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Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance (1993)

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A film account about the military 1990 siege of a Native American reserve near Oka, Quebec, Canada and its causes.


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Title: Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance (1993)

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Narrator (voice)


This film documents the 1990 crisis when Native Americans of the Mohawk Nation blocked access to reserve land which was being appropriated against their will by the White community of Oka, Quebec, Canada. What this film shows is the initial incident and the resulting siege from the Mohawks point of view as an illustration how this is simply a result of resistance to 270 years of European racism pushing them around and leading up to this confrontation. Written by Kenneth Chisholm <>

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We have to think about the future generations...there's a long trail of broken promises.







Release Date:

28 January 2003 (Czech Republic)  »

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Did You Know?


Robert Bourassa: The toughest challenge for any government in the western world, in our world, is to defend democracy against people who do not believe in democracy.
[speaking about the Mohawk]
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Documentation of True Injustice
26 April 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

There are few injustices more notorious, ignored and ingrained in history than that of the land stolen from the Native people of North America. When European invaders came into the areas now known as the United States and Canada, they dominated the land, killing many of its original inhabitants, took advantage of resources and made countless empty promises. This poor treatment lasted for centuries and continues today. Rarely, native groups attempt to stand up against injustices inflicted on their land and their people and often times the results are unsavory and violent. However, at times, when injustices are made Native People can ban together and attempt to stand up in the name of their ancestors and their natural rights. Such is seen in Alanis Obomswaim's Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance. The film is controversial and important in that it instills a sense of anger and a lack of understanding in anyone who views it. The blatant abuse and mistreatment of the indigenous people of the area is down right shocking.

The film documents the 1990 standoff between a faction of Mohawk and the town of Oka, Quebec over a stretch of sacred land that was to be acquired and made into a luxury golf course. In the film is an age old story between the power elite of a community and the taken advantage of, fed up native people who only want to preserve the land that is rightfully their's. The land had been the property of the Mohawk in the area as stated in an agreement by the ancestors of the Mohawk and the French and British governments who had taken over the land during the 16 and 1700s. However, as historically illustrated, the non-native people inhabiting the land continued to decrease and push back the land set aside for the Mohawk to the point where it was currently at the time of the documentary. At the film's start, the town of Oka intended to come onto land set aside for the Mohawk to build a new golf course. Angered by this, the Mohawk blocked off the road to incoming construction equipment and workers and a standoff ensued. Interestingly, the Mohawk, local city officials, police and the army actually worked together in a kind of uncomfortable cooperation for the first part of the protest. After some time, however, the Army was given full control and the Mohawk were forced off the road and into a community center.

Throughout the film there are many notable moments that make the audience question how and why one group of people could treat another group in such away. Portions of the film are down right eerie in the almost totalitarian treatment of both native and non native people who inhabit the area. Citizens are relocated, traffic is diverted and local city establishments are taken over to be used for military support. The mixture of military occupation and Mohawk demonstration infuriates the town and a series of racially motivated attacks occur on either side. Throughout the stand off, as seen through various interviews and newscasts, bad sentiments are felt on both sides.

Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance truly shows the adverse effects of overbearing power on an oppressed people. In the end, there is no real resolution to the stand off. The Mohawks confined to the community center eventually leave. They are jailed for a short time and then released. As the movie ends it is stated that there is still an ongoing debate concerning the land. The film is a firm example of a group pushed over their limits. It is invigorating to see the various unforgettable members of the Mohawk tribe and how they ban together to fight against a common cause they see as unjust. There are many members of the other side of the struggle who are unforgettable as well, although for very obvious different reasons. There is a certain level of disappointment experienced when viewing this film. Primarily the film is of an independent production company. It is for this reason that the film received such limited exposure to both American and world audiences. It could be assumed that if more were to view this film there would be more outrage. The film is well made and has a very strong message of unity and never shying away in the face of danger as well as a very intimate look at the lives of modern, passionate warriors in a desperate attempt to preserve what is rightfully theirs.

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