Akwesasne was the place where I was named Sha'tekayenton within the Turtle Clan; I also briefly lived among the people of Six Nations for several years before I moved back to Tyendinaga, the home of the Peacemaker, with my family where I have been living and teaching cultures and language for a combination of 20 years. Since learning to understand the world as a whole through traditional and Western practice, I encourage everyone to recognize their roots and return to who you are whether it be Indigenous or not.
I had the opportunity to stand where Dr. King delivered his speech while I was doing my studies with Tsi Tyónnheht Onkwawén:na. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led a nonviolent movement for change in the 1950's and early 1960's. He advocated for protests, grassroots organising, and civil disobedience in place of violent activism. He is best known for his “I Have A Dream” speech, which took place at the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963. In 1964, at age 35, Martin Luther King, Jr. became the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize (at the time). King was assassinated on April 4, 1968.
We visited Washington, DC to see what all the fuss was about. It was transformative and powerful which gave me the opportunity to journey back to our Homeland in the Mohawk Valley; as well as seeing Washington DC and stand in the footsteps of a civil rights hero. Immediately after graduation I started teaching in the community and soon after became a member on the board of directors, seeing the beginnings of Kawenna'onwe [Immersion Elementary School] and more Adult Immersion students strive to hit their learning goals It's been a journey, but it's just truly beginning now.
In times of uncertainty, the only thing that can be certain is identity. No matter who you are, where you come from, your voice and actions are the ones that matter most for tomorrow and the next seven generations ahead; take for example the symbolism in handing someone a stone (YouTube). Let us use the power we have as individuals and unite in a revolution of consciousness to decolonize ourselves from the oppression that we all face each and every day as people, while respecting the self expression of each other and not diminishing each other for petty gains.
Kayanere'kowa (Great Law of Peace) Predates even the Magna Carta (June 15, 1215) in terms if diplomacy and dispute resolution.
The Jesuit Relations Missionaries;
New France, 1610-1791:
"No hospitals are needed among them, because there are neither mendicants nor paupers as long as there are any rich people among them. Their kindness, humanity, and courtesy not only make them liberal with what they have, but cause them to possess hardly anything except in common. A whole village must be without corn before any individual can be obliged to endure privation. They divide the produce of their fisheries equally with all who come."
Reuben Gold Thwaites
American librarian and historical writer
b. May 15, 1853, d. October 22, 1913