OHSWEKEN – After sitting in limbo for several years, the Burtch lands, which were promised by former Premier David Peterson during the Caledonia conflict, appears to be close to settled.
Late Tuesday afternoon, the Elected Band Council sent out a media release declaring that they will be moving ahead with forming a corporation to receive the land in the name of the people of Six Nations.
Since the land was promised in 2006, there has been an internal squabble over who exactly would receive the land on behalf of the people of Six Nations. The Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council has made several statements regarding the transfer of the land indicating that since there was no such thing as an Elected Council when the land was initially leased for 999 years to David Burtch by Joseph Brant in early 1800’s, and later annexed by the Crown and sold, the Elected Council has no business in receiving the land on behalf of the people.
Mohawk Workers claim that the Butch Land is part of the Haldimand Tract which was deeded to them specifically and others of the Six Nations as wish to live there, Neither the Band Council nor the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chief Council have that authority.
Then there is the Men’s Fire, which have endorsed the use of the land to a local farmer on the premise that the land belongs to the people, not the Band Council, the Confederacy Council nor the Mohawks.
The internal arguments and power struggles have delayed the transfer. Recently, Ontario stated that they would only release the land to a corporation created by the Elected Council but structured however they wish, thus ignoring the Haudenosaunee land registration created by the Chiefs Council appointed Haudenosaunee Development Corporation to take possession of the line.
The Elected Council’s media release states, in part, “The Six Nations Elected Council has decided to move forward with the formation of a federal corporation to hold title to the Burtch Land until it can be formally added to the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory and under the federal Addition to Reserve Process.”
It goes on to say that this new corporation would be governed by a three member Board of Directors and that one position on that board would be reserved for a representative of the HCCC.
But there is a proviso, which Ontario has to agree to first.
The first is that the Province commits to remedy the water drainage problem that presently exists on the land.
The second, that when the Province transfers the land to the new corporation that it deliver it free and clear of all encumbrances and have vacant possession.
Thirdly, that an understanding be reached with the Province that would result in the corporation not being liable for, or having to pay any taxes on the land up to the time that the land officially becomes Reserve land.