SIX NATIONS – There was fireworks at the Onondaga Longhouse last Saturday over the dehorning of 30-year veteran Cayuga Hoyane (Chief) Sam General. Although there have been two other attempts to remove his symbolic horns of office, on Saturday he was directly asked to leave the chiefs bench before proceedings could begin.
General has been an outspoken critic of the Haudenosaunee Development Institute’s legal advisor, Aaron Detlor, which has put him in conflict with many of the HDI supporting Chiefs.
“The whole thing started when I told Aaron Detlor to leave,” he says. “That’s when they started coming after me. I question too much and they don’t like that.”
The meeting was delayed while waiting for Mohawk Chief Allan MacNaughton to arrive. When he did, the Onondaga Fire Keepers opened the meeting and the discussions began.
General has been outspoken about his misgivings regarding the HDI, and in particular lawyer Aaron Detlor. General called into question several points related to the function and accountability of Haudenosaunee Development Institute, an organization which the Chiefs created after the Caledonia negotiations broke down.
Two earlier attempts were made to remove him from the Chiefs bench but General’s stance has been that no one except his family and his clan mother can remove him, and so he has remained on the bench, until Saturday.
Speaking in the language, General addressed the women’s bench, “whose Clan Mother said I wasn’t to sit here?”
General maintains that his own Clan Mother, who is in Niagara Falls, and members of his family approves of him sitting as their Chief.
But that isn’t how Leroy “Jock” Hill or some other Chiefs see it. Who is the Cayuga Wolf Clan Mother? It depends who you ask.
Secretary Hill interrupted General’s address to the Clan Mothers ordering him from the bench.
“You have had your say,” said Hill. “Now you must leave the bench. You can sit behind, but you are not a Chief.”
But General refused to yield.
Hill said that he was speaking with permission of the “Deskaheh” titleholder. But General refused to accept that and asked again why he didn’t speak to the issue himself, underscoring that as secretary, Hill had no authority to do so.
According to General, whom we spoke to Tuesday, others on the bench told him he had done a good thing because he encouraged the Chiefs to learn their own language and to work for the people, not just for your clans. Things grew tense as the volume of the conversation elevated on both sides.
In English, Jock declared to General that he has no horns (the mark of a condoled chief) and that he was “covered in blood”. Hill asked General for his wampum, which is also the mark of a Chief.
He accused General of “30-years of misbehaving” in his term as Chief. General has no idea what that meant maintaining he only seeks to preserve the Confederacy he grew up in.
When General tried to respond, Hill declared, “You are finished. You have had your say. You have not listened to the Clan Mothers and the Council and now you must leave the bench.”
General questioned statements made by Hill that the issue has gone through both the Grand River and the Onondaga councils, but General says that is not true.
According to General, when Jock went to the Onondaga council for their input, he is aware of two Mohawk Chiefs from Akwesasne who got up and said, “we can’t do anything about what’s going on with (Deyohyogo), that’s for his own clan, and not us.”
It follows that the issue could not have passed the Onondaga Council without the Mohawk consent and the wishes of his own Clan Mother, and bead holder who who still supports him.
“But he told everybody that it has gone through both councils,” said General.
General said the council is “dysfunctional”. He also confirmed that they are incorporated. “That’s why they are dysfunctional, because they are being dictated to by Canadian Law.”
When asked about a request for a media publication ban that was informally suggested outside of the Onondaga Longhouse General offered an explanation.
“They didn’t want it published because it will show how disrespectful they are to another Chief or to anybody and I don’t think that’s right.”
One of the big questions General has been asking without any acceptable answer is, “How can you maintain our own culture and heritage when you are incorporated through the HDI,” he asks. “Are the Chiefs outside the circle also? How can you have anything go in your favour when you are incorporated as a Canadian entity? We are assimilating our culture.”
“Money is what is driving things now,” he says.
General confirmed that he has never been on the HCCC or HDI payroll.
He has also brought up questions of double standard when it comes to who can and who cannot sit on the bench, pointing across the room towards Butch Thomas, a former sub-chief, sitting on the Seneca bench.
“He’s not even a Chief,” he says. “Why does Allen MacNaughton make decisions for all the Mohawks. There is supposed to the at least three Mohawk Chiefs to hold a Council. Right now we have one, and he is said not to have been properly condoled.”
General believes he is being made an example of for people who won’t toe the line.