This photo is one of a number taken at the Oka Peace Camp set up in July 1990 in solidarity with the Mohawks of Kanehsatake who rose up in defense of their ancestral lands after the Oka Golf Club proposed an extension and the building of luxury condos over a Mohawk ancestral graveyard in the sacred wooded area known as “The Pines”. This land had never been ceded. In early July, after the Mohawks refused to end their non-violent occupation of the area or to take down the barricade, the Sûreté du Québec (Quebec police) moved in resulting in a violent confrontation. Later, the Canadian army was called in.
Mohawk women, including Ellen Gabriel, played a central role in the uprising, which lasted for 78 intense days (July 11 – September 26, 1990). In the end, the golf course was not extended, and the condos were not built. But the larger issues of land sovereignty have never been resolved.