Mohawk Warrior Leader, Ronald 'Lasagna' Cross
Ronald `Lasagna' Cross died on November 1, 1999, at age 41, from a fatal heart attack. Cross is best known for his role and involvement in the Oka Crisis of 1990 in Quebec, Canada. As a high profile member of the Mohawk Warrior Society, Cross was the center point of the 1990 standoff that occurred between the Mohawks from Kanehsatake and the Quebec provincial police. The confrontation was a result of the Mayor of Oka's desire to expand the town's golf course. This expansion would result in golfers `teeing off' right over Mohawk burial grounds. To show their adamant opposition to this request, the Mohawk's in the area erected a barricade to prevent the expansion.
In July of 1990, the Quebec provincial police executed a raid on the armed Mohawk barricades. Guns shots were fired resulting in the death of one officer and the retreat of provincial police. Later the Canadian Army was called in. This led to a 78 day armed standoff with the Mohawks. Ronald Cross was one of the many masked Mohawks involved in the confrontation. He was arrested in September at the end of the standoff. During his arrest, an already handcuffed Cross was beaten by provincial officers in front of witnesses in what the Quebec Police Ethics Committee recently determined as "excessive, humiliating and degrading" (note: provincial officers involved with the beating were only `symbolically' suspended for they had already left the force). In October, along with tow other members of the Mohawk Warrior Society, Cross went on trial for forty charges. The jury found the men guilty of aggravated assault, uttering death threats and mischief. Throughout the hearing, the three Mohawk men refused to recognize the jurisdiction of the Canadian legal system over the sovereign Mohawk nation. They refused to enter a plea. In 1992, Cross was sentenced to six years in prison.
In a biography that was published a few years after his imprisonment, Cross commented that he resented the attention he received as the center of the standoff because he was often portrayed as a criminal. As he had said previously, he did not see himself as a criminal, but rather as a political activist. He was standing up for, and protecting, his people and his heritage. Cross was released from prison in August, 1999, happy to be able to spend time with his family. With his death, he has left behind his wife, Nadine Montour, and four children.
Article copyright Cultural Survival, Inc.