The Psychology of Warfare vs. Pacifism

By Bob Goulais

It’s time that we offer constructive criticism to our brothers and sisters in Six Nations over the increasingly violent incidents happening in Caledonia.

First things first, an important message of understanding to the Haudenasaunsee Confederacy: we fully understand the root of your frustration as well as the historical facts regarding your claim in Caledonia. This is without question. This is Mohawk land. It was taken illegally. The Douglas Estates development was proceeding on this disputed parcel of land. The government is in the wrong.

But I truly feel the psychology of warfare has overtaken good negotiation strategy, good will and is now bordering on real terrorism. This is most definitely hurting the Haudenasaunee cause in Caledonia.

The history of the Haudenasaunee (known by the French as “Iroquois”) is rampant with violence. The history of the Six Nations speaks of generations of warfare among their own Nations: Mohawk, Seneca, Oneida, Onondaga, Cuyuga and the Tuscarora. Their most sacred precept, the Great Peace, was their means of ending centuries of civil war and where they literally buried their weapons under the Great Tree of Peace. This the where the term “bury the hatchet” comes from.

However, the warfare didn’t end there. History tells us how the Haudenasaunee Confederacy came together in a great military alliance and waged war, not in defence of lands, but to pillage their neighbouring Nations of their territory and food supply leading to disasterous campaigns for the Wendat and the Nbisiing.

Right up into the 1800’s, the Haudenasaunee War Chiefs were never given much rest, unlike the Anishinabek-Three Fires Confederacy where the War Chiefs were called upon only during times of warfare.

Even their assimilation into Canadian society was done under threat of violence. (And here’s where the provincial Progressive Conservative promise of “One Law for All” gets a little ironic.) The Six Nations have never subjected themselves to Canadian law. They were forced by gunpoint to discontinue their traditional governance and accept the authority of the Indian Act.

Even during peacetime, the Mohawk warrior society will always be active, always ready, always honing their skills – but also finding outlets for their psychology of warfare.

Over the past few decades, the Mohawk warrior society has mobilized and supported demonstrations and occupations across Canada in places like Oka, Gustafson Lake, Ipperwash, Burnt Church, and most recently in Calendonia and Tyendinga.

In my opinion, this psychology of warfare is now becoming a disservice for the Haudenasaunee Confederacy.

Arguably, humanity has changed. Western society now looks favourably on non-violent movements such as what has taken place in Burma-Myanmar this week. The most effective movement leaders have been non-violent leaders: Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther-King and Nelson Mandella. Westerners look down at strong-arm government tactics to crush such grass-roots movements. While guerilla movements and terrorism continue to leave a bad taste in the mouths of westerners.

It’s definitely time for the Mohawk Warrior Society to “stand-down”.

There is certainly a time and place for our warrior societies. They are definitely needed to protect their families, communities and Nation during legitimate threat of war and violence against our people. As a warrior myself, I always thought that there would be a time where our Ogitchidaa must rise up to protect our Nation from unilateral government violence. During that time, I would be proud to fight shoulder-to-shoulder with the Mohawk Warriors in a “just” war.

But to use violence as a means punish and hurt individuals is cowardly. To use the threat of violence and intimidation to influence negotiation is dishonourable.

I am not entirely convinced that the Clan Mothers and Leadership of the Haudenasaunee Confederacy are in control of the actions and tactics of the Mohawk warrior society. If they were, would they take responsibilities over the assault on the developer at a neighbouring site in Caledonia?

I don’t think they have to, because I know that Chief Allen McNaughton and the Clan Mothers are honourable people and would never hurt anyone for the sake of hurting someone. They may leading the negotiations, but they don’t have true control over these spineless terrorists who pose as legitimate Mohawk “warriors” and beat up on defenseless people.

Same with so-called “warrior” Shawn Brant. In Tyendinaga, the Confederacy have no control over their local warrior man and his merry band of houligans. Only one man is calling the shots in Tyendinaga and that man is Shawn Brant.

Reported incidents of alcohol and drug use, alleged sexual assaults, at the Caledonia occupation site are certainly not reflective of the Haudenausaunee. Neither is the brutal assault on Mr. Gualtieri.

As an indigenous man and a member of the Ogitchidaa Society – I am ashamed of the conduct of these so-called “warriors”. I offer my congratulations to Allen McNaughton who publically apologized to Mr. Gualtieri following the incident.

None of these developments will lead to the needed support from grass-roots Canadians. They will only lead to further frustration, racism, ignorance and ambivilence from Canadians.

The Haudenasaunsee Confederacy leadership needs to take steps to address these issues. Further, the Warrior Society itself needs to clean up it’s act. They need to publicly punish those who dishonour their people and their noble cause. The most difficult job for the Haudenasaunee is to obtain the support of Canadians – beginning with the residents of Caledonia.

The best way to realize our collective goals as indigenous people is to gain the support and friendship of Canadians and all citizens of Mother Earth. Our Nations need to plan and embrace pacifism and non-violent action. This must be done on a large scale and has to be done collectively. I feel this is the future of our “Era of Action”.

Just think about the possibilities… If we could arrange to have 250,000 of our people march on Parliament Hill – we would turn a lot of heads to our cause. If half of those people were to stay, set-up camp and occupy Parliament Hill – it would turn a lot more heads. However, if these events were to become violent due to our impatience and lack of discipline, we would lose much needed support of Canadians and the world. Under the present circumstances, we would have to think long and hard about inviting the Mohawk Warrior Society to Parliament Hill.

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