Saturday, 21 December 2013

An Examination of Each of the 29 Land Claims Submitted by Six Nations to Date

There are 29 land claims filed against the Federal Government of Canada, all but two within the geographical bounds of the Haldimand Tract, and reported in the website of the Land and Resources Department of the Six Nations.  The said website can be accessed here.

It is the intention of the present author to examine the factual basis of each of the claims via individual postings to the present blog with the exception of those outside the Haldimand Tract, namely number 2 Innisfil Township, and number 3 East Hawkesbury Township.  At this time I do not believe that I am well enough versed in either of these two claims to be in a position to either support or challenge them.

The sources I will use include the following:

1)  My own forays, primarily in a 20 year period between the mid 1970s to mid 1990s, into the original records pertaining to the claims.  These records and sources are primarily found at the National Library and Archives in Ottawa, and the Archives of Ontario in Toronto.  Other important repositories whose collections I accessed were those at the Library of the Woodland Cultural Centre and the Brant County Library, both in Brantford; and the Haldimand County Museum and Archives in Cayuga.

2)  Sally Weaver's research and ethnographic notes between 1963 and 1975 as published in the following article:  Sally M. Weaver, Six Nations of the Grand River, Ontario, in William C. Sturtevant (Ed.), Handbook of North American Indians, Vol. 15, Northeast, Washington D.C., Smithsonian Institute, 1978.  I have also read most of the original research articles published in journals and books and referenced in this publication.

3)  Joan Holmes, Reports of Joan Holmes (Filed on the City of Brantford's Injunction Motion).  Report dated 19 January 2009; Supplementary Report dated 2 February 2009.

It appears that the above report was prepared for the Corporation of the City of Brantford, but has not been "officially" released.  A copy of both reports has been placed online by person or persons unknown, and can be found here.  The documents which Joan Holmes cites are those which the present author has also researched, and cross validates with these efforts, as well as those of Sally Weaver who employed the same cited source material.  In my opinion the "Holmes Report" is spot on accurate.  The credentials of the author, head of Joan Holmes & Associates Inc., a research and analysis firm which since 1983 has offered services to First Nations, both the Federal and Provincial Governments, as well as law firms, can be found here.

The Six Nations Land and Resources website indicates that it is current to 2008, although there is information about the 2009 offer made by the Federal Government to address the Welland Canal flooding claim.

The present author knew the former Six Nations researcher, Phillip Monture and has visited the forerunner to the present Lands and Resources office, recalling clearly the metal file cabinets bound with chains and padlocks.  I don't recall meeting the new researcher, Lonny Bomberry.  As far as I know, all of the background work as to what is found in the website was done by Phil Monture.  For the record, I have always had respect for Mr. Monture and his work, although we disagree on the assessment of the evidence relating to most of the land claims.

On the page including the Six Nations Land Claim Summaries (Basis and Allegations), as seen here, there are statements with which I disagree.  There is one which particularly distresses me, so it warrants at least a comment or two.  It is stated, As set out in the grant of land the Crown had a duty to protect Six Nations lands for their sole use.  In many cases not only did the Government fail to do so, the officials of Crown actively encouraged the settlement upon those lands.  Based on my reading of all of the official correspondence, nothing could be further from the truth.  Very early in the settlement of the area, in 1793 Governor Simcoe forbade the sale of lands in the Haldimand Tract to White people, and threatened to have all of them removed.  It was the Six Nations who fought to leave things alone as they valued the presence of former neighbours from the Mohawk Valley who could be a valuable asset in helping the Six Nations males learn agricultural methods, and who would establish mills to grind the grain and cut the lumber for the benefit of the Six Nations.  Later Government officials were tearing their hair out as more and more settlers moved on to Six Nations land, typically after paying a Six Nations member for their "improvements" and securing a deed for this property.  Hence the Six Nations were setting up a situation which totally overwhelmed the ability of the Indian Department officials to act.  While some Six Nations did indeed want the White settlers removed, this was hardly the case for many who were making a tidy living occupying then selling land as a commodity.  So to blame the "colonialism" of government officials is to completely miss the point of what all were facing at Six Nations.  The officials despaired as to what to do about the matter.  It is not as if they could call in the army or send the squatters to some old prison scow moored in Lake Ontario.  It was in fact the recognition by the Government officials that the Six Nations way of life would be unsustainable with the status quo that led to their recommendation that the Six Nations live together as a people, in close proximity, and free of settlements of Whites which were interspersed all along the Tract.  In fact there are multiple documentary sources which show the deep concern felt by these officials to whom so much venom is cast.  It is not fair, because it is not correct.  See for example the collection of small diaries of David Thorburn at the Archives of Ontatio, for some of the concerns he had seeing what was happening to the Six Nations, or review the correspondence of officials at every level who saw the same problems surfacing.  Probably the most accessible reference for the latter would by Charles M. Johnston,  The Valley of the Six Nations: A Collection of Documents on the Indian Lands of the Grand River, Totonto, The Champlain Society, 1964.

The bottom line through all of these claims is that there is a major omission.  In 1850 Lord Elgin submitted a report based on all of the negotiations registered to that time.  In the case of the Six Nations, it was to be considered as a final summation which included the description (and a map) that showed all of the lands to be reserved for the Six Nations.  If lands are not included in Lord Elgin's Report then one can consider that they should not be there, unless negotiated after that date.  Hence this document which formed the basis of the Six Nations Reserve 40 entry in the Indian Land Registry System must be considered the standard by which all else is assessed.  As I have said many times, there was no formal back tracking by the Chiefs.  What they decided in Council was to remain as a reflection of their wishes - that is until 150 or more years later some decided to second guess all of the documentation and the express wishes of the Six Nations Chiefs in Council.  Hence, here is the description of the true boundaries of the Six Nations Reserve:

Indian lands in Upper Canada including the following lands in the Haldimand Tract:

... certain tract or parcel of land, situate in the Township of ONEIDA in the County of Haldimand ... comprising lots number one, two, three, four, five and six in the first, second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth concessions respectively of Oneida .. and also, River lots numbers one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven and twelve in the same Township.

... the whole of the Township of TUSCARORA ..

 Also, to that certain parcel of Land containing Two Hundred Acres more or less, adjacent to the Mohawk Church, and known as LOT NUMBER FIVE, in the Eagle's Nest, in the Township of Brantford, in the said county of Wentworth.

... Township of Onondaga ... east of Fairchild's Creek, known as River Lots numbers forty-five, forty-six, forty-seven, forty-eight, forty-nine, fifty, fifty-one, fifty two, fifty-three, fifty-four, fiftyfive, fifty-six, fifty-seven, fifty-eight, fifty-nine, sixty and sixty-one in the third Concession, the same township.

("Proclamation extending the provisions of 13 and 14 Vict. Ch. 74 to certain lands in several townships in U.C. in the occupation or enjoyment of various tribes of Indians”, November 8, 1850. INAC Indian Lands Registry Registration No. 8740-292).  See "Holmes Report" pp. 14-15.

While I will attempt to explore the evidence relating to each of the land claims within the Haldimand Tract, this will not be done in the numbering sequence used by the Lands and Resources Department.  In my opinion, there are some that require immediate attention due to the social, political and other problems they have created.

I will begin with 16. Oneida Township then tackle the related number 5. Hamilton-Port Dover Plank Road, Seneca & Oneida Townships.


No comments:

Post a Comment