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00:00 : The title “TimetravellerTM – Episode 03” appears on a light blue background.
00:05 : A potted cactus sits next to a pack of cigarettes on a wooden table.
00:10 : HUNTER (to himself). — “This place could use a little life. Time for a little Edutainment. TimeTraveller™, On!”
00:18 : Settling into a chair, Hunter puts on 3D “time travel” glasses. A video game interface appears.
00:21 : HUNTER (to himself). — “What can you tell me about … me?”
00:25 : The place name and date appear: Kanehsatake, 1990. The face of a very young soldier appears.
00:32 : HUNTER (to himself). “Whoa! Extreme Close-Up!”
00:34 : SOLDIER. — “Motherfucker.”
00:35 : PINKY. — “Hey!”
00:36 : The young Canadian soldier is facing off with Hunter, who is dressed as a member of the Mohawk Warrior Society.
00:37 : PINKY. — “Come on... Kats!... Kats!...”.
00:44 : Pinky, a young Mohawk woman, puts her hand on Hunter’s shoulder. The camera pulls back, revealing journalists surrounding her and the two men. Pinky walks away and Hunter follows. Helicopter and whistling sounds.
00:59 : HUNTER. — “That shit was intense”.
01:01 : “I really wanted to clobber that guy.”
01:04 : “That’s why I love Interactive Agent mode.”
01:08 : PINKY. — “Hawkswe. You’re gonna make the six o’clock news tonight for sure. Shatien. Sit down.”
01:18 : LANCE THOMAS. — “Everything ok?”
01:20 : HUNTER. — “Mmm-mmm.”
01:22 : They join a group of Mohawks at a camp fire site. A little girl approaches Hunter and stares at him.
01:29 : KARAHKWENHAWI. — “Where did you come from?”
01:32 : HUNTER. — “The Future”. Everyone laughs except Karahkwenhawi.
01:36 : KARAHKWENHAWI. — “What’s your name?”
01:37 : HUNTER. — “Hunter. What’s yours?”
01:39 : KARAHKWENHAWI. — “Karahkwenhawi.”
01:42 : HUNTER (to himself). — “I’m gonna need to practice that one.”
01:44 : LANCE THOMAS. — “As I was saying: a warrior’s job is to protect the people and the territory. The great artist and thinker, Karoniaktajeh Louis Hall, the man who gave us the design for this flag, also wrote about being a warrior. ‘THINK RIGHT SO THAT YOU SHALL DO RIGHT/ AND BE RIGHT’ he wrote, ‘for only the purely justice-minded can achieve peace and happiness for all’. Right now, with those 2500 troops facing 50 of us, we have to think right. It is CRUCIAL to remember why we are here: we are protecting our territory. This is not the time to show off how big your balls are. Peace. Power. Righteousness. You can’t have one without the other two.”
02:37 : HUNTER (to himself). — “Definitely time for some background info!”
02:40 : NEWSCASTER. — “Good evening. It was a bloody day at the Mohawk Indian community in Oka Quebec near Montreal ». Provincial police in riot gears stormed the barricades the Mohawks had set up. There were clouds of tear gas, a hail of bullets and in the midst of battle a policeman was killed. All this because of a dispute over a piece of forest the Indians claim is theirs a forest town council wants to bulldoze to expand the local golf course. The Indians have blocked off both ends of the road leading to that forest. Tonight it’s a stand-off, the situation is very tense”.
03:13 : ELLEN GABRIEL. — “What kind of people are you? There’s children here and you’re shooting tear gas at us. We’re unarmed and you’re aiming your weapons at us. What kind of people are you?”
03:22 : PINKY. — “We treat these trees like our mother. These people are raping our mother. What would you do if somebody raped your mother?”
03:32 : HUNTER (to himself). — “I played the Mohawk Crisis on my TT for weeks, every spare moment and it was like I was there for the whole 78-day stand-off...”
03:39 : Fighting in the forest. Gunshots and helicopter sounds.
03:40 : “... The provincial police force came in to dismantle the barricades we’d put up. But the wind blew their tear gas back at them and one of their men was killed by ‘friendly fire’”.
03:50 : Battle near a road seen through a cloud of tear gas. Three police cars have been flipped over.
03:51 : “They took off, leaving behind three of their cruisers plus a bulldozer. We didn’t waste any time putting those resources to good use. But it wasn’t all just standing around looking scary.”
04:02 : The warriors return to the camp. HUNTER (to himself). — “I learned a lot about my culture, too. It was like summer school behind the barricades! We got lessons in geography, politics, history…”
04:10 : MABEL. — “This is not the first time we had to protect these pines.”
04:18 : HUNTER (to himself). ؘ— “… the Iroquois confederacy, the warrior society, treaties like the Two-Row Wampum…”
04:23 : FRANK. — : “…a policy of mutual respect for each other’s sovereignty…”
04:28 : HUNTER (to himself). — “… I even learned some Kanienkeha.”
04:30 : LANCE THOMAS. — “Mmmm, Iawenkon!”
04:34 : HUNTER and KARAHKWENHAWI (together). — “Mmmmm, Iawenkon!”
04:37 : HUNTER (to himself). — “Some things, though, we found out just like everybody else – by watching the news.”
04:42 : A small television set shows a figure burning in effigy, hanging from a traffic light. The figure wears a headband with a feather. The Mohawks stare intently.
04:54 : (Voices from the television). — “Burn them! Burn Indians!”
05:03 : (Voice of Brian Mulroney from the television). — “We are not going to accede to requests from a group of warriors some of them aren’t even Canadian citizens!”
05:11 : LANCE THOMAS. — “None of us are!”
05:12 : FEMALE WARRIOR. — “No thank you!”
05:14 : BAM BAM. — “Again. Learn your history, you idiot!”
05:19 : HUNTER. — “What are they talking about? You don’t want to be citizens?”
05:23 : MABEL. — “We don’t want to be citizens OF CANADA. We are already citizens of the Iroquois Confederacy. Don’t forget, Canada didn’t even allow us to become citizens until 1960. And don’t even get me started on the Indian Act!”
05:47 : Helicopter and whistling sounds.
FEMALE WARRIOR. — “Look out!”
WARRIOR or HUNTER. — “Whoa!”
05:51 : The group is bewildered as a flare falls from the sky.
05:49 : BAM BAM. — “What the fuck is that?”
05:54 : KARAHKWENHAWI. — “Ista, is it a bomb?”
05:57 : PINKY. — “It’s time for us to think about ending this. Every day – every hour — that we stay here, our chances of getting out alive get worse.”
06:06 : BAM BAM. — “What? Surrender? No fucking way!”
06:11 : LANCE THOMAS. — “We’ve made our point. It’s not surrendering. It’s going home ».
06:18 : HUNTER (to himself). — “Everyone has been thinking about this for a while now wondering how it’s going to go down. What we know for sure is that this story ends a whole lot better if we act first. We did a ceremony. We burned our weapons. We said goodbye to each other.”
06:38 : They hug each other. Hunter picks up Karahkwenhawi and stands the little girl on a picnic table.
06:46 : PINKY. — “Hunter. If something happens to me will you take care of Karahkwenhawi? I heard about that lady who got arrested and her kid had to go into state custody too. Bring her to my mother’s.”
06:59 : HUNTER. — “I’ll do my best. Nothing’s gonna happen to me.”
07:06 : HUNTER (to himself). — “The walk out was pretty fucked up. The army was harsh, but we expected that.”
07:15 : Flash shots show a soldier standing over a young Warrior on his knees. Then two soldiers holding a Warrior down on the road. Then Pinky thrown to the ground by a soldier, with her daughter clutching her. Dramatic music and Gunshot sounds.
07:26 : HUNTER (to himself). — “Normally I’d logout during a scene like this. But this time I stayed; made sure the kid was okay. I took her to her Tota’s when her mom and everybody else were loaded onto buses. Somebody else must have done the same when it really happened or TimeTraveller™ wouldn’t have let me”.
07:42 : HUNTER (to himself). — “It was a victory even though almost everyone was arrested. The pines were left alone. And we – not just Mohawks, but all native people – felt stronger, more connected. But my biggest lesson? If letter-writing, law suits, land claims and the democratic process in general don’t work try messing with people’s morning commute.”
08:03 : The camera zooms in on the Mohawk Warrior flag.
08:03 : The credits appear.
(b. Kahnawake, Quebec, 1969)
Episode 03 (from the series TimeTravellerTM, 2008-2013)
9 min 7 sec (75 min 43 sec for the 9 episodes)
Courtesy of the artist
TimeTravellerTM, by the new-media artist Skawennati, is a nine-episode machinima series developed between 2008 and 2013 in the virtual world Second Life, where users can create and activate avatars. Skawennati’s avatar here is Hunter, a young Mohawk living in Montréal in 2121 who travels back in time to live through events that have marked indigenous history. In an episode on the 1990 Oka Crisis, Hunter embodies a warrior who confronts a Canadian soldier to defend territory claimed by his ancestors. The scene reconstructs an iconic photo of a confrontation that occurred at Kanesatake during the Crisis.
AlthoughTimeTravellerTM dates to 2008-2013, it fittingly represents 1990 here. That was the year of the Oka Crisis, which the work revisits. Skawennati (Skawennati Tricia Fragnito) was born in the Territory of Kahnawake to a Mohawk mother and an Italian father. A fascination with science fiction and cyberspace led her to create new-media works that address the concepts of history and identity. In populating the virtual world with characters that take a stand in the past, present and future, as inTimeTravellerTM, she constructs a place and a history for the Indigenous imagination. Skawennati co‑directs Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace (AbTeC), a research network of artists, academics and technologists dealing with Indigenous virtual environments.