View Full Version : Akwesasne chief pushes for Mohawk sovereignty

07-19-2009, 01:40 PM
Last Updated: Saturday, July 18, 2009 | 2:10 PM ET

Mohawks on the Akwesasne reserve plan to follow up their apparent victory in a dispute over the arming of border guards by pushing for sovereignty on Cornwall Island, according to Grand Chief Mike Mitchell.

The international boundary line cutting through the reserve straddling Ontario, Quebec and New York State should also be moved, Mitchell told CBC News on Friday.

He said "pulling back" the Canada-U.S. border would bring "the community back as one," but he didn't say where the line should be drawn.

The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne has said the federal, Quebec and Ontario governments see Akwesasne as a "jurisdictional nightmare."

Canada's public safety minister, Peter Van Loan, pulled a Canada Customs post off the reserve last Monday and set up a temporary post in the city of Cornwall, Ont.

The move followed a six-week standoff around the existing post on Cornwall Island, within Mohawk territory. Mitchell was elected grand chief on the Canadian side on June 27, several weeks into the protest.

The Canadian Border Service Agency said it was forced to remove the guards on May 31 because of intimidation tactics by Mohawks and their supporters.

Mohawk leaders had argued that giving guns to CBSA customs agents on the island reserve a plan set to be implemented June 1 raised the risk of violent confrontation.

The makeshift border post means people crossing on to the reserve from the U.S. are now supposed to drive into Cornwall and voluntarily report themselves.

The CBSA has said border guards are slated to return to their post on Mohawk land on Cornwall Island in four months.

However, Ron Moran, head of the guards' union, has indicated his members are reluctant to return because of long-standing tensions between the CBSA and Mohawk community.