Ganienkeh

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Ganienkeh, which translates from Mohawk into Land of the Flint, is a Mohawk community located on about 600 acres (2.4 km2) near Altona, New York in the far northeast corner of Upper New York State.[1] It is a rare case of an indigenous people reclaiming land from the United States.

History[edit]

In May 1974 Traditionalist Mohawk repossessed land near Old Forge, New York, at Moss Lake, a girls' camp. They claimed the land under the concept that it had been part of their historic territory in the area, and that New York had made an illegal treaty in 1797 when purchasing land from their leader Joseph Brant.[2]

The Mohawk had left the Akwesasne, Kahnawake, and other reservations to rebuild traditional lives. The land dispute (as Altona residents and government objected to the Mohawk claim of sovereignty) has not been fully settled.[3] The action was related to rising Native American activism, and specific land claims being filed by the nations of the Iroquois, which had been forced to cede their historic lands to the state after the American Revolution, as allies of the British. Some believe that the 1794 Treaty of Canandaigua give them continuing rights to land in the present-day state. At the same time, the founding of Ganienkeh was related to Mohawk local issues, as some families wanted to leave the reservation environment, which they found had problems with substance abuse, among other issues.[4]

The three-year armed occupation of the camp ended in 1977 after nearly 200 negotiation sessions with state leaders. The Mohawk agreed to move to the territory at Miner Lake, which was offered by New York State through an intermediary trust. Unlike at the ten reservations within the borders of the state, the jurisdictional relationships between the tribe and New York have not been defined at this territory. The Mohawk have generally prohibited outsiders from entering the territory.[5]

This became the settlement of Ganienkeh, with originally about 25 families, about 12 miles (19 km) from the Canadian border. The local townspeople helped supply them with food and other necessities during the first winter.[6][7] The Mohawk established a "permanent nonreservation settlement" and claimed sovereign status.[8] "Ganienkeh's founding was a rare case of Indigenous people reclaiming land from the United States."[9]

Ganienkeh spokespeople state it is the only Kanienkehaka (Mohawk Nation) community that functions solely under the original Kaianerehkowa (the Constitution of the Iroquois Confederacy) without influence or interference of the United States or Canadian governments.[citation needed] The people claim that the Two Row Wampum (Guswhenta) guarantees Ganienkeh the right to exist as a sovereign entity within the international community[citation needed]. They note that as a sovereign people they may not be taxed by New York or the federal government.[10]

Recently Ganienkeh's economy has depended on the introduction of tax-free bingo, where the 1500-person hall is often at capacity, and cigarettes.[11]

The Ganienkeh Wholistic Center is also a venture offered and open for the benefit of everyone, Indian and non-Indian people. And recently opened for everyone with great success is the nine hole Ganienkeh Golf Course.

Everyone at Ganienkeh benefits from these economic activities as they are communally operated for the benefit of the Territory. Through regular convened community meetings every resident of Ganienkeh has equal responsibility and opportunity to participate in the day-to-day activities within Ganienkeh. Ganienkeh is also a dry community with a zero tolerance policy toward the use of recreational drugs and alcohol. Kiotenhariyo, Wolf Clan Secretary, Ganienkeh Council Fire

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Suzanne Moore, "Ganienkeh must be treated as sovereign, spokesman insists", Press Republican News, 18 Apr 2005, on Infoshop News, accessed 25 Feb 2010
  2. ^ "Indians Seeking Support for Their Land Claims", The New York Times, 15 Dec 1975, accessed 27 Feb 2010
  3. ^ Gail Landsman, "Ganienkeh: Symbol and Politics in an Indian/White Conflict", American Anthropologist, New Series, Vol. 87, No. 4 (Dec., 1985), pp. 826-839, accessed 27 Feb 2010
  4. ^ Gail Guthrie Valaskakis, Indian Country: Essays on Contemporary Native Culture, Wilfrid Laurier University Press, Waterloo, Ontario: 2005, p.57, accessed 27 Feb 2010
  5. ^ SAM HOWE VERHOVEK, "Standoff Ends, but Not Mohawk Defiance", The New York Times", 14 Apr 1990, 27 Feb 2010
  6. ^ Peter Slocum, "Thanksgiving Spirit of 305 Years Ago Being Revived in Altona, NY", The Lewiston Daily Sun, 21 Nov 1977, accessed 27 Feb 2010
  7. ^ "The Warrior's Society and the Black Market", in Sin-Tax Failure: The Market in Contraband Tobacco and Public Safety, The Mackenzie Institute, Toronto: 1994, accessed 27 Feb 2010
  8. ^ Gail Landsman, "Ganienkeh: Symbol and Politics in an Indian/White Conflict", American Anthropologist, New Series, Vol. 87, No. 4 (Dec., 1985), pp. 826-839, accessed 27 Feb 2010
  9. ^ Doran, Kwinn H., "Ganienkeh: Haudenosaunee Labor-Culture and Conflict Resolution", The American Indian Quarterly - Volume 26, Number 1, Winter 2002, pp. 1-23, accessed 26 Feb 2010
  10. ^ Suzanne Moore, "Ganienkeh must be treated as sovereign, spokesman insists", Press Republican News, 18 Apr 2005, on Infoshop News, accessed 25 Feb 2010
  11. ^ SAM HOWE VERHOVEK, "Standoff Ends, but Not Mohawk Defiance", The New York Times", 14 Apr 1990, 27 Feb 2010

External links[edit]