A piece of the history behind the Mohawk Grounds

SIX NATIONS — The address of 958 First Line Road, also known as “the Mohawk Grounds,” holds a long-standing history.

The history of the land holds rumours that it stands as “the last unceded” chunk of undeveloped land on Six Nations, thus making it coveted by traditional land buyers.

The history of the Mohawk Grounds trails a land dispute that began in the 1960s due to a land
seller that sold the same land twice.

This dispute allegedly included the construction, destruction and subsequent reconstruction and deconstruction of a Mohawk Longhouse in the ’60s, as the “titleholders” would prevent each other from building on the land.

According to documents provided by the Six Nations Lands and Membership in May of 2000,
Kenneth Hess was the registered owner of the disputed land, which involves “parcel 2 and 3” at the First Line Address.

On November 14, 1968, William Smith provided a Quit Claim dated April 23, 1960, from Hess to
Chiefs James S. Hill, Melvin J. Hill and Calvin Martin as trustees to the Mohawk Nation. The
lands were described as “25 acres in the West half of the East half of the North half,” for “parcel 2,” with a witness present.

While on November 20, 1968, Smith brought another Quit Claim dated November 19, 1968, from Hess to Norman Hill, Lorne Hill and Ann McNaughton as Trustees of the Mohawk Longhouse. This land was described as “25 acres in the East half of the East half of the North Half,” for “parcel 3,” with a witness present.

However, Edwin S. Hill brought a third Quit Claim to the District Office on February 12, 1969
dated July 11, 1960. This alleged that the same “parcel 3” sold to the Trustees of the Mohawk
Longhouse was sold to Edwin S. Hill’s family. It is also documented that Hill provided four paid
receipts for the land.

It is apparent that Hess sold the same “parcel 3” twice, according to the documents provided.

According to the document provided by Sherri Martin at the Lands and Trust Services at the
Regional Office South in Brantford, “there was no agreement signed for the portion of ‘parcels 2 and 3,’” meaning that the land is likely still under Hess’s name regardless of his selling of “parcel 2 and 3.”

This prompted copies of the documents to be sent to Indian Affairs in Ottawa on May 6, 1969, for their review. In the meantime both parties found legal advisors: Wyatt and Purcell represented the “Mohawk Community Club,” and Ballachey, Moore and Hart represented the “Mohawk Longhouse Society.”

Ottawa’s response letter was reached on May 12, 1969, which pointed out that it was not the policy of the department to issue title to reserve lands in the names of the individuals acting as trustees for lodges, organizations or churches and suggested that Kenneth Hess transfer the land to the First Nations and then have the council, by resolution, set the lands aside.

The two groups were not in favour of this.

Attempts were made by the council to deal with the disputed purchase of “parcel 3”, to no interest of the involved parties. No further action was requested in regards to having committee or council involvement.

Then, on October 8, 1975, Hess signed a Statutory Declaration stating that he did not sign the Quit Claim deed July 11, 1960, but that he did sign the other two Quit Claims.

The file inspected by SN Lands and Membership reads that the matter is still not resolved.

Thus, the title-ship of the land is still in dispute today.

Unfortunately, Hess also passed away before each of the involved parties to could come to a resolution.

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