Mohawk Uprising 1990: The Significance of why the Red Post Must Remain Standing

On July 11th, 1990 the Surêté du Québec SWAT team raided the peaceful barricade which the community of Kanehsatà:ke had been maintaining since March 8th, 1990.  In response to protect the people in Kanehsatà:ke from more police violence, the sister community of Kahnawà:ke blocked the Mercier Bridge completely.  This began what is known as the “Oka Crisis”, but within the two affected communities, it is also as the 1990 Siege/Occupation of Kanehsatà:ke & Kahnawake.   It has also been called the “Long Hot Indian Summer” which eventually saw the Canadian Army, the Canadian Navy and RCMP authorities creeping in to occupy the two Kanien’kehá:ka communities.

Had it not been for the public, international pressure and the ceremonies and prayers of Indigenous communities along with the hundreds of blockades, marches and demonstrations by Canadians and Indigenous peoples alike, the outcome might have been more violent, if you can imagine that.

Canada and Quebec were more concerned with Montreal’s south shore inconvenienced motorists than the safety and human rights of the Kanien’kehá:ka communities of Kanehsatà:ke and Kahnawà:ke.  The negotiations were not conducted in good faith.

As the late Elijah Harper stated in a rally at “Oka National Park”

“You (Canada) say that we have to consider the inconvenienced motorists, but Canada has to understand, that we the first peoples of this land, have been inconvenienced for almost 500 years!”

This event sparked the emergence of Canada’s true colonial and oppressive character in its treatment of Indigenous peoples.  Many Indigenous peoples across Canada, the USA and indeed, internationally were inspired by the courage, resiliency and solidarity of the two Kanien’kehá:ka communities and their allies

Like a Spring thaw a ground swell of advocacy and justice for Indigenous peoples’ human rights surfaced in ways that are still felt today.  Respect for Indigenous sovereignty, treaties and the long standing historical land grievances have transpired in various forms of discussion within educational institutions, solidarity amongst civil society organizations,  and the average Canadian Citizen.  Emerging from a Parliamentary Standing Committee “investigating” the summer of 1990, recommendations transpired for a Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, whose 6 volume report exposed a myriad of colonial state inflicted abuses from land dispossessions to the genocidal acts inflicted upon Indigenous nations’ children in the Indian Residential School System.

And so, on this the 25th Anniversary of the Kanien’kehá:ka – Mohawk Uprising of 1990, an art exhibit commemorating its impacts entitled Onekwenhtàra Kanehtsóte – the Red Post art exhibit was created.  You will see on this web site various forms of the impacts through a diversity of art mediums.

We hope that you too will share your creativity on this very theme of the impacts of the Mohawk Uprising of 1990.