Non-Natives Pressured to Leave Kahnawake Mohawk Reserve

Montreal News, August 15, 2014

About 200 people living on the Kahnawake Mohawk reserve are being pressured to move out because they are in violation of a ban on non-natives living in the territory.

The reserve has had a moratorium on mixed marriages for more than three decades, after a policy on “marrying out” was created in 1981.

It’s now renewing efforts to enforce that ban and keep non-natives off Mohawk land.

The names on the list include natives and the non-natives they are in relationships with.

“The people here have created the law and wanted it a certain way and it’s really about keeping your identity, especially here surrounded by every conceivable culture mostly Canadian and American and the fear is that we’ll wake up one day and not know who we are,” said said Joe Delaronde of the Mohawk Council Of Kahnawake.

The non-native ban has had overwhelming support in two years of well-attended meetings held on the issue, he said.

The last time the issue made headlines was back in 2010, when mixed couples received eviction notices telling them to leave the community. Those evictions were never carried out.

“Back in ’81, people were really having huge problems with the Indian Act and its policies which were really designed to assimilate us and the community finally had enough and said we’re going to creat our own set of laws to deal with membership,” said Delaronde.

Former Olympic athlete Waneek Horn-Miller is one of the Kahnawake residents facing eviction because she’s married to a white man.

The mother of two is speaking out about the “marry out, stay out” rule on her Facebook page.

“The underlying aggression and violent emotion that those words imply have had a huge negative impact on the fabric of our community.This statement is very terrifying and coercive,” she wrote.

“We know that we chose to love a person who isn’t indigenous, but we haven’t accepted yet that Kahnawake as a community is willing to discard entire families. We are not willing to accept that we have to choose between our hearts and our community…the two loves of our lives,” she wrote.

The Mohawk council says the community is discussing the issue.

“The MCK at this point is continuing to meet and looking at creating a plan that will hopefully diffuse the situation somewhat, get maybe a better understanding from everybody but one thing we have to say is that everybody knows the law,” said Delaronde.

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