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.