OHSWEKEN — Two Six Nations of the Grand River men say they will continue to speak up and work to help the people of the community, despite opposition.
Bill Monture and Wilfred Davey spoke with Two Row Times, accompanied by the Men’s Fire official wampum holder Moe Sandy to address the recent publishing of a letter declaring Monture and Davey no longer speak for the Men’s Fire.
The letter was hand delivered to Monture and also appeared in the Six Nations newspaper the Turtle Island News on August 8 as a letter to the editor with no name credited to the writer.
An unknown writer alleges “Bill Monture, Wilf Davey n such others that follow these two men” have brought “great shame and embarrassment” and committed “treason against the Kaianerenko’:wa”.
The letter wages Davey and Monture’s recent action to launch a class action lawsuit against the Haudenosaunee Development Institute as evidence of that treason.
The lawsuit, which is now in the courts for accreditation as a class action, is something Davey says was necessary to protect the interests of the people of Six Nations.
“They allowed us to take them to court because they incorporated. Had they not incorporated, we wouldn’t be this far at all,” says Davey.
Davey says the Men’s Fire became involved in gathering information at the request of several concerned community members after the Haudensaunee Development Institute (HDI) repeatedly dodged requests to reveal details of engagement agreements they negotiated on behalf of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council (HCCC) with Haudenosaunee citizens and clan family members.
The call to investigate followed the revelation, made by a Two Row Times investigation, that HDI had agreed to waive the application of sovereign immunity in it’s landmark 2014 multi-million dollar deal with Samsung for a wind and solar farm.
That deal, seen by many as the agreement that gave the HDI the corporate clout to work with other proponents, promised that the people of the Confederacy would not oppose the operation of those projects for the duration of the contract and promised the people of the Confederacy would waive the right to use Haudenosaunee sovereignty as a means to stop the project.
“We went to them numerous times and said we want to see. And they said all the books and records are on the website. We went to the website and it wasn’t on there, nothing was posted. Then we went to them directly and they said ‘oh yeah, you can see it. You can see everything that’s going on. Just go to the office and we’ll give it to you.’
But Davey says that never happened. After several community members were met with the same runaround for nearly four months; a subsequent Two Row Times investigation revealed HDI had created a provincial incorporation, 2438543 Ontario Inc., without consulting the HCCC, or it’s clan families.
Further to that, the clan titles, considered sacred according to the Great Law, were registered under the provincial government without the consent of the clan families as holding “50 equitable non-transferable shares in trust for the Haudenosaunee through the Whiskniyonwenstake Rotionisorh (HCCC)”
Davey said the Men’s Fire were prompted to respond with legal action.
“On behalf of this community we initiated the court proceedings – but to place Bill and I at blame as to insults and injury – we were asked by the community to do this. This wasn’t something we thought we about doing on our own,” said Davey.
His co-applicant for that class action, Bill Monture, has actively been standing up against the HDI since those revelations and more were brought to light surrounding HDI and their staff. Another TRT investigation showed HDI’s lawyer, R. Aaron Detlor, was previously investigated by a northern reserve for overcharging them and double billing his time.
Detlor was instructed to leave the territory by the Men’s Fire in April 2016. When Detlor refused, both Davey and Monture were actively involved in physically removing Detlor from the GREAT building. The pair were charged with assault and in October 2017 a Brantford Justice of the Peace granted both an absolute discharge.
Monture says he believes he has not committed treason – but says the letter is an attempt to confuse and distract the people into forgetting HDI’s own act of treason: incorporating the 49 clan family titles into an Ontario corporation.
“When we seen what they had done with the incorporating – took the 49 families of the Teiotiokwanhasta and they incorporated those families. To me that was the word ‘treason’,” said Monture. “Nobody has the right to take our 49 families, take them into a [foreign] system and incorporate them. And that’s exactly what they have done.”
The 49 families Monture is talking about are the chieftain titles that belong to the 49 clan families of the Haudenosaunee people. TRT reporting previously shared the documentation that the HDI placed those titles as shareholders under the HDI’s provincial corporation, 2838543 Ontario Inc.
According to one of the English translations of the Great Law — the traditional governing constitution of the Haudenosaunee — when a chief of the council submits to the law of a foreign people, he is no longer in but out of the Confederacy’s protection. This class of expelled leaders are called Tehonatonkoton – “they have alienated themselves”. The Great Law says those chiefs who have agreed to submit themselves beneath foreign law forfeit all birthrights and claims to the Confederacy.
Monture, Davey and Sandy say the act of HDI waiving the sovereign immunity of the Haudenosaunee by way of a numbered provincial corporation in which they placed all 49 clan family titles – qualifies under the Great Law as such an alienation.
“You’re telling me that we’ve caused great shame to our people? You know who brought the shame: was the people who took took that 49 families and created this corporation. That’s what brought the shame,” said Monture. “The men – our responsibility as the Rotiskerekete is go in and retrieve and take back what someone has stolen. Now that they took those 49 families and threw it in there, we’re just going in to bring it back.”
Another speaker supporting the two, Moe Sandy, is the main wampum keeper of the Men’s Fires for all Haudenosaunee territories.
“I don’t believe that these individuals are dragging people into the court,” said Sandy.
Sandy says he believes Davey and Monture have good intentions with their lawsuit. “It’s just trying to find information so the people don’t’ get hurt anymore.”
“There’s fifty shares there,” says Sandy, about the HDI’s numbered Ontario corporation. “There isn’t fifty families. I don’t know why they have 50 shares there.”
Sandy says money acquired by HDI on behalf of clan families belongs to those clan families and not to the chief who bears the title. “I really do believe that money that’s in there where it [says it] goes to the families — the clans share — it should stay there until the chief goes to the family and asks the family what they want to do with it. The chiefs now are not going back to the families.”
As much local political back and forth that the Six Nations Men’s Fire has seen, there has been positive action put into place by the collective. Since 2006 when the Men’s Fire organized, men involved have regularly helped advocate for families experiencing trouble with CAS, taken action to shut down drug houses, volunteered to drive community members to get groceries, helped elders pay their bills, fed the community free of charge and made several donations to the Six Nations Food Bank.
Monture says his intentions for getting involved in the class action is to stop HDI from using Treaty rights of the people for the gain of a select few.
“It’s all about money nowadays. I mean I know we need money to survive but you can’t deceive the people. You can’t take from them what is rightfully theirs. They’re taking that 1701 Treaty and giving up our birthrights of who we are.”
Monture says the idea that someone would try to silence him is laughable. “When they said they came to me and took my voice I said, ‘What happens if I don’t accept this. Who’s gonna come and make me change my mind?’”
Monture said the letter was delivered to him personally at his home by HCCC’s Finance Committee Director Colin Martin and Gary Johnson — an appointee to the now-defunct Tobacco Delegation who previously worked with HDI and Detlor to push an on-reserve HCCC tobacco tax and regulations for those on the territory involved in the tobacco trade.
To date, no one has taken credit for writing the letter and when he asked Martin and Johnson to reveal it’s author, Monture says they refused.
Despite the opposition, Monture says neither he or Davey are discouraged or silenced. “We’re not changing our path because people don’t like what we’re doing,” said Monture. “We’ve been the same way since 2006. We’re here to help our people in any way.”