We Share Our Matters
Two Centuries of Writing and Resistance at Six Nations of the Grand River
The Haudenosaunee, more commonly known as the Iroquois or Six Nations, have been one of the most widely written-about Indigenous groups in Canada and the United States. But seldom have the voices emerging from the Haudenosaunee community been considered in order to understand its enduring intellectual traditions.
Rick Monture’s We Share Our Matters offers the first comprehensive portrait of how the Grand River Haudenosaunee of Southern Ontario have expressed their long struggle for sovereignty in Canada. Drawing from individuals as diverse as Joseph Brant, Pauline Johnson and Robbie Robertson, Monture illuminates a unique Haudenosaunee world view comprised of three distinct features: a spiritual belief about their role and responsibility to the earth; a firm understanding of their sovereign status as a confederacy of independent nations; and their responsibility to maintain those relations for future generations.
After more than two centuries of political struggle Haudenosaunee thought has avoided stagnant conservatism and continues to inspire ways to address current social and political realities.
“Monture handles the subject of Haudenosaunee self-representation with expertise, and the result is not only of value to indigenous people but to other Canadians as well as they too fall prey to the same misconceptions that have become a product of this history.”
“Long considered a laboratory for outside ethnographic research into Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) culture and history, the Six Nations of the Grand River community possesses a long-overlooked but rich intellectual tradition of its own. Monture, a Turtle Clan Mohawk and member of the Grand River community, captures 230 years of Haudenosaunee thought, writing, and activism originating in this unique North American indigenous locale.”
“An important and ambitious endeavor that makes a significant contribution to Indigenous studies’ scholarship and to our understanding of Haudenosaunee-settler relations in both the past and present.”
“With We Share Our Matters, Monture takes his place in the long history of Grand River intellectual tradition. For all the Six Nations struggles Monture describes, his overarching tone is one of optimism: as he states in his acknowledgements, “This is a book that will always be ‘in progress’”.
“We Share Our Matters participates in a now long and detailed conversation about what literary histories tell us about a specific Indigenous community, and also what the accretion of these histories tell us about broader Indigenous literary histories in North America and beyond.”
– Robert Warrior, American Indian Studies, University of Illinois
“In this study Rick Monture, a Mohawk and an academic, turns our attention to the ways that the Haudenosaunee remember and tell their story through literature, poetry, art, and letters to reveal a history understood by few beyond the Six Nations.”
– Douglas Hurt, Purdue University, Canadian Journal of History
“This eagerly awaited book by the respected Mohawk scholar and teacher Rick Monture takes us on a journey over the long, broad landscape of Six Nations of the Grand River’s intellectual history and writing from the earliest formation of the community through to today. Monture studies and honors, comprehensively, every writer, artist and thinker that has influenced Six Nations identity, governance and the community’s struggle to survive culturally and politically. In doing so, he shows us the depth and power of his community as the centre of Haudenosaunee art, culture and intellectualism. Ancestral teachings, vibrant contemporary culture, conflicts borne of resistance struggles, humour…these are all honored as the shared heritage of the people of Six Nations of the Grand River. This is all done without insularity, but with deep respect for the culture and the writers and for the influences and the roots from other directions that connect Six Nations to other Haudenosaunee communities and to other Nations. This engaging and enlightening book shows that the Original Teachings and ‘The Good Mind’ can be expressed and acted on in many diverse ways, as our people have done in the past and continue to do today.”
– Taiaiake Alfred, Indigenous Governance, University of Victoria
“The immense contribution of this text is its grounding in Haudenosaunee thought, starting from the creation story and moving to the story of the founding of the league and to the contemporary period. It provides a foundational social history covering more than half a millennium of Haudenosaunee history with a particular focus on Six Nations of the Grand River and the themes and ideas that have animated Haudenosaunee political and cultural life.”
– David Newhouse, Indigenous Studies, Trent University
“Through careful readings of more than two centuries of letters, speeches, ethnography, poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and film, Monture argues Haudenosaunee core beliefs have remained remarkably consistent and continue to inspire ways to address current social and political realities. We Share Our Matters is an impressive work of exceptional scholarship and a very highly recommended addition to academic library Native American reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.”
– Midwest Book Review
About the Author
Rick Monture is a member of the Mohawk nation, Turtle clan, from Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. He is also the Director of the Indigenous Studies Program at McMaster University.