Thursday, 27 February 2014

Bill C-10, Contraband Tobacco Products, and the Six Nations Lifestyle

Updated 3 March 2014 - This subject is very difficult.  I can certainly see both sides to the issue.  On the one hand I have seen families on the Six Nations Reserve go from living in a log house (circa 1850) or tar paper shanty accessed by two ruts that made a lane way, to residing in two story homes with a swimming pool, and a new high lift Ford 2500 perched on the semi circular asphalt driveway leading to the home.  This is all to the good, and it speaks well that they found a way to take their families from penury to relative luxury in one generation.  Of course there is a downside, and it simply cannot be, nor will it be, ignored.  The means by which many pulled off this feat was by engaging in the illicit cigarette trade, which is now in immanent danger of collapsing and causing wide spread problems at Six Nations. 

If someone from say Toronto, with no concept of what a Reserve "looks like", visited Six Nations they would probably be struck by one feature on the landscape seen nowhere else - the cigarette "shop" (known locally as "shacks" or "huts").  These structures are seen along all major roads on the Reserve.  Perhaps the "best" example at Six Nations is Highway 54 between Middleport and Onondaga where the shops stand cheek by jowl, with somewhat tacky names (in some cases rather clever), and will sell Native and non-Native people pre-packaged with names such as "Putters" and "Sago" or "rollies"(for those who don't mind their cigarettes in a bag).  I intensely disliked these smoke huts going up around my place, they were an eyesore and a nuisance, but that is beside the point - there was more wealth locally, and this was a plus.  However, these establishments are entirely unregulated, and there is plenty of evidence that if a White youth wants to purchase cigarettes, there are "huts" where they will not be turned away.  The owners or managers of these shops are selling cigarettes that do not follow the same path as cigarettes sold at any urban establishment, and are technically an illegal product.  The tobacco anyone can purchase on the Rez has had few if any taxes applied before the arrival at the "hut", and retailers on the Reserve do not charge taxes to the customer. 

As with gasoline, there is some justification in the tax laws that would allow the selling untaxed product on the Reserve to those with a Native status card.  However, on the Reserve those who sell gasoline generally sell non-Natives their product with taxes added.  The suppliers would "turn off the tap" if retailers did not collect taxes.  So cigarettes, which are much more "portable" and easily smuggled in say the trunk of a car, are not subject to the same restrictions. The on Reserve huts have no "reason" to charge taxes and can therefore offer their product for sale at discount prices, and as a consequence, the small convenience stores in say Caledonia or Hagersville, who are following the letter of the law, cannot compete on the basis of price - and smokers tend to gravitate to wherever they can get the product at the lowest price.  There are some establishments off Reserve but on what they might term "disputed land", generally very close to the Reserve, who ply the same trade and are not shut down by law enforcement.  Here we see the operation of local politics, the fear of Native backlash - so some individuals fly the Haudenosaunee Confederacy flag and remain in business as part of the aftermath of Caledonia 2006.  No one has yet "dared" to challenge any illegal business set up proximal to the site of the "reclamation".  The latter, as I have noted in many postings, was plain and simply the theft of land by Six Nations members and supporters which was properly registered in the Ontario Land Registry system.  The pretext was that it had not been ceded - despite irrefutable evidence that it was transferred to the Crown by the Six Nations Chiefs in Council in 1844.

I am not prepared to be entirely judgemental about the "contraband cigarette" issue, although I have every right to be.  As usual, I will simply lay out the facts, since they really do speak for themselves in this matter.  However, I do have a personal stake in this, and I can also not ignore this in my perception of the ins and outs of contraband cigarettes.  When you watch a family member die a hideous death, and you know the cause, it is very difficult to be objective about the circumstances that led to their demise.  Specifically, I recall my Grandfather as being very outgoing with coal black eyes and wavy black hair.  However what I recall most is seeing him with a beer in one hand and a cigarette between two fingers of the other hand - with fingers stained browner than his natural complexion.  Granted that he was addicted, but the sales pitches of the time only facilitated his disease.  Grandfather died of cardio-vascular disease, throat cancer, and emphysema - all without a shadow of a doubt linked to his chain smoking.  The addictive ingredient in tobacco is nicotine (more addicting than cocaine), and the delivery system is the cigarette which includes tobacco leafs containing about 400 potential carcinogens in the smoke - leaving ash as the end byproduct.  Thus to get me to see anything to do with cigarettes in a positive light just isn't going to happen.  Those involved in the trade (off Reserve and on Reserve) are in a sense "purveyors of death" - although this might be a bit harsh - it is my firmly held perspective.  It is going to be very hard to garner much sympathy when the product being sold causes human suffering and misery that touches so many families - much as is the case with alcohol - and those involved in the cocaine and heroin "industries".  The difference here is that the first two are "legal" and regulated substances, the latter two are "illegal" and unregulated substances. 

The Federal Government, as per bill C-10 which seeks to tighten up on crime, and is already in effect, has added an amendment to include a clause about contraband tobacco.  It defines contraband tobacco as, any tobacco product that does not comply with the relevant federal and provincial statutes.  Importing, stamping, marking, manufacturing, distributing, and paying duties and taxes on such products that are regulated ............  The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), who are the enforcement wing of the Federal Government, have a more specific definition based on the above definition.  Basically they are concerned with counterfeiting, smuggling, illegal manufacturing in Canada, and products for which duties and taxes have not been paid.  It has passed the second reading in the House of Commons, and must pass the third reading and a review by the Senate before it receives Crown assent and becomes law.

The reason for this posting is an article in Turtle Island News dated 26 February 2014 (pp.2-4) entitled, Bill C-10 is not about fighting crime, its about destroying economies, First Nation leadership says in rejecting the bill.  This is part of a series of upcoming articles on "The Tobacco Wars".  Based on the content of this article, it seems that the possibility of the contraband cigarette business coming to an end is putting people at Six Nations into a panic - such is the reliance on tobacco products for the economic well being on the Reserve. 

The article begins by creating drama, using the rumour mill that continually grinds grist at Six Nations - "Have you heard, the OPP shut down a smoke hut this morning.  Word came shortly after, it wasn't true.  And then came the call We should shut down the roads.  Panic".  These rumours are being generated by Federal Bill C-10, which is well along the way to becoming law.  Various individuals at Six Nations made the following comments in relation to the proposed law to crack down on contraband tobacco:

1)  Bill C-10 is an attempt to destroy an economy with no legal basis.  Actually the Bill is designed to ensure that the present laws on the books have teeth such that enforcement can be assured.
2)  Any of the bills Canada or Ontario have, have no bearing or impact on the Haudenosaunee.  Actually that is completely false.  Canada has the right and obligation to enact and enforce laws which apply equally to all.
3)  We [Six Nations] do not have any treaty agreements or relationship with Canada or Ontario.  This is true, there are no treaties involving Six Nations (aboriginal to Upstate New York) and the Federal or Provincial Governments.
4)  Our treaties are pre-Confederation treaties.  In fact there are no true treaties between Six Nations and the Crown of Great Britain, only the fraudulent "Nanfan Treaty" of 1701 which has more holes than Swiss cheeze and about which I have blogged many times.
5)  This is an attempt to dissolve Haudenosaunee treaty rights and economies in order for them to gain control of our people.  Wow, where would I start in commenting on this wild allegation - I won't bother.  The words "misattribution" and "paranoia" come to mind.
6)  Its more akin to ethnic cleansing or genocide.  Now this is simply so far off the wall .......... I wonder how many people actually believe this.  True genocide is what the Six Nations perpetrated on the Huron / Wyandot, Petun, Attiwanderonk, Erie and Wenro peoples between 1640 and 1657 with the murder of men, women and children in the (successful) attempt to wipe these people, aboriginal to Southern Ontario and adjacent regions, off the map.  The Government of Canada enacting legislation to regulate tobacco products being labelled "genocide" should not go unchallenged.
7)  It is an act of terrorism on our people and an activity of economic oppression.  Clearly these interpretations are irrational, and words such as terrorism and genocide in no way, shape or form fit the intention of the Bill.  If the Government "dares" to put forward laws that stop illegal activity, it is a strange interpretation to twist things into some sort of evil nefarious sneaky plan whose real intent is to destroy Six Nations.  The phrases used are dripping in strong emotive terms designed to rally the troops around what is perceived as a "just cause" to protect against a vindictive White government with hidden motives.  Anyone with intact critical thinking skills is going to question statements of this nature.
8)  If this industry is to be stopped what is Canada going to do about the hundreds of people that would be unemployed or businesses that would go under.  Why would this be the responsibility of the Canadian Government?  In reality, Six Nations has known since day one that they were involved in illegal activities, and for years they have capitalized on this industry knowing that at any time would have the rug pulled out from under it.  Well, that time is now.  To expect some sort or "rescue" from the Canadian taxpayers for defying the law for 30 or more years, and getting away with it, makes absolutely no sense.  Clearly Six Nations councils (elected and hereditary) should have seen the writing on the wall and pushed for diversification on the local economy.  This would involve more working off Reserve at for example what we term the "gyp plant" (Canadian Gypsum north of Hagersville), and other such places of employment.  There are also entrepreneurial opportunities which have been encouraged by the Federal Government - but you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.
9)  The government never had a hand in helping us to get out of the situation they put us in.  One of poverty, abuse they created.  So we are to play the blame game?  How about the concept of personal responsibility.  The government has doled out billions upon billions of dollars that have often simply vanished.  Where is the accountability?  Why should the Canadian taxpayer send more money down a bottomless pit, when it is never enough and they have been slapped across the face for "racism" and "genocide" and other concocted unsubstantiated allegations - and Six Nations are not even aboriginal to the lands they possess (the Mississauga possess that valid claim)?
10)  We are our own nation and no outside government has control over us.  Here we run into the time honoured sovereignty issue - which has consistently been established as without a shadow of any question from historical times or today - Six Nations were and are subjects of the Crown.  Only the Crown has sovereignty in Canada - all of the Court cases over all of the years from prior to the American Revolution to today have ruled in favour of Crown (and thus Canadian) sovereignty over the territory it claims.  There are no "nations within nations" except in the minds of some people.
11)  This [Bill C-10] could have serious impacts by criminalizing our people for transporting tobacco products.  This is true, but existing laws criminalize the transport of contraband cigarettes.  In some ways Bill C-10 is nothing new.
12)  There has been a, "complete lack of consultation with Iroquois people on the proposed bill".  I am not sure why it is perceived that the Federal Government should be consulting any party who is involved in an illegal activity.

This whole perspective speaks of the concept of "entitlement".  Somehow Six Nations should be exempt from the laws that apply to other Canadians, and have a right to engage in smuggling cigarettes from the USA, manufacturing them in Canada and the like without any interference by the Canadian Government or others.  It is common knowledge that the smuggling corridor funnels through Akwesasne, a Mohawk Reserve perched on the Canadian and US (New York) borders, as well as the Quebec and Ontario borders.  Rather an "ideal" geographic situation for smuggling to occur.  Boats, trucks and maybe airplanes have used this route for generation now to get unstamped product (largely cigarettes) into Canada and to the retail or manufacturing plants on local Reserves.

While laws have always allowed the RCMP to enforce violations of the Excise Act in the criminal code of Canada, the illegal actions are poorly defined.  So Bill C-10 will make it very clear what constitutes "contraband tobacco" and also allow other police agencies such as the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and the Six Nations Police to enforce the new law.  Of course the law enforcement agencies can do a diligent job, but if the penalties are weak, then there is every likelihood that the perpetrators will see the fines as a slap on the wrist and the price of doing business.  Definitions of an indictment and a summary conviction are provided.  Mandatory minimum sentences will be in place (e.g., for being in possession of 10,000 cigarettes or more with the intent to sell), but for the first offence it will not be applied.  The law really only applies with any weight to repeat offenders and how much of a deterrent it is is debatable - 180 days jail time for a third offence, and two years less a day for the fourth and subsequent offences.

So with Bill C-10 is it simply time to pay the piper, or is it an act of "genocide"?  I am sure readers without any vested interest can judge for themselves.  There is no doubt that if the Bill C-10 amendment goes into effect, it will be disruptive to Six Nations.  That is indeed sad.  However, it is not as if this should come as any surprise.  All along those who have participated in the contraband cigarette trade have known it was illegal and that they were living on borrowed time.  Thus it may be time to shift gears and find a less controversial way of making a living.  How resilient are Six Nations?  Are we looking at escalating civil disobedience such as the highly creative measure of blocking roads?  If so Six Nations will soon find that there is no support for the purveyors of death, and trying to "inconvenience" Canadians will surely backfire under these circumstances.

If the "big picture" is viewed, we will see that this illegal activity has been allowed to flourish for over 30 years without any sort of government intervention.  So the law says one thing, and the behaviour of those whose responsibility it is to enforce the law says something else.  By not dropping the hammer early on, the government and law enforcement have given a tacit "go ahead" to those at Six Nations to participate in the contraband cigarette trade.  Thus whole families, and the Community, have come to depend on this activity as a key part of the economy.  So in all fairness, it seems to me that perhaps there should be a "grandfather clause" that allows those already "in the business" to continue with the status quo.  On the other hand, the law is the law.  This is clearly a very problematic situation that could have been avoided by "cracking down" from the git go - but that didn't happen - so somehow it does not seem fair to make people at Six Nations pay for government "wheel spinning" and "heel dragging" - unless they once again use local people as pawns in a dispute with Ottawa, then all sympathy (at least from myself) would evapourate.


Wednesday, 19 February 2014

The "Mohawk Workers" Have Now Morphed into the "Mohawks of the Grand River"

Well, well, well, will the surprises never cease?  I have blogged on a number of occasions about the "Mohawk Workers", one of the many factions at Six Nations vying for power and a say in negotiations over land that was ceded in 1840 to 1848 by the Six Nations Chiefs in Council to the Crown so that the land could be sold, with the proceeds being put in the Six Nations Trust Fund.  Six Nations have had no legitimate claim to these lands outside the present boundaries of the Reserve for 170 years.  The indisputable facts have yet to stop a series of runaway trains, constantly on the move, and if impeded in any way will simply jump the track to initiate chaos (recall Caledonia 2006), or morph into some entity that can form alliances with other factions to try and make more headway by other means.  Now we have Bill Squire of the former "Mohawk Workers" forming a union with former band councillor Claudine VanEvery-Albert under the new rubric of the "Mohawks of the Grand River".

I have previously discussed the power play between the Mohawks and the others of the Six Nations.  The Mohawk have traditionally thought of themselves as the "head of the Confederacy" (this goes back to Colonial days) when they controlled trade as "Keepers of the Eastern Door" of the metaphorical longhouse in what is today Upstate New York.  In addition, as the new group asserts, the Haldimand Proclamation specifically states that the land was given (actually permission to "occupy") to the Mohawk, with an "and others" of the Six Nations mentioned as some sort of apparent afterthought by Governor Haldimand.  It is also true that most of the dealings with British authorities in the early days were with the Mohawk, and specifically Captain Joseph Brant Thayendanegea.  As a descendant of Mohawks in the maternal line, I will be quite honest and say that there is a certain "special pride" about being a member of this Nation which is also found at Akwesasne, Kahnawake, Kanesetake, Wahta, and Tyendinaga.  Frankly, at Six Nations, there is not the same cachet in saying your are of Delaware descent.  There is no "Delaware Warrior's Society", for example - although the Delaware were actually settled on the River with the Mississauga a number of years before the exodus of 1785.  So I am not at all immune to this "phenomenon" whereby the Mohawk are considered as "a cut above" or in a "loftier category", or at the very least "special". 

One must also ask, however, is there really anyone at Six Nations today who cannot claim some Mohawk heritage?  The inter-marriage between tribes / nations (as well as with Whites and some Blacks) began soon after the move to the Haldimand Tract in 1785, and has accellerated in frequency to this point in time.  The Mohawk (Lower, Upper, Walkers, Bay of Quinte, etc.) were the most numerous group.  The problem is that without a Status Card that says "Mohawk" it would be, for some, a challenge to actually prove this heritage - should that ever be a requirement to "join" the "Mohawks of the Grand River" group (faction).

Despite the above, the truth is the truth and the facts are the facts - and they (should) take precedence over any affiliation with the Mohawk.

According to the article entitled, Mohawk group holds Six Nations land; says it will work with band council, reported in the Turtle Island News, 19 February 2014 (p.3), this new / old group wants to work with Band Council, as they embark on development projects on unceded Six Nations lands in the hope of regaining title to the land.  Since there is NO unceded land left (as of 1848), this is going to be an uphill battle.  Apparently they have yet to meet with the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council (HCCC), but plan to "when the time is right".  That might be a bit problematic since there has been no love lost between the Mohawk Workers and the HCCC - and a lot of downright acrimony (see previous blog postings) - particularly with the Men's Fire.

Apparently, according to Ms. VanEvery-Albert, there is a process that they plan to follow to meet their ends.  She says, What we are trying to do is develop a process such that we can talk with developers and ask them to retrocede certain amounts of land to us before they go forward on developing.  This is sounding more and more like the Haudenosaunee Development Institute (HDI) which is an arm of the HCCC, and which has extracted money from developers by threats, basically that if they wish to have a smooth sail, not work stoppages, they will have to make "application" and "pay the fee".  The emphasis of course has always been on the latter.  It is about the money plain and simple.  This opening emerged as an unforeseen "blessing" of the Caledonia 2006 crisis where developers were frightened into "cooperating" to avoid another "action".  We have not heard much from the HDI in the last couple of months, probably because they are trying to assemble the 300 grand plus in fines levied at them by Brantford Superior Court Justice Harrison Arrell in November 2010.  Thus I would question how the new group hope to engage in the same behaviour and yet escape the "long arm of the law" when a developer requests a Court injunction.  The 2010 precedent will ensure that developers have the upper hand here - unless they are very naive.

The representatives of the Mohawks of the Grand River emphasize that the transfer of land out of the Ontario Land Registry system to the Mohawk Land Registry system will be "peaceful".  If history is any indication, "peaceful" is a goal that is unlikely to be maintained.  They claim that 12.5 acres in the Eagle's Nest Tract (by the way, this Tract, with the exception of 200 acres around the Mohawk Chapel and the Mohawk Institute, was surrendered by the Six Nations in 1844) has been handed over to them by the Guswhenta project noted previously.  Ms. VanEvery-Albert also reports that, the group were recently given a 42-acre parcel of farmland on the outskirts of the reserve's boundaries east of Oneida Road and Sixth Line.   Surely they are not speaking about the Douglas Creek Estates (Kanonhstaton) property that was "reclaimed" by Six Nations (illegally) in February 2006 ......................... 

Furthermore, the group has the goal, To negotiate a new relationship with Ontario and Canada.  I believe that this is the responsibility of the Elected Band Council, with doubtless the HCCC being parties to any agreement, but adding another group to the mix - is mind boggling.  What is surprising, to the present author, is that Councillor Helen Miller "agreed with the group's idea".

Adding some sober second thoughts, Elected Council Lands and Resources Director, Phil Monture, cautioned the group that, 'You've got to be careful of individuals claiming to represent people, cutting side deals to line their own pockets', he said, 'I know that's going to come up'.  Sage advice.

I expect that there will be many more posts on this subject - unless of course the Federal Government comes forward and says, "Look, the land was surrendered between 1840 and 1848 and there is nothing left over.  End of story".  I don't think this is going to happen.  Politics you know.  Bad press and all that.  I am convinced that the Federal Government is dedicated to just keeping a lid on things, and that facts and the truth are irrelevant and can be safely ignored.  I would love to be proved wrong.


Sunday, 16 February 2014

Have the British and Successors Failed to Appreciate the Contribution of the Six Nations to the American Revolution and the War of 1812?

The following is a response to a comment to the previous posting by Tony, to whom I am thankful for his bringing this matter to my attention.  It has spurred an update to an earlier posting, and is the stimulus for the present, and the previous posting.

There is still a widespread, almost universal, belief that the Six Nations got the short end of the stick at the end of the American Revolution, and that their contribution to the War of 1812 has not been adequately recognized. This viewpoint is expressed, for example, in a comment by R. Walker to a post on the blog,“Niagara at Large”, entitled, Shorthills Protests are Short on Patience with the Hunters by Six Nations member Karl Dockstader, 13 November 2013. The post and comment can be found here.

Here the author of the comment states the following: I am grateful that we were allies at the time of the American revolution and accompanied the the Mohawks to Canada when their river settlements in the New York colony were seized by the revolutionaries like Washington. As allies your people defended Canada in the war of 1812 which was recently celebrated by local governments who seem to forget this fact when it come to this hunt which is important to sustain your culture and way of life.

The comment got me thinking about how distorted some information is that is being fed to the general population, and hence my theme of beliefs versus facts applies here.  The above quote seems to imply the belief that Canada "owes" Six Nations a great debt in relation to the American Revolution and the War of 1812.  It is undeniable (the evidence is overwhelming) that the statement is true of the Mohawk in relation to the Revolution.  However, when it comes to the War of 1812, the situation is far from clear.  We are presently in the midst of the Bicentennial of this War, so it has taken a higher profile of late.  The problem is that there is a distortion in the beliefs about the specifics of the participation of the Six Nations, and as well, how Six Nations were "treated" by virtue of their assistance.  The whole set of circumstances was little different than that of their neighbours in the Norfolk and Lincoln Militia, except that the help of the Six Nations could not be depended upon to the degree that was true of the Militia - something that is seldom mentioned in relation to this subject.  However, both the Militia and the Six Nations did receive compensation for their efforts.

The "Treatment" of the Six Nations After the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812:

I must also allow some latitude here concerning Mr. Walker's take on the Six Nations role in the above conflicts. Few have spent 30 or more years sifting through the relevant records pertaining to this subject that would provide first hand balanced account of the Revolution and the War of 1812. Thus it is easy to "fall for" well established beliefs, and to form an opinion based on limited and biased data. Here follow the facts which can be verified.

A) Revolutionary War - The Six Nations, and all First Nations peoples, were in fact ignored by the British in the Treaty of Paris of 1783, which ended the Revolution and dictated peace terms. That part is true, but the impact of this unconscionable "oversight" was felt primarily by the Indians of the American Northwest (the Ohio Country). Hence the feeling among some Six Nations and their apologists is that there should be some justice (compensation) for this "slap in the face", and this seems to be the overarching attitude driving some of the "sympathy" for the Six Nations. Any such emotion is very much misplaced, and should be saved for those Native peoples who ended up under American rule.

There is no doubt that the Revolution of 1776 to 1783 involving His Majesties disobedient children, was devastating to the Six Nations. The Council fire at Onondaga was extinguished in 1777 when it was apparent that some tribes were supporting the King (the Mohawk and most of the Onondaga, Cayuga and Seneca), but a significant number supported the Colonists (the Tuscarora and Oneida in particular). Six Nations losses were immense, however after the War not only the Tuscarora and Oneida, but also many of the Onondaga, Cayuga and Seneca decided to stay in their old homelands in Upstate NY and tried to make the best deal they could with the victorious New York and Federal Governments. The most consistent supporters of the British, with the exception of four families who espoused neutrality as the best way to protect their valuable possessions, were the Mohawk of Fort Hunter and Canajoharie (Lower and Upper Mohawks) who were unwavering supporters of the British.

Before detailing compensation packages offered by the British, it will be helpful to note what the Six Nations, and particularly the Mohawks, possessed at the beginning of the conflict. Over the years the Mohawks had sold almost all of their land, which had then been granted by the Crown to White purchasers. Millions or acres were voluntarily surrendered for monetary or other considerations, but the bottom line is that by 1777 the Upper and Lower Mohawks owned some Appalachian lands and only a few hundred acres of arable land - and even these small parcels were under claim by Abraham Van Horne et al. and the Corporation of the City of Albany, respectively. So even the land under their feet had been sold and granted to White persons in the 1730s. Since then the Mohawk had complained bitterly to the Indian Commissioners in Albany (where they got no sympathy), and later Sir William Johnson the Superintendent of Indian Affairs (Northern Department) who did try to obtain justice for the Mohawk (while enriching himself in the process). However at the time the War broke out, the Mohawk owned very little land.

There are numerous references to the sale of land by the Mohawk. I have noted a number of them in previous posts. Here I will offer a source that shows all of the patents to land on the south side of the Mohawk River extending in a time frame from the 1600s to the 1770s.  See Map of the Head Waters of the Rivers Susquehanna & Delaware Embracing the Early Patents on the South Side of the Mohawk River from the Original Drawn about the Year 1790 by Simeon De Witt, Esq. Surveyor General Etc., State of New York, Documents Relative to the Colonial History of New York, Vol. 1.

British Grants of Land, Presents, and Money After the Revolution

While the Treaty of Paris of 3 September 1783 may have ignored the needs of the Native peoples (and the Loyalists), the local officials in Quebec certainly did not. They felt honour bound to grant reasonable compensation to those who had served with His Majesty's forces. The major reference for the participation of the Six Nations in the Revolutionary War is, Barbara Graymont, The Iroquois in the American Revolution, Syracuse, University of Syracuse Press, 1972. Here follows a list of the compensation to the Mohawks for their services:

1) Claims for land and property lost in the conflict: When it became apparent that the outcome of the War was not going to be favourable to the British, they offered to compensate individual Mohawks for their losses. Governor General Sir Frederick Haldimand must be given credit for this decision, as he felt strongly that the Indians who served as soldiers, particularly the Loyal Mohawks, deserved compensation. The Lower Mohawks filed claims at Lachine Quebec, and the Upper Mohawk and some Lower Mohawk filed at Niagara. Some Mohawk were very wealthy and owned up to 200 acres of land, horses, oxen, pigs, sheep, houses made of clapboard with every imaginable type of furniture, barns, horse tack, and silver jewelry. Each Mohawk claimant was given a cash settlement no different from what would be assessed for their Loyalist neighbours some years later. An example is the claim of Katerine, filed at Niagara 22 April 1784, so likely an Upper Mohawk.  Her claim included a house worth 80 pounds, 60 acres of land worth 250 pounds, as well as numerous other items such as 4 horses for 26 pounds, 6 large kettles and 8 small kettles. Her total claim was for 447-3-0. See Library and Archives Canada (LAC), Colonial Office Records, Q Series, Vol. 24, pt. 2, pp. 307-325 for claims submitted at Niagara (Mohawk, Tuscarora, and Aughquagas); and LAC, MG11, CO42, Vol. 47, pp. 240-242 for claims submitted at Lachine (Mohawk).

2) Two large tracts of land: While the Mohawks had been compensated monetarily for the loss of their individual land holdings, Haldimand, for whatever reason, decided that he could justify the gift of a tract of land to replace some of the holdings of the Mohawks in New York - although objectively this was extremely generous of him and likely reflected his respect of the Mohawk and an acknowledgement of their contribution to the War effort, and their loyalty. Thus he supported the choice of Captain John Deserontyon, Village Chief of the Lower (Ft. Hunter) Mohawks, for a tract of land at the Bay of Quinte. Captain Joseph Brant Thayendanagea (Village Chief of the Upper, Canajoharie, Mohawks), preferred a location on the Grand River, ostensibly so he could be closer to the Senecas. However it was no secret that the Lower Mohawks and the Upper Mohawks were significant factions within the broader community and it would have been impossible to the two Chiefs to "share power". Thus Haldimand purchased both tracts for the Mohawks from the owners, the Mississauga. So Brant's Mohawks were granted the opportunity to possess the Grand River Tract, which by agreement was six miles on each side of the River from the mouth to the headwaters. Unfortunately Haldimand did not purchase the headwaters from the Mississauga, and this omission was to become a bone of contention for years (and still to this day). The area was not well known so only a rough description could be offered until an official survey was completed which occurred in both 1790 and 1793, which showed the land to end at the far end of what was termed "Block Nichol" (see various chapters in William C. Stutevant (Ed.), Handbook of North American Indians, Vol. 15, Northeast, Washington, Smithsonian Institution, 1978; and Charles 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).

Haldimand worded the proclamation such that not only the Mohawk were invited to settle here, but also others of the Six Nations (and allies) who wished to move here. The area is huge, and is situated in an area of highly valuable land in what is today Southern Ontario.

Over the years there have been arguments as to whether the Mohawk and others held the land in fee simple (and so could dispose of any of it forever without consulting the Crown), or whether it was held by the Crown for the exclusive use of the Six Nations. All rulings have supported the latter interpretation, and hence all sales must be enacted with the knowledge of the Crown.  I can guarantee that had the British not chosen to establish the "ownership" in this manner, the land would have been sold piece meal by individual members (as happened in much of Oklahoma) and the Six Nations would have been dispersed - and there would have been no Reserve here today.

3) Rations and presents: From the time the British took over New Netherlands from the Dutch in 1664, regular "presents" (including rations, rum, ammunition, jewelry and assorted supplies) to the Six Nations, and "upped the ante" during any conference for example at the home of the Indian Superintendent Sir William Johnson, or at Albany or Oswego. The practise continued unabated during the Revolution where the British supplied even wavering and uncooperative Natives with "presents" to "keep up their spirits" and for sundry other reasons. The amount spent on this practise was staggering. In 1785 the Six Nations and other refugee tribes (e.g., Nanticoke) settled on the River. There were distribution centres established in Burlington, Niagara and the Mohawk Village. This was an expected "perk" that had a long history, and was necessary to ensure the cooperation of the Six Nations. There was still a "Census for Presents" at Six Nations for 1856. After this date the term was "Pay Lists". Also annuity monies were paid to Six Nations. All of these payments were usually on a biyearly basis (see reference below).

4) Land grants for military service: There was still more coming to the Mohawks. Those who served in the Six Nations Indian Department, along with Capts. Nelles and Dochstader, and Lt. Young who lived on farms along the lower Grand River, were eligible for half pay, and for individual land grants. Captain Joseph Brant hit the jackpot here with this grant in Burlington where he built Brant House (a reproduction home still stands on this site near Joseph Brant Hospital). A good summary of monies or grants, well referenced, can be found in David K. Faux, Understanding Ontario First Nations Genealogical Records: Sources and Case Studies, Toronto, The Ontario Genealogical Society, 2002.

Not only was compensation forthcoming from the British, but the Americans wanted to ensure that their title to the land was secure so in two meetings with the Mohawks formerly of the Lower and Upper Villages along the River that bears their name, the State and Federal Governments paid monies for this purpose.

New York and American Grants Relating to the Revolution

The State of New York wanted to secure its title to the Mohawk lands so sent Jelles Fonda (a merchant well known to the Mohawk) to negotiate a "final surrender". Thus on 9 July 1789, at the Council House in Niagara, two deeds were signed, one for the Mohawks formerly of Ft. Hunter, and another for the Mohawks formerly of Canajoharie. Here the "Sachems, Chiefs, principal Men and Women" of these villages yielded all "rights, title and interest" in the lands they formerly owned in the State of New York. The Lower Mohawk group received 700 pounds of New York currency, and the Upper Mohawks 516 pounds. As an example, there were 39 recipients among the Ft. Hunter group (some residing at Tyendinaga and some at Six Nations) - about half were women, and most signed both their Indian and White names. The three clan symbols (turtle, wolf and bear) were placed on the back. I have photographs of each of these documents. To show that I have references for each item I mention in this blog, I will take the time here to give detailed references to the above two documents:

1) Lower Mohawk - Library and Archives Canada, MG19, F21, "Treaty between the Indians formerly resident at the Mohawk Castle ............... and the State of New York."

2) Upper Mohawk - New York Historical Society, "Miscl. Lansing, John Jr., Power of Attorney to Jelles Fonda to Recover lands Granted to Abraham Van Horne and others Nov. 13, 1731." (see Indians, Mohawks" in catalogue).

Sundry payments continued to 29 March 1797 at Albany when the Upper and Lower Mohawks were each given 1000 dollars as further compensation for all Mohawk who resided in traditional lands before the War - and 600 dollars for each negotiator (Joseph Brant and John Deserontyon) for expenses and work done to bring the treaty to fruition (American State Papers, Vol. 1, p. 636).

So any illusion that somehow the Mohawk and Six Nations were ignored by, or suffered due to the indifference of, the British should be dispelled. The facts show quite the contrary. Their favour was even courted by their former enemies, with substantial payments for land that was in United States territory which was won by conquest. However this revelation does not quite meet the political agenda where the White authorities must be demonised, and the the Six Nations must be seen as "victims".

B) War of 1812 -

Grants and Payments by the British During and After the War of 1812

An excellent overview of the contribution of the Six Nations during the War of 1812 is, Carl Benn, The Iroquois in the War of 1812, Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1998.

First I wish to make a very clear statement of fact about the contribution of the Six Nations during the War of 1812. It is undeniable that the outcome of the Battle of Queenston Heights in October 1812 hinged on the support of the Six Nations, led by John Norton. After this date, it was more and more difficult for Norton, or any other leaders such as John Brant, youngest son of Capt. Joseph Brant, to enlist (and keep) the support of Six Nations warriors right through the end of the War in 1814. There is once again no denying that Norton and the Six Nations he was able to bring to the field, made a very valuable contribution to the Battle of Chippewa in July 1814 - but after the losses of the day, they simply could not be arm twisted in any way to return to the field. Thus they were not in attendance at the Battle of Lundy's Lane. Reading the diary of their War leader, John Norton, is illuminating. See, The Journal of Major John Norton, 1816, Carl F. Klinck (Ed.), Toronto, The Champlain Society, 1970.

War of 1812 payments:  Payments and presents to the Six Nations continued throughout the War of 1812 and beyond.  Some payments were questionable.  In effect, the British went the distance in their compensation payments to the Six Nations - even when unjustified. For example, by 1813 a controversy had divided the community over how much assistance to give the British. Many were upset over the spectre of fighting their own people since the Seneca were beginning to participate on the side of the Americans. A list of the most intransigent lack luster Six Nations was written by the Six Nations Chiefs, with the recommendation that these individuals not be the recipients of "His Majesty's bounty", and most were Mohawks (see Johnston, p. 219). Presents continued to flow even during the times when the British could ill afford to maintain this "tradition" - when even basic food supplies were in danger of running out.

Though there is a list of the names of 80 Mohawks (and other Six Nations) who were at Beaver Dams 24 June 1813 (Johnston, p. 203).  According to their leader Major John Norton, as written in the above Journal, the Caughnawagas (led by a French - speaking Indian Department officer) from a Reserve across from Montreal did the fighting, the Mohawks got the plunder, and Fitzgibbon got the credit. It appears to have been at times easy to get an assembly of volunteers from Six Nations, but it was typical to see them peel off en route so that by the time the battlefield was reached there may have been less than a handful left - which was also the case at the Battle of Stoney Creek. A lot more primary source information is copied in Johnston (1964).

By 1814, the "support" had withered to a handful including Major John Norton, Chief John Brant, and John "Smoke" Johnson - all Mohawks. Given this tepid help (although acknowledging the essential assistance provided in the early years, such as the Battle of Queenston Heights), it is amazing that in 1817 the British chose to offer almost every adult member (head of family) of every tribe residing on the Six Nations Reserve substantial compensation for War of 1812 "loses". The payments were in three instalments, over 20 years, the last payment being in 1837 (Journal of the Legislative Assembly, Appendix GGG, Province of Canada, 2nd Part, 1st Session, Vol.4, No. 2, 1844-1845. Pay lists of Indian claimants for losses during the War of 1812).

The Recognition of the Role of the Six Nations in the War of 1812 Today

Reprinted copies of the above noted book by Benn, and the Norton Journal, which are available in places such as Fort George in Niagara on the Lake, are literally flying off the shelves. There is a lot of interest in the role of the Six Nations in the War of 1812. I have purchased 6 DVD's about the War of 1812 that have been made recently, often with the financial support of the Federal and Ontario Provincial Governments, and all place a very sharp focus on the role played by Six Nations and Aboriginal peoples (e.g., Delawares and Ojibway). Native leaders such as Major John Norton (Capt. Joseph Brant's adopted nephew), and Tecumseh (Shawnee Chief) have been quite rightly acclaimed as heroes in each. The one I have at my current location is, War of 1812: A 4-Part Documentary Series produced by the National Film Board of Canada in 1998. Two of the three panels on the jacket cover show Natives, including one where a warrior is in hand to hand combat with an American soldier. Their role is clearly "front and centre".

It is simply untrue that the role of the Six Nations has been downplayed in any way, shape or form. Frankly, some Six Nations leaders are ensuring that the Six Nations get plenty of "good press". I observed this in Niagara at the ceremony at Brock's Monument celebrating the Bicentennial of the Battle of Queenston Heights. Here the two representatives from Six Nations seemed to be shown a type of reverence, even adulation, by those assembled, and the applause for the description of the participation of Six Nations ancestors was profound. At this event R.H. and K.J. also brought out the "Two Row Wampum" belt and explained to the crowd about Six Nations sovereignty (the generally accepted, but lacking in evidence version of same). I took close note of the "audience reaction". They seemed to accept everything said as the gospel (at least no one said, "this is bull#@%&") - again more enthusiastic applause.

Update 1 - The 12 February 2014 issue of the Turtle Island News (p.5) has a headline, War of 1812 to be taught in the schools. Here we find an announcement that, If all goes according to plan, Ontario students from grade one to 12 will learn about the War of 1812 from a Haudenosaunee perspective beginning this fall. Keith Jamieson, the coordinator of the Six Nations Legacy Consortium, headed the group pushing to have this addition to the curriculum. That is indeed good news. Canadians, in my opinion, need to learn more about how our ancestors shaped Canada during the War of 1812. Of course the question on my mind is whether the accurate or "sanitised" version will be inserted into the curriculum (along with a dose of politics - for example comments about "self determination" and "sovereignty"), and whether it will be a distorted "how we won the War for you White folks" perspective. Time will tell.

Update 2 -  The 19 February 2014 issue of the Turtle Island News (p.16) includes information on a talk by the above noted Carl Benn to the 17th Annual Grand River Conservation Authority's Heritage Day celebration.  Here, in an article entitled, War of 1812 part of Haudenosaunee '60 Years War', historian says, Benn said that, The biggest misconception I think is how complex and sophisticated the native response was.  There are still a million mysteries still.  Perhaps something of an exaggeration, but his point is on the mark, as any serious student of this era will agree is true.

Conclusion: Thus, while Mr. W. is very supportive of Six Nations, it does not appear that his reference to a lack of compensation and recognition for their contribution during the American Revolution and the War of 1812 is warranted, and thus the opinions appear to fall within the "widespread beliefs" category.  The truth is far more nuanced.

Revised - 19 February 2014.


Sunday, 9 February 2014

Present Six Nations "Way of Life" and the Off Reserve Deer Hunt

The following is a response to a comment to the previous posting by Tony, to whom I am thankful for his bringing this matter to my attention.  After some consideration, I realized that it was so characteristic of beliefs in relation to the matter, that it was possible to use the comment around which to frame two postings (this and the next) - and the first part of the comment in order to update my recent posting on the bogus and fraudulent Nanfan "Treaty" (see here).

A comment by R. Walker to a post on the blog, “Niagara at Large”, entitled,  Shorthills Protests are Short on Patience with the Hunters by Six Nations member Karl Dockstader, 13 November 2013 is most interesting.  The post and comment can be found here.   Mr. Walker is "speaking" to Mr. Dockstader of Six Nations in the following comment.

Here the author of the comment states the following:  I am grateful that we were allies at the time of the American revolution and accompanied the the Mohawks to Canada when their river settlements in the New York colony were seized by the revolutionaries like Washington. As allies your people defended Canada in the war of 1812 which was recently celebrated by local governments who seem to forget this fact when it come to this hunt which is important to sustain your culture and way of life.

The Deer Hunt as a Way for Six Nations to Sustain their Culture and Way of Life:

The statement by Mr. Walker, which I underlined above, can only partially be supported with available data.  It appears that Mr. Walker does not live in Indian Country (the Haldimand Tract near the Six Nations Reserve).  Six Nations members who live in the northeastern part of the Reserve tend to shop at Zehr's in Caledonia, those at the western end shop in Brantford, and those residing at the southeastern end (including those from New Credit Reserve) tend to frequent one of the two grocery stores in Hagersville.  Pretty much the same as the White folks in the vicinity.  Eating venison is something that only some do on anything resembling a regular basis - although more than would be the case in relation to the citizens of St. Catharines.  Also, not every Six Nations member hunts, and not every resident of rural Haldimand County hunts.  It should be noted that in Haldimand there is a bow hunting season and there are families who have participated in the deer hunt for generations - probably to 1785 just as some at Six Nations.  At Six Nations, those who belong to the Longhouse Community are more likely to try to keep certain ties to ancient cultural practises - but things are just not that simple. 

A fair number of White people come to the Rez to hunt deer (requesting permission of the land owners) - which is a bit ironic in that Six Nations members are going to places such as Dundas  ..................  Anyway, two years ago a White hunter was killed on the Rez by a Six Nations member (who is a former professional hockey player) - taking a shot from the road and mistaking the well marked (wearing an orange vest) hunter for a deer. 

The Longhouses, associated with the "conservative" element at Six Nations (supporters of the Hereditary Confederacy Chiefs Council), are located in the eastern end of the Reserve, not many miles from the village of Ohsweken, but culturally, a whole different mind set.  I have alluded to this major factional division on many occasions in this blog.  Bottom line - Mr. Walker is simplifying things to the point of employing stereotypes.  Hunting as a "way of life" has receded into the background, and off the radar for many families.  Personally I cannot justify terminating the life of brown eyed forest creatures - and have conveyed that perspective to all my children.