Thursday, 31 March 2016

"Echoes of 2006 and 2007 are being heard again" - Very real threats by Six Nations factions to strike "when the time is right"

An article entitled, McClung development mobilizes Six Nations, Two Row Times (TRT), 30 March 2016, p.8, warns that Six Nations factions (frequently at odds with one another) are uniting around the banner of their objection against the McClung development east of Caledonia.

Well, what has taken them so long?  There have been rumblings of discontent since the development was announced, but only sporadic action (most behind the scenes).  Perhaps this lulled many into a false sense of security that anything like 2006 would ever happen again.

Many Haldimand residents also have no desire to see the development, already underway, which would result in a new "city beside a city", in effect "New Caledonia", a community of about 10,000 new residents  (thus doubling the present size of Caledonia) now forging ahead east along Highway 54 and up McClung Road.  For some time people such as myself (in this blog) have provided alerts and warnings that the pot is simmering, and has the potential of boiling over.

The first move came from Men's Fire (an arm of the Six Nations Hereditary Council) confronting the developers, which resulted in a restraining order and approval to the developers to go ahead.  Various groups at Six Nations are now saying that the judge erred, and did not take into consideration Six Nations land claims and "treaty rights".  As I have noted in a number of blog postings before, there is no factual basis for any land claim (the land having been surrendered in 1841, and all the t's crossed and i's dotted by 1850 with Lord Elgin's Report), and Six Nations has no "treaty rights" - the "Nanfan Treaty" of 1701 is bogus; and the Haldimand Proclamation of 1784 is not a treaty.    Never the less this has never deterred Six Nations from pressing claims of one sort or another (e.g., in South Cayuga) and winning concessions (to avoid the unpleasantness of blockades and riots) in the form of for example monies from wind and solar development.

The land in question here is part of a Land Claim submitted in 1987, with unsubstantiated ownership claims (even with the clarity seen in the Ontario Land Records Registry Office documents; and the "Indian Affairs Papers, RG10 Series" at the National Archives), and "demands" for meaningful consultation, engagement and accommodation that must take place.

What is new in all this is the concatenation of factions now involved in the issue.  It is no surprise to see Men's Fire, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council (HCCC) and well as their very radical and controversial enforcement arm the Haudenosaunee Development Institute (HDI) come together to contest the development.  What is surprising is that their "arch enemy", the Six Nations Elected Council (SNEC) are joining with (although not necessarily meeting with) the other Six Nations parties to confront this development head on.  The TRT article describes the attempts by each of these parties to basically state (warn) the developers (and Haldimand County) that there needs to be meetings, and how each attempt has been rebuffed.  So not only are representatives of the HCCC / HDI giving advice to potential buyers saying, exercise caution before investing in this particular development; but the position of SNEC is that they will be, ready to intervene to protect its interests and rights when the time is right.  With the latter statement one might picture a coiled snake, poised and ready to strike and inject its poisonous venom against the target group.

It is interesting to note that the article states that, Although divided on many issues, this is one matter that galvanizes all of Six Nations people.

Perhaps the developer considers that the judgement of the Ontario Superior Court is sufficient - which under "normal" circumstances would be true.  If that is the case, they don't understand the dynamics in this neck of the woods - or what history should teach us.

In the past I have blogged how Six Nations sees the Empire / McClung Road Development as little more than Douglas Creek Estates (DCE) north.  Are people in Haldimand and the developer so naive as to believe that the same situation will not emerge ten years after the April 2006 take over of  DCE, which to this day is still under the control of the Six Nations HCCC and HDI.  Forty acres of tic infested wasteland (no top soil), surrounded by a fence, and guarded at the entrance to Surrey Street.  No level of government has been willing to act and arrest the trespassers and return the land to its rightful owners (now the Province of Ontario).  That describes DCE to April 2016.  By now there should have been a few hundred new homes, and a thriving community.  That never happened.  What we got was chaos, anarchy, rule by force, and the abandonment of the people of Caledonia to thugs by all levels of government, and particularly the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) who established "no go" zones and citizens were left to their own devices after the violent take over ("reclamation") with the road blockades, assaults, infrastructure meltdowns, arson destruction (burning of the Stirling Street Bridge which has not been rebuilt to this day) - and billions of taxpayer dollars spent keeping a lid on things over the last 10 years.  Those who do not live here can be forgiven for forgetting - but those of us on the front line cannot forget the violence and acrimony and lack of any support by any law enforcement agency.  So perhaps we can be forgiven for being a little "twitchy" about the matter - been there, seen that, done that - the refrain being echoed last time was "never again" - so things could get ugly.

The article ends with a summary to the effect that, According to Six Nations people across the board, the $80 million proposed subdivision sits on unceded Six Nations land.  This was the same argument that triggered the reclamation of Douglas Creek Estates located on the other side of the river.  There is more than a veiled warning in all this rhetoric.

While on a personal level I vehemently oppose the development, my reasons are different.  As noted, I am aware that the land was properly surrendered in 1841 and ratified at various points until 1850 so disagree with the rationale being put forward by Six Nations.  However I don't want to see this development come to fruition because it will have a devastating effect on the environment and cultural aspect of Caledonia.

If things progress further, as I have said before, it is not hard to prove (it has already been done by the Superior Court of Ontario in Brantford, 2009) that the land claim is without foundation; or that so called "treaty rights" do not exist for the Six Nations refugees who came to Ontario in 1785 - nor their descendants (including myself).  What is also important to the present writer, who only seeks the truth based on the preponderance of the evidence, Six Nations is not "playing fair", and therein lies the rub.

As noted in a previous post, in the 1980s agents of the Band Council arrived at the Indian Office in Brantford and systematically looted records that belonged to the Government of Canada.  These documents were taken to the Woodland Indian Cultural Educational Center in Brantford, where they were microfilmed.  I personally saw these documents in the library there and know that they, and the microfilm, were transported to the Land Office where I presume they remain to this day.  What is particularly upsetting is that all of these records were in the process of being sent to the National Archives in Ottawa, but ultimately only part of the collection made it there because of a petition by D.H., a resident of Caledonia who wanted the records to remain locally so they could be studied by locals interested in family history.  Alas, before she passed away D.H. came to my house and tearfully said that this was the worst decision she had ever made in her life - although little could she have anticipated what would transpire and is in no way to blame for a later act of theft.

The result is that the Land Inspection Returns (1844) for Oneida Township (where DCE is located) are at the National Archives of Canada and anyone can access the records.  However the same collection, the Land Inspection Returns for Seneca Township (where the Empire / McClung Development is taking place) are hidden away and not open for inspection.  Fairness would dictate that all parties have access to the same documents but that is simply not the case.  The Six Nations have the upper hand here, although I don't imagine that anyone but the land researchers there and myself know the whole truth.  However what seems to be reasonable and fair is that, in my opinion, any level of government refuse to negotiate on any land matter until the stolen records are turned over to the rightful owners, the Government and people of Canada.  Then we can talk.

Before people get too worked up about fall out and consequences, they may wish to read some of my previous blogs where I have given a very clear rationale as to why a Caledonia 2006 is unlikely to morph into McClung 2016 - with geography playing the major role in the dynamic.  Never the less, the threats will escalate, and there will without a doubt be forays and skirmishes which might include blockades (common in the past) to show the developers and Haldimand County that they are serious about claiming the land (or at the very least being included in discussions).

So get your collective heads out of your collective ............. and realize that the problem is not going away.  I do hope that the developer, Haldimand County, and the OPP are all prepared for any and all contingencies - although again, I don't want to see the development proceed any more than the many factions at Six Nations do.  I doubt that I will be standing against Six Nations, and may well be among them when the crunch comes - common cause and all that.  Too early to know for sure.


Sunday, 20 March 2016

More Paranoid Conspiracy Theories - This Time About White Settlers Committing Genocide and Burying the Bodies in Mass Graves or Hiding them in Museum Basements

Although upset by a completely off the wall if not bizarre statement in an Editorial in Two Row Times (16 March 2016, page 6) entitled, Our bones threaten them, I agree with most of what the author says.

The Editor makes the point that there are thousands of Native American skeletons housed in boxes in museums across North America.  Of this there can be no denying.  I also agree that it is (at least in today's view) disrespectful to treat human remains in this way.  To add my opinion, the remains should be studied (and DNA tests be done to learn the stories about health and ancestry which the bones can tell us), ultimately they must be returned to the lineal descendants.  If this is not possible, then they should be buried with due ceremony in the location in which they were found.

The editor cites the work of Samuel J. Redman who estimates that there are about half a million Native American remains held in various repositories in the USA and Canada, and an equal number in museums in Europe.  I believe that this figure is on the high side, but there is no argument from me that there are large numbers, widely distributed throughout the Americas and to some degree Europe.  The Editor then makes a rather odd (and unsupported) statement as follows:  This figure does not account for indigenous remains stolen by Canadian scientists and officials.  It is unclear what the author means here, although clearly the word "stolen" is emotionally loaded.  Does this mean that there is some secret repository where aboriginal remains are being studied for some unspecified purpose.  In the natural course of events, scientists publish their findings, that is how they justify their existence.

It is not long ago that pot hunting, which included grave robbing and keeping skulls for "trophies", was common in this area (Niagara Peninsula).  It upset me to no end to know that these moral imbeciles were desecrating ancestors graves and there was nothing I could do about it.  The police had no authority on private land; and frankly few Natives at the time (e.g., 1970s and 80s) seemed to care.  Some local residents other than myself were of course outraged but powerless to do anything.  Many quietly "did the right thing" when remains were discovered inadvertently (e.g., bones being unearthed during basement renovations, the bones being re interred as close to the home, the original burial site, as was practical.  Still the grave robbers continued unrestrained by morality or law.  The laws (e.g., Cemeteries Act) and views of what is acceptable have fortunately changed, and now there can be very stiff fines (e.g., $10,000) from someone who knowingly disturbs a human grave.  The only people permitted to dig in a known site of cultural significance are licensed archaeologists.  If the site is determined to have any First Nations link, then the local aboriginal group(s) will be contacted and invited to help oversee the work.  Hence these days the representatives of the Six Nations Elected Council and the Mississauga of New Credit will be paid overseers.  Although untrained, the Haudenosaunee Development Institute often demand to be present and paid - but that is another story, and one about which I have blogged about in the past.

The Editor goes on to discuss a rather obnoxious "papal bull" which justified taking property belonging to "pagans" and the like.  Full agreement here, the papacy justified the oppression and slavery of indigenous people via such Vatican nonsense, but it had absolutely no influence on the Protestant British - who settled what is today Ontario and who were early on antagonistic towards any Catholic pronouncements.  However the Editor states, Anyway, this stupid papal order must also have included the theft of bones because it continues to this day.  That does not make sense, and seems tinged with a bit of paranoia.  I know many of these (former) pot hunters / grave robbers and their motives were strictly personal (similar to collectors of baseball cards), but often the more principled of the group included a desire to learn more about the past of this country, and some donated their "finds" to local museums and the like since it seemed the proper thing to do (to their way of thinking).

The depth of "suspiciousness" and conspiracy theory thinking escalates with claims that,

Although the Doctrine of Discovery was upheld in Johnson v. McIntosh which was a 1841 Supreme Court case, there must have been other, deeper reasons why our settler friends have been stealing our bones like grave robbing thugs.  Maybe it is because "Indian bones" are evidence in a colossal crime scene.  If Henry F. Dobyns was correct, upwards of 90 million innocent humans were killed here in the least talked about genocide in human history.

I will pause here to explain that Dobyns was an anthropologist and demographer who is known as a "high counter".  In other words the scientific community considers his numbers to be on the high side when in fact we do not know what the early Native population of the Americas was in fact.  We only have very skewed estimates.  There are three points I wish to make in relation to the Editor's take on things:

1)  No matter how you slice things, Dobyns and every other author acknowledges that diseases inadvertently introduced by Europeans killed off the vast majority of how ever many people were here say 1500 AD.

2)  In North America there were few documented cases of genocidal action by Europeans, and those involved at most a few hundred people.  There were brutal wars such as King Phillip's War in 17th century New England.  However, it needs to be noted that the Europeans were guided by and accompanied by Native allies who exacted their revenge against Native enemies.  The English did not act alone.  Furthermore, the aboriginals were doing precisely the same thing against the settler groups where whole communities were wiped off the face of the earth in barbaric no quarter given acts of genocide.  There may be some justification for retaliation, but the scale at times on both sides was high - but nothing like what is suggested by the Editor above.

3)  Closer to home, the only documented acts of genocide (things of this nature could not be "hidden" once European onlookers were present) were perpetrated by the Five (now Six) Nations!  In what can be considered one of the most egregious and despicable acts of true genocide the perpetrators were the Five (now Six) Nations (which no doubt included my own direct ancestors).  The Five Nations of what is today Upstate New York embarked upon wars of complete annihilation of their neighbours and enemies further afield, in what is often termed the "Beaver Wars".  The process began in 1638 when the Seneca destroyed their neighbours to the west, the Wenro, whose survivors fled to the Huron / Wyandot near Georgian Bay.  The primary conflicts took place between 1642 and 1657.  During this time the Confederacy committed acts of genocide on the Huron Confederacy (leaving only a small group at Ancien Lorette near Quebec City, a cluster on Isle d'Orleans, and those who were able to flee to Christian Island then to the Upper Peninsula in Michigan and beyond).  The Wyandot Confederacy was completely demolished, and the 20,000 member Nation reduced to a handful.  These were the "lucky" ones since the Attiwandaronk (Neurtal), Petun, Eries and others were largely murdered en mass, leaving a few souls for purposes of torture and cannibalism.  The evidence was recorded by Jesuit priests who were witnesses, and cross validated by archaeologists who found the remains of mass graves and pieces of bone removed during the torture ritual.  There were NO White people living in the area who could be blamed for these acts by later generations of apologists.  Our Haudenosaunee ancestors were the perpetrators and the truth demands that we acknowledge the facts.  It rather puts the recent charges against Canada of "cultural genocide" in perspective.

Later the Five Nations would turn their attention south and administer the same treatment against the Susquehannoc.  For many years Southern Ontario and the Great Lakes region were devoid of any human beings because if not killed (or at times assimilated), the peoples of the area fled west to avoid the inevitable.  So when one wants to discuss "genocide" lets look at the home front first.  There is no doubt that the Five Nations committed the most hideous and vile acts of genocide, which would fortunately never be repeated in North America by any group at any time.

The Editor then asks the question, Does Canada and the U.S. have something to hide?  The answer is a resounding NO, but apparently the Six Nations do since no one seems to call a spade a spade.  The Beaver Wars involved true genocide committed by the Five (now Six) Nations - we need to acknowledge this and quit blaming Canada for the ill defined term "cultural genocide".  Lets look at real genocide first, and who is the guilt party.

So before Canada and the U.S.A. are blamed for some conspiracy of silence to ensure that people will keep mum on the genocide of countless millions of Native Americans we need to look at the facts - not myth and belief.  When we do that it is the Six Nations who are to be seen in a very unfavourable light - as the only group to have committed true, verifiable, acts of wanton genocide.  Always look in the mirror before looking beyond.

At the end of it though, I absolutely agree with the Editor that the bones of the ancestors need to rest in peace, and eventually be returned to the soil from which they came.  A point well taken, and kudos to the Editor for bringing this matter to the fore.


Saturday, 19 March 2016

Six Nations Land Rights Under Threat - What is All the Fuss Concerning Algonquins in Eastern Ontario?

Of late there have been a few articles on the above captioned subject which concerns conflict between the Iroquois Caucus (IC) and the Algonquins of Ontario (AOO).  The most recent article is found in "Two Row Times", March 16th 2016, page 18.  The present author has not blogged about the matter since it seems relatively trivial.  Now new information has surfaced which puts a whole new spin on the matter.

In essence, the AOO are seeking to establish a land base for nine of the 10 nations they represent.  The petition relates to 117,000 acres of supposed "treaty land".  The problem (or at least one of them) is that, a large portion of these lands are also part of the traditional land base of Iroquois Nations.  Unfortunately it is unclear which Iroquois groups are potentially impacted here - Akwesasne, Tyendinaga, Six Nations or other.  Since a Six Nations representative has stated that there are overlapping claims in Hogsbury (near Ottawa) and Innisville (near Barrie), it begs the question as to "by what right do Six Nations have a claim so far removed from the Grand River" - although this author is aware of a rather unique claim for lands near Hawkesbury that was addressed many years ago.  The "Six Nations Land Rights Worker" has weighed in, stating that, "if the treaty is approved it will have far reaching affect for indigenous land rights across the board".

Other than apparent overlapping claims, there is another very interesting twist to this matter which bears some consideration since it could entirely alter the dynamics at Six Nations:

The controversy centers around the question, "among the AOO Algonquin group, who is eligible to vote, and what are the criteria for being considered eligible?"  This may be of some concern to Six Nations since there was a lot of controversy in the Community over statements made by representatives of the Hereditary Confederacy Chiefs Council (HCCC) that only those who were 100% Six Nations could expect legal protection in the event of a confrontation with authorities over the attempt by the Federal Government to clamp down on the contraband cigarette trade.  Some people became very nervous because, as is well known locally, everyone is admixed with European, the only difference being to what degree.  So worries such as, "what if my mother's mother was European / local White, will that exclude me from protection?  As I blogged about earlier, things got so tense that the HCCC legal counsel made a statement that they did not have the right to determine who was Haudenosaunee (Six Nations), so as long as a person could show that they were a descendant of a member of the Six Nations of the Grand River Band, they would come under the umbrella of protection.

A Land Claims officer as well as at least one Elected Counsel member have gone on record as being opposed to the AOO agreement, one of their main issues being that the Agreement in Principle includes 7,714 individuals eligible to vote, but only 663 (less than 10%) are Status Indians.  Thus the majority are perceived as simply locals by some Six Nations officials, and should not be eligible to vote.  Apparently, according to a memo from the Algonquin Nation Secretariat (ANS) who oppose the agreement, the majority here seeking the land base claim rights by virtue of Indian heritage but, their indigenous identity is linked to a "root ancestor" of Algonquin identity.  In many cases, the claim of indigenous ancestry goes back to one person in the voter's genealogy in the 17th century.  Thus, Algonquins who are relying on these root ancestors have had no intermarriage with anyone of Algonquin or Nipissing ancestry for at least 200, and in some cases, more than 300 years.

Perhaps some at Six Nations sense the possible ripple effect that could dramatically affect the definition of Haudenosaunee (People of the Longhouse - Six Nations of the Grand River).  The HCCC has already indicated that they are willing to bring into the fold anyone who can point to a Six Nations of the Grand River ancestor (as far back potentially as 1785 when the people came to the Haldimand Tract).  If the situation among the Algonquins is accepted and they get land and / or a monetary settlement, then it opens the door wide to who could have a say in matters concerning Six Nations land.  Those of us without a status card, but who do meet the HCCC criteria vastly outnumber those 23,000 or so status Six Nations members and could potentially take over control of the process leaving Band Members in the minority and out voted in land claim disputes with the Federal Government - or at least being able to ratify or not ratify an agreement.  That would be a frightening prospect to most at Six Nations since their agenda and that of the wider Haudenosaunee Community may be at odds, and the former would lack the authority to over rule the "root ancestor" group.

Perhaps I am reading too much into this, but surely the Six Nations land negotiators and Council members recognize the dangers if the AOO agreement is ratified.  It sets a precedent for what could happen here.  So in other words, the worry about overlapping land claims (between Iroquoian and Algonquin groups) may have much much wider implications.  I will be watching this matter very closely.