When I am at home (Nepal), I love to watch movies. I have watched many movies and documentaries based on Mohawk. I have seen Mohawk fighting for their survival and fighting for their territory. They fight with bow and arrows. They fight with guns. They fight in meadows, they fight in forest and they fight in mountains. They were killed, they signed treaties and they were defeated. Story ends.
Yesterday, when I visited Khanawake (Mohawk village near by Montreal) then I found another story. The story where, I thought was, ended was never ended there. Actually, it was the beginning. By nature, Mohawk are warriors. They have been living in this land for centuries. They have been fighting with all sorts of natural calamities and they have learned to live in co-existence with nature. They have survived and in certain way, they win this battle. So, how can they give up their fight just by signing treaties? How can they live without their identity? The identity which is engrained in their land, culture and tradition. They battle with assimilation and modernization. They battle for their existence. They battle for their identity. Now, I saw them keeping them intact.
Photo: Mohawk youth gathered for traditional dance
In Khanawake, I saw youth taking the lead. Youth are in the forefront of this battle. They have taken the responsibility of their elders. They were communicating in their own language and they were following and practicing their culture and tradition. They were learning from their elders and passing down to their younger brothers and sisters.
Mohawk in the past fought with French, fought with British. Now, they are fighting with ethnocide, ecocide and globalization. This fight is more complicated because they have to put their soul and mind in it. In the past, they fought with bow and arrow. Now, they are fighting with their feeling of solidarity, historical memories and wisdom. They were great warriors and they still are great warriors. I salute them for who they are.
Note: I thank Saelee Kamonphan for providing me the photographs.