I was 13, ish. this event changed me forever, I was living on Walpole Island Ontario Canada. It’s a small reservation on the St. Clair river, somewhere in between the greats lakes of lake Huron and lake Erie. Our land was made up of five small islands, with a large portion bordering with a large stretch of Michigan. I remember non native people would rent cottages along the river for summer retreats or vacations, and there was a small trailer park where people would park trailers or set up a tent.
I don’t exactly remember how the events unfolded at that time, but at that time, my brother and his friends, my aunts and uncles were all talking about what was going on with our neighbors near Quebec. From memory mind you, I was told they (the government) were appropriating land…at that time which was explained to me meant they were talking the land because the people of that land weren’t using it. And some other people wanted to build a golf course. It didn’t make sense to me nor does it now.
This is when i got a crash course from my brother and several other people in my community, which would be forever embedded as the Ogitchida,or warriors, educated me on the indian act and how it governed us..(NDNS). I remember being in on meetings and fires on what we can do to support them, At that time the chiefs name was dan muskokmon, with the events that were about to unfold he became the strongest and most brave man to me, then.
I would listen to everyones words or what direction folks thought “we” should go. it was very intense and a little scary hearing all these things about ndns in the news ..and i was one of them. as i listened to people in these circles talking, i was learning so much about “our people” and “our” standing together because of the wars and treaties that put us on reservations.. and that “we” need to “unify” which i didnt fully grasp then.
At some point, i was there…my mom, my brother, neighbors all my friends famlies.
“we decided to turn the bridge, which connects the island to the main land, and not allow people of non native ancestry thru or on the reservations” the chief said…people were arguing, yelling..it was crazy intense.. I remember people with protest signs that said “support OKA”
We had stopped traffic and were not letting non natives thru…some people who had rented cottages were becoming physical with the chiefs and other leaders, the police were there to separate the people. “hold the line i was told”
The next event that i can recall is when we “took over” the border. We were told to stand together and i remember sticking to the chiefs side everywhere he went…i was sure he knew what to do and would protect me…
we gathered at the ferry whichs takes people to algonac michigan, and loaded up on foot on to the ferry. In algonac i remember being met by the media and on lookers, were told to wear a bandanna across your face…just in case. just in case what i thought.
I remember people yelling “go back the reservation” and “you dont belong here” and it was the first time i heard, “we should have killed you”. i remember being angry and being told not feed into the violence, and dont give them, the police, a reason to arrest or hurt us…and to be still and stand strong and show we support the mohawks and what they are doing.
The events that led up to this..changed me forever…and how i looked at the world.