SIX NATIONS – In a recent response to questions regarding his work here at Six Nations, HDI lawyer Aaron Detlor stated that he does not, in fact, work for the HCCC at all, but rather the Haudenosaunee Development Instituted, which answers to the HCCC.
Sounds like lawyer-speak, but he further stated that as far as he knows the Confederacy has never hired a lawyer.
Documents state otherwise and there have been at least lawyers who have been paid for by the Confederacy. Lawyers Charles Chisholm and George P. Decker.
The Mohawk Workers also contributed to the upkeep and work of Deskaheh while in Europe, but the legal costs were born by the Confederacy. This arrangement displeased the Mackenzie King government of Canadian in many ways, causing it to pass one of the most alarming laws in Canada’s history.
“Every person who, without the consent of the Superintendent General expresses in whiting, receives, obtains, solicits or requests from any Indian any payment or contribution of promise of any payment or contribution for the purpose of raising a fund or providing money for the prosecution of any claim which the tribe or band of Indians to which such Indian belongs, of which he is a member, has or is represented to have for the recovery of any claim of money for the benefit of said tribe or band, shall be guilty of an offence an liable on summery conviction for each such offence to a penalty of not exceeding $200 and not less than $50, or to imprisonment for any term not exceeding two months.”
In essence, if an Indian hired a lawyer to defend himself from government land theft, the illegal dispersal of lands to settlers, or status on their Trust Funds, he or she could not raise money to secure one, and even if a lawyer went pro-bono, that lawyer could be disbarred by the Law Society of Upper Canada for taking on such a case.
This obviously racist and opportunistic law remained on the books until it was quietly revoked in 1951 after 26 years of legislated interference. Most natives knew nothing of the removal of it for several more years and did not generally challenge these issues in Canadian courts until the late 1950s or early 1960s.
It was under that law that thousands of acres of what is now registered as settler land was stolen in land frauds and outright thefts while Six Nations was bound and gagged by Upper Canadian Law.
Even after many unscrupulous Indian agents and commissioners were investigated, discovered and removed from office, in many cases the Haldimand Proclamation Tract lands they were defrauded of were never returned or compensated for. Such was the case of Samuel Jarvis, and the controversial “surrenders” of 1841 and 1844 in particular. Canada today still stands on these frauds as legitimate sales and title transfers despite many documents that legitimately refute their case.
George P. Decker was a prominent lawyer in New York specializing in native rights cases in the late 1800s and early 20th century. He spent a great deal of time and energy to assist Deskaheh both at home and throughout Europe in the early 1920s. Before him was J.P. Chisholm who was also paid for by the HCCC.
“We didn’t think we would ever live long enough to find that a British promise was not good,” Deskaheh lamented on a Rochester, N.Y. radio show upon he and Decker’s unsuccessful return to North America. “An enemy’s foot is on our country, and George V knows it for I told him so, but he will not lift his finger to protect us nor will any of his ministers.
For Detlor to say the HCCC has never hired a lawyer, “to his knowledge” may be true. After all the Haudenosaunee Council of Confederacy Chiefs, as an organization did not come to be until around 1951. Hopefully this article will serve to correct this statement made by HDI’s lawyer, Aaron Detlor.