Clarification On Recognized Government

Kentenha/October 31, 2016




The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne (MCA) wishes to respond to recent questions in the community regarding Akwesasne’s recognized form of government.


In matters between Akwesasne’s northern portion (MCA’s jurisdiction) and the government of Canada, Canada recognizes MCA as Akwesasne’s government.


After a series of community meetings were held in 1985-1986, MCA received support to pass Band Council Resolution #61/85-86 formally changing the name of the “St. Regis Band Council” to the “Mohawk Council of Akwesasne” and this resolution was accepted by Canada. The same resolution called for Akwesasne’s northern territory to be known as the “Akwesasne Mohawk Territory” and not the “St. Regis Indian Reserve.” The name “Mohawks of Akwesasne” is now used instead of the “Iroquois of St. Regis Band of Indians.”


The name change was later accepted by the community in a 1988 referendum survey vote.


The change of name did not change the rights and entitlements of members. It did not have the effect of excluding any members or group of members from the community of Akwesasne.


Canada’s Indian Act makes certain requirements of First Nations if they are to be federally recognized. One requirement is that a First Nation must have an elected form of government, and the Indian Act’s election provisions are imposed on a First Nation if they don’t have their own elected system in place.


Therefore, in 1988, Akwesasne voted by referendum to accept the “Akwesasne Election Regulations”, now known as the “Akwesasne Election Law.” This community-ratified law mandates MCA to consist of one (1) grand chief and twelve (12) district chiefs who are elected by the residents of each district in the northern portion of the territory.


Section 1. (1) of the Akwesasne Election Regulations (MCR#88/89-36) states:

“The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne’ elected, pursuant to these regulations, shall be deemed to be the successor of the “St. Regis Band Council or the Council of the Iroquois of St. Regis Band” who were elected pursuant to the provisions of the Indian Act and the Regulations Governing Indian Band Elections.”

Canada accepted the Akwesasne Election Regulations and acknowledged it as the official system of governance for the northern portion of Akwesasne.


The 1988 ratification of the Akwesasne Election Regulations and the referendum confirming the community’s name change to “Mohawk Council of Akwesasne” are the last community decisions made regarding Akwesasne’s form of government.