The Rule of Law and WABANAKI Sovereignty
Since time immemorial, the Sovereignty and Jurisdiction over the Homelands of the MII'GMAG and the WOOLUSTIK have been, and are, the responsibility of these two WABANAKI Nations. It is so with all WABANAKI Nations. With the arrival of the europeans, every aspect of WABANAKI Life, Land, and Being changed by the impact of a hostile and unprovoked siege.
The historical consequences of european exploration, colonization, settlement, and ultimately the invasions, exploitation's, and the usurpation's of WABANAKI Lands, Resources, and Life has resulted in the presence of the nation-states of "canada" and the "united states." That presence has, without question, continued a horrid legacy of suffering and confusion upon WABANAKI Peoples and Territories.
An assertion by these "north american" regimes has been made claiming an unjustified, faulty, illegal jurisdiction and authority over our Peoples. Often being vindictive and aggressive, "north americans" have pursued an unfounded assault upon WABANAKI Homelife, Homelands, and Spirituality. This assertion is pure myth. The Truth is that none of the powers, control, ownership, claimed by "north american" societies upon the People and possessions of First Nations is legitimate. The authority that both the "united states" and "canada" fraudulently asserts over the WABANAKI, and all other Nations of the People of Turtle Island, is absent the rule of law.
The true Elders of our Turtle Island Nations have gifted many WABANAKI adults with a strong, determined sense of responsibility. The legacy and traditions of our heritage provides the basis for the position and conduct of the way my Family and I live our lives.
Every WABANAKI comes from a historical system of social order, a Way of Life that has its origins at the Time of our Creation. This system today is known as the Longhouse. It was ETJINISGAM/KI'E'TAN...The Great Creator who transferred the Original Instructions to the Ancestors of the WABANAKI. These Original Instructions became known to us as the Creator Laws and these provided the foundation for our powerful and beautiful Way of the Longhouse. From these laws came the rituals, ceremonies, spirituality of the WABANAKI. Keeping these Instructions however, has always been difficult. Despite the difficulty, WABANAKI People have struggled and strive to assume our responsibilities and fulfill our obligations to the Creator.
In these times, the WABANAKI are expected to live according to another standard of "instruction", one that is not based upon the Creator Laws but rather on a "rule of law" brought by the european and currently maintained, but for self-interests, mishandled and manipulated by these "north american" nation-states" and their agencies. It was ever so inevitable that the sovereign Peoples of our Nations would be in a perpetual state of conflict with the european. Our world-view, values, culture, and Ways of Life are vastly different. Difference has yet to be respected and honored by "North americans." Nevertheless, one undeniable and indisputable fact rising above all else, is that Turtle Island has at all times, been inhabited by the Indigenous Nations of our Peoples. Every other person sharing space and time on this Island has immigrated from some other place on the Earth. All nation-states throughout this hemisphere have risen from the sufferance of Indigenous Peoples and the usurpation of Indigenous Territories and Homelands.
The rule of law became an acceptable forum for both Indigenous Nations and those of european Kings and Queens. Rather than engaging in war, the rule of law made potential, the settling of disputes and the accommodation of needs between our Nations and european nations. The only instrument conducting such arrangements were formal agreements in the form of treaties; nations to nations, sovereign to sovereign. Just as it was then, treaties are instruments of international law.
At all times during this five hundred year experience with europeans in our territories, international law has operated as the medium between Indigenous Nations and the european. The legacy of this history is maintained and carried to this day by the governments of "canada" and the "united states." Unfortunately, these regimes have not made good friends for the WABANAKI and the other Indigenous Nations, and peace has not been for too long a time.
The polity of "north america" has enacted political contrivances called law and policies, extended social biases called civilization, operated paranoia called superiority, and genocide, thuggery and robbery became operatives for justifying manifest destiny, all the while, applying to their perverted sense for the 'rule of law and social order.' Colored with racism and violence, the failure of "north american" application of their theoretical practice of democracy has vandalized Aboriginal Rights and Treaties at total defiance, expense, and denial of WABANAKI Well-Being, Sovereignty, and self-determination.
i am, and will always Be a WABANAKI National. My Family has been established on the traditions and Way of Life of our Peoples and Nations. Our marriage was consummated by WABANAKI Customs; our Children are Being raised and educated as WABANAKI. My Family has lived all our lives in the territories of the WABANAKI, and for the past thirteen years, resided in my Wife's Home Community of ESGENOOPOTITJ, in the GESPEGEOAGIG District of MII'GMA'GIG. The reality of WABANAKI Spirituality gives meaning and definition to us and our Nations of the MII'GMAG and the WAMPANOAG. This has come with tremendous sacrifice and suffering of our own.
I ask, 'what is the nature of WABANAKI existence that is so troubling for "north americans"? The answer rests upon two primary, basic, historic sources of contention and conflict between our respective societies; those sources are the land and our difference.
Whose land is this? For us, that question goes beyond simple ownership. When thinking of our own values, the rich Teachings and History of our People explains that NO Life can Be "owned"...we cannot look upon the land as anything but alive. We know that the Earth is a living Being, and we are merely extensions of Her and the rest of Creation. WABANAKI Peoples belong to the Earth; She remains the primary source of our Being and all that we understand and will ever come to understand of ourselves as a people.
Central to the issue, is the contention held by "canada" that the territories of the WABANAKI are in fact, owned by "canada"; that the MII'GMAG, the WOOLUSTIK and all other WABANAKI Nations, only possess the privilege to occupy, by natural possession, our Homes and Lands. They say, that title, commonly known as ownership belongs solely to "canada" itself. I believe that all the Homes and Territories of the WABANAKI belong only to the WABANAKI. I also believe that "Canada" and the "united states" do not, as a rule, speak the truth, and have always been lying to our People, as they do now. Neither "canada" nor the "united states" owns nor exists upon WABANAKI soil. Wherever their existence may Be, it is not upon WABANAKI Lands. Without our authority and permission, they would have never have had a place to live. Unfortunately, they DO occupy, trespass, exploit, and seize WABANAKI Territories. Their cities, farmlands, parks, townships, mines, and other forms of resource expropriation, are built and established illegally on WABANAKI Homelands in blatant violation of WABANAKI Sovereignty, Territorial Integrity and Treaty Law; in overt violation of International Law; and in apparent contravention of their own constitutional responsibilities and obligations. They have violated the rule of law.
The case that I am about to describe is one of those immigration matters. To most citizens of "north america" and to those who immigrate, there are no difficult questions...one applies to immigration departments of those countries to whom they are seeking residence, and follow the necessary procedures. Often enough, however, even WABANAKI People have been subjected to immigration and custom laws of "north american" nation-states. This is flatly illegal. I am regarded by "canadian" officials as Being an "american citizen", illegally landed in "canada", a determination made regardless of the realities, histories, feelings, sentiments, and status of the WABANAKI First Nations to whom I belong, and to all other First Nations. It doesn't matter if anyone states that they are WABANAKI, or denies, rejects, or repudiates "north american citizenship" labels...it doesn't matter if we carry legitimate credentials attesting to our status as Nationals. of WABANAKI Nations or Being members of our Confederacies, or dwelling in right, on our own sovereign territories...the outcomes/determination will remain the same...we are either "united states citizens" or "canadian citizens" and "that is it...bottom line."
I simply disagree with that assumption and any such determination made and asserted by any such official wanting to execute their jurisdiction over me or any of my People. The history between Indigenous Nations and "euro-north americans", confirms that we not only have valid claims to advance and the right to foster WABANAKI Sovereignty, Jurisdiction and Territorial Integrity, but by that virtue, confirmed by International and Human Rights, affirmed and supported by domestic "north american" federal constitutions and laws, and particularly founded on our own laws, is the obligation to resist such untruths and implications. By believing and conferring on our Selves, our rights, duties and responsibilities, we exercise self-rule and self-determination; this action IS the virtue of the rule of law. Consequently, it then is explicitly clear that "canada" exceeds its jurisdiction if their intent is to apply their domestic law, in this instance its immigration act, against me or any WABANAKI National.
All WABANAKI/Indigneous People have the inalienable Aboriginal and Human Right to remain WABANAKI; to live, breathe, dream, think, Be and evolve in the Heritage, Tradition, Nationalism, Cultural, Spirituality that is WABANAKI. But this history also bears witness to the continuous and unbelievable intrusions waged against WABANAKI People, Territories, Sovereignty. Such intrusions have terrible costs....costs not only measured in economic terms but deeper emotional trauma, scars, fears, the kind most of us experience at the border crossings. To that end, my Family, and members of the Community of ESGENOOPOTITJ, the MII'GMAG Nation, the WABANAKI Confederacy, our Friends, Allies, Supporters, and those who have come forward to help, in the name of justice and fairness, are all contesting these kinds of abuses, activities, the process, the structure, and the mentality that keeps oppressing Indigenous Peoples throughout the world. We have decided that such claims by "north american" nation-states must Be challenged and the violations against our Peoples must Be ended. The WABANAKI are not aliens and immigrants in our own Homes and Territories; neither are we citizens of anyone's country other than our own. We are waging this case in the name of, and for all the people of, WABANAKI Nations.
In less than a year's time, i am expected to either leave "canada" or forward an application for a "canadian" visa. There are no other considerations by immigration officials of "canada." We therefore intend to provide one...the only true resolve for this and all other conflicts is the truth, as witnessed throughout history. This truth, is the one based upon historical protocol existing in the political relationship between the WABANAKI Nations and the "crown." The relationship "north american" governments have with the WABANAKI and the other Indigenous Nations by Treaty and/or Sovereignty. It is through protocol and the legal due process of diplomacy that the Elders of our Territories throughout WABANAKI may fund mutual justification to dialogue with the policy-makers/brokers of "caanda" to arrange for and engage in proceedings to relieve such conflicts; nation-to-nation, not band to federal government. This is the only suitable and practical forum for such resolves. Anything less, like the present status quo scenario, the current patriarchy one-sided power-play...we talk, you listen...is not acceptable, and would become absolute by design if proceeded with. The use and dependency on lesser symbols of law, like the notorious "indian act" and the "immigration act", creates a kind of smoke screen effect providing the necessary diversion "canada" needs, in order to avoid addressing the fundamental issue of trespassing onto and seizure of WABANAKI Nation Homelands and the unilateral extension of jurisdiction over WABANAKI Nationals. "canada" is, and always has been, outside its jurisdiction. Since arriving in ESGENOOPOTITJ, I have submitted myself, both in writing and public testimony, to the authority and jurisdiction of the MII'GMAG Nation exclusively. The Community of ESGENOOPOTITJ formally recognizes our marriage by traditional custom, as valid and consistent to the spiritual knowledge of the People. Residency privileges have been extended to based on the Sovereignty and the Jurisdictional authority of the MII'GMAG to acknowledge and determine who may live in their territories; "canada" has nothing to say nor do in this matter but honour and respect its nation-to-nation protocol with the WABANAKI and specifically the MII'GMAG Nation.
As of this writing, there are potentially thousands of WABANAKI People who are directly Being affected by the illegal application and "canadian" and "united states" immigration laws. However, every WABANAKI and every Indian person and Nation through out this Turtle Island is affected. Additionally, all the Nationals of the WABANAKI are continuously intruded upon, harassed, and illegally subjected to the other criminal intrusions into our lives, in the forms of "north american" federal/state/provincial/municipal laws, economic stratagems, resource exploitation's, and as always, the encroachment onto our lands and territories. The denial of "north american" nation-states to our social and cultural responsibility to maintain our free association to one another, the respect and protocol that WABANAKI have accorded one another long before the arrival of europeans on our shores, and the Aboriginal Right to Be as we choose...our Human/Aboriginal right to self-determination...is an attempt to fortify such despicable and horrid history upon us as if it is actually true. After over thirty years on the 'Good Red Road', I have yet to find fault with our WABANAKI Traditions and Customs. If fault could ever Be found, would not the sensible, logical/reasonable path to follow, Be to correct what needs to Be corrected in order to maintain and preserve OUR own Way of Life, rather than throwing everything away for something unknown or perhaps less than what we have already, and perhaps even faulty? Second-class membership is what we can ever hope for in a society that is institutionally and fundamentally racist and outwardly prejudicial towards People of Color. But more disconcerting is the acceptance of class systems and its predictable nature of lawless social order that shows contempt for the rules it produces. The Longhouse Way of Life has never known such a way, structure and institution.
In conclusion, the Jay Treaty and the Treaty of Ghent are often cited as the source of international law that extends and recognizes the Aboriginal Right of the WABANAKI to move, live, work, etc. without regard to the "canadian/united states" border. Although the "united states" continues to formerly honour the Jay Treaty commitments, contrary to "canada", the "united states" can just as easily repeal or end its commitment to this treaty tomorrow if they so choose to do so. That is, possibly, the privilege of any nation to do. Relying on treaties that we are not directly party to is not sound. The reliance on symbols and other agreements that our Peoples have not directly enter into, becomes a serious breach and threat to our sovereignty. It is from our Birth into our Nations, that we maintain our natural, and inherent responsibilities, commonly and mistakenly referred to as "rights." Our freedom of movement, our status as nations, our self-determination, does not depend on the Jay Treaty or any other third-party agreement; these treaties merely recognize and reflect our freedom of movement, and inherent rights. Until the "canadian" government resolves this impasse through the proper channels of the well-established treaty protocol with our Confederacy, no application of "canadian" or 'united states" law can Be confirmed as legally applying to any National of the WABANAKI Nations
Note: The uncommon capitalizations and the use of quotation marks and lower-case lettering are intentional. These are designed to denote WABANAKI world-view and Spirituality. They should not be considered grammatical errors
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Date Page Posted: Wednesday, December 24, 1997
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