SIX NATIONS – Around 1783 to 1785, the colonial government was very busy setting up what would devolve into the biggest land fraud in Canadian history.
Joseph Brant knew and came to trust Sir Frederick Haldimand, and believed in the integrity of the Crown of Britain. So when the Haldimand Promise was issued to the Mohawks on the recommendation of Haldimand’s predecessor, Guy Carlton, that an equal amount of land to any land the Mohawks lost if they join allegiance with Britain against the unruly American rebels, Brant wanted to hear more.
But Brant wasn’t blindly subservient to the Crown and wanted some assurances. Brant found them acceptable, as did the warriors of the Mohawks and any others from the Five Nations or their allies who would also be cut in on the promise following the end of the American Revolution, no matter which way it went.
Brant fully expected the Crown to finish surveying the land promised “six miles deep along the Grand River from its source to its mouth”. That was not to be the case.
Brant eventually led a warrior colony to the banks of the Grand, but the contingent did not represent all of the Five Nations recognized as principal tribes.
The rest signed the Treaty of Fort Stanwix, all but the Mohawks, who walked out of the meeting when it was discovered what the American Government was trying to get them to pledge allegiance to the Americans. Even today the Treaty of Fort Stanwix is said to be when the Six Nations made peace with America. But without the Mohawks, there was no “Six Nations” agreement, only individual tribal agreements signed onto by the Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Tuscarora and Seneca.
Brant and his followers were clearly on the British side of that war and spilled a lot of Native blood in the name of the Two Row Wampum and of their close association with the Crown of Britain at the time.
Brant knew enough to understand that each tribe of the Five or Six Nations confederacy were distinctly different from one another. The peace that brought about the Five Nations, (six with Tuscaroras who migrated from North Carolina, and were adopted in as a Nation) was built on mutual respect and mutual independence. Each could remain a distinct people, but in times of war, they would unite to be much stronger militarily.
He also understood that the peace brought by the Peacemaker required space between these nations to practice their own traditions, ceremonies and language, unhindered. All had close proximity to one another in their traditional lands in the northeast United States, all but the Tuscarora who, coming from North Carolina, had a completely unique language compared to the original five nations, whose languages were different, but similar.
When the Brant contingent of 2,241 individuals arrived on the Grand River, each was given, or chose on their own, where they would like to settle along the Haldimand Six Nations Tract.
A map located in the Canadian National Archives under the file number of Map B-71 and ordered by the Department of Crown Lands in 1862, shows where they settled as independent Nations living under an ancient non-aggression pact known as the Great Law. That League of Nations pre-existed the northern migration of Brant’s Mohawks along with those who chose to give up their lands in the new U.S., in favour of promised land along the Grand.
The old map shows the British Sherbrook Navel Depot and fort, which was established to guard the entrance of the Ouse (Grand) River.
The first Indian settlement of the Haldimand Tract was for the allied Delawares, who settled on a long stretch on the north side of the river, south of Dunnville. Among the Delawares recorded in the first census taken in 1785, were 48 known as the Aaron’s Party, Montour Delawares were enumerated as 15, and another 183 were simply named, Delawares.
The next inscription on the map points to a long house where “the Delaware and Cayuga council is held and sacrifice offerings.” That was around today’s Middleport on Highway 54 and is “where the general council of the Six Nations is held.”
There was also a village close by for 113 allied Oghquagos, and “Oghquagos Josephs Party) with 49.
Farther north along the tract was the Lower Cayuga Village with 183 members. The Delaware as well as the Tuscarora and all other tribes under the umbrella of the Confederacy were brought under the protection of the League (Confederacy) through the Cayugas, as the Great Law directs.
According to another early map, there were also United Empire Loyalists settling on lands granted by the Crown along the Grand.
Just south of that Cayuga village the Nelles (Nehl’s) settlement is located “consisting of about 30 families of whites who settled here 40 years since,” which would have been around the same time as Brant took possession of the Haldimand Tract.
Just upstream from there was the settlement of the Onondaga (called Barefoots).
Still farther up the river settled the Seneca, and above that, more Onondaga (a different clan).
The Tuscarora were next, located where today’s Six Nations Reserve No. 40 is. The map states that a school and a village were to be built by the Indian Department at that site.
At a severe bend in the river, which came to be known as the Oxbow, the Mohawk Village was established by Brant between the Ancaster Road and the River in what is now known as Eagle Place. Westward across the river, and high on a bluff were the Tutelo, overlooking the Mohawk Village.
Another Cayuga settlement was located just downstream from the Mohawk Village at what is now Cainsville, where School No. 2 was to be built by the New England Company.
What is known as the Upper Cayuga Village was roughly parallel to Tutela Heights but inland, further south from the river at around Burtch.
Finally is the Methodist Mohawk village of Davis Hamlet, or Davisville, located between Brantford and Paris on the river near Tollgate Road in Brantford is noted. Davisville was a joint Mohawk and Mississauga village for only around 30 years before the overflowing of the river forced them to relocate at the original Mohawk Village, around Sour Springs Church and, for the Mississaugas, to where the New Credit reserve is now located.
A group of Oneida drifted further north, around today’s London to settle.
When the Crown amalgamated all of these villages into one 40,000-acre reserve, they threw not only Confederacy tribes but their allied tribes into one pot, ignoring the cultural and linguistic differences represented.
As Canada celebrates its 150-year anniversary, the people of Six Nations celebrate its own identity every year with Community Awareness Day, Bread and Cheese Day and Solidarity Day, when the Mohawks, Six Nations and their allied Nations, celebrate their own history and culture.