The Warrior/Unity Flag
WarriorPublications.wordpress.com, March 18, 2012
The Warrior flag is a common sight at Native protests, occupations, and other actions across North America. It is a distinct flag, featuring a Native in profile with a golden sun behind on a red background. The flag first gained prominence during the 1990 Oka Crisis and has been dubbed the “Mohawk Warrior Flag” as well as the “Unity Flag.”
The flag was created by Louis Karoniaktajeh Hall, a Mohawk artist and writer, during the mid-1970s. The first version featured a silhouette of a long-haired Native male with a sun in the background. On a painting of this flag, entitled “Indian Flag,” Karoniaktajeh explained its meaning: “Designed for all Indian nations. Single feather means ‘all of one mind.’ Deganawida wanted all Indians to be under the Great Law of Peace. Equality for all Indian nations.”
Deganawida was the peacemaker who brought the Haudenosaunee their Great Law of Peace, essentially the constitution of the Six Nations Iroqouis Confederacy.
The “Indian Flag” was first used at Ganienkeh, a territory in New York state reclaimed by armed Mohawks in 1974. Ganienkeh was intended to be a sovereign territory, free from colonial control where Natives could practise a more traditional way of life. It still exists today. According to the Kahnawake branch of the Haudenosaunee, this flag is also known as the “Ganienkeh Flag” and symbolized “Indigenous unity, nationalism, and resistance.”
Later, Karoniaktajeh designed another version of the flag featuring a warrior with a Mohawk-style haircut. According to the Kahnawake Longhouse, this version was intended for use by the Mohawk Warrior Society and is called the “Mohawk Warrior Flag.”
Following the 1990 Oka Crisis, Karoniaktajeh designed yet another version of the flag with both a male and female warrior entitled the “Indigenous Flag of Unity & Resistance.” Karoniaktajeh passed away in December, 1993.
The Flag of the Mohawk Warrior Society
(from http://www.kahnawakelonghouse.com/index.php?mid=1&p=3, Kahnawake branch of the Haudenosaunee)
The Flag of the Mohawk Warrior Society was designed by the late Mohawk artist and scribe Karoniaktajeh [Louis Hall]. It was designed to serve as a symbol and standard for the Kanien’kehá:ka [Mohawk] men of the Rotinonhsón:ni Warrior Society; the vanguard of the Long House people.
Originally the first flag design by Karoniaktajeh, which depicted a long-haired indigenous person, was dubbed the Indian Flag or Unity Flag. It was designed to be a prolific standard for all indigenous people to unify behind. Since one of the objectives of the Ganienkeh Indian Project was to create of venue for Indigenous Nations to gather in, the flag became known as the Ganienkeh Flag; which served as a symbol of indigenous unity, nationalism, and resistance.
Later on, Karoniaktajeh incorporated the head of a Mohawk Warrior, while keeping the original designed elements. This flag was specially designed and employed for the Mohawk Warrior Society. Its red background represents the Red Man, while the prolific yellow sun represents Ro’sken’rakehtekó:wa Tiohkehnéhkha Karáhkwa, our Elder Brother the Sun to which all Rotinonhsón:nimen are closely connected. The final image of a Mohawk man represents the Kanien’kehá:ka men of the Rotinonhsón:ni who are actively prepared to defend and protect its people and territory.
Following the 1990 Oka Crisis, Karoniaktajeh received criticism concerning the involvement of warrior-girls within the indigenous resistance establishment and the fact that they are not represented in the flag. Moreover, with the mainstream-ization of the warrior flag throughout Indian Country; it became apparent that a new flag should be designed to capture the general indigenous resistance movement. Therefore, he painted a new version depicting both a long-haired indigenous man and woman.
In 1997, the Kahnawake Longhouse and its Warrior Society hosted a War Dance to declare war on drugs, alcohol, and suicides in our territories. To commemorate this occasion, new flags were printed based upon Karoniaktajeh’s final design and dubbed; the Indigenous Flag and Unity and Resistance. The original painting is now on permanent displayed at the Kahnawake Longhouse.
Louis Karoniaktajeh Hall archive website:
Posted on March 18, 2012, in Warrior and tagged anti-colonial resistance, Indigenous resistance, Mohawk Warrior Flag, native resistance, Unity Flag, warrior, Warrior Flag, Warrior Society, Warrior Unity Flag. Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.