AKWESASNE — The business opportunity presented by the legalization of cannabis has exposed long-simmering divisions within the Mohawks of Akwesasne.
It started with a Feb. 5 police raid on two cannabis dispensaries operating without a licence from the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne (MCA).
Wild Flower Cannabis Dispensary and AK420 had been given licences to operate by the Onkwehonweh-Neha Kanonhsesne / Indian Way Longhouse, which says it is the legitimate government of Akwesasne and had the right to set up its own regulatory regime for recreational cannabis and issue the licences.
But another longhouse, the Haudenosaunee / Mohawk Nation Council of Chiefs, does not agree.
In a statement provided to the Standard-Freeholder Tuesday, administrator Bula Hill wrote only its council was in a position to sanction cannabis dispensaries under traditional law, which is something it would never do because it did not support the growing or sale of recreational marijuana, including any the MCA might allow.
“We have learned through recent media reports that the cannabis dispensaries that were in operation on (Cornwall Island) have misled people by making the claim that they are operating legally under the strength of the Kaianerakowa (Great Law of Peace,)” Hill wrote. “It is our position that without our approval, these individuals cease any further claims that they are conducting any business under such laws and agreements that remain sacred to us.
“We will not support people doing this.”
The Mohawk Nation Council of Chiefs said the Great Law of Peace created the system of governance the longhouses were a part of, known as Skanikonra or “we call coming of one mind.” But this system was placed in the “binding hands” of the chiefs and did not “give individuals the freedom to do as they wish and act in a lawless manner.”
Hill wrote that this system was meant to stop people from acting in their own interests and that all cannabis sales in Akwesasne were going ahead without the approval of clan mothers or the people of the longhouse.
“We ask that any individuals or groups to immediately cease the practice of hiding within the shadow of (the Great Peace Law) for their own personal interests.”
As for Wild Flower Cannabis Dispensary, it appears members of the Indian Way Longhouse gave themselves their licence. In a media statement after the raids, Wild Flower said it was “a collective project undertaken by the Onkwehonweh-Neha Kanonhsesne.”
“It’s owned by the members; the people of the longhouse. It’s a coalition of the people of the longhouse,” bear clan representative Roger Jock Kanerahtiio said Wednesday.
The Indian Way Longhouse met on Wednesday afternoon to discuss an official response to the Mohawk Nation Council of Chiefs.
In its statement released Wednesday, the Indian Way Longhouse offered a longer explanation of its history and formation in the 1970s, as well as how the group decided to issue the Oct. 2 business directive on marijuana.
“It took a little doing, but the words of those issued directives came from the mouths of young Akwesasronon who do not accept the limits of history and seek to be themselves despite a changing world around them,” the statement read. “These young voices still claim the river as their own, as well as the islands. They do not accept the theft of the electricity generated from these same parts of Akwesasne. They do not accept anything that Canada or the United States tries to tell them to do here on Akwesasne, which is an independent sovereign community unremoved from the status as an original land base of the Onkwehonweh, who always came here.”
The statement also critiqued those in Akwesasne seeing themselves as religious leaders, comparing them to Jesuit missionaries; those “who worship buildings;” and, called the criticism of what Mohawks chose to do in Akwesasne “a reflection of the bygone era when Cornwall police would batter Akwesasronon on (Cornwall Island) for merely gathering together as one people.”
The MCA has stayed silent on the longhouses’ involvement in the issue of cannabis sales within Akwesasne. Its few statements defend its regulations, without acknowledging what either of the longhouses has been doing or saying.
On Wednesday, MCA Grand Chief Abram Benedict again said he had no comment on the issue.
Note from WSOE.Org : This content has been auto-generated from a syndicated feed.