Across Ontario, Quebec and the United States there are a total of 15 communities occupied by the Mohawk, Oneida, Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga and Tuscarora people — aka the Haudenosaunee.
In September, the federal government released new band membership data. The following totals include the people from 20 different Indian bands, representing seven reserves in Ontario and Quebec: Six Nations of the Grand River – 28,279; Mohawks of Akwesasne – 13,205; Oneida Nation of the Thames – 6418; Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory – 10,700; Wahta Mohawk Territory – 895; Mohawks of Kahnawake – 11,504 and Mohawks of Kanesatake – 2,867.
A total of 73,868 people north of the US border are registered as members of a Haudenosaunee-identifying band.
On the states side there are nine bands identified representing the Haudenosaunee people of nine different reservations. The tribal enrolment data is not as up to date for those communities but the most recent numbers show the following enrolments.
In New York State the communities and their tribal membership are as follows: Allegany – 1020; Cattaraugus – 693; Oneida – 1000; Onondaga – 2244; St. Regis – 3314; Tonawanda – 700, Cayuga Nation – 450 and Tuscarora – 1,152.
In Wisconsin there is one reservation, home to the Oneida Tribe of the Indians of Wisconsin totalling 21,321 Haudenosaunee people.
Oklahoma also has one reservation, home of the Seneca-Cayuga Nation of Oklahoma with a tribal membership of 5,059.
In the United States there are 43,790 enrolled tribal members of Haudenosaunee-identifying communities.
Altogether, the current number of Haudenosaunee-enrolled humans in Ontario, Quebec and the United States tallies up to 117,558.
Now of course there are discrepancies to that total: there are duplicates, registered in both the US tribal communities and on the band lists in Canada. There are also non-registered Haudenosaunee people who have no affiliation with any reserve or band. However, the majority of Haudenosaunee-identifying people are included in those populations listed.
Last month, the Haudenosaunee people were informed that the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council and the Haudenosaunee Development Institute, are seeking to step in as an intervener in the Six Nations land claim proceedings — claiming that it is the government of the Haudenosaunee of Ontario, Quebec and the United States.
At first, it seemed like the battle lines were being drawn in the sand. A collective groan of “here we go again” seemed to echo across the grassroots community here at Six Nations in the ever spinning saga of hereditary vs elected leaders.
Some people were outraged, some irritated, others were fed-up and some felt concern that perhaps its time for the grassroots people to stand up again and remind the hereditary leaders what their responsibilities are.
The Haudenosaunee people are not represented by the HCCC. Nor are they represented by the HDI. Nor are they represented by the pair’s provincial incorporation 2438543 Ontario Inc.
For those who don’t know, that numbered company is the HCCC. They say it isn’t, but on their incorporation documents that numbered Ontario company has been tasked with overseeing HCCC’s “8 points of jurisdiction” and the corporation was divided into 50 Haudenosaunee hereditary titles. You can Google it.
The current collective calling themselves the confederacy council here at Six Nations are not the age-old Confederacy they claim to be — but rather a provincially incorporated copycat image of our traditional governance model the Haudenosaunee were used to when we used to be a functioning Confederacy in the US, prior to our flee north. Within the Haudenosaunee communities, this is known as fact.
For a while it seemed like this latest move was another step hereditary leaders were consenting HDI to take, over and above the people, to subjugate everyone beneath the word of the HCCC.
But if you look at the population numbers in the Haudenosaunee world — and consider the diverse cultural and geographic representation that the 15 Haudenosaunee communities HDI is claiming they and the HCCC represent — it’s clear this is another preposterous falsification of their authority over the Haudenosaunee people and the lands we all, collectively, hold ancestral connections to.
They have gotten so bold in their fraudulent representation of Six Nations that they even held a press conference about their mission and told us all what they were doing.
No one is allowed to build anything on territory HDI claims belongs to the HCCC, unless they pay HDI.
Those who don’t participate in this system are threatened with protests from people, many of whom aren’t even Six Nations residents or Haudenosaunee people at all, people who don’t actually represent the feelings of the Six Nations people, but rather are in some kind of relationship with HDI, supporting them.
The claim, by at least one of the HCCC’s reps, Jock Hill, is that this is all about the environment. “We have environmental concerns, that is why we are doing this,” he told a group of reporters earlier this summer.
And yet, when the City of Hamilton was behind the gun to clean up actual human waste from waterways that fall under the territory that HDI claims is under HCCC’s jurisdiction — HDI went into full PR mode. Sending “protesters” to go and stop the work along the creek, notifying newspaper reporters they were on the move, and sending their legal adviser/director Aaron Detlor around to Hamilton’s radio stations to “warn residents” that there “may be disruptions to travel” in the city because Hamilton wouldn’t work with HDI.
In truth the city of Hamilton would later respond by saying they tried to work with HDI but were unable to deliver on HDI’s demand — seeking the city make a change to provincial law.
The result of this and other PR stunts the HDI has pulled has been a constant embarrassment for the people of Six Nations. In this latest situation in particular. Why would anyone want to delay and threaten the cleaning up of human waste from a waterway? Least of all actual land defenders and water protectors? It is bad governance and making a mockery of all the work land defenders and water protectors are doing here at Six Nations and on other front lines.
Yet, Aaron Detlor appears — HDI’s legal adviser/president/lawyer for/director/cheque-signer — standing alongside the water in Hamilton, directing workers to stop cleaning the water.
What about those, ‘we-have-environmental-concerns’ statements made by the chiefs earlier this year?
The people of Six Nations know the game HDI has been playing. And that is part of the reason the hereditary chiefs and the HCCC don’t have the community support they should have, the support they claim to people off the territory, that they do have.
HDI has been really good in the past at muddying the waters in the public eye, playing the media and non-indigenous populations for creating an optics nightmare.
The narrative is this: those who don’t pay HDI to participate face threats of protests.
We can confirm our direct experience that within the community, local media who don’t sing the HDI’s praises get totally stonewalled.
Residents on the territory who don’t support the HCCC/HDI mission are bullied, labelled as treasonous outliers, in support of colonization and otherwise made to feel they are social pariah’s and uninvited to traditional ceremonies.
The HCCC having gone so far as to write letters and make public notification that certain individuals within the community, who publicly criticized HDI, are no longer a part of the Haudenosaunee world. They have ex-communicated (aka dehorned) chiefs who disagree with HDIs methods and ostracized entire families from accessing ceremonies as a form of social punishment for daring to speak out in disagreement with their choices.
At the same time: non-indigenous people looking for some kind of authentic indigenous experience or clout for their own campaigns (read: municipal councillors from Hamilton or Guelph, who to be fair may not know any better) are brought in and given access to the HDI/HCCC — receiving praise or honour for being an “ally” — while at the same time silently securing the “othering” HDI/HCCC has engaged on those who don’t support their political or religious ideals.
It is the very definition of colonial violence, under the disguise of decolonization.
The HCCCs corporation has been compensated millions in development dollars and none of those dollars have been publicly accounted for. Ever. There is no public listing of who has signed what deals. And when details of agreements have been revealed, as was done by TRT reporting, they go even deeper into secrecy and word has it, have been insisting proponents sign NDA’s.
Not to mention the lands and properties the HDI has purchased with those dollars, for who knows what purpose. Details surrounding those actions haven’t been disclosed to the community.
How can you claim to be an arm of the government and have no public accountability measures in place?
The situation is so bad that the elected council has been openly sharing in their live-streamed council meetings when they’ve asked HCCC and HDI to financially contribute to projects. To date, no contributions have been invested into Six Nations for infrastructure from those millions that have been collected by HDI.
Here’s the thing: everyone knows what’s up. But the PR game is so strong, and non-native people and communities are the ones being targeted and they’re so scared of being framed by protesters and media as opposing indigenous land rights or something that no one is doing anything effective to stop what HDI is doing. Folks have tried, but it requires Six Nations people themselves, or Six Nations elected government to stand up and call a spade, a spade. And so far, the looming PR disasters for non-indigenous communities aren’t worth the fight to oppose HDI — and neither has the cost of “othering” been from within the community.
It is again, colonial violence, under the disguise of decolonization.
And soon, HDI is going to walk into a federal courtroom and test out their rhetoric at convincing a judge that they are acting on behalf of the whole Haudenosaunee world. Not just Six Nations.
It’s going to be interesting. What will ten years of failed lawsuits and PR stunts turn out in a federal courtroom? If they represent all the Haudenosaunee across our communities — why didn’t they seek to intervene in the Wahta’s settlement or in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory?
The communities states-side have their own governance struggles going on. What will they say to being informed they are under the jurisdiction of the HCCC/HDI — a collective of people hundreds of miles away from their territories where they have no representation at all?
HCCC and HDI have grossly underestimated how much the Haudenosaunee people value their autonomy. It’s one thing when an organization puts up a front and a non-indigenous developer falls for the con. But it is another situation entirely to declare HDI/HCCC lord over and above the rest of the Haudenosaunee people on earth. And any federal court that would consent to HDI declaring this kind of lordship over the people of Six Nations would be committing a miscarriage of justice.