Kahnawake moves to evict non-natives
Published Wednesday, February 3, 2010 7:04PM EST
A new controversy has arisen in Kahnawake.
The Mohawk Council is sending out eviction notices to non-natives who live in the South Shore community.
Band councilors say their laws interdict non-natives from living on their land, and so they are giving several dozen people ten days to leave the reserve.
"It's nothing new to anybody," said Grand Chief Mike Delisle. "[Anyone] who's saying, 'well, I never heard of this, it's racist' or what have you, It's been a custom in Kahnawake since time immemorial."
Delisle says the council is not heartless, and that it wil negotiate with people who cannot leave in ten days, but that it will send in Peacekeepers, bailiffs or take other action if anyone defies the eviction notice.
"We don't consider ourselves Canadians," said Delisle. "Maybe this is the first step in terms of informing the community how we're going to move forward in that direction."
Tracey Deer runs Kahnawake's newspaper The Eastern Door, and produced an award-winning documentary on the issue of mixed marriages.
She says the issue of 'blood quantum', who has enough ancestry to be considered a Mohawk, is very divisive.
"It's hurtful, it's negative, hateful and nothing good can come of that," said Deer.
She understands the law, but says eviction of non-natives tears families apart.
"It's forcing our own people to make choices between their love for the community or their love for you know their partner. And that's just wrong. It's really wrong," said Deer.
Sandra Schurman is one of four women featured in the documentary.
Her mother lost her residency rights when she married a white man.
Schurman has been rejected for Mohawk membership because elders ruled only three-and-a-half of her four grandparents are native.
"I always worry what's next because nothing's been, there's been no progress for people like me," said Schurman.
She's not in danger of being evicted, but "the unfairness has always been there because of the blood quantum issue which never seems to go away."