Six Nations comes 'ready to negotiate'
January 28, 2010
Chief William K. Montour
The Hamilton Spectator
(Jan 28, 2010)
First off, I would like to congratulate the Mississaugas of New Credit chief and council and their negotiating team for reaching an agreement with Canada for their City of Toronto and Brant lease claims. It is now up to the New Credit membership to ratify the agreement.
My deep concern and utter disbelief is based on reports about the narrow attitude of the Minister of Indian Affairs and the local politicians in intimating that if New Credit can come to an agreement, why can't Six Nations?
The name, Mississaugas of New Credit, tells the story. This particular group of Mississaugas was displaced from the Credit Valley by the Province of Upper Canada. They moved to the Six Nations Grand River lands after the Mississauga Chiefs and the Six Nations Confederacy Chiefs negotiated a lease arrangement for 6,000 acres of Six Nations of the Grand River lands. Hence the name NEW Credit.
What the minister and the local politicians don't seem to realize is that if it were not for the Six Nations there could well be no Canada, as we know it today. From the late 17th century to the American Revolution, the Six Nations and the British had a military alliance against the French, and later the American patriots, in the fight for dominance in North America.
After the American Revolution and the Haldimand Proclamation of King George III, the Six Nations settled along the Grand River. This settlement was not arbitrary but specific.
The Six Nations were to act as a buffer between the British settlements in Upper Canada and the new United States of America. This was tested in the War of 1812.
The Haldimand Proclamation was a specific designation of lands within our beaver hunting grounds that were to be recognized as a deed to Six Nations of these lands. This proclamation of six miles on either side of the river from mouth to source and comprising of 950,000 acres of land was to become the new home of the Six Nations to compensate for lands lost to the new United States of America. These lands were to be enjoyed by the Six Nations and their posterity forever.
After the need for Six Nations to fight as allies of Great Britain, the land dealings by Crown trustees started. These nefarious sharp dealings by these Crown trustees and later the new Canada and the Province of Ontario, have reduced the land base of Six Nations, in the legal terms of the dominant society, to 46,000 acres. The Six Nations still maintain land rights to the entire original Haldimand Tract.
The only land settlement that the Six Nations Elected Council will support is a global settlement that, by modern treaty, secures our perpetual care and maintenance for basic services such as education, health, social and public infrastructure.
Further, any lands that become available must revert to Six Nations title, as well as the return of monies taken from our trust accounts by these same sharp dealers that used Six Nations money to build various buildings and other facilities that Ontario and Canada still enjoy today.
In addition the Six Nations Elected Council will not settle any land right for money and then sign a paper that absolves Canada of any future obligation to negotiate further grievances. We will not be forced to extinguish our children's right to their homelands for money. Six Nations comes to the table ready to negotiate while Canada only comes to the negotiating table with a predetermined solution with pretense that negotiations have taken place. The province comes to the table as a spectator.
I hope I have articulated to the reader that every land claim settlement cannot be completed in a cookie-cutter approach.
William K. Montour is Chief, Six Nations Elected Council.