CM . . . .
Volume VI Number 4 . . . . October 15, 1999
Spudwrench: Kahnawake Man.
Alanis Obomsawin (Director & Producer).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 1997.
57 min., 40 sec., VHS, $39.95.
Order Number: C9197 134.
Mohawk Indians-Government relations.
Construction workers-Quebec (Province)-Biography.
Kahnawake Indian Reserve (Quebec).
Quebec (Province)-History-Native Crisis, 1990.
Grade 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.
Review by Joanne Peters.
Nearly a decade has passed since the 1990 Oka crisis, enough time to view people and events with
some degree of historical perspective. Spudwrench: Kahnawake Man profiles one of the
Mohawk who resisted the expansion of a golf course onto their sacred lands. Like many
Mohawk, Randy Horne (a.k.a. "Spudwrench") is a high-steel construction worker from the
Kahnawake community near Montreal. These men have traveled throughout North America
working on tall buildings - in this video, we see Randy and co-workers commute on weekends
from a job in New York City to their Canadian homes - but their connection to their families,
traditions, and home-land are as strong and powerful as they are.
Interviews with other construction workers, their wives and family members tell of the dangers
and difficulties of life on the road; archival photographs remind the viewer of the Mohawk
construction workers' long and proud history as true "builders" of this country. Video footage of
celebrations and community events show that family ties are strong, and traditions are maintained
and passed on to the next generation. And news footage of the Oka crisis reminds the viewer of
the tough and difficult choice these people made in barricading and resisting the government.
Spudwrench: Kahnawake Man is the third film in Alanis Obomsawin's series on the events of
1990. Its weakness is also its strength: it ambitiously melds the personal and public experience of
Oka with Mohawk history and, in doing so, covers a bit too much ground. Still, for students of
Canadian History and for Native Studies programs, the film has a place in providing an insight
into an "ordinary" Mohawk's reasons for defending his way of life and his people's land.
Joanne Peters is the teacher-librarian at Kelvin High School in Winnipeg, MB.
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