We, the Youth of the Haudenosaunee, on this 20th anniversary of Oka, declare our right to voice our concerns within our Nations, to be heard as equal counterparts, and to make an impact. We owe it to ourselves to continue on the path the Creator has laid before us. Just as they did at Oka, our ancestors sacrificed their lives for us – they survived the government’s assimilation tactics. They believed that we, the next seven generations, are worth fighting for. This blood runs through our veins too. The issues that surfaced 20 years ago across our Haudenosaunee territories are the same we face now and are not easily solved, but our strength will persevere. History shows us this.
We find peace in the fact that we are all descendants of Sky Woman. We can remind ourselves of our intentions by taking action. We must remain humble, listen to our instincts and teach each other how to return to the traditional teachings. We must have the courage and patience to learn from our Elders before it is too late. We recognize how substantial all these connections are to hold on to, as well as to teach, live, and breathe.
We remember as our Great Law of Peace says that in every deliberation, we must consider the impact on the seventh generation. This means we have a responsibility to continue on what was fought for at Oka. We remember and acknowledge the integral guidance and direction from our women during this time, and the sacred relationships women have with Mother Earth, as well as to make the decisions in our communities. We do not take this lightly. We remember and acknowledge that our children are closer to the Spirit world. As such, our children not only have an essential role to play in the leadership of our communities, but to ensure there is a future to fight for. This is how it must always be.
It has been 20 years since the Oka crisis at Kanesatà:ke and we are not only here today because of this, but because of many centuries of warriors who had the courage to speak the truth, and the conviction to act from the heart. We know the manifestation of over 500 years of colonization and genocide has brought us to where we are now, but we will continue to resist every attempt to silence and oppress us. We declare today in unison that our rights are worth protecting and that we are committed to leading a new generation of youth to carry this on.
Drafted by Sarah Konwahahawi Herne and Jessica Yee, endorsed by youth from the Haudenosaunee nations, July 11th 2010