Several Mohawk Council of Kahnawake chiefs were absent for Tuesday’s summer community meeting, including MCK grand chief Joe Norton. (Jessica Deer, The Eastern Door)
More eviction letters will be issued to non-Natives residing in the community, the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake announced earlier this week.
“The next batch of letters will be going out pretty soon,” said council chief Arlene Jacobs on Tuesday evening at the summer community meeting. “The next people that are on the list – they think that they’re free and clear because they didn’t get a letter yet. Well, the letters are coming.”
With four council chiefs absent, including grand chief Joe Norton, the discussion primarily focused on membership, with updates from Jacobs, who is in charge of the portfolio, along with Kahsennenhawe Sky-Deer.
According to the chiefs, around 70 non-Natives are allegedly residing in the community in contravention to the currently suspended Kahnawake Membership Law.
In mid-June, council issued 20 letters by bailiff to non-Natives residing in the community.
“It cost us $1,500 for them to do that. Some places, he had to go back two or three times. Every time he went back, it was another cost,” said Jacobs. “So, we’re going to re-think that situation again because that’s a lot of money to spend to deliver these letters.”
Each letter stated that the individual had 10 days to respond to council’s notice to make arrangements to leave or provide proof of their residence outside of Kahnawake.
Five people provided council with leases verifying their residence outside of the community, two moved to Chateauguay, and one called asking for more information.
“Twelve completely did not answer,” said Jacobs.
Membership and residency is one of seven priorities identified by council for this year’s term, which were also discussed at Tuesday’s community meeting.
“What’s going to be our next move? There has to be some follow up. We have to do something,” said Jacobs. “What that something is, we’re not going to share tonight, but there is going to be something,” said Jacobs.
Sky-Deer did say work is being done to develop a separate residency law.
“We feel right now that the membership law is a catch-all and there’s a lot of times residency issues are different from membership. Right now, we’re developing a plan of how we can separate them,” she said.
Jacobs asked the audience what they feel needs to be done, so that council can incorporate suggestions into a strategy they’re in the process of developing.
“If they don’t want to abide by our rules, it has been suggested to cut their water off. It’s inhumane, but we have to look out for our children in the future. These people are coming in, they’re not paying tax, they’re getting away with everything. If we cut their water off, that will send a message to them,” suggested one community member.
Sky-Deer asked the crowd if that would be something that community would be in support of. The majority of the room, which included roughly a dozen community members, said yes or raised their hands.
Another person in the room suggested that individual’s names be published publicly. However, according to Sky-Deer, publishing names wouldn’t be possible due to the ongoing lawsuit and Human Rights complaints lodged against council.
“It was told that if we publish the names, it would be inciting hatred or violence toward these individuals and it would further complicate our case and defense,” said Sky-Deer. “Of course that is not our intent. It’s trying to but pressure, but that’s how they’re going to see it out there.”
“We do have to keep in mind community dollars because if this bloody lawsuit ends up costing us millions and millions of dollars, that money is coming from where? We don’t have $20 billion dollars on the third floor,” added council chief Clinton Phillips.
Several community members expressed their frustration with the issue.
“It’s not about the money. It’s about who we are as a people. Our integrity. If there was no money involved, nobody would be here but us,” said one community member.
“I want the white people gone. I don’t care who’s in love or who cries. I don’t care – nothing. Just get them out of here.”
Sky-Deer said a special community meeting on membership will take place next month to roll out further details on their plan, although no date has been scheduled at this point.