CFN – The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne has taken an important step towards reestablishing ancestral trade networks with other First Nations. In a ceremony conducted during the Assembly of First Nation’s Special Chiefs Assembly held in Ottawa, Ontario on Wednesday, December 6, 2011, MCA Grand Chief Mike Kanentakeron Mitchell rekindled one First Nations trade arrangement by signing a Nation-to-Nation Trade and Commerce Protocol with Huron-Wendat Nation of Wendake Grand Chief Konrad Haskan Sioui.
According to Grand Chief Mitchell, “The Mohawks of Akwesasne and Huron have a long history of sharing the region’s land and resources before the arrival of Europeans to Turtle Island.” He added, “The ancient tradition of free trade amongst First Nations has continued despite the imposition of a border between the colonial governments of the United States and Canada.”
The nation-to-nation agreement has been under consideration for the past few years, but gained momentum in October 2010 when Mohawk Council traveled to Wendake to discuss steps towards revitalizing the trade arrangement. It was an opportunity to recall traditional trade and commerce relationships that previously existed between the Mohawks of Akwesasne and the Huron-Wendat Nation.
The signed trade agreement recognizes that both First Nations are descendants of a people known as the Laurentian Iroquois, whom originally inhabited the St. Lawrence Valley. Together, the Mohawks of Akwesasne and the Huron-Wendat Nation share this heritage and have created a legacy of respect and collaboration that both First Nations wish to continue.
The document also recognizes that trade has been an integral part of our culture and is vital to our continued distinction as First Nations, which has supported discussions on the trade protocol’s development. Its development was further supported by Canada’s endorsement in November 2010 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples that recognizes and protects the practices of traditional economies.
The Mohawk Council intends to use the trade agreement with the Huron-Wendat Nation, as well as those that it hopes to foster with other First Nations, to develop a secure and self-sufficient economy for the Akwesasne community. The MCA recognizes the benefit of sharing resources and experiences to improve our community’s economic and social conditions.
The next step for MCA is to establish a technical team to work in cooperation with the Huron-Wendat to share resources and identify economic development initiatives that will utilize the trade arrangement to create strong economies for both First Nations communities.