The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne (MCA) is notifying the community that a petition was received on September 21, 2020, requesting that the group calling themselves “The Land Protectors” be stopped from continuing to interfere in family land disputes throughout Akwesasne. The petition is currently being verified by the Akwesasne Justice Department to determine how many eligible voters have signed the petition.

MCA is aware that there are a number of current land disputes within Akwesasne and our Office of Vital Statistics follows the rules established by Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) when dealing with estates and land transfers; this is because the policies and procedures of ISC currently govern estate issues related to land and land transfers in general. Land administration is unfortunately governed by the Indian Act of Canada.

There is potential for MCA to establish our own rules related to estate issues and land transfers in the future, as part of our overall Self Government Agreement with Canada. However, the issue is that, no matter what rules are followed, when there is a land dispute it’s because there is disagreement over the resulting outcome when the rules are implemented. At present, mediation is a viable solution to resolving land disputes and both disputing parties must be willing to participate for it to work.

“The Land Protectors” group is reportedly causing harm to families involved in family disputes all while claiming to advocate for resolve to the dispute. It is best that land disputes are handled through the processes in place and only by the disputing parties. Dealing with a family land dispute is extremely difficult for everyone involved and these challenging circumstances should not be made even more difficult by individuals who are not and should not become involved.

The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne is also aware of a possible associated group that is occupying lands in the area of Hopkins Point. While the intention of this group is unclear, the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne has received complaints from landowners expressing concern with people building a camp on their private land. While this group may not be associated with “The Land Protectors”, we again remind the community that we must be respectful of individual property rights regardless of ownership disputes.