A Mohawk Speaks

by Chad Diabo, Mohawk of Kahnawake

I, myself am a Mohawk youth and I share with you the sentiments of many Aboriginal youth who attended the 1996 Native Youth Gathering "Bring Back the Children", held in Sagkeeng, Manitoba, Canada this past summer.

During the Gathering we discussed all the issues we are faced with as Aboriginal youth, and through consensus identifed our primary concerns:

  • Land Claims, asserting our rights to land.
  • Logging / Oil Drilling / Minning, destruction of Mother Earth for greed and profit.
  • Loss of hunting and trapping territory to development and flooding.
  • Contamination of fishing and hunting stock.
  • Over-fishing and over-hunting of the animals we live off of.
  • Poverty, due to poor management of our resources by government agencies.
  • Lack of consultation with Aboriginal people concerning industrial development in their own territories.
  • Enviromental studies that go nowhere and mean less than the paper they are printed on.
  • Lack of peaceful venues to solve land disputes with government and industry, because they don't listen to Aboriginals and environmentalists. Enough of our people have died for the protection of the land. Enough blood has been spilled.


Some of our shared Aboriginal teachings are that we are caretakers of the land. In our creation stories, we are taught that we are responsible for the land and all the animals and plants thereon. We come from the land and when we die we will return to it.

We, as a people, have a strong tie to the land and our environment. We live it, breathe it and feed from it. We often refer to it as Mother Earth for this reason. As caretakers of the land, it is our responsibility to protect it. Our vested interest here is keeping this planet a viable and thriving environment for our children and their children.

We, Aboriginal youth, are the future for our people. At the Native Youth Gathering, we developed the philosophy of learning from the past,and applying it to the present to make our future better. We hope other nations and organizations will take to heart the issues that affect us and will share in our philosophy as well. Live and learn, then apply what you learn to improve our shared future.