Skip to main content

Kanehsatake: The Invasion Continues

The excellent blog Speed of Dreams just posted a news article pertaining to the most recent colonial intervention in Kanehsatake.  For those readers who are unaware of the history of Canadian anticolonial struggles, Kanehsatake has been a site of radical resistance for a very long time.  Most significantly it was the site of the 1990 Oka Crisis (Oka being the name of the nearby settler town), a stand-off between Mohawk revolutionaries and the Canadian state that forced the issue of indigenous liberation into the national consciousness.  The Oka Crisis was an event that threw the colonizer-colonized contradiction into stark relief and forced politically aware Canadians to choose sides: either you supported the Mohawks on the barricades and opposed colonialism, or you supported the armed forces of the Canadian state and thus colonialism.  Whatever side one chose, at that moment in time no one could claim that a significant divide between settler and native did not exist.

It has been over twenty years since Oka and, regardless of the Mohawk victory of expelling the Canadian army in 1990, the community of Kanehsatake has continued to face siege colonialism.  In 2004, for example, after a long period of RCMP clandestine intervention, Kanehsatake radicals were again forced to raise the barricades and oust a corrupt comprador chief.  But since the Canadian state is a colonial state that cannot tolerate the persistence of those nations it has sought to supplant since the first colony was built, it definitely cannot tolerate those nations who refuse to accept the colonial order: it seems that a lesson needs to be made of Kanehsatake; a community targeted because of its radical legacy is once again being invaded––the third overt time since the 1990 Mohawk victory.

In 2004 I was part of a solidarity trip––promoted by my union local and the late Al-Awda [a radical Palestinian organization]––that responded to a call-out from Kanehsatake for allies to support their barricades.  In order to shed a little historical light on the situation in Kanehsatake now that it has been invaded yet again, I'm posting the small video two of the members of the solidarity contingent made to promote awareness of the situation Kanehsatake was facing at that time.  Aside from being an informative and quick assessment of the 2004 situation and its history––both of which are part of the back history of this most recent colonial intervention––it also contains "car chase" footage of the community running James Gabriel and his comprador goon squad out of town.  Hopefully we can expect to see a video of the community and its supporters performing a similar action on today's invading forces.  I am also going to post a link to a photo-essay (essay by me, photos not by me) that might also give some context.  (I haven't looked at this stuff in years, so keep in mind that my analysis is probably somewhat naive.)

(And for more information about the long history of Kanehsatake, a very good and very engaging primer is Alanis Obomsawin's powerful documentary Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance which covers the Oka Crisis and the colonial background.)

1) Video (around 13 minutes):

2) Photo-Essay (around 10 pages):