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Old 04-27-2005, 08:23 PM   #1
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Condolence Ceremony A Cause for Celebration

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Condolence Ceremony A Cause for Celebration

by Doug George-Kanentiio

On April 24 I attended a fascinating meeting at Onondaga during which the
upcoming installation of three new Mohawk rotiiane was discussed.
Delegates from Akwesasne, Kanehsatake, Kahnawake and Oshweken were welcomed
by the Onondagas as the "older brothers" of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy
finalized plans for the condolence ceremony set for April 29 at Akwesasne, the
central "fire" for all 35,000 plus Mohawks now gracing the earth.

For those who have are unfamiliar with the traditional mannerisms and customs
which define a session such as the one at Onondaga the first impression would
be of reassurance as the onkwehonwe spoke for many hours, in turn and with
respect, about their concern for the people and how the raising of new leaders
would bring hope not only to the Mohawks but to all Haudenosaunee.

The speakers rose in turn to express their thoughts as to how to respond to
the needs of the Mohawk people in ways which would not only adhere to the
ancient rules but meet current challenges with clarity of mind and affirmation of
our ancestral teachings.

While there was considerable debate as to how many rotiiane would be
presented with their deer antlers all agreed the ceremony itself was long overdue and
could only serve to remind the people that the Mohawk Nation was carrying on
with its instructons and duties as defined by Skennenrahowi at the birth of the
Confederacy.

The very fact that such customs exist today is almost miraculous given the
enormous pressures the Haudenosaunee have had to withstand over the past five
hundred years and most particularly the recent decade when political
factionalism and infighting haave contributed to a growing sense of despair in the hearts
of many Iroquois.

Yet those who spoke at Onondaga were optimistic. They knew the condolence
ritual on April 16 in which two Cayuga chiefs were given their duties (Sam George
and Chuck Jacobs) would bring stability to that nation which has been beset
by confusion in which some of them are seeking to trade their ancestral lands
for commercial gambling compacts with New York State while others have stated
they would never agree to sell the earth at any price.

Those at Onondaga knew the Mohawk situation was much more complicated hence
the necessity of placing chiefs on a council which has come under fire for its
lack of condoled clan leaders.

The Mohawks informed the group they were ready after years of preparation.
The candidates were strong individuals from good families with a sound command
of the spiritual beliefs which permeate the longhouse way.

For Akwesasne specifically the condolence ceremony gives the residents a
chance to welcome their Iroquois kin from many places. All Mohawks have one thing
in common: a singular heritage best exemplified by the active exercise of
those customs, rituals and beliefs
which are unique to the Kaiienkehaka.

At its most profound, communal level this includes the repeat of rituals
which are hundreds, if not thousands, of years old and are fast becoming the
exception among Native peoples on Anowarakowa.

As one who has the opportunity to travel frequently across the continent I
can state with certainty the Mohawks have preserved more of their indigenous
culture than virtually any other native nation even if it does not seem to be so
to those living in our respective communities.

This does not give us a right to become arrogant but should remind us of the
values which the delegates at Onondaga demonstrated: humility, patience,
tolerance, compassion and just the right dose of humor.

The condolence ceremony is also an opportunity for officials at the St. Regis
Tribal Council and the Mohawk Cuncil of Akwesasne to witness an event which
represents the essence of who we are as Kaiienkehaka. They should be there to
support the national government for they exist only insofar as the Mohawk
Nation is a distinct entity the collective essence of which is retained by the
Nation's Council of Chiefs.

Both Tribe and MCA should be there to lend material aide as deemed necessary
by the Mohawk Nation since a stronger national government can only benefit
their respective agencies in areas ranging from jurisdiction to the environment.

A stronger, peaceful Akwesasne is of concern to us all.

For the Mohawk people the condolence ceremony is an opportunity to place our
differences aside and observe an event which is as amazing as it is a cause
for happiness. We will be able to hear the words of the Peacemaker, verbatim,
as spoken when he raised the first Mohawk rotiiane. We will listen to the most
sacred to songs, mounrful than joyous, as the "younger brothers" approach the
council house. We can join our kin as they feast and dance to celebrate this
great time.

To those folks who attend the communal building functions in
Tekahsonkaro:renhs (Hogansburg); your concerns were also brought up at Onondaga and treated
with respect. There will be gladness among the Nation when you join your
relatives to commemorate this new day.
It is Akwesasne's time to shine.
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