By: Peter Rakobowchuk, THE CANADIAN PRESS
MONTREAL – The Mohawk grand chief of the Kahnawake reserve south of Montreal doesn’t like hearing comments that describe the upcoming eviction non-natives from his community as "ethnic cleansing."
As many as 26 residents considered "non-native" are being forced from the reserve, receiving eviction notices informing them they have 10 days to leave.
Grand Chief Mike Delisle says it’s always been clear that Mohawks living on the reserve must leave the territory if they marry outside the community.
"People out in the exterior Canadian society should educate themselves before they formulate their own opinion," he said in an interview with The Canadian Press.
"This isn’t about ethnic cleansing. It’s about self-preservation."
The community declared a moratorium on mixed marriages in 1981 and after consultations, a Mohawk membership law was formalized in 1984 and then updated with 2004.
Delisle says the band council is just asking people to abide by the law.
"We’re not looking to be anything like what is being described as the Third Reich or any part of Nazi government," Delisle said Thursday. "We’re not killing people."
…"They say it’s about time and ‘get these white people out of here’ and then there are people who say we can’t do this and the tension is building."
Deer, who is married to a Mohawk, says she can’t see how the community will become stronger by splitting up people who are in romantic relationships – some for as long as ten years.
…"It’s a horrible burden to grow up knowing you have to choose possibly between love with a fellow human being or my community, where my family, my culture and my home is." she said.
Delisle argues that the contentious issue of the eviction of non-natives is not new, noting that it has come up in the past – in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.
He also points to an online poll that suggests more than 60 per cent of the community supports the actions being taken.
…he hints there may be more evictions among the population of 8,000 in the future.
"There are other diverse issues that are going to come up with families that have been here for a long time," he said.
"This is the beginning of where we’re going to go, I’m not sure where it’s going to end."
Sandra Schurman, 44, has lived in Kahnawake all her life, and even though she’s recognized by the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs as a status Indian, she is not in the Mohawk membership registry.
She was rejected for membership because she did not meet the 2004 law that requires a person to have at least four Mohawk great grandparents.
Schurman, whose 67-year-old mother married a white man, was rejected because elders ruled only three-and-a-half of her four grandparents are native.
Her mother and father, who’s 73, are still living on the reserve.
Schurman may be the next in line to be evicted, but she doesn’t see it happening.
"If they try to evict me they’re going to have to evict every half-breed in Kahnawake and the town would be half empty," she said.
Schurman said there are at least a couple of hundred of people on the reserve with Mohawk mothers and non-native fathers.
"I’m waiting for all this unfairness to someday be over with," she said.
Read it all…
Well lookie here: It seems that all is not as it seems in the "”pure blood” of the Kawanake Mohawk!
“The complex history of Kahnawake has included some European settlement since the reserve land was "donated" by the French Crown in the mid-1600s. Through the First Nations’ adoption of captives, the government’s stationing of French colonial troops (who formed liaisons with local women and had children by them), the establishment of shopkeepers, and many marriages between white men and Indian women through the 18th century, many Kahnawake people became related to people of French, Scots and Irish descent. In other areas, such Métis have formed a separate ethnic group. By the 1790s and early 1800s, visitors often described the "great mixture of blood" at Kahnawake. They noted the many "pure" white children being brought up as Indian.
Names such as Beauvais, D’Ailleboust, de La Ronde Thibaudière, Delisle, de Lorimier, Giasson, Johnson, Mailloux, McComber, McGregor, Montour, Phillips, Rice, Stacey, Tarbell, and Williams are still present in Kahnawake today. They suggest the mixture of ancestry through adoption and intermarriage with non-Natives. The Tarbell ancestors, for instance, were John and Zachary, brothers captured as young children from Groton, Massachusetts in 1707 during Queen Anne’s War and taken to Canada. They were adopted by Mohawk families in Kahnawake and became thoroughly assimilated. They converted to Catholicism, married women who were daughters of chiefs, reared children with them, and became chiefs themselves”
That puts slightly different light on their “Four Full Blood Grandparents Rule”, now doesn’t it.