THE WARRIORS WITHIN
By Brad Lockwood
He speaks Mohawk in his sleep—only a handful of Natives and linguists can decipher what he conjures between snores. The tongue of “The People of the Land of the Flint” isn’t extinct, yet. Talking isn’t Paul Delaronde’s way, though. He’s a man of action, with the rap sheet and stories to prove it.
“It’s Gun-yung-gay.” That’s the first thing he says to me, phonetically, before even shaking my hand. After three months of phone calls and an eight-hour ride on the Adirondack Express to Plattsburg, New York, I’m face-to-face with Paul for the first time, and he’s already correcting me. “Not Gong-yan-kay... Gun-yung-gay.”
A broad smile covers Paul’s face, and he extends his hand.
In Mohawk, water may be flowing, frozen or raining, based on inflection; the spelling may be the same, but to understand, one must listen. Paul uses the word “Mohawk” to signify (simplify, really) his people to me, but he doesn’t approve of it. His alphabet doesn’t even use the letter M. Nor did his people have “mohawks”; rather, the front scalp was shaved in a circular fashion as far back as the ears, the rest pulled into a ponytail. Paul wears his this way, but mostly due to a receding, graying hairline.
Paul calls this place, the northernmost part of New York, “Cocaine Alley.” It’s where blow and bud come through the Canadian border, mostly by way of Amtrak. Which likely explains the only other person in the station, a nondescript white man in a white oxford. DEA or INS, Paul figures.
Behind the wheel, keys in hand, Paul glares into his rearview, waiting for the man in the oxford to leave. Only then does Paul put the key in the ignition.
Though Paul’s invited me here, he’s almost hostile, correcting every question I ask. As his brazen history suggests, he takes everything a bit too far.
Lighting a cigarette manufactured on the Oneida Reservation and sold for $2.50 a pack, Paul reminds me that it was his people who first introduced Europeans to tobacco. I bring up the tax-free status of Native Americans.
“We aren’t tax-free,” Paul rebuffs. “We’re un-taxable.”
The sides in this conflict, ongoing for over 500 years, are so entrenched that even those waging it are confounded. The death count in the battle between the Onkwe Onwe (meaning real or original people) who constitute the world’s oldest ongoing democracy and the United States of America is conservatively estimated at 10 million.
“My grandmother would say that her generation descended from the two percent who were survivors,” Paul says. It’s the first thing he has offered freely, without debate. “I was young and didn’t understand, so she would show me the scars on her back from smallpox.”
There’s a new battle brewing now, Paul tells me, with a new enemy—the tribal Nations. “The government will only negotiate with other nations—that’s why the Seneca Nation of Indians exists,” explains Paul, referring to the institution that represents his brethren, the Seneca, in their dealings with the government at both the state and federal level.
Revenues from tax-free cigarettes and gasoline have served both the Seneca and the Mohawk well for decades, enriching Natives and employing entire communities while also underwriting health care and other services. But now the Native Nations are dividing once more.
The Seneca have been signing new treaties and settling land claims with Governor George Pataki even as the Mohawk have become more reclusive, enforcing old treaties and expanding land claims. As the Seneca open their reservations to all and use their gaming rights to build casinos throughout western New York (even breaking federal law at the governor’s behest by building casinos off of reservation land), the Mohawk are closing themselves off to any outsiders, invoking their sovereignty and becoming self-sufficient in upstate New York.
“Before the 1800s we were a landless people. They called us tribes (a slur to most Natives), bands, savages...” Paul says as he steers us out of Plattsburg, past the closed airbase, then the Clinton State Prison, toward his territory. “So they created the concept of Nations, forgetting that we created the first nation, the Haudenosaunee.”
Democracy is sacred to Natives. When Paul says the word, it is followed by a brief pause, an obvious reverence that I almost envy. I wonder when mine faded, and why.
He speaks with the same awe of the formation of the Haudenosaunee, or Iroquois Confederacy, the first democracy in North America, and of its two founders: Deganawida and Hiawentha (not “Hiawatha,” as whites are taught in school).
The respect for these two men is so great among Natives that no children are named after them, while the story of their fateful meeting remains remarkably consistent for being at least 600 years old and passed down through oral -tradition.
As told, the wife and six daughters of Onondaga Chief Hiawentha were murdered in another war between neighboring Native communities. Stricken by grief, Hiawentha left his people to wander the land. At the same time, a Huron Indian named Deganawida had a vision of “The Great Tree of Peace,” its broad branches sheltering and protecting all Onkwe Onwe, its roots growing and spreading to all Nations, an eagle perched atop. He too left his people, to wander the southern lands and share his vision, a task made difficult by, depending on the teller, either a severe lisp or two rows of teeth. Eventually, Deganawida came upon Hiawentha, who devised a means of communicating this vision to the many tribes, who spoke many different languages and carried many grudges against one another. Utilizing pieces of shell, or wampum, Hiawentha created a universally understood means of speaking through picture, symbolized by the “Hiawentha Belt,” which depicts five human forms holding hands, the outside hands left open and extended, welcoming new Nations into North America’s first democracy.1
Any individual or Nation can call a meeting of the Haudenosaunee by placing a single piece of wampum in a jar in Onondaga, a town centrally located south of Syracuse. An Onondagan presides over the debates (solely due to the Onondaga Nation’s geographic locality and perceived neutrality) held between representatives of the member Nations, and an independent group of Elders makes the final decision: Executive, Legislative and Judicial. America’s Founding Fathers would borrow heavily from the Haudenosaunee, and even co-opt its official symbol, the eagle, as that of the United States.
But now the sovereignty of member Nations, with the Tribal Council only ruling on issues brought before them in Onondaga, may, after six centuries, undo the Hiawentha Belt.
Each of the about 275 federally recognized Nations may do business with whomever it chooses, the equivalent of individual American states conducting separate foreign policies. Or, in this case, gaming, land and reparation policies, thus rendering the oldest democratic government in the world mostly symbolic.
“There is a joke that there is a full jar of wampum in Onondaga,” offers Paul, meaning that the representative ideals of the Haundenosaunee are now moot. With many tribes now little more than gaming boards, a society older and more secretive than the Haudenosaunee has returned: the Warrior Society, an unofficial organization put into dormancy with the founding of the Haundenosaunee.
Back then, Chiefs were members of a de facto society of warriors—and even they accepted the Haundenosaunee, and so the primacy of democracy over bloodshed in settling disputes.
He’s a man who speaks of democracy with reverence, but he’s also a man of action, one who led a handful of others into the Longhouse at Onondaga and disrupted the Tribal Council in 1989. Placing a large wooden war-club inside the doorway, symbolically (and actually) threatening everyone present, these Warriors announced that they would no longer recognize the authority of the Chiefs. And then they walked out.
An official press release followed a year later, declaring: “Now that war is being forced upon us, we will turn our hearts and minds to war and it too we will wage with all of our might.”
Paul’s FBI file, dating back to the early 1970s, is thicker than John Lennon’s and Martin Luther King Jr.’s combined. Back then he was a radical young leader of an aboriginal movement intent on reclaiming Native lands by enforcing ancient, long-broken treaties through bold but (mostly) legal means. These days, he’s gunning for existing Native institutions and leadership.
Raised by his grandparents in Quebec, just across the border, and speaking only the aboriginal language at home, Paul received a lifetime of training for this moment. He has triple citizenship: Canadian, American and Mohawk. He has traveled the world, and taken part in both peaceful and bloody revolts. Now, though, he’s middle-aged and increasingly worried about his people, particularly his teenage son, who’s more interested in girls than Native issues.
He drives below the speed limit and often checks his rearview. And he won’t discuss the Warrior Society with me. I have heard and read enough, though, to know that Native leaders and federal officials alike see its rebirth and rapid expansion as the greatest threat to their future co-existence.
As the truck rumbles out of Plattsburg, the roads start to crumble. We pass fewer and shabbier homes, and more roadkill.
We’re approaching Ganienkeh (“The Land of the People of the Land of Flint”), and I am about to become one of a select few (“Maybe four,” according to Paul) white people ever allowed to enter the ancestral acres that the Mohawk call home, whose thick forests cross the border into Canada. Ganienkeh just might be the last outpost of the Native revolt. Or, as Paul sees it, the first step towards a new revolution.
I ask Paul about rumors of Ganienkeh having a huge cache of weapons.
“That’s a military secret.”
More innocent questions earn equally curt replies.
I feel like a hostage.
I could be buried out here and no one would know for weeks. Where would they look? Whites aren’t allowed in Ganienkeh anyway; mine wouldn’t be the first corpse to rot in this soil. I’m thinking about getting out at the next stop and walking back to the Amtrak station. Then I’m thinking about opening the door now, rolling out and running off.
Then we’re there.
Compared to the Black Panther Party by its foes, the Warrior Society traces its rebirth to the Nixon Administration and the anti-war movement. The Oglala Nation’s standoff at Wounded Knee and the Native occupation of the vacated Alcatraz prison sparked aboriginal movements across the country. The United States exacerbated the hostilities when the Federal Indian Claims Commission refused to consider the Mohawk Nation’s compensation claims, confusing everyone by declaring that its federal jurisdiction only covered western tribes. In response, Wounded Knee veteran Richard “Cartoon” Alford (a direct descendant of legendary Shawnee leader Tecumseh), Paul Delarando and select Mohawk began preparations for war in the East.
Gathering supplies (canned foods, powdered milk, guns and ammunition), they made their stand at a most unlikely, yet comfortable, location: Moss Lake in the Adirondacks, a 612-acre resort ringed by virgin timber, that until a few years earlier had housed a Girl Scouts camp for New York City’s wealthy elite. On May 13, 1974, Paul and several dozen Warriors (along with many of their wives and children) seized the abandoned resort at gunpoint and renamed it Ganienkeh. No one was injured, but a three-year standoff with state and federal authorities ensued.
Natives flocked to Ganienkeh, bringing supplies, including guns and ammunition, and raising the resort-takers’ numbers to around 300. Christian ministers and activists supported the seizure, comparing it to the plight of Israel, while locals, politicians and police demanded prompt military action. New York State Troopers and National Guardsmen began patrolling the resort’s perimeter.
“Every day they would announce over their bullhorns that the Marines were coming in that night,” Paul tells me, smiling. “And we’d yell back, ‘We’ll leave their bodies by the side of the road in the morning.’”
The Warriors, who got in the habit of taking shots at the helicopters flying above, remained steadfast. “The men ate one meal a day so the women could eat two, so the children could eat three,” Paul recalled. Most meals were canned beans and oatmeal, supplemented by the occasional deer or rabbit. The prolonged siege also took a toll on the state’s image, especially after a shootout ensued when a group of white vigilantes tried to overrun Ganienkeh. Eventually the state commenced eviction proceedings against the Mohawk, which the federal courts refused to hear. Finally, in early 1977, New York Secretary of State Mario Cuomo was sent in to negotiate an end.
Just as every Mohawk word has multiple meanings, so do the Warrior Society’s actions. Moss Lake was a ruse, taken because they knew that state officials would never let them have it. And they also knew that the state would eventually need to save face.
And the Warriors got more than they’d dared to hope for: 698 acres of their ancestral land, just across the Canadian border from Kahnawake, where Paul was raised. Razing the cabins at Moss Lake, taking every board, fixture and amenity, the Warriors went home. Heavily armed, with more members and guns than they had ever envisioned, the Mohawk would use the remnants of a former Girl Scouts camp to build the second—the true—Ganienkeh.
In some ways, it would resemble a commune. No alcohol, drugs or pollution would be allowed. At the standoff at Moss Lake, the Mohawk re-learned how to be self-sufficient, self-governing and environmentally responsible. Anyone caught breaking these rules would be evicted and banned from Ganienkeh for life.
On the opposite, southwest corner of New York State is Salamanca: the only city in America located on a Native reservation. I grew up beside this urban anomaly, its Seneca and white residents still struggling to come to terms with several contradictory treaties dating back to 1790 and President Washington, who urged Congress to recognize the land rights of the Haudenosaunee. The resulting Indian Trade and Intercourse Act was one of the first treaties brokered by the newly formed United States.
Washington had decades of experience with Natives: first fighting with and against them in the French and Indian War as a British officer, then paying personal visits to several Chiefs afterward, seeking their support for the War for Independence. Alliances were made and broken—the Seneca and Mohawk fought on both sides, depending on the territory and offers involved—and Washington wanted to ensure that the Native land rights he’d promised during the war were upheld afterwards. He also needed to guarantee that the federal government had final approval over any transactions involving Native land. Why else would Native Nations remain a concern of the Department of the Interior rather than the Department of State? This decision at once acknowledged Native sovereignty, while undermining it through paternalistic federal oversight. Salamanca, a city at the intersection of three major intercontinental railroads, epitomizes this contradiction. The railroad hub and the city are located on the Allegany Reservation, one of two Seneca Nation Reservations located just 40 miles apart. (There is another community of Seneca Indians which was relocated by force to Oklahoma in the 1800s. The splitting of Native communities—and families—was commonly employed by the federal government to limit uprisings.) In 1875, a New York State court invalidated all contracts entered into by the Nation, declaring that Natives did not have the authority to lease or manage their own land.2
Chaos ensued, as railroads and residents alike were unsure of who owned what, and for how long, bottlenecking all trade connecting the southern tier of the state to the Erie Canal and Canada. Multiple congressional acts offering 12-year lease extensions followed, and in 1892 Congress unilaterally allowed the Seneca Nation of Indians to lease its lands to non-Natives, but also set those rents at $1 to $10 per lease. Congress gave the Nation no legal standing to increase these rates for the next 99 years.
Nienty-six years later, Salamanca had become a ghost town—the rail lines were rusted, unused. Businesses had fled, unable to get loans or mortgages because no one knew who owned the land. The renewal of the lease tore the city apart. The Nation demanded a shorter lease with large rent increases; non-Natives deserted their homes and businesses and hurled their keys into the Allegheny River on their way out of town—after a century, the federal government was again forced to deal with the “Salamanca Situation.” Everyone agreed the Seneca should have more, but land rights weren’t the only issue on the table—Albany pushed to reclaim the tax revenue lost every time a non-native purchased cigarettes and gasoline on the Reservation.
Salamanca was still in a central position for interstate trade, as Route 17 runs through the city from east to west. Soon burning tires covered the road, and no traffic could pass, jamming up interstate commerce and traffic.
The dynamic changed when the Mohawk joined the uprising, bringing many Warriors—many of them veterans of prior aboriginal uprisings—with them. These were not mere tire-bruners, but a well-armed, well-organized force—and one all too eager for conflict.
Among those Mohawk was Paul Delaronde.
Companies complained of having to reroute deliveries, millions of trade dollars were lost, and months of congestion forced desperate negotiations as the state again lost face.
In 1990, the federal government paid $35 million and the state $25 million to compensate for 99 years of absurdly low rents. A new 40-year lease was effected, with the nation retaining its tax-free sales of cigarettes and gasoline, while the residents of Salamanca, used to paying literally $10 rents, are now obligated to pay hundreds, even thousands, each year.3
Later that year, John Colemen, a reporter for Soldier of Fortune, would write a story titled “Canada’s Civil War.” Echoing the recent standoff in Salamanca, Colemen’s account of the Mohawk reservation in Canada sent shivers through law enforcement on both sides of the border: “As I studied [the Mohawk warriors],” wrote Colemen, “I couldn’t help but think I was following guerrilla fighters I’d seen in scores of other wars: dressed in camouflage, wearing military load bearing equipment, chest webbing, AK-type weapons with 30-round banana clips.”
New York Governor George Pataki’s gambling addiction is well-documented.
As far back as 1990, Cuomo suggested that the Mohawk (and the Warrior Society—with whom he had reached the settlement of the Moss Lake standoff in 1977) work with casino operators on legalized gaming. Sovereign, the Mohawk were already operating high-stakes bingo games and limited slot-machine operations, but Cuomo thought that casinos on select reservations would build support for statewide Native gaming operations. Cuomo is said to have informed the Chiefs of the Haudenosaunee that they were “going to get casinos whether they wanted them or not.”
Two years later, under the just-elected administration of George Pataki, six new Native-owned casinos were approved for New York State. Two existing casinos were already in operation, run by the St. Regis Mohawks and Oneida Indian Reservation, but Pataki wanted more.
It took nearly 10 years of negotiations—and 9/11—to finally sway the Seneca. Looking to revive the western part of the state’s already depressed economy, Pataki asked for only 17 per cent of the slots take over a 14-year deal, then sold the Niagara Falls Convention Center and surrounding 12 acres for a dollar. In his haste to close the deal, Pataki skimped on the details: the share of revenues the near-bankrupt region would receive from its new casino and the issue of who would finance its actual construction. Before such questions could be raised, the Seneca Nation voted—by a mere 101 vote margin—to enter the gaming business in 2002.
“It isn’t that new casino in Niagara Falls that bothers me,” Paul tells me, parked outside the 500-plus seat bingo hall on the edge of Ganienkeh. “It’s that the Seneca agreed to limit their land claims to build it.”
In late 2005, nine acres of downtown Buffalo were sold to the Seneca for far below market value to develop another casino. Neither this nor the Niagara Falls casino are located on actual reservations, as required by federal law, but Pataki and the Seneca have proceeded without delay or concern.
Many Seneca got belated cold feet about gambling when the Nation announced their Niagara Falls Casino was being financed by an $80 million loan from the Lim family of Malaysia, which was charging an incredible 29 per cent interest rate on the loan.
Still, the Niagara Falls casino’s slots alone generate $500,000 a day, and the demolition and development in downtown Buffalo continue posthaste. Meanwhile, entire hillsides are now being razed for the sprawling permanent structure that will soon replace the temporary casino in Salamanca, on the reservation, where at least gambling is legally allowed. Just 15 years after it was declared dead, the city is booming. But the Seneca are hardly getting rich. Each official member of the Tribe recently received a check for $500, which hardly compensates for the predictable side-effects of an economy based on gaming: real estate prices are skyrocketing, along with crime, drug abuse, domestic violence and personal bankruptcy.
The Mohawk still refuse to expand beyond bingo and limited slots.
When the New York-based Nations balked at casinos in the Catskills, Pataki instead reached an accord with the Oneida Indians of Wisconsin (who’d been relocated from New York some two centuries earlier) to build there. Will Governor’s Island be next?
Ganienkeh has gone a different route. In place of a casino are acres of soybeans, corn and tomatoes, along with a full herd of “Beeffalo” (cows bred with bison for better eating and greater resistance to the harsh northern winters). Solar panels and satellite dishes speckle the land. Carbon-based pollutants are still strongly discouraged, and a new gymnasium and school line the shores of man-made Miner Lake—formed by a dam that will soon generate clean electricity. A university is in the works. Whites are welcome to play bingo or the handful of slot machines on-site, or to buy untaxed cigarettes and gas. But the rest of Ganienkeh is strictly off-limits.
Sitting here, on the border of the original 698 acres of land that the Mohawk received in 1977 after three years of being under siege at Moss Lake, the efforts of the Warrior Society are in full view. The Mohawk have expanded their land holdings, doubled them in fact, but such sovereignty did not come easily, or peacefully. The early years of Ganienkeh were both difficult and duplicitous. The self-sufficiency of the Mohawk put them in a precarious position.
Financing the development of Ganienkeh was and remains a great concern, as well as a source of criticism. A modest tax-free cigarette stand helped, but illicit ventures were also allegedly pursued. Guns, many of them tied to prior crimes, were transported over the Canadian border for resale, making even allies of the movement understandably nervous. It is speculated, though undocumented, that drugs were also transported across the border—an especially shady affair, given that the community banned all drugs and alcohol.
An investigation by the Toronto Star showed that 50 of the 260 known members of the Warrior Society had serious criminal records in Canada and the United States, while another 30 had been indicted for arson, rioting, theft, obstructing justice, perjury, carrying firearms, resisting arrest and assault. Though some of those crimes dated back to earlier efforts to uphold legitimate Native rights, most pertained to more recent actions. Compared to the aboriginal movements of the 1970s, the efforts that have followed have hardly been noble, or easily defended. Paul has been arrested more times than he cares to mention: his penchant for shooting at helicopters landed him in jail in the early 1990s. The charges were later dismissed as part of a larger settlement, but Paul offers no excuses or apologies.
Perhaps the greatest source of criticism stems from the Warrior Society’s actions against fellow Natives. Across the border in Quebec, in the Kahnawake Mohawk community where Paul was raised, the Society evicted nearly 1,000 people they determined were non-Natives, many of whom were defined as Native by government standards, but still did not meet the strict qualifications of the Society. These evictions led to the first major instance of inter-Native warfare. The Tribal Chiefs balked at the evictions, and when members of the Society laid claim to and occupied one of the vacated homes, the Quebec Provincial Police were called in to force them out. The home was set ablaze, and seven Warriors were arrested. But when over 100 Mohawk came to their aid, the police fled on foot, and the squad-cars left behind were destroyed. A settlement was later reached, but the Society had made their presence known. All too soon, only Warriors occupied the leadership posts on either side of the border.
Over the years, there have been dozens of reports of intimidation by the Warrior Society against fellow Natives. Shots have been fired, homes and cars strafed in the service of the Warriors’ anti-Haundenosaunee agenda. Animosity towards tribal Chiefs has been encouraged, and threats of assassination made. Anti-Christian, anti-Longhouse and homophobic stances are common. When Doug George, editor of the Akwasasne Notes and Indian Time papers, expressed his opposition to the illicit practices of the Society (which he claimed including drug running, smuggling and illegal gambling), his offices were mysteriously destroyed by arson, and he claimed to have been “targeted for elimination.”
The Warriors’ acceptance (along with 21 other Indian groups) of the $250,000 Moammar Gadhafi Human Rights Award in 1991, just three years after the bombing of Pam Am flight 103, did little to bolster the Society’s image.
Again, Paul offers no excuses or apologies. This place, Ganienkeh, is his justification.
Today, the Mohawk have a cooperation agreement with local police and state troopers. The Mohawk recently helped catch four inmates who had escaped from the nearby Clinton State Prison. Ganienkeh employs its own policing force, which works with local police and has caught several white trespassers, mostly kids smoking dope in the woods and hunters poaching deer out of season. By accord, the Mohawk hand any white person doing anything illegal on their lands over to the local authorities, just as those authorities will turn a Mohawk over to Ganienkeh for judgment by his or her peers. One Mohawk caught driving drunk was recently turned over to Ganienkeh; he was found guilty and evicted from the community. Along Cocaine Alley, drugs and alcohol are still strictly prohibited.
By my second day at Ganienkeh, I’ve asked too many questions.
Suddenly, much is deemed off-limits to me. Paul offers no explanation, only polite refusals, but I am not allowed to even cross the road into the forest. I am now a prisoner; treated well, but my movements regulated.
“That’s a military secret,” is Paul’s answer to every other question I ask. I’m finally here, on the grounds of Ganienkeh, but I’m not allowed to leave Paul’s side. I can ask anyone anything, I’m welcome to buy Native-made cigarettes, moccasins and T-shirts, but I can’t venture off alone; for what reason, I am never told.
Fortunately, Paul’s son Brad isn’t so strict. On the second night, a group of musicians gather in the empty bingo hall and play Hank Williams and Tom Jones. I’m humming along, sitting next to Paul as ordered. But Brad is bored, and offers to take me for a ride. Joining him, I’m astonished when Brad spikes the pedal and speeds the truck across the road, sending us flying over a ditch, deep into those woods that his father said I couldn’t enter.
Clinging to the door, I say nothing as Brad talks about how he’s ready for his road test, just as he’s ramming the truck down a thin forest trail. And, as the wheels spin in the mud and branches scratch the cab, I spy a clearing up ahead. Brad’s still talking, now about the need for more good-looking girls in Ganienkeh, when the actual—and off-limits—settlement comes into full view.
It’s cabins and wood shacks, a glorified Rod & Gun club. Dozens of wooden shacks zing past, all about the same size—maybe four rooms each—firewood stacked on the front porches. It’s well-documented that every member of the Warrior Society has a gun, and 100 rounds of ammunition. These are cabins in the wilderness, so a good gun is required, but these aren’t shotguns—military-issue AK-47s are said to be the preferred armament among Warriors.
Brad’s heavy foot and quick turns make it impossible for me to get any sense of scale; too many curves and trees to see much about, let alone count the many cabins. All I get is the unmistakable feeling of a community, and one well-armed and ready for a siege.
Still, what possessed Paul to deny me access to this particular area is beyond me. All I see is a rustic existence; people living on dirt paths, Native neighbors in the forest.
The unknown will always outshine the seen, and I start to think that the simplicity of Ganienkeh is what Paul is trying to both promote and protect.
We’re nearing the end of the dirt path, black pavement beyond, and only then does Brad use the brakes. Idling, looking both ways, he hangs his head, recognizing the error of his ways. In a soft voice, Brad tells me, “You can’t tell my dad I brought you here.”
The shame of this 16-year-old is made worse because he’s the son of the leader of this secretive community. Still, I tell him: “I have to write what I see.”
Brad’s eyes remain low; silence except for the dim hum of the engine.
So I add, “But I won’t tell your dad.”
Hearing this, Brad’s head rises, and a joyous grin fills his face. Pressing the pedal, spinning the wheels in the dirt that then screech upon grabbing the pavement, he laughs aloud. “It’s pretty boring here anyway!”
It may get exciting soon, though. While the Warrior Society isn’t recognized by any government, Warriors are spreading across the country: From the Oneida to the Seneca (a Warrior is ensured to be the next president of the Seneca Nation, as only individuals known to be Warriors are on the ballot) to the Cherokee and the Sioux Nations, unofficial franchises of Native unrest are springing up coast to coast. Even the historically neutral Onondaga Nation has reported the presence of the Warrior Society.
1 Missionaries encountering resistance regularly reinvented Native figures or interwove pagan and Christian beliefs to gain greater acceptance and ultimately conversion, and their claims have been assimilated into Natives’ oral histories: Deganawida is often described as “immaculately conceived,” while Hiawentha was renamed “Hiawatha,” and portrayed as more of an evangelist than a Chief, thus associating any itinerant missionary with the legendary founder of the Haudenosaunee. Back >
2 In 1887, the Dawes Act put western Native lands into a trust to oversee their leasing and potential revenues. The act was intended to prevent and “protect” Natives from continuing to sell their land on the cheap. Ongoing lawsuits have consistently alleged that the federal government failed to account for these revenues—or even the actual deeds. In 1994, Congress demanded a full accounting, but the federal government has yet to provide proof of fair payment of what Natives claim (granted, in the context of a class-action lawsuit) is between $100 billion to $1.2 trillion lost as a result of this egregious oversight. But last November, a federal appeals court ruled that a full, historical accounting was unreasonable, because the bookkeeping alone would “take 200 years” and cost “up to $13 billion.” Basically, our government ruled on its own behalf that over a century of claims would simply take too long and cost too much to tally. Back >