While it is far from a surprise, in but another of a series of arrogant and demanding episodes where the philosophy and the version of history that the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council (HCCC), and their enforcement / extortion arm the Haudenosaunee Development Institute (HDI), put forward their own concocted version of history and showed no aversion to lecturing and insulting a high ranking government official. Ironically this is the one person whose favour they desperately need if they are to meet their (unrealistic) goal of obtaining the deed to the former Douglas Creek Estates (DCE). Of course that will never happen, and perhaps they are getting that sense, but the HCCC et al. have certainly ensured that all the doors are closed and all of the bridges are figuratively burned (the Stirling Street Bridge was literally burned by HCCC supporters in 2006).
The information here is just a continuation of previous postings about the refusal of the HCCC to meet with the Ontario Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs in the presence of the Chief of the Six Nations Elected Council (SNEC), and the Mayor of Haldimand County. The Ontario Government holds legal title to the DCE property, and the County holds legal title to the roads within DCE. The present issue revolves around the erection of a barrier across Surrey Street by HDI, and the illegal erection of a chain link fence along the northern side of the DCE property by HDI, blocking Thistlemore Street which is owned by Haldimand County.
An article in "Turtle Island News" (TIN) of 13 August 2014 (p.3), entitled, Minister Zimmer sparks testy statemate with Confederacy describes a very abrasive recent meeting between Ontario Aboriginal Affairs Minister David Zimmer and members of the HCCC. Things went from bad to worse and the Minister threatened to walk out (which I would have done had it been me). Here follow some of the specifics.
A) Meeting between the HCCC Chiefs, the HDI, and Minister Zimmer:
The headline illustrates the lack of objectivity shown by reporters and TIN. It reads,
Minister of Aboriginal Affairs David Zimmer, engaged in a finger pointing, shouting session that resulted in a testy statemate with the Confederacy Chiefs after a meeting between the two Tuesday.
The meeting was established to, discuss the controversial Kanonhstaton (former Douglas Creek Estates) fence that now stretches the entire northeast perimeter of the former housing development and a communications protocol that Zimmer's office has put on hold.
The meeting was held on Reserve, at the offices of the Grand River Employment and Training (GREAT) centre that houses among other offices the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chief's planning department the Haudenosaunee Development Institute (which to others is known as their enforcement and extortion department). Although the press was not allowed into this closed door meeting, it appears that TIN had precise and detailed information such that they could offer exact quotes. As I have noted before, TIN has shown itself to be the publishing wing of the HCCC, and thus their mouthpiece.
Apparently, The meeting, sources said, did not go well. The reason was of course the fact that Minister Zimmer was insisting that the HCCC / HDI, join the table with the Six Nations Band Council and Haldimand County Council. While this is a perfectly reasonable request, and would be gladly accepted by any group who was interested in negotiation, the HDI is only interested in dictating terms and does not consider the Elected Council to have any legitimacy at Six Nations, despite the fact that they are the only body recognized by the Federal Government as representing the Reserve community. While no one has ever suggested that the HCCC should not have input, the Government's position is that it should be via the Elected Council; while the HCCC believes that the Elected Council has no legitimacy and that only the HCCC has any authority to negotiate (or dictate terms) on behalf of the Six Nations Reserve.
The HCCC (hereditary Chiefs) did in fact have duties as the governing body at Six Nations until 1924 when, after multiple complaints from the more progressive members of the community over how dysfunctional this body was, the Federal Government "locked the doors to the Longhouse" and established an elected system. The Hereditary Chiefs and their supporters have to this day maintained that they are the only legitimate (based on the "Great Law" and the ancient traditions of the Six Nations - Haudenosaunee people) group to govern the Reserve. The obvious fact that they would drag the community back into the Stone Age if they were ever to replace the Elected Council is known to most, and obvious except to the HCCC and an unknown percent of the community who supports "the old order". It is not as simple as a division between the Longhouse faction and the better educated and acculturated Christian faction, but this is at least part of the complex web.
Those who wish to have a glimpse of what the circumstances were leading up to the dismantling of the Hereditary system by virtue of events from the late 1800s to the early 1900s, and the role of the "Warrior's Association" would be well advised to read the following book, which is based on exact transcripts from the Council Minutes and from information given by respected informants who were either Chiefs or strongly connected with these lineages:
John A. Noon, Law and Government of the Grand River Iroquois, Viking Fund Publications in Anthropology 12, New York, 1949
A second source indispensable to a study of the traditional - Longhouse faction and why the Hereditary system has not, and likely could not, become a viable governing unit based on work done in the 1950s and 60s, and again with a long list of respected Longhouse informants, is:
Annemarie A. Shimony, Conservatism Among the Iroquois at the Six Nations Reserve, Yale University Publications in Anthropology 65, New Haven, Conn., 1961.
Back to the substance of the recent meeting, sources said the minister threatened to leave and yelled and began pointing his finger at Confederacy legal advisor Aaron Detlor, who told the Minister forcing the Confederacy to the table with the band council and Haldimand County is "cultural genocide". Just as an indication as to where TIN is coming from, note that "Confederacy" is capitalized, whereas "band council" is not. It is important to note that the legal advisor is a non-Native who has orchestrated the legal maneuvering of the HDI since their emergence in 2006. One can only guess at his motives, but he is a member of the Upper Canada Law Society, in other words a lawyer licensed to practice law in Ontario, and subject to disbarment due to professional misconduct. He has been involved in a litany of actions which would call into question his standing within his profession, such as being charged for disobeying an Injunction from the Superior Court in Brantford in 2009 and 2010, and fined heavily - although whether the fine will ever be paid is questionable since it appears that the lawyer has transferred all his assets to the Reserve and hence the judicial system cannot go after anything on Reserve due to provisions of the Indian Act. However his lack of "Indian Status" could become problematic to him should someone chose to begin disbarment proceedings.
So it is more than a little odd to read that the lawyer, told the Minister "You are asking the Haudenosaunee to morally set aside who they are as a people to get into your discussions. That's cultural genocide". The Minister demanded he retract the statement. Detlor refused. Chief MacNaughton then told / reminded Minister Zimmer that, the purpose of the 2006 negotiating table was, to remove third party interests from Kanonhstaton (the former DCE). That statement is without any foundation whatsoever. The negotiations were about removing the barricade across Argyle Street and other issues related to the violent insurrection. Funny how a new truth can be concocted which simply reflects the thinking of the HCCC/HDI in 2014.
Then Chief MacNaughton gets down to the real matter of concern to the HCCC, acquiring full right and title to the DCE property without any involvement of the legal authority at the Six Nations Reserve, the Elected Band Council. He said, Ontario is in a position to revoke the application for a housing development and declare the road, a non-road. When Minister Zimmer said he was leaving the room to caucus Onondaga Chief Pete Skye told the Minister, "I am going to ask you to sit down". This unfathomable insult is so disrespectful, the Minister had every right to simply leave, with the awareness that nothing he said would be productive, and that if he stayed more insults were in store.
The rationale given by Skye for his statement was that, "Indian Agents have been trying since the 1800s to assimilate the Five Nations. I can tell you, they will never assimilate the Five Nations into a band system". First of all the "band system" has been the legal representative of the Six Nations community since 1924, but some have simply not accepted the reality and wish for the "good old days" (where they would have the power). Secondly, what happened to the Tuscaroras? There are Six Nations (since circa 1715) not Five Nations. Chief Skye does not know this - or did the reporter get it wrong?
Then, Onondaga clan mother Gloria Thomas asked Zimmer, "why would you ask us to go back to a process that doesn't work". The truth is that in 1924 the Hereditary Council was turfed out because it was by then dysfunctional and "didn't work".
Then Chief MacNaughton told Minister Zimmer that while he (Zimmer) was standing by the Ontario Land Registry system, they (the HCCC/HDI) were standing fast to their own land registry system, and, "We have registered Kanonhstaton under the Confederacy's land registry". The fact is that this land registry is without any legal footing, and it is doubtful that it actually exists except in the minds and hearts of the HCCC supporters. Cayuga Chief Blake Bomberry told the Minister "the Ontario land registry was built on theft, murder and coercion. Ontario stole the lands that's what the registry is made up of". Clearly someone has not done their homework. I have searched all of the records pertaining to the matter and nothing of the sort fits with reality, only with perception. So basically, people can make up a history which did not exist and likely there will be those who will believe it since actually searching the records is a tedious process and takes a vast amount of time - as I well know.
The Minister stuck to his guns and said that the HCCC is invited to the table with the Band Council and Haldimand County also participating; and the HCCC stuck to their guns and maintained that only if Ontario will, engage in the process we established can things move forward. This is how the matter was left - as if there was any other outcome expected in meeting with the HDI guided HCCC. At least Minister Zimmer can say that he did everything possible to enlist the cooperation of the HCCC. He tried, but was doomed to failure from the start.
As is often the case, the Editor of TIN feels compelled to add an Editorial which always (no exception I am aware of) supports the actions of the HCCC/HDI, and dismisses the position of any other party - particularly SNEC, the legally constituted governance body at the Reserve. Hence the Editorial on page 6 entitled, He came ..... he saw ..... he left ..... no answer. Here the Editor says that "finally" the Aboriginal Affairs Minister "came to town". "How nice of him". The Editor then reviews, in a very condescending way, the recent history involving the attempts by Ontario to address the fence situation and the efforts of Minister "Zimmerman" (his name is Zimmer). The attribution is that Minister Zimmer's efforts have been in an attempt to, divide Six Nations so Ontario would never have to see the power of a united Six Nations again, as it did in 2006. That is a really unique take on the facts of the matter.
The Editor alleges that, Zimmer has done everything he can to avoid meeting with the Confederacy Chiefs, cancelling meetings, demanding the fence around kanonhstaton come down, issuing warnings ... all over the fence and warning it was a security issues. The truth is that the Minister has bent over backward to try and get the HCCC to participate in the only type of meeting that anywhere in the world would be considered appropriate - one where all interested parties were present. So when the HCCC Chiefs refuse to attend this meeting, the Minister is accused of trying to do everything in his power to avoid them. The crux of the matter is that he had tried to follow normal protocol, not realizing that here there is a HDI protocol which must be adhered to despite the fact that it is arbitrary and not recognized as legal by anyone but themselves. The HCCC, and particularly the HDI, want Ontario to make an "executive decision", without consultation, and give the property to HCCC so it can be put in the HDI's fantasized land registry. This is entirely hypocritical since the HDI have a "consultation protocol" which is nothing more than a self - serving document to allow them total control of the proceedings. So when the Ontario Government wants "consultation" with all parties, they will see that the HCCC/HDI want no consultation, irrespective of what Ontario's "protocol" might be - as long as they get what they want which is DCE with no strings attached - and certainly no involvement of the legal authority at Six Nations, SNEC.
So the Minister eventually does meet with the HCCC and is then raked over the coals for doing so - his mistake, not simply handing over DCE to, not Six Nations, but the HDI so that it could be added to their land registry and so that they could benefit economically from the use of the land (someone has to pay for their non-Native attorney's expensive suits). I can be as snide and cynical as the Editor, but we take completely opposite sides in the matter. Since HDI will not negotiate, but will simply meet with Ontario as long as no other parties are present, and as long as the Minister agrees to give them the land free and clear of any encumbrances. Nothing else will do.
B) Update on the fence:
The Director of the HDI reported that the work at DCE would continue, via "instructions of our council". Who is leading whom in this scenario? Anyway, "the rehabilitation of the land" was continuing, with securing the property (which they don't own, but that is irrelevant), cutting the grass, clearing the weeds, planting trees and clearing an area of a pond. They will know that this effort to "improve" DCE ups their chances of laying a claim to it, and nothing but nothing will stop them. The rationale as to the fence is typical HDI - to help keep the peace since nasty Caledonians were exerting their right to walk on a County road. The fact is that HDI have already decided (well, it was decided back in 2006) that come what may, the property is theirs. There has been zero consultation with the general community at Six Nations, everything has been done arbitrarily based on their own concocted rationales.
The article ends with something of an out of place insertion about the OPP finding marijuana plants growing on a Thistlemore property abutting DCE, but that the person apparently has a license, but the license is set to expire in a few days - and a picture of one of the plants is added. Who knows why the focus on this irrelevant bit of trivia.
Welcome to the world of the HDI where arrogance, arbitrariness, and an attorney who is non-Native prevail and stand as a bulwark against any real progress. The only acceptable solution is to return to the facts. The land was legally ceded on 18 December 1844 by 47 Six Nations Chiefs in Council and never in their lifetime did they question the wisdom of what they had done. It takes the unwarranted actions of their descendants 170 years later to make false claims, and send our community into a tail spin. Enough. Time for action.