The Kanesatake Resistance (often referred to as the Oka Crisis), took headlines in 1990 as the Kanien’kéhaka once again stood their ground to protect their land and ancestors from another greedy capitalist venture to destroy sacred place.
This event is often described from a colonial perspective, even by sympathisers. The Kanesatake are often called protestors and the event itself called a stand off. The Kanesatake were land defenders, protecting a sacred burial ground, as well as a sacred area (often referred to as The Pines) and this was not a stand off, but rather an invasion by a foriegn army to occupy land that they have/had no right over. Although the publicized invasion lasted for 78 days, the real fight has been going on for centuries.
During the event, media - even those who knew better, referred to the warriors in descriptors that implied “violent” without context to the situation. Photographers and filmmakers focused on what would sell to a wider audience - violence.
The iconic picture seen in textbooks and on the media, of a stand-off between a soldier and Kanesatake warrior has only perpetuated the narrative of this being a crisis and not a resistance to occupation. The image shows not only a posturing warrior with multiple bandanas, but also neglects to show the weapon of the invading soldier, while displaying that of the warrior clearly. At the time, there was no mention of young 14 year old Waneek Horn-Miller holding her 4 year old sister, as the warriors began to remove elders and children from the escalating situation. Horn-Miller was stabbed, while peacefully leaving the premises with her young sister in her arms.
Although this resistance stopped the expansion of the golf course and townhouses, the Kanesatake have continued to be forced to protect their lands. Most recently, Covid brought out the matriarchal warriors (traditionally, the matriarchs help esteem and voice in the community, colonization attempted to destroy this). With a history of genocide through disease, the people want to keep the parks around their nations closed to visitors. Blockades began in May of 2020. Again, the women have been forced to protect the lives and ways of their people due to the entitled politicians who refuse to acknowledge rights to land.