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All the Agents and SaintsDispatches from the U.S. Borderlands$
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Stephanie Elizondo Griest

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781469631592

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469631592.001.0001

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The Activist and the Obelisk

The Activist and the Obelisk

Chapter:
(p.194) 15 The Activist and the Obelisk
Source:
All the Agents and Saints
Author(s):

Stephanie Elizondo Griest

Publisher:
University of North Carolina Press
DOI:10.5149/northcarolina/9781469631592.003.0016

This chapter delves into the environmental assault on Akwesasne as well as the tribe’s resistance. In the 1950s, Canada and the United States started building the St. Lawrence Seaway, a system of canals, locks, and channels that enabled ships to launch in the Great Lakes and sail clear to the Atlantic Ocean. One of its many regional side projects entailed a massive hydroelectric dam that straddled the international borderline. Its construction drowned out six villages and virtually all of the area’s beaver hutches, displacing some 6,500 people—many of whom were Mohawk—and decimating the trapping industry. The dam also lured businesses into the area, including General Motors, Reynolds Metals, and the Aluminum Company of America, all three of which opened factories on the outskirts of Akwesasne and slowly began to poison the area’s air and rivers. The Environmental Protection Agency has done little to help, and many Mohawks resent them for it. The author interviews activists who have taken matters into their own hands with direct action against the corporations—and have been sued as a result.

Keywords:   St. Lawrence Seaway, St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, Akwesasne, General Motors, Reynolds Metals, Aluminum Company of America, environmental justice, superfund site, native sovereignty, U.S. Canada border

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