AKWESASNE TERRITORY – St. Regis Mohawk Tribe has stated its position on the recent closing of the bridge at the Massena Port and Cornwall Ontario. Council members voiced their concerns as well as their support for the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne and the Mohawk Nation Council of Chiefs in finding peaceful solutions to the situation.
While principally supporting the idea of having unarmed Canadian Border Service guards, tribal council members feel that keeping the peace is paramount to resolving the situation.
“The people who are being affected the most are our own Mohawk community members,” said Barbara A. Lazore, tribal chief. “At least medical emergency vehicles and medical services can still cross the bridge, so that’s a good development.” Earlier reports indicated that pedestrian traffic was being permitted to cross the bridge so family members are able to get to their homes.
Tribal Chief James Ransom restated the importance of keeping the process peaceful, “Four Peacekeepers have been appointed to monitor the situation and keep people calm. They are all well-respected community members who are level-headed and capable. Establishing a meaningful dialogue between the Akwesasne community and the Canadian government is going to be a key part of resolving the current situation.” Earlier attempts to set up meetings to discuss the arming of Canadian Border guards have not been successful.
Part of the objections to the arming of Canadian border guards has been in response to the treatment of Mohawks crossing the border. “We have had a variety of problems between some border guards and community members when they are crossing the border,” noted Tribal Chief Monica Jacobs. “Complaints have been filed about how community members have been treated and these issues need to be looked at so we can move forward.”
Clearly, the bridge closure is going to have a negative effect on trade and commerce. The tribal council urges the Canadian government to meet with the Mohawks of Akwesasne to resolve the issues.
The St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Council is the duly elected and federally recognized government of the St. Regis Mohawk people.