It wasn’t the 500 canoes organizers had hoped for, but the Native American and First Nations people from Canada and the United States who showed up yesterday to cross the Detroit River by canoe made their point.
About a half-dozen canoes and some kayaks made the trip between the United States and Canada to emphasize that tribal members are sovereign people and have a right to cross the border on their own terms.
As the Detroit Free Press reported:
Dennis Banks, co-founder of the American Indian Movement, said such crossings are guaranteed by the Jay Treaty of 1796.
“I come here to support an idea that this territory that we are standing on and the territory across the river are one and the same,” said Banks, a longtime activist. “I have sons and daughters on this shore and that shore.” …
He said activists have tried for 20 years to persuade U.S. and Canadian authorities to allow them to use a sticker for easy passage between the two countries. Banks, who carries an identification card of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe in Minnesota, said “our brothers and sisters” are often harassed by border officials and have to carry pounds of documents. He said carrying a U.S. or Canadian passport “assaults our sovereign status.”
Tags: American Indian Movement, buffalo post, Dennis Banks, Detroit, Detroit River, First Nations, Four Host First Nations, Gwen Florio, Leech lake, Native American, Native American news, Native American sovereignty, Objibwe