What is the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne?
The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, better known as MCA, is a Community Government, which is elected by the residents of the Mohawk Community of Akwesasne. Every three years, four (4) Chiefs are elected from each of the three districts within Akwesasne: Kawehno:ke (Cornwall Island), Kana:takon (St. Regis) and Tsi:Snaihne (Snye).
There are a total of 12 District Chiefs and one Grand Chief who is elected by the entire community. Together, the Chiefs comprise Mohawk Council. They accept political responsibility for specific areas of Community work. They also participate in portfolio committees to achieve community goals.
The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne takes responsibility for many areas.
There are ten departments within MCA, they include:
- Akwesashne Mohawk Board of Education
- Akwesasne Mohawk Police Services
- Department of Central Resource Services
- Department of Community and Social Services
- Department of Economic Development
- Department of Environment
- Department of Health
- Department of Housing
- Department of Justice
- Department of Technical Services
The people of Akwesasne are predominately Kanienkehaka (Mohawk).
The predominant language spoken in Akwesasne is currently English, however, Kanienkeha (Mohawk) is the official language of the people and about 30% of the people of Akwesasne still speak their national language. Akwesasne schools provide immersion classes and language classes in Kanienkeha from elementary grades up through high school and there are also adult immersion classes are which are provided within the community. The survival of the Kanienkeha language is a priority for Akwesasne.
The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne (MCA) reports a total population of around 12,000 (INAC) and the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe (SMRT) reports that their population is around 11,000. The population growth for Akwesasne is estimated by the MCA at more than 3.6% per year. However, there are some Akwesasne people that are contained on both the MCA and the SRMT lists.
MCA reports that more than 1,800 Akwesasne Mohawks live off the reserve due to housing, economic and land constraints.
MCA reports the reserve land base to be about 11, 711 (4,739.8 hectares) acres of undisputed land; and the SRMT reports the reservation land base to be about 14,648 acres of undisputed land. The total land base is 26,359 acres. These numbers exclude territorial waters. The Mohawks of Akwesasne have lands that are in dispute, which are the subject of land claims with on going legal proceedings and negotiations.
The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne (MCA) is the elected council for the Canadian portion of Akwesasne. The St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Council (SRMTC) is the elected council for the US portion of Akwesasne. The Mohawk Nation Council of Chiefs (MNCC) is the national and historic government of the people of the Mohawk Nation which includes the Akwesasne Community whether they are on the north or south side of the US - Canada border.
MCA employs people in delivery of services through its government which includes, law enforcement, schools, health centers, administration of services, governance, etc. – the MCA employees between 700-1,000 people. Elsewhere within Akwesasne, the SMRT – 425 employees. The Akwesasne Mohawk Casino – 525 employees. The Mohawk Bingo Palace – 125 employees
MCA conservatively estimates that it injects more than $100 million annually into the local economies. The SRMT may make an equal or greater contribution into the local economy. The Akwesasne community itself makes a substantial economic impact on the surrounding local economy.
The MCA reports close to 100 businesses within its jurisdiction, including but not limited to: gas stations, convenience stores, gift shops, sport shops, local traditional industry, professional practices (eye doctor, pharmacy,) restaurants, automotive repairs, construction, bank, etc. Comparatively, The SRMT reports 106 businesses, including but not limited to: 2 motels, 1 supermarket, 2 bakeries, 1 raceway, 1 shopping plaza, 14 gas stations, 9 convenience stores, 3 business centers, 3 entertainment venues (casino and bingo halls) 8 tobacco shops, 8 gift and craft shops, sport shops, professional practices (eye doctor, chiropractor) 15 restaurants, car washes, 8 automotive service centers, 21 construction companies, auto sales, etc.
Cultural and Social Centers:
The Akwesasne Library and Cultural Center, and the Tsiionkwanatiio Historic Site provide activities and cultural enrichment programs throughout the year. The museum and displays are open to the Community and general public. The Ronnathahonni Cultural Center provides activities and cultural enrichment programs throughout the year. Its museum and displays are open to the community and general public. An annual Friendship Day, opens its doors to visitors from Akwesasne and surrounding communities. The Akwesasne Pow-wow is an annual event that is open to the community and the general public and the event takes place on the second weekend of September. The Akwesasne Anowarakowa Arena features a myriad of events open to the Community and the general public including lacrosse and hockey. There are also two Senior Citizens Centers that boast 500 members. The Akwesasne Boys and Girls Club and another Akwesasne Youth center have 923 members.
Schools in Akwesasne:
Akwesasne has 6 schools that service the community, they are; Kanatakon School - K4 and K5, grades 7 and 8 and Alternative Education program. Tsi Snaihne School - K4 and K5 and grade 2 and 3. Akwesasne Mohawk School (Kawehnoke)- Head Start, K4 and K5 and grades 4-6. Iohahiio Adult Education Centre in Tsi Snaihne. Akwesasne Freedom School Pre-K through 7 and adult Kanienkeha language immersion. St. Regis Mohawk School grades Pre- K through 6. Akwesasne students also attend elementary, high schools and special education schools off reserve in Cornwall Ontario, Massena N.Y, Fort Covington N. Y., and elsewhere The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne also operates three of the four Day Care facilities located within Akwesasne, private day cares are also a thriving business throughout Akwesasne and the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne supervises those day cares operating within its three districts.