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270 Years of Resistance

The confrontation between the Mohawk Nation and the Canadian Government at the Mercier Bridge.

A printer-friendly version of this page 120 minutes
Closed Captioned

Directed by Alanis Obomsawin
Produced by The National Film Board of Canada

"A startling and provocative documentary...a major event in Canadian culture." Toronto Sun
This feature-length documentary by Native American filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin is set in the thick of the armed confrontation between Native American Mohawks and Canadian government forces during the 1990 standoff in the Mohawk village of Kanehsatake near the village of Oka in Quebec. The two-and-a-half month ordeal received brief world attention when the Mohawk warriors temporarily held the busy Mercier Bridge leading to Montreal.

When developers tried to expand a private golf course into the Pines, part of Mohawk Nation's land, tensions flared as Mohawks were once again fighting for their sovereignty. After a police officer was killed in a raid to expel the Mohawks from the Pines, the situation spiraled out of control.

Most journalists covering the crisis were either evacuated or forcibly removed. Obomsawin spent the final weeks of the standoff without a crew, using the slow speed on her sound recorder to make her tape last. She documents in terrifying detail the way that the power of the state, when challenged, betrays negotiated agreements, and responds with force.

Obomsawin's detailed portrayal of the Mohawk community places the Oka crisis within the larger context of Mohawk land rights dating back to 1535 when France claimed the site of present-day Montreal which had been the Mohawk village of Hochelaga. Her evocative portrait of the Mohawk people focuses on the human dimension of the conflict, exploring the fierce conviction of the Mohawks and the communal spirit that enabled them to stand firm.

Grade Level: 10-12, College, Adult
US Release Date: 1994     Copyright Date: 1993
DVD ISBN: 0-7722-1212-0     VHS ISBN: 0-7722-0491-8

"Highly recommended for all libraries...This shameful episode in contemporary Canadian/Native history show[s] just how little things have changed over the past five centuries. At the same time, the film is a testimony to the determination and pride of the Mohawk people."
American Indian Libraries Newsletter

"I cannot begin to convey the intensity, detail and immediacy of Kanehsatake...It is a powerful woman's film, made by a powerful woman."
Merlin Homer, Canadian Woman Studies

"It is riveting in great part due to its lack of histrionics and its wider analysis, which avoids a descent into a politically correct whitewash."

"A startling and provocative documentary...A major event in Canadian culture."
Toronto Sun

"You must see this film."
Spirit of Crazy Horse

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Awards and Festivals
Distinguished Documentary Achievement, International Documentary Association Awards, Los Angeles
Special Jury Award, San Francisco International Film Festival
Best Canadian Feature Film, Festival of Festivals, Toronto
Special Jury Award, Amiens International Film Festival
Gold Apple, National Educational Film & Video Festival
Best Documentary Feature, American Indian Motion Picture Awards
NFB Feature Documentary Award, Vancouver International Film Festival
Special Jury Award, MountainFilm, Telluride
Best Documentary, American Indian Film Festival
Best Long Documentary, International Festival of Visual Arts, Gyoer, Hungary
Special Jury Prize, International Documentary Film Festival, Nyon
Best Editing Award, Atlantic Film Festival
"We Are Sovereign Award", Two Rivers Film Festival
Runner-Up, Best Long Documentary, American Indian Film & Video Competition
Margaret Mead Film Festival
Taos Talking Pictures Festival
Vermont International Film Festival
First Nations Film Festival
The Other America Film Festival
Women in the Director's Chair International Film Festival
ReFrame Film Festival

Canadian Studies
Conflict Resolution
Human Rights
Indigenous Peoples
Native Americans
Political Science
Social Justice
Social Psychology

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