Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Six Nations : "A monumental year"

"A monumental year" for the people of Six Nations by Hillary Bain Lindsay The Dominion

On January 1, 2007, the people of Six Nations arrived at their Council House, and walked inside. The event did not make media headlines, but the significance of the day was not lost on those crowded into the long line of cars, bearing Iroquois Confederacy and Unity flags, that lead up to the Council House. “Even before Canada declared itself a country, we had a meeting place down here for traditional governance,” says Janie Jamison, one of the spokespeople for Six Nations. For generations, Chiefs representing the Confederacy Council gathered in the Council House to make decisions by consensus, a process often called the oldest participatory democracy on Earth.

In 1924, however, Canada instated the Indian Act and the RCMP raided the Council House, removing the traditional chiefs and clan mothers. In its place the band council system was set up, acting as an arm of the Canadian government. For Jamison, who has never seen herself as Canadian, destroying the traditional government and imposing a new one was Canada’s way of declaring that her culture, her nation, her people “no longer existed.” “What people don’t understand is that we weren’t defeated at that point,” says Jamison.

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