American Indian Heritage Month: Commemoration vs. Exploitation
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Edwards, J. R.

"Junior" Edwards (Mohawk, 1958–1990) was killed during the early hours of May 1, 1990, during the culmination of firefights over commercial gaming that wracked the Akwesasne Mohawk (St. Regis) Reservation. Mathew Pyke also was killed that night, before police agencies from the United States and Canada occupied the area the next day. The body of Edwards, thirty-two, was found roughly six hundred yards from where Pyke had been killed, along the River Road in an area of Akwesasne called Snye. Edwards had been killed by a blast to the stomach.

Harold Edwards Sr., father of Edwards, said that the young man had been an innocent victim most of his life. The younger Edwards lived alone in a house owned by his father near Snye, drew welfare, and "at times, drank too much." While the younger Edwards did not overtly support gambling interests (the senior Edwards said his four other sons were gambling supporters), he was impressionable, and he sometimes associated with gaming sympathizers.

Edwards laid the blame for his son's death with the people who had brought the guns to Akwesasne. "Whoever killed my son, I don't blame them as much as the people bringing in the weapons in the first place," he said. "It's some other people who are bringing them in, and giving them to the Warriors, and then they go crazy. I want the police to get the people who are bringing in the guns and the dope, even if they have to search every house to do it" (Johansen, 1993, 94).

Edwards' murder remains unsolved. Doug George-Kanentiio, an Akwesasne newspaper editor and antigaming activist, was charged with the murder by Quebec authorities, but was exonerated before a trial by a judge who said the charge was baseless.

Bruce E. Johansen

Further Reading
Johansen, Bruce E. 1993. Life and Death in Mohawk Country. Golden, CO: North American Press/Fulcrum.

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