed in the Northeast. In 1713,
the dispossessed Tuscaroras withdrew from their homelands and sought
protection in the territories of the Hau de no sau nee. They were not
the only people who were displaced. Delawares, Tuteloes, Shawnees and
others fled to the Hau de no sau nee lands seeking peace.
Peace, however, was not to be. At the approach of the American
revolution, the Hau de no sau nee did everything possible to remain
neutral. With the decline of France, and the increasing decline in the
importance of trade, the settler bourgeoisie of the Anglo colonies cast
an increasingly envious eye on the lands of the Longhouse. Still our
military power was formidable, and our resolve was to remain neutral.
The policy of England, however, was to involve the Hau de no sau nee
in the war. To accomplish this goal, they resorted to bribery,
trickery, false propaganda, and the emotional appeal. The Hau de no sau
nee continued its policy of neutrality throughout. Both the colonists
and the "Loyalists" entered our territories in search of mercenaries.
The loyalist strategy was the more successful. They were able to draw
out some of our people into a battle with the revolting colonists.
The Treaty of Ghent, which ended the war, made no provision, at least
in writing, for the Native nations, which the British Crown had solemnly
promised to protect. Thus the representatives of the People of the
Longhouse held an international treaty meeting with the new federation
called the United States of America in September of 1784. The U.S.
demanded huge cessions of territory, especially from the Senecas. The
warriors who had been delegated to the meeting eventually signed the
treaty. However, they had not been authorized to commit the Hau de no
sau nee without consulting them. For a time, the terms of the treaty
were not known, as the U.S. would not provide the Hau de no sau nee with
a copy of the document. As many Native people knew, to their regrets,
signing a treaty and the ratification of a treaty are two separate acts,
each necessary before a treaty becomes valid. Although the U.S.
Congress ratified the treaty, the legislative council of the Hau de no
sau nee met at Buffalo Creek and renounced the agreement.
Somehow the United States takes the position that the Hau de no sau
nee ceased to exist by the year 1784, although the Longhouse has
continued to this day. There is ample evidence that all the nations
continued to participate in the matters of the Great Council, the
legislative body of the Confederacy. None of the nations of the league
has ever declared themselves separate from the Confederation. The
Oneidas, whose reputed allegiance to the United States was based on the
existence of Oneida mercenaries, continued to send their delegates to
the council, and the Tuscarora remain firmly attached to the League.
The Onondagas, Senecas, Cayugas and Mohawks continue to hold their
positions within the League. Although the Hau de no sau nee have been
severely disrupted by the Westward expansion of the United States, the
subsequent surrounding of their lands, and the attempts to devour its
people, the Six Nations Confederacy continues to function. Indeed,
today its strength continues to be increasing.
By pretending that the Hau de no sau nee government no longer exists,
both the U.S. and Britain illegally took Hau de no sau nee territories
by simply saying the territories belong to them. To this day, Canada,
the former colony of England, has never made a treaty for the lands in
the St. Lawrence River Valley. But the truth continues to remain and
plague officials yet today. The Hau de no sau nee territories are not
and have never been part of the U.S. or Canada. The citizens of the Hau
de no sau nee are a separate people, distinct from either Canada or the
United States. Because of this, the Hau de no sau nee refuses to
recognize a border drawn by a foreign people through our lands.
The policy of the dispossession of North American Native peoples,
first by the European kingdoms, and later by the settler regimes, began
with the first contact. Dispossession took a number of approaches: the
so-called "just warfare" was a strategy by which Native nations were
deemed to have offended the Crown and their elimination by fire and
sword was justified. That was followed by the Treaty Period in which
Native nations were "induced" to sell their lands and move westward.
The Treaty Period was in full swing at the beginning of the 19th
Century. By 1815, the governor of New York was agitating for the
removal of all Native people from the state for "their own good."
While the infamous Trail of Tears was removing Native peoples from
the Southeast to Oklahoma, New York State was lobbying for a treaty in
1838 which was intended to remove the Hau de no sau nee, who were on
lands that the state wanted, away to an area of Kansas. The principal
victims were to be the Senecas.
Like the Termination Policy a century later, the Removal Policy was
eventually abandoned due in part to the bad press received during the
Cherokee Removal in 1832. During the process of the Cherokee removal,
thousands of Cherokee men, women, children and elders were subjected to
conditions which caused them to die of exposure, starvation and neglect.
In 1871, the U.S. Congress passed an Act which included a clause that
treaties would no longer be made with "Indian Nations." It was at this
time that official United States policy toward Native people began to
shift to a new strategy. Reports to Congress began to urge that the
Native people be assimilated into U.S. society as quickly as possible.
The policy of fire and sword, simply began to become less popular among
an increasingly significant percentage of the United States population.
The principle hindrance to the assimilation of the Native people,
according to its most vocal adherents, was the Indian land base. The
Native land base was held in common and this was perceived as an
uncivilized and unAmerican practice. The assimilationists urged that,
if every Indian family owned its own farmstead, they could more readily
acquire "civilized" traits. Thus the Dawes Act of 1886 ordered the
Native nations stripped of their land base, resulting in the transfer of
millions of acres to European hands.
There was consistent pressure in the New York Legislature to
"civilize" the Hau de no sau nee. To accomplish this, all vestiges of
Hau de no sau nee nationality needed to be destroyed. This is the 19th
Century origin of the policy to "educate" the Indian to be culturally
European. It was thought that when the Indian was successfully
Europeanized, he would no longer be distinct and separate, and that
there would no longer be an indigenous people with their own customs and
economy. At that point, the Indian could be simply declared to have
assimilated into the United States or Canadian society. The net effect
would dispense with the entire concept of Native nations, and that would
extinguish the claims of those nations to their lands. The report of
the Whipple Committee to the New York Legislature in 1888 was clear:
"Exterminate the Tribe."
In 1924, the Canadian government "abolished" Hau de no sau nee
government at the Grand River territory. The Oneida and Akwesasne
territories were invaded and occupied by Canadian troops in order to
establish neo-colonial "elective systems" in the name of democracy.
Also in 1924, the United States government passed legislation declaring
all American Indians to be United States citizens. The 1924 Citizenship
Act was an attempt to deny the existence of Native nations, and the
rights of these Native nations to their lands. The denial of the
existence of Native nations is a way of legitimizing the colonists'
claims to the lands. This concept is furthered by the imposition of
non-Native forms of government. This also serves to fulfill the
colonizer's need to destroy any semblance of sovereignty. The actual
process for taking lands can be accomplished when the Native nation no
longer exists in its original context -- when it is less of a nation.
With all semblance of a Native nation's original context destroyed,
Canada and the United States can rationalize that integration has
occurred. With this rationale in hand, both governments have set out to
enact their final solutions to the "Indian Problem."
The Hau de no sau nee vigorously objected to the Citizenship Act and
maintains to this day that the People of the Longhouse are not citizens
of Canada or the United States, but are citizens of their own nations of
The Terminations Act of the 1950s were efforts to simply declare that
the Native nations no longer exist and to appropriate their lands. The
acts were so disastrous that they caused something of a national
scandal. "St. Regis," the European name for Akwesasne, was one of our
territories targeted by the Bureau of Indian Affairs as "ready for
The BIA based its recommendation on the fact that many Mohawks had
acquired at least some of the material conditions which made their
community outwardly indistinguishable from the white communities. In
fact, however, Akwesasne was, and is, very different from the small
towns in the area surrounding it.
Termination submerged as an official policy in the late 1960s. But
Termination is simply a means to an end. The objective is the economic
exploitation of a people and their lands. The taking of lands and the
denial and destruction of Native nations are concrete and undeniable
elements in the colonization process as it is applied to Native people
surrounded by a settler state. Tools to accomplish this end include
guns, disease, revised histories, repressive missionaries,
indoctrinating teachers, and these things are often cloaked in codes of
law. In the Twentieth Century, the taking of land and the destruction
of the culture and Native economy serve to force the Native people into
roles as industrial workers, just as in the 19th Century the same
processes forced Native people in the U.S. and Canada into roles as
The Hau de no sau nee has, over a period of 375 years, met every
definition of an oppressed nation. It has been subjected to raids of
extermination from France, England, and the United States. Its people
have been driven from their lands, impoverished, and persecuted for
their Hau de no sau nee customs. It has been the victim of fraudulent
dealings from three European governments which have openly expressed the
goal of extermination of the Hau de no sau nee. Our children have been
taught to despise their ancestors, their culture, their religion, and
their traditional ceremony. Recently, it has been a government-sponsored
fad to have bi-lingual/bi-cultural programs in the schools.
These programs are not a sincere effort to revitalize the Hau de no sau
nee, but exist as an integrationists' ploy to imply "acceptance" from
the dominating culture.
Revisionist United States and British historians have cloaked the
past in a veil of lies. The national and local governments of the Hau
de no sau nee have been suppressed and usurped by the colonial
authorities, and their neo-colonial Indian helpers, to carry out
policies of repression in the name of "democracy." Generation after
generation has seen the Hau de no sau nee land base, and therefore its
economic base, shrink under the expansionist policies of the United
States, Great Britain, and Canada.
The world is told by colonial government propaganda machines that the
Hau de no sau nee are simply "victims of civilization and progress."
The truth is that they are the victims of a conscious and persistent
effort of destruction directed at them by the European governments and
their heirs in North America. The Hau de no sau nee is not suffering a
terminal illness of natural causes -- it is being deliberately strangled
to death by those who would benefit from its death.
Although treaties may often have been bad deals for the Native
nations, the United States and Canada chose not to honor those which
exist because to do so would require the return of much of the economic
base and sovereignty to the Hau de no sau nee. The treaties contain the
potential for independent survival of the Native people. The
dishonoring of treaties is essential to the goal of the U.S. and
Canadian vested interests which are organized to remove any and all
obstacles to their exploitation of the Earth and her peoples.
The European nations of the Western Hemisphere continue to wage war
against the Hau de no sau nee. The weapons have changed somewhat --
Indian Education programs and social workers, neo-colonial Indian
officials and racist laws are used first. If these methods fail, the
guns are still ready, as recent history at Akwesasne and South Dakota
The effect of all these policies has been the destruction of the
culture and therefore the economy of the People of the Longhouse. The
traditional ceremony has been largely replaced by the colonial ceremony
which serves multinational corporate interests. The colonial ceremony
is one that extracts labor and materials from the people of the Hau de
no sau nee for the benefit of the colonizers. The Christian religions,
the school systems, the neo-colonial elective systems, all work toward
We are an economically poor people today. Few of us can afford to
support the spiritual ceremonies which form the foundations of our
traditional economies. The money economy is not adaptable to the real
economy of our people. Few of our peoples participate in the Domestic
Mode of Production which defines the traditional economy. This is
largely because of the colonizer's education system, and also more
systematic and brutal attempts at acculturation, have placed neo-colonial
governments on our territories. On some of the Hau de no sau
nee lands, the Canadian and United States government moneys employ
one-third of all employable workers, creating an economic dependence among
potential leadership of the Hau de no sau nee, and actively recruiting
people away from the Domestic Mode of Production. The traditional
economy is under heavy attack from many directions, and all else is an
economy of exploitation. The political oppression, the social
oppression, the economic oppression, all have the same face. These are
the tools of Genocide in North America.
Genocide is alive and well in the territory of the Hau de no sau nee.
Its technicians are in Washington, Ottawa, and Albany, and its agents
control the schools, the churches, and the neo-colonial "elective
system" offices found in our territories. This oppression of the Hau de
no sau nee has taken its toll -- but the Hau de no sau nee continues to
meet in council, and its members are on the rise. The Hau de no sau
nee, the People of the Longhouse, still have a long history ahead. We
have developed strategies to resist the economic effects of the
conditions we face. But, those strategies require that we revitalize
our social and political institutions. This can only be accomplished on
sufficient lands within the ancient boundaries of our territories.
We are living in a period of time in which we expect to see great
changes in the economy of the colonizers. The imperial powers of the
world appear to be facing successful resistance to expansion in Africa,
Asia, and other parts of the world. We will soon see the end of an
economy based on the supply of cheap oil, natural gas, and other
resources, and that will greatly change the face of the world.
For the moment, there is more wealth, more goods and services, more
automation than has ever existed in the history of mankind. The world
is living in an age of manufactured affluence. But the people of the
world have rarely been told the costs in terms of peoples' lifes and
suffering, that this affluence has extracted from each of us. Even the
people in North America, who seemingly benefit from all these "advances"
seem to be unaware of the destruction they are experiencing. The
"Modern Age," and its consumer values, has altered, in very basic ways,
the very structure of human society, and the basic conditions of the
The modern family is an institution which is presently under a great
deal of stress. The family in Western society has undergone great
changes over the last century. As the Westernization of the world
continues, all peoples will be faced with similar stresses and turmoils.
We, the Hau de no sau nee, have clear choices about the future. One
of the choices which we have faced is whether to become Westernized, or
to remain true to the Way of Life our forefathers developed for us. We
have stated our understanding of the history of the changes that have
created the present conditions. We have chosen to remain Hau de no sau
nee, and within the context of our Way of Life, to set a course of
liberation for ourselves and the future generations.
Our liberation process is not one that is exclusive to us as Humans,
but also includes the other life forms that coexist and are as oppressed
as we. The liberation of the Natural World is a process which is being
undertaken in a most difficult environment. The people surrounding us
seem to be intent on destroying themselves and every living thing.
Throughout the past four hundred years, the Hau de no sau nee have
exerted a great influence on the lives of millions of people. Theories
about democracy and classless society have been developed from
inadequate interpretations of the true nature of those ideals. This
conference may be the time which begins a process which moves toward
more real definitions of these concepts.
In our homelands, our people are still struggling and developing
strategies for survival. In the Mohawk country, our people have
re-occupied lands for the purpose of revitalizing our culture and economy.
This settlement, known as Ganienkeh, has been successfully held for more
than three years. The Oneida people have been waging a court battle for
several years to regain 265,000 acres illegally taken in the 1700s. The
Cayugas have also been engaged in an effort to regain 100,000 acres
taken during the same period as the theft from the Oneidas. The
Onondagas and Tuscaroras have been carrying on an unceasing battle to
gain control of the education that their children receive. The Senecas
have been forced into a long struggle to protect the last pieces of
their land still under traditional government, the lands at the
Tonawanda territory. Every day of our lives finds us defending
ourselves from some form of intrusion by the State of New York or the
United States or Canadian governments.
If we are to continue to survive, we need the help of the
international community. We need external presence to bring some sort
of stability to the situation of our people. We have learned, too
frequently, that what is good law today can rapidly be changed into bad
law. Both Canada and the United States have taught us that their legal
systems are part of the political machinery which effects the oppression
of our peoples.
We are nations by every definition of the term. We have been unable
to obtain any semblance of justice in the court systems of the United
States or Canada, and we suffer horrible legal injustices which have
terrible economic and social consequences for our people. Many of our
legal problems involve land and sovereignty over land, and land is the
basis of our economy. We are seeking our rights in those areas under
Lastly, we require economic assistance in the forms of economic aid
and technical assistance. We are aware that there exist various
international figures who have technical expertise and who are conscious
of the development in the context of specific cultures. Our case is
appropriate to the deliberations of the United Nations Decolonization
Committee. We are engaged in a struggle to decolonize our lands and our
lives, but we cannot accomplish this goal alone and unaided.
For centuries we have known that each individual's action creates
conditions and situations that affect the world. For centuries we have
been careful to avoid any action unless it carried a long-range prospect
of promoting harmony and peace in the world. In that context, with our
brothers and sisters of the Western Hemisphere, we have journeyed here
to discuss these important matters with the other members of the Family