Mohawk Warriors keep watch over the log barricade at the top of the hill.Credit: Robert Galbraith / Kanien’keháka Onkwawén:na Raotitióhkwa Language and Cultural Center

Around the first of July, 1990, we went to Kanesatake. We set up patrols and camped out right there in the Pines.

We didn’t expect the police to come the way they did. We thought the town workers from Oka were going to come up with chainsaws and bulldozers to start cutting down the trees and bulldoze the graves. That’s not what happened. 

The mayor of the town of Oka, Jean Ouellette, called the SQ and maybe 150 cops showed up on July 11th. We were in the Pines the morning it happened. 

The people heading to work, early in the morning, were going down to the town and then running back up saying, “There’s SQ in the village!” 

Around five in the morning, I was through the woods on the main roadside when I saw a SWAT team coming up. 

We had a big log across the road and we got behind it with our rifles out screaming, “You have no business coming here. Get the fuck off our land.” 

We were gun-to-gun.

At the first crack of light, the SQ came in on both sides of us. They came with all their trucks and police cars, vans, everything. So I left the area I was in and made my way to the front, that’s when I seen our women standing in the front against the cops. 

The women were chanting and yelling, “You have no jurisdiction here, you have no business here.” All that kind of stuff. The SQ didn’t want to talk to them and said, “We want to talk to the men or chief or whoever was in charge.” 

The women stood their ground and said, “We have just as much authority as the men and we have just as much power as them.” 

And they do. Sometimes they have more power than we have. 

Because in reality, we are only just tools of the nation, that’s all we are. But these cops weren’t used to dealing with women. 

At about six in the morning, they started throwing tear gas. 

The way the breeze moved off the top of the hills and through the forest, the wind would push the gas back onto them. I never got to smell any tear gas but the women did because they were right at the front. That went on for hours. 

They threw so much tear gas that they actually ran out. We didn’t budge. It was tear gas, tear gas then all of a sudden we heard shooting when they ran out of gas. More and more shots were heard and then we all started shooting back and forth. This was only for like 10 or 12 seconds, but there were like 1,000 shots in that time…

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Aktóntie’ shitsorà:’on ne Ohiaríha 1990, Kanehsatà:ke ieionkwenónhne’. Wetewatkwenhrá:ron’ tsi wa’akwatenòn:na’ tánon’ wa’akwatenatón:ni’ tho onen’tó:kon nonkwá:ti.

Iah teionkwahrhá:rehkwe’ ne tsi ní:tsi wahontatià:thewe’ ne ratiríhton. Wa’ákwehre’ Oka thotiio’ténion tahón:ne’ ratihá:wi karonkwahsotáhrhon karóntia’ks tánon’ iekà:reks rontorihátie’ ne aontahontáhsawen’ ahatirontià:khon’ tánon’ iahatì:reke’ tsi  tieia’tatárion. Iah eh teiawèn:’en.

Ne Oka ranatakwe’ní:io, Jean Ouellette, iahshakotewennátahse’ SQ tánon’ ki’ ónhte’ 150 nihá:ti wahotikè:tohte’ Ohiaríha 11 shiská:rahkwe’. Onentó:kon tiákweskwe’ neh sha’á:wen’.

Tsi’ niká:ien’ rotiio’ténhsere’s, ohrhon’ké’stsi, kaná:takon wahón:ne’ sok tontahón:ne’ rontòn:ne’, “SQ thón:ne’s ne kaná:takon!”

Ákta ne wísk nohrhon’kè:ne’, kahrhá:kon ohahaktóntie’ tsi tiohahakwe’ní:io ítke’skwe’ tsi wa’khé:ken’ SWAT tahatinenhrotátie’.

Karontowá:nen wa’tiakwarontahrónho’ nohahà:ke tánon’ eh aohnà:ken taiakwatáhsehte’ iakwahonrenhá:wi’ teionkwahenréhtha’, “Iah thé:nen tesewarihwà:ke aontésewe’ kèn:’en. É:ren sewatenenneri’tí:neht ne tsi iakwanákere’.”

Kwah wa’tiakwatathón:ratatshe’.

Sha’tewentahrónho’, tetsarónhkwen na’akwaià:tati nontahón:nehte’ ne SQ. Akwé:kon tsi nihoti’seréhtake nia’tehoti’seréhtake rotihonwi’serenóntie’. Thò:ne ki’ é:ren wà:kehte’ eh nón:we tánon’ ohén:ton ionsá:ke’, thò:ne wa’khé:ken’ onkwathonwisénhtshera’ ratiríhton raotihén:ton tkón:nete’.

Kwah kontirennó:tahkwe’ tánon’ teiotihenréhthahkwe’, “Iah thé:nen tesewaianerenhserá:ien’ ne kèn:’en, iah thé:nen tesewarihwà:ke ne kèn:’en.” Akwé:kon ne tho nikarihò:ten’s. Iah tehonè:ron tahotihthá:rake’ ne ratiríhton tánon’ wahonnì:ron’, “Iákwehre’ ronnón:kwe tóka’ ni’ roiá:ner tóka’ ni’ thikawenní:io ónhka ohén:ton í:iente’ taiakwahthá:ren’.”

Kheh wa’tkonte’katsó:ten’ tánon’ wa’konnì:ron’, “sha’té:ioht tsi ohén:ton iákwete’ tsi ní:ioht ne’ ronnón:kwe tánon’ sha’teionkwa’shatstenhserò:ten ne’ ronónha.”

Tó:ske wáhi. Sewatié:rens ísi’ nón:we iotiianerenhserá:ien’ tsi ní:ioht nì:’i.

Ase’kénh  ne kwah tokèn:’en, nek kanakeráhsera’ iontstha’shòn:’a’ niiakwaia’tò:ten, thok niionkwateríhonte’. Nek tsi kí:ken ratiríhton iah tehotiren’nha’òn:ne’ thé:nen ken’ niahatí:iere’ skátne konnón:kwe.

Ákta ne ià:ia’k nohrhon’kè:ne’, tahontáhsawen’ tahotitshe’tón:ti’ iokahrarónhkwaht otshá:ta’.

Tsi ní:tsi onontohara’kéhshon nontakawerénhawe’ tánon’ wa’tewatehrhóhetste’, kwah ówera’ eh ionsakà:reke’ notshá:ta’ taonsahotíhkwa’te’. Iah énska tewakeswèn:’en nothé:nen iokahrarónhkwaht otshá:ta’ nek tsi wa’otíswen’ ki’ ne konnón:kwe ase’kénh kwah ohén:ton tkonné:tahkwe’. É:so wa’kahwistà:’eke’ ionsontahsónteren’ thí:ken.

Kwah wahontò:kten’ ne iokahrarónhkwaht otshá:ta’ ne tsi ní:kon tahoná:ti’. Iah káneka thietsonkwé:non. Iokahrarónhkwaht otshá:ta’ kénhne’, sok thontaiawénhstsi’ wa’onkwathón:te’ne’ wahonron’táthon’ tsi wahontò:kten’. Kwah é:so wa’onkwathón:te’ne’ wahonron’táthon’ sok thò:ne ok énska saiakwaron’táthon’. Nek 10 tóka’ni’ 12 na’tekaià:kon ne skahseriiè:ta onterihwahtén:ti’ kí:ken, nek tsi kwah tsi ní:ne oié:ri tewen’niáwe niwaron’tahtsherá:ke’ontóhetste’ ne’ tho nikarì:wes

By Story told by: Mitch Deer, Edited by: Aaron McComber – Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Translated by: Karonhí:io Delaronde

Original Published on Nov 17, 2023 at 11:50

This item reprinted with permission from   The Eastern Door   Kahnawake, Quebec
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