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Sifting through the muddle of the Mohawk dispute
Flawed, strong studies of oppressed Native Americans
Mohawk crisis: Necessary fight or battle of bravado?
Book on Mohawk rift drawing wider interest
Two views of the Oka crisis
A book under the gun
Quebec judge bans book on Mohawks
American reporter chosen to pen three-act drama at Oka


The Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY)

July 5, 1992 Sunday Final Edition


ALEXANDER NORRIS The Montreal Gazette

ONE NATION UNDER THE GUN: Inside the Mohawk Civil War

by Rick Hornung (Pantheon; 294 pages; $22).

At first blush, it's hardly surprising that many liberal-minded and left-leaning Canadians expressed sympathy for the Mohawk Warrior Society during the armed standoffs at Oka and Kahnawake, Quebec, in the summer of 1990.

Here, after all, were native people fighting an obviously righteous battle. Who could disagree with their struggle to save a sacred pine forest from money-hungry developers who wanted to turn it into a golf course? Who couldn't see some good in their challenge to a state that had robbed natives of their land, rights and dignity?

Throughout the crisis, media reports generally bolstered the Warriors' image as valiant defenders of the land, men who had no choice but to take arms to defend their way of life. But as the standoff wore on, some journalists began looking beyond the Warriors' rhetoric, to think critically about the paramilitary group and its origins.

And what they discovered was hardly comforting.

SOME OF THE very Warriors who were claiming to speak on behalf of all Mohawks, it turned out, had led a group that used guns against their own people, in defense of casino interests, only a few months earlier at the Akwesasne territory, which straddles the U.S.-Canadian border near Massena. Far from being the "traditionalists" they claimed to be, the Warriors had been denounced as outlaws by the aging traditionalist chiefs of the centuries-old Iroquois Confederacy. The confederacy consists of the Mohawk, Onondaga, Seneca, Tuscarora, Cayuga and Oneida Indian nations. The Iroquois have inhabited most of what is today New York state since before the arrival of European settlers.

Louis Hall, the Warriors' chief ideologue, has publicly called for the execution of these Iroquois chiefs as "traitors." Indeed, Hall's racist, homophobic and frequently violent rhetoric -- his calls for whites to be shipped back to Europe, for example -- made the Warriors look more like a nutty, extreme-right group than anything resembling a progressive Indian-rights organization.

That the Warriors were bankrolled by fast-buck casino and tobacco interests, often against the democratically expressed wishes of ordinary Mohawks, only reinforced impressions that the militia did not represent the entire Mohawk nation. The group was further discredited midway through the crisis, when a broad-based coalition of Kanesatake Mohawks (those living near Oka) accused the militia of intimidating local natives and cynically hijacking their land-rights struggle to advance the commercial interests of Warrior backers from outside the settlement.

IT WASN'T EVEN true that all legal, peaceful avenues to save the pine forest had been exhausted when the Warriors took up arms in Oka. The botched provincial police raid that sparked their standoff would have given no one the go-ahead to chop down the pines had it succeeded; it was only meant to force natives to dismantle their protest barricade.

In fact, the lawyer who represented Kanesatake's band (tribal) council at the time has said he was well on his way toward obtaining an injunction that would have prevented anyone from felling the trees. Even if that failed, peaceful civil disobedience remained an option: Haida Indians in British Columbia had already used it with great success to save a much bigger chunk of forest from loggers' chain saws.

Sadly, all of this appears to be lost on New York City writer Rick Hornung, whose breathtakingly naive "One Nation Under the Gun" is a poorly executed, sloppily researched and unconvincing pamphlet for the Mohawk Warrior Society.

HORNUNG'S BOOK focuses on confrontations in 1990 and '91 in Akwesasne, Kahnawake and Kanesatake. It is so excessively reliant on Warrior sources, so rife with factual errors -- I counted at least 15 serious ones -- that the few pieces of new information Hornung turns up (primarily dealing with internal splits in the Warrior movement itself) are of dubious validity.

Among his more laughable errors, Hornung asserts that the Mercier Bridge is "the only direct link between Montreal and the southern suburbs" (it isn't). He says Leon Shenandoah -- Onondaga Indian Nation chief and chairman of the Iroquois Confederacy -- was present at talks to end the standoff when, in fact, he was hundreds of miles away on the Onondaga territory, south of Syracuse.

Hornung even writes of a gun battle -- "between anti- and pro-gaming Mohawks" in Kahnawake -- that never took place.

Hornung's errors might be more excusable if his book offered some compelling historical or sociological insights into Mohawk policies, or if it painted a convincing portrait of the Warrior leaders on whose quotations he so heavily relies.

It does neither.

ANALYSIS OF THE Warriors' financial and political backing is almost non-existent. The group's ongoing attempt to overthrow their Confederacy elders is left unexplored, as are the Warriors' ideological roots. Hornung seems blissfully unaware that the rise of the Warriors coincided with an upsurge in the Mohawk tobacco trade. Did it ever occur to him that the two phenomena might be related?

Hornung appears unaware, too, that a major theological and political debate now rages within the Iroquois nations over two sharply contrasting interpretations of the Iroquois Great Law of Peace. Unquestioningly, he accepts Warriors' explanations that their acts follow that law.

When dealing with violent incidents thought to involve the militia, its leaders are generally given the last word. We often do not hear from the other side of the dispute; the Warrior version is accepted as fact.

HORNUNG ALSO FAILS to give depth to his main characters, neglecting to describe their appearance, demeanor, backgrounds, their sense of humor, even their ages. Players in his story end up as little more than names with opinions. And the book isn't even a good read; it's burdened with tedious accounts of brawls and long passages of windy rhetoric.

Hornung is a writer for New York City's left-leaning Village Voice. He credits "colleagues at the Center for Contemporary Radical Thought" in his book's acknowledgments. One presumes he adopted his sympathetic approach to the Warriors because he considers them a progressive group fighting for the liberation of the Mohawk Nation. What he fails to understand, as any true leftist should, is that politics -- and war -- have always had a lot to do with economics, and that economic imperatives -- in this case, the greed of cigarette smugglers and casino operators and the conflicting interests of the Canadian and Quebec governments -- had a lot more to do with the "Mohawk civil war" than the Warriors would care to admit.

Too bad Hornung didn't do a little more basic research before jumping to his conclusions. Mohawks and sympathetic non-natives deserve better.

Alexander Norris covered Mohawk politics for The Montreal Gazette for three years. He was present at Kanesatake and reported on the Oka conflict for most of the length of the standoff between the Warrior Society and the Canadian Army.

Sifting through the muddle of the Mohawk dispute

Hartford Courant (Connecticut)

May 17, 1992, A Edition

ARTS; Pg. G3

W. JOSEPH CAMPBELL; Courant Staff Writer

One Nation Under the Gun: Inside the Mohawk Civil War by Rick Hornung, Pantheon, $ 22, 294 pp.

In 1989-90, the Mohawk Indian reservation straddling upstate New York and Quebec was locked in bitter conflict. The source of the at-times violent confrontation was casino gambling, and its appropriateness to Indian life.

One Mohawk faction regarded legal gambling as a way of escaping the subsidies and handouts and unemployment that plague life on the reservation. A rival faction viewed gambling as corrosive, as distinctly at odds with Mohawk tradition.

The dispute turned ugly and occasionally violent; the divisions remain. In a measure of his reporting ability, Rick Hornung was able to gain access to principals of all sides of the conflict, a conflict that eventually engaged police authorities on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border.

In doing so, Hornung no doubt overcame considerable hostility and suspicion.

Hornung's sympathies seem to be with the militant Warriors Society, which supported gambling and took up arms on both sides of the border. They are the protagonists of Hornung's "One Nation Under the Gun: Inside the Mohawk Civil War," which was published last year in Canada. A large segment of the book was published in 1990 in the Village Voice.

Hornung, who lives in Haddam and was editor of the Hartford Advocate and a reporter for the Journal Inquirer, has done an impressive amount of reporting, sometimes under trying conditions. As he writes, "This is a book of reporting on the fly, running between interviews, shootouts, car rammings, standoffs, troop deployments and press conferences."

Despite the depth of his reporting, Hornung fails to gain the upper hand with his material. The narrative is disjointed, inconclusive and steeped in long quotations.

And the quotes are usually stiff and formal; here's one example: "The police didn't believe our strength, and until that moment, I don't think we did either," Hornung quotes one Mohawk woman as saying, in the aftermath of a failed attack by Quebec police. "From that point on, I knew it would be different. They could use their guns or their helicopters or their gas, but that could not change the feeling that we stood on the land we were fighting for. It was no longer a dispute, it was a victory."

That quote comes in the midst of what certainly is the best segment of "One Nation," which describes the conflict between Mohawks and provincial and federal authorities in Canada.

Local officials in Quebec proposed to expand a golf course, onto sacred Mohawk land. The controversy escalated into a bitter, bloody confrontation with Canadian authorities.

Hornung recounts the events in "One Nation" in blow-by-blow fashion. The material is quite good. The writing and organization, however, don't do the story justice.

Flawed, strong studies of oppressed Native Americans;BOOK REVIEW THE BROKEN CIRCLE A True Story of Murder and Magic in Indian Country By Rodney Barker Simon & Schuster, 367 pp., illustrated, $ 23 ONE NATION UNDER THE GUN By Rick Hornung Pantheon, 294 pp., illustrated, $ 22

The Boston Globe

April 16, 1992, Thursday, City Edition


By Michael Kenney, Globe Staff


Rick Hornung, who covered the Mohawk insurgency for The Village Voice, tells a more complicated story well. He traces skillfully the intersection of casino gambling and sovereignty - and the cultural clash involving Mohawk traditionalists who used their opposition to the casinos as a way to enlist police against the militants who wanted a greater degree of political independence. He fails, however, to convey a sense of the underlying social problems that made the operation of gambling casinos so attractive an economic opportunity.

Both Hornung's story and the pursuit of native peoples' rights suffer when Art Montour - his Indian name is Kakwirakeron - a leader of the Warriors Society and its most eloquent spokesman, is arrested after a skirmish at a Mohawk roadblock and effectively removed from the scene barely 50 pages into "One Nation," at a point when it still seems possible that many of the Mohawks' political aims could be achieved.

In his statement to a New York court at his sentencing hearing, Kakwirakeron says that the Mohawks tried to find an economy that would allow them to be self-sufficient - the casinos - but "You condemned it. You criminalized it." And when New York closed it down, more than a thousand people lost their jobs, impacting half the families on the reservation.

The native peoples, Kakwirakeron told the court, "had the same problems that exist everywhere in the world, but we dealt with them and were not dictated to by anyone. We are still here with your presence and we will be here long after you are gone, for the Creator has put us here."

It was a stirring statement, suggesting that out of the disciplined responses to white brutality and repression recorded in these books, America's native peoples can build a future of dignity and prosperity.


Kirkus Reviews

February 15, 1992

PUBLISHER: Pantheon (304 pp.) $ 22.00 Apr. 1992

A blow-by-blow account by veteran Village Voice writer Hornung of the recent upheaval on Mohawk lands in New York and Canada, which culminated in the 1990 takeover by Mohawks of a major bridge into Montreal.

Although the roots of the conflict are centuries old -- the product of confinement on tiny reservations where rivalries and tensions can only intensify -- for Hornung the chronology of events begins in 1987 with the seizure by N.Y. State Police of slot machines in casinos operating on the Awkwesasne reservation. This intervention by nontribal authorities, and others that followed, brought Mohawks supporting and opposing the gambling activity into confrontation -- a situation exacerbated by a militant third group, the Warriors, whose position against any encroachment on native sovereignty allied them with the pro-casino faction. Roadblocks, armed displays, vandalism, and riots, and the shooting down of a National Guard helicopter ensued, with two Mohawks killed in a particularly fierce firefight in the spring of 1990. Meanwhile, Kanesatake Mohawks opposed to the expansion of a golf course onto a tribal burial ground on the outskirts of Montreal erected a barricade on the site, with their defiance increasing after an armed assault by Quebec police in which one trooper died. Seizing the Mercier Bridge, the Kanesatake Mohawks forced a tense, month- long standoff in which the Canadian Army replaced the police and were ready to move in if negotiations failed. With an agreement forged, the roadblocks fell, but Mohawk resisters, including many Awkwesasne Warriors and their lawyer, were arrested.

Remarkable for letting the parties involved speak for themselves, though long on daily events and short on analysis; still, this is a good reporter's view from the scene of another sorry chapter in Native American history.

Mohawk crisis: Necessary fight or battle of bravado?

The Toronto Star

October 26, 1991, Saturday, SATURDAY EDITION

Pg. F13


People Of The Pines: The Warriors And The Legacy Of Oka

by Geoffrey York and Loreen Pindera

Little, Brown Canada, 438 pages, $ 29.95

One Nation Under The Gun: Inside The Mohawk Civil War

by Rick Hornung

Stoddart, 294 pages, $ 25.95

IN THEIR CAMOUFLAGE outfits and bad-guy masks, people with names like Lasagne and Spudwrench alerted the world last year to the failure of Canadian Indian policy. What began as a show of determination to defend a burial ground from golf course expansion escalated into an act of armed resistance with which native people across the country readily identified.

Two accounts of the events now known as the Mohawk crisis are in bookstores this season, the more anticipated being People Of The Pines, by Geoffrey York and Loreen Pindera.

York is a Globe and Mail reporter and author of The Dispossessed, the surprise bestseller published last year examining native issues in a way that revealed national patterns. During the Mohawk events, he was among the last reporters holed up with the Warriors at the now-famous addiction treatment centre at Kanesatake, near Oka. Pindera is a national reporter for CBC Radio in Montreal. She witnessed the botched police raid that ignited the crisis and reported from the scene for most of the 78-day standoff.

The strength of their book is in its detailed account of what happened - from the beginning of the police charge on July 11, 1990, to the final Mohawk surrender. They chronicle the unsolved shooting of Corp. Marcel Lemay, the blocking of the Mercier Bridge, the negotiations, the stonings,

the effigy- burnings, and pretty much who among a vast array of characters was where when. It is hard to tell the players without a program, but one is provided, complete with factional affiliation, whether it be Warrior Society, Longhouse, elected Council or a law enforcement agency.

The odd aspect of the book is how unsympathetically the Mohawk people come across. Almost certainly the authors feel compassion for their subjects; nobody would take on such a project otherwise. Yet York's and Pindera's Mohawks are belligerent and foul-mouthed. They appear superstitious, inferring messages of great import from an eagle's flight overhead and, at least once, relying on sacred ashes for protection.

They act alternately out of emotion and bravado. When one woman in the opening pages sees her daughter start to cry near the police line, she turns on the girl and says, "Knock it off! Don't you dare cry. We are a proud people. Don't you dare show them your tears." Long sections of the book play up Mohawk warrior traditions, introducing a perhaps unintended notion that the crisis can be traced to some kind of inborn Mohawk predisposition to fight.

Rick Hornung's Mohawks are different. In One Nation Under The Gun, they speak knowledgeably about their circumstances, appear politically astute, and act on decisions taken with deliberation.

As a reporter for The Village Voice in 1989, Hornung covered the troubles on the Akwasasne reserve, on the Ontario/Quebec/New York border, which culminated in two shootout deaths. He stuck with the story to the end of events at Oka, making his book the more ambitious and comprehensive of the two. Sometimes it reads like an enormous magazine article - both books lack good storytelling techniques - but Hornung is often good at giving essential background smoothly.

He tells of St. Lawrence Seaway construction at Akwasasne in the 1950s, the Robert Moses hydroelectric dam and power plant, the massive foundries and factories built upstream by ALCOA, Reynolds Metals and General Motors. He describes affects on the Mohawk land economy - fish mutating in the river, teeth dropping from the jaws of cows at pasture. One government-inspected snapping turtle was found to contain 1,000 times the safe limit of carcinogenic PCBs.

As people cast around for new ways to make a living, ideas about bingos, gambling casinos and cigarette selling arose. Some people rejected the ideas as contrary to Mohawk values. Others embraced the possibilities as a way to maintain economic integrity. Community rifts developed, exacerbated by the sometimes competing interests of overlapping outside jurisdiction: U.S. state and federal authorities, and various departments of the Ontario, Quebec and Canadian governments.

Hornung does his best to tell the story straight, although a particular sympathy for the Akwasasne warriors often comes through - not out of left-leaning sentiments against the status quo but out of his belief in free enterprise. He seems especially offended by Canadian subsidy policies structured to keep Indians dependent. "In the private sector casinos appear to be the only success stories," he says.

With an eye to economic and political realities, Hornung chronicles the flow of events from Akwasasne to the Montreal area in a way that makes armed resistance at the pines seem logical and necessary. His Mohawks act not out of some racial call, but out of a universal human response to oppression.

Both books end grimly. About 150 Mohawks were charged, according to York and Pindera; some are still to be tried. Since the arrests, "Life has gone from bad to worse," says a warrior leader in One Nation Under The Gun. No attempt has yet been made by any government to address the underlying issues.

People Of The Pines ends with residents of Kahnawake and Kanesatake checking their considerable arsenals in a way that suggests they may be ready to use them again.

John Goddard's new book, 'The Last Stand Of The Lubicon Cree,' is published by Douglas & McIntyre.

Book on Mohawk rift drawing wider interest

Hartford Courant (Connecticut)

September 13, 1991


JOCELYN McCLURG; Courant Book Editor

A book by a Connecticut writer about strife within several Canadian Mohawk communities has become a best-seller in Canada, and now American publishers are interested in publishing it here as well.

Rick Hornung of Haddam is the author of "One Nation Under the Gun: Inside the Mohawk Civil War," published by the Toronto-based Stoddart Publishing Co.

Hornung, a staff writer for the Village Voice, is a former reporter for the Journal Inquirer of Manchester and onetime editor of the Hartford Advocate.

Published in Canada in late July, the book quickly became a best-seller. Sales were helped, Hornung says, by controversy: A judge issued a temporary injunction against the book in Quebec July 25 after two Mohawk activists Hornung had quoted asked that it be banned permanently. About a week later, the judge lifted the ban, saying he found no evidence of defamation or proof that the women plaintiffs had been misquoted in the book.

The controversy and subsequent strong sales of the book have intrigued American publishers, who initially deemed the topic of limited interest to American audiences, Hornung said. An auction for American rights is scheduled Sept. 23.

"Under the Gun" is an examination of the infighting within Mohawk communities, particularly over lucrative gambling operations.

The book, which focuses on the militant nationalist Mohawk Warrior Society, deals with rifts within the Mohawk community of Akwesasne, a reserve that straddles New York and the borders of Ontario and Quebec. Hornung also writes about an armed standoff in 1990 between Canadian authorities and Mohawks from two Montreal-area communities, Kanesatake and Kahnawake. Hornung was asked by Stoddart to write "Under the Gun" after reporting on conflicts within the Mohawk community for the Village Voice. A civil war within Akwesasne over flourishing casino gambling on the New York side culiminated with the killings of two Mohawks in May 1990.

Hornung's book depicts how gambling ruptured the community, dividing it between those who profited from the casinos and bingo games and those who believed it was a corrupting influence.

The book may be of interest locally because the Mashantucket Pequot tribe is building a casino on its reservation in Ledyard after a long court fight. The Ledyard casino has caused controversy off the reservation -- not on it, as with the Mohawks.

Two views of the Oka crisis

The Toronto Star

August 28, 1991, Wednesday, FINAL EDITION


By Philip Marchand TORONTO STAR

Readers interested in last summer's Oka crisis have two books, with two very different perspectives, to choose from.

Village Voice writer Rick Hornung has already weighed in with One Nation Under The Gun, published last month by Stoddart.

His book created a stir when a Quebec judge granted a temporary injunction against its publication, an injunction requested by two women who had been interviewed by Hornung.

Ellen Gabriel and Denise Tolley, who were spokeswomen for the Mohawks manning the barricades during the crisis, claimed the book portrayed them in a defamatory way.

Lifted injunction

After a week in which sales and distribution of the book were banned in Quebec, provincial superior court judge Gontran Rouleau lifted the injunction on Aug. 2.

The book has also been critized for being too favorable to the Mohawk Warrior Society, a group prominent at Oka as well as at the Akwesasne reserve in New York State.

The warriors took a pro-gambling stance at Akwesasne, in a controversy that resulted in the shooting deaths of two Mohawks. When barricades went up against the expansion of the Oka golf course near the Kanesatake reserve in Quebec, Kanesatake Mohawks asked the Akwesasne warriors for help.

Hornung, whose book concentrates on the Akwesasne dispute, maintains that he is fair to both the warriors and their anti-gambling opponents at Akwesasne.

"I think I do put out the anti-gambling point of view there," he says. "What is controversial is that the book clearly states that it was the anti-gambling side who escalated the violence, not the warriors. And I stand by that."

Stoddart is currently trying to sell U.S. rights to the book, and has arranged an auction for these rights, to take place the week of Sept. 23. Stoddart says that 16 publishers have expressed interest in the auction.

Meanwhile Little Brown next month is publishing People Of The Pines, by journalists Geoffrey Yorke and Loreen Pindera.

Little Brown is holding off advance notice of its contents because it hopes that the book's revelations about the Oka dispute will make headlines.

Yorke comments, "We have a lot of behind the scenes stuff about what happened last summer, stuff that both the Canadian armed forces and the Surete du Quebec will be unhappy about.

"We also have some stuff that the warriors won't be keen on."

Yorke says he is neither pro nor anti-Warrior. "It's not a simple story. It's not a black and white story. They're not heroes and they're not Hell's Angels."

He claims that Hornung's treatment of Oka is superficial, and that the section dealing with Oka is simply tacked on to a book that is largely about Akwesasne.

"The problem is that he wasn't at Oka," Yorke maintains.

Hornung, however, defends his belief that the events at Oka can be best understood in the context of events at Akwesasne.

Divided nation

"The book doesn't pretend to be a blow by blow description of what happened at Oka, but an account of how the Mohawk warriors got to this point at Oka," he comments.

"Even when it gets to the final events at the treatment centre at Oka, the story is really being told through the eyes of the people at Akwesasne. That's in some ways why the book is so controversial.

"I'm not saying it's the only way to interpret the events at Oka. But I think it's a very good way, a very instructive way.

"It doesn't frame Oka as a Red-White issue. It frames Oka as a result of a bitterly divided nation that's trying to find its own identity."

*Mila Bio: Sally Armstrong , editor-in-chief of Homemaker's Magazine, has been signed to do an authorized biography of Mila Mulroney by Macmillan Canada. The book, due for spring 1992, examines the personal and family life of the Prime Minister's wife.

The Mohawks' war;ONE NATION UNDER THE GUN: INSIDE THE MOHAWK CIVIL WAR By Rick Hornung(Stoddart, 304 pages, $ 25.95)


August 19, 1991

BOOKS; Pg. 40


Late last month, a book about conflict generated its own conflict. Rick Hornung's One Nation Under the Gun: Inside the Mohawk Civil War deals with rifts that appeared in 1990 within the Mohawk community of Akwesasne, a 28,000-acre reserve straddling the borders of Ontario, Quebec and New York state. The book also examines last summer's armed standoff between Canadian authorities and Mohawks from the Montreal-area communities of Kanesatake and Kahnawake. On July 25, the Quebec Superior Court imposed a temporary injunction on distribution of One Nation in that province. The reason: two prominent Kanesatake Mohawks, Ellen Gabriel and Denise Tolley, both of whom are quoted in the book, had claimed that remarks attributed to them were false and defamatory -- and that Hornung had not even interviewed them. But on Aug. 2, the Superior Court ruled that the woman's complaints were unfounded and lifted the injunction.

The legal battle pales in comparison with the Mohawks' internal problems, which Hornung documents with great thoroughness in the book. Few of North America's aboriginal peoples have dealt with the imposition of European civilization on their homeland as flexibly as the Mohawks have. As key members of the Iroquois confederacy who once shared custody of a rich territory that stretched from the Hudson River west and north to what is now southern Ontario and Montreal, the Mohawks have survived almost four centuries of foreign invasions and immigration by holding their ground -- or small parts of it, at least -- and adapting to mainstream North America's capitalist culture. But as Hornung makes clear in One Nation, the survival-oriented evolution of the Mohawk people has also created some deep political divisions in the community. And those ruptures have given rise to a new threat to the Mohawk nation: the Mohawks themselves.

The civil war referred to in One Nation occurred in the spring of 1990 in Akwesasne, near Cornwall, Ont. Hornung, a staff writer for the New York weekly The Village Voice, visited the reserve at the height of the armed conflict. The violent yearlong dispute had been precipitated by a movement -- largely the initiative of Canadian Mohawks -- to stop a flourishing casino gambling trade on the New York side of Akwesasne. The conflict reached a tragic peak on May 1, 1990, when two Mohawks were killed during an all-night shootout in the Akwesasne territory of St-Regis, Que. Police officers from New York state, Quebec and Ontario then entered the reserve.

In One Nation, Hornung offers a detailed account of the events leading up to the killings before shifting his focus to last summer's Mohawk uprisings in the Kanesatake Mohawk community and at the Kahnawake reserve. For the author, the common ground between the Akwesasne conflict and the subsequent sieges in Quebec is that the military nationalist Mohawk Warrior societies played prominent roles. The Warriors contend that Mohawks must secure their collective future by creating a sovereign state based on their traditional laws and customs, as well as on the modern practices of gambling and marketing tax-free cigarettes and smuggled hearing oil. Hornung writes that the Warriors "mixed the lore of the great, prehistoric civilization with the street smarts of a modern underground economy."

Hornung, whose book is sympathetic to the Warriors' point of view, places much of the blame for the Akwesasne crisis on the reserve's anti-gambling faction. According to the author's research, differences began to escalate into violence in 1989, when an anti-gambling mob vandalized Tony's Vegas International casino in the New York region of the reserve, causing $ 460,000 worth of damage. That incident -- followed by other attacks by the anti-gamblers on both the casinos and their supporters -- prompted the Warrior societies to serve as protectors to the gambling business and the 800 jobs that it had created on the New York side of the reserve. In turn, band council leaders called the authorities for police assistance -- an act of treason, according to such Warrior leaders as Akwesasne was chief Francis Boots.

Now, even such prominent Mohawk militants as Art Montour, who was sentenced in Syracuse, N.Y., to a 10-month prison term for organizing a Warrior blockade in Akwesasne, acknowledge that the conflict boiled down to a self-defeating struggle for control of the community. Says Montour: "The police are not our problem; it is how we work among ourselves."

As Hornung's research reveals, internal divisions may also have prevented the Mohawks from presenting a united negotiating stance to benefit from last summer's standoffs in Kanesatake and Kahnawake. And in Akwesasne, in the aftermath of the gambling conflict, the author found that even the leadership of the Warriors has dissolved into unfriendly factions. For now, the only independence the Mohawks appear to be gaining is from each other.



August 12, 1991


Two Mohawk activists failed in their attempt to halt the sale of American journalist Rick Hornung's book about strains within the Mohawk community. On July 25, the complaints, Ellen Gabriel and Denise Tolley, won a temporary injunction banning distribution of the book, One Nation Under the Gun: Inside the Mohawk Civil War. But last week, Quebec Superior Court Judge Gontran Rouleau rejected their claim that the book damaged their reputations, and removed the restrictions on it.

A book under the gun


August 5, 1991



Two Mohawks attack a retrospective on Oka

For New York City-based journalist Rick Hornung, it was supposed to be a time of celebration. His first book, One Nation Under the Gun: Inside the Mohawk Civil War, had just been published by Toronto-based Stoddart Publishing Co. Ltd. Hornung had begun a three-day promotional tour to Toronto and Montreal for the book, which is an account of the internecine strife in three Mohawk communities. It also deals with the events of last summer's 78-day armed standoff between Canadian authorities and armed Mohawks from two of those communities, Kanesatake, near Oka, Que., and the Kahnawake reserve south of Montreal. But as he relaxed in a Montreal hotel room last week, Hornung got a disturbing call from a Stoddart representative in Toronto. The office had just received faxed copies of affidavits by two Mohawks, Ellen Gabriel and Denise Tolley, both from Kanesatake, who were petitioning the Quebec Superior Court to impose an injunction on his book. The pair, who are quoted in it, claimed in the affidavits that the remarks attributed to them are libellous "lies" and "fabrications." What is more, they stated that Hornung had never actually interviewed them.

Early the next morning, a bailiff arrived at Hornung's hotel room and handed him an official notice of the injunction hearings, which were to take place only two hours later. Unable to locate a lawyer on such short notice, Hornung, a 35-year-old staff writer with the New York weekly cultural tabloid The Village Voice, attended the hearing on his own. There, after listening to statements from a lawyer representing the two Mohawks, Superior Court Judge Jean-Guy Riopel issued a temporary order preventing further distribution of the book in Quebec, pending another court hearing into the allegations of the two women scheduled for this week. Said Hornung of the dizzying turn of events: "I'm angry, I'm frustrated and I'm more than a little confused."

Both Hornung and his publisher stand by the accuracy of One Nation Under the Gun. Hornung says that he conducted a lengthy interview with Gabriel, who was an official voice of the Mohawk Warriors behind the Kanesatake barricades during the Oka standoff, and with fellow Mohawk activist Tolley. He said that it took place on Nov. 14 in St-Jerome, Que., during a recess in a court case on criminal charges arising from the Oka situation. He added that the conversation happened in the presence of New York City lawyer Stanley Cohen, a longtime adviser to the Mohawk Warriors, and Minnie Garrow, a pro-Warrior Mohawk from the Akwesasne reserve, which straddles the Quebec-Ontario and Canada-U.S. borders. Both Cohen and Garrow told Maclean's last week that they recalled listening to the conversation on Nov. 14, which they said lasted between one and two hours.

According to Gabriel, however, the encounter in St-Jerome was not an interview. She says that Hornung told the two women that he would like to meet them for an interview at a later date, but that he never followed up. While Gabriel declined to talk about the specific quotes in Hornung's book that offended her, the pages cited in the affidavits include several passages in which she is quoted talking about divisions within the Mohawk community. In an interview with the Maclean's last week, Gabriel said that she was upset by the overall impression given by Hornung's book of a "civil war" being waged between Mohawk factions. She added: "We're sick and tired of non-natives riding on our backs and making money off of us and the events of last summer."

The distribution ban had little practical effect on the publisher. Stoddart marketing director Angel Guerra said that about 5,000 copies of the book -- the entire first run -- had been distributed across Canada before the court order, and bookstores were free to continue selling them. In ordering the injunction, Riopel declined to deal with the substance of the allegations made by the two Mohawks. Those questions were expected to be considered at a hearing before another Quebec Superior Court judge on July 31 -- at which both sides planned to have legal representation.

Quebec judge bans book on Mohawks

The Toronto Star

July 26, 1991

NEWS; Pg. A14

MONTREAL (CP) - A judge has issued a temporary ban on Quebec sales of One Nation Under the Gun - Inside the Mohawk Civil War, a book by New York author Rick Hornung about recent Mohawk politics. Judge Jean-Guy Riopelle of Quebec Court issued the injunction yesterday after two Mohawks from Kanesatake - Ellen Gabriel and Denise Tolley - claimed it misquoted them.

American reporter chosen to pen three-act drama at Oka

The Toronto Star

June 23, 1991, Sunday


By Beverley Slopen

Canadian publishers do not habitually search for American authors to explain a Canadian crisis, but in an unusual set of circumstances, Stoddart Publishing commissioned Rick Hornung, an American reporter on staff at New York's Village Voice, to write a book on the Oka crisis which exploded last summer.

In a few weeks, Stoddart will issue One Nation Under The Gun: Inside The Mohawk Civil War.

"Most of the writing I do is about crime," says Hornung, who first thought the events at the St. Regis Indian Reservation, on the American side of the Akwesasne Reserve, with its lucrative gambling casinos, would make an interesting crime story.

"It turned out to be a story of two tightly knit communities - one faction of Mohawks fighting another faction of Mohawks - over power and money," he says.

He wrote it for the Village Voice and was working on another story (the temporary ban in New York state of By Way Of Deception which Stoddart originated) when he called Stoddart's offices and reached Angel Guerra.

They were chatting when he mentioned the Oka crisis and his Voice article. Guerra asked to see it and a few months later, Hornung accepted Stoddart's $ 10,000 (U.S.) advance for world rights to write the book.

Hornung casts One Nation Under The Gun as a family tragedy in three acts. "Think of it," he says, "as one brother who, through jealousy, competition and disapproval, dislikes another brother. One brother is a rebel against the established leadership and he is the Warrior.

"In Act II, there is a bitter and violent fight and the Warrior gets the upper hand. To beat him back, the established Mohawk leadership asks for help from the New York state police and the Canadian army.

"In Act III, the outsiders, that is the police and the army, are so strong that they take over the fight. What the Canadian public saw was Act III. I try to tell Acts I and II," he says.

Hornung, in his controversial account, sees the factionalism as more complex than that. And it runs so deep that he believes the problem may be unresolvable.

* Mapping City Literature: Thanks to John Robert Colombo, Toronto's literary heritage has now been mapped. He has produced a fold-out road map of the city titled Writer's Map Of Toronto: 111 Sites And Sights Of Literary Interest.

Landmarks include Benares, the elegant country home built in 1857 that inspired Jalna, chronicled by Mazo de la Roche; Ernest Hemingway's various residences in Toronto; the Rosedale home of the late Morley Callaghan; Arthur Hailey's modest house on St. Clair Ave. E. when he was editor of Truck And Bus magazine; and the head offices of Harlequin Books.

Colombo was inspired to produce the map during a trip to California. In Los Angeles he saw a guide to the homes of movie stars and in San Francisco, he picked up a map of lanes renamed for writers.

To pay for the large, single-sheet, folded map, Colombo lined up 20 advertisers, at $ 300 each, but because of the recession all but 12 backed out at the last minute.

"The ads pay for the printing by T. H. Best, but there are additional costs, such as the design by Gerard Williams. Advertisers receive 50 copies, which sell for $ 5 plus GST," says Colombo.

He printed only 2,500 copies. To make sure you get one for summer rambles through the literary underbrush, send $ 6, which includes GST and postage, to Colombo & Company, 42 Dell Park Ave., Toronto M6B 2T6.

* Beverly Slopen is a literary agent and freelance writer.
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