Module 4 – Post 2: “Kahnesatake: 270 Years of Resistance”: Paul Waterlander

My final research paper will focus on how technology has allowed Indigenous political voices to be amplified in 2017.

One way to do this is through the use of a well-made documentary.  One Indigenous Canadian filmmaker, Alanis Obomsawin raised in the Abenaki culture as a young girl.  She has evolved into one of the most famous, professionally recognized, and outspoken filmmakers of our time.

One of her many films is titled Kahnesatake: 270 Years of Resistance.  The film chronicles the very political showdown called the Oka Crisis that erupted in Oka, Quebec in 1990.  This film is a behind-the-scene look at the Mohawk Warrior side of this dispute.  When the crisis was in full-swing, the mainstream media basically ignored the Mohawk side of this story, and instead, the media presented the stand-off from the government side only.  The Mohawk Warriors were “domestic terrorists”.  Obomsawin’s film shows the complex colonial history of how this stand-off really began over 270 years ago when the Catholic Church basically stole Mohawk land in the Oka area.  The shameful way the governments of  both Canada and Quebec handle the urgent issue of land claims fuels the stand-off in 1990.

Obomsawin relies on interviewing the Mohawk throughout the film.  By the end of the film, it is obvious that somebody is not telling the truth about land theft, or Aboriginal title to the lands the Mohawk have traditionally called home.  This film is powerful in that the political issues are brought right out to the audience in a way that leaves you wondering who the real “domestic terrorists” really are.  This is not the story Canadians were told on the nightly news.

Here is a short trailer:

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