The Multinational Monitor


I N D I G E N O U S   P E O P L E S

"One morning the white man came to your door and said..."

Excerpt from speech by John Mohawk

John Mohawk, editor of the Mohawk Nation newspaper, Akwesasne Notes, set the tone for the conference in his keynote address on October 12. The following is an excerpt...

"The native peoples are a distinct people of the world with distinct cultures, and we are under attack. We're here having this conference to discuss a specific institution of the 20th century which is the most effective at that attack, which is the transnational corporation.

One morning the white man came to your door and to your neighbor's door, and said to you, `Mr. Indian, I don't want you to be Indian any more. If you'll come work for me, I'll pay you the benefits of your labor. But there's a rule to this - you must work for me. You're going to work on your own land, mind you, you're going to dig this stuff out of your land, but you're working for me now.'

The next five or six decades, I say, will determine whether or not we survive as peoples.

We are on the one hand the most oppressed peoples on the globe. On the other hand, we are the hope for the future of people on this planet. The peoples that surround us now are beginning to experience in the 20th century that there are limitations to the kinds of economic organization that define their societies.

It's not likely that out of the Hopi culture would come a plan that has within it a national sacrifice area.' The Hopis could not conceive of pumping all the water out of the aquifers and turning this place into an absolute desert.... But the West can conceive of that, because they're sacrificing your life for their profit and power.

The only reason that Indian people should be fighting to get back land is so that they can develop self-sufficiency. There's no point in having land if you're going to lease it to the white man so he can chemicalize it and ruin it and mine it and do all the things he wants to do to it.

That also means that if there's people there with a dam on your lands, you must understand that the enemy is not only the class structure. It's all the institutions that penetrated that area, that softened you up, that made you like that electric mixer and that television game show so you can be sitting there watching while the waters rise outside.

To push back the multinational corporations, we need a strategy that empowers our people. We can't ignore the economic needs of our people because that's how the transnational corporations control us. We must develop an economic base which is not based on selling our souls, our land, our water, our children's future to these big companies who will come and rape the place, who will destroy the ecology, and who will leave 15 to 20 years from now, in many cases, and will leave our people more destitute in the end than when they began.

We need to start educating the West about what their transnational corporations are doing to the ecology of the planet, and we need to start teaching them some social alternatives which place its priority on humankind - not profits, not political power, not bombs, but on humanity."

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