What's Happening In Caledonia

A recent presentation cast some light on the history and context of the Six Nations land claim controversy in Caledonia.

By Connie Kidd
Published February 26, 2007

The Haudenosaunee Confederacy (aka Iroquois) spans the Canada-US border and includes Six Nations of the Grand River Territory, St. Regis/Oka, Awkwesasne, Kanewake, Kahnesetake, Tyendinaga/Desoronto, Wahta and possibly other reserves and communities. It includes the Mohawk, Oneida, Seneca, Cayuga, Tuscarora and Onondaga peoples.

After the American War of Independence, during which Mohawk warriors fought as allies of the British, the Haudenosaunee were persecuted in their New York territories and so moved north to ancestral territories along the Grand River, which were reserved for them in the Haldimand Proclamation of 1784. The land was gradually taken out of their hands through a variety of sales and surrenders currently in dispute.

On February 28, 2006, members of the Six Nations claimed a construction site in Caledonia, asserting that it is unceded Confederacy land and a site of historical and sacred importance to them. The Ontario Provincial Police tried unsuccessfully to remove them on April 20, 2006. Negotiations with provincial and federal negotiators began May 9 2006, and are currently in progress.

These members of the Six Nations assert ownership over the entire Haldimand Tract. They also assert that their aboriginal sovereignty was never ceded.

What's happening in Caledonia? was the title of a presentation by three Haudenosaunee Confederacy negotiators from Six Nations, sponsored by Amnesty International and the Community of Friends of Six Nations and organized by Dr. George Sorger, a McMaster professor and member of both groups.

Chief Allan McNaughton spoke of the history of Six Nations and their alliances with the European settlers in North America for respect, peace and friendship. The Two Row Wampum Treaty with the Dutch clarified the relationship as "like brothers ... and neither will try to steer the other's boat."

This treaty was carried forward and renewed as the Silver Covenant Chain and is now recognized by the Constitution of Canada. However, this treaty and others were not honoured by Canada. As more and more white settlers encroached on native territory, lands were forcibly surrendered and trust fund money for those lands was embezzled and used to build Canadian institutions and infrastructure.

Sub-Chief Leroy Hill spoke of the 385,000 hectare Haldimand Tract and the Haudenosaunee Confederacy plan for leasing lands to provide income for the "perpetual care and maintenance" of their people via a trust fund. The Confederacy made their plans to afford self-sufficiency for their people. The Canadian settlers and governments failed to honour and undermined these plans:

Clan Mother representative Hazel Hill talked about the Clan Mothers who are the title holders. The Clan Mothers are responsible for caring for the children and the land that will sustain them, while the men look after the safety of the women and children. She spoke of how the reclamation of the land February 28, 2006 reflects these responsibilities to care for the land for future generations.

The reclamation was supported by the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Council which is still the government accepted by the people. In their view, the Band Council system is Canada's government imposed on them in 1924 to facilitate the theft of land and fraudulent misuse of their trust money.

In later years, Canada passed laws forbidding aboriginal groups from using the courts to reclaim land. It was not until 1979 that the government installed the current land claim system. However, many aboriginal and other Canadians feel that the system is so slow and cumbersome that it is not a good faith initiative.

Dr. George Sorger asked participants to sign a petition to the federal government to place a moratorium on lands in dispute. Our governments continue to approve development, logging, mining and other destructive activities on land in dispute, leading to confrontations like Caledonia and Desoronto.

Speakers left ample time for questions and answers from the multicultural crowd of students, staff and faculty. Most questions indicated support for the reclaimers and concerns about the behaviour of our governments. The final question was, "Do you believe our federal government is negotiating in good faith?"

Chief Allan McNaughton responded carefully by saying that the government negotiators have delivered a "legal position" that the Plank Road land was surrendered, but they have not produced documentation to support that, nor have they adequately evaluated the oral history prepared by Six Nations and the accompanying documentation. Consequently, negotiations on that land are at stalemate.

Haudenosaunee negotiators, thus, have begun reviewing the framework for the negotiations and the commitments of both parties to determine whether this agreed-upon negotiation protocol is being followed, or whether there are areas of concern.

Chief McNaughton identified one concern: The negotiations are to occur under the Two Row Wampum Treaty, which specifies that "neither will try to steer the other's boat."

Connie Kidd is a retired educational researcher who lives in downtown Hamilton.


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By James (registered) | Posted February 26, 2007 at 14:47:43

You do realize that the six nations are not indigenous to the Canadian side of the border? The only history they have on the north side of today's border is to conquer and steal from other native tribes. Hardly a claim. As to their "claim" to the Haldimand tract. They were only given lease to occupy those lands by the crown. You cannot cover up criminality with claims of discrimination. Two wrongs do not make a right. "Reclaimer" is a nice way to put it. I would call it something else. If they think this kind of action would bring about faster actions to their claims, why has it taken a year with no progress?

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By his story (anonymous) | Posted February 26, 2007 at 15:24:52

Dear James,

Don't take everything you read in the newspaper as gospel. The border wasn't created until the Treaty of Paris 1783. Canada wasn't a country until 1867 with the British North America Act. The Six Nations have treaties that deal with lands "...on the Canadian side of the border..." that date back at least to 1701. Don't rely on ignorance to support your position on an issue.

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By Timmer (anonymous) | Posted February 26, 2007 at 15:40:37

Great post Granny !.

PS I need my batteries back for my camcorder, please detach from your tin foil hat and return to me ASAP.

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By Snow King (anonymous) | Posted February 26, 2007 at 20:06:28

The Federal Government has already dismissed the claim as being valid. There must be truth to this because the protestors haven't made a move to begin developing the occupied lands. Why not? Perhaps they aren't so sure after all?

I find this article by Ms. Kidd on the low end of being factual and smacks of someone who has just copied from other's writings although that would be hard to prove one way or another.

The effort here by Ms. Kidd is surprisingly void of desriptions of the violence and destruction the protestors have perpetrated on innocent citizens.

This article seems to me to be of little value.

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By his story (anonymous) | Posted February 27, 2007 at 14:44:09

Checkout the Senate Standing Committee on Specific Claims. Might be worth a read for educational purposes. Or you can try a tinfoil hat and camcorder batteries if that works for you! I prefer a more scientific and factual approach myself.

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By his story (anonymous) | Posted February 27, 2007 at 15:28:02

Checkout the Senate Standing Committee on Specific Claims. Might be worth a read for educational purposes. Or you can try a tinfoil hat and camcorder batteries if that works for you! I prefer a more scientific and factual approach myself.

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By Heyotedok (anonymous) | Posted February 27, 2007 at 16:15:33

People do not try to de-historify the original peoples of this land...North America (Turtle Island), to make yourself feel better. However, your answer shows that you have done some research but not enough. I am only referring to, well you know who you are.
Take care and remember we are all setting the stage for our future generations.

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By Connie (registered) | Posted March 02, 2007 at 02:53:26

James: Here is more information about the prominent presence of the Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) on the north shore in the 1700's IROQUOIS ORIGINS OF MODERN TORONTO http://www.counterweights.ca/cms/content...

Timmer ... batteries not needed. I have power to spare. I am off the grid! :)

Snowking It is an account of a speaking engagement, a presentation of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy position. We have already heard Canada's position. People were very interested. It's a free country, eh?!

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By Connie (registered) | Posted March 02, 2007 at 03:17:34

his story excellent reference... SENATE: Negotiation or confrontation: It's Canada's choice. http://www.parl.gc.ca/39/1/parlbus/commb...

his story excellent reference ... SENATE: Negotiation or confrontation: It's Canada's choice. http://www.parl.gc.ca/39/1/parlbus/commb...


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By Connie (registered) | Posted March 03, 2007 at 02:21:33

This is a summary of the ÉSenate report by it's author/chair


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By zox (anonymous) | Posted March 17, 2007 at 02:28:26

The rest of us none-native people aren't indigenous to the Haldimand Tract either. I don't see much of a point in the line of
thinking of the newspaper story author, (Saturday Spectator -?, some time back) unless we tell everyone that they have no claim to it.

If I understand the author correctly, he is saying that 'the Crown gave away land that belonged to another tribe & gave it on a short term lease-like arrangement to the Haudenosaunee. Then the Crown sat silently watching as the new tenants decimated & displaced the former owners-?'
He sees no blame or culpabilty to the government of the day in any of this, but assigns blame to the Mohawks. (?) He also didn't seem interested in finding the decendents of the original owners & handing the land back to them. (Probably because he knows he won't find any.)

Who knows who was there first, second or third? All kinds of factors come into play in all human migrations in every place in the world, & not just wars. Famine, drought, animal die-offs & food shortages, epidemics, religious edicts, cultural changes & adaptations can all cause populations of people to move. Who will ever know what caused the first of the first people to relinqish that land, & who exactly they were? The author of that article is only speaking about 'historical' (European documented) history.

If we deny that European encroachment had effects on all Indigenous cultures, we'd be wrong. As the Europeans moved west from the Atlantic coast, all native populations had to move west to simply accommodate them, & this caused territorial wars, starvation, epidemics, genocides, & great cultural upheavals. I think it's rediculous that the author washes his hands of the effect that colonization had on the continent, & sees no direct effects on the native populations. (The fur trade, religion, & political affiliations with England, France, Spain, or the new nation of America had everything to do with what was going on in North America for over 400 years.)

We have no real way of telling who settled the area first, & do we want to talk about post or pre-glaciation settlements? Unless we want to unearth the oldest graves that we can find in the area (& hope that they are the oldest!), do DNA testing on the remains, then randomly sample native people from all over the continent, do DNA matches, & award the land to those people, then what is the point of that whole argument about 'Who was here first'?

If the present reflects the past in Federal & Provincial land claim settlements, we can all expect no solutions to be forthcoming in this century.

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By Connie (registered) | Posted March 17, 2007 at 04:09:22

Thank you for your comments zox. I am having some difficulty following your line of thought as I am not sure if you are referring to my article or an unnamed article in the Spec. However, for interest, I offer this link to today's Spectator article which clarifies the history of the Haldimand Tract and other lands, and responds to an earlier article that may be the one you are referring to:

http://tinyurl.com/yocnq2 by Scott Rutherford and Jeffrey Welsh

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By Connie (registered) | Posted March 17, 2007 at 13:01:09

Note .. there are factual errors in zox's comment.

The main point of Rutherford and Welsh's article is that the Haudenosaunee do have aboriginal rights in the Haldimand Tract, and much of southern Ontario, according to the Nanfan Treaty of 1701. A previous writer to the Spec, Hagopian, had claimed they were not in the area until 1784. A UofT professor recently made the same mistake in the press.

Some in Hamilton may recall the Six Nations presence in the Red Hill Valley. Their presence was validated by their aboriginal rights as documented by the Nanfan 1701 Treaty.

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By zox (anonymous) | Posted March 22, 2007 at 00:13:03

Hi Grannysaga! The article i was referring to was published on a Saturday about a month ago & I believe it was on the Opinions page of the Spectator. The author was a historian/univeristy prof.& it was quite a long article.
What he seemed to be saying is that the Haudenosaunee have no permanent claim to the Halimand tract because their settlement there was 'only a temporary arrangement'. I find that a very strange argument, given the circumstances & the amount of gratitude that the Crown owed them in both French/English wars, & the War of 1812 >1814. (We might now well be a somewhat French speaking U.S. State, had it not been for the Haudenosaunee.)
His point about another group of Neutral natives being dispatched & displaced, by Mohawks is also odd. If the Crown gave away somebody else's property, of course there was going to turbulence, animosity, & a winner & a loser. How can he infer the was Crown blameless, & accuse the Haudenosaunee of near war crimes in his article. The Crown set the wheels in motion for that situation. If this was only 'tempory' then why didn't the Crown intervene to keep peace between the 2 groups for the duration of the temporary arrangement?

Also, if he says Mohawks have no claim because the Haldimand Tract 'didn't belong to them in the 1st place'...what about the rest of North America? Does he wish to hand that back too?

He also seems to have no interest in returning it to the Neutrals either. Is he suggesting that it just get handed over to developers, because he says the people that he claims are real owners cannot be found? How darn convenient! Of course those people will never be found, & he knows it.

(I will read the links you have put up, & thank you for posting them.)

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By hadenough (anonymous) | Posted March 27, 2007 at 23:48:51

Heres a solution.....
Give them the land and deny any access to highways, healthcare and any other thing that I am paying 40% income tax for while they are paying nothing in tax. I am so sick and tired of this BS. I dont care what "cause" I am standing for, if I pulled half the shit these people pulled, I would be in jail for a very long time. This country is falling apart fast.

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By Connie (registered) | Posted April 18, 2007 at 05:29:54

hadenough: So have they.

Enough ... abuse, lies, deceit, breaking treaties, negotiating in bad faith, passing the buck, attempts to destroy their culture, assimilate them ... etc. etc. etc.

You have the delusion that they don't pay taxes. Not so. Any who works or shops or lives off reserve pay the same taxes you do. Very few live, work and shop on reserve.

What they are 'pulling' is trying to get our government to uphold its own Constitution and laws, and acknowledge its debts and their land titles. The United Nations is trying to get Canada to do that too. Because it is the law, Canadian and international law.

Canada does not own the land. They do.

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By Connie (registered) | Posted May 18, 2007 at 18:03:15

Join Kevin Annett for this special showing of his film, and a discussion:

Aboriginal Land Rights and Residential Schools

What’s the connection?

Come and hear Kevin Annett speak about his experience ministering in BC: the stories of people who survived the residential schools, the children who disappeared or died there, the land, and the churches and our governments.

See this award winning film


Wednesday May 23 7 pm McMaster University Medical Centre Hamilton Rm 1A5 Tickets reserved in advance $5 grannysaga@gmail.com or 905-296-0396 At the door $10 (People with status free)

Breaking News ... May 12, 2007

Native People Occupy Government Office in Vancouver, Win Concessions

On Friday, May 11, 2007, thirty five native men and women, including residential school survivors, peacefully occupied the Vancouver offices of the federal government's “Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada” (IRSRC), and demanded from IRSRC officials a full disclosure about the fate and buried location of more than 50,000 children who died in residential schools across Canada.

“Your department claims there are no death records for these children, but we have copies with us, right here” stated Rob Morgan, a second generation residential school survivor from the Nishga-Gitksan Nation, and a spokesperson for the occupiers.

Morgan held up records from a 1909 report by Dr. Peter Bryce, showing that over half the children in Alberta residential schools had died in one year, saying,

“If the government and the churches don't start telling the truth about what happened to these children, and bring home their bodies, we will escalate this action and occupy churches and government offices across the country.”

Eyewitnesses to the burial of children at residential schools also spoke during the two hour long occupation, which was organized by The Friends of the Disappeared, a community group in Vancouver's downtown east side.

“I helped bury a little Inuit boy when I was at the Edmonton residential school, in 1961” declared Sylvester Green. “There's a big burial site right next to the site of the old school. Why hasn't the government ever cared about those kids who never came home?”

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By Mr. Nanfan (anonymous) | Posted November 30, 2009 at 18:53:42

Dr. George Sorger, McMaster professor, needs to surrender his home to the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. After that, he should move to the Gaza where he will learn what it means to live under the Hamas justice system and religious fascism.

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