Friday, 17 January 2014

"Treaty Rights" and the Six Nations Deer Harvest

In Turtle Island News (January 15, 2014, p.7) is an article entitled, Treaty rights flexed in HWHA harvests, 70 deer taken.  Once again, my focus here will be on the beliefs versus the facts in relation to this matter.

The article reads, The Haudenosaunee Wildlife & Habitat Authority (HWHA) is wrapping up another year of deer harvests that exercise Haudenosaunee treaty rights with bow-only hunts in a newly opened up area of Dundas Valley.

This season's hunts also included time in Short Hills Provincial Park outside of St. Catharines, as well as a small area of the Royal Botanical Gardens near Burlington - about 70 deer have been taken and distributed to longhouses across Six Nations.

But more important than the harvests, said HWHA co-ordinator Chester Gibson, is that treaty rights were exercised and affirmed.  'Its not about harvesting deer, but about educating our own people ..... and reminding our guys about our treaty rights'.

In general everyone has been supportive of these efforts since without any doubt the over population of deer is creating havoc in the environment - especially their browsing on small trees, bushes and flowers.  The co-operation between the HWHA and the local conservation authorities and the RBG has been commendable.  Other joint measures to protect the ecosystem are planned.  All good.  While I am saddened that these brown eyed forest creatures must die, it is inevitable in order to maintain a viable ecosystem since there are no natural predators, and the lack of food caused by the behaviour of the deer, particularly in the winter, puts a lot of stress on the herd.

So if I believe that this entire endeavour is a win - win situation, what is the beef here?  In a word, the 'rationale' for the hunt.

A question to Chester, what are these "treaty rights" of which you speak.  I know of no legitimate treaty that addresses Six Nations rights to hunt on land outside their own Reserve.  Since I have tried to keep up to date with matters such as these, it seems odd that I have not heard anything about a treaty that would give "rights" to bow-hunt in Dundas or other such places in Southwestern Ontario.  There are numerous newspaper articles on the subject, yet in none did I find the naming of the treaty by which Six Nations claims a "right" to hunt in for example the Dundas area.  See here for an example. 

The name of the treaty is not mentioned in the Native newspapers either, when discussing "rights" concerning hunting in Southwestern Ontatio, or involvement ("rights") in relation to wind farm projects in Southwestern Ontario, I am guessing that the treaty here is the Nanfan Treaty of 1701.  An exhaustively researched document on this subject, which concludes that the treaty is completely invalid, since the Five Nations formally yielded any interest in the territory to their conquerors, the Mississauga, in June 1700 can be found here.

In at least a half dozen blog postings I have discussed the "uncomfortable reality" that this so - called treaty is entirely bogus and invalid.  The Five Nations did exterminate the Huron / Wyandot, Petun, Attiwandaronk, Erie and other peoples of Southwestern Ontario (lets call it what it was, genocide) in the mid 1600s.  Thus they removed by conquest all of the former occupants of Southwestern Ontario, leaving it a human desert for a number of years.  However, Mississauga (Ojibway / Chippewa) peoples soon began to move into the area and establish settlements or at least territorial rights.  The Five Nations had built a minimum of 8 settlements north of Lake Ontario in what is today Southwestern Ontario during the 1680s and 1690s.  This would give them claim to the land by conquest and settlement.  There is a very big "however" coming here - by 1696 the Three Fires Confederation had destroyed all of these settlements of the Five Nations and they had no presence at all there by 1700.  The Three Fires Confederacy was composed of the Mississauga, Ojibway, and Pottawatomi.  The latter resided in Michigan and were also known as the "Fire Nation", the ancient enemies of the Five Nations.  In the end, the land was left to the Mississauga who were the acknowledged "owners" of Southwestern Ontario, and from whom Governor General Sir Frederick Haldimand purchased the Haldimand Tract for Six Nations occupancy in 1784.

Hence when the Nanfan Treaty of 1701 was signed by 20 representatives of the Five Nations (the Sixth Nation, the Tuscarora, were not incorporated until about 1714) they were yielding their "beaver hunting grounds" in Southwestern Ontario to the British - however they had no claim to Southwestern Ontario since they had been totally defeated by the Mississauga and their allies.  You cannot sell or bargain away land you don't possess, so had the British known that the deal was fatally flawed they never would have gone ahead with it.  Were they knowingly deceived by the Five Nations?  That is a question that does not seem to have a direct answer, but is non the less irrelevant.  The Five (Six) Nations had and have no claim whatsoever to lands in Southwestern Ontario.  All very inconvenient I know, but the truth must be told - at any rate it will all come out eventually.

In my earlier posting I provided references to the facts of the matter, and there does not seem to be even a centimetre of wiggle room here.  Thus how Six Nations can make the outrageous claim to "treaty rights" in Southwestern Ontario flies in the face of reality, the facts, the evidence, the truth.  However, I guess unless someone formally challenges Six Nations in their false claims, the status quo will prevail.  I want this information to be installed on the Internet so that others will begin to ask the hard questions, and that ultimately the truth will win out.  Basically, Six Nations has every right to negotiate an agreement with a conservation authority to participate in for example the deer cull, but they cannot do it under the guise of having rights they in fact do not possess.


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