December 10, 2010

by Tammy Beauvais


You are right, I meant Matrillineal Society, my mistake. But, even the word "Matrillineal" is an english word that loses so much meaning. I have asked some Kanienke'ha Speakers who know the Haudenasaunee teachings around the Clan System and the Roles and Responsibilities of Women to give a better explanation of our original instructions. I will get that posted shortly.


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December 09, 2010

Matriarchal or Matrilineal? by Watio Montour

It's quite common to hear people refer to the Iroquois as being a "Matriarchal Society". This description, though not totally incorrect, is for all intents and purposes incorrect. The Iroquois follow a "Matrilineal System within its overall Governance".

The word "Matriarchal" is very similar to the word "Matrilineal" in one major way, but distinctly different in all other important aspects.

The similarity is in the fact that both words incorporate the basic definition that "descent follows the woman/mother" and the meanings then go in completely different directions.

One acute difference of these words is that "Matriarchal" denotes complete power through descent and is associated with a "Monarchy", such as England (of days gone by) and its Queen/King or the mythical "Amazonian Tribes" where females ruled, period.

There is no doubt that women living under the Haudenosaunee carry much power and responsibility, but they do not "rule" completely. A clan mother is of course the matriarch figure (a generic and universal term)of "her" extensive family, but she does work in concert with the two other clan mothers (Mohawk) to assess, determine and appoint the male leaders, otherwise known as chiefs, etc.

If the Iroquois were a "Matriarchal Society" there would now be a singular and solitary female leader of Kahnawake. Though it's still said that there are people in Kahnawake who are referred to as "King/Queen, Prince/Princess), these titles are a case of either having been "self-annointed or jestingly imposed by others".


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December 08, 2010

by Tammy Beauvais

Referring to Gerald Alfred's submission, yes that infomation may be true from 1972 forward and lets not forget that colonization through the "Indian Act" was at its stongest at that time and the Haudenasaunee was at its weakest. The fact is that we are a Matriarchal Society and have been for thousands of years, our citizenship is based on the Clan System, passed down from the mother to her children. The indian act system nearly destroyed that by, taking away the rights of our women "With Clans" and not allowing them to be in their communities and therefore their children did not pass on their clans in the community.

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December 07, 2010

Historical View on Mixed Marriage Issue by Gerald Taiaiake Alfred

There is lots to criticize in the way this issue is being handled, and the criticism is mainly deserved. But basically, I see the MCK as simply maintaining a long-standing position on mixed-marriages that is still supported by most Kahnawakero:non (except maybe those who are in relationships with non-natives).

Two examples of the long-standing community position on this from the public record:

Public Meeting – BCR #75, January , 1972
RE: Non-Indian Marriage
Following previous discussion on issue initiated by Doris White, resolution put forward objecting to Ontario court ruling that Indian women who marry non-Indians retain their Indian status, “the Caughnawaga Band Council and the Caughnawaga Band Members feel the ruling will lead to the destruction of the Indian race through saturation of non-Indians and the loss of Indian Reserve lands to non-Indians...” (one objection noted, by Frank Stacey). Mrs. Jos Goodleaf noted that the Band’s past tradition had been to refuse Indian status to children born from two successive generations of mixed marriages.

MCK Band Council Minutes - January 19, 1978
RE: Membership
Report of the Kahnawake Membership Committee (Ida Goodleaf, Celina McComber, Bertha Ross, Gladys Deer and Sandra McComber). The committee’s primary recommendation is that both Indian men and women who marry non-Indians lose their Indian status.

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December 05, 2010

Money for Mohawks by Watio Montour

Nothing said in this note should be considered as the absolute of anything.

It's a certainty that there are "some" funds coming into Kahnawake from Ottawa that are for people who are on the Federal roles but NOT on the Membership list and this is not big, breaking news.

All "specific" funds, from whatever governmental sources, are initially directed to the MCK and then dispersed by them to each of the several entities that serve Kahnawake, including the entity of the MCK itself.

One example of an entity that receives funds from Ottawa through the MCK is the Education Department. There are students who attend our schools who are NOT on the Membership list but who are on the Federal list. The E.D. determined its financial needs and these funds were approved directly by Ottawa and then released to them, via the MCK. This is typical of the other entities involved (KSCS, etc.) and how they all have to draw a fine line when trying to provide basic and essential services to the "entire" community of Kahnawake.

So even though the MCK may have or does receive funds for "Mohawks" not on the Membership list, they nor anyone else party to these funds, are "robbing Peter to pay Paul" as the saying goes.

Here are some eye-opening figures that were easily gathered from the web sites of INAC (Indian and Northern Affairs Canada) and the MCK.

INAC says that there are approx. 9,800 Mohawks of Kahnawake on their registry.
INAC says that there are approx. 7,550 Mohawks living in Kahnawake.
INAC says that there approx. 2,250 Mohawks living outside of Kahnawake.

The MCK says that approx. 8,000 Mohawks live in Kahnawake.
The MCK offers no other relative figures.

INAC says that Kahnawake's land base is approx. 4,800 hectares or 12,000 acres.
INAC says that Doncaster's (Tioweroton) land base is approx. 7,900 hectares or 19,500 acres, but also very interestingly goes on to mention that these lands are uninhabited.

Maybe these missing 2,250 Mohawks of Kahnawake from their list are lost somewhere in this obscure and unused wilderness.

Nia:wenhkowa sewakwekon.

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December 03, 2010


Does anyone know if the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake is recieving money for mohawks from Kahnawake that are on the Federal list, but not on the Kahnawake membership list?

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December 03, 2010

Survey Says by Watio Montour

Question # 3 is written in a manner that seems to prod the prospective responder to answer, almost automatically, in the affirmative. It's quite likely that Q#3 has since received a very high percentage of "Yes" checkmarks, very near 100%.

I've not filled out this questionnaire nor have I ever seen it. Is Q#3 typical of any other question and how many Q's are asked in the survey?

Whoever drafted, developed and wrote Q#3, I imagine, asked this question with good intentions. In an effort to elicit a broad answer that specifically dealt with the long and deeply held notion that Kahnawake was/is on the verge of becoming "just another municipality of Quebec, within Canada but with Special Status", the question asked is quite plainly "leading".

Using words like "non-natives consistently" and crossing these words into the mix of the same sentence which mentions "Fed/Power takes away our lands and status" would incite an immediate and inflammatory reaction/response by most people I know and of whom would likely say something similar to "F-that", which of course "leads" to a "Yes" answer in the check box.

Whatever usefulness this survey is supposed to generate may have some merit, but it appears that Q#3 personifies the age-old adage of "taking a few baby steps forward and one giant step backwards".

Why not re-phrase, re-write or simply remove Q#3?


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December 02, 2010

Survey question #3 by Skawennati

I have been wanting to talk about the survey questions that were handed out during the Membership Information Sessions in the fall. This note will focus on one question, Number 3: "Do you think if non-natives consistently become part of the community, that over time this will give the Federal government enough power to take away our reserve and Mohawk status?"

I can barely contain my anger and disbelief about this ridiculous question! Who wrote it?? And WHY? Has such a thing EVER happened? And does anyone truly think it could? To KAHNAWAKE???

This is one of the most blatant and crass examples of fear-mongering I've ever seen.

Kahnawake existed before any "reserves" existed. Kahnawake existed before Canada or Quebec existed.

It seems that those who wrote that question only see themselves as Mohawk if the government of Canada sees them as Mohawk. It seems that those who wrote that question cannot conceive of being Mohawk without being dependent on a paternalist government to keep them functioning. It seems that those who wrote that question want you to be afraid.

I want to see that question stricken from the survey. It is more like an Otsi story than honest information-gathering.

Nia:wen for your attention and good minds.

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December 01, 2010

Membership Revisited by Watio Montour

In the early 60's I was a young boy of 12/13. My world was very small, seemingly simple and quite happy. I had two best friends, both of whom lived within my condensed neighbourhood.
Me, Joe and Jack (fictitiously named) were pretty much like the Three Musketeers, one for all and all for one. That is, until something happened that changed everything and still reverberates today.
One of my two best friends was told that he was not really an Indian. This was extremely perplexing. "Why's that, who decided this, what does it mean, is this good or bad?", we asked.
The answer we got seemed comprehensible, even at our tender age. It was, "The Government and the Indian Agent tells the band council what the law is and how to follow it". Consequently, one of my best friends was no longer a Musketeer or an Indian, according to Canadian law. The three of us dealt with this privately. We sat down one night and talked about this "Indian problem".
Joe's father was a proud Mohawk man who was then working in New York. Joe's father had met and married a white woman in New York and Joe was the product of this relationship. Joe always felt that he was a Mohawk even though his skin was pale as a wispy cloud.
Jack's mother was the epitome of a proud Mohawk woman. Jack's mother worked across the river and met and married a white man and Jack was the product of this relationship. Jack always felt that he was a Mohawk, since his skin was dark as the meanest cloud.
My father and mother were proud Mohawks. They both were born and grew up in Kahnawake and I was the product of that relationship. I've always felt that I was a Mohawk, even though my skin was fair or light.
Since the law had said that Jack's mother had married a white man, he could no longer be a Mohawk or a Musketeeer.
Since the law had said that Joe's father had married a white woman, he was a stil Mohawk and still a Musketeer.
Since the law had said that my parents were both Mohawk, I guessed that I was even a better Mohawk and Musketeer. NOT.
What can I say, that's my story.
Niawenhkowa, Watio.

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