Sacred Fire Still Burns in Kahnawake

Written by on July 23, 2020

An encampment with a sacred fire has been set up in the green space along Highway 132 at the base of the Mercier Bridge in Kahnawake since the land protectors moved from the tracks at Adirondack Junction over five months ago.

A lot of people stop there to light the fire and sit there and enjoy the fire put some medicine in and get some healing,” said Firekeeper James Rusty Nolan. “We go there to water the plants and take care of the place and clean up a bit. Just to provide a place for people to stop and be social for a bit, while they’re doing their social distancing. A little pace where people can relieve their stress.”

Nolan, for one, believes that’s it’s important to keep the fire burning, even if it’s not 24/7. “Every time we stand up for something our resistance lasts longer,” Nolan said. “It’s like a fire is being lit each time but the fire is getting brighter and brighter and it stays longer and longer. I’m kind of looking in to the future and thinking is the fire ever going to go out? More and more support from the outside. It’s an amazing thing. We just don’t want it to close.”

Mohawk Council of Kahnawake Chief Frank McComber says the site has its use for Kahnawake. “The sacred fire is run by the community and there are a lot of community members still there running it,” McComber said. “It’s a gathering place. It’s a place where people go and they just have conversations about anything. I still go there. The last time I was there was about a week and a half ago. I talk to the people there.”

But McComber admits that the site could use some upkeep. “They do have gardens, but all these signs, they are all falling over,” McComber said. There are a lot of issues that I see going on. I hope that it becomes nice and clean. It’s supposed to be an area of gathering, I think that was the initial thought when they moved.”

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