Change on the Sacred Hill and Plains: Haudenosaunee Perspectives of Camp Mohawk and the Thunderwater Movement in Tyendinaga Territory, Ontario (1917-1918)
The Camp Mohawk aerodrome (1917-1918) was situated on Tyendinaga Territory in Ontario during the First World War (1914-1918). In recognition of its 100th anniversary, researchers have been exploring the history of the aerodrome and its contributions to the war effort. What is missing in the research are Haudenosaunee perspectives of the origins of the aerodrome and events that shaped cultural revival in a Mohawk community subject to the oppressive realities of the Indian Act, 1876. This thesis furnishes an Indigenous context and addresses two gaps in research to date: (1) the relational events of people and place that shaped the period, especially the years 1917-1918; and (2) the effects of Indigenous empowerment to revive a traditional governance system that had long since been removed by Canadian government legislation. An Indigenous methodologies approach to data collection is adopted, including the use of oral storytelling. Research reveals two findings of significance: (1) a motion to grant land on the reserve for the establishment of an aerodrome was done so under duress and was a mere formality predetermined by Indian Affairs; and (2) the influence of the Thunderwater Movement in Tyendinaga was the catalyst to empowering Mohawk women to reclaim their matriarchal duties in defiance of the Indian Act. Much of the previous literature on the subject offers historical perspective, but through the lens of colonial bias, reflecting a time of Indian prejudice in Canada.