The “What’s Going On?” Podcast


The full tracks of the WGO Podcast are available below on the RPM Soundcloud account.

WGO Podcast seeks to “Polish the Chain”

The origins of Real People’s Media stem from the What’s Going On? Podcast that was begun in January of 2015 to document and build support for Kanenhariyo Seth Lefort, a Mohawk man living in Six Nations who was facing jail time and a massive fine for transporting tobacco between Tyendinaga and Six Nations.

On July 16th 2014, Kanenhariyo was stopped by the police and charged for pulling a trailer of tobacco he grew at his home at Six Nations of the Grand River Territory and had manufactured into cigarettes in his home community of Tyendinaga. Kanenhariyo faced a $629,000 fine and up to two years in jail for the “offence” of growing and manufacturing tobacco on his own land, according to his own ways and customs. His actions harmed no-one and were undertaken to feed his family.

Kanenhariyo argued that due to the relationship of the Mohawk people to the British Crown, what was really needed was a “polishing of the chain” between the Crown and the Mohawks, rather than Canadian criminalization of the Mohawk tobacco industry. As Kanenhariyo noted:

With my pre-trial beginning on July 30th, 2015, I will be bringing a constitutional challenge to court, and requesting that the Crown handle this matter through the treaty relationship protocol that exists between our peoples as allies – the Silver Covenant Chain. The Silver Covenant Chain is a protocol by which the Mohawk nation and the British Crown repeatedly affirmed our treaty relationship in the past, and was renewed by the Queen of England as recently as 2010 when the Queen presented Mohawk leaders with a set of eight silver bells engraved with the words “Silver Chain of Friendship 1710-2010” to commemorate the 300 year treaty alliance between our peoples.

According to this covenant, our people do not have any rights to place judgement on each other unless the matter concerns an act of theft, rape, murder or treason. To operate according to the Silver Covenant Chain means to respect our Two Row relationship of non-interference in each others affairs, and to use diplomatic means to “polish” any tarnishing of our relationship as allies by seeking a mutually beneficial resolution of any matters which might affect our friendship as peoples.

The goal of the WGO podcast was to gather interviews and information that would help to build public support and provide information that would back up Kanenhariyo’s legal and political struggle.

The podcast began with the support of Tom Keefer and Jonathan Garlow, owners of the Two Row Times newspaper, and the first two episodes were produced in video as well as audio form thanks to the efforts of videographer Wes Day of the Rezquest Podcast.

As part of the “Polish the Chain” efforts, Kanenhariyo and Tom established a media centre and office for the podcast at Kanenhariyo’s home in Six Nations. After a year of working together on the Podcast, Kanenhariyo and Tom went on to co-found Real People’s Media together in the fall of 2015.

Below, we present the full listing of the WGO podcast episodes 1-33.

WGO 1 – Kanenhariyo introduces the problem

Video version.
Audio version.

WGO 1.5 – Kanenhariyo’s first day in court

Kanenhariyo has just returned from his first day in court, and he’s feeling kind of bummed out about the experience. He and Tom catch up on What’s Going On.

WGO 2 – The trials and tribulations of the Canadian judicial system

Kanenhariyo, Jonathan Garlow and Tom Keefer meet at the Red Door Studios to do an update on the court case, discuss a bit of Six Nations history and to plan for the future.

Video version.

WGO 3 – The Onkwehon:we relationship to tobacco with Tekarontake

Kanenhariyo, Tom and special guest Tekarontake of Kahnawake gather together in the basement to discuss the history of the Onkwehon:we relationship to tobacco.

WGO 4 – The Student Visit

On February 17th, 2015, a group of students from the Canadian Roots exchange visited Kanenhariyo’s house and heard presentations from Kanenhariyo, Jonathan Garlow, and Tom Keefer on questions of allyship and solidarity. Here’s the audio of the conversation.

WGO 5 – A conversation with students at WLU

Kanenhariyo, Jonathan and Tom were invited to speak at panel discussion held by the Ontario Public Interest Research Group at Wilfred Laurier University. They discuss the questions of allyship and what solidarity means. Note, this is an edited version of the event.

WGO 6 – Is Bill C51 more of the same, or a new era of state repression?

Kanenhariyo and Tom discuss the possible implications of Bill C51 and what in the heck is going on with Stephen Harper’s plans for world domination.

WGO 7 – The day after the Ecuador rally in Washington

After a 14 hour bus ride back from a historic rally in Washington where over 100 Onkwehon:we people came out to stand with their Ecuadorian brothers and sisters, Kanenhariyo and Tom eat lunch with Kanenhariyo’s family and discuss the significance of what just happened.

WGO 8 – The Silver Covenant Chain

Kanenhariyo and Tom talk together on Tuesday, May 19th, 2015 about the legal status of the case and strategies for fundraising. The first 16 minutes or so are spent talking about the legal strategy and framing of the case, and the latter half gets into how you can support the campaign.

WGO 9 – The Deyodyohkwahnhasta

Episode 9 of the What’s Going On Podcast was held at Oneida of the Thames territory on May 6th 2015. The topic of discussion was the Deyodyohkwahnhasta – the people’s wampum – a movement to re-unify the 49 Haudenosaunee families that unified to make up the Iroquois Confederacy.

WGO 10 – The speech of the Venezuelan Ambassador to the Mohawk Longhouse

On April 8th 2015, the Venezuelan Ambassador to Canada, Wilmer Barrientos, came to the Mohawk Longhouse on 5th Line for dinner and a social dance. The ambassador made a profound and historic speech which is reproduced here in its entirety.

WGO 11 – Kanenhariyo’s Speech to the Venezuelan Ambassador

This is the full audio of the April 8th, 2015 speech given by Kanenhariyo in response to the speech made by Venezuelan Ambassador Wilmer Barrientos at the Mohawk longhouse on 5th line at Six Nations.

WGO 12 – Quick update on where things are at

With strong backing vocals from the local bullfrog community, Kanenhariyo and Tom do a quick recap of the Kanenhariyo Defence Committee that just happened, and talk about what’s next for the campaign.

WGO 13 – Craig Blacksmith’s hunger strike against the Indian Act

Craig Blacksmith of the Dakota Nation joins us on the podcast to tell us about his hunger strike against the Indian Act. Craig is striking due to the Apartheid nature of the Indian Act which dehumanizes and oppresses Indigenous people. He spoke with us over the phone on Friday, June 19th, 2015.

WGO 13.5 – Audio Tidbit – The office and the Indiegogo campaign

Here’s a short 5 minute update about the campaign from Kanenhariyo. Recorded on Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015 in Six Nations of the Grand River.

WGO 14 – Tobacco in Tyendinaga with Andrew Martin

Kanenhariyo sits down with Andrew Martin, a business owner from Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory to discuss his case and tobacco politics in the community. This recording was made on Saturday, June 27, 2015.

WGO 15 – The depression episode

Kanenhariyo is feeling down about the state of his campaign, and the pressure he’s facing.

WGO 16 – Karenniyo makes a suggestion

In trying to figure out how best to organize the campaign Kanenhariyo’s wife Karenniyo makes a suggestion which may take the campaign to polish the chain in a new direction.

WGO 17 – A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing

Kanenhariyo speaks about broken treaties, forced assimilation and genocide. We also discuss whether or not Onkwehon:we and non-Onkwehon:we can “polish the chain” without the Queen as head of state and whose land Toronto really sits upon.

WGO 18 – Francis Boots on the Silver Covenant Chain

Francis Boots joins the podcast and tells us about his understanding of the Silver Covenant Chain and the relationship between the Crown and Mohawk people.

WGO 19 – The July 30th update from court

Kanenhariyo talks about the shift in legal strategy required by his financial situation and the decision to pursue a constitutional challenge based on “Aboriginal right” rather than his first choice of pushing to have the protocol of the Silver Covenant Chain upheld in a nation to nation relationship.

WGO 20 – Intro to Season 2

Kanenhariyo and Tom introduce the upcoming season 2 of What’s Going On?

WGO 21 – Francis Boots intro in the language

Francis Boots introduces himself.

WGO 22 – Francis Boots on Onkwehonwe justice systems

Francis Boots gives his take on traditional Onkwehonwe justice systems and means of conflict resolution.

WGO 23 – Francis Boots on Gawio and Kayenere:kowa

Francis Boots speaks about the political structures of contemporary Onkwehon:we life.

WGO 24 – Francis Boots on the recent recitals of the Kayenerekowa

Francis Boots discusses the recent recitals of the Kayenere:kowa in Onondaga, Oneida, and Akwesasne. He offers some insights on the political questions relating to the Kayenere:kowa and making things good for all the people.

WGO 25 – Francis Boots on customs, protocols and the Kayenerekowa

The final part of our conversation with Francis Boots concludes with a discussion on customs, protocols and the Kayenere:kowa.

WGO 26 – Onkwehonwe Economics – A fireside chat about money, banks, and the ecology of everyday life

Sitting around a fire on an unseasonably warm November evening, Kanenhariyo and Tom discuss some principles of Onkwehon:we economics as it relates to an anti-colonial divestment plan that some Toronto activists are working on.

Beginning with discussing how these activists seek to take money out financial institutions actively involved with perpetuating colonialism, this episode goes on to address such issues as capitalist and indigenous forms of economy, how the Zapatistas use seeds as a currency, how Onkwehonwe trade and exchange worked back in the day, why and how Onkwehon:we people moved their village sites every 20 years, and how the Onkwehon:we “banked” their profits back into the natural systems that provided for them.

Kanenhariyo also gives his theory of how it was that the sophisticated ecological practices of the Onkwehon:we allowed them to develop such a complex and sophisticated form of political self organization as the Kanyenerekowa.

WGO 27 – The Prophecy of the serpents

Sitting around the embers of a dying camp fire, Kanenhariyo tells the story of the prophecy of the serpents. This prophecy is common to the Hopi, the Haudenosaunee, and a number of other indigenous communities. It tells of time of catastrophe and crisis, when the people must head for the high ground and prepare for what is to come.

WGO 28 – The White Roots of Peace, Allies, and Privilege

On a late night trip to Lone Wolf for tea and pistachios, Kanenhariyo and Tom trundle along in the truck and talk about race, weapons and allies.

WGO 29 – From Akwesasne Notes to the Oka Crisis: Francis Boots’ long journey through Indian country

In this episode, Francis Boots talks about how he went to his first protest and his life long journey through the hotspots of Indian country. Francis tell us about the founding and growth of Akwesasne Notes and takes us through his experiences at Alcatraz, Wounded Knee, the BIA takeover and tells the tale of how he accidentally found himself in the pines of Kanehsatake.

WGO 30 – Hey Syria, you wanna make a treaty?

Trudeau announces nation to nation relationship and then proceeds to invite 25,000 Syrian refugees to come live in this land without consulting any Indigenous nations. We tackle this contentious topic on a late night ramble in the truck.

WGO 31 – Running down Line 9 with Rachel and co.

Rachel Thevenard a 22 year old university student is running the entire length of the dangerous Line 9 pipeline this December and January. The other day she and members of her support team (Lindsay, Vanessa, and Heather) happened to be in the area and popped over to Kanenhariyo’s to say hi.

WGO 32 – In which Kanenhariyo tells us what he really thinks about Line 9

Kanenhariyo has been thinking a lot about Line 9 lately, and here’s what he has to say about it.

WGO 33 – Christi Belcourt and Isaac Murdoch on resistance and resurgence

So the other day, Isaac and Christi were driving through Six Nations looking for a working wifi connection to do a multiperson online video conference. By pure happenstance, they ended up at Kanenhariyo’s and joined us for a podcast after the meeting and pizza. The conversation touched on acts of resistance and resurgence such body painting, face tattoos, medicine lacrosse, and the nuclear poisoning of the Great Lakes.

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