Investigations of children's graves continues; Excavations spark similar actions in other native nations
Both pro- and anti-government groups in the Mohawk Nation united this past week to endorse the independent investigation into mass graves of children at the former Mohawk Institute Indian residential school. The inquiry was initiated last April by nine elders of the Wolf and Turtle clans.
Chief Bill Montour of the government-funded Mohawk Band Council said publicly at a council meeting on October 4,
"This dig is long overdue and it's needed. I back this thing one hundred percent."
Meanwhile, the Men's Fire, a traditional group of warriors from all of the Six Nations, arrived at the excavation site the same day to provide security and protection for the inquiry members, especially for Kevin Annett of the ITCCS, who was asked by the Wolf and Turtle elders in writing to organize the inquiry into the missing children of the Brantford school.
As a sign of their support for Kevin Annett and the ITCCS, these elders formally adopted Kevin into the Turtle Clan of the Mohawk (Ongyahonway) Nation at a ceremony on October 6, and gave him the name Rawennatshani, which means "One who warns the people with a strong and wise voice".
The inquiry into the fate of many hundreds of missing children at the school continued this week, through Ground Penetrating Radar surveys that revealed that graves of children on school grounds were buried under tons of soil; and that suspected grave sites extend into the wooded perimeter of the former school, which was founded by the Crown and Church of England in 1832.
"We're looking at a massive investigation into an enormous crime site, but at least it's begun" commented Kevin Annett today.
"We hope to have a preliminary report issued before the new year once we have samples and other evidence analyzed forensically. We've already assembled an archaeological team to do a professional study of what's being uncovered."
Earlier this week, traditional Mohawk elders announced that they were imposing their own jurisdiction over the graves of residential school children, and declared that the government of Canada, its police and courts had no authority to intervene into their investigation.
Elsewhere in Canada, groups among the Maliseet, Anishnabe and Squamish indigenous nations announced this week their intent to launch their own digs and inquiries at suspected mass grave sites at former residential schools on their territories, independently of the government's stage-managed "Truth and Reconciliation Commission."
"The Mohawks have inspired all of us" said Jeremiah Jourdain of the Anishnabe nation in Winnipeg today.
"Now we have to spread this movement to bring the children home on our terms - and prosecute those who killed them."
Nearly half of all Canadian Indian residential school students - more than 50,000 children - died or went missing between 1832 and 1996, when the last school closed. RELATING THE STORY AT THE SCENE OF THE CRIME
The sun had just risen over the thick forests surrounding the oldest Indian residential school in Canada, and the site of the mass grave of children. All of us gathered there, native and white, seemed to hold our breath as Cheryl Squire of the Mohawk Nation Clan Mothers knelt over the grave of unknown children and gently parted the soil.
History was made that morning of October 1, 2011. For the long struggle to bring home the murdered children, and place their killers on trial, had finally begun.
For me, it was the start of something incredible, but also the end of a long journey that has spanned two decades. Every imaginable lie, threat, obstacle and attack has been deployed by criminals of church and state to stop what we did that morning, but all to no avail. For the real unveiling of the Canadian Holocaust has begun.
This final step commenced last April, when Cheryl Squire and eight other Mohawk elders had asked me in writing to come to their land in Brantford, Ontario and begin forensic surveys and digs on the grounds of what they call "the Mush Hole": the Mohawk Institute, set up by the Anglican Church of England in 1832 to imprison and destroy generations of Mohawk children. This very first Indian residential school in Canada lasted until 1970, and, like in most residential schools, more than half of the children imprisoned there never returned. Many of them are buried all around the school.
"I seen kids buried up to their necks in the ground for running away. I seen kids beaten and killed for taking apples off the tress" said one survivor of the Mush Hole, so designated because maggoty mush was the best children could expect in the way of food there.
The same survivor took me to the top of an underground cistern behind the school covered with a concrete slab.
"That's where they stuck kids for speaking their language" the elderly man said sadly. "I know a girl put in it who died down there. Maybe she's still there."
In search of such missing children, since October 1 I have worked with the Mohawk community to begin scanning the school lands with Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) manned by experts, to locate the underground disturbances that can point to hidden graves. And helped by local seers and eyewitnesses, we have already identified five areas containing mass graves of children.
"One thing that's for sure is there's been incredible soil disturbances beside the school, and I mean tons of dirt piled in here" described Clynt King, the GPR technician. "Somebody is really trying to hide something here."
An understatement, indeed. For the government and churches of Canada have been burying the evidence of their residential schhol crimes for many years, most recently with an expensive whitewash called a "Truth and Reconciliation Commission" that doesn't allow names or crimes to be named, cannot subpoena evidence and absolves the churches for their murder of more than 50,000 residential school children. Our excavations at the Mush Hole are a direct challenge to this cover up, and to the entire colonial regime called Canada.
"This is another way, and a major way, that we're declaring our sovereignty and nationhood" explained Mohawk Wolf Clan elder Bill Squire, who helped authorize the dig.
"We can't have the cops or the courts come in here and call this a crime site, when they're the ones who caused this. We are establishing Mohawk jurisdiction over this investigation and we won't let the police in here. We are going to put Canada on trial for their murder of our children."
This isn't idle talk. For years, Squire's people - the Grand River Mohawks - have waged battles to preserve their dwindling land base, and they've stopped construction on their land by mobilizing hundreds of their people in big protests. The same unity is visible around the Mush Hole excavations this week, as many diferent factions of the Mohawks - the Men's Fire group, clan mothers, the traditional elders, and even government-funded band council chiefs - have all showed up to pledge their support for our inquiry.
News of this historic action has spread across the world media this week, but not surprisingly it's been completely blacked out in the Canadian press, despite a massive media blitz by the Mohawks. And yet regardless of coverup or indifference within Canada, the results of the digs and surveys in Brantford will be part of the deliberations of the International Tribunal into Crimes of Church and State (ITCCS), convened in Brussels last month to consider bringing charges of genocide against Canada and the Catholic, Anglican and United Church of canada, all of whom ran Indian residential schools.
For all of the unity among the Mohawks here, their efforts are facing a looming shut down and repression from the Canadian state and its churches. Already, undercover operatives have been unmasked in the ranks of the Mohawks, and there's talk that the RCMP or Ontario Provincial Police will shut down the excavations.
"We need every Canadian and every indigenous nation to help us now" said Bill Squire yesterday in a radio interview.
"We need you here to make a stand with us, and we need public statements of support. But most important, we need you to do these kinds of digs on your own territories. Start to bring your own residential school children home for a proper burial, 'cause nobody else will do it for you."
The digs at the Mush Hole have just begun, and will span many months. But for the survivors of torture and genocide there, the dig is a ray of hope, and a chance for justice.
"I been waiting my whole life for this" says Geronimo Henry, who was imprisoned in the Brantford school during the 1940's.
"I suffered in there for eleven years and I got a say in this, and I say it's time we bring these kids home for a proper burial. Their spirits have been wandering too long. And the people who caused it have gotten away with murder for too long."UPDATES
A You Tube presentation of these events will be forthcoming this week. Images follow.
For updates on the Mohawk digs and more information, see www.itccs.org
and contact Kevin Annett at hiddenfromhistory1,,,gmail.com . The Nine Elders can be contacted through Bill Squire at 519-757-3624.