Doug George-Kanentiio: Hillary Clinton is the clear choice for the Iroquois

Then-First Lady Hillary Clinton poses with the Young Spirit Dancers at the Ganondagan State Historic Park on July 15, 1998. "I want to thank the clanmothers for taking their time to talk and visit with me and share some information about their way of life and what they do to preserve that way of life," she said at the time. "I would like to thank the spirit dancers. I enjoyed seeing you; it was too short, but on a hot day like this, as hard as you were dancing,it was probably long enough, and I am glad that you could be part of this,and the musicians as well." Photo by Sharon Farmer / White House

Why All good Iroquois Oppose Trump
By Doug George-Kanentiio

The campaign for the US presidency is now in its latter stage after months of debate, primaries and obsessive media coverage. The choice for American voters is down to two candidates: former First Lady and New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and the New York City based entrepreneur Donald Trump. Besides their gender the differences between these two nominees are as sharp as any candidates in US history.

For the Iroquois both Clinton and Trump have had connections with our people. For Trump it has been adversarial as he took a strong stance against Native entities expanding regional casino gambling outside our ancestral territory into the southern Catskills, a region once inhabited by the Lenapi people.

Rather than meet with Native people Trump saw the proposed Catskills casino as an activity which threatened his gambling operations in Atlantic City and his plans to build a casino in Manhattan. He also testified in Congress against the Native plans and once criticized representatives of the Mashantucket Pequots as not looking "Indian."

In recent days he has responded to the condemnations of Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren by mocking her alleged claims to Native ancestry by calling her "Pocahontas."

For my home community Trump is a real threat. he financed an anti-Mohawk advertising initiative to persuade New York State not to grant a casino license to the St. Regis Tribal Council, a state agency imposed upon our territory in 1892. The ads labelled the Mohawks as living in a community under the control of criminals and a threat to the residents of the Catskills.

Even worse, he has created a police state mentality in the US by threatening to forcibly deport millions of immigrants, an act which would require interment camps, unparalleled arrests and confinements, massive transfer of human beings across international borders and a potentially devastating blow to the American economy.

The emergence of a such a policy will also meant ceding power to the presidency create out of necessity a despot who, if the deportations do ensue, will have the make use of the US military to make this happen.

A police state with security as its primary concern will mean clamping down on all US borders including that which runs through the middle of Akwesasne. It will only force a greater schism among the Mohawks and incite acts of defiance and violence.

Clinton is perceived as a nominee who will carry on the policies of US President Barack Obama. He has fostered strong relations with Native nations, hosting annual gatherings at the White House, pressing for increased federal aid to Native communities and appointing Native advisers to his administrative team. First Lady Michelle Obama took the historic step of addressing the 2016 graduating class of the Santa Fe Indian School.


Then-First Lady Hillary Clinton is seen inside the Bark Long House at Ganondagan State Historic Park, with Ganondagan staffers Peter Jemison and Jeanette Miller on July 15, 1998. Photo by Sharon Farmer / White House

As First Lady Ms. Clinton went on a 'listening tour" which crossed New York State in 1999. She made a special effort to meet with a delegation of Iroquois clanmothers at the Ganondagan Historic Site near Rochester and spent some time with them learning about traditional values. The year before, in 1998, she attended the 150th anniversary of the first US suffrage meeting at Seneca Falls in which my wife, Joanne Shenandoah, performed. After that Ms. Clinton invited Ms. Shenandoah to perform at the White House during the unveiling of the Sacajawea dollar coin.

As a New York Senator Clinton did not propose any changes in longstanding US-Iroquois relations but as Secretary of State she pressed for the Iroquois Nationals lacrosse team to travel to Britain on their own passports to take part in the world tournament only to have the English deny their former allies permission to enter the country but her intervention did elevate her standing across the Confederacy.

Official Democratic and Republican party platforms will have to wait for their respective conventions but it is difficult to see how Native nations, including the Iroquois, would benefit from a Trump administration. He stands as a potential threat to Iroquois sovereignty and his personal character is an affront to every value the Iroquois apply to their male and female leaders.

No true Iroquois citizen will cast a vote in the US elections since this would be a breach in their standing as distinct nations and would mean an end to the Confederacy's treaty relationship with the Americans. In 1924 the Iroquois vigorously opposed the Indian Citizen Act and to this day refuse to accept US citizenship but the interest in the 2016 elections is deep since whoever becomes president will have the means to effect every area of Native life across the country.

For the Confederacy, with a deep respect for the wisdom of women in politics, the choice is clearly for Hillary Clinton.

Doug George-Kanentiio is an Akwesasne Mohawk currently residing on Oneida Territory with his wife Joanne Shenandoah.

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