All the same height

There was a time more than 10 years ago when grassroots activists of Six Nations decided to take back what was rightfully ours. It caused a commotion and some people were imprisoned and hurt, but because truth was on our side—we won.

Motivated by the memories of our ancestors and the hope for the children who have not yet been born, thousands of Six Nations people swarmed onto the land that for a moment, almost became a housing development in Ontario. We had to remind them whose house this is.

Canada had no choice but to relent because they knew that they did not own that land. In fact they may not own ANY land, but we will not go there today. As a matter of fact Six Nations has gone the civil route filing 29 specific land claims against the Crown—the first in 1980. We have been patiently waiting.

So Canada had no choice but to negotiate with Six Nations. Then the shenanigans started.

Records from the 2008 negotiations between Six Nations and Canada show that Hazel Hill received $40,000 that year—shocking because we thought everyone was operating out of national good will. It was known then that funds had been flowing from the royal coffers of Canada for the main negotiating table but not many people really knew for how much.

It makes you wonder if some of our people were in it for the money since the beginning.

We definitely know who wasn’t in it for the money. A lone activist nicknamed “Wack” was living in the deteriorated housing at Kanonhstaton with hardly any possessions and not one penny to his name. He survived through donations. He is still struggling today.

Another activist, the mighty Huck was taken down by 10 Ontario Provincial Police officers that day and was Tasered repeatedly. He broke his cuffs three times in the paddy wagon after being hauled away. Huck was treated like a criminal even though his only crime was being Ongwehonweh. Did Huck suffer so Brian Doolittle, Aaron Detlor and Elvera Garlow could get filthy rich?

The great majority of those who risked their safety in those days did it because it was the right thing to do, and they did it with no thought of compensation. Furthermore, we didn’t decide as a nation or as a community that we were going to allow development to continue if we get our cut. Who made that call? Who declared capitalism on Six Nations?

Now look at this mess we are in. The largest business conglomerate in Korea has rights to our land for the next 20 years and people like Wack have no say in the matter—and may stand to not benefit from the deal at all. There are 15 other secret engagement agreements that greatly affect all people of Six Nations yet very few have been consulted.

There is a very old saying from our people the Haudenosaunee. Elder Alec Elijah from Oneida says “we are all the same height” which is a cultural teaching about social equality. This is the root problem at Six Nations; some people feel that they are taller than the rest.

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