Friday, 22 February 2019

Hydro One Dealings: Threats of Violence, Extortion, False Narrative, Superstition Versus Rationality

As will be apparent from the time gap between this and the previous post, I have not commented on anything for an uncharacteristic interval of time.  Some of this is due to prioritizing, for example deciding that this or that matter is really somewhat trivial.  The recent blockade of a road in Brant County over solidarity with an Aboriginal - related issue in British Columbia almost made the cut.  However, with the publication of information in the most recent edition of Two Row Times (TRT) (20 February 2019), I feel compelled to speak out against the gross injustices that have occurred recently.  All relate to the subject matter of the previous 3 of 4 Blog postings.  In other words, there are notable developments in the outlandish rip off of the Canadian and Ontario taxpayers relating to stringing the high tension wires leading from Niagara Falls to the grid.

The present post relates to content in the News (pp. 2-3), Editorial and Letters to the Editor (p. 6) sections of the print version of TRT.  Online content from this newspaper can be viewed here.  TRT is a relatively unbiased source of information concerning what is happening in "Six Nations Territory"  whereas the other Reserve newspaper is an unapologetic supporter of, and mouthpiece for, the Haudensaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council (HCCC).

Once again the concerns raised here are a result of the actions of the Haudenosaunee Development Corporation (HDC) and the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council (HCCC), specifically "Men's Fire".  The HCCC is a group of individuals who purport to represent the original Six Nations hereditary system, and are vehemently opposed to the Six Nations Elected Council (SNEC) who are elected, and since 1924 are the only group recognized by the Provincial and Federal Governments.  Numerous examples of the antagonism between the two groups can  be found in the postings on this Blog.  The HCCC's opposition to virtually anything proposed or accomplished by SNEC ensure that the Six Nations community is composed of two opposing factions.  The acrimony is such that  the HCCC will not even meet with the legitimate Elected Council for fear of giving up the claim to power that they insist is theirs alone.  Unfortunately the most recent "efforts" of HCCC will ensure that millions of badly needed dollars will not be seen by the community, and perhaps risk a highly controversial agreement with Hydro One that, if re-visited, may well require the payment of not millions, but returning billions of dollars owed to the Canadian and Ontario Governments.  A very risky proposition.

To give a quick historical perspective, as profiled in the above noted Blog postings, in 2006 Six Nations militants "reclaimed" (stole) the Douglas Creek Estates (Kanonstaton), which had been property ceded by all the Chiefs of the Six Nations (including Nanticokes, St. Regis Onondaga, Tutelo and other smaller tribes who were members of the Six Nations before being absorbed into larger tribal / nation units) in 1844 (see the original documents in earlier Blog postings).  As part of their unconscionable series of actions (e.g., arson, assault, mayhem), the militants put Mohawk Warrior flags on the metal hydro towers already installed, that needed only the stringing of wires to bring power from Niagara Falls to the grid system.  The message was "cease and desist" "or else".

The threats of violence ensured that gutless Hydro One simply abandoned the project and the forlorn towers (except the one taken down to use on multiple occasions as a barrier to traffic on Argyle Street and the Caledonia Bypass) sat idle from 2006 to 2018.  Despite there being absolutely no legal reason to do so, Hydro One and the Ontario Government signed agreements with Six Nations Elected Council representatives to a deal that would "permit" the project to go ahead - with Six Nations receiving millions over 20 years for doing absolutely nothing; and with no compensation for the massive loss in revenue, the tax bill each year having been picked up by the Ontario taxpayer - not Six Nations.  Clearly Hydro One just wanted to get on with it and were willing to pay money obtained by "negotiation" (extortion) to ensure that the project was completed.

As has become standard practice, the HCCC and their representatives wanted to be cut in on the action, and to be recognized as the "legitimate" group that should be negotiating with Hydro One and / or the contractors doing the work.  At the end of January the Men's Fire issued a "cease and desist" order (which has no meaning except to them), and they had threatened the workers that if they did not stop work, then people (specifically, "men from all the territories") would come streaming from the Reserve in great numbers (as they did in 2006) to forceably shut the work down.  They would, however, let the project go to completion if they were given $250,000!  That was a direct threat, that was extortion, and what did the Ontario Provincial Police do - nothing.  I have not heard of any Court Injunction being issued, although there is every reason to do so.  If a dozen people from Caledonia did the same thing the OPP would most assuredly arrest them, and a Court date would be set.  However this is Six Nations, so the rules are different.  Kid gloves, tread lightly - one set of rules for those defined as "Native" and another for those defined as "non - Native".  A double standard which we came to see was to be the norm during the 2006 crisis, and had hoped that the dynamic had changed (there were successful Court Injunctions concerning developments in Hagersville and the massive McClung Road Avalon development east of Caledonia).

The HCCC used as a rationale (if they bothered to use one at all) that Niagara Falls was Haudensaunee land and they must be consulted.  As I have shown on multiple occasions, the "Nanfan Treaty" of 1701 was not a treaty at all, and even if it was considered legitimate by the Crown (which they did not), it only spoke of hunting rights.  After the wanton genocide of the 1640s where all of the true "owners" of the land, the "Neutral" or Attiwandaronk people, were no more - having been tortured and murdered to "cleanse" to area of competitors in the lucrative beaver trade.  While the then 5 Nations did establish 8 settlements in Southern Ontario after the genocide (giving them "rights by conquest"), by 1696 all were destroyed by the Mississauga and their 5 Fires allies (e.g., Pottowatomi as well as the Huron / Wendat remnants who escaped the fate of 95% of their people in the genocide of the 1640s).  The "owners" of the land after then were the Mississauga, their descendants today being for example the peoples of New Credit (New Credit Reserve bordering on Hagersville).  So if anyone is going to demand a "cut of the action", why is it not the New Credit people?  In reality, the lands were purchased legally by the British Crown beginning in 1784, so in effect the land is now a part of the Province of Ontario.  The stakeholders are those who pay taxes to the Canadian and Ontario Governments, and I might add, stiff fees for the electricity generated at Niagara Falls and elsewhere in Southern Ontario.

Since the Six Nations community had been given a "sweetheart deal", it is amazing but not surprising that the HCCC would raise objections and try to shut the work down in order to assert their dominance.  Hence once again we have the hereditary and elected councils pitted against each other (it has ever been thus - for almost 100 years now) - factionalism.  In fact the Six Nations of the Grand River Development Corporation (SNGRDC), a legitimate body at Six Nations, is now faced with the wrath of the HCCC - and a significant loss of funds to the entire community simply to make a point by the latter.  Six Nations have already lost $500,000 in much needed (although ill gotten) revenue.

In an all too familiar portrait, at a meeting between the SNGRDC and the HCCC (a rare event), once again the latter torpedoed the dialog .................. why ..................  because a wampum string fell on the floor and it was seen as "a bad omen".  In a Letter to the Editor the unnamed author wrote that during the "heated dialogue", "the Chiefs Wampum, which represents the Fire, fell to the floor from the bench upon which it was situated".  The reaction of the Chiefs and Clan Mothers was that it was then necessary to shut down the meeting and perform a propitiation ceremony to ensure that nothing bad comes of this event.  In the Editorial, the Editor stated that while the HCCC claimed that this is, "a bad sign, there are others who would just assume that it was a happenstance".  Correct, that is what reason and rationality would assert.  The Editor goes on to say that, "because some beads fell on the ground, no matter how sacred one holds them to be, is not a sufficient answer to the people of the Six Nations" not to be able to find common ground.

Once again the HCCC is acting on its own authority, through one of its various agencies (e.g., Men's Fire), and making demands that are in their own interests.  They have never accounted for any money they obtained since 2006 when the Provincial Government was "forced" to make "compensation" for excessive, unreasonable, and irrational demands.  So why trust them now - transparency is something that many at Six Nations are demanding before they would consider looking at the actions of the HDC or other hereditary council groups as legitimate or not.  Follow the money.  Who has the money?  Were pockets lined at the expense of the community?  How can anyone attribute any legitimacy to a group that will not open the books to ensure the monies have been used in an appropriate manner?

However the bottom line, as alluded to above, is that the HCCC may be opening up a can of worms, or Pandora's box - and ultimately once again the community is in turmoil because of the actions of a small group of militants who take advantage of the Six Nations and the wider community.  Frankly if it were up to those most impacted by the actions of the HCCC (Ontario taxpayers), after reading all the evidence, they would press forward to charge the Six Nations for standing in the way of this project for 13 years, and costing the people of Ontario multi millions of dollars.  Instead the gutless wonders who make these decisions from Hydro One on up, cow tow to the unwarranted and illegal demands of those who should not have a stake in this work.  What a crazy situation - and how much press coverage has this seen outside Six Nations?  There was an update months ago, but where are the reporters in the general community who should be looking at the evidence, and keeping the public up to date with developments such as the brash extortion attempt by Men's Fire which will result in delays, and the loss of who knows how many more millions of dollars of taxpayer money.  Why is there no Court Injunction against the Men's Fire to bar them from impeding the work of the contractors?  Do the people of Ontario care that they are being dinged for millions of dollars?  Does anyone care that this has come about due to blatant extortion?  Since when is extortion not a crime? Are Six Nations to continue to be "given a pass" with false claims and questionable actions in the matter?