HDI damaging the political and legal outcomes for all indigenous people

This week TRT obtained video of HDI lawyer and director Aaron Detlor, ramming his vehicle into a construction fence at a Metrolinx property. Anyone else in a position of authority over an entity on Six Nations that similarly conducted themselves would be fired immediately and their behaviour condemned by the institution. Apologies would be extended.

But the HCCC has been silent on this incident. It happened over a month ago. Since that time, Detlor has not been reprimanded for this bullying behaviour. No public apology has been issued. In fact, no one in the Six Nations community was aware until Metrolinx submitted the video to courts and it became part of the public record. And still, even now that his conduct has become public knowledge — Detlor remains in his chair at HDI and the HCCC has suddenly lost its voice.

The hypocrisy is everywhere you look.

Aaron Detlor lost control of his feelings and drove his car into a fence — over and over again.

This is not the behaviour of a leader. This is the kind of behaviour that diminishes all indigenous engagement across Canada.

Traditionally our leaders are taught that they need to have skin seven spans thick in order to endure the flaying process one can endure when they are put at the front of an organization. Wilding out in your Volvo on the streets of Toronto when talks break down ain’t it.

Can the HCCC afford to keep this person in the drivers seat at HDI when this is what is done during negotiations?

No, they can’t. No indigenous community in Canada can afford this.

Indigenous people are running a steep uphill battle when it comes to free, prior and informed consent regarding development. It’s why we have land defenders and water protectors in the first place. Land defenders who have sacrificed personal time, carry psychological wounds of being assaulted by police and continue to deal with the front line trauma they endure for standing up for the land.

When you superimpose Detlors embarrassing antics against the responsibilities that the land defenders, water protectors and warriors carry — it does not make sense.

He knows the stakes. He knows the press love an angry Indian. He played into that trope not as a random guy — but as someone in the drivers seat of the traditional position of the largest First Nation in all of Canada.

With all of his years of experience and knowledge — why would he risk all of this?

When you see the video, and he gets out of his car to affirm his identity and brazenly show his face — its eerie. Was this intentional?

Metrolinx says it was part of the optics game HDI was playing to portray the transit provider as an anti-indigenous aggressor and position the HDI as the victims.

This is something that HCCC utilizes to play out in the media on Six Nations as well.

Consider the case of the HDI applying to be an intervenor in the Six Nations land claim lawsuit.

HDI combined the band list statistics from Indian Reserves in Ontario, Quebec and the USA to come to a total of 108,699 people they claim to represent — though they discount those with non-Haudenousaunee mothers and people without a clan as “voiceless” non-citizens.

Ironically — the corporation that peddles “consent” to municipalities, developers and external governments does not have consent from the people it is claiming to represent at all. Nor are the HCCC following the Haudenosaunee law internal to the Six Nations Confederacy, the Deyotsyokwenhasta, as they wield themselves the “traditional governing body” of all the Haudenosaunee people in the world.

HDIs mode of operating and obtaining consent from the chiefs excludes most of the Haudenosaunee population they are claiming to speak for.

In a letter to the courts on July 4, 2022, HCCC Secretary Jock Hill wrote that in April HDI was authorized to intervene in the Six Nations lawsuit and that Aaron Detlor would “coordinate our fight”. The letter also outlines that a “chiefs committee” would “work closely with Aaron and the legal team”.

This new, expensive legal battle for HDI wants an Ontario court to remove the elected council from the land claim entirely and instead, declare the HCCC the true party to the claim.

Just a few days later, Six Nations Elected Chief Mark Hill wrote a letter to surrounding municipalities alerting them that the elected council was the only entity legally able to represent the interests of the people of Six Nations.

Yet, in a press conference called two weeks later by the HCCC — Jock Hill, knowing the HCCC had just submitted to the courts to intervene in Six Nations land claim — got up and told reporters that he had “no idea” what brought on the letter by the Elected Chief. As an aside said that he “couldn’t say for sure” — but perhaps-maybe-possibly-it-might-just-maybe be connected to the land claim coming up in the courts.

Positioning the HCCC as the victim, totally caught off-guard by an overly aggressive elected council.

This is the game.

It was a sunny day. Birds were chirping outside the Onondaga longhouse. Chiefs in ribbon shirts and gustowahs, surrounded by women in ribbon dresses stood there and spoke in quiet, alluring tones — presenting a pacifist front.

They called reporters from across Ontario to gather before them as they played peaceful environmental guardian/victim to the band council’s “erasure” tactics.

Meanwhile — they had just moved on a court case naming themselves lords over all Haudenosaunee in the entire world, labelling some of them “voiceless”.

This is oligarchy. Hard stop.

The decision to enter into the land claim did not come about from following Haudenosaunee law. Sure the matter may have followed a process of being “passed across the fire” travelling from bench to bench as yes-men gave their speeches and the present Onondagas ratified it. But that is not how our great grandparents built this Confederacy.

That is not what our own internal mechanism of free and informed consent looks like.

The decision to enter into the Six Nations of the Grand River land claim lawsuit on behalf of all Haudenosaunee humans cams from just ten people — only six of whom are from Six Nations.

Just three of the nations represented at the council were included in the decision: Oneidas, Mohawks and Cayugas. According to the HCCCs own protocols — the Tuscarora representative has no voice at council and the Onondagas are simply there to ratify the matter.

Only one of the 9 Mohawk hereditary chiefs was present.

The two of the nine Oneida hereditary chiefs were present at council. The two who gave the thumbs up to Detlor and the HDI were not Six Nations band members but from Oneida Nation of the Thames — a separate community that has its own land base and no ancestral claims to the Grand River.

Which leaves three out of the ten Cayuga title holders bearing the onus for directing HDI.

A newly appointed Tuscarora hereditary chief who is a tribal member of the Tuscarora Nation in the USA was also present and gave direction — confusing protocols again as Tuscaroras historically don’t have council representation.

Out of the 14 Onondaga title holders, only 3 were present to ratify the decision.

There are no rules that determine what makes a quorum at the council.

No women were engaged in decision.

Not only is this discriminatory in that the decision was not brought to anyone outside of the male gender for consideration — but it was also only put before a select committee of life-appointed, must-be-married cis-male chiefs that 99% of the Haudenosaunee world had no part in electing, have no process for communicating with them, and have no recourse to take if they disagree with them.

Under the Great Law structure — a chief is appointed by a clan mother and only the clan mother can appoint and remove the chief.

By it’s own structures — ten out of fifty people present during this huge decision leaves more than 80% of the Haudenosaunee hereditary male leadership out of that discussion. It left 100% of the hereditary female leadership out of that decision.

Ten individuals, out of the 108,699 Haudenosaunees across the world that HDI is claiming to represent, made that decision. That is 0.0091% of the population, aware of, and consenting to, what HDI is doing on our behalf.

Detlor’s track record is poor when it comes to making legal claims on behalf of Six Nations. While he may have been successful in negotiations to pressure proponents to pay HDI accommodation dollars — every single lawsuit he has fought for Six Nations, he has lost.

He is the Director of HDI. His law firm, Detlor Law, is employed as the lead negotiators. Has he hired his own partners in his firm and then hired his own firm to represent HDI? No one knows. In his role as Director of HDI is he in charge of approving his own legal bills?

When it comes to HDI its not a question of if there are conflicts of interest at play — but rather how many conflicts are there?

In 2016 when 6 clan families from the Haudenosaunee spoke out demanding Aaron Detlor be removed from Six Nations and HDI be disbanded – it wasn’t enough voices to stop the HDI. In contrast, now HDI says that 6 clan representatives are enough to try to co-opt the land claim away from the Six Nations community and instead, put HDI in the drivers seat.

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