Solidarity & Resistance
As an anthropology student, I take an approach others have called "engaged anthropology", or "anthropology with committment" (See, for example, Bourdieu 2002; Scheper-Hughes 2001 & 1995; Nader 1976 &1989). In other words, I believe that anthropology is not merely about observing, documenting, and learning, but that anthropologists have a moral committment to act in cases of human rights violations.
As such, this website is an experimental attempt to combine academics (as a project for a power & resistance course) with activism (as an active member of Hamilton Solidarity with Six Nations).
Broadly put, my purpose is to provide information with respect to ongoing resistance regarding Six Nations (Haudenosaunee). I'll be providing background and context to issues and events that have been misconstrued by the media, presenting the public with skewed impressions of struggles such as at Kanonhstaton (also known as Douglas Creek Estates, in Caledonia, Ontario), and Kanesatake (the "Oka Crisis"). Through this, I am attempting to undo some of the negative stereotypes (i.e. "militant", "terrorists", "insurgents") that have been perpetuated with respect to these examples of direct action in resistance to encroachment of further rights.
Resistance against colonial encroachment has been and continues to occur in Six Nations through specific direct action, as well as through more subtle and consistant day to day forms, such as through Mohawk immersion language programs, and so forth. These resistances are in response to further encroachment on Six Nations' land. Though there are many, many examples of indigenous resistance, I will focus on a select few examples from Six Nations, for the sake of scope. I will, however, attempt to update this site with links to other information regarding indigenous resistance. For the time being, the topics I will address are as follows:
Some basic theoretical principles regarding power and resistance
Six Nations resistance in the 1920s
The Oka Crisis
Contemporary resistance, at Kanohnstaton, including settler solidarity efforts
As previously mentioned, by portraying resistance on Six Nations within context, and by elucidating some of the complexities surrounding this resistance, I hope to undo some of the negative stereotypes that have become attached to indigenous resistance, and encourage settler solidarity in this resistance.
The Two Row Wampum Treaty
"We will not be like father and son, but like brothers.
These two rows symbolize vessels, traveling the same river together.
One will be for the Original People: Their laws, their customs, their ways.
We will travel the river together, side by side, in our own boat.
None of us will try to steer each other's vessel."
A word about objectivity, subjectivity, and positionality
There has been a trend as of late in anthropology, regarding a shift from previous attempts at “neutral”, “unbiased”, “objectivity”, towards a recognition that anthropologists are not, in fact omniscient. Rather, we are human beings, situated within particular contexts, which influence our interpretations, our observations, and even the questions we ask. As such, it has now become common place to recognize and embrace our subjectivity by sharing our positionality and reflecting on how our positions influence our work.
Clearly, I have a position in the above work, and though I am presenting factual information, I am not pretending to be neutral, but instead express my position as follows. I believe, based on a wealth of evidence, that Six Nations is entirely justified in the reclamation at Kanonhstaton.
A word about me:
I am a 24 year old, “settler” female, finishing up the last year of my undergraduate at McMaster University, in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. I will be starting my Masters in social anthropology at York University in the fall of this year.
What does it mean to identify myself as a settler? By defining myself as a settler, I am simply indicating that my ancestors were not the original inhabitants of this land. The original inhabitants welcomed my ancestors with dignity and respect, and shared this land with them. Additionally, by identifying as a settler, I recognize that First Nations have prior rights regarding much settled, as well as unsettled land, and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, including upholding legal treaty rights. This also includes honest, open negotiation in good faith—something that has not been occurring in Caledonia.
If you have further questions or comments as you browse through this website, please feel free to contact me(Niki Thorne) at the following email:
A brief note about power and resistance
According to Foucault, power and resistance consist of a dynamic that always co-occur. Power, as described by Foucault, is interlinked with many kinds of relations that together create systems of domination. Power has a multitude of forms, and its mechanism are dispersed and changeable. Sites of resistance are created as asymmetrical social dynamics are produced through power. Foucault argues that there are no power relations without resistance, and that resistance, like power, has many forms and is mutable.
(Sources: Deckha, lecture notes, 2008; Foucault “Power and Strategies” and “The eye of Power)
In terms of Six Nations, resistance takes many forms. Though I am primarily describing active, collective, and organized forms of resistance, other, and multiple forms of resistance are co-occurring. For example more subtle and constant forms of resistance can be seen in the refusal to assimilate, such as with Mohawk immersion programs, or the maintenance of traditional forms of government.