Essay on Evictions Are Not The Solution For Native Preservation Share Upload

Submitted By karonhiahenton
Words: 935
Pages: 4

The Eviction By-Law Is a Dangerous Disguise Comedian Chris Rock mentioned the plight of Natives in one of his shows, “They dead... When's the last time you met two Indians? You aint never met two Indians … I have seen a polar bear ride a fucking tricycle … I have never seen an Indian family ..."1 His words shine light on a dark truth. In North America most people will not meet many if any Natives. Knowledge of the North American history of Natives reveals why. In an effort to preserve the Mohawk Nation the community of Kahnawake adopted a controversial by-law to Bill C-31,2 which states if a Mohawk marries a non-native they must leave the reserve because a non-band member cannot live there. Those in favor of enforcing the by-law and issuing evictions believe it is necessary to preserve native land, culture and identity, but it actually perpetuates assimilation, goes against traditional ways and damages core cultural values.
The by-law perpetuates the assimilation of natives by abiding by the government definition of First Nations people and their communities,3 which creates a two-tiered system of "Indians"4 that robs "natives" married to "non-natives" the right to raise their family amongst their people and culture. The government terminates “native status" and "privileges" after two consecutive generations of interracial children,5 so if a "native" has children with a "non-native" and their children do the same there is no more “native”. Mohawks in favor of evictions are concerned the reserve will become full of “non-natives” and no longer considered “native" land protected under the treaty agreement. “People are fearful that it won’t be long until we’re completely assimilated and dilute ourselves out of existence”,6 says the Mohawk Council. This combined with the scarcity of land7 for future generations reveals the complexity of the issue, but the by-law was formed out of Bill-31 and the Indian Act which were historically created for the enfranchisement of Natives,8 so the idea of enforcing the by-law as an act of preservation is misleading. It unjustly forces natives who have fallen in love with non-natives to move off the reserve, where their children are more likely to become assimilated and end up marrying non-natives, or if they choose to stay their spouse must leave breaking apart the family unit. The by-law and evictions go against traditional ways.
Traditionally Mohawk heritage is passed down by clan by the mother, the community is run by the long house and someone without a clan could be adopted and accepted into the community under the great law of peace.9 The government system is a contradiction to the traditional matrilineal system and damages cultural traditions and identity. First Nations people should not be identified and defined by a two-tiered system of "Status Indians" but by clan, language, customs and traditions, and all native children should have the right to grow up with their entire family under one roof in their native community in peace. Instead the by-law is discriminating, destroying the peace and dividing the community.
Peace, family, community and identity are core cultural values which are being damaged by the by-law. "It's tearing the community apart" says Steve Bonspiel, owner of the Kahnawake Eastern Door Newspaper.10 Mohawk resident Cheryl Diabo does not want to choose between her home, culture and community and her relationship11 and she should not have to, but she and her non-native spouse have been served an eviction letter. She is suing the band council for violation of human rights and some members of the community have turned against her.