Indigenous warrior Splitting the Sky dies at 61

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      Former Vancouver park board commissioner Roslyn Cassells emailed to let us know of the death of long-time indigenous activist Dacajeweiah.

      According to the Kamloops Daily News, Dacajeweiah, also known as Splitting the Sky and John Boncore Hill, was found dead last week near his home in Chase. The B.C. Coroners Service says foul play has been ruled out.

      A March 20 post on the site Global Research states:

      A great loss to the people, to the nation, to the resistance, anti-imperialist movement right across Great Turtle Island. On March 13th, Dacajeweiah, Splitting-the-Sky, 61, left us forever when he passed away in his home in Adams Lake, British Columbia. Dac’s colonial name was John Boncore Hill, from Six Nations. “From Attica to Gustafsen Lake,” and thereafter, he was a warrior, a comrade, a brother, a father, a grandfather, a friend. We deeply mourn his loss.

      The family will release a biographical statement and details of memorial arrangements in due course. With deepest love to his wife, She-Keeps-the-Door, and children. We stand with Dac’s many many co-fighters and friends. He loved the People.

      I met the Mohawk warrior once, back in 2002, when I was the news editor at the Peak, Simon Fraser University's student newspaper. In an interview on campus, I asked for his thoughts on the B.C. Liberal government's wrongheaded treaty referendum. “I’ve also heard a lot of people are going to be getting big garbage cans and just dumping the ballot in the garbage can and doing a bonfire,” Dacajeweiah said at the time. He joked: “It probably could be used for toilet purposes—but it might be a little rough. I’d hate to waste nine million dollars and all those trees that gave up their very existence. So if you soften it up a little…”

      In 2003, I covered an antiwar rally, in which Dacajeweiah called for the indictment of U.S. president George W. Bush, vice president Dick Cheney, and secretary of state Colin Powell for war crimes. Four days later, the U.S.-led war on Iraq began.

      Fittingly enough, Dacajeweiah tried to make a citizen's arrest of Bush during a Calgary visit four years ago. The Daily News reports that, in recent times, he was active in the resistance against Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway pipeline in northern B.C.

      In her email, Cassells wrote: 

      Splitting the Sky, also know as John Boncore, his colonial name, aged 61, was one of the most fierce, uncompromising, warriors I have ever met. He was fighting the pipeline in northern BC at the time of his death, but has been involved in sovereignty issues and many human rights and ecojustice campaigns all over the world.

      As survivor of the prison uprising in Attica and a member of AIM (American Indian Movement) he came to Surrey, BC during the trial of the Sundancers of Tspeten, the Gustafson Lake standoff, the longest trial in BC history. That is where I met him.

      He tried to arrest George Bush for war crimes, and was an ally of social justice battles everywhere. His fierce spirit, big heart, and huge smile and sense of humour is what I will remember of Splitting the Sky.

      I doubt he will rest in peace, as there is yet no justice. I suspect his fighting spirit will return to encourage those of us who remain to keep up the battle for all peoples, and all our relations.

      I will always remember Splitting the Sky, and his cry for justice!

      In the wake of Dacajeweiah's death, there's no doubt that many people, both indigenous and allies, are feeling the same way.



      John Gilberts

      Mar 23, 2013 at 2:16am

      Given the past and present involvement of STS with issues of great import to the powers that be, the BC Coroner's Service saying 'foul play has been ruled out' doesn't necessarily convince me. When powerful men and their interests are threatened by an effective activist unafraid to resist and expose them, shit happens. Thanks for all of it Dac...

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