“THERE ARE MOMENTS,” says the Annual General Assembly Co-Chair, Harold Tarbell, and he’s right. It will turn out to be the most emotional scene of the Assembly of First Nations’ three-day Toronto gathering: a cheerful and wholesome-looking, blonde-haired and blue-eyed thirteen year-old from Niagara Falls, brought to the podium at the behest of child-rights advocate Cindy Blackstock, has just delivered the week’s shortest but perhaps most eloquent speech, and the audience is on their feet:
Hello everybody, my name is Wes Prankard. For the past three years I have been trying to bridge the gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children. What I’ve been doing started three years ago, when I saw pictures of the community Attawapiskat. Just seeing these conditions the children were living in, I just knew it wasn’t fair. And so I decided to do something.
Jake Swamp, 1941-2010
I didn’t know Jake Swamp, but as the saying goes I knew of him. Few are the Kanienkehaka who don’t. Or rather — I must get used to this now — didn’t. This morning I was informed of his passing, in the very early hours of Friday, October 15.
Tekaronianeken, or Jake Swamp as he was commonly known, was born at Akwesasne in 1941. He was of the generation born under the old dispensation of colonial shame but arriving to the 1960s and ’70s with a sense of purpose and a strong, proud voice. As a young man, he had been taught by Christian priests in St. Regis to consider the Longhouse a Pagan menace. So often the case with the Haudenosaunee (“People of the Longhouse”), a woman made short work of that. His wife Judy gradually brought him around, and so one year during Strawberry Festival time he went to the Longhouse and listened, out of curiosity. That decision changed his life. Continue reading “Jake Swamp, A Man of Roots”