SIX NATIONS — As the rain beat down upon the roof of the veranda of the Onondaga Longhouse Cook House, Clan Mothers, Chiefs and elders gathered for an official response to the Elected Councils legal action against a Six Nations farmer.
It’s a classic clash between the two governments at Six Nations over who the rightful governing body is. Some see it as yet another attempt by the Canadian government to remove Six Nations’ underlying title they obtained through the Haldimand Proclamation.
Kristine Jill Hill received a lease from the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council giving their blessing to her to farm the land this season, but the Elected Council started playing hard-ball after Hill and several supporters planted most of the acreage available with tobacco and beans.
Wednesday, the Sherriff accompanied by a small army of riot gear clad Police served Hill an injunction order, calling for her to abandon her crops and leave the property.
But the problem is, the property belongs to the people and no individual or political stripe. But further, Hill and the Confederacy do not recognize the Elected Council in the entire Burtch lands deal in the first place.
Mohawk Chief, Allen MacNaughton, read from a prepared statement for the gathered media which included CTV, CHCH, The Expositor, and Brant News among others.
Documents supporting the HCCC case were included in the media handouts, one being the official agreement made in 2006, regarding the tearing down of the barricades on Argyle Street in Caledonia after the botched OPP raid of April 20th of that year.
That document, signed by the Honourable David Peterson, made clear “Ontario is prepared to return title to the Burtch Lands to the Six Nations people. The land is to be available on an interim basis for the Six Nations people for immediate use while the land rights negotiations continue.”
MacNaughton, read from the HCCC’s communication, dated July 17th, 2017, and addressed to Ontario Premier Wynne and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The notice included an overview of the 2006 Caledonia situation and a reminder to Ontario and Canada of the wording and details related to the negotiated agreement with Peterson, which defused a very volatile situation between Six Nations land protectors and Caledonia residents.
“We take the position that the transfer of lands to a Federal corporation is invalid and a breach of promises and commitments made by the Crown to the Haudenosaunee,” says the Confederacy release.
The letter also advises that peaceful resistance will greet any attempt to enforce the injunction and remove Hill or her crops from the Burtch lands. However, added the warning that what individuals do to protect their own land is their own business, clearing the way to a possible full-scale occupation.
The letter to Wynne and Trudeau concludes by saying, “We are concerned that the refusal of the Province of Ontario to honour commitments will result in Haudenosaunee individuals taking more steps to project the jurisdiction of the HCCC and we would urge you once again to return to negotiations so that we can find a peaceful resolution to the matters between us.”
Elected Chief Hill says she will not comment and that it is now before the courts to decide.
It may be an uphill climb but without any peaceful alternative, the Confederacy seems prepared to be drawn into the Canadian court system.