Dispatch from a Lost Tribe: Quebec Mohawks Expel Intermarrieds

The Montreal Gazette reports in this February 3 article that the Kahnawake Reserve (Canadian for reservation) of the Mohawk nation, just outside Montreal, has issued expulsion orders to about 25 whites living illegally on the reserve. It sounds a lot like a miniature version Israel’s struggles over refugees and foreign workers.

But this isn’t just about illegal aliens and residency laws. No, it’s much closer to home than that.

There are more twists here than first meet the eye. For one thing, Kahnawake is on Montreal’s South Shore, just across the St. Lawrence River (here’s a map) and a bit downstream from the storied “place by the river” where Suzanne took you down in Leonard Cohen’s beloved song. Put differently, it’s about five miles due south of Bialik High School in Cote-St.-Luc.

However, if the name Kahnawake sounds familiar to you, you may have been up to something naughty: The reserve is best known as the home of the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, which operates on-line gambling casinos and poker sites under Mohawk tribal law. Wagering over telephone lines is illegal everywhere else in Canada and the United States. Not surprisingly, KGC servers are the only servers in North America that host real-money online gambling; all other real-money servers are housed in the Caribbean, Australia and Europe and are considered less reliable. According to WinnerOnline.com, the attorneys general of both Canada and Quebec have ruled the Kahnawake operation illegal, but the authorities have been reluctant to enter the reserve for the last 20 years. Here’s why:

For out of Kahnawake went forth the law. And the unwanted aliens. And the intermarried. Sounds like home, no? Or as they say in Yiddish, Plus ca change, plus ca reste la meme chose.

Written by

J.J. Goldberg

J.J. Goldberg

Jonathan Jeremy “J.J.” Goldberg is editor-at-large of the Forward, where he served as editor in chief for seven years (2000-2007).

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Dispatch from a Lost Tribe: Quebec Mohawks Expel Intermarrieds

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