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You Are on Indian Land

You Are on Indian Land

Released in 1969, this short documentary was one of the most influential and widely distributed productions made by the Indian Film Crew (IFC), the first all-Indigenous unit at the NFB. It documents a 1969 protest by the Kanien’kéhaka (Mohawk) of Akwesasne, a territory that straddles the Canada–U.S. border. When Canadian authorities prohibited the duty-free cross-border passage of personal purchases—a right established by the Jay Treaty of 1794—Kanien’kéhaka protesters blocked the international bridge between Ontario and New York State. Director Michael Kanentakeron Mitchell later became Grand Chief of Akwesasne. The film was formally credited to him in 2017. You Are on Indian Land screened extensively across the continent, helping to mobilize a new wave of Indigenous activism. It notably was shown at the 1970 occupation of Alcatraz.

This film contains scenes of violence. Viewer discretion is advised.

  • director
    Michael Kanentakeron Mitchell
  • location director
    Mort Ransen
  • producer
    George C. Stoney
  • photography
    Tony Ianzelo
  • sound
    Hans Oomes
  • editing
    Kathleen Shannon
  • associate editor
    Noel StarBlanket
  • re-recording
    George Croll
    Jean-Pierre Joutel
  • participation
    Kahn Tineta Horn
    Ernest Benedict
    Michael Kanentakeron Mitchell


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Ages 13 to 17

Civics/Citizenship - Federal/Provincial Government
History and Citizenship Education - Civil Rights and Freedoms
Indigenous Studies - History/Politics
Indigenous Studies - Issues and Contemporary Challenges

Study the 1794 Jay Treaty referred to in the film. Do you think the government should respect the treaty? Identify reasons for the protest at St-Régis; evaluate its effectiveness. Document actions taken by the Mohawks prior to the protest – why were they unsuccessful? Define the term “civil disobedience”; cite other examples of its use. When/why would it be appropriate for citizens to protest in this way? List/research other lawful ways to assert one’s rights.

You Are on Indian Land
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