Yesterday was the 30th anniversary of the siege of Kahnasatake, a 78-day standoff between the provincial and federal governments and Mohawks there (Oka).
Similar militarized actions by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police against the Wet’suwet’en people and their territory occurred in 2019 and again earlier this year.
The following describes burning the remains of a tower in a ceremonial fire. The tower where Denzel Southerland-Wilson made a stand during the RCMP invasion this past February (video below).
In 1990 Canada laid siege to sovereign Mohawk territory, in Kanehsatà:ke. With helicopters and tanks and soldiers they showed Indigenous people everywhere how far they will go to steal the land out from under our feet. The Mohawks stood firm and showed the world how strong we are.
It is 30 years since the start of the “Oka Crisis,” and the fires of Indigenous resistance are still burning.
The Mohawks did not start this crisis. It began when the Mohawks were ignored as the true owners of their lands. It continued when the army rolled in with tear gas and rubber bullets. It has continued ever since, every time the state asserts its genocidal force on sovereign Indigenous territories. When we fight back, when we stand up for our lands and our people, we are painted as criminals.
Nothing has changed. Canada is still waging war on Indigenous people.
When we observed the colonial invasion of Wet’suwet’en territory in February 2020, the RCMP took over local communities and transformed them into staging grounds for their siege on our lands. They deployed dozens of militarized police, with dogs, with automatic weapons, with sniper rifles and snow mobiles and helicopters. They spent millions of dollars to arrest a handful of our matriarchs, our relatives, and supporters. They tore down our tower where we stood to bear witness to their violence.
Today we burned the remains of the tower in a ceremonial fire.
We know there is a time to build and a time to burn it down.
30 years ago, the Wet’suwet’en blocked Highway 16 in solidarity with the Mohawks of Kanehsatà:ke. Months ago, the Mohawks stood with us to shut down Canada after our lands were invaded.
We stand united today.
We were born in the fires of resistance, our parents and grandparents and great-grandparents and ancestors fought this fight.
We defend the land for our ancestors, for our children, for future generations.
We will not lose.
To learn more watch Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance: https://www.nfb.ca/film/kanehsatake_270_years_of_resistance/
#OkaCrisis #MohawkResistance #WetsuwetenStrong #Solidarity #ThePines #IndigenousRising #ShutDownCanada
(Partial transcript from video)
Our culture and our tradition is the land. We are directly connected to the land. It’s our spirituality. We cannot be forced to be away from our land.
Nine days since we took the land back.
It feels like something you don’t normally do. (laughter) Its revolutionary, right?
I don’t think anyone’s ever really evicted like a 6 billion dollar pipeline before.
People get confused about what we want as Native people. Like “what do you want?”
Just like, “land back!”. Don’t need any reconciliation, don’t want money, like I don’t want programs or funding or whatever.
(whispers “land back”)
Funny though, when I said that to my Dad, Wet’suwet’en people, if you tell them about LANDBACK, they’re like “we never lost the land, anyway.” Which is true.
Wet’suwet’en have never given up title to their 22,000 square kilometer territory.
[ WARNING: This video contains graphic images of an armed threat on the lives of land defenders Denzel Sutherland-Wilson (Gitxsan) and Anne Spice (Tlingit). It may be traumatic for many to see. But we feel strongly that it should be available to witness. Denzel, Anne, and all the land defenders are now safe. These events took place during the RCMP raid on unceded Wet’suwet’en territory on February 7, 2020. The video was filmed by Gitxsan land defender Denzel Sutherland-Wilson from atop this tower. ]
During this time Denzel’s brother Kolin was making a stand at the British Columbia legislature building. In the video below he mentioned loved ones in danger, referring to his brother.