by Cem Ertekin
On September 12, Kahentinetha of the Bear Clan, a kahtihon’tia:kwenio (women titleholder), from the nearby Kahnawake Mohawk community sent a notice of seizure to McGill University.
Speaking to The Daily, Kahentinetha said, “I get the authority from the Kaia’nereh:kowa, that’s the law of the land. That’s where it comes from. I have a responsibility by our own law that I have to obey.”
According to Wampum 44 of the Kaia’nereh’ko:wa, the title held by the women “represents a trust obligation to maintain the land for the future generations of [the] Nation.”
Rotikstenha: “Our Sister wants her money now!”
The notice is an “objection to invasion of Kanien’kehá:ka land of Ono’ware:geh [Great Turtle Island] by McGill University, which was founded by a foreign royal charter in 1821, not according to the law of the land.”
In addition, the notice alleges that McGill University is violating the Kaia’nere:kowa, the Great Law of Peace of the Haudenosaunee, “by staying on [their] land without [their] permission.”
The notice further demands that McGill cease “developing technologies for surveillance, death, and destruction” on the occupied land. Kahentinetha explained that she sent the notice having observed and in support of the actions of Demilitarize McGill, a campus direct action group that demands that McGill halt its military research and development.
“I saw those students fighting to stop the manufacturing, or research that was being done on weapons of mass destruction for those companies. I saw that and I said, ‘You know what? These students – they’re doing what I should be doing,’” Kahentinetha said.
Aerial view of Mohwak Land the McGill University Campus
In an email to The Daily, Cadence O’Neal, an anti-military organizer at McGill, expressed her full support for the notice.
“The motivation behind the notice and the act of the notice itself are intimately tied to the work that anti-military organizers at McGill need to be doing. The statement articulates just how foundational settler colonialism and militarism are to the existence and prosperity of McGill as we know it today, ” O’Neal said.
In the mid-1800s, amidst a financial crisis, the pre-Confederation government of the Province of Canada loaned money to McGill, funded with money taken from the Six Nations’ Trust Funds, of which the government was the fiduciary trustee.
“We have never seen a document from McGill that they actually got our permission to build that university on our land and that we ever relinquished any title to our land.”
Speaking to The Daily in September 2014, Philip Monture, previously the director of the Land Claims Research Office at the Six Nations of the Grand River and the person who discovered the debt, had explained, “The Crown at the time was acting as our trustees – to do the best for the beneficiaries of our trust – and they failed.”
“In reality, they were using any revenues that were created from our lands and our resources to finance the country. We were the only bank in town. They were given the power of fiduciary trust, and they were fraudulent.”
James McGill Founder of the University
“We have never seen a document from McGill that they actually got our permission to build that university on our land and that we ever relinquished any title to our land,” Kahentinetha said.
“Where is the bill of sale? There is none! There is no evidence.”
According to Doug Sweet, McGill Director of Internal Communications, the University has not received the notice yet. In an email to The Daily, Sweet said, “We have addressed the loan issue repeatedly. It was repaid in full to the federal government.”Share