There is a Revolution going on in Kahnawake Mohawk territory.
Not the kind that one would associate with violence, and guns, and an overthrown government, but more like a Revolution of the mind.
Iris Montour is the editor, and co-founder of Revolution magazine. According to her, before Revolution, there was no outlet for the youth to voice their opinions. “My cousin (Tracey Deer) and I figured that it’d be a good idea, we realized there was a gap in the community, a space for something like this.”
A while back, Deer decided that she no longer had the time, and unfortunately, had to give up something which they both created together.
Revolution is made for the youth, by the youth, with over 180 different young people having contributed so far. Submissions that have been accepted include student profiles, artwork, poems, as well as any other creative stories, and opinions expressed by the youth of Kahnawake. The best part as far as the youth is concerned, is they actually get paid for their thoughts. Aside from Montour, Revolution has a staff of three other people who take care of the management of the office and sales, as well as graphic design.
When Revolution was at the proposal stage, “we really underestimated how much work it was going to be.” Which, for the first few issues, created some unexpected problems. “I can clearly remember us typing out the proposal and laughing about layout and basically thinking that we would just be able to throw it together.” Four graphic designers later, Revolution has finally settled on someone they can count on, Montour’s boyfriend, affectionately known as Chief.
The magazine was well received by the community, “The support has been great. All of our sponsors and our distributors are really awesome. They’re friendly, and they’re really encouraging. The community has just been really positive about it, and that’s why I think it’s going to work because the community has accepted it so well.”
One of the main goals of the magazine is freedom of expression. Censorship, for the most part, is non-existent in the pages of Revolution. “As the editor I don’t feel like I have to believe in everything the people are saying, nor edit things that I don’t think are valid. It’s supposed to be kind of like a free for all, like an open arena.”
“We found out what we have to do is kind of just leave it in the hands of the community, of the contributors, and of the youth.”
This philosophy sometimes drew criticism from community members as well as the ire of one of the writers in the local paper, the Eastern Door. The writer in question went on to blame Revolution for the recent spree of vandalism, and graffiti in Kahnawake, simply because one of Revolutions writers had expressed their opinion on “tagging” (graffiti). The Eastern Doors writer took it upon himself to cast blame on her, even though she never once said in her article that it was cool to spray paint other people’s property. “The Eastern Doors problem comes from varying levels, and I think they’re kind of threatened by our presence. I mean they’re basically attacking our journalistic stand-point.”
Funding for the project has been made possible through Kahnawake’s Brighter Futures program. According to Montour, their proposal for a youth magazine in Kahnawake was accepted in June, 2002. After eight issues and a few bumps in the road, Revolution is as strong, and as solid as it has ever been.
In recent issues, Revolution has started to lean more towards artistic content. “The way it’s going is it’s turning into more of an arts magazine. Not like it was ever supposed to be a news magazine, but it’s really taking an artsy turn to it. I don’t mind, I’m just going to go with it, I’m here to facilitate, not delegate.
Circulation now stands at 500, but Montour is hopefiil that in the next few months, that number will expand to 2000. “Ideally I’m sure everybody that starts a magazine would like to see it go national, or international, but I’m not there yet. Say within the next year I’d love to see it up to around 5000.”
Native youth definitely need a way to express themselves, and with an outlet like Revolution, their voices can be heard, loud and clear.