Academic journal article Ethnic Studies Review

In Defense of Mohawk Land: Ethnopolitical Conflict in Native North America

Academic journal article Ethnic Studies Review

In Defense of Mohawk Land: Ethnopolitical Conflict in Native North America

Article excerpt

On March 10, 1990, Mohawks at Kanehsatake, located in Quebec, Canada, staged an armed demonstration that lasted seventy-eight days to protest the expansion of the Oka Golf Club onto lands that the Mohawk claimed, which included their ancestral burial grounds. One Canadian officer was killed, and many on both sides were injured during the protest. The entire Mohawk-Oka conflict lasted 200 days (March 10-September 26) and finally ended when the Canadian federal government, on behalf of the Mohawks, purchased the contested land from the town of Oka. Linda Pertusati, Assistant Professor of Ethnic Studies at Bowling Green State University, offers an overview of this ethnopolitical conflict and relates it to the nearly 400 year struggle of the Mohawk Nation to retain its political and economic sovereignty. She convincingly argues that Mohawk resistance was an indigenous reaction to colonialism.

Pertusati focuses on how the militant Mohawk Warrior Movement leaders mobilized support from other Mohawks by appealing to their ideology (nationalism) and politicized ethnicity (ethnic identity and ethnic consciousness). Indeed, Mohawk beliefs in their sovereignty and rights of self-determination strengthened their solidarity to resist the planned golf course. In addition, the author accurately evaluates Indian opposition to the proposed 1987 Meech Lake Accord, which would have marginalized Canadian Indians, reservation poverty conditions, which helped mobilize Mohawk activism, and divisions among Mohawk communities regarding the legitimacy of the Mohawk Warrior Movement. …

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