Myth Busters in Montreal
"Mysterious" disappearance and re-appearance of the St. Lawrence Iroquois - colonial reports about our death and disappearance are premature and should not be taken seriously. (MNN Museum Report)
By KAHENTINETHA HORN
We were curious as to how they got the idea that we had "disappeared" or that there was any mystery to be solved. How would anyone feel if their so-called demise was advertised and put on exhibit? It's like finding yourself invited to your own wake when you're not dead. It really bugged us. Can you understand? It felt like a death threat. It reminded us of the way we were all told at school that our moms, dad, brothers, sisters, grandparents, everyone were all going to die out. We cried. By now we know a terrorist threat when we see one.
What we saw was a gross rip off, not just for us, but also for the ignorant public that they hoped to ensnare with their fake account of history.
Why was NASA involved? Maybe they think we came from outer space. Or maybe that's where they want to send us. Each of these entities must have had one little item to show that we had disappeared. Somebody had a big travel budget to visit all these bastions of colonial tradition.
The museum had the cash to rack up record numbers of air miles. Somehow they just couldn't find the time to stop in Kahnawake or Kanehesatake on their way to the airport. Of course, the hour's drive to Akwesasne would have been out of their way. When we asked why, they said they did speak to one young fella in Kahnawake about this, by phone! It wasn't long distance so that was in their budget. They couldn't ask us because, in their minds, we had mysteriously disappeared. Their tour guide told us, "You are different Iroquois," and "our scientists have archaeological evidence that backs up our claims."
"Yes," we said, "lots of people used to think the earth was flat."
So, there! Apparently, even though we had disappeared, our horticulture lives on in the "descendants"! Isn't this a contradiction?
On Sunday 3 October 1535 Cartier visited Hochelaga at the foot of what they call Mount Royal. He drew longhouses, a central square like in Spain, with avenues and maybe even street signs. There was a shaman's house who lived apart from the "mere mortals." Lol!
We apparently left Montreal before Cartier arrived for his second visit and were gone for good by the time Champlain came. Don't they know we have relatives all over the Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence Valley, New York State and every where. We loved to travel too and go visiting. Myth busted! Another reason we left temporarily for 75 to 100 years was to leave the ground to fallow. Our idea was to use the ground and when it was getting depleted of minerals and nourishment, we would plant orchards, take down our villages and then move to our next site for 20 or so years. We had four to five regular sites. It would take from 80 to 100 to complete a rotation. By the time we returned, the earth would have regained its nourishment. We don't put down hundreds of thousands of pounds of potassium nitrate to mock what the earth does naturally. This modern practice is destroying the earth. We certainly didn't expect a bunch of foreigners to move in and defile it with asphalt and all the other pollution that has made this once beautiful place infertile for agriculture or man.
We were here when Champlain came in 1607. "I won't look at them so I can say I didn't see them," said Champlain. They suggested we were the victims of diseases or a "Little Ice Age" that began around 1450? Then they said, "It was 'intertribal Warfare'." Their evidence for this is that we built "defensive palisades" around our villages. Well, we did grow our medicines right next to our longhouses and we erected these fences to keep out the creatures who might want to come and disturb them. We also had 3000 years of peace until the colonists brought their incessant warfare here.
"To Pop or Not to Pop"
One exhibit entitled "To Pop or Not to Pop" is about pop corn, corn soup and all the cooking skills we had. They did not mention that corn, beans and squash, the Three Sisters, provided all the nutrition one needed to live a healthy life. We got these at the beginning, according to our creation story. They found we Iroquois were in the Bay of Gaspe and elsewhere. Cartier found us with corn like he had seen in Brazil. He said that this had convinced us to give up our nomadic ways and tie our fate to the soil.
Most of the articles on display were little pieces from pipes, pots and who knows what. They were tiny and under glass with texts on a red or white background in French first and then English. Nothing in Mohawk! Maybe they think that our language is not relevant. After all, its their theory that we have disappeared.
Really misleading was information that the clan mothers led the families and selected the chiefs. The people tell the clan mothers and chiefs what to do and say. The power is with the people. Their sham democracy doesn't want to say that.
They refer to the "Creator." implying we believed in their god. Our philosophy is based on our knowledge of the natural world. Gariwiio is the perfect reality which is nature. The kasatstenera kowa sa oiera is the great natural power which we can see and know exists. We have many symbols for the stories that we passed down to remind us of our history.
They minimize our world down to making offerings of tobacco and sacrificing dogs and eating them. In the glass were the bones of a dog. We did not use shamans to contact any forces. We made our relationships with and respect for the natural world and developed our awareness ourselves.
The shaman did not suck out the evil or sickness from a person. There was no evil when everything was part of the natural equilibrium. Holy hell! This is completely manufactured probably by a bunch of priests who are trying to hit up people for money. "The shaman would gaze into the fire and go into a trance by dancing, chanting, fasting or sitting in a sweat lodge." We did not have shamans or sweat lodges. Where did this come from? It's one of those phony Indian Affairs healing programs being used to pacify us? We were almost tempted to ask where the brown Baby Jesus in the cradle was.
Invented sporting traditions
Cartier said we loved games and gambling. Is that why they built the Montreal casino nearby? They found a lot of different coloured potsherds in their digs, which they think might be ripped-up, off-track betting slips. We did have the peach pit game in a wooden bowl played by clans to decide who was going to win the gifts and do all the work until the next festival.
They definitely found no evidence that we played lacrosse. They want to steal this as a Canadian-invented game just like hockey. Hockey comes from the expression "a-kee." which means "ouch" when they hit each other with their sticks. It was played between villages, as it is today.
As for fashion, they said that we ran around naked except for small skins to cover our privates! In the cold! Are they kidding? If we went naked, we bared it all. Afterwards, we did cover ourselves to protect us from European perverts.
We made necklaces from recycled pipe stems [that we got from the second hand stores in Old Montreal?] They said that wampum beads were the most precious item we possessed in the whole wide world. All Iroquois men smoked. Did they examine our lungs? We did for ceremonial purposes apparently, until Cartier arrived. They say we started to smoke like chimneys, like those French Canadians who drive over to our communities today. They're all pale and desperate to buy cheap native cigarettes. It states that tobacco appeared in the new world in 800 AD and in Montreal in 1300. They know this because they found a whole lot of pipes dating from that time.
Was this on one of the pipe stems they found? How do they know it was tobacco being smoked? Who was Cartier trying to impress. He just wanted to raise money to make another trip over here in his search gold, the fool!
This is a pitiful exhibit. Cartier said that Iroquois women were industrious and the men were lazy. He called us "nomadic." How would he know? He hung around the skirtless women and didn't go with the men into the forests or on trading, hunting and diplomatic expeditions. Who's the lazy bugger here?
We wondered what all this was leading up to? Yep! The colonists found a new archaeological site at Cap Rouge River - "the remains of the very first French settlement in America." Hoo-ray! Lots of money for diggers! It was apparently the fort built by Cartier in 1541 where he spent that winter. This is where the king had ordered a white colony be built. They found sherds of Italian faience. Wow! The public can see all this in 2008. This is how long it will take to manufacture the ancient artifacts they will put on display and celebrate 400 years of colonization.
We complained to the guide that we had not disappeared, that he was not staring at ghosts, that this whole exhibit was misleading and that we are definitely still here. In other words, we were unconvinced by the story of our death. Excited and anxious, security was summoned. We were followed around for a bit. Then a short little women sergeant appeared and told us that the museum would refund our money.
We'd prefer they shut down this travesty. Or if the public sees it, they should be told it's a fictional representation meant to mislead the public and justify colonization. Cartier was just a hack explorer like the heroes of the Harlequin romances. There were lots of Euros over here before him. But they didn't try to scam the nobility at home into financing their misadventures.
MNN Mohawk Nation News
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