KAHNAWA:KE – A grassroots collective of band members has compiled a list of names and is seeking to enforce and evict those in violation of the residency laws on Kahnawà:ke, a Kanien’kehá:ka Reserve just south of Montreal.
Earlier this year, Kahnawà:ke band member Chrissy Goodleaf tore down her existing home which she says “was rotten” and began a rebuild. Goodleaf lived in the former home on Kahnawà:ke for eight years with her non-native partner and their two children and planned to live in the rebuilt home together with them as well. This rebuild prompted an official complaint to the Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke regarding Goodleaf’s family.
Chief Carl Horn spoke to Kahnawà:ke TV in a YouTube video posted on August 7th. Horn said Goodleaf’s rebuild was brought to his attention 6 weeks ago and that council received an official complaint from a band member. Horn told KTV “We only have so much land left. We’re on a postage stamp. It’s well known that…Kahnawà:ke is a land for Onkwehon:we people.”
Horn continued to express his personal thoughts on the residency issue to KTV saying, “There’s a lot of situations in our community where there’s non-natives residing here. To put it bluntly they don’t belong living here. They shouldn’t be benefitting from the same rights that I am. I hate to say it that way but it’s just my opinion. It’s no disrespect to anyone else.”
Now the Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke has issued an official letter to Goodleaf and construction on her new home has been halted.
Following this action, several meetings were held at private members homes and a grassroots collective formed to take further action. This collective has compilied a list of names nearly 200 families long – all of whom include a non-native person – that are currently residing on Kahnawà:ke in violation of the residency law.
The Two Row Times has received a copy of this list names via an annonymous email. It clearly names the Kahnawà:ke band member, the names of any non-native co-habitors, their marital status and whether they own or rent the homes they now reside in.
Two Row Times contacted the Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke about this list and spoke with communications officer Joe Delaronde. Delaronde told the Two Row Times, “The actions taken in the past several days have been community-led and not organized by the MCK. It is too early to determine what actions will be taken in these cases. Please note that this is a residency eligibility issue. No one is ‘barred’ from participating in any activities if they are not eligible to reside here. A significant number of non-Native people work here every day – they just don’t live here.”
Delaronde added, “There are no ‘eviction letters’ being sent by the MCK. People are being reminded, once again, that there is a community law that determines eligibility to reside on the Territory. The law started with the 1981 ‘Moratorium on mixed marriages,’ which became law in 1984. The law was amended in 2003 (The Kahnawà:ke Membership Law). While some may pretend to be ‘surprised’, the fact is that everyone in Kahn’awà:ke knows the law. There will be more discussion before the MCK takes any official action.”
The Kahnawà:ke Membership Law states that only direct descendants of Kanien’kehá:ka of Kahnawà:ke may reside on the reserve however it does make provision for people who qualify to apply to become non-member residents – including persons with some Kanien’kehá:ka lineage with ties to Kahnawà:ke; non-Kanien’kehá:ka indigenous persons who have married into, work on or attend school on Kahnawà:ke; and also non-indigenous spouses of Kahnawà:ke band members who married before a 1981 Moratorium on non-native residency.