Thursday, 17 July 2014

Work Stoppages at Land Developments No Longer Effective. Is HDI Now Using Archaelogy to Exert Power and Extort Money?

This post will focus on the latest efforts of the Hereditary Council to wrest control from the Elected Council of the lucrative "Archaeological Monitors" who are now required at development sites in a very loosely defined Six Nations Territory in Ontario.  Secondly it will focus on how the HDI have come up with a new strategy to engage in familiar practices - illegal work stoppages.  However, first I would like to provide my readers with a historical overview, one that can be offered from a personal standpoint.

General Background:  During the 1980s (about 1984 to 1994) I was a volunteer (hence, not paid) Archaeological Conservation Officer with the "Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Culture", working out of the London office.  At that point there was no real legislation requiring developers to obtain an archaeological study of their property before development.  It was a bit of a free for all or "Wild West" in this field when I began, where "pot hunters" and "grave robbers" abounded - and there was little we could do to stop them.  There were many in the local area who had complete pots and grave goods in their collection, and generally the bones were just cast aside or the skull taken as a "souvenir".  If caught in the act and reported to the police the individuals could be charged under the "Cemeteries Act" - but that was rare and seldom enforced.  I tried to enlist the assistance of Six Nations people, since these were the remains of First Nations people from their territory.  Alas, I was met with blank stares when the subject was raised.  The only person who was on our team who was "status" First Nations was a young fellow from the Oneida of the Thames Reserve.  When controlled and legal excavations were done, such as that at the Mohawk Village in Brantford (which I helped excavate), I don't recall any interest from Six Nations people except those who worked at the old Mohawk Institute, what was called "Museum of the Woodland Indian" and later the "Woodland Indian Cultural Educational Center".  The professional archaeologists and I would use topographic maps, old survey maps and other means to locate the early settlements along the Grand River - but we did it without any interest or "interference" (either of which we would have welcomed at the time) from those who lived on Reserve.  Perhaps some readers may recall notable exceptions to this observation, and if so I would welcome hearing from them.

Now in 2014 things have changed and there is intense interest, and why would that be?  In a few words, "money" and "power - political gain".  More precisely, Ontario legislation has changed, and there is money to be made by simply showing up at an archaeological site; and a land claim can be brought into sharper focus in the public eye if there is for example a burial site situated on the land.  Even the suggestion of one has been known to put local officials into a panic.  This was the case at Toronto's High Park which then "justified" an "occupation" - even though it seems that the mounds were nothing more than the "moguls" created by mountain bikers to enhance their trail riding experience.

Today all archaeology in the Province is governed by the Ontario Heritage Act, and administered through the "Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport".  See here for the specifics.  There are many new laws and rules in place which are designed to protect the heritage of Ontario, including the heritage that lies under ground.  In addition the Cemeteries Act has been beefed up such that the finding of human bone, even on the surface, and even if from  a burial 1000 years ago, can result in that area being designated as a Cemetery and then protected by Ontario law, and the site administered by the local County.

As it now stands, an "Archaeological Assessment" is required before any development can proceed (see here).  These assessments are conducted by "Consultant Archaeologists" (professional archaeologists) who are governed by guidelines and standards of practice (as is the case in any profession including my own) as seen here.  One of the provisions, which has caused considerable difficulties for developers, professional archaeologists, and First Natives band councils is the requirement for "engaging aboriginal communities in archaeology" as seen here.  While this is a well intentioned requirement it creates numerous headaches such as for example who to contact in the event of a pre-contact archaeological discovery.  As an example, the First Nations people residing on the Grand River (e.g., Attiwandaronk or Neutral people) left no known descendants since they were utterly destroyed by the Five Nations in the mid 1600s in genocidal wars known as the "Beaver Wars" or "mourning wars".  Today the Six Nations of the Grand River and the Mississaugas of New Credit reside within the Grand River watershed.  Although not lineal descendants, one or both would need to be "consulted" or "engaged".  It becomes a little clearer with historic period remains when they can be linked to a village or settlement shown on surveyor's maps from 1790 onwards.

The policies and procedures to promote "engagement" are to offer "aboriginal communities" the opportunity to become involved in archaeology, including both fieldwork and as "monitors".  The Glossary to the above document defines Aboriginal monitors as, Aboriginal person(s) hired by the proponent, consultant archaeologist or the Aboriginal community to represent Aboriginal interests during the fieldwork component of an archaeological assessment.

As to involvement of Six Nations in archaeological work in Southwestern Ontario, the Ministry states in the above document that,

The standards and guidelines do not require you to negotiate agreements between the Aboriginal community and your client.

Basically it is a courtesy to involve "Aboriginal monitors" in the process - but in the reality of day to day archaeology those in the business know what developers know.  If you don't play ball with certain aboriginal groups, you will pay - actually you will pay anyway.

So from zero interest in 1994 we fast forward 20 years to a situation where professional archaeologists know that they have no choice but to involve aboriginal groups even if there is only a whiff of a chance that there is any archaeological site present.  As I well know, there is really no place in Southwestern Ontario that you will not find some evidence of aboriginal activity.  Most farmers have collections of arrowheads that they or their children have picked up over the years after the land has been ploughed.  So is a "site" the location where a stray chert flake is found?  In theory yes, but that simply does not make any sense since all legislation was designed to protect the heritage of Ontario and a random chert flake is probably of no more importance than a small fragment of a dinner plate disposed of 200 years ago by a Loyalist settler - unless it is a signal that there is a site of some significance to be located nearby.

So the professional archaeologists have attempted to involve aboriginal people in the process - but why is it different from the days when I was working as a volunteer in this area and could elicit virtually no interest in archaeological sites at for example Six Nations?  Something has changed, and it started with a generous move on the part of professional archaeologists to give formal training to archaeological monitors (who would ultimately be paid for the work they did).

The Association of Professional Archaeologists began offering courses and certificates to those from Six Nations, recommended by the Elected Council, who wished to participate.  The first class of student volunteers graduated in 2008 (see here).  Unfortunately, the factional divisions with the Hereditary Council, the "Confederacy" where beginning to be felt in 2009 (see here).  There seems to have been greater productive cooperation between all parties in work involving Anishinaabe peoples as seen here.

When the expectation of getting paid for this work came into the picture is unclear to me.  What I do know is that when the Hereditary Confederacy Chiefs Council and the Haudenosaunee Development Institute (HDI) became aware of the programme, and that the students who were graduating were those recommended by the Six Nations Elected Council they decided that this was unacceptable, and began inserting their own (untrained) monitors into the picture.  Thus on any development site, even in Hamilton (outside the Haldimand Tract) on development sites one might expect to see archaeological monitors from Six Nations, but it would be a mixture of those trained by the Association of Professional Archaeologists and recommended by the Elected Council, and those sent by the HDI.  Having talked to developers and city planners there was clearly confusion about the matter, and there were disagreements when it came to the bottom line - the money paid for this "work".  So for strictly political reasons, the HDI sent individuals (the same people who were stopping development in Haldimand County?) to every site where there was a possibility of getting paid remuneration.  In their recent newsletter, discussed in the previous posting, the HDI claims that they have 18 full time monitors - which is a claim I would like to see backed up with some facts, but they are not forthcoming.

So picture this.  There is a site which professional archaeologists have been called in to investigate and they locate an aboriginal component to the site.  They then call in aboriginal archaeological monitors, but now must deal with two independent groups at Six Nations, the trained Elected Council monitors, and the individuals deemed to be monitors by HDI.  Of course that is inefficient and makes no sense - unless one understands the politics at Six Nations.

Article in "Turtle Island News": entitled, Samsung/Six Nations solar park may have destroyed artifacts, July 16, 2014, p.4.  First it is important to note that the deal struck between Six Nations and Six Nations was actually with the legally constituted authority, the body recognized in law as having the right to negotiate with government or developers.  In other words Samsung made a deal with the Six Nations Elected Council (SNEC) through former Elected Chief William Montour and a sweet one it was - for $65 million dollars over 20 years - despite the objective fact that Six Nations has no legitimate claim whatsoever over the land on which the wind turbines and solar panels were to be built (as I have discussed in detail in previous postings).  One would expect that the Elected Council monitors would be involved in any Samsung project, but, undoubtedly enraged that they were not getting a slice of the pie from Samsung, the HDI sent its own "monitors" to do some poking around.  Now we come to the details of the current story.  According to this article,

Samsung/Six Nations' Grand Renewable Energy Park contractors may have destroyed a number of 10,000-year-old Haudenosaunee artifacts during construction last week.

        Comment:  Already we see serious misinformation. 

First, there were few to no people here 10,000 years ago - it was the end of the Ice Age and the land was less than hospitable due to the relatively recent retreat of the glacier that stood up to two miles in height.  Any site from this era would be the "find of a lifetime", there are so few such sites identified from this era in Ontario.  Any true site would be unlikely larger than an average lot on the Mountain in Hamilton - and the artifact "pickings" lean indeed.  Also, the area around Fisherville does not have the characteristics expected of a site dating to this time period.  Namely, this would be a constricted area in a River where caribou would congregate as a crossing point.  Also, the area was not near a large body of water such as Lake Erie, which at the proposed time was much smaller and thus further away from Fisherville.  Anyone interested in learning about Ontario's First Nations archaeological heritage would be well advised to read the book edited by Marit K. Munson and Susan M. Jamieson, Before Ontario: The Archaeology of a Province, Montreal & Kingston, McGill - Queen's University Press, 2013.

Secondly, there were no Haudenosaunee people alive at the time.  The Haudenosaunee emerged sometime after 900 AD, subsequent to migrating from what is today central Pennsylvania to Upstate New York (Finger Lakes Region and the Mohawk Valley).  The Confederacy, according to all academic sources, including those written by Six Nations authors, date the founding to between 1100 and 1500 AD (see a summary by the most respected archaeologist / historian of our time, Dean R. Snow, The Iroquois, Cambridge MA, Blackwell Publishers, 1996).  The author may be mistaking Haudenosaunee with Onkwehonwe people ("The Real People") which is a term often employed for the First Nations.  What also heightens my suspicion that the article is going to be portraying an HDI spin, is the picture showing an assemblage of artifacts that either date to Archaic or Woodland times, or are not artifacts at all, just naturally chipped stone.  Unless a person has relevant training in archaeology, they would be in no position to deem anything except an obvious arrowhead to be an artifact.  Scrapers and the like are notoriously difficult to identify by amateurs.  The story only gets stranger.

Continuing with what is said in the article, Contractors initially refused to halt work on the 750-acre solar farm near Fisherville in Haldimand County despite calls from the Haudenosaunee Development Institute (HDI) to bring construction to a standstill until a further investigation of the property is held.

        Comment:  First, Fisherville is outside the Haldimand Tract.  Furthermore, why did the legitimate monitors from the Elected Council not send up red flags over the matter.  Perhaps it is because a full investigation has already been completed and a report submitted by the professional archaeologists who in 2012 did the site survey - Stantec Consulting Ltd.  Such is the power of this unrecognized group to bring development to a halt.  In the past HDI has sent in goons to stand in front of construction equipment and create work stoppages.  That has resulted in their being slapped with Court Injunctions and fines in both Haldimand and Brant Counties.  Clearly another approach, more subtle perhaps, was needed.  Using an archaeological pretext would be perfect since there is legislation requiring construction to stop if archaeological finds are made.  So now send in "archaeological monitors" to sites that do not conform to the HDI protocol (pay them money) and it sanitizes things.

Apparently after some insistence by these "monitors" (if that is what they were), the construction company was badgered into moving work to another part of the site and the "affected area" cordoned off with yellow tape.  Meanwhile, the company, brought in independent archaeologists from the firm Stantec to work alongside Six Nations monitors.  When the site was "cleared for construction" something rather odd occurred as follows:

When HDI monitors checked the site after reports of artifacts being found, they discovered several more artifacts last Wednesday and placed them in a marked spot for safekeeping, only to find the artifacts went missing overnight Wednesday.

Grand Renewable Energy Park employees say they know nothing about the missing artifacts.  It is a criminal offence to remove artifacts from the site.

In less than five minutes on the site Thursday afternoon, monitor [named] found two handfuls of artifacts.  "That's enough to constitute a stage-three assessment".  "There's probably about 30 more (artifacts) out there".

The monitor agreed that, it wasn't common for archaeologists to miss finding that many artifacts.  "It shouldn't be but apparently, in Haldimand, it is".

Apparently the HDI monitors are having similar difficulties with NextEra (another project with which the Elected Council is involved), and "Sites are being Bulldozed over".  Apparently Samsung does not want HDI monitors there, because they don't want anybody finding sites.  The Director of the HDI stated that, the incident was a "deliberate" attempt to stop the HDI from discovering any further finds

        Comment:  The above statement is irresponsible.  The evidence that HDI has come up with is very sketchy.  There is an old technique called "salting the mine" meaning placing items somewhere to convince others that there is a significant site at that location.  Recall that all of these projects have had a full and thorough archaeological investigation, presumably under the watchful eye of Elected Council monitors.  Of course the latter are the bitter rivals of the HDI monitors so whatever they may have done will be derogated in the service of pretending that the HDI monitors (are they even trained?) are finding some sort of conspiracy to cover up evidence.  Just how many people are going to believe this is anyone's guess.  Since the Elected Council does not have a sympathetic media forum in which they could air their side of the story, we will only hear the HDI spin.

It will be useful to include the full quote of the Director of HDI as it is very revealing of the mind set here.  The Director said, "To me it was a deliberate interference of an investigation".  "It was an attempt to hide the oversight of previous archaeological assessment.  There was a big resistance.  They threatened to call in the OPP.  I told (contractors) if they did anything like that we would take measures to stop the whole project".  Also, the issue of the stolen artifacts needs to be addressed.

        Comment:  This is deja vu.  Threats to bring a project to a halt (by sending in thugs to stop the work) is exactly the same as has occurred with land developers who "did not go through the process".  In other words, anyone who does not play ball with the HDI, even though they have zero legal standing, can expect work disruptions and threats of violence.  The so called evidence that they are using in this case is absolutely bogus.  It is simply a convenient means to use in getting back on track after the series of Court Injunctions stopped them from using the "goons + work stoppage" method of extracting money and recognition when dealing with "difficult" groups (especially those aligned with the Elected Council).  Will the HDI be allowed to get away with this thinly veiled attempt to use a pretend find and pretend stolen artifacts to ramp up and once again engage in extortion to cultivate their end goals?  I seriously hope that the corporations, who I have no regard for by virtue of the environmental damage they are doing to the landscape of Ontario, seek the protection of the Court and that there is a full investigation of the legalities here.




  1. Protecting, Preserving needs to be our main focus on disturbance of ground and any excavation, of Historical Sites on First Nations Historical Territory.
    All Corporations need to consult with First Nations before any excavation is to be done. An Archaeologist needs to be in place who works along with the First Nations, and then send in a Monitor during ground disturbance, if any historical artifacts are found during excavation, then the job needs to be halted. I work as a Field Monitor in the United States and am very familiar with the process. If I find a artifact, feature during excavation, then I have the right to stop all work done. the construction is stopped until we go thru a process. I am very interested in carrying this Protecting, and Preserving our Cultural Artifacts, Field Monitors work with the First Nations Cultural Preservation, Protection office set up on reserve.
    I have been trained by an Arch. who is employed in our office. if you are interested and I feel this needs to be put in place, if you ever need assistance in this Monitoring Field, I would be willing to come and share my information on the process we go thru here in the states.
    my email is:

    1. Hi, thanks for your comment. I too have worked as an archaeological monitor for the Province of Ontario (volunteer). I go back a long way - to when grave robbing was frequent and done openly. I got very very angry at this practice, and is one of the reasons why I became involved in this work. The problem here with Six Nations is that you have the legitimately trained (by members of the Ontario Professional Archaeologist's Association) monitors who are employed by the Six Nations Elected Council - the legitimate authority on the Rez. Then you have the Hereditary Confederacy Chiefs Council who demand that their (untrained) monitors be included. They have no proper training and are employed by a body not legally recognized as having any authority at Six Nations. Then (I have seen it) they fight among themselves about who gets paid what and when. Ideally both groups could work together to further the aims of protecting our heritage - but here that sort of thing simply does not happen. Just the way it is.