Darren Bonaparte: Mohawk people have long history with borders

Signs in Ontario, Canada, point to the United States and the Mohawk territory at Akwesasne. Photo: Michel Rathwell

Mohawk author and historian Darren Bonaparte looks at the historic divisions affecting the Mohawk people on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border:
I recently gave a tour of Akwesasne to a visitor who was interested in what our leaders call “the jurisdictional nightmare.” Not only are we the only indigenous community divided by an international border, we are further divided by a state, two provinces, and three counties.

Three rivers, the St. Lawrence, Raquette, and St. Regis, divide the land even further. That number increases to five if you count our land claim areas. The historic village of St. Regis is considered part of Canada, but sits on the tip of a peninsula that you have to drive through the United States to get to.

As divided as we are, we still consider this to be one community. When we meet people from other territories, they don’t ask us “Which Akwesasne are you from? North or South?” To the outside authorities and mapmakers, however, we are the Mohawks of Akwesasne, formerly known as the Iroquois of St. Regis, and the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe. Both of these entities have an elected council that abides by the border and maintain police forces that do the same. It is not uncommon for someone who lives on one side of the border to work on the other side and to cross it several times a day.

Read More on the Story:
Darren Bonaparte: Akwesasne: A Border Runs Through It (Indian Country Today 2/25)

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