Aaron Detlor and the Haudenosaunee Development Institute • Local, News • Two Row Times
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Aaron Detlor and the Haudenosaunee Development Institute

Robert Aaron Detlor is a Canadian lawyer from Toronto, Ontario who has been representing the Haudenosaunee citizens of Six Nations of the Grand River via the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs...
File Photo: Aaron Detlor
File Photo: Aaron Detlor

Robert Aaron Detlor is a Canadian lawyer from Toronto, Ontario who has been representing the Haudenosaunee citizens of Six Nations of the Grand River via the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council (HCCC) and the Haudenosaunee Development Institute (HDI) since 2007.

Detlor was evicted from Six Nations in a community led action Tuesday morning. This follows almost an entire year of accusations and evidence raised by Haudenosaunee citizens at Six Nations, saying Detlor has been misrepresenting their interests.

A Background in Energy Law

Detlor was called to the bar in 1998. He worked with several law firms in the city of Toronto including Power Budd LLP — a boutique energy law firm that, according to a Lexpert Magazine article in 2000 boasted its staff of 15 “cherry-picked” specialists in energy law, environmental law, regulated industries and government relations.

Power Budd eventually merged with CMS Cameron McKenna, an international law firm with 15 years of experience in energy law and politics; including consulting with the conservative government to take Ontario’s energy from public to corporate in the Business Corporations Act and consulting for the 1998 Energy Competition Act.

Detlor was one of those specialists on the team filled with vision for all the legal work ahead of them, negotiating for the new energy industry of corporations and municipal ownership – paving the way for the Ontario Power Generation to create an energy marketplace in Ontario.

Detlor’s beginnings at Six Nations

The lawyer, who says he is Mohawk, has been in the public eye at Six Nations since 2006 when he arrived in the community during the Caledonia reclamation.

Sources told the Two Row Times Detlor originally arrived on the territory at the negotiating table for the Caledonia reclamation as a driver for another lawyer.

During the process Detlor was routinely asked for his opinion as a bystander to the negotiations and eventually was brought to the table as a participant.

According to documents obtained by the TRT, Detlor publicly confirmed at a meeting in 2009 that he was secured on contract and retainer by the HCCC to act as their lawyer.

Multi-million dollar energy deals

HDI held a public meeting last summer and distributed a report that said in 2007 Detlor was appointed along with Ron Thomas and Brian Doolittle to “lay out all the steps necessary to ensure the successful implementation of the institute”.

‘The institute’ would later become HDI, and Detlor a key negotiator in writing letters and sharing emails with development corporations — agreeing to their projects on NanFan Treaty lands, also known as the Beaver Hunting Grounds or the Dish with One Spoon territory, in exchange for financial compensation to the Haudenosaunee people.

HDI eventually started reaching out to development corporations and became the administrative vehicle for development corporations to receive the required prior and informed consent of the Haudenosaunee.

Call to dismantle HDI

Last summer a condoled chief of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy followed traditional protocols and stood, supported by his clan mother and two clan families, calling for the immediate dismantlement of the Haudenosaunee Development Institute and dismissal of lawyer Aaron Detlor and HDI Board members Hazel Hill and Brian Doolittle.

This came after Haudenosaunee citizens of Six Nations were informed that Detlor, along with other members of the HDI signed an engagement agreement with Samsung waiving the application of sovereign immunity for the Haudenosaunee people throughout the NanFan Treaty of 1701 — areas the HDI says they represent.

The agreements further stipulated that in exchange for agreeing to the projects, HCCC would ensure any of its member chiefs or citizens would not oppose the project for it’s duration — and that HDI would not give money to Haudenosaunee people for their loyalty.

Despite having followed proper protocol in his statement, the concerns raised by that Chief and the two clans were ignored by the HDI.

Further to that, Haudenosaunee citizens who raised concerns and asked questions about the deals were misrepresented by HCCC media representatives, who played down the story to be nothing more than a misunderstanding and personal attack. Detlor spoke to Hamilton media about the incident calling it a “kerfuffle”. HCCC Secretary Jock Hill released a statement via Facebook saying that the incident was not recorded in the minutes.

But it did happen. A declaration was read aloud in council by Cayuga Wolf Chief Sam General, calling for the dismantlement of the HDI for not negotiating in good faith on behalf of the Confederacy.

It also clearly called for the immediate dismissal and removal of Detlor, Hill and Doolittle for misrepresenting the Confederacy, immediate halting of all HDI business and the launch of a full investigation into HDI by the Confederacy.

Fully aware that five clans of the Cayuga, Oneida and Onondaga nations were calling to HDI to stop representing their interests — the HDI, Detlor, Hill and Doolittle continued to operate without a consensus in the Confederacy.

Detlor defended himself and the actions of HDI regarding the Samsung Agreements at last May’s Confederacy Council, claiming the sovereign immunity they waived was only applicable in the United States.

“It’s a specific legal concept from the United States,” Detlor told the Confederacy.

Detlor told the Council the lawyers who drafted the Samsung agreements were American and that despite initial concerns raised by the chiefs who HDI consulted with that it was decided the Agreements would be accepted with that clause remaining.

However, members nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy dwell on both sides of the Canada-US border. The NanFan Treaty area HDI was laying claim to also extends into the US.

2438543 Ontario Inc

Additional red flags were raised by Haudenosaunee citizens at Six Nations after it was discovered the HCCC and HDI had created a corporation in the fall of 2014 that was used to purchase land in Brant County, just outside of the reserve borders.

Copies of the land transfer given to TRT did not name HDI, but an online search through the Ministry of Government Services listed ‘2438543 Ontario Inc.’ as a “Corporation under the jurisdiction of Ontario”. HDI Director Hazel Hill is noted as the Director of the Corporation, which was launched in October of 2014, and identifies Hill as a Canadian resident.

Additional research confirmed that on May 27, 2015 a change was submitted to the corporate structure: adding Aaron Detlor as Secretary and Brian Doolittle as President. Both men are also at the core of HDI and are listed on the document as Canadian residents.

Members of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and it’s citizens were unaware they were shareholders to a corporation, were not informed of its inception and were not privy to finances involved with the land purchase.

Overcharging clients

Other reports of questionable actions Detlor and members of the HDI have taken since last summer prompted an urgency to take action to remove Detlor from the community.

Reports were sent to Haudenosaunee citizens at Six Nations from concerned members at the Atikameksheng Anishnawbek First Nation (AAFN), formerly known as Whitefish Lake First Nation. Detlor represented that community and was investigated for overcharging the community.

The band council launched a third party investigation which confirmed Detlor was simultaneously charging four Ontario First Nations for hours he worked. One of those communities was Six Nations.

New reports

Recent court transcripts brought to the Two Row Times also show Detlor becoming involved in personal legal matters of the citizens at Six Nations, including assisting Haudenosaunee citizens to fight one another in provincial courtrooms.

According to the Great Law of Peace, weapons of war against one another are to be buried. Maintaining the peace at all costs is central to the Confederacy itself and Haudenosaunee children are taught this is something the Haudenosaunee people should not participate in.

However transcripts show Detlor representing one Haudenosaunee person against another in the courtroom, bringing the Ganohonyo’k into those proceedings, and using it in the courtroom to help two community members fight in a court of law under a foreign jurisdiction.

This is part of the big picture that prompted a community led action Tuesday to remove the lawyer from his office in Ohsweken. Sources have told Two Row Times a case had begun to investigate Aaron Detlor by the Law Society of Upper Canada.

Will the HDI proceed as normal? What happens next is still to be seen.

Nahnda Garlow, Onondaga under the wing of the Beaver Clan of Six Nations, is Outreach Editor for the Two Row Times. Her popular column, Scone Dogs and Seed Beads brings weekly thoughts on current day indigenous identity. Nahnda has been a journalist with the Two Row Times since it's founding in 2013. She studied Journalism, Human Rights and Indigenous Studies at Laurier University. She is a self-proclaimed "rez girl" who also brings to the Two Row Times years of experience as a Haudenosaunee cultural interpreter, traditional dancer and beadwork aficionado. Nahnda is a member of the Canadian Association of Journalists and the Native American Journalists Association.
  • decolonizer

    This conflict requires a community meeting.

    • TeriMac_I

      Everything you do requires a community meeting … only problem is hardly any from the community shows up and there is no legal quorum to properly meet … making everything you want to do NOT get DONE

  • TeriMac_I

    Proof positive that everything men’s fire did was totally Unauthorized … just a bunch of insecure, jealous bullies, trying to blame others for their shortcomings …

    • decolonizer

      Use your good mind

  • decolonizer

    A community meeting is required that is run by an objective third party. When I requested a public debate in a community meeting with Hazel Hill, she refused, The traditional people I thought would be more open.

  • http://pentortoise.com/ Pentortoise

    If Arron Detlor is acting lawyer for the HDI and HCCC, and HDI and HCCC claim to represent all huadenashuanee, how can Arron then represent any Single Huadenashuanne member in an action against another.

    Can you represent Both Parties in a case, If it can be shown that the lawyer represents the opposition he would be released for conflict of interest.

    This should be sent to the Law Society.

    • TeriMac_I

      He is, first & foremost, a lawyer and has Indian STATUS (Mohawk) = best of both “nations”. Lawyers handle thousands of clients & cases during their years in practice. IF a CLIENT’s case cannot be settled during conversations / discoveries & mediation / pre-trial attempts, it then has to go to court of law within the prevailing court’s jurisdiction, THAT IS THE PROCESS determined by legal documentations into which the case is filed

      Representing clientS is what all LAWYERS do whether they be individual or corporations – NOT just to “represent” a few, just as directors sit on many corporations at any given time. There is no conflict of interest … HCCC & HDI are CLIENTS of Aaron. Representing and being paid by CLIENTS is how ALL lawyers earn their living, just as anyone working has to earn their living. Unfortunately, humans are the only species on Earth who have to pay to exist

      • Clive Garlow

        You’re talking about the conflict between the Great Law of Peace and the legal protocols devised by the White Man’s Laws. To gain a better understanding of this, read “White Man’s Law – Native People in Nineteenth-Century Canadian Jurisprudence” and how the colonial legal system was and IS STILL designed to work against the Indigenous people’s best interests.

        • TeriMac_I

          I know Aaron does all he can to settle out of court, he IS Mohawk
          It appears that Indigenous nations are very disjointed amongst themselves & each other – no one knows what another is doing and are not attending any of the many meetings available to them to get it together. At that rate of non-participatory interest / knowledge, it seems as if natives will never come together as ONE nation

        • decolonizer

          The HDI and the dictatorial mandate-less chiefs council are thriving on the financial rewards regarding projects we wont’ know about for at least the next five years because of the secrecy of the chiefs and HDI

        • TeriMac_I

          CALL THE OFFICE … arrange a time to meet with Mr. Detlor and he will show and explain to you everything you need to know. He has encouraged people to do that from day one, because these materials are NOT to become available in an electronic / email format. They have to stay original to their words / content. IF you attended the meetings, you’d know this … he tells people this every time they ask to see the documents …There wouldn’t be so many meetings if everyone attended as things HAVE TO GET DONE. IF you can’t be bothered to attend the meetings, DON’T BITCH about what is being done … without YOUR authority – what a bold-faced piece of crap excuse that is

        • decolonizer

          I am sorry but the Chiefs and their HDI has been a shadowy self serving entity. By the way, the permit system was my brain child but I am quite concerned what the process has devolved into.

        • TeriMac_I

          The Permit System that Mr. Detlor does work with to implement, might do better if linked up with what is the mandatory payment of “Land Transfer Tax”, so that is shows up on closing documentations as an additional “Disbursement” … instead, however, it would be paid to through the channels of First Nations. A more seamless transitioning of title + taxes. As it is, the permit system appears to be in addition to the land titles tax … it could replace it, since the lands are still and always to be, owned by all Haudenosaunee

        • decolonizer

          Seeking a democratic system including an open transparent accountable doesn’t mean one is being a “bitch” but rather someone seeking transparency. These would be good issue for discussion in debate between myself and HDI but they refuse.

        • TeriMac_I

          Have you never gone to a rock concert? 20,000 people should be a piece of cake when it’s important enough to them to attend. Where there is will, there is a way. It just appears that with so many “poorly-attended” meetings, that shows a lack of interest; then don’t be surprised when things get DONE, and people complain because of not “knowing” what was to come and had no conversations about it. Some discussions should be brought up with HCCC. HDI is its administrative office, not the bottom-line decision makers on any given HCCC topic – they basically “present” the information & updates to those who really do care and attend the meetings

      • http://pentortoise.com/ Pentortoise

        first & foremost, a lawyer and has Indian “Canadian” STATUS (Mohawk) = best of both “nations”

        Him being a bar associate and following foreign laws does not make him best of both nations, however perhaps he is the better of two evils. But still evil.

        Aaron is a canadian through and through, all so called indians are canadian.

        If he was truly Mohawk heart and mind, he would have honor. If he was honorable he would accept that following candian laws makes him canadian. this is even re-enforced in the wampum 58 of the kaianerekowa http://clanmotherboard.com/tag/wampum-58/

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