“Go, you know what to do”
These, the words that will remind me of the beginning of the next phase of my journey in life. This meant applying all the acquired teachings and knowledge mixed with experience to work the world, and begin to help make change.
This was after February 6th, 2020 when the RCMP invaded Wet’suwet’en unceded land. This was the long cold winter that the world woke up to harsh realities and intentions were clear across all Native Nations, we were not moving until the Royal Canadian Mounted Police retreated from Wet’suwet’en Territory. Solidarity actions immediately erupted nation-wide in support of the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs and their stance against Coastal Gas Link plowing a natural gas pipeline through traditional unceded territory.
CGL had been informed prior that they would not allow a pipeline through this land, and also offered alternative routes. In so-called British Columbia the Victoria Legislature was shut down and occupied by Indigenous youth, highway 403 near Six Nations Territory in Ontario was brought to a stand-still, and many offices of parliament members were occupied and demonstrations were held across the country.
February 7th, I had my daughter’s 7th birthday party and I had just returned from a small fire that was built about ten feet or more from the railway safety arm on Wyman Road. Before I heard the words telling me to go I had already gone and knew what had to be done. The Canadian National Railway immediately took their historical attack on Indigenous people public and shut the rail down and placed the blame on the Kanyen’kehaka whom they stole the land from in the early 1800s where the tracks operate. There were a myriad of attacks coming from all directions, and this was only the beginning. This birthday, I show my daughter part of what it means to be Kanyen’kehaka.
Resilience of the Red Race
There it was in plain view, the strength and resilience of the Red Race in plain and clear defiance of things that are unjust and despicable. Thirty years prior the Kanyen’kehaka at Kanehsatake stood and rekindled the fight in the warriors, and now after the passage of time and many attacks, invasions, murders, rapes, and kidnappings we have adapted and learned how to fight back with Kayanere’kowa.
Travelling back and forth from Ohahase, the local high school in Tyendinaga where I was teaching Kanyen’keha and Indigenous Studies, I would briefly wonder if it was against some kind of work policy that I couldn’t be there at the tracks with the rest of the people. The reasoning was easy, it couldn’t be. How could it be humanly possible to reprimand someone who is doing exactly what they teach; talk the talk, walk the walk, the students could see it and apply the teachings to actual real-time events. It was like cultural immersion, and for some culture shock into a reality they didn’t realise was right in front of them.
They would hear me say the same thing in the classroom as I would say in public, the treaties have been broken and it is time they need to be honored. This is a time when everyone needs to know what treaties are, what they mean and and where they came from; with these treaties come wampum, and with these wampum come responsibilities. This is also a time for us to show the reality of the political strength and cultural resilience we continue to hold true after thousands of years, to show the younger brother who came from across the water sick and dying there is a way to live together.
Now after over four hundred years since the Two Row Wampum was established, we had once again polished the covenant chain at the edge of the woods in Tyendinaga reminding the colonial forces that we are in fact our own people and they are theirs with clearly different worldviews. After centuries, the entire country was calling on its federal government to adhere to the treaties.
This kind of commitment and organisation comes natural to us as Onkwehonwe of Turtle Island, the act of doing what is right to ensure the safety and security for the next seven generations. Defending the land, water, air, language, ceremony, and every inherent right that we were born with. This inherent right is very specific, take care of the natural world and be thankful to all creation. This in turn means that the creation of these binding agreements are not only political to us but they are cultural, as the words are woven within the wampum in the beads themselves.
National news turned their attention finally to the “Indians”, it was a mess for Justin Trudeau and Marc Miller. I spoke to Northumberland Today, New York Times, Globe and Mail, Wall Street Journal, Star, Global, CTV, CBC, and APTN possibly with them hoping that something would change in what I was saying or maybe get a chance to get information on what was happening on the ground at Wyman. We had it on deadlock, and the only media allowed were the ones who were going to report real time truth without distorting anything for the benefit of anyone, Real People’s Media where I have recently come on in a role as co-editor.
After two months of trying they realized that what I say is what is real and it is time someone is held accountable. I told Olivia Stefanovitch from the CBC Parliamentary Bureau I wouldn’t speak to them unless they ran what I had to say about the Peacemaker, with that they stopped contacting me after it was broadcast. This in itself shows the agenda of federally controlled media.
When it came to the big news corporations, what they needed was education. To understand that we knew what we were doing and to make it known that we are sovereign people on the same political level as the federal government. They needed a reality check not a frontline update, and this reality check came in the form of stories of the peacemaker and references to the Two Row Wampum and everything that it entails.
I was doing as instructed by my clan, acting in accordance with Kayanere’kowa, and it felt like things were finally falling into place. Many of us who were scattered came together again and old alliances rekindled and the fire grew from there. The people were once again ready to stand together, and even though there was fear among some there were many to stand and support them. To protect us, our minds and our spirits, the women worked non-stop to ensure that the front lines stayed functional.
This is something that rings true across all Nations on Turtle Island that are taking land back and asserting their right to stewardship of the land, the women are the constant common denominator in everything that is being made possible. With the foundations of the strong women, we know it is possible for us men to stand up and fight becwe know it is possible for us men to stand up and fight because the women are the fire and energy that feeds us. It is ingrained in us, from thousands of years ago passed on through women lies our identity. Our clans hold everything we are from everything we came from, directly from the soil of this Turtle Island.
It was now time for me to apply all of these laws firmly in my own life, and with the encouragement of many people I used my voice. The namesake of the website comes from the advice of a friend from Australia, The Credible Mohawk. I began doing live videos, many of the feed from the rail line and many from home. It grew into something where I was able to connect and reconnect with many like minded people across the world.
From this grew my confidence to assert my own personal freedom and live, which is when my wife and I decided that shirts were an excellent way to show solidarity. So, as a wolf clan woman she blazed the trail for a Credible Mohawk clothing line and she created something amazing for all people to be able to take part in solidarity even if they were unable to attend actions. With this came her designs for the Land Back shirts, masks, and mugs.
It was also Renee’s design that we use for the Two Row Coffee Company logo. Coffee had always been something I had been interested in along with tea, and the opportunity to start it presented itself with an ally from the Wyman Road camp, Kevin. As the idea grew, I spent countless hours researching and reading on the best possible everything that could be done that fit the parameters of the Great Law and the Two Row Wampum.
Application of these laws in everyday life is very simple, do not impede on the other’s beliefs or governance. The goal my wife and I have for Two Row Coffee Company is to provide education along with our coffee, so people from everywhere can learn not only what it means to be Onkwehonwe but what it means to be treaty people. Currently there is an order going out to Nova Scotia where the the Mi’kmaq are facing treaty breaches by white supremacist settlers, so the message is getting out.
With all the clothing that we put out for The Credible Mohawk, the message of solidarity and resistance to colonial authority is embedded. Discussions of history and truth are even had while making them, so there is a spirit in them that you will find nowhere else. The spirit and energy of ancestors continues to help us rise up, heal, and become the warriors that are needed for the next seven generations.