Location within Deux-Montagnes RCM.
|Coordinates: Coordinates: |
|• Grand Chief||Serge Otsi Simon|
|• Federal riding||Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel|
|• Prov. riding||Mirabel|
|• Land||11.88 km2 (4.59 sq mi)|
|• Total||~2,000 living on territory; 9,925 registered|
|Time zone||EST (UTC−5)|
|• Summer (DST)||EDT (UTC−4)|
Kanehsatà:ke is a Kanien'kéha:ka Mohawk settlement on the shore of the Lake of Two Mountains in southwestern Quebec, Canada The Kanien'kéha:ka historically were the most easterly nation of Haudenosaunee (Six Nations Iroquois). People who reside in Kanehsatà:ke are referred to as Kanehsatà:kehró:non. Tiowéro:ton or Doncaster 17 Indian Reserve conjointly belongs to the Kanehsatà:kehró:non as well as Kahnawà:kehró:non As of 2014, the total registered population was 9925, with a total of ~2000 persons living on the Territory. There was a 400% increase of registered members due to the Mccivor law which passed in 2013 giving any person with one great grandparent of mohawk descent the right to Mohawk status.
Kanehsatà:ke was considered one of the Seven Nations of Canada, allies of the British, in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Today it is one of several reserves or settlements in Canada where the Kanienkehaka are self-governing, including Kahnawake, Akwesasne and the Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation, where they constitute the majority.
Beginning about 1000AD indigenous people around the Great Lakes area began adopting the cultivation of maize. By the 14th century, Iroquoian-speaking peoples, later called the St. Lawrence Iroquoians, had created fortified villages along the fertile valley of what is now called the St. Lawrence River. Among their villages were Stadacona and Hochelaga, visited in 1535-1536 by explorer Jacques Cartier.
The Mohawk were originally based further south in present-day New York, and used this area along the St. Lawrence as a hunting ground since the late 16th century. While they shared certain culture with other Iroquoian groups, archeological and linguistic studies since the 1950s have demonstrated they were a distinctly separate people. Historians and anthropologists believe they had earlier pushed out or destroyed the St. Lawrence Iroquoians, a discrete Laurentian-speaking group who had inhabited villages along the St. Lawrence River since at least the 14th century.
In 1717, the King of France granted the Mohawks a tract of land 9 miles long by 9 miles wide under the condition the Mohawks leave the island of Montreal. The settlement was formally founded as a Catholic mission under the supervision of the Sulpician Order for the Mohawks, Algonquins, and Nippisings. A majority of the Mohawks converted to the Catholic religion, but had grown wary of the Sulpicians due to mistreatment and un-fair dealings with regard to their right to the land. By the late 1800s most of the Mohawks had converted to Christianity and began to defy the Sulpician order because of their mistreatment. In 1881 a large faction of the Mohawk left Kanehsatà:ke due to on-going political and religious strife and were relocated to Watha Mohawk Territory near Muskoka, Ontario. The Sulpician Order, which had established a mission with the Mohawk, received an aokller grant for land next to them. The religious order had the deeds changed so that all the land was legally granted to them. Believing the Order supervised land in trust for them, the Kanienkehaka did not discover the deception until the late 19th century. In the 20th century, they pursued a land claim case to recover their lost property, but were ruled against on technical issues.
By the time Samuel de Champlain explored the same area 75 years later, the villages had disappeared. Huron and Kanienkehaka based in other Iroquoian territories used the valley for hunting grounds and routes for war parties. Historians are continuing to examine this culture, but theorize that the stronger Kanienkehaka (Mohawk) waged war against the St. Lawrence Iroquoians to get control of the fur trade and hunting along the valley below Tadoussac. (The Montagnais controlled Tadoussac.) By 1600, the Mohawk used the valley for hunting grounds.
In 2013 The Kanehsatà:ke Health Centre Inc. was the first Indigenous Health Centre in North America to receive a Baby Friendly Accreditation, a huge accomplishment for Kanehsatà:ke and the Kanehsatà:ke Health Centre Inc. In 2013 the local Pikwadin group a funded initiative of First Nations Human Resource and Development Commission of Quebec (FNHRDCQ) began a re-vamp of the local radio station CKHQ 101.7 FM. The stations' previous manager passed away in 2003 and the station became idle. In 2004 the station failed to renew it's broadcasting licence with the CRTC. The radio station is currently running under a 'pirate radio' status pending a licence renewal hearing with the CRTC in February 26, 2014.
In 1990 there was a 78-day standoff between the Mohawk Nation and allies (both native and non-native) and various levels of government over the City of Oka's plans to develop a pine grove and cemetery for another nine holes of a private golf course and new luxury housing. The land had long been used by the Mohawk. Their ancestors' tombstones stand in the cemetery. A few years' previously, the Mohawk had lost a federal lawsuit claim for the land, when the Court rejected their argument on technical grounds that they had been granted the land in the early 18th century but deprived of it by deception of the Sulpician Order. The Order had changed the deeds, but the Mohawk had believed they were holding the land in trust for them. In response to city moves to develop the land, the Mohawk barricaded a dirt road leading to it.
The city requested support from the Sûreté du Québec. They barricaded highway 344 leading to Kanesatà:ke. In the first days of the confrontation, a police officer was killed in an exchange of gunfire with the Mohawk people. In solidarity, Mohawk in Kahnawake blockaded the approach to the Mercier Bridge, which passed through their land. Residents of the area became enraged about traffic delays. Later Quebec requested support from the Canadian Army, their right under the constitution. Provincial and national leaders participated in negotiations between the Mohawk and Quebec, and the barricades came down. Police and Military began forcing the remaining protesters to retreat further until they had been confined to a single health center, surrounded by the military's fortifications. The protesters food and supply lines were systematically reduced and/or tampered with until they made the choice to walk out (not surrender) from the health center and were arrested and separated immediately. This entire ordeal is discussed in more detail in Alanis Obomsawin's documentary film, Kanehsatake 270 Years of Resistance.
In 2004 and 2005, disputes over the governance practices of then Chief James Gabriel resulted in violence in Kanehsatà:ke. Chiefs Pearl Bonspille, Steven Bonspille and John Harding opposed Gabriel, leading to a series of incidents that ended Gabriel's tenure as grand chief. John Harding and fellow council chiefs Steven Bonspille and Pearl Bonspille opposed Gabriel's attempt to control policing by hiring private officers for a drug raid in January 2004. Gabriel's action was an un-lawful attempt to usurp the power of the Police Commission. The 67 special constables were forced to take shelter in the local police station for protection after 200 community members surrounded the police station. After his home was burned in purported arson, Gabriel left the community for Montreal.
During this period, a Community Watch team was organized to counter the lack of a police force. A liaison team was established with the Sûreté du Québec (the provincial police force). Political communication lines were opened up with the government to prevent another Oka Crisis.
Politics and population
Elections were held in late spring of 2005. On June 26, 2005, Steven Bonspille defeated Gabriel in the election for grand chief. The election resulted in Harding and Pearl Bonspille's being replaced in office as chiefs on the council. New members were voted in as chiefs on the seven-member council.
Tribal engagement in politics has remained high: in 2008 there were 25 candidates running for seven seats on the council. At the time, there were more than 2300 registered voters: 1685 on the reserve and 664 outside.
The population has increased: in 2013 the Mccivor law saw over a 7000 increase to bring the registered member count to 9925 persons registered to Kanesatà:ke, and the total population on the Territory is ~2000
Tobacco is a traditional herb and medicine indigenous to North and South America. Archeological evidence has shown its use has been part of ritual religious and political traditions in native cultures in the Americas for at least two thousand years. Under current laws in Canada and the United States, state and provincial authorities attempt to control trade of tobacco products through prices and sales taxes, in part because of health concerns related to high tobacco use.
Despite the associated political issues, Kanehsatà:ke has benefited by economic returns from the tax-free sales of tobacco (in cigarettes) to non-natives. Beginning about 2003 with only two fishing shacks set up at each end of the territory, the community has expanded its tobacco sales. As of 2014 there are ~25 stores selling tobacco products. The Mohawk reserves of Akwesasne and Kahnawake have both developed factories to supply Kanehsatà:ke with their cigarettes since the business expansion began.
- Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance
- Joseph Onasakenrat, Chief of the Mohawk nation at Kanesatake, 1868–1881
- "Mohawks of Kanehsatà:ke - Connectivity Profile", Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, accessed 11 September 2013
- Reference number 149275 of the Commission de toponymie du Québec (French)
- "(Code 2472802) Census Profile". 2011 census. Statistics Canada. 2012.
- "Mohawks of Kanesatake", Aboriginal Communities, Government of Canada
- Pendergast, James F. (Winter 1998). "The Confusing Identities Attributed to Stadacona and Hochelaga". Journal of Canadian Studies 32 (4): 149–159.
- Alanis Obomsawin, Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance, National Film Board of Canada, 1993, accessed 30 January 2010
- Jeff Heinrich, "Wide-open race in Kanesatake", The Gazette, 27 June 2008, La Nation Autochthone du Quebec, accessed 29 January 2010
- Kanesatake First Nation, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada
- Native nations communities of Québec, Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones du Québec
- Photos, Surviving Canada
Links re: Policing and governance issues of 2003-2005
- Chronology 2003-2005 Kanesatake Mohawk Voice
- Ross Montour, "Impasse leads to trusteeship over Kanehsatake", The Eastern Door (Kahnawake Mohawk Community).
- "Mohawk blockade stops traffic near Kanesatake", CTV.ca
- Francis v. Mohawk Council of Kanesatake - Judicial review of Council decision re: by-election (Federal Court of Canada)
- Ross v. Mohawk Council of Kanesatake Judicial review of Council decision to fire Ross (Federal Court of Canada)
- "Mohawks end blockade northwest of Montreal", Sympatico.ca
- "Uprising in Kanesatake", Maritimes Independent Media