Mohawk Council of Akwesasne Considers New Surveillance Fence Threat to Sovereignty NOV 14, 2014

Akwesasne_TerritoryCFN – The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne is responding to a National Post article that reported on the RCMP’s $92-million dollar plan to place a myriad of high-tech, high-security equipment along the U.S.–Canada border to act as an electronic surveillance “fence”. One of the locations being targeted for this latest border enforcement plan is the waterways located within and around the Territory of Akwesasne.


The National Post included a statement about Mohawks criticizing the plan as an attack on our sovereignty and a threat to our economy.  It is true that putting Akwesasne into a police state that is already surrounded by security cameras and a multitude of law enforcement agencies can be viewed as an attack on not only our sovereignty; but also on our human rights, mobility rights and privacy rights. It’s akin to the federal government putting more salt on the crisis situation that already exists between Canada and First Nations, which was noted in the report submitted by UN Special Rapportuer James Anaya following his visit to Akwesasne on October 7, 2013.


Suggestions in the media that Akwesasne supports or wants criminal activity to continue are incorrect and damaging to our positive endeavors and opportunities.  There is no mention of Akwesasne’s appeal to work cooperatively with Canada to address our common concerns, which began as early as 2000 in a letter to then-Prime Minister Jean Chretien that warned of the impact that the federal action of raising taxes on cigarettes would ultimately have on our community. There is also no mention of our repeated requests; as recent as May 1, 2013 before the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs; to work with Canada to effectively deal with potential criminal elements that attempt to take advantage of the geographic and jurisdictional challenges that have been imposed upon our community and people.


Akwesasne has made requests for partnerships and has called for increased support from Canada in order to help secure the border that physically dissects our community into several jurisdictions: Ontario, Quebec, and New York.  The Akwesasne Mohawk Police Services needs the resources to patrol the nearly 100 miles of the border that zigzags around almost 400 islands located in the Territory of Akwesasne. It’s an area that has been called a “jurisdictional nightmare” by external law enforcement agencies and is better patrolled by Mohawk police officers intimately familiar with the St. Lawrence River’s tributaries, channels, wetlands and marshes.


In recent decades, Akwesasne has witnessed a substantial growth in our community’s population and the need to increase employment opportunities that focus on a legitimate economy, as well as expand our community’s essential services in areas like policing. The implementation and enforcement of border security initiatives of Canada and the United States however, is beyond the mandate of the Akwesasne Mohawk Police Services, but has been assumed by our local police department to ensure the ongoing safety and security of the community and traveling public.


The additional responsibility of maintaining the international border’s integrity was exacerbated in 2009 when the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) relocated its customs facility from Kawehno:ke (Cornwall Island) to the City of Cornwall. The unexpected relocation of the CBSA and the role of ensuring border integrity have placed a strain on the 24-member Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service. To effectively respond to the additional responsibility, AMPS requires funding for additional patrol officers and the creation of a full-time marine unit. It will enable our local police department to continue having a major impact on criminal organizations that seek to exploit our community. This will cost far less and will be more effective than what is being proposed in the RCMP’s plan.


Under the current proposal, there is a concern that criminal organizations and terrorists will still attempt to take advantage of our community—especially when mainstream media and elected officials continue to publicly promote the border at Akwesasne as being an unsecure area in order to advance their own political agenda or to cater to special interest groups. Blaming Akwesasne is not new as immediately following 9/11 our community was heavily blamed in the media as a suspected entry point for terrorists. This was later disproven, but  Akwesasne has suffered ever since these reckless and incorrect statements were made.


Akwesasne shares the goals of other governments to secure the border however; the Government of Canada has been unwilling to support our efforts. We have received more support from the United States than we have received from Canada. Perhaps it is easier for Canada to continue blaming Akwesasne for its problems, rather than work with us.


At a time when Canada is planning to spend tens of millions more on law enforcement, Akwesasne continues to propose the least expensive path of partnerships and increased cooperation. We have also proposed the development of a secure border identification card that will ultimately enhance border integrity by clearly identifying our local residents. It’s a proposal that has received a favorable response from U.S. Congressman Bill Owens and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which has asked Canada numerous times to also support as it will assist the border enforcement efforts of both countries. It will expedite the processing of local residents that comprise the vast majority of border travelers and will support our region’s cross-border commerce.


Akwesasne has also proposed and is pursuing other security measures that will contribute to border enforcement. In fact, the MCA and its counterpart on the southern, or “U.S.” portion of Akwesasne, have begun negotiations to implement a Mohawk Border Security Plan of our own that would include local security/border officers and procedures that take into account Akwesasne’s unique multi-jurisdictional reality. It recognizes Akwesasne as a cross-border community and builds upon our proven experience at developing multi-jurisdictional agreements and political protocols with external and internal governments to address the needs of our community.


In response to the National Post statement that Mohawks view additional security as a threat to the economy, the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne firmly disagrees. Akwesasne does view Canada’s border security as being damaging to our local economy. The added law enforcement initiatives combined with the CBSA’s reporting requirement has been devastating to the many stores and small businesses located on Kawehno:ke (Cornwall Island). No longer can travelers stop and support our local economy as they travel on their way to the City of Cornwall. It has led some of our hard-working community members to make the difficult decision to close their businesses located at the Peace Tree Mall located on Kawehno:ke, as well as gas stations and restaurants located elsewhere in Akwesasne.


Akwesasne is entering the second year of a two-year tobacco pilot project with Ontario that is exploring avenues for controlling, regulating and legalizing tobacco products. Any cigarettes coming from the southern portion of Akwesasne will go through the same regulation and control measures. These are the type of partnerships that are still possible at all levels and will translate into a healthy and legal economy for Akwesasne and improved border security for Canada and the United States, but before this can happen the finger pointing at our community has to stop. We need government officials to see the potential of cooperation and collaboration. There are solutions and we have been speaking about them to external governments.


The plan to spend millions of dollars more on external law enforcement is equivalent to Canada sending in more cavalry soldiers to further surround Akwesasne. We continue to state that other solutions can be found that are more productive and will benefit all.


It has been our experience that when our leadership identifies alternative strategies that would translate into a healthy and legal economy we have gotten no support from the federal government.

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  1. It should be pointed out that Akwesasne is NOT being targeted with this security :fence.” It is planned for other border areas as well.

  2. Hugger you are right on target again. The US wants to strengthen the northern border even though the real trouble is from the southern border and most Yanks know that and are mighty afraid. I do know what goes on on the southern border and know the mentality – God forbid. We all haven’t seen anything yet.

  3. I want the people of Akwassassne to know that this has nothing to do with them at all and has to do with the people from the Middle East crossing the southern border illegally and we don’t know the half of what is happening here in Canada and the US. Our countries are no longer the same nor is Europe, Australia, etc. Australia has a good think downpacked and Canada should implement the same thing. We need our borders to get tighter. If you only knew what is going on and what they are capable of. The Mexicans and Central and South Americans are bribed and have the same mentality as the Middle Easterners. Please do not think that this is about you. The next time 911 could be a piece of cake so I would say to everyone on all sides of the border be patient and this has not to do with you but with much bigger fish to fry. We are not living in the same world that we once had.

  4. Is Mike trying to say that those bombers on 911 came through his territory? If so why was no one charged and if they know of whom took terrorist across the river was have no arrest been made? Mike was the one who wanted the CBSA off the island in the first place why is he complaining now. Jamie should be looking into the kassian case . If you want the link just ask and I shall provide it is very interesting on what is said in there about the apple dumpling gang.

  5. “I know in the tribal lands before 9/11 there was something like 300 or 400 illegal immigrants, special-interest aliens, that came across,” King told a panel Tuesday on cross-border smuggling in Akwesasne. “Over the past couple of years we are down to single digits.

  6. I was wrong Owens is still there guess I am going to have to write him about this issue. So glad the republicans are in control now.

  7. Spiritbear there are thousands of illegal immigrants in Canada alone not counting the US, Europe, Australia, etc. You would literally be in shock to know the realities. There are many Middle Easterners who live in Mexico, Central and South America, Africa, Australia, Europe, etc. Many are legal citizens of those countries and many are illegal. With this insane ISIS and ISIL going on today you can’t tell what people are thinking of doing. Many are already here waiting for the signal for their dirty tricks and that is why these barriers are up and going up everywhere and has nothing to do with the Native people. These Middle Easterners resemble the Native people and do smuggle and they are not just into cigarettes and booze but into high crime. Again this has nothing to do with the Native people.

  8. No terrorists came through Akwesasne cause that was the work of their own “government”. Governments are good at spending lots of money that they don’t have and avert attention elsewhere. Maybe there should be a wall surrounding Cornwalls lands & take down that new bridge

  9. And again, a security measure that will do NOTHING to deter or hamper plans of anyone that has criminal activity in mind. This is just like the long gun registry. More money spent on something not practical at all. And yes, maybe it has nothing to do with the mohawk people but it’s still their land and want nothing to do with a stupid fence running through the territory. Respect treaties, respect all people. People didn’t like and are still mad about the fed putting storage tanks on the waterfront. Why?

  10. Once again it should be pointed out that Akwesasne is NOT being targeted with this security :fence.” It is planned for other border areas as well. Putting a hole in the “security fence” for the Akwesasne area is like wearing a condom with a giant hole in it, not much use. BUt I agree with Jerry if someone has criminal intent in mind they WILL find away around any security measures put in place.

  11. Mike, please disclose your annual salary & expenses from the Band Council aka: Canadian taxpayer ? Thank-you !

  12. BEBE, just curious. What does his salary have to do with the subject of this article? Are political natives not allowed to earn money? Please explain yourself.

  13. Mike wants more funding for his apple dumpling gang but he forgets to tell everyone that they make no arrest when people take a right or left on the island coming from the states instead of reporting. Why does Canada fund a police department at all that does not enforce its laws. What is in those vehicles that do not report?

  14. People not reporting seems to that it’s a border issue and not police. There are so many high tech cameras around the bridges that it would be very easy to impound that vehicle next time it tries to cross any border. Usa and Canada borders can work together, they just choose not to. I’ve seen cars turning onto the island after coming from the states and i thought it was odd. However, i do not believe that is an issue where police should be chasing them down. We already have millions invested at the borders just for that reason.

  15. Man charged with illegally harboring Chinese nationals at Massena



    What did Mitchell say? You missed this Jamie it was posted in a New York paper.


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    MASSENA — U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents have charged a man with bringing two Chinese nationals into the country illegally and harboring them here.

    Aaron P. David, age and address not available, was charged Thursday, according to documents filed Friday in U.S. District Court, Syracuse. He had been remanded to the custody of federal marshals.

    According to a criminal complaint, agents approached the two Chinese citizens, Tian Hua Zhou and Oi Wa Yeung, at a bus station at the Econo Lodge on Route 37.

    It was discovered that neither was in possession of documents that allowed them to be in the country legally and that neither had been inspected by immigration officers prior to entering the country, although each held Hong Kong passports.

    The complaint states that Mr. Zhou and Ms. Yeung admitted entering the United States from Canadian aboard a boat across the St. Lawrence River sometime Wednesday through a point on the Akwesasne Mohawk Reservation.

    hey allegedly admitted that they crossed by boat to avoid examination and inspection by immigration officers and were trying to reach New York City.

    The pair had a bus ticket in the name of “A. David” and a second one issued in the first initial and last name of Mr. David’s girlfriend, according to the complaint.

    Documents do not show how agents identified Mr. David, but allege that he admitted he had picked up the two undocumented aliens in Snye, Quebec, along an unguarded road on the reservation and brought them into the country.

    He also allegedly admitted that he had agreed to transport the aliens into the country for $1,000.

    He further allegedly admitted that after bringing them into the country, he bought two bus tickets to New York City for them, one in his name and a second in his girlfriend’s.

    Mr. David said he ultimately paid $800 Canadian for bringing the aliens into the country.

    Mr. Zhou and Ms. Yeung were also ordered to be held in the custody of federal marshals.

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