Friday, 1 November 2013

The Six Nations of the Grand River

The Grand River:

 The Six Nations:

For a general understanding of the history of the Six Nations in Canada, starting here gives at least a broad overview here.

For one single source, that provides a Six Nations chronology, and key information about the Six Nations claims, from the 17th Century to present day, there is no better source than the article here by Garry Horsnell.

It also has a reference section which is highly useful, and for example provides online locations where one might obtain the following source which includes the key documents relating to Six Nations history:

Charles C.M. Johnston, The Valley of the Six Nations: A Collection of Documents on the Indian Lands of the Grand River, Toronto, The Champlain Society, 1964.

The first Champlain Society printing, and the reprint of 1968 by the University of Toronto, are very difficult to obtain anywhere.  However for the serious student of Six Nations history, it is essential reading.
The above picture is by Mike Swanson, and shows the Grand River with some Six Nations accompanied by a member of Butler's Rangers or the Six Nations Indian Department (Young, Nelles, Huff, and Dochstader families) probably just after the Revolution, in 1784 when Chief Joseph Brant was looking for a suitable location for his people. 

For more recent, largely Six Nations oriented, perspectives see here, and here, and here.

 The specific list of the 29 filed claims, both land and financial can be seen in the following two booklets.  The first is found here.  The second of the two, seen here, is the most comprehensive in relation to land claims.

Websites which primarily relate to the ongoing controversy between the Six Nations and the neighbouring townspeople, see Caledonia Wake Up Call here, Canadian Advocates for Charter Equality here, Caledonia Victims Project here.

The map below shows the contemporary boundaries of the Six Nations Reserve (No. 40).  Most of the land is shown in green, but the block shown in Onondaga Township, Brant County to the west of Middleport, and the lands around A. Woodland Cultural Centre and B. Her Majesty's Chapel of the Mohawks is also part of Six Nations Territory.

Maps of the current Reserve which includes the newer purhased and exchanged acquisitions will be added later.

 Some Terminology, Nomenclature and Miscellaneous Matters:
In writing this blog, I have faced the same task that has at times "haunted" academic authors who feel the need to justify everything - their career may depend on it.

I want to be respectful, but I also want to be correct.

It is possible to use the term Native (an equivalent to aboriginal) in contrast to native (as in a native born Canadian). So big N, small N.

What about aboriginal. Should it be used for say a Six Nations person? If so should it have a capital letter?

There was a time when "political correctness" ran rampant, and everyone was petrified of being called a "racist" so most decided that the best term to use for someone who has status under the Indian Act is, "First Nations". This is still used, but never really caught on except in a restricted way. Then there are the Metis from Western Canada. They are generally placed in a separate category with this term - which doesn't seem to be a problem.

I recall a couple of years ago when the Indian newspapers debated about whether "Indian" was an acceptable word. Most agreed that it was so deeply embedded in the history and culture that it could stand - assuming of course that it is not being used in an insulting way - another difficult subject. After all, there is an "Indian Act", and "status" and "non- status" Indians.

Then there is the matter of the Six Nations. This is a term seen everywhere including on welcome signs to the Reserve. There are officially recognized groups such as "Six Nations Lands & Resources". So it seems to be a term here to stay. What is out the door though, unless speaking of a language category, is the word Iroquois. It is far too general anyway. The name gaining prominence at Six Nations is Haudenosaunee, pertaining to the Confederacy. The trouble is that if the average person out there will end up tying their tongue on this. The public in general would have little clue as to who you are speaking about. So if Haudenosaunee ends up replacing Six Nations, I am guessing it will be in 20 or more years - but I may well be wrong.

Well, to be fair, then what shall we call those who are non - status people, those with no Indian ancestors or deep cultural ties? Good luck in finding a "good" word to use in relation to someone who has say an Indian grandparent, but was raised in say Toronto and knows little of the culture and has never set foot on a Reserve. I know some in this category. I don't have an answer or even a suggestion at this point.

So is the term "White" ok? The problem with that is that it really emerged in relation to the history of slavery so the word Black is ok for someone of African descent (I have had this debate before with African - Americans and indeed, Black is a word used comfortably by all parties). The problem these days is that Canadian society has changed so much (well not in Caledonia, but in general). So there are people from the Indian subcontinent, Asians (e.g., Chinese), Hispanics (with various admixtures of say Spanish and Mayan), those from the Middle East, Greeks (who I guess are White - but Mediterranean and rather different from say someone from Ireland). The term European is semi ok, but translated directly would mean someone native to Europe.

The term non-Native is in common usage, and I really don't know about this one. I think the issue of terminology or nomenclature is more clear in relation to the word being used now by some of the outside supporters of the Six Nations - "settlers". That won't go over at all well and probably should be dispensed with.

Have I forgot anything, perhaps something that should be obvious, but since brain freeze has established itself ............

Actually, this topic is making me uncomfortable. Good luck to us all in choosing the "right" word, and not causing offence in the process. Maybe I think too much and ask too many questions. The beauty of a blog is that I can babble on incessantly about this or that, but no one really needs to listen to me or pay me much if any heed.


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