Thursday, January 18, 2007

Repression in Tyendinaga and The Struggle for the Culberston Tract

The following forwarded from OCAP:

Tyendinaga Update: The Fight for Return of Culberston Tract Lands
Tuesday January 15, 2007

The Culberston Land Tract

The Culberston is a tract of land, 923 acres in size that runs along the eastern boundary of Tyendinaga today. In 1837 the Federal Government changed the status of the land from Indian land to white land.

All agreements with the Mohawk Nation predate the existence of Canada. While the Mohawk Chiefs immediately registered their people’s dissent in 1837 when the land was stolen, no formal legal process existed to pursue its return. Despite a fundamental obligation to uphold previous agreements between the Mohawks and the crown, the Federal Government only created such a process in 1991.

Tyendinaga filed a formal claim for the land with the Feds in 1995. The claim seeks the restoration of lands to the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory.

In November 2003, Tyendinaga received a letter from the Federal Government acknowledging what the people of Tyendinaga have always known: That the Culberston Tract was never surrendered and is Mohawk Land.

Since then the Federal Government has been trying to get Tyendinaga to take a buy-out for the land. Mohawk people know the value of land cannot have a dollar sign attached and that the future generations of our growing population will depend on this land. Tyendinaga will accept nothing less than the full and unfettered return of these lands to Mohawk control and use.


The Mayor of Deseronto has said that the town’s economic viability and survival depends on the development of Culbertson tract lands. Tyendinaga’s Rotiskenhrakehte have twice ensured that deadlines to begin development of these lands have not been realized. “If they cannot find a way to survive without our land then they simply cannot continue to exist,” said Tyendinaga Mohawk, Shawn Brant.

The Rotiskenhrakehte have also been mandated to close a Deseronto quarry, situated on Culberston Tract lands, that literally digs up, sells off and ships out Mohawk land by the truckload. This obscene state of affairs can no longer be tolerated.

Land Claim Arrests

The Government struck back last Friday in a failed attempt to slow the momentum in the reclamation of 923 acres of Mohawk Nation Lands in Tyendinaga.

Friday’s attempt to target and remove Tyendinaga leadership with a clear embellishment of events surrounding the charges of Shawn Brant and Mario Baptiste has done nothing more than inflame the situation and anger the community.

Shawn and Mario would likely still be in jail if Tyendinaga community members had not responded immediately with imminent plans to shut down Deseronto completely.

The motive for the charges was made clear when the Crown pushed (unsuccessfully) for conditions barring the accused from Deseronto and the Culberston Land Claim Tract entirely.

“We have been denied our land for 170 years. That’s not going to fly anymore. There is no level of Government or police force that will keep a Mohawk off their own land,” said Tyendinaga, Mohawk Nation citizen, Jay Maracle.


Mohawk protesters charged

Jeremy Ashley
Local News - Friday, January 12, 2007

Two native protesters who were at the centre of the most recent dispute near Deseronto Wednesday have been arrested on criminal charges in connection to a Nov. 15 demonstration.

On that date, they had been protesting a disputed land claim in Deseronto, 15 km east of Belleville, which continues to be at the centre of a dispute and led to a demonstration at a gravel quarry this week.

Warrants were issued for the pair following an investigation into a confrontation between members of the Canadian army who were stopped en route to a training exercise on Nov. 15 at the site of a native protest on Highway 2.

Friday, an officer with the Napanee detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police pulled over a vehicle on Deseronto Road, just north of County Road 2, for a traffic violation, explained OPP Sgt. Kristine Rae.

During the course of the traffic stop, the individual in the vehicle made a cell phone call, Rae said, and the two accused showed up at the scene moments later.

The officer was aware of the two warrants for the individuals and (after he identified the men) their arrests were made without incident, Rae said,

Officers want to ensure that everyone is aware that the OPP respects lawful protests, but will not tolerate criminal activity.

Charged with three counts of uttering death threats are Shawn Michael Brant, 42, of Tyendinaga.

Charged with two counts of assault and one count of mischief is Mario Michael Baptiste Jr., 21, also of Tyendinaga.

Both are scheduled to appear for a bail hearing Friday in Napanee.

For more background about the November 15th incident, being used as an excuse for this repression, see Heated Confrontation with Mohawks at Development on the OCAP site.

Not really much to add about this, just that it’s another reminder that capitalism and the State in Canada have both been built and structured on the dispossession of indigenous people. No news there, the real question being how these structures of exploitation and domination will adapt to the growing challenge of indigenous people to this state of affairs.

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