Look for Six Nations on any Canadian map and you’ll notice that we are a blank spot, a big empty area according to official resources. Finding your way to Ohsweken using GPS can also be a daunting challenge – for some reason people looking for Mohawk Road usually end up in Hamilton.
If you’ve ever wondered why Six Nations doesn’t seem to exist, you’re right, because on a provincial and municipal level it doesn’t. It varies depending on who you ask but according to Canada, Six Nations Reserve No. 40 is Crown land. As a matter of fact 89 per cent of Canada’s land base is Crown land. This is a fancy way to say stolen land.
Federal Crown Land is administered by Indigenous Affairs, formerly known as Aboriginal Affairs, formally known as the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. These are the wonderful people who implement the Indian Act and regulate Indian Lands on behalf of the poor Indians.
This department began in 1755 and predates the formation of Canada by more than 100 years. The very roots of Canada formed around the affairs of Indians – controlling our lands and administering our derived funds. The history of Indian affairs is also steeped with latent racism.
The medieval attitude of that period subsists today in legislature such as the Indian Act which is a living manifesto of colonization and the evil Doctrine of Discovery. It was a backwards attempt to completely dehumanize indigenous people by declaring them as Indian, not quite human – subhuman wards of the state. It was very effective.
But the tides are changing. Soon Canada will recognize itself as a colony of squatters and realize that they have to make this relationship right. The evidence is there in section 91(24) of the British North America Act, 1867 which Canada changed to the Constitution Act in 1982. Follow the trail.
King George III declared that indigenous people “should not be molested or disturbed” by colonial governments or settlers with respect to lands “reserved for them.” You can find that in the Royal Proclamation of 1763 if you are doing your homework.
It was Canada’s Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and Deputy of the Governor General who said,
“Put simply, Canada’s Aboriginal peoples were here when Europeans came, and were never conquered. Many bands reconciled their claims with the sovereignty of the Crown through negotiated treaties. Others, notably in British Columbia, have yet to do so. The potential rights embedded in these claims are protected by s. 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. The honour of the Crown requires that these rights be determined, recognized and respected. This, in turn, requires the Crown, acting honourably, to participate in processes of negotiation.”
Although I would argue that we are not “Canada’s Aboriginal peoples” but rather the Chief Justice is one our Settler peoples, the point of the above-mentioned quote is that the highest level of office must recognize our sovereignty and inherent right to our own land which they call Canada. How ironic that Canada is a Mohawk word for settlement or village.
It’s difficult to explain why Six Nations doesn’t exist on any map. This editorial is just a tiny drop in the bucket or the tip of the iceberg. Maybe they are trying to wipe us off the map. But we don’t need a map to find our way home. We’ve always been here.