The Indian Defense League of America was established on December 1, 1926 to resist further erosion of the rights of Indians in North America. The IDLA was established to guarantee unrestricted passage on the continent of North America for Indian people. Unrestricted passage is considered an inherent right for indigenous people.
The Canadian government does not recognize these inherent rights, or the Jay Treaty and in the early part of this century moved to dissolve the traditional Iroquois government by an "Order in Council of September 17, 1923. " Additionally, the Canadian Indian Office tried to force Canadian citizenship or "enfranchisement."
Similarly, the U.S. government enacted the Immigration Act of 1924, which under section 13(c) was an exclusionary measure against Asians and North American Indians. Citizenship was also imposed by the U.S. government on Indian people in 1924 and was understood as a violation of our sovereignty. Chief Clinton Rickard asked the question, "how can you be a sovereign nation and be force to be a citizen in a foreign government?" Needless to say, citizenship is rejected by the Haudenosaunee.
Deskaheh, or Levi General, a Cayuga sachem from Six Nations territories on the Grand River, in 1924 resisted this encroachment of our sovereign rights. Deskaheh became ill after an appeal for justice to the League of Nations in Switzerland, and was forced to stay at the home of Chief Clinton Rickard. Due to the restrictions imposed by the Immigration Act of 1924, Deskaheh's traditional medicine man from his home at Six Nations could no longer treat him and when he took the long road home his final words were to "fight for the line," meaning the border. Chief Clinton Rickard of the Tuscarora Nation territories heard those words and dedicated his life to "fighting for the line," through the formation of the IDLA.
The United States and Great Britain formally acknowledged this inherent right by establishing the Jay Treaty of 1794, specifically, article 3, as follows:
No duty of entry shall ever be levied by either party on peltries brought by land or inland navigation into the said territories respectively, nor shall the Indians passing or repassing with their own proper goods and effects of whatever nature, pay for the same any import or duty whatever, but goods in bales or other large packages unusual among Indians, shall not be considered as goods belonging bona fide to Indians.
Following the War of 1812 between Great Britain and the United States came the 1814 Treaty of Ghent, which reinstated this inherent right for the Haudenosaunee and all Indian people in article 9, as follows:
These rights are sporadically recognized today by the United States and continue to require IDLA advocacy.
The first IDLA Border Crossing Celebration took place July 14, 1928. This event symbolizes the continuous assertion of our sovereignty as Indian Nations within the recently formed United States and Canadian Nations. The IDLA continues to assist the Haudenosaunee from "getting their horns caught in the wire", and forces the issue of free passage for all North American Indians.
Joseph Rickard Sr., President
P.O. Box 305
Niagara Falls, New York 14302